Sunday, 20 July 2014

New Cadbury Roses Pots of Joy Hazel Whirl


The Cadbury Pots of Joy range certainly seems to be a popular one judging by the number of new releases and limited editions continually added to the range. Following on from the Pots of Joy Strawberry Dream is another Cadbury Roses inspired flavour; Hazel Whirl.


I bought a twin pack from my local Co-Op for £1.29. The Cadbury Pots of Joy Hazel Whirl is described as a dessert made with melted Cadbury milk chocolate, a centre with chopped hazelnuts on a smooth hazelnut flavour fondant.


The flavour is initially very similar to most of the other milk chocolate based Pots of Joy I've tried, the thick chocolate layer on top being identical. Once you get beneath that layer the dessert is slightly more interesting, the hazelnut fondant does have a nice nutty flavour that is reinforced by the chopped nuts which are layered in the centre. I do think that Cadbury missed a trick by not having the chocolate layer on top also being hazelnut flavoured, that would have really taken this dessert to another level. As it is, the hazelnut flavours are somewhat dominated by the chocolate layer. 

I always make this point with the Pots of Joy range and it's worth making again - these are really calorific for such small pots! Each pot is only 70g (in comparison a regular sized yogurt is about 100g) but over 150 calories each. For me, these are definitely one-off purchases, rather than something I would regularly buy.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Cadbury Roses Pots of Joy Hazel Whirl

RATING: 6 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Probably not.
Nutrition (per 70g)
155 calories.
Vegetarian: Not suitable.
Purchased: Co-op.
Price: £1.29p for 2 pack.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Book Review & Competition: Vanilla Salt by Ada Parellada


Something a little different from me today. I was sent this beautiful looking book, Vanilla Salt, released this week by Alma Books. It's the debut novel of acclaimed Catalan chef Ada Parellada, who owns restaurants in Barcelona and Lisbon and is the author of several cookery books as well as collaborating with various newspapers and TV channels in Spain. A brief description of the novel:

VANILLA SALT - The perfect Condiment to Happiness

Álex is a brilliant Catalan chef, but he struggles to fill his restaurant because of his gruff, eccentric personality and his refusal to use ingredients that trace their culinary origins to America, such as potatoes and tomatoes. When he meets the young, enthusiastic and beautiful Canadian Annette, he finds his ideas and narrow-minded outlook challenged, and discovers that they are both concealing painful pasts. Vanilla Salt is a sensual and mouth-watering exploration of the kitchen and the human heart, as well as the tale of simmering passions and the need to confront personal truths.

Available at www.almabooks.com

COMPETITION

Alma Books are also offering TWO of my readers the chance to win a copy of Vanilla Salt by Ada Parellada. Simply enter via the Rafflecopter form after my review below.


When we first meet Álex, owner and chef of the Antic Món restaurant, he's rude and inflexible, and refuses to see what being friendly and sociable has to do with making good food. The result is that his once popular and award winning restaurant has now been abandoned by customers and staff alike, and sits as lonely and sad as the owner himself. This is a man who needs serious help, and that aid soon arrives in the form of the mysterious Annette, who despite being an inexperienced cook and only speaking in broken Catalan, provides a new lease of life for the ailing restaurant and it's owner. She's knowledgeable about the history of food, with her anecdotes about the origins of ingredients being some of my favourite parts of the story, and brings with her a flair for social media and food blogging - her laptop is her most prized possession! Even though Álex and Annette are in many ways polar opposites, they are also kindred spirits, both expressing themselves in the kitchen with the creation of delectable recipes, and both sharing dark and painful pasts.

The story zips along in a flurry of delicious ingredients, with themes of friendship, loyalty, distrust and betrayal running strongly throughout. It's comical and almost farcical at times, but still capable of darker elements. Annette can be quite a contradictory character, confident in standing up to Alex at work, but shockingly weak in some areas of her private life. Most of the characters reveal weaknesses in one way or another, and some develop in unexpected ways that I didn't always appreciate, but in the end, it all added to the twists and turns of the story. The love of food and ingredients is the most positive and wonderful aspect of this novel, with the restaurant and kitchen essentially being a major character in itself, capable of bringing characters together through a shared passion for flavours. I enjoyed how food is shown to influence and affect all the characters. It's a thoroughly modern story and one which I think most food lovers will enjoy.

WIN A COPY OF VANILLA SALT BY ADA PARELLADA
X 2 WINNERS

HOW TO ENTER
  • Simply fill in the Rafflecopter entry form below to verify your entries (refresh page if not showing)
  • Entries will be via Blog comment, Twitter or Facebook
  • Competition open to UK residents only
  • Closing date 31 JULY 2014
  • Winner will be chosen by a random draw and contacted within 48 hours of competition end
  • The winner will have one week to respond, after that time I'll have to choose a new winner
  • Prizes will be sent out by Alma Books directly to the winner

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Limited Edition Twix White Minis (White Chocolate Twix)



Just a quick post for this pack of 11 mini Twix White which I picked up in a discount store at the weekend. I've reviewed the Limited Edition White Twix before here, but on that occasion I'd bought a (regular sized) bar while on holiday in Portugal. I don't think I've ever come across them in the UK, although I know from comments left on my original review that they have been spotted in discount stores before. This multipack bag of Twix White Minis is a German import - bargain!


This bag of mini sized Twix was displayed on a special stand with other multipacks of Mars Funsized products, no doubt gearing up for the end of term school parties next week. I'm just waiting for the annual conversation that usually goes like this - Son at bedtime: "Mum I need 30 x cakes/chocolates/crisps for our class party", Me: "no problem, when do you need them by?", Son: "...tomorrow of course". Arrrrgggh! 


Anyway, the Twix White tastes just like I remember; super sweet and creamy. It's a sugary treat which will test the mettle of even the biggest sweet tooths out there, so it's nice that it comes in this smaller size. Although, if I'm honest, it's a bit too small, and just left me craving another one! 

Grocery Gems Verdict: Twix White Minis

RATING: 7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition (per 20g bar)
: 101 calories.

Purchased: 99p Stores.
Price: £0.99p for 11 mini bars.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Review: Tango Jaffa Cakes


There are so many branded Tango grocery products about at the moment, from shower gels to freezable ice pops. I'm aware that Tango is a very popular drink amongst some of the youngsters that I know, especially the teenagers, so are these products designed to appeal to the younger market? Whatever the reason for the sudden Tango popularity, even I couldn't resist picking up the new Tango Jaffa Cakes when I spotted them a few days ago. 


Inside the box, the Tango Jaffa Cakes are safely presented in a little plastic tray. There are 24 Jaffa Cakes in each box.


The box promises a tangy Tango orange filling, emphasised with a tagline "will the Tangy Orange get ya?", so I was expecting the filling in these to be a bit different from ordinary Jaffa Cakes. However, that was the wrong assumption to make. These are very plain orange flavoured Jaffa Cakes, and not even very good ones at that. The filling is a sweet and fairly bland orange, whilst the chocolate coating is very thin. But my main gripe here is the sponge part of the cake, it's too dry and crumbly and just ends up tasting quite stale. There are plenty of cheaper store branded Jaffa Cakes around that are excellent (I love the Aldi ones especially), and these Tango Jaffa Cakes are nowhere near as good. 


And now a little rant about Jaffa Cakes... Jaffa Cakes are one of my favourite biscuits/cakes and I'd really like to see some more interesting flavours available, like peach or mango. I remember when there were Strawberry Jaffa Cakes and Blackcurrant Jaffa Cakes but now we're lucky to get the occasionally Halloween themed Lemon/Lime variety. The M&S Passionfruit & Peach Jaffa Cakes I tried earlier in the year were disappointing flavourwise and not that different from orange Jaffa Cakes. I've also tried some different brands purchased from Polish shops, including the Milka ChocoJaffa which were raspberry flavoured. I didn't even bother reviewing those because they tasted horrendous - stale and horrible. I suspect I got a dud packet that hadn't been stored properly. (I know there is a Polish brand called Delicje that has very good reviews and I've been keeping my eye out for their Cherry Jaffa Cakes). If McVities can make Tropical and Berry flavoured Jaffa Cake Mini Rolls then surely they can put those flavours into actual Jaffa Cakes? Here's hoping!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Tango Jaffa Cakes:

Rating: 4 out of 10. 
Buy Again: No. 
Purchased: 99p Stores.
Price: £0.99p.

CRU Kafe Organic Coffee - Nespresso Compatible pods


CRU Kafe are a new artisanal range of Nespresso compatible coffee pods. Their coffee is not only "speciality" but also fair trade and organic. If you enjoy a Nespresso coffee but not so much the ethics of the Nestlé corporation then CRU Kafe offers a clear alternative. All their coffee is made using high altitude 100% Arabica coffee, which promises a smooth flavour without any burnt or bitter notes. 


I was sent a packet of the CRU Flat White, containing 12 pods, to test out. The packaging is very sleek and I like it's sophisticated black and white design. Following the ethical standpoint of the CRU Kafe founders, the pods themselves are easy to recycle. The CRU Flat White is a blend of three beans; Ethiopian, Peruvian and Indian. You can even read more about the origins and the specific cooperatives and communities that have provided the coffees here. All the CRU Kafe partners use traditional and certified organic farming procedures which means no nasty chemicals or fertilizers, with only 100% natural ingredients.


The CRU Flat White is described as being an ideal coffee blend for enjoying with milk, as the body and flavour is robust enough to cut through the milk, but can also be used as an espresso or ristretto. First of all I tried it as a simple espresso, no milk or additional water, and I could immediately tell that this was a high quality product. The coffee is smooth, full bodied with a sweet cerealy depth. Once milk is added it retains it's strength of flavour and quality. I've tried many Nespresso compatible pods which do not withstand the addition of milk without becoming flavourless and that is certainly not the case here. There is no strength or intensity given for the CRU Flat White but I would compare it to the Roma or Arpeggio Grand Crus from Nespresso.


These are certainly the finest Nespresso compatible pods I've tried, and CRU Kafe themselves are obviously aiming high on quality and ethics. The range is available exclusively online, and can be bought via a subscription service or as a one-off. The pods cost £11 for 24 pods with free delivery (or £10 if you subscribe monthly), which is actually more expensive than the official Nespresso pods. It's worth giving them a try on the basis of their lovely flavour, but especially so if organic and ethical principles are important to you.

More details here: www.crukafe.co.uk

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