31 January 2022

Pringles Sizzl’n Extra Hot Cheese Chilli (Tesco) By @Cinabar

Pringles Sizzl’n Extra Hot Cheese Chilli

The most important thing you should know before eating these is that sipping milk dilutes a chilli burn. I have eaten an awful lot of different chilli flavoured hot crisps over the years and the general theme is that they aren’t that hot. I don’t say that as someone who is claiming to be able to tackle chilli heat with ease, in fact I’m very much a medium spice kind of person, but crisps are rarely anything more than mild to medium. I poured some of these on to the plate, pinched one to test and realised my mouth was on fire. Oh my, this should make for an interesting lunch.

What was impressive about these Pringles Sizzl’n Extra Hot Cheese Chilli crisps is that despite them being too hot for me they still magically moreish. I have known how Pringles do that, but with these I seemed to want to continually burn my mouth and I was actually wanting another each time. I was also pleased that these Pringles Sizzl’n Extra Hot Cheese Chilli crisps weren’t just about the heat, the nacho cheese flavour shone through the fire and tasted fantastic. These crisps are too hot for me, I could barely eat them but for reasons unknown I want more, they were amazing. I’ll even forgive the abbreviation of sizzling too “Sizzl’n”.

Pringles Sizzl’n Extra Hot Cheese Chilli

30 January 2022

Macsween Vegetarian Haggis for Burns Night by @NLi10

Ready for Burns Night I added a Vegetarian haggis to the food delivery.  I toyed with eating it early and having it ready to review for the day itself, but I figured that'd be too late for people to pop out and buy one anyway.  It's a fat package indeed!

So all we need to do is cook that and a few potatoes.

Into the microwave it goes!

Well - once we've sliced it and popped it in a bowl.  Look at all that lovely grain - the first time I had veggie haggis I was really sceptical - but this stuff is amazing and really creates cravings afterwards.

Chubby slices and 10 mins in the microwave at medium.

Then mash it up to make a fantastic main part of any Burns night supper.  So many deep flavours, and fantastic textures that I suspect i'll be having this again before next year.

29 January 2022

Cervezas Alhambra Reserva 1925 Lager (Tesco) By @SpectreUK

Cervezas Alhambra Reserva 1925 Lager

Mahou San-Miguel in Granada in Spain has been brewing Cervezas Alhambra since 2007. At 6.4% in volume this pale lager is pretty high in calories at 184.5 in a 330ml bottle. I'm looking so minutely into how many calories I have in my evening beer tonight because I have home cooked IKEA style meatballs tonight. I always have quite a few meatballs with chips and peas and gravy, which is pretty high in calories. Not to mention the half a packet of Fruit Shortcake Biscuits I have to finish off for afters.

On opening my bottle of Cervezas Alhambra there was a very light fizz and a pale malt mild lager yeasty aroma. This deep golden lager poured with an even fluffy head. I find that some lagers are over fizzy and give me the burps. I felt like waking Cervezas Alhambra up with a nudge. I reckon the bottle was on Siesta when I poured it.

On taste Cervezas Alhambra had a refreshing flavour for obviously sunny afternoons rather than cold winter nights next to the fire. This seems a very relaxing beer, not too powerful on flavour with a mild sweet pale malt taste to start with, and a kiss of herbal hops for a little bitterness towards the back of the flavour into the aftertaste.

I could down quite a few of these rather strong lagers without thinking of their alcohol by volume. However, I'm sure this bottle of Cervezas Alhambra will wash down my IKEA style meatballs and chips rather well.

28 January 2022

McVities Blissfuls - Belgian Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut (Sainsburys) By @Cinabar

McVities Blissfuls - Belgian Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut

What is this I spy, new biscuits! I spotted these McVities Blissfuls Belgian Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut at the supermarket and grabbed them and popped them in my basket. When I got home and properly inspected them I realised that although these are biscuits there is a heavy focus on the filling, the chocolate nut filling. I also like the look of the re-sealable sharing bag for the packaging as that is kind of smart.

I gave one of the biscuits a try and these are a seriously impressive biscuit. There is so much filling it is almost like a mini pie made out of biscuit filled with a Nutella style cream. The biscuit shell gives them a lovely crunchy texture which is interesting because of the soft filling. I love nuts and chocolate, throw in biscuit and I think I may be in heaven. What an absolutely genius of a product. I may be biased because of my love of chocolate and hazelnut, but these ticked all the boxes for me. I can’t believe I made the mistake of only buying one bag of these McVities Blissfuls Belgian Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut biscuits. I need more!

McVities Blissfuls - Belgian Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut

27 January 2022

Plantlife: vegan Chorizo Wheels for weirdos @NLi10

 Vegans are odd. It’s Veganuary so I get a lot more vegan options pushed towards me, this one in particular  was very curious. It’s authentic looking vegan chorizo swirls.

Unopened box of very red vegan sausage swirls

The picture is fine, these will be spicy vegan sausages - but why do they need to look like this?

They are proper sloppy meat like sausages. I suspect that if my veggie partner had seen them properly beforehand she’d have declined them. 

Cooking them at least is easy - lightly fry on both sides alternately for ten minutes. Easy!

Front one is a bit crispy, but otherwise perfectly done. Could even keep them on the sticks and have as a BBQ treat.

After all that though - it’s essentially just peppery, spicy, vegan sausages.  They aren’t that much like chorizo - in flavour nor texture.  They are pleasant enough if you enjoy meat, but probably too authentic for plant eaters, and not close enough to the real thing for carnivores like me.

It’s an odd spot to end up in really - so either vegans genuinely are weird, or companies haven’t quite figured it all out yet.

26 January 2022

Rhubarb Lemonade Sparkling Soft Drink (Black Country Living Museum) By @SpectreUK

Rhubarb Lemonade Sparkling Soft Drink (Black Country Living Museum)

Cinabar's Birthday falls at the time of year when pretty much nothing is open. Not many museums or other attractions are open in the winter months for understandable reasons. We usually go away to a spa hotel for a couple of days, but the last one we visited had dropped in quality considerably due to lack of staff and a poor booking system. So we described to rest a little and visit whatever was open at the time.

We haven't visited the Black Country Living Museum for maybe more than ten years. I just figured it hadn't changed that much since last time we went. How wrong was I? Well, they have plenty more shops and plenty more actors to describe relatively olden times. Unfortunately the canal boat trip and coal mine weren't open, but we did notice that plenty more buildings are being built to house more recent times in the sixties and seventies. So we'll definitely visit later in the year.

We mainly visited for the traditional fish and chips lunch. It's always been excellent and didn't disappoint this visit either. Whilst in the seating area I tried this Franklin and Son's Ltd., Rhubarb Lemonade Sparkling Soft Drink. It was sparkling rhubarb and lemon flavoured juice drink. At 106 calories per 100ml the 275ml bottle seemed pretty heavy on my calories count for the day, but I had worked out like a crazy person early morning so I shouldered the weight so to speak.

Pretty fizzy on opening the bottle there was a decent smell of sweet rhubarb. This Rhubarb Lemonade Sparkling Soft Drink had a lovely sweetness from the rhubarb to start with, followed by a little apple flavour from the ingredients, and then the sheer sourness from lemon in the lemonade. It was a very flavoursome indeed. I'll certainly have a bottle of this again next time we visit the Black Country Living Museum and enjoy a fish and chips lunch.

Please see photograph for the ingredients.

Rhubarb Lemonade Sparkling Soft Drink (Black Country Living Museum)

25 January 2022

Maple and Pecan Drinking Chocolate (Hotel Chocolat) By @Cinabar

Maple and Pecan Drinking Chocolate (Hotel Chocolat)

The folks at Hotel Chocolat do keep on bringing out new and interesting hot chocolates and it does keep me on my toes. My favourite things are hot chocolates and new products, so I am always looking at their website. The flavours available at Hotel Chocolat just keep me going back, I always have a couple of boxes in the cupboard. Tonight we are trying this new Hotel Chocolat Maple and Pecan Drinking Chocolate. The drinks from Hotel Chocolat can be made using hot milk and a pan, but I’m lucky enough to own a Velvetiser so I put a sachet in the sachet along with some milk and let it do its thing.

This new drinking chocolate is a little sweeter than some of the Hotel Chocolat hot chocolates, which often have a very grown up feel to them. The taste from the nuts with the sweeter chocolate is divine. The maple and pecan shone through, and these softer flavour of nuts work so very well with the chocolate, I honestly thought the peanut butter hot chocolate would be impossible to beat as a favourite but this new combo is a must for those that love chocolate and nuts. I hope this Hotel Chocolat Maple and Pecan Drinking Chocolate isn’t a limited edition as I need more!

Maple and Pecan Drinking Chocolate (Hotel Chocolat)

24 January 2022

Hershey’s Cookies N Cream Egg (Tesco) By @Cinabar

Hershey’s Cookies N Cream Egg

If you are after a white chocolate egg this year (and can’t find the competition prize one from Cadbury) why not give this easier to find Hershey’s Cookies N Cream Egg a try. They were by the tills in our local supermarket. It is actually quite difficult to get your hands on white chocolate eggs in general, and it is a much under appreciated form of chocolate.

The wrapper on this egg is cute and looks like a little chick. I opened it up and egg is dotted with cookie pieces, and the chocolate has a swirl pattern on it. I bit into the egg and found it was surprisingly hard to bite into. The white chocolate is quite thick, but the filling is also firm. I wasn’t sure my teeth were up to it! :-D I did manage it though!

Hershey’s Cookies N Cream Egg

The taste is gorgeous, the white chocolate is ever so creamy and I really liked the contrast with the dark chocolate cookie bits, it is such a nice flavour combination. I’m not completely sure that the egg is the best format for this Hershey bar, but I’d probably still buy these Hershey’s Cookies N Cream Egg again, just for the nice novelty.

Hershey’s Cookies N Cream Egg

23 January 2022

Brewdog - Tony's Hopolonely - White Chocolate & Raspberry Milkshake IPA by @NLi10


I have heard lots of talk of pudding bears and pastry stout, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and to buy this Brewdog concoction.  It's an IPA version of the nice White Chocolate & Raspberry Milkshake bar, we talked about the very similar chocolate before.  Turns out it's Dutch (thanks for the comment!).

Sounds exciting!

Messages of positivity!

Slave free chocolate is a very good idea.

...but my god this tastes strange.  It's like someone's taken a decent beer, and a decent chocolate and put the wrong flavours in the wrong mixer.  As someone who is a big fan of taking two very different things and putting them together - this comes as an unpleasant surprise.  

I suspect this will be a very limited edition, and if it wasn't for the other half a pint in the fridge I certainly wouldn't be having more.  Once you get over the initial shock then it's drinkable, but very much under sufferance. 

22 January 2022

Köstritzer Black Lager (@koestritzerDE) By @SpectreUK

Köstritzer Black Lager

Cinabar will probably correct me, but I think I've been blogging about beer for more than twelve years. In that time I've written about many different beers, a few lagers, ciders and even the odd flagon of mead now and then. I've started quite a few of those blogs with "I don't think I've tried this sort of beer (or whatever) before…" and I'm pretty certain that applies to this Köstritzer Black Lager. The Köstritzer Brewery was established in Germany in 1543, so you'd reckon by now they know what they're doing.

On pouring this 4.8% in volume Köstritzer Black Lager I thought I could detect a little chocolate malt in the aroma and some herbal hops. Deep black in colour, Köstritzer Black Lager was bottom fermented but was not too fizzy for my tastes. In fact this lager was just right for me. Sumptuously tasty there was sweet smooth chocolate malt to start with, but no roasted coffee flavours here. The taste moved into rich yet subtle bitterness from the herbal hops, which mixed together for a lip smacking refreshing finish of malt chocolate into the aftertaste. I reckon I could best describe Köstritzer Black Lager as a pudding lager, which I have definitely not tried or blogged about before. Gorgeous!

21 January 2022

Ginger and Spice Cake (The Bake Off Box) By @Cinabar

Ginger and Spice Cake (The Bake Off Box)

Today we are having a go at making a Ginger and Spice Cake kit that I received as a Christmas gift, from The Bake Off Box. The kit was purchased online by mum and the delivery was slow, it was ordered in November and arrived jus before Christmas, but it did arrive. It is branded with the ‘Bake Off’ logo, and is the official product. I opened up the box and was a little bit worried by just how complicated the cake looked in the pictures! I don’t have those sort of skills! :-D I absolutely love that the kit has a Bake Off apron in the box, that is so smart and I put it on in the hope it would increase my baking skills.

Ginger and Spice Cake (The Bake Off Box)

There is a 34 section instruction manual to follow, again quite daunting, but I started at the beginning and decided to just follow it through. I have used baking kits before and up until now they all have one thing in common, everything is pre weighed out for you. Not in this kit, this kit requires scales to measure out the sugar, flour, spices etc, and every stage everything had to be weighed and sieved. I started off by making the sponge, weighing it all out and whisking and folding. 

Ginger and Spice Cake (The Bake Off Box)

This went quite well as I do bake cakes a fair bit. The sponge mix was split between two tins (not included) and put in the oven. Next up for the cake decorations was the ginger bread mix. I don’t make biscuits that often, and was a bit confused by only needing a tablespoon of egg white, which was a bit faffy to sort but I did. This went in the fridge to chill, while the sponges finished off.

Ginger and Spice Cake (The Bake Off Box)

The next step was the making of the buttercream (I ended up washing and reusing the bowls/whisk so often during this whole process). While the sponges cooled I traced around the gingerbread template on to greaseproof paper. I rolled the biscuit dough out and cut some gingerbread house shapes. I didn’t do Christmas trees as it felt like we have passed that point. The biscuits went in the oven to bake, while this was happening I filled the cake with buttercream, and make an attempt to smother the cake in buttercream all over. I’m not very neat, but it looked ok! Once the biscuits were cooked and cooled I decorated them and put them on the cake. 

Ginger and Spice Cake (The Bake Off Box)

I know my icing skills are basic, but it still looked ok! It tasted amazing though. Fluffy moist sponge, and loads of spice. It was stunning! This isn’t your usual simple cake to make, but it was worth it for a special occasion.

Ginger and Spice Cake (The Bake Off Box)

20 January 2022

Teapigs Kombucha - Original & Peach/Mango by @NLi10

 Kombucha is great - and Teapigs make some of the best quality big-brand tea there is - lets see what happens when you combine the two!

Here is the original version Kombucha.

It's made with Mao Feng green tea which is my favourite Teapig for home (the only one I buy in boxes of 50 for dreamy afternoons)

It aslo has all the right words like SCOBY and gives 5p to charity

Unfortunately it's really unexciting.  Good Kombucha sings with the memories of all the things that went into it, this was just odd pop.  Disapointing.

I also bought a Peach & Mango one - no picture of it in the glass - but this one was really nice!

The extra flavours have been added to balance out the bits I didn't like about the Original version, and while you couldn't identify it as TeaPigs it just tasted like decent Kombucha.

I'll have to look in Holland & Barrett to see if there are other flavours (and if they are still on the special offer!)

19 January 2022

Real Sea Salt & Black Pepper Crisps (Amazon) By @SpectreUK

Real Sea Salt & Black Pepper Crisps

I have written about a couple of flavours of Real crisps before. The Roast Ox flavour is my favourite crisp flavour above all. I have a few favourite flavours from other brands of crisps, but the Real Roast Ox is at the apex. In fact I've just bought my second bulk box of 24 packets from Amazon. If I can't buy them in the shops or from the supermarkets then I guess I have to go elsewhere.

One of my favourite flavours of crisps is Sea Salt and Black Pepper crisps. They seem quite a difficult flavour to come by. However I've found some Real Sea Salt & Black Pepper crisps also now. So now I have a packet to write about, and quite a few packets to enjoy afterwards.

On opening the packet there was a good salty smell to the crisps inside with a little spice from the flecks of black pepper on the crisps. The usual crunchy Real crisps greeted by tastebuds, with a strong saltiness and spicy heat from the black pepper. These crisps are really flavoursome indeed and I'll definitely look forward to the rest of the packets I bought in bulk.

Information on the packet; The 35g packet has 173 calories, with 8.9g of fat, 0.5g of sugar, and 0.4g of salt. Please see photograph for the ingredients.

Real Sea Salt & Black Pepper Crisps

18 January 2022

After Eight Mini Eggs (Tesco) By @Cinabar

After Eight Mini Eggs

I hope it isn’t too soon for the first Easter product write up of the year. I noticed that our little local branch of Tesco has a new stocked seasonal shelf full of Easter goodies, and in amongst the new goodies I spotted this bag of After Eight Mini Eggs, this is my kind of new product. I’m a big fan of peppermint, and couldn’t wait to try these. Literally there was no way I was waiting until Easter!

Inside the bag of After Eight Mini Eggs are small chocolate eggs covered in foil, I unwrapped one and found a dark looking egg. I gave it a try and found the egg to be fairly tough to bite into, it had been made in two half shells and there was chocolate in the middle. The peppermint fondant is the same as you would expect in regular After Eights, a strong sweet blast of minty yumminess. These are like the regular product in flavour but there is one main different there is more chocolate to peppermint in this After Eight Mini Eggs version. This is a down to a personal taste preference but for me the original thin dark chocolate that lightly cracks when you bite wins for me, the peppermint is king in the original in this version the chocolate is stronger and the minty fondant although very much still present is just a little bit more subdued.

After Eight Mini Eggs

17 January 2022

Mayan Chilli and Cinnamon Hot Chocolate (Hotel Chocolat) By @Cinabar

Mayan Chilli and Cinnamon Hot Chocolate (Hotel Chocolat)

Today is Blue Monday, famous for being the most miserable day of the year. It gets its name for being long enough after Christmas pay day that everyone feels broke but realises there is still a couple fo weeks till the next pay day. Christmas is over, and the decorations are down. It is January, it is cold, and let us not forget it is a Monday! So what kind of pick me up is best for Blue Monday, well I thought I’d try a nice warming mug of Mayan Chilli and Cinnamon Hot Chocolate.This new flavour of hot chocolate is from the Hotel Chocolat range designed for their Velvetiser (but can be made with hot milk in a pan).
Mayan Chilli and Cinnamon Hot Chocolate (Hotel Chocolat)

I opened a sachet, added it to the milk and waited for the machine to do its thing. I poured the Mayan Chilli and Cinnamon Hot Chocolate into a mug and added whipped cream, this is proper comfort food. I had my first sip and I thought this was super spicy, I hadn’t been sure what to expect. After the initial burst of heat I seemed to get used to the chilli in the drink and could really enjoy the flavour. There is quite a bit of heat but the spicy cinnamon made it a winner for me. I love cinnamon and this drink on a cold night is the perfect winter warmer. PJs on, mug of hot choc and Netflix, that is how you beat Blue Monday.

Mayan Chilli and Cinnamon Hot Chocolate (Hotel Chocolat)

16 January 2022

Waitrose Winter & Summer Shortbreads by @NLi10


I tend to get shortbread for Christmas.  This isn't an issue because I really enjoy shortbread! One year I got a massive 1kg box, but this year I got one winter shortbread in a hamper (box) and one summer shortbread from my partner.  As they were both from Waitrose I thought I'd group them together.

Scottish Shordbread stars in Christmas Box

First up - winter - crisp and full of spice - and also star-shaped! 9 in a box, 130g.

Shortbread stars in a tray looking all pointy

Totally present grade presentation - not a point damaged on the stars at all.

A solo star looking very tasty

Crispy, dark shortbread with a lovely grainy texture.  If you'd baked these you'd be expecting a handshake.

They smell like winter too - with a little (mixed) spice and orange peel to complement the cranberries. They also have the tiniest bit of black pepper hiding at the end of the ingredients so you know they are serious.

And the taste is great, the shortbread is still there (buttery and subtle under all the winterfest) but it's not the star.  I wasn't sure these would work, but with a warm drink these work perfectly.  The only reason they have lasted this long is that they are very much a one-and-done biscuit.  Spice to be savoured and not demolished.

Waitrose shortbread in a summer red and pink stripy box

On the opposite end of the spectrum we have summery strawberry and cream - also received for Christmas because in these dark days a little ray of sunshine is always welcome.

ingredients and tray with 8 shortbreads

Only 8 in the box here - but 160g instead so I forgive them.

bite picture with fruit inside the crumbly shortbread

These are a little more traditional, although the flavours don't feel quite as authentic.  The cream and the strawberries take this in the opposite direction becoming much sweeter with the shortbread as the base notes.  And it's alarmingly similar to an English cream tea.

This is very much a case of quickly closing the box before you start your third biscuit, so while these were opened yesterday there is really only 4 portions to the stars 9.  Even if those portions are much larger.

A satisfyingly sweet biscuit, that goes to show Waitrose really take care over their biscuit ranges so while they may look a little pricey you really do get something a little magical, that is a very welcome gift at any time of the year!