31 Jan 2014

Golden Wonder Quarterbacks - Cheeseburger Flavour Corn Snacks!

I have this particular fascination with cheeseburger (or even just plain burger) flavoured crisps. If I see a packet, no matter how obscure the brand, then I HAVE to try it. This is less to do with burger being my favourite flavour of crisp (because it's not!), and more to do with the fact that it's still quite an unusual and hard to find flavour. Tell me I'm not alone in this? If there is a certain hard to find flavour (of any type of snack) that you can't resist buying if you see it then I'd love to hear about it!

Anyway it's no surprise that I picked up these Golden Wonder Quarter Backs as soon as I saw them in my local newsagent. Here we have a distinctly British view of American culture portrayed via a crisp packet.  It's all about those cheeseburger eating Quarterbacks.

I'm sure that the imposing and athletic figure of a quarterback is a very hard image to recreate using the medium of a corn puff snack. But I was still bemused to find that these look more like stick men performing lethargic star jumps. The Cheeseburger flavour here is surprising. It has none of that sweet gherkin and relish flavour that usually dominates a burger crisp. This one is more of a straight up beef and cheddar affair. They taste like a mash up of a Roast Beef Monster Munch and a cheesy puff. Quite tasty but not a true cheeseburger flavour.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Golden Wonder Quarter Backs
RATING: 7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition: 114 calories (per 22g pack).
Vegetarian: Yes.
Purchased: Newsagent. 
Price: £0.20p each! Takes me back to when all crisps cost about 20p a pack!

Competition! Win a Degustabox of Foodie Surprises!

Degustabox is a monthly foodie subscription service, sending out a box of surprise treats for only £12.99, a bargain seeing as the contents are usually worth double that amount. Check out my review of the January Degustabox and all the wonderful goodies I received HERE. To win a Degustabox simply enter via the Rafflecopter widget below!

Discount Code: Even if you're not a winner, you can get £3.00 off a Degustabox by using the code BEZLS at the checkout.

WIN a Degustabox full of surprise goodies!

  • Leave a comment below telling me what you would love to find in your Degustabox, and THEN:
  • 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
  • Closing date 14 February 2014
  • Winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter

  • Entrants must be aged 18 or over
  • This competition is open to UK mainland residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

30 Jan 2014

Degustabox Review & Discount Code!

There are quite a few subscription foodie services around at the moment but one that has always stood out to me is the Degustabox, an exciting monthly surprise tasting box. Each month a range of specially selected new and limited edition (magically words to me!) food products from well known brands are sent out in a gorgeously packaged box. There is no fixed contract involved, the monthly fee is £12.99 which includes delivery, and Degustabox estimate that the value of the contents is approximately twice that.

If you love new and limited edition goodies as much as me then I'm pleased to say that Degustabox have kindly offered my readers the chance to WIN a Degustabox! I will be posting the competition details tomorrow so please check back!

Discount Code:
In the meantime you can also use the following Discount Code for £3.00 off your next Degustabox. The code is - BEZLS

There were so many products I actually struggled to get them all in a photo! What surprised me about the Degustabox I received was the quality of the products. Many of them are organic, and others are brands that I've previously lingered over in Waitrose and health food shops! This is definitely a box for someone who likes to try goodies that are a little bit different, as well as products that the whole family can enjoy. For me, it had the perfect balance of food products. I'll be featuring in depth reviews soon, but here's a quick run down of all of the goodies in the January Degustabox.

Dorset Cereals Berry Granola - a deliciously simple mix of gently baked oats, zingy raspberries & blackberries. I'm a big fan of Dorset Cereals so I can't wait to try this new Berry Granola. I think this would also be lovely for making some berry and granola muffins!

There were two drinks included in the parcel, both very well wrapped. Firstly, the Zico Chocolate Coconut Water. I haven't been a fan of coconut water in the past but the idea of a chocolate version is intriguing! It's low calorie, at only 20 calories per 100ml, and is made using natural chocolate flavour. The other drink is Go! Kombucha China White Fermented Raw Tea. This is described as having a unique sweet/sour taste and follows an original Ancient Chinese recipe for kombucha tea, often seen as a tonic to good health. Review coming soon!

Goody Good Stuff - I'm so glad there are some sweets included in the box! Not just any sweets though, these are all-natural, gelatin free, and dairy free (as well as being free from gluten, soy, nuts, high fructose corn syrup). There were two large bags in the Degustabox; Sour Mix & Match, and Tropical Fruit.

Maggi Recipe Mixes - There were three Maggi recipes mixes included; So Juicy Sticky BBQ, So Juicy Mexican Chicken, and So Tender Italian Herbs for Chicken. I've reviewed the So Juicy range before HERE, but the So Tender recipe mix with papyrus cooking paper is new to me and I can't wait to try it out for some quick and tasty mid week dinners.

Quinola Mothergrain Express - I was so excited when I saw this! I love Quinoa for a healthy superfood treat, and even though it's fairly easy to make on it's own, I've been looking longingly at the ready made express Quinoa packs for quite awhile now. These organic Quinoa pouches can be eaten hot or cold and are ideal as part of a salad or as a hot side.

Amy's Kitchen - Another brand that I've always wanted to try. Amy's Kitchen use organic ingredients to create nourishing health conscious soups. I buy a lot of fresh tomato soups and I'm eager to see how this Amy's Kitchen chunky variety compares. 

Jules Destrooper Butter Crisps - The Jules Destrooper biscuiterie was founded over 125 years ago and even though I was aware of this distinguished brand, I'm ashamed to say I've never tried their biscuits. Thank you Degustabox for introducing me to these delightful butter biscuits! 

Garofalo Whole Wheat Spaghetti - I was lucky enough to receive this extra product in my Degustabox. An organic whole wheat pasta made in Naples by premium Italian pasta makers Garofalo. I adore whole wheat pasta so this was another winning product for me. 

Overall I was exceptionally pleased with my Degustabox. I loved the eclectic range of products, from family meal helpers, soups and drinks, to lovely sweet treats, all from an interesting mix of well known and distinctive brands. If you're the type of person, who loves searching out unusual products or want some new foodie inspiration then the Degustabox offers a good value way of trying out something a little bit different!

For more details:
http://bit.ly/DBhomepage - Degutabox website
http://bit.ly/DBUKfacebook - Facebook
http://bit.ly/DBUKTwitter - twitter

And don't forget to check back on Grocery Gems tomorrow for the Degustabox competition!

I received a Degustabox in order to provide an honest review.

Quick Review: Tesco Limited Edition Vanilla Milkshake Mix

Vanilla might seem like a fairly boring flavour for milk but it's still my kids favourite, and is surprisingly very hard to find as a milkshake mix. The likes of Nesquik and it's various supermarket copies never seem to venture beyond banana, chocolate or strawberry flavours, none of which my kids particularly like. That's why I was thrilled to see this Vanilla Milkshake Mix from Tesco, it's the perfect flavour for my family. The flavour is exactly what you would expect, a sweet vanilla with creamy undertones, that is a very simple and effective partner for a glass of milk. 

Even though I usually love Limited Editions I sincerely hope that this one is here to stay. In the meantime I'll be stocking up!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Tesco Vanilla Milkshake Mix

RATING: 8 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition: 163 calories (based on 20g serving with 200ml semi-skimmed milk). 
Vegetarian: Yes.
Purchased: Tesco. 
Price: £1.49 (300g).

28 Jan 2014

Review: New Alpen Trail Bars Fruits & Nuts

I seem to review cereal bars almost as often as yogurts! This new one from Alpen stood out to me because of the name "Trail Bars". The concept of a "trail mix" seems to be becoming more and more popular in the UK. It was only recently that my kids asked me to make them some trail mix after they saw Rigby enjoying some on an episode of Regular Show! Anyway, these new Alpen Trail Bars come in three varieties; Fruits & Nuts, Big Berries, and Chunky Nuts. I found the Fruits & Nuts variety in my local Tesco.

There are three Trail Bars in each multipack box (these are currently on offer for £1.50 in Tesco). I was quite surprised when I realised there was only three in the box, but these bars are very big, almost double the size of my usual cereal bars. They're described as high energy bars to help keep you going. So definitely more for say... sustenance on a long hiking trip or after some long distance running... rather than when sitting at your desk with a cup of coffee for a sugary rush. *ahem*

The flavours are all very good here, the oats are flavourful, the hazelnuts and almonds are crunchy, whilst the raisins are sweet and plump. All the ingredients work well together but, what with the sugary syrup that holds the bar together and the abundant raisins, I found the whole thing too sweet for me. I think I would prefer the Chunky Nuts version of this bar without all the added raisins. Having said that I did enjoy eating my bar with a strong cup of coffee and it's a very satisfying and filling snack.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Alpen Trail Bars Fruits & Nuts

RATING: 7.5 out of 10.
Buy them again?: I'd try the other varieties too.
Nutrition: 185 calories (48g bar). 
Vegetarian: Yes.
Purchased: Tesco. 
Price: £1.50  for a three pack (offer price).

27 Jan 2014

Review: Müller Light Greek Style Mango Yogurt

I love trying out new yogurts but the range that I keep coming back to again and again is the Müller Light Greek Style yogurts, especially the Coconut with a Hint of Vanilla flavour. I really didn't think anything could top that flavour as my favourite yogurt, but that was until this new Mouthwatering Mango came along. 

For some reason I've always preferred mango yogurts that are smooth and creamy but they're quite hard to find. I must not be the only one as this new mango yogurt from Müller is completely smooth, without any fruit pieces at all, a real plus for me. I love the mango flavour here, it's sweet but not overly so, with enough tart flavour from the yogurt itself for balance. I can't imagine I'll be wanting to buy any other yogurt for awhile now as I absolutely adore this one!

The other flavours in the Müller Light Greek Style range are; Luscious Lemon, Coconut with a Hint of Vanilla, Sublime Strawberry, Morello Cherry, Honeyed Peach, and Tempting Toffee.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Müller Light Greek Style Mango

RATING: 9 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition: 90 calories (120g per pot). 
Vegetarian: No.
Purchased: Tesco. 
Price: £2.19 per four pack, but currently buy one get one free.

25 Jan 2014

Review: Corny Nussvoll - White Chocolate & Almond.

Last year I received an awesome package of German goodies from a reader called Steffi. See my post HERE which featured most of those products. I was also sent these Corny Nussvoll cereal bars at the same time but for some reason it's taken me ages to post a review, despite these being one of my favourite products from the package (and that's saying something because I loved all of it!).  

The first thing I just have to get out of the way is the name. CORNY... lol. Okay let's all get it out of our system, it does sound quite funny to any English speakers. Corny usually meaning something that is trite, unfunny and badly sentimental. No doubt it's meaning for this cereal bar is more along the lines of "filled with corn". :)

The packaging for the Corny Nusswoll is excellent with it's see through windows and muted natural colours. The actual cereal bars look fantastic too, and are loaded with white chocolate chips and almonds.

Sometimes with these kind of nuts cereal bars, they have a tendency to be quite dense and are often held together with a hard sugary binding. Thankfully that wasn't the case here; these bars are chewy and soft, with an added crunchy texture from the abundant almonds. The flavour is very satisfying too, wheaty and golden with a deliciously creamy white chocolate. I really did enjoy these and I'll be scouring my local shops for more from this range. I've seen them turn up from time to time in discount stores.

Thanks again to the lovely Steffi! :)

Grocery Gems Verdict: Corny Nussvoll

RATING: 9 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.

24 Jan 2014

Review: Cadbury Dream Bar

Cadbury Dream bars always seem quite hard to find. Apparently they are still exist across Europe but only have a limited distribution in the UK due to lack of demand. I guess they can't compete with the more popular Milky Bar from Nestlé. I bought these kid friendly sized Cadbury Dream bars from a local newsagent, and they contain 110 calories each. 

Inside it's a thin looking bar with a fairly uninspired design of a flower and a football on opposite sides. Cadbury obviously hedging their bets with those choices.

I was all prepared to say that this white chocolate tasted cheap and plasticky but surprisingly enough I thought it was actually very nice. There's no doubt it has a very sweet flavour, but I still found the white chocolate offering here to be enjoyably creamy and smooth. I would probably say that Milky Bars are tastier overall, mainly because they have more of a vanilla edge to them, but the Cadbury Dream is a pleasing treat nonetheless.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Cadbury Dream
RATING: 7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition: 110 calories.
Vegetarian: Yes.
Purchased: Newsagent. 
Price: 4 bars for £1.00. 

23 Jan 2014

Review: Beech's Dark Chocolate Ginger

The lovely people at Beech's sent me these intriguing looking Dark Chocolate Ginger to try. These are dark chocolates with a stem ginger centre, made using the finest Chinese stem ginger. Beech's have been making fine chocolates since 1920 and have a wondeful selection of traditional and special occasion chocolates. Check out their full range here: http://www.beechsfinechocolates.com/

I loved the fact that each of these Dark Chocolate Gingers has it's own unique appearance, no two are the exact same in size or appearance. They are also very generously covered in a thick layer of dark chocolate. This chocolate has a wonderfully sweet and strong cocoa flavour without any bitterness.

Inside each chocolate is a large piece of stem ginger that is full of spicy flavour and warmth. It tastes divine with the dark chocolate covering and is a chocolate to really savour. There is quite a bit of heat in the aftertaste but it's mellowed by the sweetness in the chocolate. The whole thing is completely delicious and a perfect treat for any ginger fan.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Beech's Dark Chocolate Ginger

RATING: 9 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Vegetarian: Suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Price: £3.49p (100g box), £6.49 (200g box).

Product sent for an honest review.

Review: Oloves - new flavours!

A few months ago I reviewed the range of healthy snacks from Oloves (see my review here). Oloves are 100% natural, deli-style olives, in convenient servings with only 50 calories each. They've recently undergone a packaging revamp and added a few new flavours and I was delighted to give them a try. I received four flavours to try; Basil & Garlic, Lemon & Rosemary, Chilli & Oregano, and Chilli & Garlic Black Olives. They're all available online and at Holland & Barrett stores. Check out their website here: http://www.oloves.com.

Chilli & Garlic: I was most interested to try out the new black olives from Oloves which are chilli and garlic flavoured. As expected from the Oloves range, these olives were all juicy and flavourful with a fantastic texture and appearance. I loved the addition of the chilli and garlic, it packed just the right amount of punch without being too overpowering.

Basil & Garlic: Green olives with a delicate flavour from the basil and a little extra kick from the garlic. A classic flavour combination that tastes delicious here.

Chilli & Oregano: I love the amount of chilli that Oloves uses on it's olives, it's not too strong and still lets the juicy flavour from the olives themselves shine through. The oregano is the perfect compliment to the rest of the flavours here and creates a delicious snack.

Lemon & Rosemary: These were amazing! There are little pieces of pickled lemon within the pack that I just ordered. The whole thing has a wonderfully zesty and zingy flavour that works so well with the green olives!

Overall I loved these new flavours from Oloves. If you're a fan of olives then I highly recommend this range. They're also perfect for snacking on the go, I  love the individual pouches, as none of these pouches contain any water - these are mess free!

Products sent for an honest review and all opinions expressed are my own. 

Grocery Gems Verdict: Oloves

RATING: 10 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Absolutely!

Vegetarian: Suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Price: £0.99p (Holland & Barratt or 2 for £1.48p).

Website: http://www.oloves.com/

Review: The Reach Bar & Kitchen

Something a bit different from me today. I had the exciting opportunity to try out the newly opened bar and restaurant The Reach, which is situated in a Grade II listed building next to the Royal Albert Dock in east London. It's menu consists of top quality, seasonal fare, all wonderfully presented by chef Mickael Chalopin. As you would expect from a new venture, it's all looks fabulous, with lots of earthy tones and stylish (but comfy!) furnishings. We enjoyed a superb meal for four - the following photos will  make you very hungry!

I have to start with the bread basket that greeted us. The delicious salt and pepper crusty bread was so fresh and to my delight it was served warm. It was a lovely way to whet our appetites for the meal to come.

For my starter I chose the Brushetta, which was served with grilled courgette, aubergine and red peppers with a choice of melted cheese. It also came with a generous side salad. This was all absolutely delicious and a very enjoyable way to start the meal.

My husband opted for the Beef Tomato starter. This thing was huge! The massive tomato was layered with buffalo mozzarella and homemade Pesto de Genovese, and served with lots of extra salad. Everything about this starter was so fresh tasting (a running theme for this review!), the ingredients were top notch, and packed full of flavour.

For his main course my husband opted for the Beer Battered Fresh Fish Of The Day and Chips. I would say that this was the most popular meal on the day we went, so many people were eating this. It was served with more salad and a gorgeous pot of the tastiest mushy peas I've ever had (yes, I did try all the meals!). The fish was so fresh and melt in the mouth!

My eldest son opted for a Traditional Hamburger. This was a very generously sized portion and came with a gorgeous handmade burger relish. The burger patty itself was also obviously of a premium quality. All of the food served at The Reach is fresh, they only use their freezers for ice cream.

My youngest son went for the Cumberland Sausage, served with a vigneronne sauce and homemade creamy mash. Oh my gosh this was divine! When I go back to The Reach this is what I'll be ordering - and I'm not usually someone who eats either sausages or mash! The sauce was so rich and dark and full of flavour. The mash was the creamiest I've ever tasted and the Cumberland sausages were fantastic quality. The crispy onions on top were delectable and just finished it all off perfectly.

My choice on the day was the King Tempura Prawn, served with pak choi, baby corn and mash. I wanted to try something a bit different and I'm glad I did because this whole meal was perfection, including the spicy dip on the side.

Somehow we managed to find a little space for dessert! But when the desserts are this special you'll want to save a little room too. Hubby and the boys went for the Homemade Nut and Chocolate Brownie. Now this disappeared within a few seconds so I barely got to try any, but safe to say it was excellently gooey and moist, everything a brownie should be. A very generously sized portion too.

And while the boys were busy enjoying their brownies I had this beauty all to myself. This is the Homemade Créme Brulee, which was delicately flavoured with lavender. I loved the flavours here, it was sweet and creamy, obviously made by a complete genius, and just the ideal finish to my experience at The Reach.

All other aspects of our experience were also wonderful. Not only was the food excellent but it also had a great atmosphere, and felt very welcoming. I'd absolutely recommend The Reach as a wonderful place to go with friends for a foodie treat. As it's a bar The Reach also offers an extensive range of wine and drinks.

The setting was lovely too, it faces the Royal Albert Dock, and offered a nice view of the water especially as it started to turn dusk.

Take a look at their website here for more details http://www.thereachbar.co.uk/. There is also a fantastic offer on at the moment that if you review The Reach Bar & Kitchen on their Facebook page or Trip Advisor you will receive 25% off your bill in February.

Grocery Gems Verdict: The Reach Bar & Kitchen

RATING: 10 out of 10.

I received a meal for four at The Reach Bar & Kitchen in return for an honest review.

22 Jan 2014

Around The World: Philippines - Chef Tony's Gourmet Green Tea Popcorn

I couldn't resist this tub of green tea flavoured popcorn from the Philippines for my Around the world Challenge. I bought this during a visit to one of the many grocery stores in London's Chinatown. There was a fairly large selection of flavours in the Chef Tony's range of popcorn, from savoury cheese to the more appealing sweet cinnamon, but I decided to go for the most unusual flavour available.

I  liked the fact that this popcorn comes in a large tub, which helpfully doubles as a serving bowl. What I wasn't so sure about was the bright green colour - this stuff is seriously green! I'll be honest I didn't really have high expectations for the flavour here, I bought this more on a whim for my Around the World challenge. It's not obvious at first, but underneath all that bright green colour the popcorn has a crunchy toffee layer. This meant the popcorn tasted much like a regular toffee popcorn, but with an added earthy green tea flavour. Despite the high impact colour, the green tea was not too overpowering and it was still a tasty toffee popcorn. I couldn't eat too much of this popcorn in one go, but overall I enjoyed the flavour and the popcorn itself had a decent crunch and texture. 

Grocery Gems Verdict: Chef Tony's Gourmet Popcorn Green Tea

RATING: 7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Maybe.
Purchased: Grocery store in London Chinatown. 
Around The World: Made in the Philippines.

21 Jan 2014

Review: Candy Land Bursting Cola Bottles - Liquid Centre

I was quite excited when I spotted these Bursting Cola Bottles in a local newsagent. Ever since I tried the Haribo liquid centre Cola Bottles (review here), I've been hoping for a similar product to be available in the UK. This Candy Land range is made by Tangerine Confectionery, an independent UK sugar confectionery and popcorn supplier.

These Cola Bottles have a fizzy coating, but it's of the sugary variety rather than being too sour. It gives a lightly tangy flavour to the cola bottles and added interest to the texture, from the outer crunchy coating to the inner oozy centre. 

And they really do have a wonderfully liquid centre. In fact I'd say these are even gooier than the aforementioned Haribo sweets. There is plenty of the liquid filling here to enjoy in these sweets, and it gives a lovely burst of cola in each bite. The overall flavour is very sweet, perhaps a little too sweet, but ultimately these are a very fun cola bottle which we all enjoyed!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Candy Land Bursting Cola Bottles
RATING: 8 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition: 334 calories (per 100g).
Vegetarian: Not suitable.
Purchased: Newsagents. 
Price: £0.65p (70g bag).

Japanese Snacks Review! Umaibo, Morinaga Choco Balls & Mitsuya Cider Candy

As a fan of Japanese confections I often get serious snack envy when I hear about the products available there. I'd especially love to visit the world's first Kit Kat Speciality Shop, called the Kit Kat Chocolatory, which recently opened in Tokyo! Maybe one day, but in the meantime here's a round up of a few more fabulous Japanese snacks which I've been trying lately, all easily available through the wonderful Oyatsu Cafe - they get new products all the time so it's worth checking out their front page regularly.


Like these Umaibo snacks for example. These popular snacks feature a mascot called Umaemon and come in a variety of flavours. The actual snack is a large cylindrical puffed corn snack (imagine a huge individual Wotsit - except far tastier!), with a flavoured seasoning on top.

I tried out two flavours Umaibo Tonsako (fried pork) and Umaibo Cheese and they were both completely delicious. The Tonsako flavour is meaty but is sweet and sour at the same time, and have a salty hint of soy sauce. It's a fully rounded flavour that beats any puffed corn snack I've tried before hands down. The Cheese flavour is also more complex then a simple cheese corn puff, there is some added sweetness here too that is balanced out by a subtle tangy background flavour. 8 out of 10. 

Morinaga Choco Balls

These Morinaga Choco Balls are described as peanuts covered in a crispy cookie layer and coated with chocolate.

The chocolate coating is ridiculously glossy and gives these a gorgeous appearance.

Each one has a whole crunchy peanut inside. The biscuity layer surrounding the peanut seemed to me more of a wafer consistency rather than a cookie. It gives the Choco Balls an extra crunch and more interesting than a regular chocolate covered peanut. The chocolate itself has quite a dark cocoa flavour and adds a sweetness to these delectable Choco Balls. 9 out of 10. 

Mitsuya Cider Candy

Mitsuya Cider is a popular soda drink in Japan that has been around since 1884. Despite the word "cider" this drink is not actually made with cider. Instead, the Mitsuya Cider is a non-alcoholic drink that comes in many flavoured varieties.

These candies based on the drink have a fizzy outer layer to replicate the soda drink itself. I tried out two flavours, the White Mitsuya Cider Candy and the Mitsuya Cider Lemon Candy. The White Mitsuya was my favourite of the two, it was much sweeter than I was expecting, with a subtle bubblegum flavour. The fizzyness gives it a sherbet edge and makes these surprisingly moreish! The lemon candies have a fairly strong zesty flavour and are more tart overall - perfect for lovers of sour sweets. (9 out of 10).

Take a look at Oyatsu Cafe for all their newest and limited edition Japanese snacks! http://oyatsucafe.com Don't forget you can use the discount coupon GROCERYGEMS for 15% discount off any Oyatsu Cafe order. 

All products sent for an honest review.  

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