Friday, 31 July 2015

Today's Review: Cadbury Boost Bites

The Cadbury share bag range is pretty extensive, and of pretty consistently high quality. Now there's a new kid on the block, not that the bar it's based on is new. Yes, the Boost bar is getting the recognition I feel it's been lacking for a while, and is now available in bite size form.

These are pretty much along the same lines as Bitsa Wispa and Twirl Bites. They're miniature versions of the bar itself, and this does taste a lot like the bar. The chocolate is as good as ever, and the filling is a very sweet caramel offering, with that extra edge that the added glucose provides. It makes for a pretty energising, quite filling bag of bites, but to me these just aren't the same as a regular Boost bar. The levels of filling seem quite off, the caramel ends up being quite sickly, and while the biscuit is there these bites didn't seem crunchy at all, which was quite disappointing. Overall it makes for a pretty average bag, and in sure I'd choose another variety over these. A Boost bar is better than a Boost Bite.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Today's Review: Jolly Rancher Tropical Chews

Jolly Ranchers are one of those American sweets I wish I could find more of over here. They're like Fox's Glacier Fruits on acid, fantastically bold sweets with some great flavours. So I was happy to find this chewy variety in Poundland a few days ago, and with new flavours no less. There are four to choose from in this modestly sized box: Lemon-lime, pineapple, strawberry-kiwi and tropical punch. 

Well, the box says "chews", and it's right. These are certainly some chewy sweets. They took a while for me to get my teeth into, and they definitely gave my jaw a good workout. Unfortunately my effort wasn't quite rewarded with as fantastic a flavour as I'd hoped. Sure, the flavours are nice, and taste like their respective fruits, or fruit punches. But they're just not all that strong. The taste seems to be lost behind the chewiness of the sweet itself, which sounds strange, but I just wish they were stronger. These aren't bad by any means, they're still pretty tasty, but they're decidedly average compared to their flavoursome boiled sweet counterparts.

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Today's Review: Nutter Butter

Here's another acquisition from my latest trip to Cyber Candy, and another to cross off my list of American snacks I've heard of in pop culture and not eaten yet. This is Nutter Butter, a peanut butter sandwich cookie. With that combination of words, what could go wrong?

It even looks the part, see? There are four cookies in the pack, each shaped like a cute little peanut. The biscuit either side is nice and chunky, and packs a nice crunch and a smooth, buttery flavour. The innards are pure peanut butter, a nice creamy, nutty layer of goodness that lends just the right amount of moisture to the cookie. The flavours of each element complement each other very nicely, to deliver a crunchy, peanut buttery delight. This is definitely a snack I'll be buying again. 

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Today's Review: Inside Out

After last year's excruciating absence of a Pixar movie, I am ecstatic to be rewarded with two in 2015, and two originals no less. The first of these is Inside Out, an adventure inside a young girl's mind, that seemed like a return to the imaginative Pixar I know so well. Inside Out stars (Amy Poehler) as Joy, one of the primary emotions who lives inside the head of a young girl named Riley, alongside her co-workers Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear. Together they work to regulate Riley's emotions and take care of her memories as they come through headquarters. But when a dramatic change occurs in Riley's life, things go awry inside her head, and Joy and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) find themselves stranded in the long term memory banks, desperate to get back and let Riley feel happiness again.

It's a tough subject, emotion. As such, there's an awful lot of stuff visualised in this movie. Short term and long term memories, core emotions, they're turned into a whole lot of great visual ideas, and it's in these kind of situations where Pixar really shines. The complexity of emotion is displayed in some very arresting visual scenes, and while there's certainly a lot going on, it's mostly handled very well, with a lot of jokes thrown in that poke fun at the little quirks of memory and emotion. Despite the abundance of intricate set pieces, this movie remains, at its core, an exploration of emotion. The story of Joy and the rest of the emotions is shown alongside Riley's life on the outside, and it's a very deep story about the changes we can all face during life, that does well to teach the kids about how their emotions might be working, and make people like me well up more times than they'd care to admit.

Supporting the deeply original story is a great cast. Poehler and Smith steal the show as Joy and Sadness, bringing all the comedic chops they're used to in their respective series, but also lending a great deal of emotion to their roles, so to speak. I can't really fault anyone in this production, all the emotions are well cast, and their interactions with each other are great. They all look the part as well, and every aspect of this movie just looks great. I could go on talking about how great Inside Out is for a long time, but the fact of the matter is it's a fantastic return to form from Pixar, an emotional roller coaster that looks great and will appeal to adults and kids alike. Go and see it.

My rating: 5/5

Monday, 27 July 2015

Today's Review: Double Pretz Cheese & Blueberry

I'm a big fan of Pocky, and I always try to pick up a pack when I visit an oriental supermarket. But this time I opted for this interesting pack of Pretz, which promises both blueberry and cheese flavours. Blueberry cheesecake pretzel sticks? Count me in.

Well, they look slightly disappointing. The box looked like it was packing a nice  thick coating, but in fact it's just peppered on. Still, the flavour is there. The stocks themselves are crunchy, perhaps a little too soft for my liking, but not bad. The blueberry flavour is certainly not bold, but once it comes into play it provides a very sweet undertone that lingers for a while. As for the cheese, I'm not sure. The first hit is distinctly cheesy, and not sweetly so, more like Mini Cheddar than cheesecake. It soon mellows out into a sweeter taste, and combined the two flavours do create a hint of cheesecake, but it's not great. These are nice for a change, but I think I'll stick with the classic pretzel stick flavours in future.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Today's Review: Chupa Chups Hell

My trip to Cyber Candy yesterday rewarded me with some interesting items I've never tried. This stylish black Chupa Chups lolly certainly caught my eye, I was expecting some kind of punishing spicy lollipop, so I just had to grab one.

While I thought it was purely chilli flavoured, I was slightly disappointed. This is in fact a chilli and cherry lollipop, which isn't what I was hoping for, but is actually an interesting combination. The cherry is nice and sweet, as you'd expect from a Chupa Chups. As for the chilli, well, it's pretty tame. I couldn't even detect it at first, but towards the middle the heat became a little more apparent, more of a warm tingle than an intense heat. In the end I was left with a hint of slickness, but I did feel let down. Even a little more chilli would have made this better, but as it is this is a cherry lollipop that just had a bit of an odd taste to it. I want to see a proper chilli lollipop next time, guys.

My rating: 3/5

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Today's Review: Mango Beer

I took a trip to London today, so import food reviews abound for the next few days. One of the most interesting purchases first though, from my sojourn into Chinatown. Aside from a resplendent selection of sweet stuff, I couldn't help picking up this mango flavoured beer, even though I don't drink beer.

It's pretty much exactly what it says on the tin (can). It's a beer, and it tastes like mango. I normally hate the bitter taste of beer, but it's softened a lot by a bold, distinctly mango flavour. Overall, it's a sweet, satisfying drink that definitely has a beery edge to it, but it's not bad at all, and actually quite refreshing. If I were on a strange night out to a predominantly import based drinking hole, I certainly wouldn't mind getting drunk on this stuff. Tasty.

My rating: 5/5

Friday, 24 July 2015

Today's Review: Marks & Spencer Fizzy Pop Sweets

I took another trip to M&S the other day, and picked up a couple of new bags of sweets. One was this fizzy pop selection, which certainly looked intriguing. It takes the classic cola bottle idea further, extending to cherryade, pink lemonade and ginger beer.

Ginger beer was the one I was most looking forward to, definitely a neat idea in sweet form. It's actually pulled off really well, a sweet, flavoursome sweet with a nice hint of spice. The fuzzy coating is pretty intense, giving a great sensation on the tongue and definitely adding to the flavour. The cola is done very nicely too, with an old time cola taste that goes great with the coating. I can't fault the cherryade either, probably my favourite of the bag, a lovely fruity number that packs a lot of flavour. The only disappointment I found was with the pink lemonade. I was hoping it would be great, but there's not a lot of flavour, and it just left me with a bit of a weird aftertaste. It let down what is otherwise a tasty bag of sweets. They may not all be perfect, but it's worth picking some of these up.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Today's Review: Starbucks Origin Espresso Kenya Coffee

I was recently sent a bag of Origin Espresso Kenya for review, a coffee that has apparently been available before, and is now back for a limited time until August 31st. I must say, I've never bought coffee beans from Starbucks, so I was excited to see the kind of coffee I could be brewing at home. I even bought a cafetière for the occasion. 

Basically, this makes some damn good coffee. It's both bold and refreshing, a fantastically flavoursome coffee with some definite fruity undertones. I've grown to prefer my coffee white, but even drinking this black I was completely satisfied. It's a full flavoured brew that gives a fantastic hit of energy. I brewed it into a good old cup of joe, but for those who own a fancy Espresso machine I'd imagine it would taste just as good. I always tended to look over the beans in Starbucks, but I'll definitely be paying closer attention in future. You should definitely pick up a bag of these beans while you still can.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Today's Review: Cereal Killer Café

In a very unassuming part of Brick Lane, there's a café that made some headlines when it opened up. This is the Cereal Killer Café, an eatery that deals exclusively in breakfast cereals. But not just any breakfast cereals, they've tapped into the expanding market of American imports, and my word have they gone in with guns blazing. Here's the selection of cereals on offer:

There are your more classic cereals with interesting flavours, such as Cheerios and Special K, and many staples of American breakfast time, ranging from Trix to Cap'n Crunch. I've been getting hold of as many American cereals as I can over the years, and I was staggered by the amount of varieties available that I've yet to touch. However, as the headlines have repeated, this cereal don't come cheap. £3 will get you a small bowl of a cereal of your choice, which certainly is pricey, but while this place does offer some generic British classics such as Corn Flakes, I doubt anyone will be popping in daily for their boring breakfast fix. You see, the Cereal Killer Café is about the experience, and if the colourful array of exciting cereal boxes doesn't cut it for you, there's a fantastic seating area downstairs that's like walking into a retro kitchen/dining room.

Old styley TVs line one wall, stacked with VHS tapes of Friends. That bottom right hand screen was playing Clarissa Explains It All, it's like I wandered back into my childhood for a quick morning snack. This place has an amazing look, and is kitted out with all kinds of retro stuff, from the table lamps to selection of old cereal toys on display.

I'm pretty sure my nana has those cupboards. But hey, look at the stuff inside. I know I did for the duration of my "meal", pointing out toys that I remember, from the big head Powerpuff Girl figures to those things you clip on your bike wheel. It's predominantly 90s stuff, but I doubt that's because people just don't eat cereal anymore, it was just a better time. E numbers abounded, sugar was plentiful and there was always the gamble over whether the toy would fall in your bowl or your sibling's. The memories came rushing back, and I was happy to have forked over the inflated cereal price for a good dose of nostalgia. But I also had cereal. But which to choose from?

You can go for the plain old bowl of whatever you like, with a side helping of milk, but there are more options on offer for the adventurous breakfast buff. You can get flavoured milk, mixed with Hershey's syrup, and all kinds of chips added to your bowl. If you can't make that many decisions, you can choose from a "cocktail", a pre-planned bowl of goodness that combines many interesting flavours. 

This is the Peanut Butter Jelly, a combination of Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch, peanut butter chips and strawberry milk. You get a very large amount of milk compared to the cereal, but thankfully it comes separate so you can add as little as you'd like. The Cap'n Crunch was amazing, crunchy, peanut butter goodness, and the Reese's chips added a lovely creamy texture to it. Mixed in with the bold, sweet strawberry milk, it did taste just like a PB&J, and I devoured it with a smile on my face. I know I'll be back again, there are too many cereals that I need to eat. But you should go too, because this place is completely rad (that's a 90s term, right?)

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Today's Review: Ritz Crisp & Thin

I was recently sent a selection of the new Ritz Crisp & Thin snacks to try out. I'm a big fan of Ritz, so I've been wanting to get my hands on these for a while. These seem to be a jump on the healthy eating bandwagon, which I certainly didn't mind, it stops me eating an entire box of Ritz crackers in one sitting. Crisp & Thin come in four different flavours: Sea salt & black pepper, sea salt & vinegar, cream cheese & onion and sweet red chilli. 

The flavours containing sea salt are a little odd. I was really looking forward to the salt and vinegar flavour, but the vinegar really is at the forefront, a very strong taste that certainly blocks out the salt. It's the same with the salt and pepper, the pepper just seems way too strong, and while the flavourings are pretty good quality, the balance is just off with these two. 

If you're expecting these to be like mini Ritz crackers, you might be a little disappointed. They are, indeed, crisp and thin, small, flaky bites that pack a satisfying crunch, but have more of a texture of Cheeselets than Ritz. I, for one, love the texture, these taste pretty light and there's enough surface area to pack in a lot of flavour. The sweet red chilli, however, doesn't capitalise on that. After the boldness of the salt flavours, I was expecting a big spicy hit, but I was met with a somewhat bland offering. There's a little bit of heat, and it's a pretty well rounded flavour, but just not strong enough for my liking.

I've never been a fan of cheese and onion, but this flavour is probably my favourite of the four. Again, it seems one of the elements is overpowering the other. There's a hint of onion, but the majority of the taste comes from a lovely, bold cream cheese flavour, that's smooth and creamy and works very well with the texture of the crackers. I was prepared to write this range off as average, but this flavour brought it up another point. The flavours may be slightly off balance, but they're still some tasty crackers with an interesting texture that will look good in any party's sharing bowl. I probably wouldn't buy them full price, but I'll probably pick up some more bags when they're on offer.

My rating: 4/5

Monday, 20 July 2015

Today's Review: Nescafé Light Skinny Latte Shakissimo

I was in need of a little pick me up on the way home today, and thankfully a 99p shop provided me with a selection of iced coffees to choose from. I chose this interesting looking one, a "Shakissimo". Sounds like a milkshake right? But with coffee! I went for the skinny version, because it also want hurt to be healthier.

Well, it does kind of have the consistency of milkshake, but these coffee drinks tend to be quite thick anyway. I guess the real milkshake comparison came from the fact that it's predominantly milk. It does have a hint of coffee to it, sure, but overall it's a little bland. Like a regular, slightly thick bottle of milk with a little bit of flavour thrown in. It's not bad, and it did perk me up a little, but it's not quite the kick I was hoping for. Alright for 99p I suppose.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Today's Review: Tesco Chocolate & Raspberry Do'Cro

Tesco are carrying on with the bakery combination craze, and this time they've created their own version of one of the things that started it all. It's not a Cronut (because that's trademarked), it's a Do'Cro. It's also covered in chocolate with raspberry jam and pieces throughout. Plus it's only £1, so I'm sure that beats the price of most trendy bakeries out there.

This is actually the first cronut I've tried, I'm sure I'll get round to the little city bakery ones eventually, but I figured this was a good place to start. It is, indeed, a donut crossed with a croissant. The chocolate coating around the outside is quite thick, and provides a satisfying little crunch when you take a bite. Underneath are several pastry layers that are nice and flaky. It's soft, but perhaps a little too stodgy. Sandwiched between the layers is a very flavoursome raspberry jam that adds a nice bit of moisture and makes for an overall very tasty treat. It does get a little sickly towards the end, due to the jam and the slightly stodgy nature of the dough, but I knew from the start that is was going to be a very naughty treat, so I can't hold that against it too much. It's definitely worth it for £1.

My rating: 4/5 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Today's Review: Colman's Fiery BBQ Chilli Sauce

As much as I love sauce, I often find myself skipping the sauce aisle at the supermarket. After all, I've still got a few bottles on the go that I should finish off first. But during a trip to Poundland my eyes settled on this beautiful looking number, combining two of my favourite things: BBQ sauce and chilli.

It's basically what it says on the bottle, a BBQ sauce with a spicy kick. The BBQ is nice and smoky, a smooth tasty sauce that I certainly have no complaints about. The bottle promised that the sauce would be fiery, and I guess I'd agree with that somewhat. It's got a good kick, with quite a lingering heat. Not quite enough for me to count it as a favourite, but it's definitely a nice sauce. It may not be a perfect spicy sauce, but it is a good BBQ sauce, and would go nicely with your barbecues this summer.

My rating: 4/5

Friday, 17 July 2015

Today's Review: Maoam Rhuberry Pinballs

Haribo recently released "frenzy" editions of their Supermix and Tangfastics sweets, swapping out the flavours of each sweet with an interesting new fruity one. Now they've done the same with Pinballs, except it seems like their heart wasn't in it. They're all the same, apart from the red one, which is now a mixture of rhubarb and strawberry, named rhuberry, funnily enough. 

I was a little disappointed that I had to buy a whole bag for just one different flavour, but they're Pinballs, so it's no big loss really. The rhuberry is what I came for though, and it's pretty good. As soon as I took a bite, a very intense rhubarb flavour came through. It's sharp and fruity, and a lot more pronounced than the rhubarb and custard splats that appeared in Tangfastics a while back. It does get a bit too much after a while, and becomes quite sickly. The strawberry is on hand to level out the flavour, but it doesn't quite do enough, the rhubarb is still pretty overwhelming. But hey, it's still a good flavour, it's just a little too much. It's a nice new Maoam variety that is worth trying out while it's still around.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Today's Review: Cheetos Wampiry

It's been a while since I visited my local Polish shop, so I was hoping I'd find something interesting. I was rewarded with yet another variety of Cheetos, and this one looks like it has a Halloween theme. These are Wampirey Cheetos, which I guess means they're supposed to be vampire-like. Not that they particularly look like vampires, bats maybe, but not vampires. But, they're garlic flavour, so that's a big clue.

These are a little odd. I'm used to Cheetos being predominantly cheesy, but these have a distinct garlic flavour. Not particularly strong, but unmistakable. I can't say I've never had garlic flavoured crisps before, but I can't say they're a winner. Certainly not bad, but I don't think it works best in crisp form. They certainly leave that garlicky aftertaste, and I'm not sure I want to deal with that after a snack. 

The texture of the crisps is interesting too, a bit like Pom Bears, but with more crunch. They do have a bit of a chewy edge to them, which I wasn't much of a fan of, but these certainly aren't awful crisps. They're a neat variation on the regular Cheetos, but I wouldn't choose them over the cheesy flavours.

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Today's Review: Mr. Kipling Cocktail Fancies

Summer is here, and that means picnics are on the horizon. This is Mr. Kipling's time to shine, providing you with cakes and slices that provide a sweet kick without covering you in melted chocolate. French Fancies have always been a favourite of mine, I could easily devour a box within five minutes. But now there are some new flavours out that emulate famous cocktails. So if you like to down a cocktail or three over the course of a lunchtime, but don't want to carry your bar to the park, now you can emulate the experience in tiny cake form.

You get three flavours in the box: pina colada, peach bellini and raspberry dacquiri. They sounded pretty delicious to me, even if I'm not often a fan of alcohol flavoured food. Fortunately, these don't really taste like alcohol. Well, I guess it's unfortunate for those who are looking for an authentic cocktail experience in their cake, but there's no alcohol in the things, so you shouldn't really be expecting it. The pina colada is probably the most flavoursome of the three, a bold coconut and pineapple taste that actually emulates the cocktail quite well. The rest don't pack quite as much flavour, but there are nice hints of raspberry and peach throughout. They could have done with being a little stronger, but I didn't mind that much, because the rest of the cake is the same old French Fancy, a nice soft sponge with a fabulous buttercream globule in the top. So while these Cocktail Fancies aren't particularly cocktail-like, they're still some interesting new flavours applied to a classic cake, and are certainly a nice little treat to put in your picnic basket.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Today's Review: Wonka Sour Puckerooms

I've tried a fair few Wonka products over the years, and it's always nice to find something I haven't sampled. I found this interesting looking bag in a 99p Stores, a selection of Sour Puckerooms, sour mushroom gums that come in three flavours: cherry, lemon orange and grape.

Well, the packet says so anyway, I really couldn't tell them apart, could you? Some were slightly lighter than others, but they're really too similar. They feel pretty gross too, really sticky and squidgy, with the grainy sour coating providing a pretty gross contrast. It's like someone got a load of those sticky toys you throw at a window and rubbed them around in sand. So, being thoroughly disgusted with the feel of these sweets, I was hoping the taste would redeem them

Sadly not. Sure, there's some flavour here, but not much at all. The lemon orange taste vaguely citrusy, the grape manages to be sickly without providing a lot of taste. The cherry is decidedly bland, which just rounds off an overall disappointing bag of sweets. They're not even sour, just a bit grainy. I may like a bit of Wonka, but I'll be leaving these on the shelf in future.

My rating: 1/5

Monday, 13 July 2015

Today's Review: Slush Puppie Marshmallows

A little while ago I reviewed some Slush Puppie popping candy, amazed that things could be Slush Puppie flavoured that were not Slush Puppies. Turns out there's more where that came from, in the form of these Slush Puppie marshmallows. They're still the iconic blue raspberry flavour, I'm not sure when the other flavours get a look in, but this will certainly do for now.

There's not much to say, really. These are marshmallows that taste like blue raspberry Slush Puppie. The mallows themselves are nice and soft, not quite Princess standard, but still pretty pleasant to eat. As for the flavouring, it's not as strong as I'd hoped. The popping candy had a great burst of flavour, but the marshmallows just have a hint that doesn't last all that long. It's authentic, sure, but short lived. I don't know if I'd buy another bag, but they're certainly not all that bad. They are definitely Slush Puppie flavoured marshmallows, but they could have been a little better.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Today's Review: Crunch Snack

I can't resist a Crunch bar, it's not uncommon for me to devour one in a sitting, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. After all, in the grand scheme of chocolate bars they're not that big. But what if you want a Crunch fix without eating a whole bar? Well, yes, you could seek out the smaller size I suppose. But I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about these Crunch Snack bars I found in a 99p Stores. It's a strange hybrid of Crunch bar and wafer.

The topping is purely Crunch. Milk chocolate, covering some crisp rice pieces, still tastes as great as the regular bar, so it's all good. Underneath are several layers of wafer with chocolate in between. The wafer has a little bit of crunch to it, but is still nicely chewy. It is a little dry, but the chocolate in between goes someway to relieving that. So overall, it's pretty good. The wafer gives it a lighter taste, so you can pretend it's healthier. It's not quite as good as the bar, but it's an interesting variation. Could use a little more chocolate though.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Today's Review: Tesco Everyday Value Macaroni Cheese

I was after a cheap dinner to take to work the other week, and nothing in the chilled aisle was particularly grabbing my attention. Imagine my joy when I happened upon the frozen section and was greeted by a cornucopia of £1 frozen meals. Well, I say "cornucopia", I mean "a few". While I ummed and ahhd over the more substantial meals on offer, I finally concluded that I don't feel all that comfortable with eating the meat of a £1 ready meal, and went with the veggie option instead.

You can't go wrong with macaroni cheese, right? Well, not dramatically wrong, but this sure ain't gourmet style. besides the cooked pasta, the main ingredient is reconstituted dried skimmed milk, which sounds delicious. There's 6% cheese though, so it could be worse, and while it's not overly cheesy, it doesn't taste all that bad. A little stodgy, sure, and the sauce could be more creamy, but I didn't gag while eating it, so it's alright by me. If you're after a cheap meal you can shove in the microwave and then down your face, this isn't half bad. I probably wouldn't pay more than a pound for it, so its a good thing that's how much it costs.

My rating: 3/5

Friday, 10 July 2015

Today's Review: Tesco Giant Custard Cream

Do you like custard creams? Sure you do. You know what's better than a regular custard cream? A giant custard cream. Well, I guess that's the idea behind this monstrosity. I've seen mega sized biscuits before in Costa, so the Tesco offering is nothing new. But it certainly has a nicer price tag at just 85p.

How can I describe this? It's a giant custard cream, that's all it is. Two big biscuit slabs with custard flavouring, with a healthy dollop of creamy stuff inside. The translation to a bigger size is actually pulled off pretty well. The ratios are intact, so there's enough cream to help you make your way through the biscuit. Unfortunately, the biscuit isn't quite as nice as the smaller version. It's slightly soft, and lacks that satisfying initial crunch that your average pack of custard creams offers. It's still nice, it does still have that slightly crunchy texture throughout, it's just a little bit off. Worth picking up though, but at a hefty 436 calories you'll probably only want the one. I'm not sure how easily you could dunk it on your tea either.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Today's Review: Cheetos Crunchy Cheese

I've been eating Crunchy Cheetos whenever I've been able to get my hands on them for the last few years, so I got irrationally excited when I saw Grocery Gems had managed to find that Cheetos had been relaunched in the UK. I love the Crunchy Cheetos, and I figured I'd only ever buy them at inflated import prices over here, but thankfully you can now pick up a bag for a mere 39p from Premier shops.

I was half expecting these to be different from the international versions that I've tried over the years, after all, the UK Mountain Dew is an inferior version to the original American soft drink. Fortunately, these are exactly the same Cheetos, they've managed to avoid whatever silly food regulations have been ruling over snacks for years now. The pack consists of a load of nobbly, cheesy sticks, similar to Nik Naks in texture, but dangerously cheesy. At least, that's what Chester Cheetah says. It's a bold cheese flavour that completely coats the nobbly crisps and then some, providing a full hit of flavour, while also leaving the famous Cheeto dust behind on your fingers, so you can keep on enjoying the taste even after the pack is done. I can't fault these Cheetos. They taste great, some very cheesy, satisfyingly crunchy crisps that you should totally go and buy right now.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Today's Review: Uncle Ben's Rice & Grains

Last week I was sent a selection of the new Uncle Ben's Rice & Grains range to try out. There are several varieties to choose from, all featuring wholegrain rice, with some added 'super grains' like quinoa and pearl wheat. While I normally go for the standard packs of rice, there's always a pack of Uncle Ben's in the cupboard in case we need some rice in a short time span. So I was definitely looking forward to trying these new varieties out.

The wholegrain rice in each pack is definitely a great idea. I shied away from white rice a while ago, and now find whenever I go back that it's really stodgy and a little sickly. Wholegrain rice just tastes healthier, and it's no exception in these packs. Despite being microwave rice, it comes out uniformly cooked, a nice soft rice that still retains a little bit of chewiness. The quinoa is a great addition as well, providing a different texture and a little difference in flavour. It's not dramatically different from the rice, sure, but it's all healthy stuff, and it's nice to be able to get some quinoa goodness in a convenient packet.

If you want a bit more flavour with your rice, you can also get some infused with tomato and basil sauce, and this is definitely the most flavoursome of the bunch. It's a subtle, yet flavoursome rice, that still tastes just as healthy as all the others. Of course, if you want to go for a different packet, you can always add your own sauce, and chucking a bit of meat in with it makes for an all round filling meal. So if you're after a quick lunch at work, or need to whip up something within a time limit in the evening, you can't go wrong with this range of rices. They taste good, they're pretty good for you, and I'll definitely be picking some up to stay on standby in my cupboard.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Today's Review: Marks & Spencer Summer Trifle Cookies

I've been pretty heavy on the M&S stuff these last few days, right? Well, I only picked up three things on my trip there, so I'll move on tomorrow. But these interesting cookies are a good thing to finish on. Summer is here, and that means trifle apparently. But a real trifle is only good for parties, with like, bowls and spoons and stuff. It's impractical anywhere else. But M&S want to ensure you get that trifle experience anywhere, by taking the classic dessert and shoving it into a cookie. Specifically, a custard flavoured cookie, filled with sour cherries and almond flakes.

I was pretty excited to try out a trifle flavoured cookie, and what I got was pretty nice. The cookie does indeed taste like custard, and the sour cherry chunks are pretty big and pack a lot of flavour, delivering a sweet, fruity experience overall. But, to be honest, they don't remind me a whole lot of trifle. The almonds within the cookies add an extra layer of flavour that kind of distracts from the custard, and the parts without cherry chunks can be a little dry. Besides, a large part of the trifle, the cream, isn't represented at all here. They're still some pretty good cookies, but they're certainly not completely trifle-like. 

My rating: 4/5

Monday, 6 July 2015

Today's Review: Marks & Spencer Percy's Family Mix

During my brief trip to M&S yesterday, I also thought I'd catch up on a craze that I've so far avoided. Everyone I've heard talk about Percy Pigs display nothing but admiration for them, so I figured I'd pick up a bag. But lo and behold, there's a new assortment available that not only contains Percy, but his entire pig family. Apparently there isn't just a Percy Pig, there's also a Penny Pig, and they've popped out some sprogs to make a wonderfully varied pack of treats. Percy is the standard raspberry, strawberry, cherry and grape, while Penny has a lemon flavour. The piglets seem to take after their respective parents though, one set are strawberry and blueberry, while the other two are orange and lime. What makes these even more authentic is that there's actual pork in there, so good on M&S for avoiding that false advertising trap. In other words, these aren't great for vegetarians.

I can't remember ever eating a Percy Pig before, but I certainly do now. The texture is very interesting, sort of a mix between foamy and gummy sweet, and the flavours contained within are in keeping with what they're supposed to be. They're nice and chewy, but the foaminess takes the edge off and makes sure there are no nasty stuck in teeth incidents. Each fruity flavour is identifiable and bold, and they last long after the sweet is gone. The mix of adult pigs and piglets really make for a nice range of flavours throughout the bag. Not that I'd complain about an entire bag of Percys, but it's nice that there's a mix. 

I'm a Percy Pig convert. These sweets are great. I'm not going to go out and kit myself in the merchandise, but I'll certainly be buying these again. My kids really enjoyed them too, especially my two year old, as she likened each sweet to a member of Peppa Pig's family, before ripping bits of their faces off and gleefully telling me they no longer had ears, eyes or noses. Ah, the innocence of childhood.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Today's Review: Marks & Spencer Fruit Crumbles

I've been away for the weekend, and snack food acquisition opportunities have been scarce. But a quick stop at a service station for dinner presented me with an M&S food. Since I rarely shop there, I figured I could find some interesting stuff, and these "crumbles" really caught my eye. The bag consists of strawberry, rhubarb and blackberry flavoured fondant sweets.

These sweets are crumbly by name, crumbly by nature. It's quite an odd experience when you bite into one, an instant, powdery crumble that breaks the sweet down instantly and reveals a lot of flavour. Each one is pretty authentic, especially the rhubarb, which is a very interesting flavour to go for. Every one has a bold, fruity flavour, but they are a little too sweet, which combined with the crumbly texture makes them quite sickly. On top of this, after the sweets break down, they eventually clump together in a small, wet, sticky lumps that ended up stuck in my teeth, which wasn't the best experience. These crumbles are a different, neat idea, and they're pretty tasty. But the texture is just not quite right and affects the quality, so these are just average for me.

My rating: 3/5

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Today's Review: McVitie's Breakfast Oaty Breaks: Raisin & Cinnamon

Sometimes, in the midst of cereal preparation and school uniform organising, I neglect to make myself a hearty morning meal. So I always ensure I have a supply of some form of oaty bar to grab on my way out of the house. Medley bars are always a first choice, but I spied this other offering from McVitie's the other week, and have been steadily making my way through them. Each pack consists of two oaty, crunchy fingers, dotted with raisins with some cinnamon thrown in for good measure.

These certainly have a satisfying crunch to them, a great oaty taste that gives me a pretty healthy feeling. The cinnamon adds a little hint of spice, although it's not quite as strong as I'd hoped (coming from an ex-cinnamon hater, that's strange, I know). They are a little too dry as well, though the raisins provide a little juiciness to bring them back from mediocrity. These two little fingers certainly make for a quick, filling breakfast, and have been all I've needed to ingest before lunch. They're certainly not better than Medley bars though, they have a nice bit of chocolate on the bottom and still end up containing less calories. But if you're looking for something a little different, you certainly can't go wrong with these.

My rating: 4/5

Friday, 3 July 2015

Today's Review: Nakd Salted Caramel Nibbles

The salted caramel craze has even extended to healthy snacks. Nakd bars are normally pretty good for a nice, clean snacking experience, and they come in a nice variety of flavours. These salted caramel nibbles certainly caught my eye, I was expecting great things.

This is the usual Nakd fare, a mixture of dates, cashews and raisins all smooshed together, in nice little balls of goodness. Also, they're pretty much everything free, so good news for all your intolerances and allergies. Unfortunately, these don't have all that much flavour to them. There's certainly a hint of salted caramel if you're paying attention, but the flavour of the dates and nuts is far more prominent, and the dry texture only really helps to bring that taste forward. These certainly aren't awful to eat, they're still a nice, healthy, filling snack, it's just the salted caramel element is lost in the mix, so I really wouldn't recommend these over some of the other flavours.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Today's Review: Old El Paso Restaurante Chicken Tinga Soft Tacos

Old El Paso is a favourite in our household, quick and easy Mexican meals that don't require me to invest in a spice rack. We normally go for the chicken fajitas and enchiladas, but this fancy looking new variety caught my eye recently. These are Chicken Tinga soft tacos, and Chicken Tinga doesn't quite sound fancy enough to be served in a "Restaurante", but hey, the picture certainly looks tasty. 

Tacos are great and all, but everyone knows they just crumble all over the place. So thankfully Old El Paso provide the soft tortillas so you can make your own little soft tacos. They certainly don't fall apart, but you still have to assume the crooked neck taco-eating stance. But hey, the tortillas are nice and soft, especially when they're warmed up. The rest of the box contains the Chicken Tinga seasoning, and some chipotle sauce to spread on top of your creation. The seasoning is actually very nice, certainly not as spicy as other Old El Paso offerings, but's it's got a lingering, mellow heat to it. You mix the spice with water in a saucepan and cook the chicken in it before shredding it up, so the sauce permeated into every little piece, making for an even coverage of spice. The chipotle sauce is pretty good too, slightly spicier, so it added a nice bit of extra heat once I'd piled the lettuce and cheese on top of the meat. The tacos were perhaps a little sloppy while eating, but that's all part of the fun. This is a tasty offering from Old El Paso that I'll be picking up again.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Today's Review: Minions

Minions are everywhere, absolutely everywhere. I don't think I've seen a movie so heavily marketed in my entire life, there was stuff coming out to promote this movie a year ago, and it's certainly not going to let up anytime soon. I don't blame them though, because there are a lot of people out there who are crazy for Minions, including fully grown adults, so there's a lot of money to be made. Myself, I don't get the obsession all that much. Sure, they're cute little guys, but I'm not going to deck myself out exclusively in Minions clothing, eating Minions branded food and washing myself with Minions toiletries. But I did go and see the Minions movie, because I can't rightfully form an opinion about it otherwise.

Minions is, funnily enough, about Minions. Specifically, three Minions, Kevin, Stuart and Bob. It's funny when outlandish creatures have simple human names, har har. Anyways, the Minions are established as an odd tribe of creatures who are seemingly immortal, alive since the first single cell organisms were swimming in the primordial ooze, and genetically programmed to pursue a life of servitude to an evil entity. After several million years of screwing things up for their evil overlords, the Minions are aimless, looking for the next villain to serve. Thankfully, Kevin, Stuart and Bob step up to go out and find a new boss, and conveniently emerge in the 60s during a time where a super villain convention is a thing. There, they hope to find the world's greatest villain, Scarlett Overkill, and once again find purpose in their messed up lives.

You probably already knew all that, because it was outlined in the several overlong trailers that have been playing everywhere for months. In fact, it took a good twenty minutes for me to see a plot point that I hadn't already seen. The story is pretty thin on the ground, and to be honest takes some ridiculous turns to provide some baffling set pieces for Minion madness. It's easy enough to follow, but it's clear plot is pushed out of the way when there's inane babbling about bananas to listen to.

Minions are pretty easy to figure out. They are loyal to their master, and they love bananas. These traits are stretched to their limit in this movie, and while the three main guys have some clear personalities, they mainly wander around blindly trusting an inherently evil person, and being generally clumsy in order to provide some over the top slapstick humour. The rest of the characters aren't all the great either. Scarlett Overkill is alright, and Sandra Bullock lends a good enough performance, but there's no one else that particularly stands out. It seems like characterisation isn't all that important when the Minions are there to say random foreign words and fly around like lunatics.

Yes, the "action" sequences are pretty well put together. This was never going to be a deep, meaningful movie when the protagonists don't speak a proper language, so it looks like every effort has gone into creating the chaotic mayhem that the Minions find themselves in. Despite their elaborate misadventures in the Despicable Me series, this movie outdoes them all, with explosions, crumbling buildings and wayward gadgets being crammed in to every minute that the dull plot isn't being carried forward. In this way, it's pretty entertaining, and the visuals are spot on, but it's clear Minions is a pretty big cash in. It wasn't the worst kids movie I've seen, but there's not much in here that makes me want to see it again. There's only so many times I can hear the word "banana".

My rating: 2/5