Saturday 31 October 2015

Today's Review: Starbucks Christmas Blend

Well, Halloween's pretty much over now, and since I've already reviewed and consumed all the Halloween treats I've picked up this year, I figure I'll turn my attentions to Christmas, 'cause that's the next big thing (after fireworks I guess). I was given a bag of the Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee when I went to try out their Christmas drinks last week, and have been steadily making my way through it since. I hadn't really tried out Starbucks beans before this year, but I was informed that the Christmas Blend is a favourite, and it's only around in the festive period (if you didn't guess).

These beans make for a pretty smooth cup of coffee. The couple that I've tried before seem to have quite a kick to them, with some bitter tones that really helped wake me up. The Christmas Blend coffee is less pronounced. It's dark, sure, but not at all bitter, instead possessing a sweet, slightly caramel tone that lingers for a while after drinking. I was told to pair it with some of the Starbucks caramel cakes when I tried it out last week, and that did indeed bring out the sweetness in the coffee itself, and I can now certainly notice it more than I've detected the flavours in other beans I've tried. These beans certainly are a favourite of mine, they make for an enjoyable drinking experience, a sweet, warm cup of coffee that will brighten up those dreary winter days. Well worth picking up while it's around.

My rating: 5/5

Friday 30 October 2015

Today's Review: Snyder's Cheddar Cheese Pretzel Pieces

I'm a sucker for Snyder's Pretzel Pieces, or at least the hot varieties anyway. I've tried the jalapeño and buffalo wing varieties before, and I would gladly shove an entire bag in my face on any given day. But yesterday I saw a flavour I had not yet tried, and on clearance in Tesco as well. It's certainly not a spicy concoction that made my mouth water, it's cheddar cheese, which sounds pretty plain. But I figured I'd give them a go, seeing as the other flavours are pretty awesome.

I tried to put my spice addiction to one side while I made my way through this bag. My tongue was longing for heat, but obviously these don't provide that. What they do have, however, is a very bold, quite delicious cheesy flavour. It says "bursting with flavour" on the packet, and my word they're right. A lot of people don't seem to do cheese flavoured snacks all that well, but these are great. The texture of the pretzels really helps it along, with a satisfying crunch and a slimy, yet satisfying greasiness that really seals in the flavour and left me licking my fingers afterwards. I was disappointed at the lack of spiciness in this bag, and these are a little lacking in cheesiness at some points, especially with the bigger pretzel chunks. But I can't be too mad. These are cheddar cheese flavoured pretzel pieces, they accomplish what they set out to do, and they're pretty tasty. In lieu of a spicy flavour I'm sure I'd pick these up again.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday 29 October 2015

Today's Review: Lucozade Cola

My eyes were immediately drawn to this fetching black bottle when I was in B&M earlier. A black Lucozade? What could it be? Well, turns out it's cola, and that seemed like a weird choice for me. Most Lucozade flavours are fruit based, but I commend them for trying something different. Besides, if cola is done right, it's pretty tasty. 

This is an odd one. The first thing I noticed is that it's very sweet. it definitely has a cola taste to it, but it also seems a little bit fruity. It's certainly not a bad flavour, but I did notice that this variety felt quite flat compared to a lot of the other flavours. There's a bit of a fizz to it, but it's more syrupy than anything. The cola flavour combined with the glucose base of the drink did have a bit of a kick, but overall it's not fantastic. It's drinkable, sure, but there are a lot better flavours out there. This is a nice effort from Lucozade, but it falls a little flat.

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Today's Review: Tesco Marmalade On Toast, Raspberry Doughnut & Carrot Cake Yoghurts

Ever the food combination pioneers, Tesco have come out with a trio of interestingly flavoured yoghurts. I would say they're cake based, but apparently one of them is based on breakfast instead. So really there's no underlying theme, just a few yoghurts that someone thought would be pretty darned wacky. So here we go.

I'll just get this one out of the way, because the idea is, quite frankly, ridiculous. This is a toast flavoured yoghurt, and a marmalade on toast flavoured yoghurt at that. I was entirely skeptical about this one, I can give and take marmalade any day, but to have it and toast condensed into yoghurt form? Not so tempting. I must say though, this yoghurt does taste like toast. It's probably due to the fact that there are actual breadcrumbs in it. but hey, fair play to them for that. There's also marmalade in the ingredients, so it does have something of an all round breakfast-like flavour. But there's also the yoghurt, and the creaminess of that makes for a not so great combination. I mean, this is how a marmalade on toast yoghurt should taste, but that doesn't mean this should be a thing. Certainly better than I was expecting, but not all that great.

My rating: 3/5

This is what I imagined would be the most acceptable of the three. It's a raspberry doughnut yoghurt. Raspberry yoghurts are certainly a thing, so a bit of doughnut on top wouldn't hurt, right? Well, this does, in fact, taste normal, decidedly average. The raspberry flavour is there, but the doughnut aspect is quite lacking. There's cornflour and unsalted butter in the ingredients, but they certainly don't lend much to the overall taste. It's an okay yoghurt, but if you're after something different then this doesn't really deliver.

My rating: 3/5

I saved the best 'til last. The carrot cake yoghurt, for when you want cake but you've also got to count your calories, I guess. This thing is the real deal, it is a carrot cake in yoghurt form. It has all the actual cake stuff inside, brown sugar, carrots, sultanas and mascarpone cheese, and it just tastes like a creamy carrot cake in a pot. I said how the marmalade on toast is ruined by the creamy texture and flavour of the yoghurt, but it helps here, as it just give the effect of frosting. This yoghurt certainly isn't as good as an actual slice of carrot cake, but as a carrot cake yoghurt it certainly fits the bill. This is the one you should be picking up.

My rating: 5/5

Tesco have done it again. Well, the results are varied, but they've certainly knocked up some interesting concoctions here. My co-workers were equal parts disgusted and fascinated with my purchases, and yours can be too. If you fancy yoghurts that taste like things that shouldn't be yoghurts, grab some of these (or at least that carrot cake one).

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Today's Review: Cadbury Amaze Bites

Cadbury sure are churning out a lot of products lately, and a lot of them are departures away from their signature bars. These Amaze Bites certainly caught my eye, after all, who doesn't love little bite sized cakes, and brownie cakes at that? I was a little put off that they've based the name after a crass exclamation of approval that wore out its welcome well over a year ago, but hey, it's what's on the inside that counts, right? These come in double chocolate or chocolate orange varieties, I figured I'd go the classic route for the first try.

I've gotta say, these are pretty good. I may have hated a little on the Cadbury Sticky Puds  last week and said they should probably stick to the bars, but I think they should carry on with these. The cakes are deliciously chocolatey, and nice and thick like brownies should be. A little on the stodgy side, perhaps, but I'd rather my brownies be heavy than flaky. The chocolate coating on top is a nice touch, and adds a nice bit of creaminess, and a bit of a crumbly texture to the cake, which is great. I've got to say that these are pretty filling, I found it hard to stop myself eating them, and after about nine I was ready to pop. So yeah, these are pretty heavy cakes, but I guess they're built to last. Well worth picking up a tub of these.

My rating; 4/5

Monday 26 October 2015

Today's Review: Sensations Cheese With Sweet Cranberry

There are a couple of festive Sensation flavours out just in time for Christmas. They're also thicker cut, which I thought was a nice addition. These come in roast beef and horseradish, and this flavour, cheese with sweet cranberry. I don't get on all that well with horseradish, so I figured I'd grab these. After all, who doesn't like a bit of cranberry at Christmas? 

Well, these don't taste a whole lot like cranberry. They're certainly cheesy though. It's actually quite a nice flavour, a bold, almost creamy taste that doesn't overwhelm and works well with the texture of the crisps. The thicker cut is noticeable, delivering a more satisfying crunch than regular Sensations. But I really didn't get the cranberry. There were times there was a hint of sweetness, but overall this was just a big bag of cheesy crisps. Nice cheesy crisps, sure, but I can get those a lot of places. I wanted cranberry, and I was disappointed. So really, this is a pretty average bag.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday 25 October 2015

Today's Review: Butterkist Gingerbread Popcorn

Oh, I've been searching for this one. Ever since it was teased on the back of the Grim Green popcorn I found the other week, I've been impatient to get my chops around some gingerbread popcorn. Butterkist churn out some good quality stuff, so I was expecting great things, and hoping this would be a staple snack food for this festive season.

This popcorn has a ginger and cinnamon flavoured coating, and therein lies the crunch. It's flavoured, and doesn't contain any of the real stuff, and sadly it shows. Sure, it tastes like gingerbread at first bite, quite a big spicy hit that possesses a certain amount of sweetness. But the problem is it's way too strongly flavoured for me, and since it's not authentic it seems quite acidic, the spice becomes overwhelming and not much like gingerbread at all. The popcorn still has that nice crunchy texture that Butterkist has, but the coating is just off for me. I thought I might have some wayward taste buds last night, but I tried it again this morning, and sadly I just can't get along with it. If the flavour stayed as nice as it did when I first popped it into my mouth it might be a different story, but I think it's rather telling that I didn't finish the bag in one sitting. Unfortunately this is not a great popcorn, I'll have to look elsewhere for my festive fix.

My rating: 2/5

Saturday 24 October 2015

Today's Review: Starbucks Hot Mulled Fruits

During my visit to Starbucks to try out the red cups coming this year, I was also offered a sample of the new hot mulled fruit drinks that are available in stores now. Pretty much a non-alcoholic take on mulled wine, these come in two flavours: apple and grape.

I was intrigued by these as soon as I heard about them last week, so I was more than happy to try them out. The first one I went for was the apple, and I was pleasantly surprised. It has a great, bold, fruity flavour, and it's also infused with cinnamon. The spice is quite intense, which may be off putting to some, but it was pretty good for me. Apparently the full size is finished off with a slice of apple as well, which may help to balance the flavour, but I certainly found this sample size to my liking. The only thing I would say is that it's quite heavy on the syrup, which made it a little sickly, but not too much so. I was assured that less syrup can always be requested though, so maybe that's the way to go.

The grape variety is a smoother experience. Again it has a bold fruit taste, a lovely grape flavour with just a hint of chai spice. It's not quite as intense as the apple, which may be a good thing to some, but to me it tasted just a little bland. There could have been more of a kick to it, or perhaps a bit more syrup to add more fruitiness. It's still a good drink, and apparently the full version is finished with a slice of orange and a cinnamon stick, so that could well add a little bit extra.

I really did enjoy these hot mulled fruit drinks. They're warm and fruity, and would work very nicely to warm you up on a winter's day. Sure, they're not perfect, but I'm definitely tempted to pick up a couple over the coming months.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 23 October 2015

Today's Review: Grapeade Snapple

I do enjoy a Snapple, but I don't see the around all that often. Thankfully I spied this interesting flavour in Tesco the other day, reduced to clear as well. This is Grapeade, though I'm not sure why they couldn't just call it grape. Still, I'm a fan of grape juice so I quickly grabbed a bottle.

This actually contains a combination of juices, which is to be expected, but the main draw is the grape, and it's actually pretty good. It has that distinct American grape soda flavour, although it's not as sickly as other grape sodas, probably because the bottle proclaims to contain natural ingredients. This makes for a cleaner tasting drink that packs quite a bit of flavour, but it isn't quite as bold as I'd hoped, and does seem a bit watery at times. Still, it's a refreshing, tasty grape drink, and one that's definitely worth a try.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday 22 October 2015

Today's Review: Starbucks Red Cups 2015

I was invited to Selfridges earlier today to try out the range of Starbucks Christmas drinks. I'll cover the whole lot over the space of a few reviews, but I figured I'd start off with the iconic red cups. I was already a massive fan of the eggnog latte, but there's certainly more than one way to get your festive fix this year. So let's run through the seasonal drinks you'll be able to pick up in a couple of week's time.

Ah, the eggnog latte. Eggnog really isn't a thing over here, but I'm hoping it will get bigger in years to come, just like peanut butter has of late. Although the concept of an egg based drink sounds horrifying, Americans went on about it enough to make me curious, and I this drink does a pretty good job of leaving me wanting more. It's a creamy, smooth, slightly eggy drink. Not so much eggy in the sense of your breakfast fare, but more of an egg custard tart without the custard. It really is delicious, and it's sprinkled liberally with nutmeg to give it a warming spice. Yum.

My rating: 5/5

The toffee nut latte is probably the blandest sounding of the drinks on offer, but bland it certainly is not. It's a nice full bodied drink, with a smooth toffee flavour running throughout, and a fantastic hint of nuttiness that really brings the whole thing together. It's sweet, but not too sweet, a bold, smooth, warming cup of coffee. The sprinkles on top are a great touch as well, adding more toffee nut flavour on top as well as a satisfying crunch. 

My rating: 5/5

Here we have the gingerbread latte, a new recipe for an old favourite. I can't say I've had one of these before, gingerbread has never been one of my favourite things. But this is good as well, a strong gingerbread flavoured coffee that packs a lot of warming spice, and definitely gave me a festive feeling. The ginger is perhaps a little too much, it did overwhelm the smoothness of the coffee a bit, but being a lover of the sweet spices I certainly enjoyed it. Besides, you could probably ask for less squirts of the syrup when you order. Unfortunately the sample I tried didn't have the gingerbread flavoured cream that's going to be liberally sprayed on top this year, but I certainly enjoyed it enough to seek out another when these go on general sale.

My rating: 4/5

Last, but not least, is the honey almond hot chocolate. I'm sure I had one of these last year, although apparently I didn't review it. It's as good as I remember though, a creamy, chocolatey drink with a great sweet, nutty syrup that permeates through the whole cup. On top is a chocolate cream drizzled with honey, which at first sight looks far too sickly, but is actually very satisfying. The cream remains light and fluffy, with a less pronounced chocolate flavour than that in the hot chocolate itself, so it really blends in quite nicely with the drink rather than detracting from the flavour. Once the honey drizzle mixes in with the liquid stuff it adds another great layer of sweetness.Still, it is a lot of chocolate in one cup, and it's certainly very filling in that sense, and I remember towards the end of my full cup it was starting to get a little sickly, but I certainly can't say I didn't enjoy it.

My rating: 4/5

So there you have it, four very nice drinks that you'll be able to pick up from Starbucks during the festive period. I'll probably be heading in myself to pick up at least one of each (maybe a few eggnog). Hooray for red cups.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Today's Review: McDonald's BBQ Pulled Pork Wrap

McDonald's have some new wraps, and this time they're "Big Flavour Wraps". Three out of four of them are chicken based, so I guess if the big flavour of your choice is chicken then you're good to go. But I wasn't in the mood for poultry today, and decided to go for the BBQ pulled pork. Hell, I'd probably have gone for it even if I was in the mood for poultry. It looked pretty good in the picture, but you may look at my picture and ask a very valid question. Where's the pork?

Ah, there it is, that sad looking lump of meat quite far down inside. Okay, sure, it doesn't look all that great, but that doesn't matter if it tastes good, right? Well, it doesn't taste all that good either. The pork is pretty nice, it's tender and has a nice hint of BBQ sauce to it, but there's not really all that much and it was kind of clumped together into a disappointing patty. The BBQ sauce I did taste was quickly overwhelmed by the coleslaw, which is quite bold and a little tart, and pretty much dominated my taste buds. There's a little bit of lettuce for some crunch, and the tortilla is alright I guess, but overall I wasn't feeling this. It could have been pretty good, but it seems to fall flat on all fronts. Next time I'll probably go for the chicken.

My rating: 2/5

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Today's Review: Cadbury Milk Chocolate Sticky Puds

Ah, sponge puddings, they're classic, simple, a nice little mound of chocolate sponge, and some sauce to drizzle on top. What could go wrong? Especially when you put Cadbury into the mix, which is exactly what we've got here with these Sticky Puds. They sounded pretty good to me, so I couldn't wait to get these bad boys home and heat them up. Just 30 seconds in the microwave and you're good to go. Although 30 seconds sounded a bit quick to me, so I popped them both on a plate and blitzed them for a minute, 'cause I'm a rebel like that.

I couldn't quite achieve the artist's impression standard by popping these out of a small plastic container, but they don't look too bad anyway. These puddings consist of a chocolate sponge, drizzled with Cadbury milk chocolate sauce. Yes, just milk chocolate, not Dairy Milk chocolate, so purists need not apply. But I certainly expected these to satisfy my chocolate cravings, and they did to some extent. The sauce is pretty good, nice and gooey, but not too sickly, and definitely chocolatey. As for the sponge, it's not all that good. It's soft, but somewhat dry and a little stodgy. The sauce goes some way to moistening it up a bit, but that only really works for the outside, I was still left with quite a dry bit in the middle, which kind of dampened the whole experience for me. These are alright for a quick dessert fix, but they're pretty average, and not really up to Cadbury's usual standard. You should probably focus on your chocolate bars, guys.

My rating: 3/5

Monday 19 October 2015

Today's Review: Wham Super Sour Minis

Nestled amongst the Halloween treats I found this bag of assorted "super sour" Wham mini bars. I guess it's somewhat Halloweeny, a lot of companies tend to bring out sour versions of their sweets to fit in with the "trick or treat" theme. Not that these are particularly Halloween branded, but hey, they were worth a try. These come in three flavours: Original, apple and blue raspberry.

I'm gonna say right off the bat that these are certainly not "super sour". Sour, sure, but not egregiously so, and as such I was somewhat disappointed. I know I should expect a dampened down sour experience by now, but a man can dream, can't he? The original Whams are as tasty as ever, there is a nice tingle in there, but not really enough. It's still a nice juicy, flavoursome chew, but as a sour sweet go it's pretty standard. The apple ones are definitely worse, a quite sickly, almost acidic tasting flavour that really isn't helped by the sourness. The blue raspberry ones are the best, a nice bold, fruity flavour that actually has a sour edge to it, and one that actually enhances the flavour. Unfortunately there were only a few in the pack, and the majority was taken up by the disappointing apple ones. So all in all, this was a pretty average bag. It may half contain some decent mini Wham bars, but they're definitely not super sour. I think I'll be looking for my sour fix elsewhere, and sticking with the regular Whams from now on.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday 18 October 2015

Today's Review: Häagen-Dazs Belgian Chocolate & Chocolate Salted Caramel

It's National Chocolate Week. Well, the last day of it anyway. I was sent a couple of Häagen-Dazs vouchers this week in order to try out two of their chocolate themed flavours for the occasion, not that we need an excuse to eat chocolate ice cream, right? Here we have Belgian Chocolate and Chocolate Salted Caramel. The former is a classic that I've certainly enjoyed before, but I wasn't going to turn down the chance to try another tub, and I haven't reviewed it yet either. I reviewed the regular Salted Caramel flavour a couple of years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it, and I wasn't really aware a chocolate version existed. 

Popping off the lids, the draw of each flavour is instantly recognisable. The caramel swirl, embedded with pieces of salted caramel brittle. The flecks of Belgian chocolate that are dispersed throughout the entire tub. 

I'm not one to buy generic ice cream flavours all that often, but the Belgian Chocolate is definitely a favourite of mine. The chocolate ice cream is smooth and creamy, and there are so many pieces of Belgian chocolate that add a fantastic texture and an extra added chocolate taste. It's a little dark, but is fantastically counteracted by the creaminess of the ice cream. 

As for the Chocolate Salted Caramel, I wasn't sure if I'd be disappointed, a lot of salted caramel products I've tried over the years haven't been that great. But boy, I was wrong. My very first spoonful had a generous helping of the caramel swirl, and as soon as it touched my tongue I was greeted with a bold salty taste, which quickly mellowed out into a smooth, sweet caramel. I gave the regular Salted Caramel variety top marks, and it's carried over to this chocolate version very nicely. The brittle pieces add a nice bit of crunch, and the chocolate ice cream is fantastically creamy, making for one gorgeous ice cream tub.

So there you go, two amazing chocolatey ice cream flavours that will help you celebrate National Chocolate Week in style, even though it's almost over. Still, buy some anyway, because every week should be chocolate week.

My rating: 5/5 

Saturday 17 October 2015

Today's Review: Wall's Pepperoni Pizza Slice

I was on the lookout for a quick dinner fix last night, and popping into the nearest shop (a One Stop) I was greeted by a glorious sight, Wall's slices for £1. My hands were ready to get all up on the steak one, but my attention was caught by this limited edition pepperoni pizza slice. Pizza in a pastry? I wasn't so sure, but I figured it would be worth a go. What's the worst that could happen? Apart from crushing disappointment and a ruined meal of course...

You can pop this in the microwave or oven, or eat it cold if you're some kind of heathen. I opted for the oven, because that's the only way to get it satisfyingly crispy, and that it was. The pastry is great, good quality with a great crunch to it. As for the innards, I was half expecting disappointment, but it's actually pretty good. I figured there'd be an abundance of tomato sauce, but this is a satisfyingly cheesy slice. It has both mozzarella and cheddar, and it all melted together for a creamy, satisfying filling. there's a nice hint of tomato in there as well, and while the teeny pepperoni slices add a good meaty flavour, there weren't quite enough in there for my liking. Perhaps the cheese is a little too much, it kind of overwhelms everything else in there. Still, I couldn't complain too much, I still enjoyed it. The pastry was a bit of a strange match with the pizza filling, but not as bad as I thought. This is certainly quite different from the regular varieties of slice out there, and while it's not perfect, it was quick, filling, and pretty tasty.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 16 October 2015

Today's Review: Butterkist Grim Green Popcorn

Halloween is just around the bend, so all the spooky themed snacks are starting to line the shelves. I haven't noticed too many new additions this year, but I did come across this Grim Green popcorn from Butterkist. Basically, it's just sweet popcorn with green colouring, which I was a little disappointed with at first, what about a new flavour? Then I realised a true Halloween themed flavour would probably be bogies or something, so I'll take the sweet.

Well, it certainly looks the part. Some pieces are definitely greener than others, but all in all it looks pretty good, even though from staring at that picture while I type this it does look like a load of tiny cabbages. As for the taste, it's a damn good sweet popcorn. It's has a satisfying crunch that masks a somewhat chewy interior, and a distinct lack of unpopped kernels that I've come to expect from Butterkist. The green coating does have something of a side effect I think, there seems to be a more crispy outer shell, which does give it a bit more crunchiness, but also ramps up the sweetness to just a little too much for my liking. It's certainly a good quality popcorn though, and it would certainly look good sitting on a table in amongst other Halloween style foods.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday 15 October 2015

Today's Review: Starbucks Guatemala Antigua

I was recently sent a bag of Guatemala Antigua beans from Starbucks to try out. I sampled their limited edition Kenya beans a few months back, and found them very much to my liking, so I was expecting good thing from these as well. They're available in store until 4th November.

These beans promise an interesting mix of subtle spices, cocoa and lemon flavours. It's also apparently best paired with chocolate, which is certainly not a bad thing. Depending on how you brew it, different aspects of the flavour apparently come to the forefront, but since I only have a cafetière at home I went for that approach, which is said to enhance the coffee's lemon-like acidity. I must say, I didn't get too much of a lemon taste, but this still makes a good cup of coffee. It's nice and clean, with a definite kick to it. It's pretty smooth, and just a little bitter, and it certainly doesn't leave the after taste that I've become accustomed to with instant coffee. I can't say I detected much cocoa while drinking either, but after the fact there was a definite lingering hint of spice and chocolate, a pleasant after taste that stuck around for a while. This is a nice, smooth coffee that will definitely wake you up, and while I didn't find the flavours as bold as I'd hoped, it still makes for a tasty cup. These beans are worth picking up over the next couple of weeks.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Today's Review: Ben & Jerry's Cinnamon Buns

I've been madly searching for days now, on the brink of breakdown in the frozen aisles, but I've finally managed to get my hand on a tub of Cinnamon Buns. For someone who used to abhor cinnamon, it's strange how much I've been craving this ice cream. But hey, I love cinnamon buns, and I love Ben & Jerry's, so this sounded like the perfect combination. It's also the third new flavour I've tried within the last week, so it looks like the ice cream gods are smiling upon us. This gorgeous sounding concoction consists of caramel ice cream with a cinnamon swirl, embedded with cinnamon bun dough chunks.

I don't know what else to say, this stuff is great. I was a little wary about the caramel ice cream, I thought it might be a bit too sickly on top of the cinnamon swirled in throughout, but it turns out it's a good call. It's definitely nowhere near as sweet as I thought, it's more like a slightly more sweet and velvety vanilla than a full on caramel, providing a nice bit of flavour that complements, rather than overwhelms, the main attraction. Speaking of which, the cinnamon is great. The swirls throughout are lovely sweet, gooey veins that give a nice amount of spicy warmth. The chunks of cinnamon dough are to die for, substantial in size, and packing a nice hit of spice. The texture is something like that of the classic Cookie Dough chunks, though they're definitely fuller and chewier, much more satisfying in my opinion. I can't fault this, it's another great offering from Ben & Jerry's, and hopefully one that's here to stay, it doesn't have seasonal packaging after all. This is an ice cream that will always be welcome in my freezer, if it even makes it that far.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Today's Review: Lucozade Tropical Fusion

I think Lucozade is pretty great. I don't often meet a flavour I don't like, and there's a pretty nice variety to choose from. This new one is an addition to their no added sugar range. Obviously there's still a whole load of glucose, but hey, it has less calories, and a "tropical fusion" of pineapple and kiwi. Sounded tasty to me.

Well, half tasty at least. I'm not particularly a fan of kiwi, but thankfully this drink has a predominant pineapple taste. It's pretty authentic, and nicely fruity, and there is a hint of kiwi underneath that detracts from the inevitable sick lines that comes from too much pineapple. Still, it is a little too light for my liking, and doesn't cover up the syrupy texture of the drink as well as darker, bolder flavours. The lower sugar content helps with this though, giving it a bit of a cleaner taste. This is a nice new flavour, not as good as the darker fruit flavours, but certainly the best no added sugar Lucozade around. I'd probably buy it again.

My rating: 4/5

Monday 12 October 2015

Today's Review: Mars Secret Centre Cookies

While Tesco's own range of baked goods provides some pretty decent edibles, it's nice to see some branded stuff pop up now and then. At the moment there's a wide array of Mars products immortalised in cookie form, from Galaxy to Bounty to Magic Stars. The most interesting of the lot was these Mars Secret Centre cookies, which promise a "soft Mars centre" in the middle of a pretty nice looking chocolate chip cookie.

I thought I'd have trouble with these once I'd picked up the bag. The cookies seemed pretty friendly with each other. Having baked cookies in store myself during my Tesco days, I can attest to their tendency to stick to each other and separate messily. Thankfully, these cookies were pretty well baked, and I managed to extract them from the bag whole. The only place these were falling apart was in my face, and that they did. The cookie is nice and soft, slightly chewy and with a nice smattering of chocolate chunks. There are also some caramel drops placed in there, but I can't say I noticed a particularly caramel-like flavour. It's probably overwhelmed a little by the chocolate and the centre, but it would have been nice to have a little more caramel in there. Speaking of the centre, it's supposed to be nougat flavour, and I guess it has a hint of it, but really it's quite creamy and light. I wasn't expecting the classic chewy middle of your average Mars bar, but it didn't particularly remind me of the bar itself. It's a little goopy, a little sickly, but it blends in fairly well with the cookie. Overall these make for some pretty nice cookies, but I don't see how they're particularly Mars themed. I couldn't taste the caramel, the nougat centre wasn't nougat-like, it's just a pretty ordinary chocolate chip cookie with a creamy centre. Certainly not bad, but if you're expecting an authentic Mars bar experience you might be left disappointed.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday 11 October 2015

Today's Review: Ribena Winter Spice

I was recently sent a nice big bottle of the new Ribena flavour to try out. But this ain't any old Ribena, this is a seasonal Ribena. Forget different fruits, it's time to spice things up, literally. Here we have Ribena Winter Spice, the first Ribena that's designed to drink hot. Now, I can't say I ever used to have hot squash for the vast majority of my life, but I've grown to appreciate it over the last few years. So this sounded pretty appealing to me. A hot blackcurrant spice concoction, oh boy.

This is said to taste a lot like a non-alcoholic mulled wine, but for reasons that escape me I can't say I've tried mulled wine before. I've never been compelled to buy a lot of alcohol in my adult years, and perhaps my parents kept it all to themselves, instead of doing the responsible thing and giving their under age son booze for giggles. That is to say, I can't exactly draw comparisons between this and mulled wine, but perhaps I'll try some out over the festive period and get back to you. 

As it stands though, this is a pretty solid drink. It certainly has a much deeper, richer flavour than your regular Ribena, and it's certainly helped along by the warm temperature. The base is a bold, fruity blackcurrant, very dark and sweet, and certainly delicious. The spices layered on top are a nice touch, there are definite hints of cinnamon and nutmeg that really give this drink a satisfying tingle. It is, perhaps, a little too rich, it does get a little sickly at times, and the spices do sometimes work together to somewhat overpower the fruitiness, leaving an ever so slightly bitter after taste. But I can't say I didn't have a good time drinking this. The weather's getting colder already, and my mood has improved after I've drunk a glass of this over the last few evenings (specially designed hot drink glasses mind you, be safe kids!) This is a great new variety from Ribena that certainly fits the festive period, and it's well worth picking up while it's still around.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 10 October 2015

Today's Review: New York Bakery Co. Sweet Cinnamon Soft Pretzel Knots

I do love a good bagel, and the New York Bakery Co. make some good bagels. You know what I also like? A good soft pretzel, and those New York guys have started making them as well. I've been on the lookout for these for a while, I couldn't wait to try them. I had the choice of regular or cinnamon, and fancying a little bit of flavour, I went for the latter. I was prepared for some nice soft dough, with a nice sprinkling of spicy sweetness.

That's not what I got though. Soft pretzels should be, well, soft, chewy, fluffy even. These pretzels are literally just the New York Bakery Co. bagels in a different shape. It's the exact same dough, and it doesn't translate well. It's dry and stodgy, which is alright for a bagel, as that's meant to be generously covered in cream cheese, but you can't really do that here. What's more, the cinnamon doesn't blend well at all, it's doesn't add to the overall flavour, it just sits at the back of your mouth being uncomfortably spicy. Also, there aren't enough raisins. Not that I think raisins really belong in a soft pretzel, but I think if they had to have them, they should have gone all out with it. What we have here is an uneven, sparse fruitiness that does little to alleviate the dryness of the dough.

I like your bagels, guys, but you need to up your pretzel game. You ain't no Aubtie Anne's, that's for sure.

My rating: 1/5 

Friday 9 October 2015

Today's Review: Tesco Chocolate Brownie Doughnuts

I reviewed Tesco's Strawberry Cheesecake Doughnuts last week and found them to be pretty average. I mentioned that there was also this chocolate brownie variety on offer, and indeed I went back and bought them, hoping for a better experience. These doughnuts aren't as funkily shaped, but they sure do look chocolatey. These consist of a chocolate doughnut with chocolate flavoured filling, topped with icing, brownie pieces and white chocolate nuggets.

I don't know how I expected these to be better than the cheesecake ones, especially when the cheesecake doughnuts had the proper ingredients. I mean, sure, there are some brownie pieces sprinkled on top, but the rest of just your standard chocolate doughnut. The topping isn't even that noticeable, and I certainly didn't have much of a brownie experience while eating. The doughnut itself is alright, a little stodgy, and it's certainly nothing new, it's been done before, and I know Tesco are capable of making a nicer doughnut. As for the filling, it's pretty much the same as the stuff they put in their regular chocolate doughnuts, a goopy, somewhat sickly mixture. Thankfully there isn't enough to leak all over the place, and the sauce does go some way to alleviating the dryness of the doughnut, but all together it just makes for a slightly disappointing doughnut. It's good for a chocolatey snack, sure, but there are better treats in the bakery.

My rating: 2/5

Thursday 8 October 2015

Today's Review: Ben & Jerry's Pumpkin Cheesecake

Another day, another new Ben & Jerry's flavour. I wish new flavours come out at this frequency all year, but I guess it's just good fortune that the festive releases are coinciding with the Save Our Swirled and Cinnamon Buns (which I still haven't found...) Alongside the festive favourite Minter Wonderland (which I haven't actually tried yet), there's this new, interesting Pumpkin Cheesecake flavour. Now, I've never been one to enjoy pumpkin, although I've only really experienced it through the odd bite of the innards during pumpkin carving. America abounds with pumpkin flavoured snacks this time of year, but it's odd to see one in the UK. Despite my reluctance to buy an entirely pumpkin themed ice cream, I couldn't pass it up.

Now, this isn't just pumpkin ice cream, it's pumpkin cheesecake ice cream, and cheesecake makes everything better. The cream cheese thrown into the mix created a lovely, creamy texture and flavour, while the pumpkin itself is a lot better than I expected. It's a very full, sweet taste, and since it's pumpkin purée shoved in there there's a bit of a pulpy texture to it as well, which really rounds off the flavour. The pumpkin is cinnamon spiced as well, so there's a nice extra bit of sweetness with a slightly spicy kick. To top it all off, there's a cookie swirl going through the whole tub, which adds a hint of biscuit flavour and some extra chewiness. Put it all together and you've got one gorgeous tub of ice cream. I'm glad I took the plunge, I'm now a pumpkin convert. Thanks, Ben and Jerry.

My rating: 5/5 

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Today's Review: Hobgoblin Spit Roast Steak Crisps

I found myself near an Aldi today and figured I'd pop in to see what snacks I could rustle up. I didn't find too much that tickled my fancy, but these crisps caught my eye. Now, I'm certainly not a big fan of beer, but there was something about these that made me want to try them out. Probably the steak part, to be fair. 

I've had a Hobgoblin beer before, and found it to certainly be better than your average canned rubbish. Not that I'd choose it as my regular tipple, but I must say it's been converted to a crisp flavour remarkably well. These crisps are Burts at their core, which certainly isn't a bad chip to go for, and the first thing I got when I popped one in my mouth was an undeniable beer flavour. It actually works quite well with the taste and texture of the chip itself, and it soon gives way to a lovely smoky barbeque taste. Unfortunately, I didn't find the steak element to be well represented, but the flavours I was already tasting were certainly good enough to keep me going until the bag was empty. There was a bit of a tussle between beer and barbeque, I never really got the two tastes in tandem, but rather some of one then some of the other. Not that I mind too much, it was all pretty tasty. Beer is certainly not my crisp flavour of choice, but these ones are very well executed. Well worth trying out.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Today's Review: Cadbury Screme Egg Biscuits

The Screme Egg is an odd, pun-based way to make Creme Eggs relevant for more than one holiday per year. The eggs themselves are alright, although the green colour of the yolk initially did some trickery to my brain. But now you can get Screme Eggs in biscuit form. I imagined these would be exactly the same as the Creme Egg biscuits I reviewed last year, but I figured I'd give them a go anyway, especially as I enjoyed the other ones so much.

I don't know if I was over-exaggerating last time, or if these biscuits have had a downgrade in the flavour department, but I wasn't too impressed with these. They're pretty sickly, and the fondant certainly didn't seem the right consistency to be deserving of the Screme Egg name, it was very sweet and slightly gritty. Before I praised the balance between biscuit and filling, but that seems a bit off here as well. There doesn't seem to be enough chocolate, and although what's there is pretty good, it wasn't enough to offset the fondant flavour. The biscuit is a nice touch as always, but the filling distracted from its chocolatey crunchiness. I mean, the insides aren't too bad, they're still quite smooth and certainly sweet, but I feel they've been taken to extremes, and that all adds up to a decidedly average biscuit. I'll wait until Easter to see if the Creme Egg biscuits have suffered the same fate, or to see if my opinions have changed again...

My rating: 3/5

Monday 5 October 2015

Today's Review: Haribo Chamallows Soft-Kiss Extra

There are a lot of varieties of Chamallows popping up in pound shops recently, and nestling among the Halloween and sour ones I found this line bag of "Soft-Kiss Extra", which apparently means "covered in chocolate".

That's basically all these are, chocolate covered marshmallows. I've had mixed feelings about them before, but Haribo marshmallows are pretty good, so I was hoping for a tasty bag. What I didn't know was how well Haribo does chocolate, and that's where these fall flat. It's a thin, dark chocolate coating which isn't of particularly good quality, but underneath is a nice soft marshmallow that makes for a creamy filling. I don't know if I just don't get along with chocolate covered marshmallows, or if the chocolate in these just wasn't good enough, but I didn't think too much of them. Not bad, but certainly not the best Chamallow variety.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday 4 October 2015

Today's Review: Ben & Jerry's Save Our Swirled

Ever since this seeing this tweet the other day I have been impatiently waiting, hoping for a glimpse at the Cinnamon Buns Ben & Jerry's on the shelves during my next supermarket visit. Just the other day in Tesco I found the flavour on the left, and my hopes were raised, only to be dashed to the ground after a quick glance at the other flavours on offer. So no, no Cinnamon Buns yet, but this Save Our Swirled is also a new flavour, so I was still pretty excited to try it out. It didn't seem too interesting, but it certainly had enough different about it to make me want to pick it up. It consists of raspberry ice cream, with marshmallow, raspberry and blackberry swirls, and embedded with chocolate cones. It's also aptly named to bring awareness to climate change, so that's a nice touch, in keeping with Ben & Jerry's caring nature.

This is nice, in fact it's very nice. The raspberry ice cream may not carry the boldest flavour, but it's certainly a creamy and fruity ones, and it is helped along tremendously by the fruity swirls that wind their way through it. The raspberry swirls are good, but when I caught a taste of the blackberry it was even better. As for the marshmallow, I can't say I tasted it all that much. It's likely the bold, dark fruity flavours block it out to some extent, but I can't say I noticed the texture of the ice cream change much either. The chocolate cones are certainly a nice touch though. They're similar in size to the Phish Food fish, but these ones consist of a dark chocolate cone with a white chocolate tip, so it's really the best of both worlds between the Phish and Baked Alaska. This may not be up there with the greats, but this is a good tub of ice cream, well deserving of the Ben & Jerry's name. It's a creamy, fruity, chocolatey treat, and well worth picking up.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 3 October 2015

Today's Review: Tic Tac Mixers Peach Lemonade

Let the flavour changing trend continue. Tic Tac have already come out with an interesting flavour changing combination, which I found quite nice, so I was pleased to see they've come up with another. This again follows the sequence of fruit to soft drink flavour, which seems oddly specific, but hey, it worked last time. Here we are promised a peach to lemonade experience, which is good as I like both of those.

These are okay. I don't know if it's because I was expecting good things due to the last variety, but these didn't really impress me all that much. The first taste is certainly peachy, and it's quite nice, but it soon gets a bit too bold and sickly. There's a good fruity base to it, but overall it's too much. The flavour change isn't quite as noticeable as with the cherry cola Tic Tacs, but it certainly does morph into something else. I'm not entirely convinced it's lemonade, but it is tart and has a certain fizziness to it. It's certainly not as easy to identify as the cola was. There's nothing particularly awful about these, but the flavours are just a little too sickly for my liking. I know that's true of quite a few Tic Tac varieties, but it puts me off buying these again, especially with the cherry cola ones being a lot nicer. Worth a go for the novelty, but not great.

My rating: 3/5

Friday 2 October 2015

Today's Review: Tesco Strawberry Cheesecake Doughnuts

Tesco sure do love to introduce new bakery products, especially of the doughnut variety. Yesterday I stumbled upon these strawberry cheesecake doughnuts, which were sitting alongside some new chocolate brownie doughnuts as well. These consist of a star shaped doughnut, topped with pink frosting and some bobbly bits for good measure. The innards are the selling point here though, a "gooey cheesecake filling". I wasn't sure quite how that would turn out, but note it doesn't say "cheesecake flavoured". Yes, the filling actually contains soft cheese and strawberry concentrate, so it looked like these weren't going to be so bad after all.

In fact, it turns out they're alright... Just alright though. I'm not sure what went wrong, but despite the filling containing proper cheesecake ingredients, it doesn't taste a whole lot like cheesecake. It has a weird caramel colour, and just tastes a bit sweet. Perhaps the consistency was a bit off and my taste buds weren't having it, or perhaps there's a bit too much dough and frosting to allow the flavour to come through, but either way I didn't get that cheesecake hit I was hoping for. It's still an alright filling, and it does well to provide a bit of moisture to the dough, but it's nothing special. The doughnut itself is pretty nice though, quite soft, and the topping is generously applied, giving a nice sugary kick, and the "butter crisps" on top add a little bit of a crunch. But I can't say I was overwhelmed. These doughnuts are just pretty average. Hopefully the chocolate brownie ones will fare better with me.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday 1 October 2015

Today's Review: Belvita Soft Bakes: Red Berries

I tried out the Golden Grain variety of these Belvita Breakfast Soft Bakes the other day, and while they certainly weren't bad, I felt they were slightly lacking. I was also sent this flavour to try out, which has some cranberries thrown in for good measure. Berries always make things better in my opinion, so I was expecting to enjoy these ones more.

The bake itself is pretty much the same, a chewy, cereal based biscuit that has a nice soft texture, although it still has those crunchy pieces strewn throughout. I was a little bit weirded out by the difference in texture at first, but after eating a few of these I think it has grown on me a little. I think I'd still prefer a uniform chewiness though. As with the Golden Grain, these bakes are a little dry by themselves, the lack of butter or golden syrup in the ingredients attests to this. But the key difference here is the berries, and they go some way to providing a nice bit of juiciness to alleviate the dryness. There are a lot of fruit pieces packed into these, and they give a lovely fruity flavour throughout. These Red Berries Soft Bakes may not be perfect, but I found them to be a lot better than the regular variety. Juicy, tasty and filling.

My rating: 4/5