31 March 2022

Plant Pioneers - Vegan NO Steak Bake - by @NLi10 from Sainsburys

 Hey - it's lunch time again!  Well - not quite...

Front loading the nice picture for the Insta!

So while this is a quick lunch style steak bake we had it as part of a balanced evening meal.

Plant Pioneers are a neat little company that I've not seen before...

...just kidding - it's actually a Sainsbury's stealth own brand.  I have absolutely no problem with this however, in fact I'm confused that it's taken so long for this idea to make it to the high-street - the music industry has had fake Indy labels since the 90s.

They look good though, the left one is a cheeeese version that I didn't have.

They look decent 

And they polish up to a meal nicely.

The queen's official food taster approves (but did not detect any meat so left alone)

Mine however looks pretty meaty for a vegan slice.  More of a veggie mince than a steak bake really - I'd have preferred some chunkiness - but another really enjoyable product.  

Can't wait to explore more of this range and see how successful it becomes.

30 March 2022

Soreen Raspberry & White Chocolate Mini Loaves (Tesco) By @SpectreUK

Soreen Raspberry & White Chocolate Mini Loaves

I have a Soreen mini loaf every lunch time without fail. Cinabar orders plenty Soreen mini loafs in and I eat whatever there is in date order. I've been doing this for a few years now. The original Soreen mini loaves go well with a cup of tea after my sandwich and crisps, and then I move on to whatever fruit and protein yoghurt I have that day. So as you can tell I'm quite the fan of Soreen mini loaves.

I've written about plenty of different Soreen mini loaf flavours in the past. As far as I can remember I've generally liked every flavour I've tried. I'm particularly excited about these Soreen Raspberry & White Chocolate mini loaves that have been brought out for Easter. I do like raspberry in cakes and I have a big love for all things white chocolate. I've half a mind to try one of these mini loaves with a mug of white hot chocolate too.

I could see a few red pieces of raspberry and some blobs of melted white chocolate in the first mini loaf as I unwrapped it. There was quite a tart raspberry flavour on first bite, followed by the usual mini loaf flavour and also a little creaminess from the blobs of white chocolate. I thought these Soreen Raspberry & White Chocolate mini loaves were very tasty indeed. I'd definitely have them in on a regular basis as a mid-lunch treat. I will have to put one of them aside to try with a white hot chocolate drink one evening.

Information on the packet;
Each mini loaf contains 99 calories, with 1.3g of fat, 5.9g of sugar, and 0.17g of salt. Please see photograph for the ingredients.

Soreen Raspberry & White Chocolate Mini Loaves

29 March 2022

Popcorn Shed - Rainbow Shed Popcorn (Ocado) By @Cinabar

Popcorn Shed - Rainbow Shed Popcorn

Colour makes me happy. If there is a bright option for something, I will choose it. Those that have worked with me have seen what I can do with a spreadsheet when I use the ’more’ option in the colour palette. My love of colour is everywhere. The colours of the rainbow are also such a positive symbol though. I have to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever seen colour popcorn until now. Here we have Popcorn Shed’s Rainbow Shed Popcorn, in blue, yellow, green and red. I poured some out and it is pretty. It would look lovely in a sharing bowl. It is statement popcorn.

The only negative I have is that the colours aren’t all natural. Yes, I actually googled the E numbers. Not all E numbers are bad, by the way, it just always makes me curious to take a second look and a Google when they are listed as codes.

Popcorn Shed - Rainbow Shed Popcorn

Back to the pile of popcorn in front of me, it was delicious. The popcorn pieces are big and fluffy and the vanilla and caramel glaze is sweet and moreish. There was plenty of sweetness and a nice creaminess to the flavour. There were no un-popped kernels in the box either, which is always a sign of quality. I didn’t know my popcorn was missing colour before, but this box of tasty popcorn did make me smile.

Popcorn Shed - Rainbow Shed Popcorn

28 March 2022

Aero Black Forest Truffle (Candy Mail) By @Cinabar

Aero Black Forest Truffle

There is something about Black Forest Gateaux that always makes me smile. I love chocolate and cherries and I love the retro feel of the cake. When I saw that Aero had released a bar paired with the flavour, I knew I had to get my hands on it, and I managed to track down the illusive Aero Black Forest Truffle via an import shop.

Once the wrapper is off, the Aero bar is really dark looking, the chocolate isn’t far off being black. I like dark chocolate, so I was more than happy with that. I broke a piece of the bar off and I could see a lovely pink truffle filling on the top of the chocolate bubbles. The aroma of cherries was very strong.

I gave the Aero Black Forest Truffle a taste, and firstly I love the texture. Aero bubbles feel firm then soft and I just think aerated chocolate is the perfect texture. The flavour combines two very strong flavours, the rich hefty weight of the cocoa with a strong hit of morello cherry, adding a sharp contrasting tang. I could imagine some might find this bar a bit overpowering, it is rather full on. I liked the playful mix of flavours and found it very enjoyable to eat. I guess the Black Forest Gateaux cake that this is based on has cream to help tame the flavours and it is that calming influence that is missing. Even without that, this bar is a winner for me.

Aero Black Forest Truffle

27 March 2022

Kellogg Crunchy Nut Bite - Honey & Nut Flavour - basically Crunchy Nutella bites! by @NLi10

I've not really seen many new Kelloggs things for a few years, so when my partner picked these up for me I was surprised, but cautiously optimistic. 

Krave cereals do seem to be all the rage these days, so combining the brand power of the Crunchy Nut  and the shape combo of the Krave is sure to be a winning formula.  Even if 12 portions means the person on the cover is eating these on a saucer.

What I'd not quite appreciated on first glance is that they have filled these with nutty filling - hazelnuts to be precise.  This is odd as the nuts in crunchy nuts were always peanuts - so this means you have Crunchy Nut Cornflakes (CNC) and essentially Nutella in the same thing. Joy.

Oddly the other signature of CNC the high Vitamin D levels is not present - cravings for CNC and "the trouble is they taste too good" are all due to Vitamin D deficient Brits desperately consuming one of the only foods that is heavily fortified (sprayed on) with the stuff. This is great as it genuinely helps with immune problems - but I just buy the capsules for the winter and eat whichever cereal I fancy.  Maybe this new cereal is more aimed at the sunnier Euro market where that isn't a factor.

Throw on some almond milk and enjoy!

The centres do contain a paste, but it's almost impossible to photograph well.  To prove that it's there I'm sitting writing this with the box on my lap eating the dry cereal like some kind of American.

So in short - Crunchy Nut Bites don't taste or feel much like Crunchy Nut Cornflakes - they don't mention corn as these are made with maize wheat and oats, and the nuts are hazelnuts instead of peanuts.  I don't care too much though as I'm going to have to ration these to stop myself from just eating them like pretzels.

A win, but a confusingly branded one - Crunchy Nutella Bites maybe?


26 March 2022

Plum Pig Beer (Black Country Living Museum) By @SpectreUK

Plum Pig Beer

We visited the Black Country Living Museum a few months back. Cinabar bought me a couple of beers from there after we'd wandered around the museum, and enjoyed a traditional fish and chips lunch. I've written about the Mild and now it looks like I have a Plum Porter to try. I do usually love a good Porter, especially one flavoured with plum, although I can't see any in the ingredients. From a little research there are a few Belgian yeasts that can produce a plum flavour, so perhaps one of those yeasts were used in the brewing of this Plum Pig.

Plum Pig was produced by the Micro Brewery called Black Country Ales, which is just down the road in Kingswinford. At 4.3% in volume this Plum Porter certainly has an intense fruity plum aroma on opening. On taste this deep brown ale has a sweet fruity plum flavour from initial tasting. There is a sweetness of caramel and malts, and then a mild bitterness from herbal fruity hops. This fruitiness carries on throughout the flavour and into the aftertaste. This Plum Pig is a very tasty Porter indeed and I'll look forward to another bottle next time we visit the Black Country Living Museum.

25 March 2022

Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes (Tesco) By @Cinabar

Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes

And the prize for the stickiest cake goes to the Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcake. These are gooey but gorgeous. I love Cadbury Creme Eggs, I love it when you first see them at the beginning of the year and I hate it when they disappear again after Easter. I also can’t resist any spin-off products, which is how I ended up buying these cupcakes, despite having only popped to our Tesco Express to buy bread and bananas. I simply added another essential.

Okay, so the problem starts when you try to lift them out of the plastic tray. They are super sticky. The Creme Egg ‘yolk’ on top is pretty liquid and I don’t think it is possible to get them out of the packet and keep your fingers clean. The taste is worth the mess though. These Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes are well themed, there is a chocolate sponge, fondant icing and a yolk sauce on top. There are some shards of chocolate on top too. There is also some more fondant inside the cupcake. They are rich, sweet and full of chocolatey goodness, a proper treat. Certainly something I’ll pick up again when I next need the basics like bread and essentials.

Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes

24 March 2022

jake & NAYNS' BBQ Chilli Jackfruit Burrito - microwave Vegan lunch by @NLi10

 jake & NAYNS' (their capitalisation) seem to be a cool, hip new brand that are willing to sell me exciting things for lunch - lets get started!

I've not really had much Jackfruit - I tried it in Las Iguanas and it was decent enough - and it's show up in some imitation meats since - but this is the first time I've seen it in the lunch aisle.

They are Bros and and have high impact street food. I'll remember to look both ways before eating this.

Says hot or cold - but we have a microwave now so hot it is.  Leave in the cardboard for best results

I'd hate to see the worst results!

Despite seemingly being too damp in some places and too dry in others (and looking like an absolute mess as a result) it was actually really nice.

It was also possibly the most filling lunch snack that I've ever reviewed.  No afternoon snacks required and I turned down evening meal extras.  Maybe I did something wrong, and maybe there are more delicate ways to heat this - but - if any of the smaller local places that I usually buy things from get these in (I got this at Sainsbury's) then I'll try the range and let you know.

Nicely surprising.

23 March 2022

White Chocolate M&Ms (Candy Mail) By @SpectreUK

White Chocolate M&Ms

I honestly don't think I've had M&Ms since the Nineties. I tried a peanut M&M from a friend back then and decided I'd never to have another. So White Chocolate M&Ms are a surprise to me. Cinabar bought them for me to try considering my love for most things white chocolate. I'm going to try them with my favourite white hot chocolate drink and probably a white chocolate bar or two on the side. I've run out of low calorie pots of ice cream for now. I seem to have one most nights with something or other.

White Chocolate M&Ms

 As you can see from the photograph on opening the bag of these White Chocolate M&Ms there were quite a few colours of coated white chocolate sweets. These M&Ms had a decent crunch and then had a creamy white chocolate inside. I'd have these again. They were very creamy and tasty. They made me feel young and I guess that's what sweets are all about for us older folk. Besides they went rather well with my white hot chocolate drink and Milky Bar too.

White Chocolate M&Ms

Information on the packet; The 42g bag contains 210 calories, with 6g of fat, 28g of sugar, and 40mg of sodium. Please see photograph for the ingredients.

White Chocolate M&Ms

22 March 2022

Fanta Strawberry & Kiwi Sugar Free Edition (Tesco) By @Cinabar

Fanta Strawberry & Kiwi Sugar Free Edition

Is that some sunshine creeping into the garden? Could it be Spring on the way? It may well be time to think about the bright and fresh flavours of Spring heading into the shops. This means new products and here we have Fanta Strawberry & Kiwi Sugar Free Edition I picked up in our local Tesco Express.

I poured it out into glasses and the drink is very pink and smelled very sweet. I gave it a sip and I know that it is super sweet and those people that hate sugar-free editions won’t like it. The artificial sweeteners add a sharpness and extreme sweetness that many people dislike but I am okay with. I have a sweet tooth. I thought the hit of strawberry and kiwi was a brilliant refreshing drink. The fruit flavours are full of the promise of sunshine and warm weather, one to have in the back garden soaking up the sun. I’ll be buying more of these Fanta Strawberry & Kiwi Sugar Free Edition bottles. I like the new variety. The strawberry is such a nice taste and the kiwi brings balance. I am ready for Spring, bring it on.

Oh, I just checked the weather forecast, apparently there is a frost due tonight.

21 March 2022

Wensleydale Cheese with Rhubarb (Tesco) By @Cinabar

Wensleydale Cheese with Rhubarb (Tesco)

I am a big fan of different cheeses and love to have a selection or find something new. This is a Tesco own cheese; Wensleydale Cheese with Rhubarb, and it has a Yorkshire connection. Obviously, Wensleydale is in Yorkshire, but Yorkshire has an area called the ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ which is one of the best areas for growing the fruit. By fruit I mean stalks, and it is probably technically a vegetable, but it feels like a fruit because we use it in Rhubarb Crumble. It sounded like it would be a winner with cheese either way.

We shared some of the Wensleydale Cheese with Rhubarb and I noticed it wasn’t the most crumbly Wensleydale we’ve had, there was some crumbs but it mostly stayed in shape when we cut pieces off to try. The base flavour of the cheese is very smooth and creamy, and the tang from the Rhubarb is sharp and adds a lovely contrast. The fruit isn’t too sweet, but I liked the sharp acidic flavour in the cheese. It is an unusual combination but a good balance of flavours. It makes a nice change from the Christmas Wensleydale with Cranberries that is so popular, and turns this into a fresh Spring versions of the cheese. I'd definitely buy it again.

Wensleydale Cheese with Rhubarb (Tesco)

20 March 2022

Viennetta Chocolate Yule Log & Goodbye Coop Bearwood by @NLi10

One of the best places locally for good, ethical food bargains was the Coop on Bearwood High-street (in Birmingham - not the other Bearwood somewhere else that kept having to assure people it was staying open). Unfortunately due to financial pressures it is now closed - but we did get one last basket of bargains before that happened.

Here we have a discounted Viennetta Chocolate Yule Log - a Christmas variety I'd not spotted that is only discounted because the shop expired before it did.

Looks like a sparkly star-shaped Viennetta with more chocolate Ice-cream layers than the typical version.

And it is! Even more chocolate here than on the box oddly, but it makes a nice change.  Does make me think a Neapolitan Viennetta would be possible and amazing by having red layers too!

The stars are a nice touch - a little festive but still just celebration themed.

And just the right amount of pudding to have after dinner too, these bowls make it look tiny!

So farewell Coop Bearwood - we will have to go further to the smaller ones instead - but we will raise a slice of sparkly chocolate in your honour.

19 March 2022

Magic Rock Brewing Chameleonic DDH IPA (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

I'm feeling a little grumpy. I almost didn't write about this Chameleonic DDH IPA. There wasn't much information on this beer can from Magic Rock Brewing. Asides being 6% in volume and being a DDH IPA, the can is covered in just circles and arrows. I don't expect an essay on the back of a beer can, and I sometimes do get ingredients down to types of hops and calorie content. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect much and have written blogs about plenty of beers from overseas where the bottles or cans have been in a different language. I'm maybe feeling a little lazy? Although this can simply states "Think Magic".

When you've written several hundred beer blogs over more than a ten year period and suddenly find you're looking up what DDH stands for, you feel more than a little stupid and frustrated. Never mind it's sunny outside, I've had a good workout and then a long relax in the spa area at the gym talking to friends, and now I have a Chinese takeaway for dinner. So that'll cheer me up for having to look up information on Chameleonic DDH IPA on the internet.

Magic Rock Brewing's Website states (yes, I had to go there instead of the back of the can right in front of me) that this Double Dry-Hopped (DDH) India Pale Ale has a fruity blend of hops from the USA. With grapefruit, mango and guava flavours, so I should imagine Chinook hops have been used in the brewing, and or possibly Amarillo. There was certainly a tropical fruity citrus aroma on opening the can.

This misty golden IPA had a keen edged bitterness to start with biting at my tastebuds like an angry rattlesnake. The citrus fruitiness pounced on the knife edge of hops impaling itself and smoothing out the bite, with the sweeter pale malts taking over from the fruits into the aftertaste. It's difficult to stay mad at such a flavoursome beer as this. Even though I still don't know what Chameleonic means, I have to admit that I could think a certain amount of magic as I drank it.

18 March 2022

Lucky Charms Magically Delicious Marshmallows (GB Gifts) By @Cinabar

Lucky Charms Magically delicious Marshmallows

Lucky Charms are breakfast cereals that come with marshmallows and, in the UK at least, a hefty import price. I do like the cereals but only have them occasionally because of the price and the fact they are rather sweet. Now I have a sweet tooth, just perhaps not always at breakfast time.

Lucky Charms Magically delicious Marshmallows

This bag of Lucky Charms Magically Delicious Marshmallows is based on the just the mallow part, but unlike the dried mallows you get in the cereal box, these are big and fluffy. Yay! I have to admit to eating quite a few of these straight from the bag, they all have the same plain flavour but are sweet, a little creamy and soft and fluffy to munch on. They are super easy to eat. I think the real benefit of these marshmallows will be for the creativity with baking, there are lots of ideas for using these on top of cupcakes etc, they have the potential to make this sort of thing super cute. We have four leaf cloves, blue rainbows, stars and pink hearts.

Regular readers will know about my love of hot chocolate and yesterday was St Patrick’s Day - so this concoction seemed an obvious choice.

Lucky Charms Magically delicious Marshmallows

17 March 2022

Clean R & Cola / G & Tonic - alcohol free Rum & Cola / Gin & Tonic by @NLi10

We like social drinks - that is Adult drinks with no alcohol needed - and here we have a borderline one. 0.5% is basically no alcohol - it’s a little more than Fentimans but not much.

So what’s the deal here?

These are cocktail replacements in a can! Don’t want the media being obsessed with the fact you purchased a G&T on the train? Go for this

First up a Jack Daniel’s and Cola imitation. Not really my chosen drink at any point, but something I have enjoyed over the years.

Looks and smells decent, and the flavour isn’t quite authentic, but goodness this is. Lovely refreshing drink! They used decent cola, and added some magic to make it a very tingly alcohol like drink. This isn’t going to fool anyone, it doesn’t feel like you are drinking alcohol, but sipping this is a good time.

I love tonic water, and occasionally I’ll put gin in instead of my traditional vodka. This mix didn’t get the tonic taste right, and the gin just tasted foul. I’m not quite sure what was going on here - but for the first time in ages I was tempted to just pour the final 2/3 of the can down the sink. 

I persevered and didn’t enjoy it, but I did finish. I’m really not sure what it was that made the taste just so wrong!

I’d love more of the cola though.


16 March 2022

KurKure Masala Munch (Tesco Express) By @SpectreUK

KurKure Masala Munch

Dal, corn and rice for a snack food doesn't sound like a good combination to me. I haven't had an alternative snack for some time though. So Cinabar brought me back this KurKure Masala Munch made with Dal, Corn and Rice from the local store. I have to confess that I left it on the Foodstufffinds shelf for quite sometime. Although one of the snacks I miss the most was a Balti Bombay Mix I used eat regularly before I was advised not to by a Nutritionist for dietary reasons.

We choose to share these out during a cheese and cold meats meal. Although I usually enjoy a glass of port, I opted for a double Southern Comfort and Diet 7UP for a change. I tried other lemonades with Southern Comfort, but found 7UP to be the most complementary. Anyway, I digress.

KurKure Masala Munch

As you can see from the photograph, on opening the bag of these KurKure Masala Munch these crisps looked almost identical to another favourite crisp brand of mine. They have a slightly crunchier texture though. There was a strong smell of curry spices mixed with a fiery aroma of chilli pepper. On tasting there was a strong flavour of cumin that came through first with other curry spices quickly following. There was then quite a blast from fiery hot chilli into the aftertaste.

These KurKure Masala Munch crisps were very tasty indeed, and I rather like the fact that they looked like Nik Naks, and had almost the same texture. Their curry spices and hot chilli flavour left a decent burn in my mouth after finishing the packet. I certainly enjoyed them, and so did Cinabar and her mom after sharing them out. I asked Cinabar if she could get another packet or more for the next few cheese and port meals.

Information on the packet; The 100g bag contains 165 calories per 30g portion, with 9.8g of fat, 0.4g of sugar, and 0.56g of salt. Please see photograph for the ingredients.

KurKure Masala Munch

15 March 2022

M&S Golden Blond Chocolate & Salted Caramel Hot Cross Buns (Ocado) By @Cinabar

M&S Golden Blond Chocolate & Salted Caramel Hot Cross Buns

The toaster just about survived these M&S Golden Blond Chocolate & Salted Caramel Hot Cross Buns. We have one of those toasters which is wide enough to take things like bagels and it even has a lift lever to cope with smaller items etc. Basically, I like toasting bread-based products. I regularly toast normal hot cross buns, despite the risk from rogue raisins dropping into the bottom of the toaster. It works pretty well, that is why I didn’t think twice about cooking these new ones in there too. I should have thought twice. It sounds obvious now, but Golden Blond Chocolate melts in the toaster, it drips and then it burns. It makes the hot cross bun impossible to pick up as the chocolate bubbles and burns your fingers. I had to wait for the toaster to cool to get them out, and then they were stuck as the caramel and chocolate had re-set. I know this is on me, but yeah it wasn’t the best start.

M&S Golden Blond Chocolate & Salted Caramel Hot Cross Buns

So let's pretend that I put them under a grill and they toasted up lovely, no hassle, and I’ll just move on. Lesson learned. They smelled amazing while they were cooking lots of rich caramel tones. I added some butter for the ultimate indulgence. The flavour of these buns is sweet. I was pleased that they still had all the spice of a hot cross bun, but the chocolate and caramel added a lovely sweet layer to the taste. These M&S Golden Blond Chocolate & Salted Caramel Hot Cross Buns are indulgent and lovely, and I’d buy them again. They keep enough of the proper seasonal hot cross bun flavour but manage to lightly wrap around it the blonde chocolate and sweetness.

No toasters were harmed during the making of this blog post (well after some substantial cleaning).

M&S Golden Blond Chocolate & Salted Caramel Hot Cross Buns