31 December 2021

Lebkuchen Stars (Tesco) By @Cinabar

Lebkuchen Stars (Tesco)

We have a tiny branch of Tesco Express near us, it was built on a pub car park and sort of slotted into some of the spaces. I’m not complaining it is a really good place to easily pick up the basics, and has a friendly feel to it but it isn’t the sort of place I would have expected to pick up these Lebkuchen Stars. I love Lebkuchen I have German heritage and was brought up on these as a Christmas treat, so I picked up a bag when I saw them. The lady on the till asked me what ‘Leb-cutchen’ Stars were and I explained they were pronounced ‘Leeb-kook-en’ and that they were a German biscuit/cake cross over with seasonal spice. I told her if she liked nutmeg and cinnamon she’d love them. There are many types of Lebkuchen in reality, different shapes and some flavoured with chocolate or more heavily of ginger, but these are simple stars.

I opened up the bag and was pleased with the aroma, there was plenty of cinnamon in there. The base of each biscuit is dipped in chocolate and the top is iced with a very thin glaze, just enough to crackle when you bite in. The texture is soft like a firm cake, and the spices just lovely and warming, all that cinnamon is just so very seasonal. These are good biscuits, not as good as the ones my grandma used to bake (but these things never are) but still delicious all the same. I hope you are tucking into some nice seasonal treats tonight and looking forward to the clock ticking to midnight. Happy New Year everyone, here is hoping 2022 is a good one.

Lebkuchen Stars (Tesco)

30 December 2021

Home made spinny hot chocolate - and luxury mallows by @NLi10 @BCConfectioner

 Pic from later on as key photo as I steamed up the lens and didn’t notice!

Today we have some new kit to review - it’s a hot chocolate spinning and heating machine! Hotel `chocolate call these Velvetisers and charge lots - but this is the Aldi version and     it works too!

First you spin the hot chocolate and fog up your lens.

Then you swap blades and make some frothy milk to go on top.

And sink In a few cheap mallows.

Then you do it again a few days later in the interests of getting better pictures!

This is my favourite ‘sweet’ hot chocolate.

Spins up nicely. Great temperature.

So what is this lovely square? As seen in the pic at the top these are Belinda Clark Gourmet Marshmallows. We bumped into these at Winchester Christmas fayre and decided one box would be a fine risk - then we got this hot chocolate thing and I wish I’d got three!

These are so damn fruity! And it turns out they are very local to Winchester so online is basically our only option. belindaclark.co.Uk is what you want if you fancy some too.

They melt really well in the hot chocolate and zing with the raspberry flavour and really add some sweetness to the dark chocolate. Given time I’m sure we will have more! 

29 December 2021

Porky Puffs Marvellous Maple (Ocado) By @SpectreUK

Porky Puffs Marvellous Maple

I do like a packet of pork puffs with my lunch after a good workout. Of course I'm still on my calorie counting diet and can't see that changing. I have a balanced diet so I try to have whatever I want to eat, but in moderation. It works for me, well, just as long as I workout like crazy every day I can even have half a packet of biscuits and a mug of eggnog with a shot of rum in it if i want. Gosh… now that was a 1000 calories of heavenly pudding right there! Of course I can't do that very often, but the joy of just doing it once in a while…

I used to eat a lot of pork scratchings in order to fix my muscles after a workout, then the pandemic struck and everything went wacko! Then of course I broke tooth eating pork scratchings. Not wanting to go to the dentist at the time i was thankful it was at the back of my mouth, and so far hasn't caused me any further problems. So I fairly recently switched to pork puffs. Lower in calories (around the same as a packet of crisps) full of protein and fat, they're perfect for a boost to my muscles after a long morning of weights and other exercises.

I have tried most of The Snaffling Pig Co. pork rind and pork crackling flavours. I have tried their Marvellous Maple Pork Rinds before and loved them. Snaffling Pig have made Pork Puffs with same Marvellous Maple flavouring now. These pork puffs are made from lean cuts of pork that were double cooked.

On opening the bag there was a familiar aroma of salty pork and sweet maple syrup. On first crunchy taste these pork puffs began to melt in my mouth. There was the sweetness from the maple syrup flavouring mixing perfectly with the pork, as well a saltiness throughout each crunchy mouthful.

These Snaffling Pig Co. Porky Puffs Marvellous Maple tasted great. They had a perfect balance of sweetness from the maple syrup flavouring, as well as saltiness and porkiness from the crunchy puffs. I'll be looking forward to having another bag of these one lunchtime for its boost to my protein levels in my diet.

Information on the packet; The 25g bag contains 487 calories per 100g (about 122 calories per bag), with 24.5g of fat, 0.5g of sugar, and 6.1g of salt. Please see photograph for the ingredients.

Porky Puffs Marvellous Maple

28 December 2021

Aztec Hot Chocolate With Spices (Paul A Young) By @Cinabar

Aztec Hot Chocolate With Spices (Paul A Young)

I am such a fan of hot chocolate, I think I may have tried the majority of different varieties available. I drink the stuff all year, why would a hot summer’s day put me off a hot chocolate in the evening. Do you want to know what I’ve learnt from my extensive hot chocolate consumption, firstly that the best hot chocolates are made with milk and secondly the price you pay for the hot chocolate is not directly proportional to the quality. It is counterintuitive but as an example good old fashion Cadbury’s Hot Chocolate is one of the best.

Aztec Hot Chocolate With Spices (Paul A Young)

A little while back chocolatier Paul A Young was making hot chocolate on morning television. He stated that the best hot chocolate was made with hot water, and this confused me. So much so I couldn’t resist making an order off his website for his hot chocolate (and accidentally brownies and some bars of his chocolate too) to find out what his hot chocolate was like.I went for a bag of Aztec Hot Chocolate With Spices, as this sounded like a warming drink.

Aztec Hot Chocolate With Spices (Paul A Young)

I added four teaspoons of the grated hot chocolate into a mug, and boiled the kettle.

Aztec Hot Chocolate With Spices (Paul A Young)

I added a small amount of water and made a paste as suggested, this was quite glossy looking. I then gradually topped it up with more water to fill the mug. I then added whipped cream and marshmallows because it is Christmas time.

Aztec Hot Chocolate With Spices (Paul A Young)

The drink is very different to anything I’ve tried before. The cocoa flavour is very strong, it isn’t too sweet but the flavour is very rich and soothing. The hot chocolate is made from 70% cocoa so has that lovely edge of super dark chocolate. The spices are spot on, the mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger all warm the drink and give it that festive feel, all this while a layer of chilli which adds a tickling of heat. Oh my this is good stuff. I may still argue that hot chocolate is better made with milk than water but add an exception for when you buy it from a proper chocolatier like Paul A Young.

Aztec Hot Chocolate With Spices (Paul A Young)

27 December 2021

Hog Roast Flavour Crisps (Co-Op) By @Cinabar

Hog Roast Flavour Crisps (Co-Op)

I hope everyone had a fab Christmas and is looking forward to New Year celebrations. We had leftover sandwiches on Boxing Day, as I suspect a great number of people did. There is always more food than is needed at Christmas but the roast tastes fab in a sandwich the next day. With the sandwich we opened up this bag of Co-Op Hog Roast Flavour Crisps to share.

The idea behind the crisps is that it is pretty much the flavour of a full roast pork dinner in the bag. I poured some of the crisps out and they look like they have the skin on, not a problem at all just couldn’t tell from the image on the bag that they would be that way. I gave one a taste and the flavour wasn’t quite as exciting as I had hoped. They are crunchy but not too crunchy. I love meaty crisps, and I love roast pork with apple sauce but these just tasted a bit mixed up. Each mouthful brought a hint of meat, a hint of sage and sweetness (presumably from the apple sauce) and they managed to hit the level of being okay. They had a lot of potential but for me they didn’t quite live up to it. I honestly think pork and apple or pork and sage would have worked better than these everything Co-Op Hog Roast Flavour Crisps, together it was all a bit confused.

Hog Roast Flavour Crisps (Co-Op)

26 December 2021

Christmas (pumpkin) Spice Shreddies - Limited Edition by @NLi10

 Hope you had a good Christmas!! At the point I'm writing this (Mid Dec) we've no idea if we will be in lock-down or isolation or busy visiting family - so I'm stacking up the reviews to be safe.

So - why do I have a Halloween cereal?!

Well - of all the tenuously themed holidays Halloween has always been the best. Spooky packaging and dark spicy flavours is very much my jam.  Here though we have an odd one - while Pumpkin Spice Latte is a Halloween thing to have in the coffee bar as an intro to winter - there isn't really a traditional Halloween breakfast slot.

I opened these, had a sniff, and checked the date - these are fresh well into the summer 2022.  So - I kept them for the crisp December mornings instead.

If you Imagine that Mr Shreddies had popped these in a Santa box, with a Christmas Market made out of Shreddies (and called them Winter Spice or something) then you've got a perfect Christmas cereal.

Familiar enough that you know what you are getting, and with just the right amount of artificially added flavour that your first bites are really strong and the rest just washes into the milk.

Seriously - if you can find these half price in stores like I have been then you are laughing.  The perfect winterfest cereal hidden in a pumpkin shaped package.

25 December 2021

Sparkling Mead (Lyme Bay Brewery) By @SpectreUK

Sparkling Mead (Lyme Bay Brewery)

I may have written about Mead before, but not a sparkling Mead. I have certainly enjoyed a few bottles of Mead wine and flagons of traditional Mead from the Lyme Bay Brewery. In fact I have an order of mead and other beverages delivered every three months or so.

Recently I've been really enjoying a bottle of their spiced Lugger Rum. It tastes pretty much like liquid mince pies and goes rather well in a mug of hot Nutmeg. This latest blog is about their sparkling Mead…

At 4% in volume this sparkling mead should have a little kick to it. There was a cheerful fizz on opening the can. There was an odd, almost pungent smell of honey amongst the bouncing bubbles. There was also a surprising sourness with some light spices in the aroma. This odd smell wasn't all that welcoming. Once the bubbles had calmed down a little, the fermented honey and spices hadn't mix so well with the spices and carbonated water. Oh no… I'm starting to feel like Scrooge here…

This mead reminded me pretty quickly that mead and mead wine are usually non sparkling for a reason. I didn't like this drink at all unfortunately, which is odd for me, as I haven't found a mead i didn't like before. Oh well, I'll stick with the flagons and mead wine I guess… and I do love their Lugger Rum! Merry Christmas!

24 December 2021

Festive Brownies (Paul A Young @paul_a_young) By @Cinabar

Festive Brownies (Paul A Young)

What better Christmas Eve treat is there than watching Christmas movies and snacking on an indulgent chocolate brownie. Of all the nights though Christmas Eve requires something a bit special, so here we have Paul A Young’s Festive Brownies. Paul A Young is a London based chocolatier who is a regular guest on BBC Saturday Kitchen, I bought these brownies from his online shop. It has been a while since I last went to London.

The brownies look pretty wrapped in purple ribbon. I took them out of the wrappers with the intention of them being finger food, but they were a little sticky so I was forced to go all posh and use plates and cutlery, well, it is Christmas. :-D

I took a piece and the Festive Brownie is so moist the fork went stickily through it. I gave the bite a try, and oh my the flavour was out of this world. The flavour of the brownie was like someone had mixed Christmas pudding in with a fabulous chocolate base. There was spice and fruit tastes all shining through. These were a very rich naughty delight, wonderfully gooey and melt in the mouth. I hope you are all having a treat too this evening. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. Stay Safe and have happy holidays.

Festive Brownies (Paul A Young)

23 December 2021

Artisan Finnebrogue naked pork-free bacon by @NLi10


I've reviewed a few meat-free bacons recently - the best being the Richmond one, but this one looked worth a try too.

I'd not heard of Finnebrogue but it looked like a 'good food' brand rather than an already famous name that is moving into the meat-free options.

So this one is more focused on the taste and smell of proper bacon - and it certainly passed that test - see below for evidence. It' also is less homogenous than some of the other fake bacons - each slice looks different so it's not quite as freaky.

Looks like they are well known for making meaty bacon more healthily too - I'll have to check that out too! (I'm not veggie - just meat reducing)

Doesn't really look massively authentic - no one has quite figured out how to get the white bits to disappear as you cook it.  The smell here is very much spot on though - but don't ask me...

Independent smell expert Flo was very interested in the appearance of meat in a largely veggie household.  She also ate the tiny bit I gave her which was interesting as they can usually tell that it's not for them quite quickly.  The other cat wasn't even interested in the smell.

I did enjoy this - the texture and taste is closer to the old veggie bacon's that I'd have a few years back than I'd like.  The texture in particular is not bacon-like.  But - all this said - it's a decent food that certainly excels at the smell test, but for authenticity I'd go for the Richmond over this.

Neither are quite good enough for me to want these every time I shop, but having a pack stashed away that I can eat when my very veggie partner isn't home is a useful option.

I look forwards to exploring the range more in the future.

22 December 2021

Cadbury White Jingly Bells (Asda) By @SpectreUK

Cadbury White Jingly Bells

I'm a lover of white chocolate, especially washed down with my favourite white hot chocolate drink after a busy day. I had my hair cut a little earlier than usual. Usually it's cut every six weeks or so, but I wanted some of my old grey hairs chopped to neaten me up a little for Christmas. I've spent much of the day either exercising or at the gym in the spa area. Not such a hard day, but still a white chocolate pudding will go down very well indeed.

Cadbury White Jingly Bells

As you can see from the photograph these Cadbury White Jingly Bells are individually wrapped like Christmas Crackers. The round spherical white chocolate balls rattle. Inside each white chocolate ball there is a small lump of white chocolate that produces the rattle. These white chocolate balls are quite fun to shake vigorously and then put in your mouth. Once in your mouth I'm certain you'll find these white chocolate balls produce a very creamy taste… okay, this blog is getting too weird for me… er… they're very tasty white chocolate balls!

Merry Christmas!

Information on the packet; The 72g packet contains 97 calories per 2 pieces, with 5.3g of fat, 11g of sugar and 0.07g of salt. Please see photograph for the ingredients.

Cadbury White Jingly Bells

21 December 2021

Festive Elf Colin The Caterpillar Chocolate Mini Rolls (Marks and Spencer) By @Cinabar

Festive Elf Colin The Caterpillar Chocolate Mini Rolls (Marks and Spencer)

I am such an easy target for a novelty product, I know that I am but that doesn’t mean I can control it. I got these mini rolls because they are seasonal and related to Colin Caterpillar. I know, they saw me coming. :-D

So here we have Festive Elf Colin The Caterpillar Chocolate Mini Rolls, and they are essentially nicely decorated regular mini rolls. They have some cute sugar sprinkles on the top and a white chocolate Colin face with an elf hat. The mini roll is the usual roll of chocolate sponge with a chocolate butter cream and milk chocolate coating. The cake is soft, sweet and tasty. It is simple but who doesn’t like chocolate cake. I plucked the white chocolate face off to munch on, it was creamy white chocolate and I really liked it.

These are just novelty but that is okay, it is Christmas and we all deserve a bit silly novelty and anything that brings a little cheer is a positive in these unpredictable times. They are cute for sharing, we had them with an afternoon coffee as a treat finally finishing wrapping up presents.

Festive Elf Colin The Caterpillar Chocolate Mini Rolls (Marks and Spencer)

20 December 2021

Gerry The Gingerbread Bar (Paul A Young) By @Cinabar

Gerry The Gingerbread Bar (Paul A Young)

Paul A Young is a famous chocolatier, he has a couple of shops in London and sells online too. I saw him on Saturday morning TV the other week talking about the art of hot chocolate and how the best hot chocolate is made with hot water. A controversial statement and one that was a trigger into how this blog was formed. Also known as how to find the fellow foodie at work. Anyway I went online to buy his hot chocolate and then I browsed his other goodies and inevitably things spiralled and now I have several of his products to try too. Oops.

Gerry The Gingerbread Bar (Paul A Young)

So we have here the Gerry The Gingerbread Bar, a part milk and part dark chocolate bar flavoured with gingerbread. First can I say how absolutely gorgeous the bar looks, the gingerbread men on the chocolate are so pretty I wish my photograph could do them justice.

Gerry The Gingerbread Bar (Paul A Young)

I broke a corner off and it came away with a nice snap. The chocolate is firm, and the flavour from the cocoa divine, the gingerbread taste adds warmth throughout and there is plenty of it, and it is perfectly balanced with the chocolate. In amongst the spice it feels like there is a touch of syrupy sweetness and the texture is lovely with crumbs of crunchy biscuit. This Gerry The Gingerbread Bar is a delight to eat.

I will be following up with a review of the hot chocolate too, and finding out if you can really make a good cup with hot water. I might not be convinced as yet but I’m still looking forward to finding out because if this bar is anything to go by the man is good, seriously good.

Gerry The Gingerbread Bar (Paul A Young)

19 December 2021

New Takis Fuego - super spicy corn tubes from Iberia by @NLi10

While taking a wander locally I spotted that a small store had a sign saying they had Takis Fuego back in stock.  I had no idea what that was, but decided to pick a small bag up to try. 

Spicy packaging.

Made in Spain (specifically Iberia) these are essentially tube crisps covered in lime flavoured spicy dust.  Turns out one of the companies responsible for these being imported is right here in Birmingham so maybe I've just been oblivious to these the whole time!

They are super crispy too, and I really enjoyed the level of spice here.  Just above a Medium Nandos, but with a lot of lime thrown in.

I can understand why the shop advertised they had more of these - I think I might be going back especially to pick up another big bag - even though the shop is a bit of a trek.

If you want a fairly spicy, but cheap surprise present for someone then go track down a big bag!


Also - this is the 5,000th post on the blog (or 5001st - it's hard to tell) so thanks for putting up with us for all these years!!

18 December 2021

Spaten Beer (Import) By @SpectreUK

Spaten Beer

I do generally like European lagers as they can be a bit smoother and less belch inducing than some of the mass produced regular off the shelf lagers. Spaten Premium Lager is made in Munich, and is brewed with one malt and also Hallertau hops. It sounds like a treat with my Chinese Takeaway tonight!

At 5.2% in volume is a Munchen Hell Lager. It is a bottom fermented pilsner style beer. On opening this bright shining golden lager has a malty Pilsner aroma. On taste it has a crisp biting herbal hop flavour to it. In fact that bite of hops was actually too snappy even for me, and I do usually love bitter beers.

I thought it was actually too fizzy for me too. I actually worried I'd get belly ache from drinking it. I quite liked the flavour of Spaten, but I was a bit disappointed overall. Too severe in hop for me, too much fizz and too little balance of sweetness from the malts towards the aftertaste. I didn't really find Spaten refreshing so unfortunately it's a poor review from me on this beer. Oh, well… I'll look forward to the next beer instead!

17 December 2021

Aero Combos (Morrisons) By @Cinabar

Aero Combos

I found these new Aero Combos in the supermarket, in the chocolate aisle, in amongst the grab bags. I had actually looked at the popcorn section first and then found myself browsing chocolate which is where I found a combo of both. These new Aero Combos contain toffee coated popcorn, Aero Bubbles and malt balls. This sounded perfect for snacking on while catching up on Netflix.

The bag suggests shaking it to even up the mix before pouring them out. I did this and noticed that all popcorn was still on the top, with the odd Aero Bubble visible. I had to dig in the bag to find the malt balls which is not surprising as aren’t they tiny! No wonder they sank through the gaps to the bottom of the bag.

The Aero Bubbles are the milk chocolate version and are lovely as I really like the texture of aerated chocolate. The popcorn were decent sized pieces and and were fluffy yet crunchy, the toffee was just right. The malt balls are the new item and they are just to small, they don’t quite fit in, they are hard to find in the bag and the dark chocolate and tiny bit of malt give a quick flavour burst that quickly disappears, which is such a shame. I like the concept of these Aero Combos but only two out of the three of the items worked. Had the malt balls been the same size they would have delivered more flavour and stayed more equally mixed up in the bag.

Aero Combos

16 December 2021

Pepsi with a splash of Mango juice?! By @NLi10

I like to buy a little something from the newsagent that looks after our parcels when I pick things up - so I’ve ended up with some interesting snacks and variants to try.  Today we are talking about Pepsi with mango Juice.

(With other natural flavours)

I think it’s American in origin - the way the nutrition focuses on Calories and not actual nutrition is a big hint.

And it looks a lot like Pepsi! 

And it tastes like you slipped. In Burger King and many other American style places we can make our own drinks by mixing things - Pepsi with say a random fruit juice.  This tastes like one of those mixes - and it’s really not great.

The Pepsi flavour is there but the initial smell is Mango and the aftertaste is Mango so it’s like having two drinks simultaneously and not being able to appreciate either fully.  I think that i might work with a dark rum as a mixer though - but for me thats a rarity.

I think I’d just rather have the two separately in future so this is a no from me.

15 December 2021

Walkers Marvellous Mince Pies Crisps (Tesco) By @SpectreUK

Walkers Marvellous Mince Pies Crisps

Merry Christmas! I thought I'd get that out of the way first. I've recently had several guys complain to me about Christmas so far. The complaints ranged from expense of presents to the existence of Father Christmas (whether he exists or not, who can say!), and also gripes about Christmas music in the office while they were trying to concentrate and the pain of putting up Christmas decorations.

I'm not a fan of Christmas myself, but for some reason I'm looking forward to this one more than most. Besides I don't mind it all that much nowadays, as Cinabar gets super excited enough for both of us. I do really love the food and snacks this time of year. I love mince pies, and the Christmas cake Cinabar especially bakes for me (as I can't eat nuts for dietary reasons), and I'm quite partial to presents (mainly receiving them). So I get Christmas, I suppose, what I don't get is Walkers Marvellous Mince Pies crisps. They sound like a crime against snack food! And yet, here I am about to brave a blog about them…

I say 'brave' because Cinabar and her mom tried them first… They seemed to like them, stating that some of the actual mince pie flavours had been dulled down a little, such as the fruitiness and the pastry. In the UK our mince pies generally don't have any meat in them, as we don't seem to make the traditional mince pies nowadays. However, I say 'brave' because there is cinnamon in the flavouring of these crisps. I don't particularly like cinnamon. Especially when someone adds it to apple to make a pie or whatever, but there are no apples here, so we'll see…

Walkers Marvellous Mince Pies Crisps

On opening the bag there was indeed a mince pie spiced aroma from the crisps inside. It was a good smell, I have to say. A smell of Christmas no less. I have to disagree with Cinabar and her mom on the flavour of these Walkers Marvellous Mince Pies crisps. To me they tasted fully of mince pies, well, asides for the potato in the crisps.

They're actually bizarrely moreish. Whilst my brain was trying desperately to convince me that I really didn't like them, I kept munching more and more of them. No… I really shouldn't like these, and yet… they're really rather yummy. Walkers Marvellous Mince Pies crisps possibly need cream, but that would be totally insane!

Information on the packet; The 25g packet contains 125 calories, with 6.8g of fat, 0.5g of sugar, and 0.15g of salt. Please see photograph for the ingredients.

Walkers Marvellous Mince Pies Crisps