28 February 2021

McVitie's Digestives - Marmalade & Toast Flavour (@NLi10) Are these Breakfast?

McVitie's have been on a roll releasing new flavours of classics recently.  We have reviewed A LOT of them.  This one was abandoned on the counter in my local corner shop as they are a little out of date.  

I suspect that my neighbours were not convinced that Marmalade on Toast flavour should be an option for biscuits.  

A few years back 'breakfast biscuits' were a big thing pushed by snack brands as a way to sell rusks to grown ups. It seemed to work for a short time but you don't really see them as much now.  I think people missed the cereal bowl.

No artificial colours or flavours - but the ingredients disagree...

Natural Orange Flavouring, Natural Flavouring.  No toast - no marmalade - all trickery and PR language.  Just the same biscuits with a new taste.

And slim, slim chocolate to make us feel bad about our choices.

But - yes - these do taste of Marmalade - not orange, but actual marmalade (very Robinsons), the toast I get a lot less.

And they are nice biscuits, but the kind that leave you wanting more - and not in a satisfying way.  I'd rather have some actual marmalade on toast, or a piece of good shortbread.

27 February 2021

Dark Necessities (Bad Co.) By @SpectreUK

Dark Necessities (Bad Co.)

I like the look of this milk stout. It not only has a ghost on the front of the can, but Dark Necessities sounds pretty kinky to me. The can is mysteriously purple, which is a favourite colour of mine. My actual favourite colour is blue. My car is blue. My laptop and iPad covers are blue. My X-Box is blue. My teddy bear is blue. Even my yoga mat is blue. Yet purple... now that's a colour for the door of wondering what's behind closed doors!

Even the name of brewery sounds kinky; Bad Co. Now there is a place I want to drink from. I reckon their front door is purple. Some where in the dark corners Spectres linger whilst savouring a cool milk stout called Dark Necessities. Produced using Malted Barley, as well as Pale, Munich, Chocolate, and Crystal malts, Oats , and roasted barley, this 5.5% volume milk stout oozes taste appeal with its promise of chocolate, toffee and dark malts. The added promise of fruitiness and spiciness from the Summit and Bramling Cross hops just makes me want to ease my through that purple door, pop open the can, and sup in those Dark Necessities.

So without further discussion I dived right in. I could smell the intense winter fruits and spices from the hops to start with, followed closely behind by the menagerie of dark sweet malts. Mmm... my tastebuds were swooning on pouring this deep black milk stout into my brazen beer glass. The dark malts and sweet toffee flavours teased my palate first, oozing around my tongue, as the roasted barley produced a deep coffee flavour, which merged with the fruity and peppery spices from the hops, playfully tickling my fancy into the aftertaste.

This Dark Necessities is a brew to be enjoyed behind closed doors. You don't have to make sure that it's a purple door. You may need to enjoy it with the lights off if you're that way inclined. Or even enjoy it with a good kinky book on comfy recliner. ;-)

26 February 2021

Cheese and Marmite Hot Cross Buns (Marks and Spencer) By @Cinabar

Cheese and Marmite Hot Cross Buns

It is that time of year, the gap between Pancake Day and Easter, when all the Hot Cross Buns hit the shelves. These treats are usually sweet and come in many variations. I’ve tried lots of lovely sweet combinations but I think these Cheese and Marmite Hot Cross Buns from Marks and Spencer are the first savoury ones I will have tried. Yes these contain Marmite too for added fun, these should be interesting.

I sliced one of the buns and popped it in the toaster, at least there are no currants to worry about falling out in the bottom of the toaster. The smell of Marmite was reassuringly strong. I didn’t add anything but butter to the bun and had it at lunch time.

The flavour of these Cheese and Marmite Hot Cross Buns from Marks and Spencer is quite strong, there is lots of cheese but the Marmite is very well balanced, not quite as strong as the aroma hinted at but just right. The buns were soft and easy to eat and the cheese and Marmite mix worked well together. When I was eating this I was definitely thinking that a proper Hot Cross Bun isn’t savoury, but as this went it was a lovely tasty quick lunch between Teams meetings. I’m still adding some sweet ones to my next order!

Cheese and Marmite Hot Cross Buns

25 February 2021

McVitie's Jaffa Cakes - New Cherry Flavour (@NLi10) and a suggestion...

 Variation is very much the aim of the game at the moment for McVitie's.  Things you know - but with a flavour twist.

Maybe it's because they know we will buy at least one to try - and then talk about here!

Today we have a lovely box of orangey Jaffa Cakes - that British staple - only they are Cherry not Orange.

As per modern rules you only get 10 in a box - this feels quite mean because of the size gap.  Maybe McVitie's should make the box 25% shorter and get more on the trucks.

I'm sure the filling on the top used to make it all the way to the edge, and the chocolate was thicker too.  I'm betting this is to make the sugar per portion lower and so we get less calories per cake.  Cheeky Cherry Bomb will distract us all from this though.

They taste like good cherry sweets though, not the cough mixture version you get, and anyone who has had a Black Forest Gateaux (BFG?) will tell you good cherry, cake and chocolate is a great mix.

Enjoyable and snackable, and very much something that I'd eat again.  I just wish companies would own up to the fact that these are bad for us and just sell us the bad versions at the price they cost to make. 12 Dark-Side BFG Jaffa Cakes with all the cherry jam, thick dark chocolate and maybe even a chocolate sponge? Now there is a snack worth the calories that I'd pay full price for...

24 February 2021

Toast & Jam Yorkshire Tea (Ocado) By @SpectreUK

Toast & Jam Yorkshire Tea

I drink a large amount of tea every day. I've recently been working my way through a huge box of Taylor's of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea, which is a lovely strong black tea. I have it with milk and no sugar, if you were wondering. I also enjoy many other teas, such as; Earl Grey, Chai, Jasmine tea, and ginger tea, as well as many different liquorice teas. Yep, I drink a lot of tea... So much so that I have no idea how many cups of tea I drink every day. Lockdown and procrastination over report writing for work are a deadly combination.

I don't know whether it's because I drink so much tea or that I never eat breakfast, but for some reason Cinabar has decided to torture me by buying this Toast & Jam Yorkshire Tea. It states on the front of the box that this tea "tastes like jam on toast!" Why would anyone want tea to taste like jam on toast? Why wouldn't you just have jam on toast?

There are 40 teabags in the box, so I could probably get through those in a couple of particularly masochistic days if I fall out with myself for any further procrastination over this damn boring reports!

On opening the box of malicious tea there was a whiff of jam and toast from the teabags inside. I remember many years ago I was doing temporary work in a factory. A couple of the other workers used to dunk their buttered toast into their morning mug of tea. I couldn't understand why they would do that, but I suspect this is sort of what they would be drinking, and perhaps what it would have smelt like if I'd braved to get any closer.

Bizarrely Cinabar loved the smell of this Toast & Jam Yorkshire Tea whilst it was brewing. With a little milk and cooling, this tea really does taste of jam on toast. On first sip I decided I hated it. Though I reckon I probably decided I hated it when Cinabar first showed me the box. The more I drank of this tea, the more it made me feel slightly queezy. I forced about two thirds of the mug down, but had to tip out the rest. It was like drinking the bin juice from the bottom of toaster after someone had reheated their toast after forgetting they'd already spread it. Blaargh! And yet Cinabar loves it... bizarre!

Toast & Jam Yorkshire Tea

23 February 2021

Ramune - Strawberry Drink (Ocado) By @Cinabar

Ramune - Strawberry Drink

Back when we were allowed out I used to go to a Japenese restaurant in Birmingham city centre called Mount Fuji, my go to drink there was a soft drink called Ramune. It is a sort of lemonade but sweeter than that with a nice hint of almost bubblegum like flavour. As curious as the drink is the bottle is also quite fascinating, it is called a “codd neck” and has a glass ball holding the seal in place. A bit of a novelty but one I like!

I haven’t had Ramune since before the first lockdown and was quite surprised to find it stocked on Ocado, they also had this their strawberry edition which I hadn’t seen before so I added a couple of bottles to my order. When it arrived it brought back memories of Japanese meals out and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into the fun process of opening the bottle. So, in short, you take the wrapper off, take off the outer lid, split this into two, discard the ring, use the T-shaped part to sit on top of the bottle, push down, wait for a pop and you have released the the glass ball sealing it! It isn’t actually that complicated - see photo.

Ramune - Strawberry Drink

Once the drink was in the glass I could see it was quite fizzy and a nice pink colour. The flavour is very sweet, there is more sugar than strawberry in the flavour, but it is still fruity. It is a fun drink and it may be too sweet and syrupy for some, but I loved it. I loved the strange bottle opening and I loved the memories of Japanese restaurants, which hopefully I’ll be able to visit again later in the year.

Ramune - Strawberry Drink

22 February 2021

Cheesecake M&Ms (USA) By @Cinabar

Cheesecake M&Ms (USA)

I have moaned quite a bit over the years about M&Ms to some extent ignoring their British market. We get very few flavours here, and limited editions are exactly that; limited. Releasing bags of orange coloured (not flavoured) milk chocolate M&Ms at Halloween is not that exciting, not when they are eating Pumpkin Spice ones in The States. I have recently done a candy swap with a lovely American friend who blew my mind on the varieties they have over there by sending me a box full of different varieties. Oh my, I hereby declare that Mondays will now be know as M&M Mondays until such time as I work my way through the collection.

Cheesecake M&Ms (USA)

So to start us off I opened the bag of Cheesecake M&Ms, the flavour just sounds so different to anything I’ve seen before. I love cheesecake and specifically baked cheesecake is one of my favourite things so I was very excited by this. The bag smelt like baked cheesecake quite strongly and the M&Ms were in cute pastel colour shells; white, cream and pale pink. The filling is a white chocolate base and the flavour is amazing. It does taste like cheesecake, but also like it is mixed with butter icing. These are M&Ms for the sweet toothed, but I am a member of that club. I think the thing that struck me was how very addictive they are, each one gave this lovely burst of sweet creamy buttery flavour, pure yum. Can’t wait for the next instalment of M&M Mondays.

Cheesecake M&Ms (USA)

21 February 2021

Co-op Lightly Salted Veggie Tortilla Chips - for dinner! (NLi10)

We don't get out much these days - what with the plague and everything - so we are having to recreate some of the decadant treats we'd normally have at home.  One of these is the 'crisps for dinner' starter that you get/got at Chiquitos and similar.  Essentially the kitchen pour some sauce on some tacos and stick them in the oven for a bit - we can do that at home!

And yes - I know we've talked about this before - but now the co-op have presented us with options.  These aren't so much vegetarian (which they are) but vegetable flavoured corn chips.  If you've had the tricolour pasta then you know what to expect as it's the same Spinach & Beetroot dust that's used here.  Ace!

As a half a bag portion - with cheese, guac' and sour cream this works well for one person.

I was supposed to do my own portion with the quorn mince salsa mix that I prefer but I had something else that evening and we ate the rest of the bag while watching the film. 

A great fun alternative to plain chips & dip, and technically it might even contain some vitamins this way.

Great (until you run out of films on the streaming service anyway!)

20 February 2021

Keo Lager Beer (Present) By @SpectreUK

Keo Lager Beer

Keo is brewed on the Island of Cyprus. It was sent to me with a bunch of other European beers in a big box at Christmas. I noted that I'd already had six of the beers, and I'm slowly writing about the other six that I haven't had before. There is a specific reason I've decided to write about this beer today... 

My barber is a Cypriot. I'm telling you this because we've been locked down here without hairstylists since late December. I last had my haircut in early December. I usually get my hair cut once every six weeks. I was just about to get my haircut the day before lockdown and looked out the window and it was snowing heavily, so I couldn't be arsed to go, and I was thinking I'll do it tomorrow. As usual in this country they locked us down without notice and now my hair resembles a giant angry haystack. I'm partly glad I have a good head of hair for a 45 year old, but it's as curly as a bag of crazy curly-chips, and it's like exercising whilst wearing a woolly hat. Even my boss told me that I need to get my haircut in a Teams meeting the other day!

Anyway, I digress... on opening this 4.5% in volume Keo lager beer there was a sweet smell from the barley malt and a little wheatiness, and a crisp bitter aroma from the herbal hops. On taste the flavour of this bright golden lager follows the aromas, with an initial sweetness from the mixture of barley malt and wheat, followed by a crispy bitterness from the hops. These flavours merged and jumbled over each other with the cheerful bubbles into the aftertaste. This is a lovely flavoursome lager beer and I can see why it's been so popular since 1951. Oh, and it's from Cyprus, just like my barber, and I can't wait to get my haircut!

19 February 2021

Lost The Pot Noodle - Sweet Chilli (Asda) By @Cinabar

Lost The Pot Noodle - Sweet Chilli

So this is the latest product from Pot Noodle, the aptly name Lost The Pot, Noodles in a bag. I don’t eat a lot of Pot Noodles if I’m honest but these appealed, in a retro student kind of way. The bag said it did two portions, so I split half into a bowl (my own pot), added seasoning, hot water and microwaved the contents. I gave it a little stir and it actually looked pretty decent. In true student style I made a slice of Taos to accompany it, oh yes pure class.

Lost The Pot Noodle - Sweet Chilli

The noodles were surprisingly decent. I’m working from home at the minute and it made a quick lunch between Teams meetings. The flavour of these Lost The Pot Noodle Sweet Chilli was a little spicy and little sweet, but mostly had a fair bit of umami. It went well with the buttered toast and made a decent lunch. I’d actually buy it again! I do have an issue with the product though. They lost the post, presumably for environmental reasons? The only thing is that the tin foil lid and the plastic pot on a traditional Pot Noodle are fully recyclable, but this bag packaging isn’t. I think that part is a shame, taste wise I’d happily buy them again.

Lost The Pot Noodle - Sweet Chilli

18 February 2021

Pancake Day - With Bacon Dust & RNLI Caramel Goo (@NLi10)

Pancake Day - winter is over so lets eat all the junk!

This is a regular pancake for demo purposes - lemon and sugar.  Mmmmmm

Look at all these ace, zany toppings we could use!

So lets make some more!

And lets turn this one into Maple Bacon pancakes as promised - other parts of the reviews for the dust are here.

As usual - it's looking pretty inedible.  But we smear it in and stir it up...

Very smushy. And very nice too - tastes like American bacon on a pancake - but with none of the crunch.  Wonder how we'd simulate a crunch?

As I was buying a heap of things from the lovely RNLI shop anyway (teabags!) I added this for basically free.  Near date salted Caramel spread?  Don't mind if I do!

They look very different, the French one is a lot less sweet too.  Lets heap it up!

And it works amazingly - probably better than the bacon (but both were very good).  So a very big success  and I totally plan to make American fat pancakes and do the same soon too!

17 February 2021

Simmons Pork Scratchings (Asda) By @SpectreUK

Simmons Pork Scratchings

I broke a tooth in half eating Pork Scratchings once. I'm not naming names, but they weren't produced by Simmons! I've written about Simmons Pork Crackling before. As they are cooked twice, rather than the once Pork Scratchings are cooked, Simmons Pork Crackling practically melted in my mouth. They are perfectly seasoned for saltiness, and are by and far my favourite after weightlifting snack. Yes they are full of fat, but I generally have a tin of tuna on a sandwich and a 20g bag of Simmons Pork Crackling for an extra boost of protein before my extra protein yoghurt. So you can imagine my surprise when a huge 180g of substitute Simmons Pork Scratchings turned up in a food delivery instead of the usual multipack!

At first I wasn't going to eat these Simmons Pork Scratchings. I'd just have a few one lunchtime and leave the rest in the garden for the cats or a passing fox. Then Cinabar found that you can store Pork Scratchings for a few weeks in an airtight container. So I figured I'd somehow police myself to estimate roughly 20g portions after nine weightlifting sessions.

The first weightlifting was today. I must admit that I was pretty good at portion control, the three largish pieces I picked from the Tupperware box were probably just over 20g, but hey, they didn't break any of my teeth so that was a good start. I must admit that my initial apprehension about eating Pork Scratchings again was completely unfounded.

Like their Pork Crackling these Simmons Pork Scratchings were perfectly seasoned for saltiness, but not too overwhelming, so I could still taste the porkiness. They had a slightly stronger crunch to them than the Pork Crackling, but still pretty much melted in my mouth. So not only do Simmons produce my favourite Pork Crackling, but they do a damn fine job with their Pork Scratchings too!

Information on the packet;
The 180g bag contains 676 calories per 100g, with 59g of fat, 0.1g of sugar, 33.5g of protein, and 0.54g of salt. Ingredients included; pork rinds, edible oil, salt, enhancer E621, and vegetable protein.

16 February 2021

Baked Pecan Biscotti (Hotel Chocolat) By @Cinabar

Baked Pecan Biscotti (Hotel Chocolat)

I dunk biscuits, people who don’t dunk biscuits are missing the point. They are so much nicer softer! There I said it, those are my true feelings on biscuits, I would go as far as saying a biscuit without a hot drink has minimal appeal. Nothing can be truer than with the Biscotti. These biscuits are baked twice to make them extra crunchy and then they are designed to be dunked! Yay.

I recently got a Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser (posh hot chocolate maker) as a gift and I registered it and receive three Baked Pecan Biscotti as a free gift, it is the gift that keeps on giving. Obviously I whipped up a hazelnut latte in my machine to test the biscuit out on. I usually dunk in coffee, tea is acceptable and hot chocolate just occasionally. These biscuits claim to survive a full ten seconds dunking so I tried that and it worked, purely for the science though I’m not sure why you need to dunk for more than a couple of seconds. The nut in the biscuit complemented the nut flavour in the drink well and it just worked, perfect afternoon snack time. Biscuits made for dunking are my thing, I may have to actually pick up a pack of these with my next hot chocolate order.

Baked Pecan Biscotti (Hotel Chocolat)

15 February 2021

McCoy’s Fire Pit Peri-Peri Crisps (Asda) By @Cinabar

McCoy’s Fire Pit Peri-Peri Crisps

It seems hot and spicy crisps are the in flavour at the minute and the latest offering are these McCoy’s Fire Pit Peri-Peri variety. They are a crinkle cut crisps and as they are McCoys they are also quite thick cut and crunchy. I poured some out onto the plate to have with a sausage roll. The crisps seem to have a fair bit of seasoning and smelt nice and spicy. The crinkles always catch lots of spice.

McCoy’s Fire Pit Peri-Peri Crisps

I gave one a try and was impressed with the heat, the chilli was quite strong which is unusual with crisps. Weirdly though there was a sweet aftertaste. I tried a few more and as much as I was enjoying the heat and the spice I was distracted by the sugar. I think this was supposed to be a way of making the McCoy’s Fire Pit Peri-Peri Crisps crisps tangy but it didn’t work for me. Hot then sweet and can work as a dish, I’ve eaten many a meal with noodles with that flavour but here it just ended up as fiery followed by random sugar. As much as I liked the fact the crisps are hot and actually pack a proper heat, that blast of sugar meant these won’t be a repurchase.

McCoy’s Fire Pit Peri-Peri Crisps

14 February 2021

Squirrel Sisters Brownie Bites Cacao/Orange (@NLi10)

 When making an online order from Holland & Barrett it's almost impossible not to add a few of the more specialist snacks on to the order.  So I ended up with two bags of Squirrel Sisters Raw Bite Brownies!

Look at these amazing treats!

Vegan, raw, full of fruit and just enough sugar and cocao (from natural sources) that you feel naughty for eating them!

I found these original ones a little dry for my tastes, but still very nice.  Lovely mix of textures too.

The orange ones are basically the same deal

Same mix, but the natural orange flavourings just make it shine.  I found these so much more enjoyable!

And yet they are fundamentally the exact same mix!

With the original flavour I could happily just have one and put them back, with the orange ones I've eaten three just writing this review.  I guess it's an individual taste thing.

A little pricey to sit and eat a whole bag, but as a perky little (healthy!) treat then these are spot on.  Nutrition and joy in one little cube.

13 February 2021

Korev Cornish Lager (@StAustellBrew Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

Korev Cornish Lager St. Austell Brewery

We have recently been watching recorded episodes of Rick Stein travelling around Cornwall. I always like watching his programmes. This series seems to have been filmed between lockdowns. To me he has a great deal of charisma. It feels a little bit like watching a dad travelling around places as they explore and meet new people, whilst at the same time sampling the local cuisine, and cooking up some interesting dishes of their own.

As a young lad I went with my parents and sister to visit relatives in Cornwall every year. Cinabar and I have been trying to determine where and when we can go away on holiday. Last year a holiday would be this year, now it seems more likely that it will be safer to go away next year. The last proper holiday we had away was down Bath before my last knee operation. Next year hopefully we'll try Cornwall. I've been meaning to go back to the Jamaica Inn, and I've always wanted to go down the tin mines under the sea. There seem to be so many picturesque places to visit.

For now I'll try this Korev Cornish Lager. At 4.8% in volume, this lager was produced by the St. Austell Brewery. Korev is a Cornish word for beer. It's barley malt was grown in Cornwall, and hops such as Magnum, Hersbrucker and Saaz were used in the brewing. There was a slight yeasty smell mixed with the sweet barley malt and the aroma of herbal hops on opening the bottle.

This pale golden lager shines like the Cornish sunshine. The sweet barley malt pushes through the crisp fresh hops at first taste. A slight flavour of yeast mixes with the malty and herbal hoppy bitterness towards the aftertaste merging with the cheerful bubbles to remind me that I'm enjoying a lager on a freezing cold afternoon in February. I'll have to enjoy another Korev Cornish Lager in the summertime sometime in Cornwall, maybe on a beach next year!

12 February 2021

Snickers Creamy Peanut Butter (Tesco) By @Cinabar

Snickers Creamy Peanut Butter

I spotted this new Snickers Creamy Peanut Butter bar in our local Tesco store, near the tills as an impulse buy. It worked too, I love peanut butter and chocolate so I couldn’t wait to give it a try. The lady on the till was excited to, she had got herself one for her break and agreed there isn’t nearly enough peanut butter choccie bars in the UK. This new Snickers bar is actually in three piece inside, and it looks much thinner than a regular bar. It is made with ‘creamy peanut butter’ and the caramel underneath. I gave one of the pieces a try and absolutely loved the combination of flavours. Peanut butter and chocolate are meant to be and the texture from the sticky tooth clogging peanut butter and sweet chocolate just made me smile. The texture isn’t to everyone’s taste but I love it, and I love the salty nutty flavour that flows with it too.
Snickers Creamy Peanut Butter

The bar is significantly different to a regular Snickers, the caramel is there with peanut pieces but the nougat is missing, replaced by a thin layer of peanut butter. For me this worked nuts and chocolate are a dream together and I loved every bite. I don’t get the split of three pieces though, I know it is supposed to be portion control but I ate all three. It is Friday, it has been a very long week, so give me a break! :-D

Snickers Creamy Peanut Butter