Thursday, 24 July 2014

Thorntons Christmas 2014 Preview


I was lucky enough to be able to pop into the Thorntons Christmas In July event yesterday. It's an early Christmas party where I got to meet Santa and even hang some chocolate decorations on a Christmas Tree! It was slightly surreal given how hot it is in London at the moment but seeing as I'm the type of person who looks forward to Christmas all year round, it was great fun! And the best part of course was finding out all about the new products for Christmas 2014 (and tasting a few of them too!).


At the selection table (first photo at the top of the post), I was told all about the latest Thorntons chocolates for Christmas 2014. Following on from the summer inspired Dreamy Desserts range will be a Dreamy WINTER desserts box of chocolates, with flavours such as Almond & Cranberry Torte, Clementine Creme Caramel and Ginger Cheesecake. The Almond & Cranberry Torte chocolate was particularly delicious, I loved the creamy almond flavour with the tart fruitiness of the cranberry (it's pictured in the box above, top row, second from left).


This year is the 60th birthday of the Continental range and to celebrate Thorntons is bringing back some classic recipes from years gone by, including Apricot Parfait, Mandarin Truffle and Brandy Noisette. Available as limited editions in single bags (above) or in the larger Continental selection boxes. 


Classics like the Continental Alpini chocolates have new packaging for their Christmas boxes featuring the "Celebrating 60 Years" golden badge (Alpini box RRP £5.00).


I love the European city feel to the Continental collection box packaging, it's really beautifully decorated (Continental Birthday Box RRP £15.00). 


This Christmas Collection box has a very fun and festive appeal. All the chocolates inside are Christmas themed in appearance and name; from Snowballs and Yule Logs to Star of Wonder chocolates. It's a great gift collection. (RRP £6.50). 


There were quite a few Advent Calendars on display, from the traditional Continental Advent Calendar and the cute The Snowman and the Snowdog Advent Calendar, but I found this brand new Thorntons Smiles Advent Calendar (RRP £7.00) especially appealing. I'll definitely be buying this one for my kids in December, it's such a great idea. The packaging has a rotating panel at the front which you have to turn to find the correct door to open, with a few Christmas jokes along the way - it's a really fun product. 


I was lucky enough to get one of The Snowman and the Snowdog white chocolate figures in my goody bag (RRP. £10.00), but there was also a 1kg model on display that will cost £50 - that's a lot of chocolate! Also new in The Snowman and the Snowdog range is a lovely gift pack designed as a bandstand, where the box can also be used to play with or for display (RRP. £10.00).


The Thorntons Irresistibles range is available in Belgian Truffle, Irish Cream, Gooey Caramel or Nutty Praline. There's also a new Limited Edition Smooth Coconut available now and a Limited Edition Salted Caramel too. I need to try those! (RRP. £5.00). 


I also got to try my hand at gift wrapping my own box of chocolates in the professional Thorntons gift wrapped style. It's certainly a cut above my usual attempts at gift wrapping!

You can check out more photos from the Thorntons Christmas in July event through the #ThorntonsXmas hashtag on Twitter. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

New Danio Minis


I love the Danio range of Super Thick yogurts, their thick and creamy strained Greek style yogurts are absolutely delicious. However, in my review or the original pots I did mention that I found them a bit too large for me. I had already switched to other brands of strained yogurts that offered smaller pots in multipacks, but I've always preferred the fruity layers in the Danio range. It's great news that Danio have now released their own smaller versions. 


Even though they are called Danio Minis, they are still a decent size at 100g each, and come in multipacks of four pots. 


There are three flavours in the range so far; Strawberry, Blueberry and Mango.


Once again the consistency of the strained yogurt really is Super Thick. It's even thicker than a Greek Style yogurt but still has the same type of rich and creamy flavour. The density of the yogurt makes it even more suitable to this smaller size as I find this type of yogurt very filling. The fruity layers on the bottom are all extremely tasty too, not too runny or too sweet like some other brands of strained yogurts. The Mango has a lovely tropical sweetness with lots of flavourful chunks of mango to give texture. The Blueberry is my husband's favourite, it's not as sweet but has a perfect fruity flavour. I was quite surprised by just how much I liked the Strawberry variety. I don't tend to buy strawberry flavoured yogurts, but these are absolutely gorgeous, so fruity and fresh. I'll definitely be buying all the varieties again and I'd even like to see multipack that has a few different varieties included in the range.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Danio Minis

RATING: 9 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition: 80 calories per pot.

Vegetarian: Suitable for vegetarians.
Purchased: Available at most supermarkets.
Price: £2.49p per multipack of four pots.


PR Samples

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.

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