30 September 2019

New Springtime in Japan Chocolatory KitKat (John Lewis) By @Cinabar

New Springtime in Japan Chocolatory KitKat (John Lewis)

New Springtime in Japan Chocolatory KitKat (John Lewis)

I am not one to usually go on about price. Mostly I can afford to treat myself to the snacks that are mentioned on this blog and mostly we purchase everything ourselves. I bought this new Chocolatory KitKat too, but I should state I chose not to buy any of the other flavour packets because of the cost, I thought they were very much over priced posh KitKats, but still felt the need to buy one pack to try. Darn my commitment to the Foodstuff Finds cause. These new Chocolatory Kit Kats are hand made, and pretty much exclusive to John Lewis (although I believe they are also available from York’s Chocolate Story). I chose the most exotic box as I was getting only one pack. The two Chocolatory KitKats inside are Springtime In Japan and Jewels Of The East.

New Springtime in Japan Chocolatory KitKat (John Lewis)

Today I’m trying the Springtime In Japan KitKat. This bar is handmade (which contributes to the price) and consists of a ruby chocolate KitKat with a cherry and apple filling, dusted with an edible gold lustre. The back of the bar is beautiful too, decorated with milk chocolate and fruit jellies in a pattern similar to a Japanese blossom tree. It is an elegant looking bar. The KitKat has six fingers, but they are not big pieces, and form quite a narrow bar. Ruby chocolate is a type of cocoa that is made with “botanical cocoa” known as Ruby Cocoa Beans, and is a different type of chocolate. Plain Ruby KitKats are available in Tesco, if you want tot try the chocolate at a more reasonable price.

New Springtime in Japan Chocolatory KitKat (John Lewis)

This Springtime in Japan Chocolatory KitKat bar itself is a taste sensation, it is a beautiful collection of flavours. The apple and cherry filling is really quite stunning, sweet fruity and set off perfectly by the slightly acidic ruby chocolate. There is the usual wafer and crunch from KitKat, but the texture is enhanced when you find some of the jellied fruits that were decorating the base. This is really special, I have to admit despite my preconceptions based on the price this is an utter delight to eat.
So what are you paying for here, well the very unique variety, the fact that the bar is hand crafted and the lovely presentation box. It is a pricey bar, but if you were looking for a stocking filler for someone who loves different chocolate it is worth it. It is just not an every day bar to snack, this is taking KitKat to the luxury end of the market. I can’t wait to try the other variety in the box, but more on that later in the week.

New Springtime in Japan Chocolatory KitKat (John Lewis)

29 September 2019

Sky Tapas (@NLi10)

To get back from my eco friendly eurotrip by train I could either spend 2 days on trains or 2 hours on a plane - so I took the easy option and flew back to Birmingham from Prague. And of course there were delays, and crowding, both of which I’d not had while waiting for trains. But when on board I had a row of three seats to myself # and the option to buy food.

So I went for the Tapas. As we’ve discussed before - the noise of the plane causes the flavours in the food to become muted so umami flavours like tomato juice are best - so my haul was tapas, olives, tomato and a doughnut.

Sky tapas is quite affordable, it’s long lasting, light and packs away neatly so you don’t pay as much for the fuel and maintenance as for most things.  It’s very meaty and requires a certain amount of messiness, but the flavours are strong and hold up well. I even put my noise blocking headphones in to see if it restored a little sweetness and it did.

The tomato was again the star, it just tastes amazing up here! And the olives were nice too, but I do love olives.

The whole box probably wasn’t massively healthy and is over packaged out of necessity but I’ll be trying to replicate this in future. 

Here we see superhero Donuter and a quite luxury baked doughnut with actual dried fruit. I was hoping for a more exotic flavour but I’ll take this!

This was a little overpriced but as part of the whole deal it worked out ok, and as I had my headphones I still could taste the sweetness of the fruit and doughnut.

A fun way to end a culinary tour of Europe!

And at this rate I’ll get to go back again before they make it much harder to float over borders!

28 September 2019

Thornbridge Green Mountain Beer (Morrison’s) By @SpectreUK

Green Mountain is Thornbridge, Riverside Brewery's, take on a Vermont Session India Pale Ale. This IPA is quite a strong 4.3% volume for a session beer, which was a style of beer that was traditionally drunk on break times during working hours. Unfortunately rules are a little tougher nowadays and bosses don't seem to appreciate half-cut employees in the afternoons!

The Green Mountain State is another name for Vermont, in the USA, so this dry hopped IPA should be both aromatic and fruity. I was looking forward to cracking open the can so much, I had to stop typing at this point and pour it out. There was a good strong aroma of herbal hops on opening the can, I'm guessing a heavy hit of Maris Otter, with a few others added in, but I'm purely guessing and may be completely wrong…?

On taste this hazy golden IPA has complex almost contradictory flavours. The aromatic lightly bitter herbal hops tickled my tastebuds with a little fruitiness to start with, and then the wheat and sweet barley malts seemed to battle it out with each other, with the sweet barley malts winning into the aftertaste. Don't get me wrong, I liked this mix of flavours, but I couldn't help thinking that either wheat or barley would have sufficed. As far as I'm aware a Vermont style IPA is usually "all grain", but I may be completely wrong…?

27 September 2019

Rice Krispies Squares - Dragon Creation (Sainsbury) By @Cinabar

So this is the latest snack review in our mythological creatures series. We have been trying out various products with varieties inspired by unicorns and etc, to see how these translate into foodstuffs. Generally speaking they have all sounded far more exciting than they are and left rather ordinary flavours and designs despite the potential. The latest item to join the category are these Rice Krispies Squares Dragon Creation edition an dI’m hoping there is a bit of magic. The packaging looks fairly bright and interesting and I was keen to see how the product looked outside the packaging.

I have to say I was really impressed when I opened up the wrapper, the bars do look very impressive. There are obviously lots of marshmallow Rice Krispies, but there are chocolate bits (dragon eggs I think) and smart looking candy dragon flames. There was actually some effort in the appearance and I have too say I liked the way they looked. As someone who likes interesting textures I also liked there added crunch and it made it fun to eat. I wish there was an added flavour to make it truly special, they should have gone with cinnamon flames, but the taste was quite plain and just sugar. Dragons don’t really say usual vanilla marshmallow Krispies to me, but at least there was some imagination used in the decoration.

26 September 2019

The Czech Mole version of Micky Mouse (@NLi10)

I’d been seeing these little mole characters around Prague and found out that it’s essentially the communist equivalent of Micky Mouse. There have been a lot of controversies around the ownership of Krychek but that’s not stopped the merchandising!

Even the airport was full of them!

But for us - more importantly they had surprise eggs!

There were a couple of brands but I chose to stick to the kinderesque foil coated two coloured Choc egg.

And a magnet Krteček for our car (I had spare currency)

So far so professional and normal.

And the prize was a good quality, well painted model of the rabbit from the series. Not even worth doing a disappointment wars style article - this is a hit! 

And the Choc was good too - even on the plane this had good creamy and chocolate flavours where they should. If these were in the uk I’d be happy to pick these up especially at non airport prices!

25 September 2019

UFIT Chocolate Flavour High Protein Milkshake (@DegustaboxUK) By @SpectreUK

After a long session of weights and swimming at my local gym there's nothing better that a protein packed lunch, and often followed by something sweet for a treat. This UFIT Chocolate Flavour High Protein Milkshake could be both protein packed and a sweet treat. I've certainly got my fingers crossed…

With no added sugar, low in fat, made with nutritious milk and milk proteins, as well as vitamins and minerals, this chocolate milkshake sounds very good for me indeed. Especially after my longer than usual and pretty torturous session at the gym today. I'm working harder to get my knee muscles back into shape, as they are feeling stronger by the day, but I've possibly been going a little easy for a few weeks now. Time to grow the muscles more to match the other knee. Plus my abs are looking pretty good, but need further work to get rid of a little more fat, and my shoulder is improving after its surgery some years ago.

Like every morning, I started working out at 5.30am and then finally left the gym for lunch at 1pm. So, you can see why I need this milkshake! After a good shake, on opening the bottle there was a fairly milky chocolate aroma from the mid brown creamy liquid inside. On taste this UFIT Chocolate Flavour High Protein Milkshake is pretty heavy on the milk and a little light on the chocolate side. It's milky, slightly creamy and mildly chocolatey sweet. It's certainly not unpleasant, but personally I have a sweeter tooth. Having said that, with the fairly low calories and the sheer amount of protein packed inside this little bottle, not to mention all the vitamins and minerals. This protein packed chocolate milkshake will be helping to fix my tired muscles for some time. I'd certainly have one of these after a workout just for that reason alone!

Information on the bottle;
The 310ml bottle contains 170 calories, with 3.2g of fat, 10.4g of sugar, 0.3g of salt, and 22g of protein. Suitable for vegetarians. Please see photograph for the ingredients.

24 September 2019

Dairy Milk Mini Bars (Sainsbury) By @Cinabar

Okay the actual chocolate here is not new, in fact it is original Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate, and things in Britain don’t really get any more classical than that. This is however a new format for the chocolate which is now available in this new Mini Bar format. These bags contain 8 wrapped mini bars. First thing first, I tried to open the bag and struggled a little, I think my bag was missing a ‘rip here’ indent, not sure if other bags have it but most of these types usually do. I had a to snip it with a pair of scissor. Also what I thought was a little odd was that there was no re-seal sticker on the back of the bag. You would assume you aren’t supposed to eat the whole bag in one sitting and thus might want to ensure the rest of the contents stay together, so I was expecting a re-seal sticker.
I took one Dairy Milk Mini Bar out and have to say it does look cute, it is styled a little like a full sized bar but is in miniature. I added a ruler to try and give context, otherwise it might look like a larger bar than it is in the picture. The chocolate was the usually yumminess of Cadbury and I did really enjoy it, sweet, creamy and soothing. Not new but still good. The best thing is this new format. Sometimes I fancy just a little bit of chocolate and being able to have one of these well quench that without adding on unnecessary calories. I actually prefer to have one of these rather than some of the attempts at lower calorie chocolate, like their 30% less sugar edition. Less is more in this case, and did I mention how cute the bars are, it is rather like pretending to be a giant for a few minutes! :-D

23 September 2019

Aromatic Crispy Duck in Hoisin Sauce Crisps (Co-Op) By @Cinabar

The thing about writing about a lot of crisps is that when you see a new flavour things get a bit familiar. For example the idea of Aromatic Crispy Duck in Hoisin Sauce Crisps from the Co-Op should sound really different but all I could think about was how many other time I’ve already tried the same flavour. I know I’ve had similar flavours from Tesco, Corkers, Sainsbury and even Walkers themselves released some. Still I’ve not seen any for a while and this is a different shop’s take on the variety.
I opened up the bag of crisps and found they had a sweet fruity aroma. We shared them out with sandwiches, and I could see that they were fairly thickly cut and had a dark seasoning. I gave one a try and found that the sweet scent followed through into the flavour too, and the duck was nicely prominent but tasted more like it was in a plum sauce. I had been expecting a spring onion flavour but there wasn’t anything tangy like that in the taste despite the picture on the front of the bag. Spectre preferred it without the onion flavour and said these worked for him more than the others he had tried. I felt the hoisin was a little sweet especially as an accompaniment to a savoury sandwich, but liked the meaty duck taste either way. I don’t go in the Co-Op that often but I will certainly make an effort to see what other own brand crisps they do.

22 September 2019

The Magical World of #TheWizardsBrunch - Birmingham Botanical Gardens (@NLi10)

What seems like a very long time ago my family spotted a themed meal that was quite local and looked like fun.  My mom bought some tickets and we put the date in the diary.

A long while later we were here at the Botanical Gardens, dressed as Wizards!  

It's very hard to see my official Slytherin Tie and pin badges here, but as the whole meal is very much not at a certain copyrighted wizard school I think I got away with it!  It's kind of an odd theme to go with though - as the evening meal is 18+ no one really is at school age.  I wondered if it would be better as a Wizards School Reunion which would give them a little more license to play around with the theme.

We were in House Brigit which wasn't the evil house, but also didn't seem to be the good house.  I think it's hard to establish identities in such a short space of time - maybe this needed to be done in the reception area.  Note my amazing wand that I picked up on a walk home from work. It's so magical.  We brought the Jelly Beans - obviously not the official ones which would have been 6 times as expensive by weight as these Jelly Belly ones - and as they are made by the same company that's just a little daft.

Anyway, the location was fabulous and had a lot of set dressing and giant spiders and floating candles and mood lighting.  The live entertainment and food started at about the same time, which was a little odd, but generally worked.

This is the Wizard Starter.  I think it was butternut squash soup and some good quality bread.  I enjoyed it - the portion was fine and the flavour was good.  

This is one of the entertainment wizards.  He was a mentalist (in the magical sense) and had some good tricks and patter.  Working in the round isn't great for an illusionist and we were slightly behind him so had a non-typical view.  He coped very well considering although was seemingly confused by the fact that it's hard to clap with cutlery in your hands!

There had been a lady with a snake in the reception area which was cool.  I had expected at least one live owl though which was disappointing.  On an unrelated note here is the main course, poor Hedwig.  As some guests too my left noted the balance was a little skewed towards the meat (chicken) and it felt like it wanted another veg, but the quality and flavour was again great.  I mean - I've been to lots of work catered meals and its hard to give 200+ people something that's satisfying and tasty.  This worked.  I think people (mom included) would have liked something a little more thematic, but the main is not the place to do that.  We had the idea of colouring either the table water or entry drinks with cordial linked to the house chosen.

The main meal entertainment was a sword swallower, which is essentially regurgitation while you are eating.  It's not the best fit (the guy was really good though and had all the entertaining bits you'd expect).

The other main meal entertainment was the best of the night - a juggler.  It's hard to get this sort of act over at the best of times, so turning it into a light show was a stroke of genius.  Contact, 3, hard 3, 4, 5, 6 ball and 4 & 5 rings were all covered - along with some kind of poi stick that had phased illuminations which made pictures appear in the air.  That last one got a lot of crowd response, which was ironic for essentially the easiest move, but it was just spectacular in the darkened room. If all of the acts had been of this standard then you could have probably done away with the food and I'd still have been happy.

The secret to a good buffet is to spend as much as you can on the pudding as it's the bit people remember the most. This sticky toffee pudding isn't much to look at (focus on the jelly beans box in the background) but it was good quality, and the vanilla custard was delightful.  Again, it's hard to wizard up the pudding without annoying the catering staff so this was fine.

Save filling the review with the settings this was an example of the kinds of things they had.  The spiders were cool, the books huge, and the indoor street lights a nice touch.  The gloomy mirrors are always in the venue (as are the plants in the first picture) so they certainly chose the right place.

There were a few little games and stalls to occupy the between courses time, although oddly the two clairvoyants were the most popular causing a queue as long as one of the tables in the great hall.  I didn't need to visit these as if they had been any good then they'd have known to bring a third to manage the wait time.

My mom, sister & I all had a great time (note the chop-stick wand in the middle!) and I think we got value for money.  I got the impression from overheard conversations that some people were disappointing that it just ended and that there wasn't a little disco or something afterwards, but I was fine with that.  I wasn't really sure what to expect but it was well run, and the wizards running it were very good at staying in character and keeping the crowd engaged (except for the terrible quiz!).

I think I'd scatter house coloured jelly beans on the tables to cover the initial wait for food, along with small bottles of coloured cordial to tint the table water with.  I'd then get a live wizard band (string quartet even) to play over the main course (you don't have to look at a band while eating) and move those two great acts to some of the dead-spots in the evening between courses so they could be better appreciated.

With the budget and capacity that they have catered for I think they did an admirable job of providing a great evening out.  I'm not sure it's something you'd do again though - maybe next year will have a completely different theme.

21 September 2019

Sakura Beer (DiscoverBrew) By @SpectreUK

I may have misread the name of this beer. I thought it was named after a favourite singer of mine. Admittedly I'm not that fussed about her music, although always cheerful. However, I'll just say that her hips definitely don't lie! ;-)

The crazy looking woman on the front of this Sakura beer can, isn't Sakura, rather the Japanese ornamental cherry blossom tree behind her. Produced by Hopfully Brewing in Dublin, this 5.4% volume beer has been brewed with Sorachi Ace hops. Originating in Japan, I don't think I've ever tasted a beer with Sorachi Ace hops before, so I'm looking forward to this first experience.

On opening the can this Sakura beer was one of those cans that irritatingly explodes everywhere. I even got some on my laptop's monitor before I unceremoniously shoved the can opening in my mouth. As an ex-barman I pride myself on pouring beer well for a good head. Sakura had an impossible head which just wouldn't quit. It's been sat in my beer fridge for some time and unless Cinabar cheekily shook the can up before handing it me, I can't understand why it's so excitable.

This murky golden beer has an almost yeasty lager aroma to it behind the sweet barley malt. Sorachi Ace hops are supposed to have a buttery off flavour, and I could smell their presence. On taste, once it had calmed down, Sakura has a lovely and slightly obscure flavour. I don't think it would be an acquired taste, where some people like it and some people don't.

The initial sweet barley malt taste cover the usual expected beer flavours perfectly, and then that almost creamy slightly bitter buttery off flavour of the Sorachi Ace hops jumped excitedly all over my tastebuds making it difficult to put down. It makes me wonder why brewers don't use Sorachi Ace hops more regularly. This is a very moreish beer that I found unputdownable once poured. It made me want to reach for another excitable can!

20 September 2019

McVities Unicorn Rainbow Crystal Cake Bars (Asda) By @Cinabar

Okay, another product that is on the mythical creature band wagon. I don’t mind the association with unicorns and mermaids, they are all on trend and cool, but I do kind of hope that any product that goes down this route has something special about it too. These new McVities Unicorn Rainbow Crystal Cake Bars promise rainbow crystals, so that at least sounds a bit different.
The sponge inside though is vanilla, and the creme on top of the sponge is vanilla and nothing says exciting like vanilla does it. The coating is the regular milk chocolate one around it, so basically all hopes are pinned on the rainbow crystals.

I took the outer wrapper off and found nicely individually packaged cake bars, they are the kind of thing that would make a kid smile if they found it in their lunch box. The packaging is cute and pink and very much up to the theme.
I cut the cake bar in half ready to witness the rainbow crystals spectacular.

I looked hard, there was a pale orange crystal, and maybe a pale pink one just visible in the filling. It was not much of a rainbow, and it wasn’t very exciting. Further bites revealed the same, not much to see here. The crystals did add a crunch when you are eating them, but the flavours are all vanilla so that was nice enough but again not really what I’d expect from something which is supposed to be a magical unicorn like experience. Oh well, these McVities Unicorn Rainbow Crystal Cake Bars will get eaten but frankly I want more novelty in my novelty items.

19 September 2019

DOX - Prague, Art & VIGO Kombucha (@Nli10)

A short trip out of town on the underground, DOX is an absolutely lovely art place.  It took me three attempts to find the front door though, but I think that was the heat and my heady bag messing with me.

To say the Cafe is well stocked would be an understatement!

It's safe to say that had I been staying close I'd have tried all of these - heck if it wasn't for the fact I was going to the airport after this I'd have stocked up on glassware!

I'd never seen Vigo Kombucha before - so I chose the ACAI flavour and discovered that they have decided to go with the health angle.

Some of these claims are very vague guys!  As someone with an overactive immune system do I want to consult a doctor before I drink this? Of course not! It's water and fermented tea - while I don't doubt that it helps fuel my 'friendly bacteria' I think that the fact you put a load of vitamins in it is the main way it'd help someone (but only if they are deficient in those things already!)

Thing is - it tasted great and has the pleasant tingly sensation that I love.  I'd drink more of these given the chance - and luckily the flights to Prague are quite cheap (the tax was more than the flights) so maybe I'll be back one day.

18 September 2019

Pot Noodle: Asian Street Style Thai Red Curry (Alexa) By @SpectreUK

I get on very well with Alexa. She sits in the kitchen and plays Classical radio stations for me during my lunchtime, and asks us a "question of the day". I often find her voice quiet soothing. Cinabar doesn't get on with Alexa so well, but she did ask her to send me this Asian Street Style Thai Red Curry from Pot Noodle. I have tried many Pot Noodles in the past, my favourite being Beef and Tomato. So I'm quite looking forward to this, especially as I love Thai Red Curry. What could go wrong?

Opening the Asian Street Style Thai Red Curry Pot Noodle there was a ball of fine stringy noodles covered in reddish seasoning and some diced vegetables. I boiled the kettle and also a couple of boiled eggs, with some toast and butter on the side. After leaving the pot to stew and stirring, I pulled off the foil top from the pot and was at first struck by the sheer strength of a lemongrass type smell. I say "type" because I couldn't see any lemongrass in the ingredients, and believe me, the smell was so strong I read through them several times!

Once cooled a little the strength of the lemongrass type flavour was overwhelming. If you had told me in a blind taste test that this was a lemongrass noodle soup I'd have believed you. There was quite a hot chilli strength behind this overwhelming almost washing-up liquid type flavour, which made me sweat little also. Of course I don't eat washing-up liquid, but I'm sure you get the idea. It's fortunate I don't mind lemongrass that much, but those of you who don't like it (like Cinabar) are probably best to avoid this pot noodle. It unfortunately didn't taste like any Thai Red Curry I've ever tasted before, and I've enjoyed quite a few in my time…

Information on the Pot;
The 69g pot included 243 calories, 1.5g of fat, 4.9g of sugar, and 2.6g of salt. I was pretty surprised by the amount of salt. That seems pretty high. Please see photograph for ingredients.

17 September 2019

Sticky Toffee Pudding Hot Chocolate (@whittarduk) By @Cinabar

Sticky Toffee Pudding Hot Chocolate Whittard

We have been on a lovely trip ‘up north’ around the Liverpool and the Chester area. One of my favourite places to shop is Cheshire Oaks, and I always make sure we pop into Whittard to stock up on their beautiful hot chocolates. They have one of the best selections of flavours of hot chocolates around, and this Sticky Toffee Pudding Hot Chocolate is top of their new and limited edition range. I think from the packaging that this must be meant as an autumn / halloween edition, as the tub is covered in colourful skulls and candles.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Hot Chocolate Whittard

The powder inside is mostly white but speckled with a darker granule, which does look a bit like dark sugar. The contents are well mixed though so each teaspoon gives an even distribution. The drink is made with hot milk and as it has a white hot chocolate base the drink is a dark cream in colour once made. The smell is amazing while this is being made, wonderfully sweet. The drink itself is such a soothing substance. The flavour is like sweet rich toffee, creamy and with lovely tones of caramel and a hint of creme brûlée just on the edge of the flavour. This is a seriously luxurious and sumptuous drink, it is rich but on a cold autumn night it is the perfect drink to warm you up. It will be ideal to have in mugs watching the trick treaters visit and also for bonfire night fireworks too, it turns out autumn isn’t so bad after all.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Hot Chocolate Whittard