31 October 2023

Spooky Pumpkin Cupcakes (Morrisons) By @Cinabar

Spooky Pumpkin Cupcakes (Morrisons)

Happy Halloween! What better way than to spend it by cozying up on the sofa, putting on the film The Lost Boys, and tucking into a Spooky Pumpkin Cupcake. This is how we do Halloween, but I hope you are all having a lovely evening, whatever you do. Tonight's treat was found at the end of an aisle in the supermarket and was an impulse buy.

Spooky Pumpkin Cupcakes (Morrisons)

The pumpkin cupcakes are very nicely decorated with a cheery but scary face. I peeled down the wrapper and was rather pleased to see a lovely, thick layer of icing. This is my kind of ratio for cake to icing. I gave the cake a try and found it to be melt in the mouth light with a sweet vanilla taste. The icing is thick and holds together on its own. It is firm but still gives when you bite, and it has a delightful, delicate, sweet vanilla taste. These cakes are a bit of fun and a nice seasonal treat for Halloween. I loved the cakes so much though that I will go back and see if I can find any other flavours or varieties in the same style at the supermarket, as I would love to try a chocolate cupcake with that lovely icing on top too.

Spooky Pumpkin Cupcakes (Morrisons)

Whether you are a fan of Halloween or not, I still recommend these Spooky Pumpkin Cupcakes, and who knows, they may well be reduced in price tomorrow.

30 October 2023

Heinz Mayocue Sauce (Asda) By @Cinabar

Heinz Mayocue Sauce

Mayocue, what kind of name is that? I’m not a fan of these portmanteau words, to be honest, mainly because my spell checker insists on underlining them in red. However, if Heinz Mayocue Sauce is a combination of mayonnaise and barbecue sauce, I think I’m still in. I really enjoy both sauces and couldn’t wait to give this a try. Tonight we had chicken and chips with our dinner and decided to use this as a dip on the side.

I poured some out, and it was runnier than usual mayonnaise, but not by any means thin. I gave the Heinz Mayocue Sauce a taste, and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The predominant taste was a smokey flavour, followed by the creaminess of mayonnaise. This was a nice combination, and it worked with chips dipped in. As much as I liked the sauce, I think to qualify as a barbecue sauce, it needs some sweetness from a hint of tomato or something like that. Barbecue sauces aren’t all about the smoke. Maybe this should have been called Mayosmoke, but perhaps not! I would still buy this Heinz Mayocue Sauce again, though, as it went ever so well with chicken and chips.

29 October 2023

Fruitfetti - Apple & Raspberry - Holland & Barrett (@NLi10)

 Our family have been shopping in health food shops since I was tiny - probably as a result of my Grandmother who loved all kinds of supplements and potions.  As part of this we'd spend a lot of time in these shops as children - but were fortunately allowed to choose a snack to take home.  Usually these were horrible - but the two safe options were the Hedgehog Crisps, and things made out of dried fruits. (Later on they also sold Kettle Chips!)

I spotted a display of Fruitfetti - and thought that it was some kind of eco-friendly confetti that was also bird food.  While not far off - it's actually human food.

And the little tubs on the side suggested that the apple one was almost exactly like one of my favourite childhood snacks - freeze dried green apple chunks! And now it was a 50:50 mix with raspberry too which was a bonus.  The tub shows an even mix.

The pack says it's an even mix.

The art says it's an even mix.

The bowl says it's 80% apple!

Now this isn't entirely unexpected - the raspberry is the expensive bit afterall - but I'd have expected it to be at least a little closer to 50%.

That said - the nostalgia is strong with this one, and as the apple was the main reason for trying these and the taste is spot on then I can't be too disappointed.

I think the price of £3 feels a little high - just eat a fresh apple was the response when we'd ask for these - but it's likely correct as these were always a luxury item.  They last a lot longer as an adult, as we used to pour them into our mouths like popping candy!
I shall try all the flavours out of journalistic responsibility and report back, especially as one has blueberries.

Probably not one to give to small children these days, but for me a nice little flavour boost while out and about.

28 October 2023

Spell Casting Beer by Neonraptor Brewing Co. (The Wee Beer Shop) By @SpectreUK

Spell Casting Beer by Neonraptor Brewing Co.

Knightmare was an adventure TV show in the late eighties and early nineties. The Dungeon Master, Treguard, would introduce a team of four players, where one would wear a blind helmet to go into the dungeon as the Dungeoneer. The other three members would stay outside of the dungeon with the Dungeon Master as guides around the dungeon.

This 5% in volume Spell Casting by Neonraptor Brewing Co. is a sour beer and bright blue in colour, of all things. It was brewed with lemon and blue raspberry, as well as hops, barley and wheat. On pouring this beer could possibly be seen from space, let alone in any dank dark dungeon. It really was very blue in colour.

There was a spiteful sour fruity smell on pouring, just like the deep holes and sawing blades of the Knightmare dungeon. On taste the sourness just kept on giving throughout each mouthful, with sour blue raspberry and slicing lemon biting away at my tastebuds, and a little malted barley and wheat after the added blades of herbal hops. Not for the faint hearted or for me I'm afraid. I faltered after a short while, just like mostly every contestant of Knightmare.

Spell Casting Beer by Neonraptor Brewing Co.

27 October 2023

Kit Kat Hazelnut Chunky (Tesco) By @Cinabar

Kit Kat Hazelnut Chunky

There is a new autumnal flavour out from Kit Kat, and it doesn’t even mention caramel on the label. Good times indeed. We have had a lot of caramel-type flavours for Kit Kat here in the UK; it must be one of our favourite things or a guaranteed success for a brand, so it is rather nice to see something a bit different. Dearest chocolate and nut fans, let me present Kit Kat Hazelnut Chunky.

I opened up the wrapper and could instantly smell the nutty goodness of hazelnut. It gave the bar a try and found that the nut taste was lovely and strong; it mixed well with the chocolate. The rich tones of hazelnut and the milk chocolate reminded me of Nutella; these flavours just work. Obviously all the crisp textures were there from Kit Kat too, but I love texture, so the Kit Kat Chunky format works for me, through the nutty taste of hazelnuts, and I found it a complete delight. I’d be very happy if this Kit Kat Hazelnut Chunky bar stayed for a while, as it is a lovely seasonal edition.

Kit Kat Hazelnut Chunky

26 October 2023

Social Media's Twisted Hunter's Chicken Waffle Fries from Iceland [@NLi10]

 Continuing the season of food targeted at influencers and impressionable teens on sale at Iceland (the store) we have Twisted - Hunter's Chicken Waffle Fries.  Apparently it's featured on social media - so my guess is that the rogue apostrophe in Hunter's was deliberate to cause comments and engagement.

That said - this looked like a perfect meal for one box so I was happy to give it a try.

If you are a parent looking to teach a teen how to cook in the year remaining before they vanish off to Uni then this is a great option.  They need to use both the oven and the microwave and time everything so they have crispy waffles and non frozen meats.  As both the chicken and the hidden bits of bacon are pre-cooked they shouldn't be able to give themselves food poisoning either and if you suggest a side of baked beans then that's almost a healthy meal! 

Looks a little sparce on opening though - I could eat two of these.

That said - the waffles browned and crisped with no effort from me - and this is in an old creaky oven not a fancy air-frier.

And once you've persuaded all the sauce to part with the plastic container (might have been better to take it out as a frozen lump and microwave it in a bowl - top cooking tips! You can lump one on top of the other and have dinner!

It wasn't exactly gourmet, and I'd have had double the chicken mix to the decent amount of fries, but this tasted and textured like the real thing.  I'd say this was a hit.  And in the 3 for £10 section of Iceland (I think) then I could justify getting two of these, splitting the waffles with my partner and having twice the chicken and letting her have all the cheese for her waffles.

What it has done is make me trust the Twisted range, so I'll be exploring those on next week's visit to the Iceland - once I've cleared space in the freezer at least.

25 October 2023

Sumo American Pale Ale (Waitrose) by @Spectreuk

Sumo American Pale Ale from Mad Squirrel Brew Co

On the run up to Halloween, this Sumo American Pale Ale from Mad Squirrel Brew Co. has a frightening look about the can. No squirrels were harmed in the brewing of Sumo though, as the can told me it was suitable for vegans.

"Unfiltered for maximum flavour", Sumo was brewed with malted barley, wheat and oats, so this should be a hearty beer indeed. Made with two heavy weight hops of Summit and Mosaic, Sumo was named after its hops for its sheer bitterness of tropical fruit and herbal hops. At 4.7% in volume, Sumo should pack a punch, but not too high in alcohol volume to distract from the hoppiness I'm about to raise my beer tankard to.

There was indeed a cutting citrus tropical hop aroma from the can on pouring this murky golden American Pale Ale. There was a little herby smell at the back of the aroma, with wheat and malted barley to boot. On taste those bitter tropical and herbal hops bashed into me and almost knocked me out of the ring. This flavoursome Sumo tried as it may to add sweetness from the wheat and malts, but the bitterness kept on coming right into the aftertaste. As the can stated, Sumo is definitely a pale ale that would be the last beer standing.

24 October 2023

Celebrations Hot Chocolate Selection (Ocado) By @Cinabar

Celebrations Hot Chocolate Selection

As we are fully into the autumn season and both Halloween and Christmas don’t seem too far off, the shops are stocking up on the tins of chocolate. In a search for online groceries for a tub, I stumbled across this Celebrations Hot Chocolate Selection. Not chocolates, but cute-flavoured drinks in individual flavoured sachets. All of the hot chocolate drinks are mixed with boiling water and are easy to make.

I put the kettle on and was struggling to make the first choice; options included Galaxy, Galaxy Caramel, Mars, Twix, Maltesers, Snickers, Milky Way and Bounty. I went for Maltesers. The drink took a little bit of stirring to get the lumps out; it wasn’t too bad, but it also wasn’t as quick to dissolve as some. I gave the drink a try, and the flavour was gentle, with a light chocolate flavour and a light malt taste to represent the Maltesers. I tried some of the other flavours, and they all followed the same formula: a little lumpy to mix up and a little light on flavour. These Celebrations Hot Chocolate Selection were pleasant, but nowhere near as exciting as I thought they would be from the cute box. Definitely the best thing about Celebrations are the chocolates in the red tub.

Celebrations Hot Chocolate Selection

23 October 2023

Walkers Max: Peperoni Feast from Pizza Hut (Iceland) By @Cinabar

Walkers Max: Peperoni Feast from Pizza Hut

We are currently enjoying lots of new crisps flavours we have found in the shops. Some of the new flavours are Christmas-related (too soon), but we are working through the others first, as it still feels a little early for turkey crisps. So, today we are trying Walkers Max: Peperoni Feast, with the Pizza Hut logo on the bag too. We had them at lunchtime with some sandwiches yesterday.

I poured them on the plate, and as the crisps are part of the Max range from Walkers, they are ridged. The ridges caught the seasoning, and these crisps had a good dusting of a dark pink red on them. I gave one of the crisps a try, and firstly, I just wanted to say how nice the texture is on these. The crisps are thick, and the zigzags make them crunch, but they aren’t sharp. It is one of my favourite textures. The flavour, though, was pleasant, and it was hard to get past that. The taste was very much like pepperoni, and I don’t know why they didn’t quite do it for me, but the flavour didn’t seem to last long and melted away, just leaving a little chilli heat. I felt they lacked depth. They were pleasant, and I won’t mind eating the rest of the multipack, but I felt they could have been so much stronger. I actually had a second pack of these Walkers Max: Peperoni Feast today to make sure I wasn’t missing something, but I came away with the same opinion: oh well, you can’t win them all.

Walkers Max: Peperoni Feast from Pizza Hut

22 October 2023

Meatza - a Meat only Pizza from Iceland [@NLi10]

Iceland (the shop) continues to have all kinds of ready meals that seem built for click-bait style reviews.  I think we need a new term - Influencer Fuel? I'm sure I'll figure one out but feel free to add in the comments.

Here we have a Prime example - a pizza with no base at all - just meat on meat with some cheese and tomatoes so your mom will let you have it.

In fairness - it's pretty low calories and sugar (and fibre, and nutrition) 

And it kinda looks fine - like someone threw a mixed grill at the wall?

Put in oven at the magical gas mark 6 until it looks done

In the meantime carry on with Call Of Duty and marvel at all the different kinds of meat they managed to cram in.  It's only roughly 2/3rds meat in fairness - at least 62% if you count the pepperoni and ham 

The rest is the fairly mild sauce & cheese

Looks like space food

And in fairness these don't seem to be trash ingredients

And it shrinks a little on cooking and kinda sizzles in its own juices.  If I was mad enough to buy a 2nd one I think I'd like to finish it off on the grill - heck - precook this for 20 then slap it on a BBQ and you might be on to a winner.

As it stands it's like someone made a meat-feast on top of a big flat burger.  And it's actually quite appealing - if not a little sloppy due to cooking it in such an odd dish

An easy 'meal' to finish though, but pretty unsatisfying.  I resisted the temptation to add bread or veg as I felt it would go against the Meatza philosophy.  I did add buffalo sauce though as none of the ingredients here had any real seasoning of flavour - leading to my assumption that this is for teenagers who refuse to eat food that isn't packaged for manly men.

Overall not something I'd go for again (especially when Iceland's real pizza range is pretty darn good, and their real meat range isn't bad either).  If you have a grumpy teen though this might be a fun way to trick their body into craving vegetables,

21 October 2023

Dream Sequence Sticky Side Up Beer (The Wee Beer Shop) by @Spectreuk

Dream Sequence Sticky Side Up Beer

Sometimes life can feel like a Dream Sequence. You see things unfold, you can't quite believe is happening for good or ill, or you feel like you're having a deja vu moment. I'm hoping this 12.8% in volume Dream Sequence Sticky Side Up stout will give me good dreams tonight. Certainly by the strength of this collaboration between Tempest Brewing Co. and Deadend Brew Machine at least I should sleep anyway.

This Dream Sequence Sticky Side Up stout does sound like a beer of my dreams. It's described as a sweetly spiced Imperial Rye with a blend of vanilla and rye, which are two of my favourite ingredients in booze, and all aged for twenty four months in first-fill Heaven Hill bourbon casks. It also has date syrup, vanilla, fenugreek (of all things), and Star Anise in the ingredients.

On opening the can there was a serious curry type spiciness from the deep black contents. This spicy aroma seemed to overpower the rye to me. With lovely creaminess to begin with, the spices and bourbon kick provided bitter warmth and the date syrup added a sweet body to this sumptuous Imperial stout. It was certainly an unusual flavour and took a bit to get used to. Perfect for rainy days and cold autumn and winter nights, this Dream Sequence Sticky Side Up was certainly a sweet and sticky, spicy treat.

20 October 2023

Nescafe Gold Aero Golden Honeycomb Mocha (Asda) By @Cinabar

Nescafe Gold Aero Golden Honeycomb Mocha

I love coffee and hot chocolates, and here we have the combination of both: Nescafe Gold Aero Golden Honeycomb Mocha. These new drinks are branded as Aero and flavoured with both their honeycomb bar (or buttons) and, of course, coffee. As it is a special edition of ‘Nescafe Gold', there are only seven sachets in the box instead of the usual eight, and that makes me sad. I mention it every time in the hope that Nescafe Gold will give us back the extra sachet.

So inside the box are individual sachets that you mix up with hot (but not boiling) water. I put the kettle on, poured the contents into a mug, and gave it a little stir. I then left it for a minute, topped it up, and gave it another stir. The drink smelled yummy.

I gave it a sip and was rather impressed at how well defined the honeycomb taste was. It was a lovely sweet cinder toffee flavour, mixed with chocolate and a soothing coffee. What an absolute delight to drink! It was just the perfect afternoon pick me up. Autumn brings a lot of these lovely new hot drinks, but I really hope Nescafe Gold Aero Golden Honeycomb Mocha is here to stay, as it is my favourite so far.

Nescafe Gold Aero Golden Honeycomb Mocha

19 October 2023

Reese's White Blobs That Pretend To Be Pumpkins [@NLi10]

 Every year Reese's puts out seasonal variations that fail to deliver.  Most years I buy them - this time it was a lovely gift!

This is King Size.  Quite what Charles wants with American Candy i'm not sure - his estate could probably whip something better up.

As usual - no effort has been made to make this match the packaging. Neither the colours nor shape are correct - heck - the peanuttyness of it all is questionable too.  Not sure why American's think that peanut butter shouldn't be just peanuts!

Behold - the spooky Halloween Kidney. 

Two in the pack is nice, and these taste decent enough, and as long as you don't require the texture or flavour of either peanuts or chocolate then you are set!

Definitely a Trick not a Treat.

18 October 2023

Nestle Milky Bar Coconut (Candy Mail) By @SpectreUK

Nestle Milky Bar Coconut

It's getting into more of a hot chocolate season for me, where I like a white hot chocolate with my pudding after dinner. This Nestle Milky Bar Coconut should go down a treat tonight. I don't mind a bit of coconut and I love white chocolate. The first white chocolate bar I tried when I was very young was Nestle's Milky Bar, and Nestle's Milky Bar is still my favourite white chocolate bar.

On opening this Nestle Milky Bar Coconut there was a pleasing smell of coconut and white chocolate. It strictly says "know your serving - 4 pieces = 1 serving" on the front of the wrapper. I've never been all that great at following instructions, so I decided to eat the whole bar.

I could see there were light white coconut flecks all the way through this Nestle Milky Bar Coconut. On taste these coconut flecks came to the fore. It was pretty much like what you would expect eating a solid white chocolate coconut bar would be like. The coconut flecks really complemented the creamy white chocolate, which in turn complemented my white hot chocolate drink. A perfectly indulgent pudding indeed.

Information on the wrapper; Each serving contained 535KJ, 12.6g of sugar, 7.9g of fat, and 21mg of sodium.

17 October 2023

Cookie Dough Red Velvet Cupcake Bites (Local Shop) By @Cinabar

Cookie Dough Red Velvet Cupcake Bites

There is a little shop near us that sells imported candy, and it is one of my favourite places. It is next to the petrol station, and I am now starting to associate buying fuel and a candy treat together. Today’s treat to ourselves, to compensate for the hefty petrol bill, are these Cookie Dough Red Velvet Cupcake Bites. They are little bits of cookie dough in a flavorful coating. I opened up the pack and discovered that they are all red and look rather cool.

I gave one a try, and they have quite a blast of vanilla. I didn’t know you could blast a creamy flavour, but it turns out you can. They are sweet, creamy, and oozing cupcake frosting flavour. They are a moreish delight. The texture is lovely too; the centre is soft to bite, and the coating is a little firmer, giving a nice contrast. Oh gosh, I’m already looking forward to the next box, but not the price of petrol. 

Cookie Dough Red Velvet Cupcake Bites

16 October 2023

McVities Mini Gingerbread Men (Sainsburys) By @Cinabar

McVities Mini Gingerbread Men

I love the flavours of autumn; all the spices come out to play. McVities has brought out these Mini Gingerbread Men in portion-controlled bags. The design of the bag is rather cute, with gingerbread men with sunglasses, walking their dogs, and... what is the gingerbread man bottom right doing? Is that a lamp chop or a bag of swag? Oh well, perhaps it is best to focus on the contents.

There are six bags of biscuits in the pack. Each bag has a balanced 88 calories; I wasn’t expecting to find very many mini gingerbread men in each pack for that. I opened up one of the mini bags and was pleased to see seven mini gingerbread men, a decent amount and perfect to have dunked in hot chocolate. I do autumn properly.

The biscuits have a nice flavour and a good crunch. There is sweetness and a gentle spice, which I rather liked. They are a good size for having with a cuppa, but the mini nature of the gingerbread men might make them appeal to those decorating an autumn cake too. I can see these decorating the top of a carrot cake and looking ever so cute. 

McVities Mini Gingerbread Men

15 October 2023

Baker Street Christmas - Chocolate & Orange Cake Truffles [@NLi10]

 We picked these up as a pre-Christmas thing as a nice tray to leave out on the table when visitors popped round - but we snuck a few beforehand for test purposes.

They certainly look like table toppers - with their lovely gold tray and their inviting description and smells.

They are intended to look like the chocolate balls that you get on the Christmas Market stands - prized by the stall holders for their ability to sit on display for long periods of time.  They are also beloved by cold visitors to those markets looking for a sugar kick to help carry the bags back to the car.

Thing is - we tend to like the crumbly light truffles of Monty Bojangles and similar, and had hoped that these were similar to the high end store brand versions.  They were not - they are really heavy and stodgy and don't have that much of a flavour to them.

Look at that density!

I ate precisely one of these - as did almost all of the family visitors.  The couple of people that did like them easily demolished the rest (which was handy!).

So - if you like really dense chewy truffle/cake balls then these are for you!

If you want the super light Belgian truffles that M&S do then just head for those instead, and get me a box while you are there!

14 October 2023

Ikat DDH DIPA Beer (Tesco) By @SpectreUK

Ikat DDH DIPA Beer

Ikat is the Indonesian craft of tie-dyeing yarn before it's woven, whereas double Ikat is dying and weaving two yarns. Salt craft beers have created this double dry hopped double India Pale Ale as a tribute to that Indonesian skill. With notes of guava, mango, passion fruit and lychee, and with the sweetness of honey, this 8% in volume Ikat DDH DIPA should be quite a treat washing down my Shepherd's Pie for dinner.

On opening the can there was certainly an explosion of tropical hops in the aroma. This misty golden double IPA had a strong smell of guava, mango and passion fruit mixed together with lovely sweet malted barley. I was expecting a sheer cutting bitterness to this Ikat DDH DIPA. Actually this beer had a pleasing and flavoursome bitterness from all those tropical fruity hops, and then the sweetness of pale malts smoothed out the fruity bitterness almost straight away with the honey sweetness promised on the can.

Very nice indeed, I'd definitely have this tropical fruity refreshing Ikat DDH DIPA again. Even though it's quite a mouthful to say it all. If you've had quite a few of them, it must be difficult to order it at the bar.

13 October 2023

McCoys Epic Eats Spicy Salsa (Tesco) By @cinabar

McCoys Epic Eats Spicy Salsa

More new crisps! I have been waiting for new flavours for ages, and now we have quite a few interesting ones all coming out at once. It feels like an autumn rush, and I am enjoying every minute. McCoys has not disappointed; they have a few good new flavours, and at the top of my tasting pile are these McCoys Epic Eats Spicy Salsa.

There is definitely a Mexican theme to some of the new varieties, and everyone loves tomato salsa. The crisps are ridged, which helps hold the seasoning on for a more intense flavour. The potato is also fairly thickly cut for a good crunch. The flavour was my favourite so far of the new McCoys taste. The tomato was pleasantly sharp, not sweet like a ketchup variety. There was a background herb taste that shone through, and there was a very gentle amount of spice too. I found myself thinking these were superior to tomato ketchup crisps, which is quite a statement. I liked the added depth to the flavour and the fact that they were slightly less sweet. One thing though is that these are called'spicy' salsa, and although there is a bit of warmth, they are actually much milder than even the McCoys Bangin Barbecue variety was.

12 October 2023

St Michel Choco Waffle [@NLi10]

 We were in Tesco and I spotted a new range of little chocolate based treats, and they looked like exciting Euro things - but had made it to the UK!

Only £1.50 too - can't turn that down (but I only decided to get one) these are usually all the same but different shapes.

Cheap compared to all the Halloween stuff.

Very much lunchbox snacks.  

I think that I'd have preferred them with stronger flavours, but as a versatile little combo you can't go too wrong here.

Soft spongy cake with a decently hearty flavour, and a soft chocolate filling to each of the modules makes for a pleasing, if a little unfilling snack.

I'd happily finish the box though (almost have) and may try the other versions if still on the discounted stand.