31 July 2022

Birmingham Commonwealth Games - @NLi10

 Updated once home - Blogger is appalling on the iPhone...

It’s Commonwealth Games time in Birmingham - and we got a new Bull to celebrate!

It’s a tenuous association, but a fun one. We have a shopping centre called the Bull Ring, built on the site of an older shopping centre - also called the Bull Ring, which is on the site of a bull ring they think from ancient times.

Yesterday I went to Coventry for the Rugby 7s and saw the wonderfully talented Fiji team, today I’m at Smithfield in Birmingham next door to Chinatown for the 3x3 basketball.

So I got a salt & pepper, Chinese-style wrap from the food stall - the stall looked more mainstream than I'd like - but the chicken on display looked spicy and tasty

Salt and pepper chicken with some self added mayo in a lovely fresh wrap with country-appropriate salad.

And it was crispy with all the real flavours! I genuinely enjoyed it and all of the food stalls at the festival have been a great quality so far.

So now I’m ready for the games!  3 x 3 basket-ball had both mens and womens league matches - and standing and wheelchair versions - only 6 matches vs the 12 Rugby ones but it was a lovely afternoon out in the fading sun.

30 July 2022

Batemans Dark Fruits Porter (Aldi) By @SpectreUK

Batemans Dark Fruits Porter

It's been a little cooler here in the UK this week, with a little more rain. I don't usually talk about the weather, but I thought I'd break open this Dark Fruits Porter to warm me up a bit. And besides, I always see a good Porter as a treat.

Produced by Batemans at Salem Bridge Brewery, in Lincolnshire, this Dark Fruits Porter is 4.6% in volume and made with crystal, chocolate and roasted malts. Sported on the bottle as "packed full of dark fruits", I can't decide whether to have it as a pudding beer or washing down my main meal. I have a MacDonalds takeaway, and then a bag of Thornton's Vanilla Fudge for pudding. Oooh, pudding beer it is.

After enjoying my usual triple cheeseburger with bacon, and regular fries with barbecue sauce, I popped open the bottle. There was a deep fruity aroma with sweet malts behind it. I was expecting more of a roasted chocolate malt smell, but the beer was called Dark Fruits Porter after all.

It was certainly dark in colour, almost black on pouring. Although this Dark Fruits Porter lost its head almost immediately. As an ex-barman I'm usually better at pouring than that, so I'm not sure what went wrong.

On taste this Porter was very fruity indeed. This fruitiness cut through the touch of sweet crystal and chocolate malts, and then kept on giving. With a little spice mixed in with the mild bitterness from the hops, this really was a fruity warming beer. Very nice indeed. It went very well with my vanilla fudge pudding too.

29 July 2022

The Spicy Spanish Stack (McDonalds) By @Cinabar

The Spicy Spanish Stack (McDonalds)

Friday night is take away night and today we decided to have a look at what the latest is on the McDonalds menu. The new burger from their Summer selection is called the Spanish Stack. I gave it an order to be delivered, flicked the TV on and started to catch up on the Common Wealth games. We have a medal already!

So the burger is on a bread bun flavoured with paprika. It has a spicy salsa and chilli cheese slice. I gave it a try. The first thing to note is that there are two burgers under the bun, making it feel rather substantial. I liked the warmth of the salsa ketchup and the chilli cheese, it was gentle but worked well. I think calling it ‘spicy’ might be a bit optimistic but there was a nice tingle. I couldn’t taste much paprika on the bread, but I had an awareness it was there. The onion was lovely too, it gave the burger a fresh feel. The best thing, though, is the heavy hit of tomato on the burger. I could eat that spiced ketchup all day. Not enough chilli to overpower anything but a good flavour. I’d have taken a second helping of that with the chips had there been the option.

The Spicy Spanish Stack (McDonalds)

28 July 2022

Pepero - snowy almond - heatwave resistant Choc style snacks (@nli10)

 I’ve been writing these for so long it’s inevitable that we come full circle - my first ever post here was about Pocky - the lovable Japanese stick of chocolate. Today we are talking about something I picked up while it was far too hot - Pepero - which is basically the same snack. Only I got these from Sainsbury’s - a big supermarket - instead of obscure speciality oriental grocery stores. How times have changed.

It says it’s huge in Korea - and who am I to disagree - it’s certainly a nice treat.

Manufactured in Korea, and imported ready for the heatwave, these are not quite chocolate coated, but have a little cocoa butter in with all the usual suspect ingredients. 18% almonds is quite high - hooray!

Certainly has visible, recognisable ingredients from both the looks and tastes. It’s a creamy delight.

And when it’s hot, you can hold the stick part so that you don’t melt all the good things and get it all over you. It’s like a pre-made KP dip if anyone is old enough to remember those.

While bread sticks and oil fondant stuff doesn’t sound dreamy - it’s a lovely little sweet treat and very sharable.  It’s kind of odd that it’s taken a decade or so for mainstream supermarkets to pick these up, but I’m glad they are easier to find now.

27 July 2022

Salted Caramel & Butterscotch Milkshake (Hotel Chocolat) By @SpectreUK

Salted Caramel & Butterscotch Milkshake (Hotel Chocolat)

If you were expecting to read about a drink, you will be mistaken. These six Salted Caramel & Butterscotch Milkshake chocolates were from Hotel Chocolat. I had these as a stocking filler, so to speak, with a few other chocolatey items for my birthday. The packet stated that these chocolates are "The essence of a milkshake, reinvented in chocolate." They contain whipping cream, salted caramel chocolate, and butterscotch. All of which sounds pretty ideal for my pudding tonight. They could be the perfect treat after a day of feeling under the weather and feeling a little sorry for myself.

There was a strong smell of salted caramel and milk chocolate on opening the packet. Filled with gooey runny butterscotch and cream, and coated in a salted caramel milk chocolate, these salty chocolate balls burst with flavour as soon as I put one in my mouth. Explosive butterscotch flavour with a little cream to begin with, then the salted caramel milk chocolate melted in my mouth. Gosh these were good. I'm not sure about them being reminiscent of a milkshake, but I washed them down with my favourite white hot chocolate drink. Gorgeous :-p

Information on the packet; Each 2 x Salted Caramel & Butterscotch Milkshake chocolates were 114 calories, with 7.8g of fat, 7.6g of sugar, and 0.08g of salt. Please see photograph for the ingredients.

Salted Caramel & Butterscotch Milkshake (Hotel Chocolat)

26 July 2022

Cadbury Dairy Milk Mint Fingers (Tesco) by @Cinabar

Cadbury Dairy Milk Mint Fingers

I haven’t seen these Cadbury Dairy Milk Mint Fingers before. They don’t have a ‘new’ label on them but I am usually good at spotting chocolate mint products, as it is a favourite combination of mine. It feels like a summer flavour too, mint being refreshing, but I don’t know how long they have been out or how it took them to make it to my area. Either way, I’m quite happy to have found them now. I decided to have a couple as an afternoon pick me up. I was on annual leave last week and have had quite a full inbox to work through.

The biscuit fingers are covered in milk chocolate flavoured with mint, but do look like regular Cadbury Fingers. I gave one a try and the chocolate mint flavour was a lovely combination. The mint was refreshing and well balanced and the chocolate, sweet and smooth. I like the texture of Fingers with the chocolate being thick enough to be soft and the biscuit crunchy, making them quite moreish. They dunk well too, even the mint ones, in coffee (not tea). I’m not crazy.

Cadbury Dairy Milk Mint Fingers

25 July 2022

Mini Cheddars - Banging Cheese Burger (Sainsburys) By @Cinabar

Mini Cheddars - Banging Cheese Burger

So this is a bit different for Mini Cheddars. Although the brand has bought out different flavours over the years, they are usually different types of cheese. After all, these are cheese biscuits, so the predominant flavour is usually cheese. It is, however, summer and barbecue season, so many of us will be making cheeseburgers. I decided to try them out with a sandwich at lunch time.

I opened up the bag of biscuits and poured them out. They had a light aroma, and didn’t look like they had too much seasoning. I gave one a try and it was alright. I have to admit I had been expecting a bit more strength in the flavour. There was a mild beef meaty taste and a little cheese, and even just a bit of herbs in there too. All in all, the flavour sounded much more exciting than the actual taste. These Mini Cheddars Banging Cheese Burger are pleasant enough and I’ll happily eat up the rest of the packs, but I wouldn’t rush out to buy any more. I’m not sure they quite hit the ‘banging’ flavour that was promised in the title.

Mini Cheddars - Banging Cheese Burger

24 July 2022

Beware The Fuffle Man - local Fudge/Truffle Hybrid (@by NLi10)

 I'm amazed I'd not bumped into this sooner - maybe I managed to resist the free samples up to now.

Fuffle is the creation of a local guy (presumably the Gary on the pack) which combines the textures of fudge and truffle.  I'm not a massive fudge fan, so this piques my curiosity - what are they doing to make flavoured sugar a little more exciting?

Well - for a start the packaging is premium and gift-like. Two of the bars went straight to my dad.  He lost them, but I'm reliably informed they turned up in tact so I'll have to see what he thought of the dark flavours.  I kept the light and fruity ones so that's what we'll talk about today.

This is chocolate orange - and it smells great & looks like a brownie.

In my excitement the slices are blurred

And attract non-human interest too

Cats don't like orange so she didn't pick it up - but it was a close call!

These are smooth - not unlike the centre of peanut cups but hold together really well in the heat. The flavour is sweet and has all of the advertised flavours but isn't overpowering.  This has been made with love and care.

Good job I have a second bar to try (the deal was 4 for £10 but I also bought extra stuff) 

It was pretty hard to narrow the selection down - I mean look at these

They all sound similarly sweet and amazing, I should have got a white one to try I think.

I guess that just changes the Cocoa and the flavours added

And the classy foil!

In case you forget what your eating it's handily stamped on

And I cut myself 4 little micro brownies this time instead of 8 as once it's cut it's basically getting eaten.  

I think the orange was more special than this one, but this has a smoothness to the flavour meaning I could just sit and eat the bar with a tea effortlessly.

My partner has bumped into the stall at another food fair today - I'm tempted to say go and get more!  

He does have a website if your not local to Bromsgrove but are in the UK if you fancy some. Frankly they make a nice gift - and there are spoilers on the site for the other thing I have to review when it gets a bit more weather appropriate!

23 July 2022

Lunar Lager (Aldi) By @SpectreUK

Lunar Lager Odyssey Craft Brewery

Born in July I am a Moonchild. So this Lunar Lager from the Odyssey Craft Brewery sounds right up my street. Especially as its calories are rather helpfully on the back of the can at 114 calories. This 4.6% in volume Lunar Lager was brewed with Northern Brewer and also Aurora hops. Hopefully not too bubbly this lager should go well with my fish, chips and battered sausage for dinner.

I have to try to keep a balance of healthy foods, and bad for me foods, and also to finish on a decent pudding whilst limiting my calories to keep my weight down for my knee. I understand that I didn't include my pudding as 'bad for me foods', but who cares? Strengthening after a second more severe operation, or any operation, can be very time consuming and painfully challenging, but I have to persevere and keep fighting. It's the good things in life such as Birthday trips to Spa Hotels, days out, a beer or two a week, and the odd takeaway as a treat I look forward to in life.

On opening the rather cheerful busy 330ml can covered in space ships, astronauts and aliens, Lunar Lager had a malted barley aroma with a little herbal hops. Pleasantly fizzy, on taste Lunar Lager had a sweet malted barley flavour to start with, followed by a light refreshing bitterness from the herbal hops. This lager went perfectly with my fish, chips and battered sausage. Yum and cheers.

22 July 2022

Peppermint White Drinking Chocolate (Hotel Chocolat) By @Cinabar

Peppermint White Drinking Chocolate (Hotel Chocolat)

Even I have to admit that there were a couple of days this week where hot chocolate wasn’t very appealing. It has been exceptionally hot and on Monday and Tuesday and even the new summer flavour Peppermint White Drinking Chocolate from Hotel Chocolat wasn’t doing it for me.

Today, though, had been a more normal temperature for Britain, and there was even some rain thrown in, so today was the day to try the new drink. Inside the box are sachets and they are designed to be used with the Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser, but can be used on the hob with hot milk and a bit of whisking. As a hot chocolate addict, I have the machine, I added some milk and the powder and waited for the drink to heat and mix up.

Peppermint White Drinking Chocolate (Hotel Chocolat)

The drink is very creamy and the white chocolate base is ever so nice with the peppermint tones running through it. There is plenty of mint but it isn’t overly sweet, just creamy and fresh. There aren’t many flavoured white hot chocolates in the Hotel Chocolat range so this one makes a nice change. The mint is cooling and I love mint and chocolate flavours, so I was enjoying it. I actually liked it more than the milk chocolate and mint that they do. It is soothing, but still feels refreshing, perfect for the warmer evenings.

Peppermint White Drinking Chocolate (Hotel Chocolat)

21 July 2022

Pink Prawn Cocktail Quavers are Back! (@NLi10)

 I know Cinabar talked about these when she first spotted them but I thought that I would try them for nostalgia's sake too.  So they are back in two senses of the word!

I took them to a mini picnic we had at my Nana-in-law's house while watching Wimbledon - she won't thank me for getting her in the picture.  She's 95 and still beats me at online Scrabble on her iPad though so consider this revenge.

We asked so they came back! We don't remember asking, but thanks anyway.  I liked these because they came in the three flavour multi-packs my other Grandma used to buy in the 90s. I wasn't so keen on the 'cheese' ones so usually got to eat these ones.

16g - you couldn't have gotten away with that in my day!

NO ARTIFICAL is fun too - as this has Monosodium Glutamate in which was the devil itself in the 90s, but turned out to just be food racism as it was the colours that were sending the kids loopy and MSG is just another kind of salt.

Barely any calories or crisps - one child-size serving.

And there they are in all their Quavery glory - only a little pinker as they aren't cheese.  And they taste like I remember, but then most prawn cocktail things taste similar (ketchup + mayo).

A fun diversion and a nice thing to take to an indoor picnic - but if they disappeared again It'd probably take me another 20 years to notice.

20 July 2022

Skittles Stix Wild Berry (Iceland) By @SpectreUK

Skittles Stix Wild Berry

I haven't had an ice lolly for quite sometime. After dinner I usually opt for a fairly low calorie ice cream pot to have with biscuits or chocolate, or both. However it's been super hot here in the UK over the last couple of days. These new Skittles Stix Wild Berry lollies are fruit flavoured ice cream with a secret mysterious pearl centre. It'll be difficult to photograph an ice lolly in this heat, but we'll have a go.

Skittles Stix Wild Berry

Okay so taking a photograph of an ice lolly in a hot room wasn't the best idea. As you can see, the Skittles Stix Wild Berry ice lolly fell apart pretty quickly whilst we tried to set up the shot. The ice lolly itself tasted lovely and fruity, with blueberry to start with followed by raspberry and then strawberry, and also a little apple. The 'secret pearl centre' was made up of broken crunchy bits of skittle's shells. It was certainly a fruity refreshing treat and I'll look forward to more hot days and fruity ice lollies in the future.

Information on the packet: 4 x Skittles Stix in the box. Each ice lolly is 59 calories, with 2.5g of fat, 7.3g of sugar, and 0.04g of salt. Please see photograph for the ingredients.

Skittles Stix Wild Berry

19 July 2022

Mint Maltesers Cake Bars (Tesco) By @Cinabar

Mint Maltesers Cake Bars

I spotted these Mint Maltesers Cake Bars in Tesco, and thought I’d pick them up. I was intrigued by the flavour combination, with both malt and mint. They are in smart green packaging and looked cooling for this weather. Inside the pack are five bars, and they looked perfect for my afternoon sweet tooth craving.

Mint Maltesers Cake Bars

Under the chocolate is a malt flavoured creme and it has mint crystals running through it. The sponge is also mint flavoured. I gave it a try and the first thing was the textures. The sugar crystals do add a pleasing crunch and super hit of mint. There is more mint in there too and these cake bars really are a proper chocolate mint affair. The only problem was that I couldn’t spot the malt. I mean, maybe there was a little in the background but the whole thing screamed chocolate mint, so much so the malt's voice was lost.

The product is made by Maltesers, so it was odd that the malt is so very mild that they didn’t seem particularly on brand. However, there is a lot of mint in this, and I love mint. I stored these in the fridge and they were super refreshing with an iced latte. A nice cooling treat, they just could have done with turning up the malt.

Mint Maltesers Cake Bars

18 July 2022

Slush Puppie - Strawberry and Blue Raspberry Cones (Iceland) By @cinabar

Slush Puppie  - Strawberry and Blue Raspberry Cones

I don’t like this heat. I know people look forward to summer, but honestly, this temperature is too much for me. I can’t get comfortable, we are in a red warning zone and, frankly, the sooner the temperature settles down to the early or mid 20s the better. Meanwhile, I still have ice cream. Some of it melted a little on the way to the house, so apologies that the photo isn’t quite as defined as the image on the box. I’m tucking into these Slush Puppie Strawberry and Blue Raspberry Cones.

They are bright! If you buy the original Slush Puppie drinks, they are always quite epic colours, usually blue and red, and this ice cream cone is just the same. As I have an inner child, it made me smile. The flavours are bright too, strong and sweet. Lashings of full on raspberry and strawberry, intermingled with vanilla ice cream. An absolute treat on such a hot day. My freezer is my favourite appliance at the minute and I still have more cold treats to discover, even so, I’m looking forward to the temperature coming down a bit.

Slush Puppie  - Strawberry and Blue Raspberry Cones

17 July 2022

Buxton Well Dressing - avoided! Cake & Escape instead (by @NLi10)

On our way back from Matlock we decided to visit Buxton, a nice little place with lots of great shops and cafes - only it looked a little busier than we were expecting!  Today was their annual Well Dressing festival - and the first since 2019 - it was a big deal - and meant that if we were still in our car-park at 1:30 then we'd be locked in til 5 and not able to get home until late - so the race was on. 

It really is a lovely place - famous for its Buxton water drawn from local wells - which I was looking forwards to reviewing fresh but they divert them for the festival days.

You can tell it's also quite a posh place as the local charity shop had hand-made medieval clothing for sale - ace!

Due to the Well Dressing (which as it sounds involves putting decoration on the well heads) there were also arts on display for the fringe festival - ideal on a slow-paced day but less so when we have to escape.

So we dashed round the lovely shady streets to the main park buildings with their markets, restaurant and cafe.

My partner had a slice of the red cherry cake at the top, and I had an courgette & avocado based version of a carrot cake.  Both (I snuck a bit) were very nice.  Grown up and not too sweet, but with the filling and icing filling that niche nicely.  We had a lovely tea with these too and got to sit in very luxurious surroundings indeed.

We'll just have to go back on a day where there isn't a full parade in the afternoon (or plan to spend enough time there to watch it).