30 Nov 2012

Tesco Finest Belgian Chocolate, Salted Caramel & Hazelnut Ice Cream

I have a weakness for buying items in the supermarket when they have the word "new" on them. Such is the case with this Tesco Finest Belgian Chocolate, Salted Caramel & Hazelnut Ice Cream, which is currently on offer for £2.00. I've learnt that just because something has the word "new" does not actually make it so. I really have no idea how long this ice cream has been out but I get the feeling that it is only masquerading as a new product.

The tub looked nice enough, the packaging fits in with the premium ice cream brands out there, although slightly more subdued and grown up. The flavour combination is classic but with a twist; chocolate and hazelnut are great together and the addition of salted caramel sounds divine.

When I took off the lid the chocolate ice cream seemd to be quite aerated, almost as if it was a mousse. However once I started to dig in, the texture was very creamy and smooth and not aerated at all. The ice cream is not as dense as brands such as Ben & Jerry's, it has a lighter consistency. I was able to serve it quite quickly without having to wait an age for it to melt a little. I know that "patience is a virtue" but this is ice cream on a Friday night we are talking about!

I couldn't get a decent photograph of the salted caramel sauce as it was virtually the same colour as the chocolate ice cream. In the middle of the spoon above there is a section of caramel sauce but as you can see, or rather not see, it's very hard to make out. The chocolate ice cream was very good, it had a rich chocolate flavour and a lovely smooth texture. The hazelnuts had a good nutty flavour, and retained a nice crunch, some more so than others. There weren't enough hazelnuts overall and I would have preferred more hazelnut flavour within the ice cream itself. The salted caramel sauce was gorgeous with a good balance of salt to sweetness, it's not overly salty. Again, I would have preferred more of the caramel sauce within the ice cream.

Overall the combination of flavours was very good, if a tad too sweet, but for £2 it's a bit of a bargain. It's especially good if you don't like too many "bits" in your ice cream.

29 Nov 2012

Glico Pocky Banana Review

London's Chinatown is full of hidden grocery gems and is one of my favourite places to visit, shop and of course, eat!. Last weekend I found these Glico Pocky Banana. For those of you that haven't tried them before, Pocky are a Japanese snack consisting of chocolate (usually) coated biscuit sticks. I don't buy Pocky sticks very often but this banana flavour looked too good to miss.

Inside the box there are about 17 sticks. The strong smell of sweet banana was immediately evident once I opened the inner bag. The flavour lives up to the intense scent with an instant banana milkshake hit. There is a lovely creaminess alongside the fruity taste. It's a similar flavour to the banana ice lollies that ice cream vans sell, and I have a real weakness for those!

There are little nibs of banana on the sticks too. These are listed in the ingredients as "Banana Flesh Granules" which is a much better description! They don't particularly add any extra flavour but they give the sticks a nicely knobbly look and texture.

The biscuit part is nicely crunchy and reminds me of a basic rich tea biscuit. It doesn't add much taste but still provides a lovely base for the banana flavour.

These Pocky are a simple but fun product. I loved the inner packaging which also had little bananas on it! There are lots of other fruity variations of Pocky available, such as blueberry and strawberry. Let me know if you have tried any!

28 Nov 2012

Radox Coconut Kiss Shower Gel

A very quick review here. I'm a complete coconut addict so I couldn't resist posting this find. There are lots of coconut scented shower gels on the market and many of them are very good. This new Coconut Kiss shower gel by Radox is an excellent choice as a budget buy. Even though it's one of the cheaper brands of shower gel the coconut scent is intense and sweet. The shower gel has a very rich lather too and left my skin feeling soft and moisturised.

I bought this for £1 from a local pharmacy but it is also available in Sainsbury's for £1.90. There are two other varieties available in this new range; Cherry Blast and Berry Blast.

I like the striking packaging on this range. The black accents really make the images and lettering pop. What's your favourite shower gel, any recommendations for coconut scented buys?

27 Nov 2012

New Ritter Sport Coconut Macaroon Review (Winter Edition)

Ritter Sport have released a Winter Edition collection for the Christmas season 2012. The Ritter Sport Coconut Macaroon is a combination of freshly baked coconut macaroons with milk chocolate and crispy rice flakes.

The chocolate has the distinctive squared shape of the rest of the Ritter Sport range and comes in a the same 100g format. It's a very decently sized bar which is very appealing.

The milk chocolate covering on this chocolate is just delicious. It has a lovely smooth taste with real depth of cocoa flavour. On their website, Ritter Sport describe the chocolate used for this bar, as a finely blended mixture of cocoa from West Africa, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea and Madagascar. The chocolate flavour manages to hold it's own against the rich taste of the filling.

In the photo above I've cut the chocolate across the middle of the pieces, rather than on the natural break, so that you can really see the filling. The "milk creme" base is very sweet and smooth with a very subtle vanilla flavour. This is mostly overshadowed by the intense coconut flavour of within the macaroon pieces. There is also a baked biscuity flavour which is completely delicious and stops this from being a purely coconut bar.

There is also the ubiquitous "crisped rice" ingredient in this chocolate bar. I think every Ritter chocolate I have tried recently has contained crisped rice!  Actually it does add a nice crunchy texture to the whole chocolate which I think benefits the texture.

The flavours in this bar are very good. It's a very sweet chocolate bar but I enjoyed the unique flavour combination of chocolate with coconut biscuit. If you manage to find the Ritter Sport Coconut Macaroon in the UK then it is certainly worth a try. I can't wait to try more from this range!

The other Winter Editions by Ritter Sport are Dark Praline Creme and Caramelised Almonds.

Dark Praline Creme

Caramelised Almonds

What do you think of the Ritter Sport Winter Editions range?

26 Nov 2012

Milka Crispello Vanilla Cream Review

There was quite a bit of buzz a last month about the new Cadbury Crispello chocolate launch and it made me interested in trying the original version, the Milka Crispello. I managed to find this Milka Crispello Vanilla Cream in a local Polish grocery shop which I snapped up for the bargain price of £1.79. Instead of a "bar" (as much as you can call the Cadbury's version a bar, since it is three separate segments), these chocolates come individually wrapped in a large sharing style bag.

It was enough to make me go out and purchase a Cadbury's Crispello just so I could compare them properly!

Inside the Milka Crispello bag there were 15 individually wrapped chocolates, each one having 57 calories. This is not too dissimilar from the Cadbury Crispello, which is marketed as a lower calorie chocolate, and has 55 calories in each piece. I much prefer having each chocolate individually wrapped, it's just more convenient, bonus points to Milka!

In the Left Corner: Milka Crispello - In the Right Corner Cadbury Crispello
Once their differing wrappers have been removed, the Crispellos both look pretty identical. The Cadbury Crispello was a tiny bit smaller and also a fraction darker in colouring. On appearance these two are evenly matched.

Hahaha the Milka Crispello looks like a pair of eyeballs. Yes I'm that immature, but seriously don't they? I'm not going to describe the Cadbury's Crispello too much, I've already reviewed it here. It's a fairly basic and pleasant chocolate experience, consisting of a crunchy wafer with a smooth chocolate truffle centre. This Milka Crispello is different as it is filled with a Vanilla Cream (although there is a chocolate version available too).

Above: Milka Crispello Below: Cadbury Crispello

The outer chocolate coating is fairly similar in both versions, they are both sweet but a bit bland. The wafer sections are also identical, the same crisp wafer. The Milka Crispello also has a smooth truffle like centre with a similar consistency to the Cadbury's version, but oh dear me, this is where the Milka loses out to Cadbury's in terms of taste. The vanilla flavouring used is just horrible, it's that artificial, sickly aftertaste kind of flavour. This is coming from someone who loves vanilla and also loves crazy vanilla flavoured products (see my Crusha Cherry Vanilla review as evidence!). But I did not enjoy the vanilla flavouring used in the Milka Crispello. It really detracts from the enjoyment of the rest of the chocolate.

Sorry Milka but even if you give me girly individual sharing sized packaging - if the flavour is not right then it's worthless. I never thought I would say this but in the great battle between the Crispellos, Cadbury's has come out on top!

Check out my other Cadbury Vs Milka Face-Offs:

Cadbury Dairy Milk Oreo review
Milka Popcorn Snax review

24 Nov 2012

Joe & Seph's Smooth Caramel, Coconut & Cinnamon Popcorn

I've always wanted to try Joe & Seph's range of popcorn and I finally found some on a recent trip to Selfridges Food Hall. I was greeted with an abundant range of flavours but I couldn't resist the sound of the Caramel, Coconut and Cinnamon. I figured I may as well start off with the classics before I move on to the more adventurous sounding flavours! Also as I adore both coconut and cinnamon this flavour combination was immediately appealing.

Joe & Seph's popcorn has been uniquely prepared so as to release different flavours whilst you are eating, essentially creating a layering effect of flavours. For the Caramel, Coconut and Cinnamon they describe the layering as; firstly you will "taste our smooth caramel followed by the Saigon cinnamon and our special blend of exotic spices with the coconut flourishing in your mouth to finish".

As soon as I opened the packet I could instantly smell the exotic blend of coconut and cinnamon. Heaven! This is probably as good a point as any to admit that I'm not a great fan of shop bought popcorn. I love the freshly made stuff, cinema popcorn can be quite nice too, but I don't like popcorn which is covered in overly thick and sickly toffee coatings. Thankfully Joe & Seph's Popcorn is a completely different experience to the usual toffee popcorn. The caramel coating is crispy but not too thick, it lightly coats the popcorn giving it a deliciously crunchy texture. The inner popcorn is light and fluffy and just melts in the mouth.

However all this is still secondary to the gorgeous flavours of the popcorn itself. The layering of the flavours is genuinely phenomenal. Firstly the caramel is sweet and creamy, followed by the rich cinnamon spice and then there is the gorgeous coconut which lingers at the end. It's simply popcorn perfection.

I will definitely be buying from this range again and I can't wait to add a few bags to the Christmas hampers I'm putting together this year. I love the fact that there is a flavour for everyone, the range is truly expansive. There are some fantastic Christmas flavours; Mince Pie and Brandy Butter. If you are not a sweet tooth they also have a range of savoury popcorn, in flavours such as; Mature Irish Cheddar and Goats Cheese & Black Pepper. The only problem I can see is deciding which flavour to try next. I'm tempted by the Peanut Butter or the Gingerbread popcorn!

What do you think of the Joe & Seph's Popcorn range and which of their flavours would you try?

23 Nov 2012

Arden & Amici Cranberry & Orange Panettone

It's the final day of the Arden & Amici Week and I've left the most festive sounding of the new range until last. The Arden & Amici Cranberry & Orange Panettone has a wonderfully festive look with it's burgundy, gold and black packaging.  It is available, from Waitrose, in two sizes; the large 750g panettone and a mini version which is 100g.

The Cranberry & Orange Panettone has a lovely aroma once it is out of the packaging. It is light and buttery with a slightly zesty edge. The colour is nicely golden and there are a few pieces of fruit visible from the outside.

Once cut open the Cranberry & Orange Panettone has a similar distribution of fruit as the Classic Panettone I reviewed earlier in the week. I loved the fact that it wasn't overloaded with cranberry and orange. There is the perfect ratio of fluffy bread to the fruit pieces, keeping the overall flavour light and soft rather than heavy like some fruit cakes. The bread retains a lovely buttery flavour, whilst the cranberry pieces are juicy and succulent. The orange pieces are quite small and taste very sweet, they don't have that bitter aftertaste that candied peel can sometimes have. They provide delicate bursts of orange flavour rather than overwhelming the rest of the ingredients.

I was especially impressed by the pieces of cranberry and orange in this panettone. It is obvious that high quality ingredients have been used, there are no horrible dried up tasteless pieces of fruit here, they are all flavourful and moist. Even my husband, who is not usually a fan of fruity breads, thoroughly enjoyed this panettone. It's perfect for those that want to try something a bit different this Christmas.

The Arden & Amici Cranberry & Orange Panettone is available at Waitrose for £8.99 for the 750g and £2.69 for the 100g. The latter mini panettone is also available on a 2 for £4 offer.

Three Mini Panettones dusted with icing sugar

Now that this week has come to an end I want to thank Arden & Amici for sending me these products to try. I was delighted with the prospect of receiving some of their festive range to review, but I was truly stunned when a parcel roughly the size of my front room arrived filled to the brim with Arden & Amici products. I am always completely honest in my opinions when writing reviews, whether I have received the product or not. If my reviews of the Arden & Amici range have all been glowing it is because I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of these Italian delicacies.

I still have a couple more products to review from the range; the Drunken Panettone, Cocoa Ricciarelli and the Pandoro. I will be posting these reviews in the run up to Christmas. My husband also recently bought the Arden & Amici Crunchy Amaretti and Almond Cantuccini (he is well and truly hooked now!) so look out for reviews of those soon.

Final Roundup of the Arden & Amici Week:
Arden & Amici Panforte
Arden & Amici Classic Panettone
Arden & Amici Chocolate Chip Panettone
Arden & Amici Almond Ricciarelli

22 Nov 2012

Arden & Amici Almond Ricciarelli Review

It's now Day 4 of Arden & Amici Week and the time is flying by! Today I felt like reviewing something that is a little bit different. These Ricciarelli are a traditional Italian biscuit that originated in the town of Siena, Tuscany, dating back to the 13th Century. I studied History for many years so naturally I love finding out about such distant origins. The legend surrounding these Ricciarelli biscuits is based on a Sienese adventurer, Ricciardetto della Gherardesca, who apparently ate these delicious biscuits during a crusade sometime around 1250. He loved them so much that brought back the recipe and had them made for guests at his castle near Volterra. It's an intriguing story to go with this regional delicacy.

The Ricciarelli biscuits are traditionally made using an almond base with sugar, honey and egg whites. The rough and crackled surface is then covered with icing sugar. They are made in moulds which are often described as "boat shaped". I can't help but see them as being almond shaped, reflecting the delicious flavour within.

Ricciarelli biscuits are traditionally eaten at Christmas, making them a perfect addition to the Arden & Amici festive Italian bakery range. The ingredients are simple but they are full of flavour. The base of these biscuits is made of almonds without any flour, making them a perfect gluten and wheat free treat. They are an intense almond experience with a soft and slightly chewy texture. If you are fond of marzipan or almond based desserts then you will love these.

These Almond Ricciarelli are extremely sweet, the layer of icing sugar on top is quite thick too, so having a strong cup of coffee or espresso alongside them is a must. They are completely different to anything I have eaten before and I'm so glad to have been introduced to these little regional treats.

They look so pretty with their boat (or almond!) shape and would look great served up with coffee at the end of a meal. I couldn't resist adding an extra sprinkling of icing sugar too.

Arden & Amici have also released a Cocoa Ricciarelli which I cannot wait to try, I will be reviewing them in the next few weeks. They also contain an almond base but with the addition of cocoa powder, which sounds absolutely delicious!

The Arden & Amici Almond Ricciarelli and Cocoa Ricciarelli are available in Waitrose for £5.69 each. Have you ever tried Ricciarelli before? If you have tried them in Italy I would love to hear from you!

Take a look at my other reviews from Arden & Amici Week:

Arden & Amici Panforte
Arden & Amici Classic Panettone
Arden & Amici Chocolate Chip Panettone

Tea India Review: Black Tea & Vanilla Chai

I've been blogging a lot about coffee recently but the truth is I'm also a tea lover. Since it wouldn't be sensible to drink coffee all day long, I usually switch to cups of tea after midday! I was delighted to be sent this set of Tea India award-winning teas, which have recently been launched in the UK. They arrived in a beautiful box filled with gold paper. It's a fitting transport method for these delightful boxes of tea.

I love the design and packaging of the Tea India range, it's all very sleek but with a fun twist. The teapots on the front of the box are drawn using paisley patterns which evokes an Indian style. I also loved the insides of the box, which once opened revealed vibrant colours that match the outer design; it's a very inviting feature.

  Pretty packaging aside, the all important question is how do they actually taste?

Tea India Vanilla Chai
The Tea India Vanilla Chai sounded especially appealing to my sweet tooth so it was the first one I tried. Chai tea is an Indian method of brewing tea which requires a combination of spices to produce a wonderfully fragrant tea. My husband is a dab hand at making a lovely chai tea using green cardamon, fennel seeds, cloves and black tea. It's quite a time consuming business so I was interested to see if an instant version could match up.

The Vanilla Chai tea bags contain cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, black pepper and vanilla flavouring. Surprisingly, the tea bags did not smell instantly of vanilla but rather of the peppery spices. Once brewed, I added a small amount of milk. The overall flavour is extremely comforting, there is a subtle heat from the ginger and black pepper. It is warming and delicately spicy without being overwhelming. There is a subtle sweetness from the vanilla, but it's a very light flavour that is not overly sweet. It's very different from the Chai that my husband makes but they are each delicious in their own way.

Tea India Black Tea
Tea India also make a Black Tea which they describe as "a unique blend of the finest teas with a deliciously rich, smooth flavour for you to enjoy everyday". The tea is made by picking only the two top leaves and the bud to ensure the freshness. Again, I tried mine with a small amount of milk.

The premium Black Tea had a lovely golden colour to it once the milk was added. It had a fragrant flavour that owes it's depth to the high quality of tea used. The taste was light and refreshing but still very robust. It's perfect as a delicious everyday tea. I enjoyed both the Black Tea and the Vanilla Chai, they were equally fresh tasting with smooth rich flavours.

The Tea India range has already won awards, with the Vanilla Chai and Black Tea each being awarded a 2 star gold rating in the Great Taste Awards 2012. There are two other teas available in the range: a traditional Masala Chai and the aromatic Cardamon Chai.

 Cardamon Chai       Masala Chai

The Tea India range is available at selected Tesco stores and Booth stores. Check online at Tea India to find your nearest stockist or tweet @UKTesco to ask if they can stock it in your local store. The Vanilla Chai costs £2.39 for 40 bags, and the Black tea is £2.59 for 80 bags.

21 Nov 2012

Milka Almond Review

Kraft Foods in Bulgaria have been busy releasing lots of new bars under the Milka brand. I bought this from a local East European grocery store which I recently discovered. I was also excited to discover a range of Milka Jaffa cakes called Chocojaffa... review coming soon!

The look of this Milka Almond certainly matches the usual range of 100g Milka bars we get here in the UK. I'm no expert on Milka chocolate but at first glance it looked like it would live up to the bars I have tried before. Unfortunately this was not the case.

I'm not sure if Milka in Bulgaria uses a different type of chocolate but it definitely did not taste the same. Instead of the creamy and slightly nutty chocolate that I have come to expect from Milka there was an overly sugary and cloying chocolate. It had a decent enough cocoa flavour but it was so sweet that it left an almost burning sensation at the back of the throat.

The almonds were also disappointing, there were so few of them that most segments of the chocolate had no almondwhatsoever. Not good enough for a chocolate called "Milka Almond". The almonds that I could find did have a nice crunch to them, they were not soft or bland, but at the same time the pieces were so small that not much almond flavour could be experienced.

I bought this Milka Almond bar for £1 which is a great price for an imported chocolate, but I still won't be buying it again. Having said that I know it won't stop me from trying other products from the Bulgarian Milka range so watch this space!

Have you tried this Milka Almond bar before? Let me know if you agreed with my review!

You might also be interested in:

Milka Chocolate Gateau Review
Milka Mousse Pear & Almond
Milka Popcorn Snax

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