Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Today's Review: Tic Tac Popcorn

There have been quite a few new Tic Tac flavours popping up in the last year or so, from the banana to the flavour-changing Mixers. They're mostly fruit themed, but apparently that's not enough for these guys, as they've released a popcorn flavour. Yeah, popcorn flavour. I don't know who's idea that was, but hey, it seemed interesting at least.

These are Tic Tacs that taste like popcorn. Well, actually, they taste like what most other popcorn flavour products taste like, a vague, toasted popcorn-like experience that isn't particularly nice. They are quite a bit like the Jelly Belly popcorn beans, although here the flavour is a lot less pronounced, and at times they are a little bit bland. I still don't know why popcorn was chosen as a Tic Tac variety, and after trying them I can safely say they probably should have left it alone. One thing I will say is that these don't have that vague mintiness that most other Tic Tacs have about them, including that probably would have made these completely unbearable. As they are they're just quite boring, slightly popcorn flavoured pieces of candy. Stick with the fruits and mints, guys.

My rating: 1/5

Monday, 30 May 2016

Today's Review: Cadbury Crunchie Spread

Cadbury already have a chocolate spread on the market, and it's pretty good. Obviously, Nutella is the king, but sometimes I may not be in the mood for hazelnut. A rare thing, I know, but hey. So this is a variation on the Cadbury chocolate spread, it's pretty simple really, it's got Crunchie pieces in it. But sometimes simple things can be great things, and I saw nothing wrong with the idea of having bits of honeycomb mixed in with my chocolate spread.

The chocolate spread base is as good as ever. It's smooth, creamy and above all, chocolatey. The one thing I do find with Cadbury spread is it's a little solid, meaning it's not as easily spreadable as others, but it's a relatively minor thing that doesn't affect the experience too much. The addition of the Crunchie pieces is a stroke of genius, and thankfully they've really packed them in the jar. The smell upon opening was distinctly like that of a Crunchie bar, and every single mouthful had a great crunch and a sweet honeycomb flavour. I was worrying that there wouldn't be enough honeycomb to go around, but at at times it seems the honeycomb even outweighs the chocolate. It's quite sweet, but still good. This is a fully realised spread that I can't seem to stop eating. I may falter a bit on the spreading, but it doesn't matter too much, it's all getting crammed in my mouth in a short space of time...

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Today's Review: Krispy Kreme Reese's Peanut Butter & Jelly

What with the excitement surrounding the new Nutella filled Krispy Kreme doughnut, this one was in danger of passing under my radar, but thankfully I caught wind of it. It's a peanut butter and jelly doughnut! For all the peanut butter products being released over here, I'm surprised I can only get hold of PB&J in import jar form. But now Krispy Kreme have me covered, and it looks magnificent.

Look at the mixture inside, it's great. Reese's peanut butter and raspberry jam, together as God intended. There's a chocolate drizzle on top, complete with Reese's peanut butter drops. I'll tell you right now this is a very peanut buttery doughnut, but that shouldn't be a problem for you if you picked it up, this is one for the peanut butter lovers. I'll say there's perhaps a little too much peanut butter, it does overwhelm the jam in some places, but mostly it's a good combination of the two fillings that tastes just like the good stuff. The topping, while looking and tasting awesome, does shift the balance more in favour of the peanut butter element, so maybe it's not too necessary an addition. Still, this doughnut is great, and I hope it's the start of more PB&J foodstuffs coming to our shores. Krispy Kreme, I'm a huge fan.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Today's Review: Krispy Kreme Nutty Chocolatta

As there's no Krispy Kreme store near me, I don't normally grab their doughnuts, despite the Tesco down the road stocking them. But I figured I'd make the effort today when I heard they had a new Nutella filled doughnut on offer. Lo and behold, there they were, filling not one, but two slots in the cabinet, which is a good thing as the guy in front of me grabbed three of 'em. It's described as being filled with "pure Nutella spread", and coated in chocolate, white chocolate swirls and caramelised hazelnuts.

"Pure Nutella" is the correct term. I was a little worried when my first, tender bite revealed no filling, but my word did the following ones make up for it. This doughnut is absolutely packed with Nutella, and only Nutella, so it's a fantastically bold flavour that works incredibly well with the dough it's encased in. The toppings are a nice addition, with yet more chocolate that compounds the sweetness, and while I wouldn't have said the hazelnuts were a necessary addition, they are a welcome one. They add a nice crunch and another layer of nuttiness, without compromising that pure Nutella taste. This doughnut is just plain fantastic. I kinda wish I'd bought three myself, but there was another flavour that demanded my attention. "What's that?" I hear you cry. Well, tune in tomorrow to find out.

My rating: 5/5

Friday, 27 May 2016

Today's Review: Pot Noodle Mac & Cheese

You wouldn't normally catch me eating a Pot Noodle, but sometimes I need to grab a quick, light meal for work, and having heard about this mac 'n' cheese flavour I hunted it down. Now, mac 'n' cheese is great, Pot Noodles not so much, but I was hoping they'd find a middle ground and deliver something fairly nice. 

It probably should have been clear from the offset that this wasn't going to be the best thing. For starters, it's a mac 'n' cheese without the mac, they should have called this noodles 'n' cheese, but I understand why they didn't, it doesn't sound appetising. So the macaroni is out, how does the cheese taste? Well, it's a little cheesy, but it's not your classic cheese sauce, it's a bit unpleasantly tangy, and there are some chives mixed in that really don't help with the flavour. The noodles are your average Pot Noodle offering, as in they're limp, chewy and not very nice. But hey, at least there's the sauce sachet to make things better, right? Except it's tomato sauce, which is a bit of a strange thing to put on your mac 'n' cheese, and it just blended right in, completely overwhelmed by the disappointing contents of the pot. I wasn't expecting much from this new Pot Noodle offering, but I've got to say it's just not nice. Give me Kraft any day.

My rating: 1/5

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Today's Review: McDonald's Strawberry Cheesecake McFlurry

I thought I'd carry on the McDonald's theme today, I reviewed the burger yesterday, so now I'll review the dessert. The cheesecake McFlurry has been around since the beginning of the Great Tastes, but I hadn't picked one up until yesterday, which is odd, because I love me a piece of cheesecake. I guess I was just skeptical about how it would turn out, how good could it really be?

Basically this is the regular McFlurry ice cream, topped with strawberry sauce, biscuit crumble, and white chocolate cheesecake truffle pieces. That last one is a bit of a mouthful, why the chocolate and truffle? I guess they were trying to be fancy. Also, note I say "topped", and not "infused", because it's become apparent to me lately that McDonald's don't flurry their McFlurries (McFlurrys?) any more. Why, guys, why? The spoon is designed for sticking in that machine, and you want me me mix it up myself? 

Anyway, let's talk about how it tastes. I've got to say I was quite underwhelmed. The strawberry sauce is alright I guess, and the crumb is a pretty good addition, a little bit of crunch and a nice biscuit taste. But the cheesecake pieces were lost in the fray. I think for a cheesecake themed ice cream to work, the cheese needs to be infused into the ice cream itself, and here that just isn't the case. I picked up the odd hint of cheesecake-like flavouring here and there, but all the other times the plain old ice cream just got in the way. I guess springing for a whole new ice cream would have been a bit much, so I guess I don't know the answer here, more cheesecake pieces maybe? But what sounded like a great McFlurry just fell short. Put some better stuff in my ice cream next time guys, and mix it up while you're at it.

My rating: 2/5

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Today's Review: McDonald's Tex Mex Stack

It's the last of this year's Great Tastes, not that I managed to try the first one, but the New York Stack was pretty fantastic. So I was looking forward to the Tex Mex Stack, it promised spicy, and spicy is my jam, or rather, my chilli jam. This burger features a double beef patty, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, nachos and a "spicy sauce", all wrapped up in a "hot and spicy bun".

There's a lot of spiciness promised here, and this burger does deliver amount of heat. It wasn't immediately noticeable, but after eating there was a lingering spice on my tongue that was pretty nice. I was expecting a little more based on all the spicy elements chucked in there, and I have to say I didn't find the bun particularly "hot and spicy", it's no red Burger King bun, that's for sure. The nachos were another interesting addition to this burger, but in practice they were pretty underwhelming. There was some crunch to it, but a fair proportion of the nachos were a bit soggy and gave more of a chewy effect. All the ingredients add up to a fairly nice burger, it's just the new additions weren't as good as I thought they'd be. Bring me another New York Stack, this one just ain't as good.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Today's Review: Dunkin' Donuts Cherry Cheesecake

Dunkin' Donuts seem to have a nice rotation of special edition flavours. For the last couple of months they had the sweet shop varieties, and now they have some cheesecake flavours. I love cheesecake, and I love donuts, so this sounded like a perfect combination. They consist of a jam filled donut, topped with cheesecake frosting with added crumb.

The frosting is the main cheesecake-like component here, and it's actually pretty damn good. It's layered on nice and thick, and has a nice creamy consistency with a hint of mascarpone flavour. The crumb on top adds nicely to the texture, and makes for an overall authentic cheesecake experience. The jam is good, a bold, sweet, cherry filling that is crammed inside. There is perhaps a little too much of the jam, it does overwhelm the other elements, I feel like the jam on top is a bit of overkill, it could have done with more of the crumb, there's enough jam inside to contribute to the overall flavour. Still, this donut is tasty, and definitely in line with the theme it was going for. I'll probably be heading back to try the other cheesecake varieties soon.

My rating: 4/5

Monday, 23 May 2016

Today's Review: Costa Popcorn Cappuccino

Summer may not quite be here, but the summer menus sure are. Costa have rolled out their iced fruit drinks in all their tantalising flavours, but they've also stuck a new addition on the hot drinks menu as well, because nothing says summer like a popcorn flavoured cappuccino, apparently.

This is a cappuccino with a popcorn flavoured syrup, that's about it, nothing too special, but it is quite a novel idea. Whoever prepared it must have been excited, because they over-zealously applied the chocolate on top. I got quite the hit of popcorn syrup on my first sip, and it wasn't all that pleasant. It taste an awful lot like the popcorn flavoured Jelly Belly, and while I don't find them awful, it's not the best representation of popcorn I've had. So the first few sips weren't particularly great, but as I pressed on the popcorn flavour mellowed out somewhat and blended in quite nicely with the coffee. It seems a lot of the flavouring was concentrated in the foam, and the stuff underneath was a lot more bearable, and had quite a nice toasted popcorn taste. There was just that imbalance in there that wasn't all that great, and while this is an interesting idea, this cappuccino definitely doesn't beat a drink made with some of the more classic syrups. It's not bad, but it's not particularly great.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Today's Review: Lucozade Zero Pink Lemonade

After reviewing the orange Lucozade Zero the other day, I vowed to seek out the pink lemonade flavour, and I would not rest until I found it. Thankfully I found it the very next day, so I can relax a bit now. Yes, Lucozade have brought out their "zero calorie" drink (there are some calories, just not many) in two varieties, and fortunately for me they're based on my two favourite flavours. I went through an obsession with the pink lemonade a year or so ago, so now it's nice to know I can start chugging it again without fear of piling on the pounds, just the as far unfounded nagging feeling that some obscure health problem in later life will be exacerbated by my inordinate aspartame consumption.

But hey, I should probably figure out if it taste good first, right? The good news is, it does. Again, it does suffer slightly from the swapping of glucose for sweeteners, there is a certain chemical aspartame taste that sticks around for a little while, but since all zero calorie fizzy drinks have it I don't count it as too much of a loss. Nowadays I'd rather take the sweetener after taste over the gritty, tooth rotting feel of a load of sugar. Besides, before the sweetener kicks in, this stuff tastes a lot like the regular pink lemonade Lucozade. A satisfying fizziness, a sweet combination of lemon, cranberry and raspberry, I was pleasantly surprised. These Lucozade Zero drinks are a great addition to the range, and I'll be adding them to my list of preferred low calorie drinks. Great job, Lucozade.

My rating: 4/5 

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Today's Review: McCoy's Thick Cut Crisps

McCoy's are a classic crisp brand, and in my opinion they do one of the best salt & vinegar flavours around. Their regular shape is the good old crinkle cut, but they've decided to do something a little different and straighten their crisps out for this meaty multipack. They may be flatter, but they're also thicker cut, and come in some interesting flavours, like beef & onion and BBQ chicken. Meaty crisps may not be my thing, but I've tried McCoy's ones before and been pleasantly surprised, so I figured I'd give these a go.

These taste pretty good. Obviously not the same as cramming a joint of beef in your mouth, but each flavour has a nice meaty hint, and the onion and BBQ elements are factored in as well. The thing is, the flavouring isn't really that strong, and I think the flat crisps are to blame. I'm not sure whether it's just a myth that ridges seal in more flavour, but it seems to be the case here, the classic meat flavours made more of an impression on me than these. Also, the pack states that they're thicker cut, but I really can't see a difference in thickness between these and the regular McCoy's. Sure, they're thicker than your average crisp, but in terms of McCoy's they seem pretty much the same. What's more, these ones seem a bit... how do I put it... empty. The crisps seem a lot less substantial and a little aerated, they don't pack the satisfying crunch you get with the classic varieties. So all in all, while these don't taste too bad, the composition seems wrong. Stick with the ridges, guys, it's what you do best.

My rating: 2/5

Friday, 20 May 2016

Today's Review: Lucozade Zero Orange

I extolled the virtues of Orange Lucozade almost five years ago, it's always a drink I can turn to when I'm not feeling too great, most like due to a psychosomatic response than anything else. I love a Lucozade, but I also don't really like sugar filled drinks, so there has been a bit of a disconnect between the two for a while. Sure, there have been some lower calorie Lucozade flavours popping up here and there, and I always figured a true diet Lucozade experience would be forever a dream, seeing as it's a glucose based drink and all. But I have been proven wrong, with the release of this Lucozade Zero, a Lucozade with no calories. Well, that's a lie, it does have 20 calories per bottle, but that's certainly a marked improvement in calorific content. But at what cost?

Comparing the ingredients of this and the standard version, it seems the only real difference is the fact that this contains no glucose syrup, and instead goes for some sweetener. That makes sense in the scheme of cutting out the calories, but I was pretty sure it would badly affect the flavour. Truth is though, this isn't bad at all. It doesn't possess that slightly thicker texture that the original has that lets you know you're chugging sweet, glucose goodness, but it still seems to be a substantial drink, and the orange flavouring is still pretty good. The sweetener is noticeable throughout, but it's not that much of a distraction, and I don't think I've met a diet drink yet where it's not at least a little obvious. Besides, the other flavours do quite well at distracting from the sweetener, and while I was sure this drink would fail, it's still a good bottle of Lucozade. There's also a pink lemonade flavour that I haven't yet found, but I know I'll be tracking that down as soon as possible.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Today's Review: Hula Hoops Salt & Vinegar Golden Hoops

Hula Hoops Puft came out last year, and while they were pretty good, they weren't close to the originals. Now there's another variety on the shelves, in the form of these Golden Hoops. They're going for a baked approach this time, baked crisps are a big thing now, it's a healthier way to shove carbs in your mouth. So what makes these golden hoops different from the regular Hula Hoops, which are themselves golden hoops?

Well, they look like that. They look like Hula Hoops that have been rolled up and stretched out a bit, but the baked element makes for an interesting change in consistency. The texture is more like that of a bread stick, it seems more substantial than a regular Hula Hoop, and it still has a satisfying crunch. I thought it may have a negative effect on the flavouring, but it's actually slapped on pretty generously. It's a lovely, tangy salt and vinegar flavour that even sticks around after the hoop is gone. So quite simply, these are great. Crunchy, flavoursome snacks that give the original Hula Hoops a run for their money.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Today's Review: McDonald's New York Stack

I missed out on the first McDonald's Great Tastes burger this year, but I was determined not to skip this one as well. This is the New York Stack, a double beef burger with cheese, bacon, coleslaw, ketchup, mustard, lettuce and pickles, all wrapped up in a sesame and poppy seed bagel. Sounded awesome to me, and it looked pretty amazing in real life, instead of just looking great in the picture.

There's a lot going on in this burger, but it's actually put together very well. The beef is the main meat of it, obviously, and the double patties make for a filling burger. The pickles were everywhere, which is great, as I've grown to love pickles recently, they're definitely noticeable and pack a whole lot of flavour that give this a bit more of a New York-esque taste. There was a lot of cheese packed in here, and mixed in with the sauces and coleslaw it provided a nice sloppiness that gave it that proper burger feel. I think the main stroke of genius is the bagel, it's nice and soft, with a generous smattering of seeds that only add to the experience, and overall this is a big tasty burger that provides a New York deli experience. I suppose the only thing missing in that regard is some pastrami or salt beef, but I think that might be a bit too much to ask from McDonald's. This will do though, a great burger that you should grab while it's still around.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Today's Review: Walkers Southern Style BBQ Bugles

There seem to be a few neat new products lining the crisp aisle now, and I'll be working my way through them over the next few days. The one that grabbed my attention the most, however, was a bit of a throwback, at least as far as I remember. These are Bugles, cone shaped crisps from Walkers, and I'm sure they used to be around when I was a kid, before inexplicably vanishing. They're corn snacks, in the shape of bugles, hence the name. The pack there says they have a "fun shape", but I can't say they instilled me with a sense of childish wonder. They promised me a BBQ flavour though, so I was on board.

It's clear that these are corn snacks, the texture is very corn-like, slightly soft, but it stills has a nice crunch to it. Certainly not as satisfying as a potato crisp, but I'm sure it's easier to make those cone shapes out of corn. As for the flavour, there's a definite BBQ taste to these, but it's not all that strong. It's a sweet, smoky flavour that's actually pretty nice, but the taste of the crisps themselves tends to overwhelm it in some places, and the after taste I was left with was more of corn than BBQ, which is a little disappointing. Still, these aren't awful, I was just hoping for a bit more flavouring. These crisps are nice for a change, but I don't think they'll be taking their place alongside regular Walkers crisps any time soon.

My rating: 3/5

Monday, 16 May 2016

Today's Review: Tuc Paprika

Every time I go to another European country I seem to find a new variety of Tuc, and this paprika one was particularly interesting, given my love of spice. Not too much to say to describe these, they're Tuc, and they have paprika flavour.

These are nicely spicy, I wasn't expecting much at all, but there's a fairly good heat that is evident straight away. It's contained in the seasoning on top, so the biscuit underneath is still the same awesome salty cracker, but the paprika is generously applied and the flavour comes through very well. The paprika stuff on top does give these quite an overall powdery texture, so these aren't perfect, but they're a nice addition to the Tuc range, especially for those who like a bit of spice.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Today's Review: Tesco Finest Mango & Chilli Popcorn

Despite having obtained a fair amount of snacks while on holiday, I couldn't resist popping into Tesco the other day and seeing if anything new had popped up while I was away. While my photography skills have clearly declined, my snack hunting senses are sharp, and I found a new range of Finest popcorn with some pretty fancy flavours. This is the one that caught my eye the most, a mango and chilli flavour popcorn, which is also packaged with crunchy coconut curls.

This is an interesting one. It's not like any other chilli popcorn, which is normally more of a salted popcorn kind of texture. Instead, these kernels are covered in a mango chilli flavoured caramel, so they're a lot more substantial and crunchy, and also quite a lot sweeter. In fact, it's maybe a little too sweet, and the caramel itself tends to overshadow the mango element. The chilli isn't immediately noticeable either, which is a shame, but as I carried on through the bag the heat crept up on me, and there was an ever-present undertone of spiciness that was actually pretty nice. As for the coconut, it seems to take the back seat in the description on the bag, but it plays a pretty big part overall. The kernels themselves have pieces of coconut in, and the curls are pretty big, and there are a lot of them. They pack quite a bold coconut flavour, so it's not bad if you're a big fan of coconut, but I came here more for the mango and chilli, and sadly this popcorn falls a little bit flat on those fronts. It's not a bad bag of popcorn, there's quite a bit of interesting stuff going on in here, I just didn't enjoy it anywhere near as much as I thought I would. I'll be trying out the other varieties though.

My rating: 3/5

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Today's Review: Postcards

I've just returned from a week in Tenerife, and aside from the sun, sea, sand and swimming pools, I also hit the shops, because my snack hunting head never rests. There was the usual fare spread throughout the outlets I went to. Sunglasses, hats, souvenirs. I can get on board with those. But there's one oddity I can't quite get on board with, it's a prevalent holiday tradition that doesn't make a lot of sense to me, and that is the postcard.

Sending someone a postcard sounds like a nice enough idea. "I'm on holiday, let me pick a picture of a local landmark or a nice landscape, and send it off to my loved ones to let them know I'm okay". Receiving a postcard, not so great. "Oh, look at this lovely place that I'm not in. Oh, you're having a nice time? Well done. Wish I was here? Well, I'm not, am I?". A postcard is like a transcribed boast that's hand delivered to you, the postman might as well slap you in the face while he's at it.

Sure, I understand not all postcards need to be proclaiming the virtues of the holiday, but it's not like they leave much room for anything else. It's the norm to write what a nice time you're having, and it's not like it's initiating a conversation. The sender has no permanent address, and there's not space on a postcard to write one anyway. Not that it matters anyway, the recipient isn't on holiday, they're boring, we wish they were here.

I realise my cynicism is shining through again. I'm sure some people enjoy receiving postcards, they enjoy keeping them to see where their loved ones have been. But the whole endeavour just seems like a slap in the face to me, and given the state of technology now I'd rather just message people wherever they are, rather than receive a small piece of card that says what an amazing time they're having without me. Postcards are a confusing relic of days gone by.

My rating: 1/5

Friday, 13 May 2016

Today's Review: Ambrosia Deluxe Custard

I reviewed Aunt Bessie's frozen apple crumbles yesterday, but I must say I didn't eat them on their own. No, my search for that dessert was spurred by my earlier acquisition of these new tins of custard from Ambrosia. This is "deluxe" custard apparently, available in two differing vanilla flavours. One has clotted cream, the other creamy toffee. Sounded pretty good to me.

Ambrosia custard is good, so it's a steady base with which to pile on some deluxe ingredients. Both these custards have a bold vanilla flavour at their base, and overall it has a very nice, creamy texture. It's just with the extra bits that they fall a bit flat. The clotted cream and creamy toffee elements aren't really that noticeable. I picked up bits here and there, and while they were alright, they were often overshadowed by the vanilla flavour. These taste fine, perhaps even good, but seeing as these were meant to be "deluxe" they fall somewhat short of the mark, and make for a pretty average custard experience. Worth picking up if you like vanilla in your custard though.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Today's Review: Aunt Bessie's Hot Puds: Bramley Apple Crumble

I don't dabble all that much in frozen puddings, ice cream is generally the go to for me in the freezer aisle. But I spied these microwaveable crumbles the other day, and from a respectable brand too, and I was intrigued as to how they would turn out. After all, how good can an apple crumble that's been nuked from frozen taste?

The answer is pretty damn good actually. Two minutes is all it takes, just whip the top of the pot, microwave it, and it's ready to eat. The top layer is a lovely buttery crumble with a nice crunch to it, it's not quite as satisfyingly crunchy as a home made one would be, but there are also cooking instructions for the oven, and I assume that would give these a nicer finish. Underneath is a delicious apple filling, nice and sweet with some sizeable chunks of apple. Despite being microwaved, these tasted pretty much like a fresh crumble, and that's about as much as I'd hope for from a quick, convenient freezer pudding. I'm tempted to try out the other Hot Puds now, these ones are great.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Today's Review: Walkers Sun Bites Sweet Caramel Popcorn

Walkers are continuing their foray into the popcorn scene, after bringing out the sweet and salty Mixups and the Sensations range. In fact, there's already been a salted caramel Sensations popcorn, so this sweet caramel Sun Bites popcorn didn't seem too original at first glance. It does appear to be a healthier take on the whole thing though, opting for sweet caramel instead of salty, and using wholegrain popcorn. But is it any good?

This popcorn is of a good quality, I'd definitely rate it higher than the one found in the Mixups bag. I guess the wholegrain works in its favour, it's overall a cleaner tasting popcorn, and it has a nice crunch to it. As for the flavouring, it's not bad, a sweet caramel taste that doesn't quite permeate into the kernels but provides a decent covering. It's not too strong, but it works nicely, and is a good fit for this "healthier" bag of popcorn. This is a tasty bag of popcorn, and while in a calorific sense it may not quite be better than a packet of crisps, it would make an interesting change.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Today's Review: Tesco Finest Roasted Hazelnut Oats & Belgian Chocolate Cookies

Tesco Finest cookies are great, but they always seem to be variations on the standard cookie. A bit of chocolate here, some caramel there. I know a lot of people don't agree with me, but I love an oat cookie, so when I saw these Finest cookies with oats in I couldn't resist. They also have Belgian chocolate and roasted hazelnut, so what could go wrong?

The hazelnut in these is quite mellow, but it's a very consistent flavour that you can taste throughout the whole cookie. It's a great, authentic flavour that doesn't overwhelm, which can sometimes be a problem with hazelnut flavoured foods. The Belgian chocolate is present in chips, which are a pretty standard addition. In this case they're a welcome one, a nice hit of sweetness in a cookie that could have been just a little bit bland otherwise. My favourite part is the incorporation of the oats though. With standard cookies I find they can be a little thick and stodgy at times, but these ones seem to have a lighter texture, while also being slightly more filling. They taste somewhat cleaner than a regular cookie, and I think it helps to being the hazelnut more to the forefront. I think it's clear to say I love these, especially due to the fact that I'd polished three off before I got home. I agree with you, Tesco. These cookies are pretty fine.

My rating: 5/5

Monday, 9 May 2016

Today's Review: Pistachio Magnum

There seem to be a lot of Magnums nowadays, and many have passed under my radar with relatively little fanfare. I can't remember these pistachio Magnums ever being released, but I had to grab a box the other day when I saw them on offer. These consist of pistachio ice cream, coated in chocolate embedded with pistachio pieces.

The pistachio pieces are a nice touch, with a satisfying crunch that packs a great, nutty flavour. The chocolate is your classic Magnum offering, a tasty, thick, creamy shell. The ice cream underneath is not too bad, it has a nice green tinge to it, couple with a slight pistachio flavour. It is quite subdued though, and the creaminess of the ice cream itself comes through more than the nut. It's not bad at all, I was just hoping for a bit more of the pistachio. So while this isn't an overwhelmingly nutty Magnum, it's still very good.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Today's Review: Cadbury Layers Of Joy Jaffantastic

Another day, another Cadbury dessert. Well, that'll be it after today, I haven't found anymore. Besides, this one is from a week or so ago, I didn't just eat an out of date dessert. But let's press on. Cadbury have dabbled in the Layers Of Joy before with a Creme Egg version, which I didn't think was all that. Now they're back, with a bit of Jaffa wedged in the middle, and apparently also a hash tag, so you can tweet your dessert eating antics.

This one has chocolate on both sides, which is nice compared to the Creme Egg one. more chocolate is always good. Tha Jaffa is a thick layer of bold, orange jelly, it's a little much, but it's a nice enough hit of flavour, and pretty much the same as you'd find in a Jaffa cake. I wasn't looking forward to the sponge that much, as it was quite dry in the Creme Egg pots, but here Cadbury seem to have done a better job. It's a nice soft, spongy disc that works very well with the Jaffa layer, it pretty much tastes like a Jaffa cake in between some chocolate mousse. So while the orange is a little intense, overall this makes for a nice dessert pot. Worth picking up.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Today's Review: Cadbury Strawberries & Creme Pots Of Joy

Easter's out and summer's in, so Cadbury have switched their seasonal Pots Of Joy over to this strawberries and creme offering. From the spelling of "creme" you can probably determine that it is following the same lines as the Creme Egg Pot Of Joy, and indeed it is much the same. It consists of a layer of melted Cadbury milk chocolate, with a strawberry flavoured fondant centre.

The Creme Egg pots were nice enough, although in recent years I can't say my fondness for Creme Eggs has been what it used to be. I find the fondant quite sickly, and that's the case here as well. It's the same thick texture, but it also possesses a very sweet strawberry flavour, which is nice enough to start with, but then becomes pretty overwhelming. The whole of the fondant, then, is pretty sickly, and while the chocolate on top does an alright job of mellowing it out and providing a different flavour to work with, overall this pot did not bring me a lot of joy. It makes for an okay dessert, but I think I'll stick with the plain old Cadbury chocolate ones in future.

My rating: 3/5

Friday, 6 May 2016

Today's Review: Barny Forest Fruits

School lunches ain't what they used to be. I remember loading up on sweets and doughnuts from my school canteen, and it was a free for all as far as packed lunches were concerned. But now my kids are trudging through the education system, and there are rules now. Rules! Basically, the major rule is no chocolate, but it's a fairly general no junk policy. Now, I can rarely eat lunch without having at least some chocolate along the way, so it's difficult for me to provide my kids with a sweet snack that doesn't contain the good stuff. But hey, Barny bears are here to save the day. 

They're small, bear shaped cakes with a creamy filling, innocent looking and somehow able to fly under the no junk radar. Maybe it's that healthy looking grain underneath the logo. Barny has been around for a while, in chocolate, milk and strawberry flavours. But I spotted these "new" forest fruits Barnys in Poundland the other week, and figured it was a good enough point to leap in and sink my teeth into a bear.

Well, they're alright. I mean, as far as sponge cakes go, these are no Mr. Kipling, but they have a soft enough texture and a sweet flavour. It is a little bit on the stodgy, sugary side, but I think its small size works in its favour as far as that's concerned. As for the filling, that's pretty standard as well, a fruity jam that has a nice berry flavouring, but that too is a little sickly, and there's not quite enough of it to complement the sponge all that well. All in all, it's a decidedly average cake, probably good enough for the kids' lunch boxes, but I wouldn't serve them at a tea party.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Today's Review: Magnum Double Peanut Butter Bar

I reviewed the Magnum Double Chocolate bar late last week, but failed to follow it promptly with this other bar that I tried at the same time. Yes, the Double Chocolate is not a lone wolf, you can also get your chocolate fix from this Magnum Double Peanut Butter bar, which takes after the wonderful ice cream of the same name. This bar consists of Magnum chocolate with chunky peanut butter and salted caramel in the middle. Sounded good enough to me.

The chocolate is top notch, I can't fault it. It's nice and thick, but gives way to the innards with a satisfying crack. Underneath is a whole lot of flavour, perhaps a little too much. The peanut butter is at the forefront, a bold, nutty taste embedded with peanut chunks. It is a little more peanut than peanut butter, but it still tastes good, so I can't complain. The salted caramel is a nice enough addition, but unfortunately it doesn't come through in the overall flavour that much. It was nice enough when I could detect it, and it added a nice smooth texture to the bar, but I think there just might be a little too much going on in this bar. This is still worth picking up while it's around though, very tasty.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Today's Review: Pickled Egg

I went to a chip shop today, and recently I've been getting into the habit of adding a gherkin to my order, apparently pickle is my thing nowadays. But one thing I hadn't tried in the realm of pickling was an egg, and since this chip shop had a nice jar of them on the side, I figured today was the day to dive in and bite into a nice big, vinegary egg. 

I think there's always that fear of the unknown when it comes to pickled eggs. How long have they been sitting there? How many diseases are they harbouring? But why is that just reserved for the egg? No one question jars of pickled onions or gherkins, they're accepted the way they are, and consumed with vigour. So I decided to dispel all misgivings about the suspicious jar of eggs and just bite straight into it. I was greeted with an egg with a taste of vinegar. That's it, nothing untoward happened, I just ate a tangy egg. It wasn't bad actually, not quite in the realm of an onion or gherkin, but it was sufficiently eggy and sufficiently pickled. Sure, it doesn't have the drastic change in flavour you get from pickling a cucumber, but maybe sometimes you just want a vinegary egg, and this is what you should order. Not bad, not bad at all. 

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Today's Review: Häagen-Dazs Mango & Raspberry

Summer's almost here, so it's time to start breaking out the ice cream. Häagen-Dazs seem to be getting ready for the occasion, with a new fruity flavour hitting the shelves. I've had my eye on this one for a few weeks, and it finally went on offer, but I'm sure eventually I would have paid full price for this, as it sounded delicious. It is, quite simply, mango ice cream with raspberry sauce.

The mango ice cream is great. It's fruity, creamy, and has none of the chalky texture that you get with the fruit itself, just a great juicy mango taste. There's not really much I can say about it, it's mango ice cream that tastes like mango, it's really good. The raspberry swirl, sadly, is less pronounced. There's a fair amount of colour throughout the tub, but the flavour doesn't shine through quite as much as I'd hoped, so really it's more a mango ice cream with a hint of raspberry than a mango and raspberry ice cream. It's not so bad that the raspberry is so subdued when there's other good stuff there instead, but the ratios could have been a bit better. This is a great tub of ice cream to look out for in the coming summer months though, very tasty indeed.

My rating: 4/5

Monday, 2 May 2016

Today's Review: Captain America: Civil War

Another year, another onslaught of superhero movies. There are more now than ever, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe has consistently been my favourite. Now we're on movie 13 of the series, which is a lot for a franchise that started in 2008, but this one promised to shake things up. After the events of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, the Avengers find themselves under increasing scrutiny from governments worldwide, and find they may have to make compromises to be able to carry on functioning as a team. But with Captain America's old friend Bucky Barnes on the run, his loyalty gets in the way of diplomatic processes, and a rift forms between the Avengers who side with the Cap and those who believe in the more official stance, headed by Tony Stark. It's time for an inter-team showdown.

I don't think there's much use going into this if you haven't seen the other Marvel movies. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does require a lot of watching time to put in if you're a newcomer. The reason being is that this movie doesn't provide a whole lot of back story, it jumps straight into the action, and that is a very good thing. With all the constant new heroes and reboots in the cinema these days, movies tend to be a little too heavy on the origin story, but Civil War starts off kicking ass and continues to do so. There are many fight scenes, and with the massive ensemble of heroes on offer it makes for absolutely awesome viewing, they're wonderfully put together and still manage to introduce fresh elements despite already having so many fights in previous movies. 

Not all the Marvel heroes are in this one, but there are a hell of a lot, it's pretty much like another Avengers movie a mere year after the last one. Each character's story is progressed nicely, and the appearance from newly added Ant-Man is wonderfully done. All the actors have settled into their roles incredibly well, and the rapport between the Avengers is as good as ever. Aside from the already introduced heroes, some fresh faces appear, and the way they're introduced is great, light on the back story, but still providing enough to keep them interesting, and definitely setting them up well for the standalone movies they'll be starring in over the next couple of years. A certain red-clad hero was actually one of my favourite characters in the movie, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Marvel have in store for him. 

Characters aside, the story itself is actually pretty damn good. There's a pretty generic villain and some cliché twists and turns, but the main bulk of the narrative resides in the relationship between the Avengers themselves, and it's very well done, with the underlying plot helping to hold up the shifting dynamics. At the end of the day I don't think anyone would expect this to be more cerebral than your standard blockbuster, so all in all it's very well put together, and despite being pretty long, I was engaged until the very end. 

I was expecting a bit of a lull in between main Avengers movies, while the individual characters got their own stories, but Civil War is pretty much like a third Avengers movie, it's action packed, full of great characters, and it's simply awesome. My faith in the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Today's Review: Goodfella's Sweet Fella's Apple Crumble Pizza

I reviewed the Goodfella's chocolate brownie pizza last year, and while it was a pretty neat idea, it didn't come together all that well, the toppings were alright, but the base left a lot to be desired. I've had my eye on this new iteration for a while now, but I was waiting for it to drop in price before I snatched one up. This is the same principle as the original, it's a dessert pizza, but this time it's topped with apple crumble. 

Doesn't look quite as good as it does on the packet, especially those little burnt bits in there, and they were already there before I put the thing in the oven. But hey, looks aren't everything, this is all about the taste, and I figured there's not much you can get wrong with an apple crumble. Turns out this is actually a pretty decent dessert. The topping is just right, a generous smattering of juicy, sweet apple pieces, and a nice buttery crumb, mixed in with yet more apple from the sauce it's all embedded in. I can't fault it really, it taste just like apple crumble. As for the base, it's pretty good, not perfect, but it made a better impression on me than with the chocolate brownie. I don't know if they've improved the recipe, or whether it's just more suited to the toppings this time around, but I found it to be a nice soft dough with a slight pastry-like texture that works very well with the crumble topping. The crust gets a bit too hard and stodgy, but the stuff in the middle is nice. 

This apple crumble pizza is a marked improvement on the chocolate brownie. I was a bit disheartened going into this, but I was pleasantly surprised. What's next for Sweet Fella's? I wouldn't mind finding out.

My rating: 4/5