23 February 2020

Kew Gardens & their pink baguettes (@NLi10)

We had a family trip to Kew gardens the other day.  Although it was a bit cold and rainy we had a great time.  We saw some plants.

We also saw this sneaky Robin who seems to live in the Orchids exhibit.

They had a pool full of axelotl too - I suspect that was more deliberate.

We saw some artificially dyed plants

And some plants that can eat animals.

And then I decided not to eat animals, but to have the artificially dyed vegan sandwich!

The pink is tofu, the underneath is meat-free balls.

Looks a bit like cheese, but it smells faintly of blackcurrant - clever!

Unfortunately the whole lot tasted of nothing at all.  I'm not sure whether the target market being the over 60s they didn't want to use strong flavours - relying on people to add enough salt to protect the whole site from slugs (I saw no insects - but then it is Feb still).

It was filling, and considering the completely captive audience that we were - reasonably priced - but I just expected something a little tastier.  They did have a load of curries and things on offer - maybe I should have gone for one of those instead.

22 February 2020

Hiver: The Honey Ale (Sainsbury's) By @SpectreUK

Hiver: The Honey Ale

When I was a youngster I didn't like the taste of honey. I can't think why I didn't like it, but then Golden Syrup was my go to sweet spread on toast. Our tastebuds change during our lives and even though I still like Golden Syrup, I do also love honey on toast now. I not only love honey on toast, but in liquor such as a rather generous shot of Southern Comfort in lemonade once a week, and of course, I love honey in beer. So this Hiver Honey Ale should be right up my street.

Named after Beekeepers this Hiver brown ale is 4.5% volume and only British ingredients are used to brew it. Raw blossom and heather honeys are fermented to add further flavour to the roasted malts. The label on the bottle states that there is a light bitterness from the hops to finish. I was salivating on reading the bottle, so I just had to open it there and then…

On opening the 330ml bottle there was quite a strong smell of heather honey mixed with the sweet malts. I have had heather honey in beer a long time ago and I remember I really liked it. My tastebuds were now salivating even more after my first sniff. The sweetness of the honey in the aroma of this deep brown ale were intoxicating.

On taste the heather and blossom honeys merge together and run straight through the flavour. From my initial swig the honey oozes over the rich roasted malts producing a lip-smacking flavour. These sweet honey and malty flavours run right through to the light bitterness from the herbal hops and into the aftertaste. This Hiver brown ale is so rich and honey sweet that I'd say that it could easily be enjoyed as a pudding beer, and certainly one to be savoured on its own for sure!

21 February 2020

Yorkie More - Oats, Apple & Cinnamon (@DegustaboxUK) By @Cinabar

Yorkie More - Oats, Apple & Cinnamon

I first heard about this bar before Christmas and have searched for it all over, none of the supermarkets or smaller shops near me sell it unfortunately. I was however pleased to find it in the January Degusta box which I was gifted. The bar contains one of my favourite things, cinnamon and that it is why it had been on my radar. It is part of the More range, which contain less sugar and more protein. They have made a Kit Kat in the range which I found in Asda, that one was flavoured with raspberries and hazelnuts.
I have to confess though to not being a fan of Yorkie bars in general, something about their ‘not for girls’ campaign from the nineties still resonates as casual sexism, but to be fair I don’t think they’ve used that for a long time. I do still know the taste of Yorkie bars and found this Yorkie More - Oats, Apple & Cinnamon bar to be pleasingly different. The milder sweetness is very much at the forefront and makes it taste more refined, the lovely spice of cinnamon shines through too and it is a really good combination for the chocolate. Also in the bar is granola and this mixes up the texture rather nicely and I think made it made it far more interesting than a regular Yorkie which is of course quite plain.
The only downfall is that I received this in a freebie box and still don’t know who actually stocks it locally or where I can get another. I hope it isn’t the end of a seasonal addition too, I mean cinnamon is not just for Christmas.

Yorkie More - Oats, Apple & Cinnamon

20 February 2020

Belated Valentines Hearts In A Box - Krispy Kreme (@NLi10)

Valentines things are in store for a long time before the actual day, but often seem to disappear on the stroke of midnight so that the next time based fad can be shoved onto the shelves.

I don’t think that Krispy Kreme got that memo - they are still selling their Valentines Heart doughnuts and so I got to try them all.

I walked past the little cart in the Mander Centre, Wolverhampton and spotted they had the poster up - checked that Cinabar hadn’t already got these to write up - and got a box with one of each for £5.

It’s probably easier to see them without the lid

They aren’t quite as fresh as the hot-light ones I’d usually pick up from Selfridges but they certainly hit the spot.  We sliced them in two and shared them - mostly so you could see the fillings.

First up we have Nutella - which is always a welcome flavour.  The doughnut tasted like classic baked KK and the creme was a little sweeter than standard jar Nutella because of this, but it worked really well.  This was the main one I wanted to try and I wasn’t disappointed. 

The red and white KK is a classic, with the dried fruit popping over the sweet icing and the fruity centre.  Changing it to a heart shape ruins none of this and it’s always a pleasure to eat one of these.

Last up was the dark choc with mint heart.  Probably the strangest combo that they had on offer, and im not sure it fully works.  I think that mint and dark are fine together but with the usual sweetness of the KK added on top it’s all a bit muddled.  Calling it the worst of the three is hardly criticism though - I’d eat another one of these with pleasure!

Maybe this is the start of a good new trend - giving me an extra week or two where I can pick up the timed exclusives keeps people coming back for more a little bit longer. And who knows, maybe now I’ll make an eggstra special effort to see if I can have a Krispy Kreme Easter doughnut when they do show up.

19 February 2020

Smarties Buttons (Sainsbury's) By @SpectreUK

Smarties Buttons

I can't help thinking that these Smarties Buttons should be called Smarties White Chocolate Buttons, as they are not milk chocolate. I haven't eaten Smarties for a good long while, but I am rather partial to white chocolate. I can remember that I did like Smarties, so the pair together sounds like a bright idea. They are also fairly low in calories, so they shouldn't be too much of a problem for portion control in order to help to maintain my current weight.

Smarties Buttons

As you can see from the photograph, on opening the packet each Smarties Button had two or three mini Smarties wedged in their centre. These Smarties Buttons may not look altogether machine made, but they do taste great. They taste of creamy white chocolate followed by the crunchy texture from the miniature Smarties and also a mixture of flavours from those Smarties. Washed down by my white hot chocolate after dinner these Smarties Buttons were very tasty. I liked the crunchiness of them and the myriad of flavours that the embedded Smarties gave my tastebuds as I ate. I was glad I took the bag upstairs with me, as I know it states to share them on the front of the packet, but I'm far too selfish for that!

Information on the bag;
The 85g bag contains 77 calories per 6 pieces, with 3.9g of fat, 8.9g of sugar and 0.04g of salt. The ingredients have no artificial colours, flavours or preservations. Please see photograph below.

Smarties Buttons

18 February 2020

Cadbury Creme Egg Chocolate Cakes (Tesco) By @cinabar

Cadbury Creme Egg Chocolate Cakes

I am a big fan of Cadbury Creme Eggs, I think this comes down to my sweet tooth, I just love the filling. I am also the one that picks out the Cadbury Creme Egg Twisted from the Heroes box, which is my year round fix of Creme Eggs. As Easter is coming the real things are available again and we have these Cadbury Creme Egg Chocolate Cakes as a bonus product this year, and I couldn’t wait to have one as an afternoon treat with a cup of coffee.

Cadbury Creme Egg Chocolate Cakes

Inside the pack are six cake bars, they consist of a layer of chocolate sponge, a topping of Creme Egg filling and a coating of milk chocolate. I have to admit I had hoped that they would be individually wrapped, just because this makes them much easier for portion control and for popping into a lunch box to take to work. I’m aware the extra packaging isn’t good for the environment though.

Cadbury Creme Egg Chocolate Cakes

These Cadbury Creme Egg Chocolate Cakes have what looks like only a slight amount of Creme Egg fondant but is actually plenty when it comes to the taste. The sponge is soft and fluffy and with the coating these do have a good chocolate flavour. I think these are a nice edition to the range, and something that would be nice to share with visitors over Easter. Controversially if they had been individually wrapped I would be buying them more regularly, as it would have been nice to just have one occasionally without worrying about the others drying out when exposed to the air.

17 February 2020

Magnum Collection - Ruby Ice Creams (Asda) By @cinabar

Magnum Collection - Ruby Ice Creams

The weekend has been stormy near us, in fact with the weather being bad last weekend too it has all been a bit miserable trying to go out. We have been ok, but not far away there has been localised flooding. Naturally the solution is to stay in, turn the heating up, and eat ice cream. Interestingly the new ice creams and lollies do seem to be launching already, presumably in time for spring. The first new product in the freezer section to catch my eye are these Magnum Collection Ruby Chocolate Edition Ice Creams. As Ruby chocolate is very much on trend I can see why Magnum went with this for their latest edition.
The ice lollies are pretty and pink, which did look rather fab. Inside is a vanilla ice cream which is ripple with Ruby Cocoa layers. The chocolate shell is pure ruby chocolate and has that lovely tang of an almost berry like flavour, sweeter like a white chocolate but with a hint of acidic fruitiness. The ice cream inside is creamy and sweet, and just has a mild taste of the ruby cocoa, but I think this brings balance.
This Magnum Collection Ruby Chocolate Edition Ice Cream is a well designed lolly, it is very much full of the flavour of Ruby Cocoa, but still has the lovely creamy ice cream inside. This may well be Magnum getting on the bandwagon of this new pink chocolate, but they turned it into a really nice creation.

Magnum Collection - Ruby Ice Creams

16 February 2020

I Have Nothing Interesting To Talk About This Week (@NLi10)

Ordinarily when I'm out and about I pick up things to talk about.  I may eat something exciting in a restaurant, or maybe just order some nutritious dust off a Facebook advert.  Recently none of those things have happened so I basically have run out of stored photos on my phone!

Luckily (for me - not you I expect) I have a few breaks coming up so I'll be sure to go into meticulous details about all kinds of things that no sane person cares about (remember the highest vending machine in Spain?)

If I'd been a bit more organised I could have reviewed these foamy turtles I ate at my sisters house yesterday.  Oddly the shell being softer than the body is really confusing.

The concept of no hidden nasties in a filled turtle seems a little unlikely.

I could have also taken better pictures of the sloe gin we had - all home made.  Even the Papillion didn't sit still for the photo!  It was very nice, if not a little strong to drink all night long.

So I'd got something to talk about at all I got a little drink with my cheap frozen pizza (Chicago town pepperoni - not exciting) and even opted for the rather safe purple one.

Luna's interest suggests they have been in the shop for a good while.  Tastes like purple water as you'd expect, but at least it was nice and refreshing after a long walk home!

Maybe I've got stuck in my ways - gravitating towards the Twix & Bounty rather than the unknown snacks, and having less trips into town to pick up the things like the bag of Thai curry that actually generate interest.  Maybe it's just an attempt to eat less processed food and sugar.

I promise to try harder to pick up the weird and wonderful as 2020 continues.

15 February 2020

Rekorderlig Botanicals Rhubarb Lemon Mint (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

Rekorderlig Botanicals Rhubarb Lemon Mint

We seem to be well into the storm season this month. A storm last weekend and a storm this weekend. Storm Dennis didn't sound too bad until people started are calling it Dennis the Menace! Although I still think they should name storms more appropriately such as 'Storm Hades" or 'Storm Death Monger', but that's just me.

Anyway, I thought I'd go off the wall completely this weekend with this pear cider. Made with Swedish spring water Rekorderlig Botanicals Rhubarb Lemon Mint is a 4% volume welcome break to my mind from the howling wind and rain outside. Trying not to think of the snow and flood warnings, this rhubarb and lemon blended cider should bring about thoughts of early Spring, especially with its added hint of mint. So I'll put some headphones on in an attempt to drown out the rain battering at the window nearby.

On opening the bottle there was a light cheerful fizz from the pinkish liquid inside. To go with the colour of the liquid there is a dominant aroma of rhubarb. I do love the smell and taste of rhubarb. I used to grow it at the last place we lived at, so I may have to do some planting this Spring time in the garden here. I used to have a decent sugary pudding or two from the stems and then a lovely rhubarb juice drink to wash it down with.

On taste this Rekorderlig Botanicals Rhubarb Lemon Mint does taste predominantly of rhubarb. It has a lovely sweet rhubarb flavour mixed with pear, offset slightly by the blended lemon and then there is a refreshing mint flavour into the aftertaste. It was hard to put my glass down after the first swig. I could imagine myself in the garden on a Spring or Summer's afternoon drinking quite a few of these whilst reading a good book. So bring on some warmer weather!

14 February 2020

Chocolatory Kit Kat Whisky and Ginger from The Mixologist (John Lewis) By @cinabar

Chocolatory Kit Kat Whisky and Ginger from The Mixologist

Chocolatory Kit Kat Whisky and Ginger from The Mixologist

Before Christmas I wrote about a couple of new Kit Kats that were in John Lewis, they are part of the Chocolatory range and are hand made. I was recently in store and noticed they still had some flavours I hadn’t tried so I decided to pick up the Chocolatory Mixologist box. I should say it wasn’t reduced in price and these are still some of the most expensive Kit Kats I’ve ever had!
I decided to start with the Whisky and Ginger edition. This particular Kit Kat is flavoured with Whisky, has ginger pieces and is covered in chocolate sugar stands which naturally went everywhere once the packet was open. It is a smart looking bar though and is made with dark chocolate.

Chocolatory Kit Kat Whisky and Ginger from The Mixologist

Inside the bar it had the usual wafer but there is fair amount of chocolate on the top. I have to admit I didn’t quite like the flavour which is remarkably disappointing given the price. I like the ginger aspect this was sweet and spicy and as I had hoped for. The Whisky part though, the key element, wasn’t quite right for me. I just didn’t like the flavour, it was Whisky like but it was a little acidic and artificial, not warm and soothing. The ginger was enough to try and pull this through but finding this Chocolatory Kit Kat Whisky and Ginger to be just about ok was a disappointment. There is another Kit Kat in the box flavoured with Gin and Tonic, here is hopping that one has nailed it.

Chocolatory Kit Kat Whisky and Ginger from The Mixologist

13 February 2020

Loma Linda - Thai Green Curry for lunch in 2 mins (@NLi10) @Holland_Barrett

Holland & Barrett are fast becoming my go-to shop for quick things to pick up for review - they should probably give their 'food & snacks' buyers a raise!

Yesterday I found some discounted lunch pouches - like the meaty bachelor chow ones that I used to keep in stock - but plant based and vegan and sustainable.

I'm thinking they can't be that bad - and it makes a change from Huel.

I kind of cut off the reasoning behind it all - if people that live in Loma Linda have good longevity then it's clearly due to eating microwavable bags of fuel imported from Thailand right?  I mean as a Public Health guy I do have to point out that people tend to move to places where they feel they will fit in so these healthy hot-spots are highly self selected and massively biased.  That said, calorie restriction is linked to longevity, and all of us eating sustainably means we still have a planet to live on so I guess it has some merit - lets heat it up!

90 sec in the Microwave - 30 seconds standing so the super-heated water vapour doesn't remove all your skin.  
Looks like classic lazy lunch bags.

Actually serves pretty well! Didn't dry up on cooking (the secret is to tear both sides but only a tiny way), has a variety of grains and textures and actually tastes like (vegan) Thai Curry.  No fish sauce here!

The protein chunks aren't Quorn, they have a sponginess and are almost round.  I'd be intrigued to find out how they work with the Indian sauce, but with the aromatic (barely spicey) Thai they work well.  You can add chilli flakes (and nam pla sauce!) if you wanted to taste.

This is another thing I picked up as a one and done review that had me plotting a course back to H&B to look for other flavours and check that this was just their typical sales and not something they will stop stocking.  The BBE dates on them are really good (a year!) so I can drop a few in my long term cupboard like I used to with the John Wests tuna cans and always have a back up tasty meal to go to.

It does say two portions, but I could have had a little veg or similar with this for a nice meal.  A definite win.

12 February 2020

Walkers Max Strong Hot Chicken Wings (Ocado) By @SpectreUK

Walkers Max Strong Hot Chicken Wings

Walkers have brought out a few new flavours lately and Cinabar had ordered both of their multipacks. As I mentioned in my Walkers Max Double Crunch XXL Chicken & Chorizo blog last week, we've divided up the more interesting sounding flavours and this Walkers Max Strong Hot Chicken Wings is my second blog.

First of all I noticed on the packet that it states 'perfect with beer'. Personally I disagree that strong flavours of crisps go with beer. To me it's the mild flavours, such as Ready Salted that go well with beer. The flavour of the beer generally enhances the saltiness in the crisps, whilst the crisps flavour is subtle and doesn't overpower the beer.

Anyway, these Walkers Max Strong Hot Chicken Wings have a two chilli heat warning on the front of the packet. On opening the packet of these ridged crisps I was at first taken aback as to how much they actually smell like hot chicken wings. I expected them to be super orange in colour, but they only had a smattering of paprika on them. These crisps aren't as deep ridged like the last flavour I blogged about, they only have a slight ridge.

The flavour of these crisps was nice and strong. There is chicken to start with then there was quite a hot burn from the tangy chilli flavour. These Walkers Max Strong Hot Chicken Wings had my nose sweating after a few crisps with their chilli burn. They are very tasty indeed and if you like your chicken wing crisps hot and tangy, then these crisps are for you!

Information on the packet;
The 27g packet contains 139 calories, with 8.3g of fat, 1.5g of sugars, and 0.34g of salt. Please see photograph for the ingredients.

Walkers Max Strong Hot Chicken Wings

11 February 2020

Fibre One – Birthday Cake Squares (Ocado) By @Cinabar

I don’t buy a lot of Fibre One products really, I know they are sold as being a healthier treat (and with fibre too) but I still usually end up just picking up cereal bars to snack on while at work. I have tried their chocolate brownies but have to admit that although nice, didn’t really do much for me. I guess I am just used to cereal bars, habit really. As a fan of new products though I picked up these Fibre One – Birthday Cake Square because they looked a bit different and the flavour sounded rather nice.

Inside the box were individually wrapped cake squares that were smaller than I imagined. I think this might be what put me off previously, they are just a bit disappointing in size. I liked the birthday cake colours though, with brightly coloured sprinkles decorating the cakes on the inside. The flavour was mostly of sweet vanilla which is what birthday cake tastes off, but other birthday cake flavoured items I’ve tried have been a lot stronger on the sweetness and usually there is something more akin to buttercream. There was a little texture from the sprinkles, they added a light crunch which was nice. I think I am back where I started, these do an okay job for me as a snack but they don’t excite me. I personally get more pleasure from a cereal bar, so I probably won’t buy any more Fibre One bars until there is another limited edition flavour. I know that there are people who are big fans of the brand who will be loving these Fibre One – Birthday Cake Squares but for me although pleasant they weren’t an interesting as I’d hoped.

10 February 2020

Hot Chocolate Bombes (The Gourmet Chocolate Pizza Co @ChocPizzaCo) By @Cinabar

These Hot Chocolate Bombes were another of the birthday presents I received a couple of weeks ago. We had a very stormy evening last night and so decided to try out these rather amazing looking hot chocolates to warm ourselves up. They are made by the The Gourmet Chocolate Pizza Co who’s main product you can guess from the name, but they do diversify into luxury hot chocolates too.

The first thing I thought was that these Hot Chocolate Bombes were not going to fit into my my mug, as the instructions suggested, but I was pleased to discover they were fine in my ‘standard’ sized mug. The next stage is to then pour on hot milk and then watch the Hot Chocolate Bombe melt into this. I wasn’t sure how much milk to heat either, I couldn’t judge how much of the mug would now be filled with chocolate and what proportion of milk I’d need. I made three quarters of the mugs worth of milk which seemed about right.
The Hot Chocolate Bombe was stunning when the milk hit, the centre of the chocolate ball was filled with marshmallows and as the milk melted these came to the surface, this is absolutely stunning to watch. I took pictures of the process.

I then wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to stir too much at this point so I did so gently, just to ensure the chocolate was all meted in.

The drink itself was such an indulgence. There is a lot of chocolate mixed into his drink and it means it tastes fantastic. It is a thick creamy sweet and rich drink, one of the nicest hot chocolates I’ve ever had. I loved the theatre that came with it too, adding the milk watching the marshmallows appear. This isn’t an every day sort of drink, but if you are looking for a treat for a hot chocolate lover this really is something rather special.

9 February 2020

Jus-Rol Croissants - freshly baked in minutes! (@NLi10)

Thanks to a special deal we got to try some of the Jus-Rol basically pre made but fresh bake products.  Last time we had fun making cinamon rolls - now we have croissants!

Usually we get the frozen ones from Waitrose, and these aren't that much cheaper AND you have to eat six at the same time - but how do they look?

The tube is as odd as before

But this time it opened with no effort - guess the glue was just a little out of place on the last one.

And it even comes pre dotted so you don't end up with the wrong size (or maybe so you don't make lots of tiny ones?

A quick whizz with the pizza cutter later and we have some rolls.

They look like prawns or dog chews - maybe I should have looked online to see how tight they want to be wrapped!

They baked OK though and seem less like the flakey pastry of the frozen ones and more like an 'English' croissant (if that makes sense) having a more shortcrust style in places.

Add a bit of black-currant jam and all is forgiven.  Not quite Paris, but a lovely way to get the family involved in making breakfast and a lot easier than doing all the pastry bits yourself.  I think the frozen ones are a better eating experience, but these are more satisfying to do.

I think we'd have these again, but we still have to buy and try the Pan Au Chocolat at some point too.