Thursday, 26 September 2013

Fish are friends, and FOOD!!

A few months back America celebrated national Smores’ day, I had heard of these treats before but never really paid much attention. Until now I mean these things must be amazing if they have a whole day dedicated to them, right? Also you literally make them yourself and in only a few seconds they sound perfect. Mine weren’t and all my attempts would probably make a veteran Smorer roll their eyes in disgust.

I don’t feel fully responsible for my failings however as I believe my attempts were doomed from the get go. Firstly certain brands have become the go to products in their preparation. For instance graham crackers are needed. Over here we don’t have graham crackers so I used some plain biscuit cracker things I had found. Already a bad start and my Smoring hadn’t even begun. However it was those or Jacob’s cream crackers and that would have been much worse I’m sure. Next I was cooking mine on a hob inside, when I understand Smores’ are to be made round campfires along with ghostly tales.
 
A nice display of the three varieties and their cheerful expressions.
Ok so perhaps I’m clutching at straws in my excuses but the thick of it is I just got into a gooey mess. A tasty gooey mess, but a mess regardless. One thing that did come out of my slightly obsessive phase was finding a packet of Pepperidge farm smores fish type biscuit things? These are small fish shaped biscuits that the packaging suggests you stack into three layers emulating a traditional smore. The packaging and characters are rather charming and the biscuit bites are cute enough to feel slightly guilty as you chomp on them.

The three different types of fish found in these bags are plain cracker, chocolate cracker and that marshmallow type stuff you get in Lucky Charms. Essentially these are three different tasting crackers stacked on top of each other, not very appealing to read but they did work in some way. However stacking them proved rather fiddly due to their small size so I soon gave up and ate them individual (I’m no fun at all am I?).
 
My attempts at stacking was on par with the pros
My favourite one was the plain type it was nice and crunchy and had a great oaty taste to them that you don’t find in large biscuits let alone mini bite size varieties such as these. The marshmallow ones are a bit weird for me, being rather chewy and not very nice on their own. I used these mostly with my morning cereal and with ice cream so they ended up with their uses don’t worry. Lastly the chocolate ones were a bit of a mixed bag (pardon the pun). As they don’t have enough of either a chocolaty flavour or oaty taste to make them stand out.

In the end I don’t really see the point of these biscuits myself other than a cute novelty. They are too small to dunk in a drink and too fiddly for their purpose. They are nice but you kinda need to eat them by the handful in order to detect the flavours. You also get a lot in a bag and no matter how I stored them they still wen stale before I had finished.


Look how happy it looks in it's magic circle of protection!
Overall these are nice but probably could do with being both bigger in size and smaller in packaging, like maybe mini snack bags like you get with Ice Gems. Also one problem with eating them individually is I ended up running out of my least favourites’ first and my favourite one’s going stale.

Score
6 out of 11
Found
Sweet Heaven store Bluewater
Final Thoughts
Their smiles will haunt my dreams forever in guilt.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Sorry if You Had To WAFER-IT

Money makes the world turn, not literally obviously. Yet somewhere in our evolution we developed a worrying worship and obsession of the dreaded paper prison. A worship that means if we have a lack of it our world seems to come to a standstill. Which means we work for the privilege to acquire the paper, why am I starting like this? Well I hope it will ease you in to the possibly devastating news I bring… about why my posts may become less frequent.

I go back to work this week, in an effort to keep the planet going. Up until now I've been doing this blog during my holiday. It’s given me the luxury to post a lot, sometimes daily. Unfortunately work will be taking up my time from now and until I develop a routine in writing my posts may become sporadic. Remember every cloud has a silver lining, as my old early mornings return so does my “cup of Joe” and the biscuit to accompany him. Today’s review is of two said coffee treats specifically two interestingly flavoured wafers.

Sorry for no picture of Marzipan as I say was in a rush to try them.
Both are rather large bags I picked up at pound land so I’m hoping I like them or else there are some dreary mornings ahead. As both are slightly odd flavours they hopefully will at least be interesting. At least they damn sure aren’t the banana ones from this review Here! The first has a marzipan filling, a taste I have a bit of an obsession for. The second is cappuccino which I am interested to see how well it mixes with coffee.
Packing five whole layers of disappointing wafer!!
The packaging on both is rather cheap looking and uninspiring, but remember it’s what’s inside that counts. On opening the marzipan wafers I’m delighted to be met with a joyous sweet almond smell. A good sign this bag will be demolished quickly, a good job too with no reseal ability. They are disappointingly small ad I get through quite a few in a short sitting. Added to my woes is that I opened the bag in such haste that all the crumbs (and there was a lot, but they were only a pound) scattered across the counter leaving it looking like a scene from Scarface.

End on a light note, a wooden llama
My haste was great and I ate quite few before the kettle had a chance to boil, it had a very strong almond taste. It was heavenly. The wafer was still nice and crunchy and not chewy as a lot of cheap wafers can be. They were also not waxy or papery and generally were good quality. There is enough cream filling for the flavour to standout, they dunk well in coffee. Mixing great and a good balance is struck between the bitterness and sweetness of the opposing forces. Definitely worth a pound, and a recommendation.


The next bag, cappuccino was a bit disappointing in the smell department and was certainly lacking. However they are slightly larger and technically seem to contain more cream. With this is more wafer layers though and the wafer on offer isn’t good. Tasting stale and rather airy, they are slightly chewy too so perhaps nearing retirement. It doesn’t get much better on dipping, turns out mixing coffee with well to be honest coffee produces little excitement. If they felt fresher and had more flavour perhaps they would be ok on their own but they’re not. Perhaps I’ll try them with some ice cream. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

I Can't Believe It's Kinder!!!

Sorry guys but today’s post is going to be a bit of a rant I’m afraid. Basically due to the fact that now my holidays over I am tired and bored, therefore I need to vent some of this frustration. Ironically this rant is aimed at the very things that I usually use to cheer myself up.
I had decided on the journey home that I would be a good little boy scout. Once home I would strategically unpack as I knew I would need to be packing again pretty soon. See I can act responsibly sometimes, not this time however. As when I eventually go home I dumped my stuff in my room and headed straight out for a walk.

The walk unintentionally although not unsurprisingly turned into a trip to the shops which itself turned into looking down the chocolate aisle. Nothing had changed from what I could tell, yet something felt wrong and only upon careful investigation did I discover a discrepancy. However minor in appearance this change may be big enough to change the way I view this world we live in. Okay so maybe not the whole world, but certainly the candy world.

They look so innocent, don't they?
What I saw was the new packaging for kinder surprise eggs, which now come in two varieties blue and pink. On the face of it this isn’t so bad or shocking I suppose. After all a lot of chocolate is clearly aimed at a specific gender like new Crispello’s which has been created with the calorie conscious woman in PR people’s minds. Yorkie has always had the motto it’s not for girls but this was a clear tongue in cheek marketing ploy. Then there is character chocolates like Hello Kitty, however technically either gender can enjoy as the difference is only the outside wrapper.

Kinder’s change is more though with your choice of colour affecting that famous surprise inside. With blue containing what could be thought of as a “boy’s toy” and pink “girl’s toy’s”.  This angers and unsettles me on perhaps an over the top level, but to me I see it as the company defining what they believe the different sexes enjoy. I know that really the choice is still up to the child but we know that at that age children often already know their “corresponding colour”.

I bought one of each of the colours to see the ranges on offer; perhaps it won’t be too different. I was wrong in the pink egg I found a lock and key type toy. My thought is it’s meant to be like a padlock for a diary or some kind of small box. The leaflet advises the owner to wear the key on a friggin pink bow round their wrists. It’s decorated with sparkles, rainbows and stars and just feels wrong.  The boy’s egg contained a small Hot Wheels car but apart from typical racetrack type deco was rather gender unspecific.  I guess you can argue that at least it will stop some disappointment you had with the old random style when you’d get a toy from a range not really meant for you. However what happens when a shop runs out of blue, how does a Kinder lover get his fix if his colours gone?
The girls range is the most unnerving I think. What do you think?

Kinder aren’t the only one however, Muller corners now have a children’s range that feels that different packaging doesn’t quite cut it. Offering a girl range featuring pink hearts and strawberry yoghurt and boys range with footballs and vanilla yoghurt. I’d like to point out here that I hate football, but I do have a heart (there are those who say differently). It’s a worrying trend especially when the changes go beyond the packaging and affect the product beneath.

Perhaps I am overacting after all most industries use gender targeting, but the food industry? Surely if there is somewhere when gender should have no impact it’s in what we eat. Especially with the gender history it already has. We need to move on from labelling in general and we have progressed so far already. However to me this is a step backwards and an unnecessary one too.


Muller have since released this variety too!
Overall it’s a mistake on Kinder’s part I believe and we shall see if any backlash will occur. What do you guys think? I urge you to comment below. Tell me your opinion or tweet me I don’t mind so long as I know your there.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

I fly High with the Bird's and Elephants!!!

 You know what really sucks about holidays? The last day, not only have you got to pack up everything but you need to travel to get home too. Every time is the same too no matter how much extra space you leave to compensate you still don’t have enough case room for all your souvenirs. Then there’s the weather, usually it’s either the best day all week the sun bearing down on you as you struggle with the cases. Or worse it’s pouring with rain and reflects your already dull and damp mood. (In scriptwriting this is called pathetic fallacy.)

As you may be able to guess my holiday is over, the cars packed and physically I’m ready to leave. Mentally I won’t to stay and the thoughts of the six hour car journey do nothing to sweeten my mood. Thankfully we are stopping over at relatives at the half way point to give ourselves a bit of a break. Let me tell you after sitting in the cramped car for so long that stop over will feel like another mini holiday!

Going to miss this scenary
I also have the thoughts of the home cooked meal we have to look forward to when we arrive as well, something we’ve missed out on recently. Don’t get me wrong the food was but it wasn’t exactly prepared with TLC. No, most of the time it was plainly obvious the only warmth coming from the food was an aftereffect of the radiation waves. Nothing can beat a good home cooked meal, unless it comes served with a certain pastry from the famous local Bakery.

The local baker in question is Bird’s bakery, a name spoken with the highest esteem and usually followed by a sigh of fond memories. Their products often form the benchmark for anything similar, with two products especially that cause instant salivation. These two are their sausages; I have yet to find a banger that even comes close to beating them. Then in the dessert corner their Elephant’s foot cake (not as grotesque or illegal as it sounds!)

Even the boxes look elegant, simple yet amazing

Today’s review is of said Elephant’s foot, I’ll try for something more than “Oh God Yes!!!” I’ll begin by describing it, essentially it is a big round éclair yet it’s so much more. A dome of beautifully delicate puff pastry severed in two and filled with home-made fresh whipped cream. Somehow this cream is both sweet and light in a way no other whipped cream I’ve ever tasted is. The dome is then covered in a generous layer of thick and gooey milk chocolate that’s set to fudge like consistency. In all its perfection on a plate, to be served alone as any compliment would be an insult.

I love to savour these obviously, and when such care has been taken to craft such treat I’ve developed a certain ritual. I start with the bottom half topped with the cream. Then once that’s been finished and every speck of creams gone I start on the top, working my way around the edge in a spiral like motion to the epicentre of chocolate. This may sound extreme but it make these bad boys last.

Take it in while it lasts, which won't be for long!

The pastry is light and airy that you barely feel any weight on the fork; it carries a very subtle taste that’s never stale. When mixed with the cream a light sugary taste is added that somehow doesn’t feel any heavier than without it. A delicately milky cream taste is the aftertaste once the sugars gone. It’s somehow deliciously creamy without being sickly sweet or making you feel guilty for indulging.

The top half is slightly thinner and yet made heavier by the chocolate. It’s thick and fudgy to the point where a knife is more suited to cutting it than the edge of a fork. Tasting milky and very chocolaty it melts in your mouth perfectly leaving the pastry behind with a chocolate hint to it. Whilst I do separate the layers like an insane person, if taken all in at once is just as good. As all the layers complement each other perfectly and never feels like you’re eating too much like most éclairs do. To me though all at once leaves it all over too soon and you can’t quite appreciate the different tastes on offer.
Overall not much else I can say except “Oh God Yes!!”

Score
9 out of 11

Found
Bird's bakery

Final Thought's
Their pig's are fed on the cakes they don't sell is what I've been told.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Macaron Madness!

Hey readers who's a better blogger than me the wonderful Amy Willow, that's who. I've kidnapped her just for you just for today enjoy but don't get used to it.
Hey everyone! I must say I feel rather honoured to be a guest here at Vote Snax-on, and I have something which I think is pretty special to share with you all. Sweets aren’t exactly my forte like they are Roy’s, however, I am rather partial to one of these when I come by them:

My precious.....

Oh yes, the wondrous macaron! For those of you who don’t know, a macaron (not to be confused with macaroon, the sickly coconut, chocolate things with rice paper on the bottom that you find in most supermarkets over here) is a pair of light almond flavoured biscuits sandwiched together by some sort of cream or jam. However, they are not just plain almond flavour, oh no. They come in a variety of flavours, but all have that basic nutty taste underneath which is what makes them so yummy.

I’ve always found macarons hard to come by, probably on account of living out in the sticks. But I’ve always had a weird obsession with them, which I must admit could stem from how pretty they are. I mean, they’re freakin’ rainbow coloured, look at them! To my surprise and joy when I last went into my nearest city I discovered that a Patisserie Valerie, a chain of classy French cafes, had opened up and they sold macarons.This makes sense as macarons are from France, although they are also popular in Japan (but over there they are spelled with a ‘k’ as you cannot write a ‘c’ by itself in Japanese. Random fact right there!) So anyway, of course I had to buy some. They came all wrapped up in cellophane and a cute paper bag, so swish.

I felt very fancy carrying this bag!

I got six macarons in total, one of each flavour they do: raspberry, coffee, lemon, vanilla, chocolate and pistachio. I was surprised that the pink one was raspberry as usually pink macarons are rose flavoured, but this only made me more eager to try it. When I opened the bag I was hit by the soft, sweet scents of almond and sugar. Not overpowering, just subtle enough to be pleasant and enticing.

I felt like I should take some in depth photos for this review, so here you go:

If I didn't know better I'd say this was wasabi!
Dissection time...



















It took me a few days to munch my way through them all, but I have to say that the lemon one was my favourite. It was refreshing in the way that only citrus is, and had a proper fruity taste which was not at all synthetic. All of the macarons were like this though; they all tasted like of exactly what they were supposed to with no hint of anything fake or dodgy. However, I found the chocolate and coffee ones very rich and the chocolate especially was quite sickly and heavy. Instead of a thin cream in the middle like the others it had a dark chocolate paste which was highly cocoa-y and so pretty bland. The raspberry one too was a bit of a let down. It was nicely fruity like the lemon, but the jam holding it together was sticky and more sugary than fruity. The vanilla and pistachio ones made up for it though! Despite the unappealing green colour of the pistachio it had a brilliant nutty flavour on account of the underlying almond, and the cream was soft and refreshing like in the lemon one. The vanilla too, although slightly more basic in flavour, was light and satisfying. Plus they all had that great crumbly, melt in the mouth texture. Crunchy, yet squidgy. Aerated sponge encased by brittle, almond-y sugar. Perfection.

All in all I was definitely impressed with Patisserie Valerie. At least they make their macarons properly, even if some of the flavours aren’t to my liking. I’m sure someone else might appreciate thick jam and seductive dark chocolate. I would buy macarons from here again for sure.

And a word of warning: if I ever go to Japan and encounter a shop full of these then you will hear the squeals as far away as Pluto.

My Neighbour Makaron!
Thank you to Roy for letting me post, it’s been really fun! And keep reading his blog and supporting him because y’know, he’s pretty damn awesome.

Take care, readers!

Score
8.5 out of 11

Found
Patisserie Valerie

Final Thoughts
I want to make pumpkin macarons. And put them in fancy paper bags.

Roy's Final Thoughts
You guys should check out Amy Willow's blog here
Also follow her twitterage @amywillowwrites 
(she's so much more professional, she has her own sign off danmit!!!)

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Beware the Bownessie mi boy!!!



What’s Britain’s longest river? What can someone take a three hour boat tour around? And finlly what lies beneath its calm surface? All these and a few more burning issues will hopefully be answered in today’s blog.

Basically the answer is Lake Windermere and a lot of fish but little else. Leaving it at that wouldn’t be very entertaining for you to read. So today I’m writing from the southernmost point of the lake at a place imaginatively called the Lakeside. It has an aquarium which I strolled round as I await my vessel to take me to the town of Bowness. I’m not doing the three hour tour however as I have lots of important things to do and little time (although nothing actually springs to mind).

My fine vessel the Teal
Once seated on the fine boat the Teal we begin to sail out and I realise actually I wouldn’t mind doing the full three hours. It’s so relaxing just sitting here looking out the window watching the world go by. The scenery is beautiful even in the torrential rain coming down, yet the surface of the water still seems so calm. It’s so deep and still it reflects everything right back off it like a mirror,  creating a glorious effect with the surrounding hills.

However these calm deep blue waters may conceal a monster. Supposedly beneath me right now could be a beast! A terrible Green monster with teeth the size of my arm, with jaws big enough to catch this very ship and drag it down into the murky depths. A beast so terrible he chooses to wear a bright yellow cap and rescue stranded children instead if you believe the posters. I’m talking about Bow Nessie Lake Windermere’s very own mythical creature. Nope I’d not heard of him either until I saw the poster on the boat by which time it could have been too late for me! Clearly he needs to get himself a better PR agent; perhaps the Loch Ness Monster can suggest his.

By the time I'd seen this it was already too late!!!
Monster hunting aside, what could make this trip even better? Why a pot of tea and a couple of biscuits that’s what. I stowed the biscuits away in my coat as I wanted to review them and what better place to write than amongst this setting. The first biscuit is a Starbuck’s Biscotti I bought on a whim. I’ve been meaning to try Biscotti for a while, but whenever I have the chance I end up going for a chocolate wafer instead. The second is a shortbread biscuit featuring a startled pumpkin I purchased on one final outing to Bryson’s. Well it is Friday the 13th so it seemed appropriate.

I know, I know much like these cookies I crumbled (bad pun is bad) and returned to Bryson’s for a third time. I can’t help it I’m addicted to their baked goods. At least I am admitting it which is the first step to recovery. Also I need to stock up It’s nearly the end of my trip and I need supplies to help with going cold turkey from the great week.

So first up we have the Biscotti, upon opening I’m not met with any smell which is slightly concerning but I persevere. I am shocked at how solid these are; honestly they are more like rocks than biscuit. I’m seriously concerned for my teeth on this one. Clearly not too concerned, as I soon take a bite off the end. It tastes great with a subtly sweet taste, the ends are slightly burnt too giving it a great toasted taste. This goes towards the centre however replaced with almonds that add their own flavour and crunch.

One thing that’s kept me from purchasing I the past is how dull these look but they are actually pretty varied. There’s even a slight whisper of orange but that could just be me. When dipped the cookie gets damp but doesn’t fall apart, it also helps bring out the sweetness and the nuts maintain some of its crunch. A very nice biscuit I will definitely be buying more.

This biscuit kept evil at bay, also what you can't see is it was glittery. Useless but nice touch!
Next up the Bryson’s pumpkin biscuit, I think it’s shortbread but seems very thick (not that I’m complaining). I take a bite and I’m immediately surprised at the icing, I had expected it to be hard and brittle. Yet instead it’s soft and creamy as though it had only just been applied. It has no taste of its own being mostly for show and texture. This is a good thing however as it allows the taste of the cookie to come through.

What a taste at that, it crumbles and melts instantly with a freshly baked buttery taste that’s divine. When dunked it does get a little soggy and you lose the satisfaction of melting it in your mouth but it still tastes great. Bryson’s have done it again; I’m going to miss those guys. (I would like to point out I am not getting paid by them they just happen to be the bakery near my hotel.)

Overall it maybe Friday the 13th but I’m anything but unlucky. Great scenery, great biscuits, great tea. It’s amazing final day to my trip. Why do holidays have to end?

Score
Biscotti 5 out of 11
Pumpkin 7 out of 11

Found
Biscotti-Starbucks
Pumpkin- Bryson's bakery

Final thoughts
I wonder if a few shops I've been in recently have a delivery range of half the country?

Friday, 13 September 2013

Jelly Belly Bean Day

How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man? That famous question/song can never truly be answered can it? Well readers what if I told you that today, in this very review, I will not be answering it either!

What I can offer is what you call someone who goes down the wrong road or more accurately mistakenly walks down a road. He feels bloody stupid is how he feels. I’m clearly speaking from recent experience here, which I’ll explain. Today I visited the lovely village of Howarth, in which I knew resided a sweet shop to trek to. I asked for directions from a greatly helpful café owner and set off on my adventure.

Beautiful, yes. Sweet shop however it is not!
Half an hour into said adventure time I’d reached the edge of town and a field full of uninterested sheep, clearly not what I’d set out for. My doubts about my direction had been growing but I really didn’t want to admit I’d gone wrong. Mainly because there was only one road that went through the village, yet I’d somehow got lost. Now this is good in one way as it meant I could just turn back and ask again for directions. In another way however it meant going back the way I’d came, past the same shops, the same people all of whom would know I’d got lost. I did not feel like a man, I felt a damn fool (not much change really).

This was only made worse when I approached the café and the man who had directed me. Turns out I had turned right when I should have turned left upon exiting. Bless him though for he didn’t laugh at me. At least not to my face.

I did eventually reach the shop and it had been worth my roundabout journey there. With a retro sweets in jars style pick and mix, wooden style décor it looked pretty amazing. These sweet shops are awesome on so many levels and the people who work there often share my passion for sugary goodness. I took a good look around believe me then asked for some recommendations from the owner. When he replied with “something sweet” I could have hugged him.

Not much I can say really, Oranges woo!!!
I ended up buying a packet of Jelly Bean chocolate orange Dips, not unique I know but they were on offer and I have wanted to purchase some. I also pointed to various jars to form a pick and mix bag, because well you just have to.

So the Jelly Beans are on trial today, I’ve seen them before in a chain sweet shop where they were much more expensive. They sounded great, I love chocolate orange but just not at the over inflated price they had wanted. So when this shop had them going cheap I almost bit his arm off (if it had been sugar coated almost certainly so)! Coupled with this is a recent craving for Terry’s Chocolate Oranges I have been experiencing, however they should really only be consumed at Christmas. This makes them special, an annual treat to be savoured like turkey.

When I opened the up I was met with an awesome scent similar to Terry’s but a bit more artificial. My hopes that these could satisfy my cravings for a few months were building. It’s not just the whole pack either; each piece positively reeks of the heavenly combination. My mouth began salivating I don’t mind telling you.

I took one in and immediately got sucking (giggidy). The chocolate melts immediately, and I mean immediately. Honestly it must be paper thin, lovely while it lasts. Blink however and believe me you’ve missed it. For a few seconds though you can achieve a mixture of chocolate orange but just not on par with my desire. The bean underneath is good on its own thankfully, a tangy orange that’s very similar to strong marmalade.

Batten burg update, I bought some... Couldn't help it.
Next I tried chewing one, hoping by mashing them together I could better incorporate the flavours. Unfortunately this soon failed, the chocolate performed even worse. It crumbled away and disappeared with no flavour at all. Worse still when chewed the bean gets stuck in your teeth and flavour wise loses potency. It probably lasted as long as sucking it however, as I was finding it in every crack and crevice.


Overall, these are really nice. Just not enough chocolate and not close enough. I would buy them again only however at the price I paid. I’m glad I missed my first opportunity as the dent to my wallet would have been an insult to injury. I guess I will have to wait until December to truly satisfy my cravings. Although to make it worse Terry’s have released two “limited edition” oranges and a mini bag. Life’s tough sometimes.

Score 
6 out of 11

Found
Mrs Beatton's sweet shop

Final Thoughts
Tomorrow I do battle with Bownessie, anticipation levels rising.


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Ginger, cinder Goodness

Sorry if my posts seem a bit intermittent at the moment. I’m currently having a jaunt round the Lake District. The scenery is amazing, with rolling hills with the tops concealed in the clouds to the deep valleys that make your stomach jump. What it isn’t however neither modern nor internet friendly, although for the sights I’m seeing I don’t mind taking a Wi-Fi break.

Something I’ve really enjoyed but didn’t even consider is the quirky towns that we are passing through to get to the sights. Obviously they are purposefully quant and odd as they target themselves to us tourists passing through. I don’t like to think of this as I walk round them because I start to notice how fake everything actually is; at take the weirdness at face value instead.

I had already eaten half by the time I took this, that good!
It helps that for each small town there is usually two great sweet shops and five bakeries. Each one we pass through sends me into a fit of excitement like I’m a child again (again?) Honestly in some of these towns there must be about five cafes per actual resident. I’m developing a theory that the “locals” I see running and drinking in them are actually robots, a bit like in the film West World.

I’ve visited many a sweet shop I can tell you and have a lot of catching up to do when I get home. Today’s review items come from an awesome town we discovered unexpectedly called Keswick. Home to the world famous Puzzling Place, Dinosaur and Raptor Experience and Cumbria’s Pencil Museum. I went to the first of these paid four quid to screw my eyes up and thought I’d give the latter a miss.

One place I didn’t miss however was Bryson’s bakery. In which I found a flapjack, but not just any old flapjack. A ginger flapjack (as in flavour not hair colour), now I can take or leave a flapjack but when you factor in ginger I just had to try it. I’m definitely glad I did believe me, upon opening I was hit with a gloriously fiery ginger aroma and knew I’d picked a winner.

It doesn't exactly look appealing I know
I excitedly took a bite,. There is a reason Bryson’s are known in these parts because they know what they are doing with food. This flapjack is a testament to that, a perfect balance of oats and syrup infused with enough ginger to standout and not be too fiery (although usually the hotter the better). It’s not too dense and stodgy either so it was quite tempting to demolish the whole block at once. I had to restrain myself long enough to take a picture for you guys. I’m hoping for another chance to visit as I was greedily eyeing up their Battenberg cake but didn’t purchase.

The second item is nowhere near as special or one of a kind. No every shop I walk in seems to sell it in some form or another. It didn’t interest me at first but I became so overexposed to it that it annoyed me enough to purchase (I know that shouldn’t make sense right?) I think the thing that was putting me off mainly was the packaging. Every time I saw it, it was in a clear plastic wrapper like those on toys, 0this doesn’t make it very appealing.

The scenery is beautiful
It’s called Cinder Toffee. I’d assumed that it was just hard burnt pieces of toffee and imagined overly sweet rock in flavour. I was very wrong and feel ashamed in my judgement. It is neither rock solid nor overly sweet. No! It’s soft and crumbly like solidified honey (which I love) or soft rock, with an aerated centre like an Aero bar. Creating a brilliantly crumbly sweet that melts on the tongue. The taste is nice too it is defiantly very sweet toffee however because of its hollow nature it is in no way sickly. Honestly I managed to eat most of the bag at once. I’m going to try another variant I’ve seen soon that’s covered in chocolate but I don’t think it will be as nice. Also it won’t have the surprise value this had honestly wish someone had filmed me eating this.


Overall I love Cumbria and the sights, sounds and of course tastes I’m experiencing. I’ve not even been to Kendal yet. When I get there somehow I think there will be a shortage of their famous mint cake!

Score
Ginger Flapjack 8 out of 11
Cinder Toffee 6 out of 11
Found
Bryson's Bakery for the flapjack
Final Thoughts


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Nano Bytes

This feels pretty important. I mean it’s probably not (certainly not in the grand scheme of things). If I’m honest I feel a bit out of my depth too. Like the kid who’s found Daddy’s work trousers, nothing really fits but it’s a great leap forward none the less. Just a bit too soon.

I better clarify quickly before you all read something else probably about cats. Recently I was contacted by a representative of the “Lots of Little Sweets!” company. They were offering to send me their new product “Nano Bytes” to try and possibly to review. A company approaching me and asking me to try something new absolutely gratis (free) I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it, I assumed initially it was a scam, someone wanted to trick me and harvest my organs. I asked my girlfriend to have a read through, she has all the internet know how between us after all (you can all blame/thank her for this blog!) She confirmed that to her it seemed legit, plus I’d seen other reviewers had also been approached. I quickly replied that I would be honoured to try Nano Bytes and soon they were on their way to me.

The packaging feels rather appropriatly space age and keeps them fresh too!
That’s when it began to sink in. After all I’d been blogging for little over a month by then, it all felt a bit sudden. Why had they chosen me? I felt honoured and excited but at the same time out of my depth. Doubts started to creep. How do I approach this review? Technically they are free, dodgy thoughts of biased reviews sprang to mind. No! I must remain true to my style, my voice and myself (too preachy?) If a company wants me to review their stuff (hint head over to here for more info hint) then they should expect me to be honest. Therefore, dear reader I’d like to assure you that the following review is completely unbiased.

So what are Nano Bytes? Well on the back they reference mini bon bons and call themselves flavoured mini candies. Essentially they are tiny little flavoured chews. When they launch very soon they will be available in bubble-gum, cola and strawberry flavours in packs of 25 grams and 65 grams. I was sent three 65 gram bags to try and believe me they live up to their name of Lots of Little Sweets. They could I should think keep little Timmy happy for a while, although they I rather moreish so watch those handfuls.

I better address the elephant in the room before he tramples me. Aren’t these essentially Millions? Yes pretty much they are, even they current flavours are well within the vast range that Millions offer. However they are cheaper than Millions and hopefully will provide healthy competition in a market rather dominated by one brand. We may see something new emerge if we are lucky, they may have trouble but their price could give them a selling point.

This is literally in the resort I'm staying in both coincidence and shows the problem with how established millions are!
Let’s move on to the review shall we, first up the classic bubble-gum. Quick congratulations on packaging. Coming in space age feeling pouches with a built in reseal able zip lock (much needed). The pieces themselves look like you’d expect like tiny coloured boulders or meteors if you follow the space theme here. I try a handful and chew away, after all these be chewing candy! They have a good strong flavour to them and a very chewy texture. A small handful goes a surprisingly long way and the flavour of bubble-gum is the nice. Not however new or exciting but of good quality.

Next flavour cola is slightly disappointing. Not quite as powerful as the bubble-gum and a bit dull. Tasting worryingly of flat cola, not unpleasant they still have a nice sugary taste. I think something could be done perhaps to make these fizzy; this is also something I haven’t seen in other brands. As they are this flavours a bit dull and my least favourite.

By this point I'd eaten half the bag yet there are still plenty more! Shame its Cola
Lastly we have strawberry; this one was instantly my favourite. Upon opening I was hit with a very strong aroma of artificial sweetness and slightly wary. However once I’d had a handful I was hooked, very moreish. They don’t as you’d expect taste like the fruit strawberry no, they have the very familiar artificial flavour we have associated with the fruit. However I think these are some of the nicest tasting “strawberry flavoured” sweets I’ve tried. Not too sweet and with a hint of something I could relate to the fruit.

Well I’ve got to say (not literally remember unbiased) I like these. I mean I don’t know if I’d buy them as I’m not a big fan of this type of sweet. However given the choice between these and Millions I’d defiantly pick these. Although that’s after trying them and I really think they are going to have problems launching against such an established name. Something they do have over Millions I will mention is a cool little interactive story on their website (Here).


Overall I really like these sweets and would recommend giving the ago at least. I hope they go on and add to their flavours and offer some that will make them stand out. Also some improvement is needed on the cola flavour but the strawberry is just right. 

Score
Cola 6 out of 11
Bubble-gum 7 out of 11
Strawberry 7.5 out of 11

Found
In an envelope on my doorstep.

Final thought
I wonder if they can be used in cooking, I have a lot to get through.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Pirate Perils!!!

Ahoy, thar reader mateys. It be international talk like a pirate day. So hitch yerrr main sail and make port for peilious pirate puns and eeerrrrmm candy? I’m back from pillaging the local sweet merchant. Which means I have booty ripe for reviewing!

 What the hell am I talking about? Well today is indeed talk like a pirate day so I needed to start my blog with something nautically nonsensical. I’ll try and stop now partially because I can’t think of any other pirate puns right now but mostly because of how I feel about pirates. Apart from Captain Jack Sparrow I’m about as ninja as they come in the never ending argument of preference between peg legs and pyjamas. Anyway todays review comes at a good time, as recently I was challenged by Amy Willow from WillowsWords  to find some pirate related sweets due to her own misguided preferences (sorry).

It’s taken me a few weeks to find these three items; clearly this isn’t the right time for pirate sweets. It doesn’t help that my hometowns not near the sea and the only piracy is dodgy Dave’s DVDs.  What’s the chances though that sod and his damn law means I see nothing but appropriate sweets from now on. 

Almost as suave as Captain Jack Sparrow, bet he's winking under the patch
Anyway you salty seadogs I’ll sail towards our first product. It comes in the form of some cheap chocolate doubloons. I know these are pretty much just the chocolate coins you get at Christmas. But don’t chant cop out just yet for you see there is a pirate on the label and a skull and crossbones on the coins. So by technicality these count. Believe me if you could see these things you’d know I’m being punished enough by having to try them.

These things are cheap, really cheap and I don’t mean in the price I paid (although they were pretty cheap). As I unwrapped the gold foil I ventured a sniff and they smelt basic and unexciting as you can imagine. I never the less popped one in my mouth to melt on my tongue. Yep they taste cheap too. That typical advent calendar chocolate, dull and stale milk chocolate flavour.  I think that is a miracle of our times really how no matter what shape or form advent calendar chocolate takes it still tastes the same. At least I am now of an age when my distant relatives don’t feel the need to pop to pound land to purchase me a countdown to Christmas. No instead I have to use my hard earned cash so I get branded ones, who says we have to grow up completely right?

The next item continues the treasure trend as we look at Sainsbury’s new gold bars, woooo! These look similar to an American product I’ve seen advertised on AmericanSoda called Fort Knox bars. Except these are targeted towards children party bags from the look of them whereas Fort Knox bars look quite adult. Unfortunately I have these to try and I have a sinking feeling that they are the same kind of chocolate as the coins. They do have a cartoon pirate ship on the pack so they were suitable for my review. Anyone who says I’m scraping the barrel here is probably right but believe me it isn’t fun.

Wish I'd left these on the desert island I dug them from.
Perhaps I’m prejudging them after all I haven’t tried them yet. Maybe the cheap packaging was to save costs in order to use good quality chocolate. This hope is soon dashed by the same smell as the coins when I take off the gold paper. Worse still is that underneath the surface of the chocolate is plain; at least the coins had the good grace to print the Jolly Rodger on the faces. Thankfully they have less of a waxy texture than the coins had so are slightly better quality. They still manage to damn well taste the same however.

Well so far these chocolates have done nothing to make me leave the safety and cleanliness of my Dojo in pursuit of adventures on the high seas. The final product however is rather more interesting and not just because of the cheeky pirate clutching his cutlass. I found these in a local Polish food store amongst the kid’s sweets and thought they may be worth a try. Unfortunately as you can tell from the name (Korsarz) these don’t have any English translation so I’m tasting blind here folks. They are small black balls which could be meant to look like cannonballs and have a nice sweet smell to them.

He kinda looks more like a pizza chef at a Halloween party to me.
I give them a go and I am instantly surprised. In a good way, although after the other two products anything could be seen as an improvement. These aren’t just anything though; they are rather special the chocolate is very sweet although not sickly. With a flavour almost like condensed milk and chocolate it’s a new taste I’ve never come across. Sadly the chocolate is rather thin and inside is a small hard ball that when chewed I find tastes like sweetened coconut but without the texture.

They taste very nice and very moreish, I highly recommend them. The next one I try and chew straight away but it loses something. These are best left to melt in the mouth at first before chewing on the coconut. Otherwise you lose the unique flavour of the chocolate and you just get overly sweet coconut. It would have been nicer also if the nut wasn’t so processed and kept some of its gritty texture but that’s just a nit-pick.


Overall these are really nice. I’m thankful to Amywillow for challenging me to find pirate sweets even if I did have to try the other two piles of cheapness. Well they can sink to the bottom of the ocean and dwell in Davy Jone’s locker whilst I eat the rest of the cannon balls. I’ll probably get some more too. If anyone else has any challenges for me then check out my challenge page to find out more. Also please follow me on twitter here or I’ll make ye swabs walk the plank. ARRRRGGGHHH!!!

Score
Coins 2 out of 11
Gold bars 3 out of 11
Zorsarz 8 out of 11

Found
Thankfully can't remember where the coins came from (perhaps for the best), the bars are from Sainsbury's. Zorsarz from a local European food market.

Final Thoughts
I'm going to end up doing a poundland advent calendar review arn't I.... Bugger!!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Think I'm turning Dorayaki!

Dorayaki! No, I didn’t sneeze but thank you for the courtesy “bless you”. Chances are if you’re reading this however that you already know what Dorayaki is and you don’t think I attacked my keyboard. You may even have tried it, if not. Why not? Stop reading this and find some, make some or pray for some.

I’ll explain them to those unfortunate enough to not have yet experienced these Japanese delights. They are pretty simple to describe, two pancakes on top of each other sandwiching any filling you can imagine. The traditional filling is Red bean paste. Don’t recoil at the idea of pasted beans for dessert; believe me it sounds much worse than it tastes. They are essentially pancakes with something jammed in the middle, I have tried to make my own but it takes a better cook than I to make the fluffy pancakes needed. The centre ranges as far as your imagination can take you, for this review I’ll only be looking at the four you can buy from one fast food chain alone.

How could I ever have doubted these beauties?
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of travelling. As well as being a bad blogger and not posting as regularly as I’d set out to, it’s meant passing through Waterloo station quite a bit. With each passing I would visit the Wasabi restaurant that specialise in quick lunches for the hungry commuter. Basically they serve a mixture of hot food for dinner and bento boxes for lunch. Essentially a sushi bar on the go, they do have seating but it doesn’t seem to get used much in this branch amid the hustle and bustle. Within a short amount of time (two weeks) I have managed to sample their entire range. I’m now eyeing up the Mochi range for a follow up review, so keep your peepers peeled.

I’ll start logically with the first one I tried custard filled Dorayaki. This is clearly not very traditional but at the time it was what my curious but wary mind would try. From my first tentative bite however I was hooked. The pancake was light and fluffy with its own very subtle flavour of vanilla. It seemed to possess the power to melt in your mouth perfectly too. I’m not usually a fan of pancakes; often they are rather heavy on their own before you even begin to pile on the sickly sauces needed to flavour them. These were more like little light sponges, airy, round and very moreish.

The filling was something to behold too, a nice thick helping of custard (with a solid texture that held its shape), very creamy and very custardy tasting. It complemented the vanilla pancake well and the two create a great combination of sweetness that is unmatched by any other dessert I’ve tried. I believe I could consume many of these in one sitting without feeling sick, guilty or full. It’s sweet enough to end a meal but also not so sweet that I couldn’t justify having it as a midday snack on its own. Basically “ME LIKEY”!

My girlfriend's favorite
As you can imagine I needed to try the other flavours, however they needed to be kept special and I restrained myself from buying them all then and there. Thankfully I knew my travel plans would be bringing me back to another Wasabi soon and then through the station at a later date. With careful planning I knew I’d soon have tried them all (not like I was obsessed or anything). With little persuasion of the amazing delights Dorayaki offered me and my girlfriends were having a sit down meal at another Wasabi branch. We each ordered a different flavour, she had Green Tea and I had Red Bean paste. Together we would cover the two more traditional fillings on offer.

One slightly unsettling thought however I find is that all of the pancakes look and taste the same. Now I know Wasabi are a fast food chain and therefore these are made traditionally but I they feel so authentic that it troubles me to imagine them being a mass produced item. I can’t complain however as they taste just so good so thoughts of mass production are soon forgotten. The Green Tea filling was first to go. It had the same thick custard texture thick, creamy and just as smooth. The taste started out with an initial sugary burst that faded away into a pleasingly bitter taste of tea. This tea taste added another level as it took away the sweetness perfectly without overpowering it.

Texture isn't as off putting as you'd think
We were both a little wary of the red bean paste but as it was the original filling we persevered. The texture was a bit odd to say the least. It is essentially beans mashed up. I would describe it as drained and cleaned baked or kidney beans mashed and sweetened. Believe me these are far from unpleasant however, it has the same initial sugar burst which subtly fades away. Unfortunately it fades into a rather bland bean taste. For this variety it’s mostly texture that the filling has to offer.

The last flavour, cream cheese I picked up as I passed back through Waterloo at 7am on a Friday. The weather outside was that horrible dreary British drizzle that makes you question why you got up at all. I hoped the Dorayaki could lift my spirits; it did that and much more! The filling was light and creamy akin to whipped cream with pieces of beans inside that kept it interesting. It began with the same initial sweetness that fades before it becomes dull. In this case an awesome quality cream cheese. Instantly this became my favourite and I am only saddened by the knowledge that it could be a while before I try it again. I urge anyone reading this to try it before they die.


Look at possible perfection folks.
Overall I highly recommend trying Dorayaki. Not just Wasabi’s however, a simple google search should fill you with as much ideas and inspiration to want to go out and gobble them all up. If you do pass a Wasabi though get in there and try the cream cheese, you’ll thank me. 

Score
Custard: 7.5 out of 11
Green tea: 8 out of 11
Red bean paste: 7 out of 11
Cream cheese 10 out of 11

Found
These four variants are from Wasabi

Final Thoughts
I would but I have a train to catch (once I think of an excuse).




Thursday, 5 September 2013

Terrific-masu (Terrific Tiramasu chocolate)

Ever been sung to by a man shaking a puppet outside of a KFC? Until recently I hadn’t but after all the madness of this summer I didn’t even question it. Just smiled and gave him a few coins for his troubles. He responded with what I presumed was a thank you but in a garbled murmur.

This is the sort of thing I saw whilst I’ve spent a week visiting my girlfriend which makes the craziness even better. For a good part of the year we live quite far away from each other and so I made came to stay at hers to break the time apart up (sickly sweetness rising). This meant two things; firstly I get to see her beautiful face (reaching a critical level). Secondly it means a change of scenery bringing with it new discoveries possibly of the chocolate persuasion.

Today’s review comes from such adventures in new scenery, this includes a Lidl. I have no Lidl near me so a variety of new products to tempt me. These candies are pleasantly cheap too, thankfully this chain specialise in selling discount products. However these products are excellent quality products in their own country just brought here in bulk to keep costs down.

This is getting boringly technical so I’ll move on quickly. So today’s product comes all the way from Germany. I’m basing this on the name Schogtten, and the picture of the flag in the top corner. This bar in particular is supposedly Tiramisu flavoured something that seemed unique to me. It seems to get better as the packaging boasts how it’s a “New recipe! Even more delicious!” well when I saw this readers I was hooked.

You try pronouncing it, go on I dare you!
The box has a nice luxury feel to it, a nice cardboard box that suggests prestige in Germany. This belief is reinforced by the fact it’s wrapped in foil. I love foil wrappers it adds to the chocolate experience in a way that may be a placebo effect. To me it makes the chocolate seem fresher than the plastic packaging that feels cheap.

Upon opening my nose was met the combination of chocolate and strong coffee; I took this as a good sign. I was right. The chocolate itself is a dark chocolate, a very good choice that compliments coffee.  This coats a cream filling. They come in eighteen individual blocks which made perfectionist in me cheer as there would be no uneven breakage (it keeps me up at night, honestly).

Upon biting into a block I found the chocolate layer to be surprisingly thick. It melted in my mouth well and tastes rich and smooth. It is good quality chocolate dark chocolate, which isn’t usually my favourite type; I prefer the sweetness of milk chocolate. To make it better the chocolate has been infused with coffee very well which manages to avoid tasting bitter.

The cream filling keeps up the standard of quality. Being smooth and creamy when often cream can be waxy. It has a nice taste of almonds which adds sweetness to each block. They have created a great balance to stop it becoming sickly sweet. The combination is more akin to a coffee cream or marzipan, than to tiramisu in my mind.

Something about this picture makes me happy
This could be because it lacks the elements that always stand out to me when I think of tiramisu. The bottom layer of biscuit in a liquor is what I believe is missing. I realise however this would be very difficult to incorporate with the cream. Really it tastes of exactly what it is a high quality coffee cream like you often get in selection boxes.

This isn’t a bad thing of course, I love coffee creams and the fact I can find a whole bar makes me happy. Except this logic falls down when you factor in how I prefer variety. In the long run as much as I enjoyed this I would have got more variety from a box of Quality Street.

Overall, at the price I paid (under a pound for 100g) this is very good quality chocolate and has a strong and pleasant coffee taste. The cream creates a sweetness to compliment the bitterness of the dark chocolate.

Score
6.5 out of 11

Found
Lidl

Final Thoughts
I wish I'd bought the Ritter sports bar at the same time.


Monday, 2 September 2013

New Nestle Wonka Nice Cream

It must have been fate, or destiny, a great combination of them both perhaps? Nope I’m not talking about how I met my beautiful girlfriend that was much more wondrous (she says she reads my blog!) I’m talking about the amazing coincidence that occurred and how I finally found the new Nestle Wonka bars!

The coincidence is that last night I watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and that today I found these bars on sale! Not only that the shop in question was one I’d never entered but passed when on the bus and today I thought I’ll walk home. See and believe in fate readers because this truly shows it in action.  Since hearing about their announcement I have been scouting any and all shops I pass in the vague chance they may have early stock. After a few weeks I won’t lie my morale was low. Hence why I watched the film to cheer me up and give me hope and clearly it gave something.

Look at it and bask in it's glory.
I thought considering that Kev’s snack reviews have reviewed the Millionaires Shortbread variety here that I’d review the Chocolate Nice Cream today. So without further ado and with much excitement I’m off. Firstly the packaging is pretty bold and invokes the Wonka-esque style we can imagine coming from the book/film. It describes the bar as “Smooth vanilla cream topped with chocolate sauce”. Worryingly this description seems both rather reserved and similar sounding to Wall’s recent non-ice cream chocolate offerings that have been out over the summer. Indeed if any chocolate is more fitting of the Wonka name it’s surely the madcap Aardvark soup mixes Cadbury are concocting.

However new chocolate based on a great book is not to be sniffed at. Great link there to me describing how it smells. Upon opening I took a sniff and found a rather unexciting chocolate aroma. Not nasty, just not exciting. Don’t know what I was expecting really after all this is the real world not something from Roald Dahl’s terrifying mind. This comes from the mind of PR people and marketers, a much more dull and depressing place (no offence!) I was impressed with the decorative image on each chunk, a bowl of ice cream with a flake in the shape of a Wonka W. Quite an impressive attention to detail and definitely wins some brownie points for style.

Really well moulded and quite impressive
I took a nibble of the corner, sampling the outside chocolate layer and a good helping of the cream filling. Both have a great texture that melts immediately on the tongue. With a velvety smooth taste up to the usual good standard of Nestle milk chocolate. A bit plainer than usual but perhaps this is to avoid it becoming sickly when you add the chocolate sauce.  The initial Cocoa taste fades into the vanilla cream which whilst not strong is present enough to distinguish itself. Again it’s just right and not to sweet and compliments the chocolate well. However it isn’t exactly new with these alone as it tastes and looks very similar to the Magnum bites I mentioned from Wall’s.

My next bite incorporated the unique selling point or USP if you’re in “the business” (Which I’m not as you can tell, not sure if there is a “business” in this case either.) By the USP I mean the chocolate sauce topping. It looks amazingly dark and gooey, although it makes me think it could make it sickly. It’s the sort of sauce you’ pile on your ice cream as a kid before throwing up because of said piling. I could wait no further and took a bite before it hypnotized me further.

Sorry about poor quality I was excited!!!
When all three layers are put together they work fantastically. A real chocolate impact is made with the top layers which covers the vanilla. But these fade away, though not too quickly into vanilla. The Vanilla also serves to take the edge off the sweetness I think and stop it from becoming the sickly mess I’d feared. I attempted to try the sauce on its own and scooped some out with difficulty (It’s not sparse just a bit mixed in.) It tasted like the toppings I remember but the good quality ones not the cheap offerings I had at many kids’ parties.


Overall I think this is a good idea and about time we had a return of actual Wonka chocolate bars (The last batch out at the same time of the film to tie in where really good but limited.) Whilst perhaps the flavours on offer aren’t as exciting as their fictional counterparts, they are a sign of possibilities. Nestle have pulled the plug on Wonka chocolate prior to this and I hope history can be broken this time. Imagine what they could add to this line especially considering how popular the Marvellous Creations line is at the moment. We could see some Wimple scrumpet chocolate although that could possibly be considered cannibalism.

Score
9 out of 11

Found
For 60p in local convenience store, worryingly plastered with Daily Mail propaganda.

Final Thoughts
Not sure I'd actually want to try something thought up by Roald Dahl it would be terrifying!!!

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