31 Oct 2014

Happy Halloween!

A very late post but I just have to show off this awesome Hello Kitty pumpkin carving that Mr. Grocery Gems did today. I had no idea he was planning this and I was so excited when I first saw it - it's so cute! Over the years Mr. Grocery Gems has been honing his pumpkin carving skills and I'd say he's now an expert.

Have a great weekend everyone! Katherine x

29 Oct 2014

New Instore: Asda Desserts & Fox's Biscuits

Many thanks to Lucy W. who spotted all these new products in Asda. It seems like Asda has plenty of new products in the frozen aisle and I'll definitely be taking a look next time I'm instore. Thanks for all the great photos Lucy!

Asda Chocolate Praline Cheesecake: This looks so good! It's a creamy hazelnut mousse and rich chocolate praline on a hazelnut biscuit base and all topped with roasted hazelnuts. £2.00.

Asda Ice Cream Trifle: A very festive looking ice cream dessert. It's a strawberry and raspberry ice cream with sponge pieces, layered with a custard flavoured ice cream and raspberry sauce, topped with cream ice cream and red & green sugar strands. I'm buying one! £3.00.

Asda Tiramisu Cheesecake: This looks like an interesting twist on a classic dessert. This cheesecake has a biscuit base, layered with sponge soaked in espresso extract and Marsala wine and topped with Mascarpone cream and dark chocolate shavings. £2.00.

Asda Toffee Apple Cheesecake: I'm tempted to get this for bonfire night. It has a biscuit base with vanilla cheesecake, Bramley apple, toffee sauce and a butter crumble topping. It's like a cross between an apple crumble and a cheesecake! £2.00.

Image: Asda

Asda Loaded Gingerbread Fudge Ice Cream: Many thanks to Natalie who let me know about another new ice cream at Asda - their Loaded Gingerbread Fudge ice cream. It has a gingerbread flavour ice cream with toffee sauce, gingerbread biscuit pieces and fudge pieces. I really MUST find this one! A bargain at only £1.50 at Asda.

Fox's Chocolatey Ginger Biscuit: Lucy also sent me this photo of these new Fox's dark chocolate & ginger biscuits from their Chocolatey range. There was also a new Choc Orange variety in the range too. 

Many thanks again to Lucy and Natalie. As always if you spot any new products instore do drop me a line - grocerygems@gmail.com.

New Peppadew Roasted Red Peppers

Peppadew have released a new Roasted Red Peppers product that launched at the Co-Op this week - the first non piquanté product the brand has released in the UK. I reviewed their stuffed Piquanté Pepper range last month (see review HERE), and I was delighted to be asked to try out this latest release. The Peppadew Roasted Red Peppers are different from other brands of peppers in jars. because they have been flash roasted, creating the same effect as barbecuing over hot coals, whilst retaining both the texture and colour of the natural pepper. 

Each jar is a large 465g in size and is crammed full of vibrantly red peppers that have been kept in whole generous portions. I was surprised by just how many large peppers were in each jar.

The Peppadew Roasted Red Peppers are presented in a sweetened vinegar brine which gives them a lovely tangy flavour along with their natural sweetness and chargrilled taste. They're recommended as being ideal for serving as part of an antipasti plate, in a salad, or as an accompaniment to a barbecue. It's a very versatile product to have in the store cupboard as the flavours are so easy to pair with many dishes.  I've already used them to perk up lunch time salads and also enjoyed them as a topping on home made pizza. They've been delicious in each and every meal we've used them in! I can just imagine that these Roasted Red Peppers would be the perfect addition to an antipasti platter and I'll definitely be saving a jar to try that way next.

Overall, the Roasted Red Peppers are another gorgeous product from Peppadew - something special to enjoy as a real treat.

For more information take a look at: www.peppadew.co.uk

Grocery Gems Verdict: Peppadew Roasted Red Peppers stuffed with cheese/tuna

RATING: 9 out of 10
Buy them again?: Yes.
Purchased: Available at Co-Op stores.
Price: Awaiting price - will update.

Product sent for an honest review.

28 Oct 2014

New Philadelphia Duo Cremoso Range

Philadelphia have released a new range of indulgent cream cheeses that feature an outer layer of creamy Philadelphia with a lightly whipped core. There are three flavours availoable: Vine-Ripened Tomato, Cracked Peppercorn, and Garlic & Fine Herbs. Each Duo Cremoso pot comes with a paper wrapped cream cheese that can be lifted out and served. I've been really curious to see what these are like so I was delighted to be asked to be sent a few pots to try out.

Once the pot is opened it reveals a large block of cream cheese wrapped in a sort of frilly paper that is easy to lift out.

There is a thick Philadelphia layer around the lighter and softer textured centre. Each of the fillings has a strong flavour that is complimented by the creamy Philadelphia.

Garlic & Fine Herbs: This one is packed full of flavour, with a rich garlic taste that we all enjoyed. It's fantastic on some crusty bread and was my kids' favourite of the three. It was also the one that we managed to finish in one sitting!

Vine-Ripened Tomato: I love the combination of tomatoes and cream cheese and it's a great match in this Philadelphia Duo Cremoso. The creaminess of the Philadelphia combined with the robust tomato flavour of the filling is very tasty.

Cracked Peppercorn: This was my personal favourite of the three, although it's a close call as I really did enjoy all of them. I just love black peppercorns and the filling here has a lovely freshly cracked peppercorn flavour. We enjoyed this on a Salt & Pepper Baguette from Tesco and it was just divine!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Philadelphia Duo Cremoso

RATING: 8 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition: 83 calories per 30g.
Vegetarian: Not suitable for vegetarians.
Purchased: Sainsbury's.Price: RRP - £2.49p for 150g (but currently £1.50p at Sainsbury's).

Products sent for an honest review.

27 Oct 2014

Thermos #OvernightCoffee Challenge & A Coffee Masterclass

Last Saturday I attended a bloggers event for iconic brand Thermos at a very trendy London coffee house called Prufrock Coffee. As soon as I arrived I was presented with a large Thermos that had been filled with coffee the night before. We were all invited to open up the Thermos and try it out and I was delighted to find that the coffee inside was still wonderfully hot and enjoyable. 

If you've read my Nespresso reviews then you'll know I'm a just a little bit of a coffee addict. The staff at Prufrock Coffee are experts not only the art of making the perfect cup of coffee, but also in coffee tasting and appreciation too. I learnt the various stages of grading coffee, from the initial scent through to the actual taste. 

The coffee tasting was my favourite part of the event because we were introduced to the spectrum of different flavours that can be detected within each cup of coffee. It was a bit like a wine tasting, with lots of slurping as we tried the coffee, and much talk of spicy, carbony and flowery notes. The staff there also treated us to a masterclass in making the perfect cup of coffee. It turns out that I'm not a natural when it comes to steaming milk or creating latte art, and it's all far more complicated than I imagined!

After the event I got to take home a Thermos goodie bag in order to make my own overnight coffee challenge. The large Thermos Vintage Flask in the photo above is double walled which means it can keep drinks hot or cold for up to 24 hours. I'm the type of person who likes my hot drinks really HOT, and I was pleased with how hot the Thermos kept the coffee overnight. I found that it was best if the Thermos is filled with drink to the top, if it's only half filled then the drink was warm rather than hot. The red Thermos travel mug has a great design which means it keeps the coffee hotter for longer and is virtually leak proof too - very different from my previous travel mug which I'm very pleased to now replace!

Thank you to Thermos and the staff at Prufrock Coffee for a lovely event!

26 Oct 2014

Options Hot Chocolate: Limited Edition Strawberry & More

Thank you to Charlotte who spotted this new Strawberry Options a few weeks back. It's taken me a while to find it but they are finally in stock in my local Sainsbury's. I like the fact that Options are constantly bringing out new flavours in their range, they always seem to have something new, My favourite was their coconut version which was released last year (see my review HERE). This new Strawberry flavour is a worthy new addition to the range and creates a very enjoyable hot chocolate - it smells like a strawberry fondant chocolate from a selection box and tastes just as sweet too. I would buy this Strawberry flavour again, but I won't be stocking up as much as I did with the Caribbean Coconut (I hoarded so many of those I still have some left!).

I also picked up a few other Options hot chocolates which are new to me; Choca Latte, Salted Caramel and Choc Praline. If you've tried any of these then I'd love to hear from you in the comments below! I will update this review with my thoughts once I've had a chance to try them all. I'm looking forward to the Salted Caramel next.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Options Strawberry Hot Chocolate

RATING: 7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition: 39 calories.
Purchased: Sainsbury's.
Price: £0.32p each.

24 Oct 2014

New Covent Garden Soup Co - Pumpkin Ghoulash

A quick review of this new soup of the month, Pumpkin Ghoulash, from New Covent Garden Soup Co. It's made up of a medley of vegetables; tomatoes (11%), carrots, potatoes, pumpkin (8%), onions, cabbage and mixed green and red peppers, along with other ingredients such as vegetable stock, salt, garlic and spices. 

The main flavours here are from the tomatoes and peppers combined with an added depth from the addition of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. It reminded me of a tomato soup mixed with a traditional root vegetable soup. I couldn't really detect much of the pumpkin flavour, which was slightly disappointing, but the overall flavour was pleasant enough, even though it's nothing special. I would have preferred much more of the pumpkin, especially considering the name of the soup. 

Grocery Gems Verdict: Gingerbread Sandwich Ice Cream

RATING: 6.5 out of 10.
Buy them again?: No - there are lots of other new flavours to try in the range.
Nutrition: 87 calories per half carton.
Purchased: Sainsbury's.
Price: £1.50p (special offer).

23 Oct 2014

Chocomosa - Chocolate Samosas with Peanut Butter

Happy Diwali to anyone celebrating today! Last month, on a visit to Westfield Stratford, I was lucky enough to come across a stall selling these unique chocolate samosas - Chocomosa. They are sold in really cool triangular shaped boxes and can be found in the frozen section of some Morrisons supermarkets and at various food events across the country too. There are three varieties available at the moment; the original Chocolate Samosas, Chocolate Samosas with Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Samosas with Coconut. 

Photo: London Insider
Each pack comes with 10 chocolate samosas - they are quite small in size. As these are frozen, for best results they need to be deep fried straight from the freezer. They can also be made in the oven by sprinkling them with a little oil and baked until golden but I've only tried them fried. Of course they taste indulgently delicious - the idea of making a chocolate samosa is so simple but complete genius at the same time. Imagine the filo pasty filled with peanutty chocolate or coconut chocolate, all gooey and hot, but crispy too.

UPDATED: I decided to give them a go in the oven!

I placed the samosas on greaseproof paper and brushed a little oil onto each one. They took about 10 minutes in the oven before they started to look golden brown.

I was impressed that they all help together fine, with no chocolate leaking out onto the tray. The outer pastry is slightly harder than if it had been fried, but it's also less greasy too which I prefer.

Inside the fillings were very hot but still retained a fairly firm texture. The Chocolate & Coconut samosas (cut in half on the left) has a darker filling with a rich chocolate flavour and a lovely coconut sweetness. The Peanut Butter samosas (cut in half on the right) has a chunkier and quite crunchy filling, with peanut pieces, peanut butter and chocolate. 

For more information about Chocomosa check out this article HERE.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Chocomosa - Chocolate Samosas

RATING: 9 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Great idea - can't wait to see what other flavours they do.
Purchased: Available at Morrisons.
Price: £2.99.

Note: apologies for the lack of photos - I'll be updating with more soon!

20 Oct 2014

New Walls Gingerbread Sandwich Ice Cream

Thank you to all the lovely readers who informed me that the Gingerbread Sandwich ice creams could be found at Waitrose. I was able to rush out last week and pick up a box... okay I'll 'fess up, it was actually two boxes. Also thanks to Nicky, who commented on this post and let me know that the Gingerbread Sandwich ice cream has been sold in Sweden for a few years now in the months before Christmas. The rest of the year they have a chocolate Sandwich ice cream (you can see how similar they are to this UK version in this picture HERE). Both are made by the Swedish version of Walls (called GB Glace) which are both owned by Unilever. Anyway, I thought that was all very interesting and I'm really pleased that this product has now been released in the UK too!

The first thing I noticed about the Gingerbread Sandwich is just how big each one is. For reference, the Oreo cookie ice creams are about half the size of these. The second most noticeable feature is just how white and smooth the inner ice cream looks, everyone was just *wow* when they saw it, it's so inviting. 

When it comes to flavour, I'm going to cut straight to the point and say that I loved these Gingerbread Sandwich ice creams. The outer biscuit has a soft texture, which is usually the case with these types of biscuits and makes it ideal for taking easy bites without smooshing the ice cream out (sorry I know smooshing is not a real word but you know what I mean!). When it comes to the gingerbread flavour, the makers have not wimped and given us a bland barely spiced biscuit, they've kept it authentic with a deliciously spiced gingerbread with lots of warmth and depth. It also has a little salty edge to it which I really enjoyed. The ice cream inside is completely plain, it doesn't even taste of vanilla, but it just has a perfectly smooth texture and super sweetness that is sublime in cooling down the warmth of the outer gingerbread layers. 

So far I've been cutting these in half and sharing one with Mr. Grocery Gems, but even doing that, we're going to have to buy a few more boxes if we want to have any left for Christmas!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Gingerbread Sandwich Ice Cream

RATING: 9 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes - my kids really enjoyed them too.
Nutrition (per Sandwich): 173 calories.
Purchased: Waitrose
Price: £2.00 (special offer).

18 Oct 2014

Little Miracles Organic Drinks (Degustabox)

Little Miracles Organic drinks are blends of organic tea and fruit juices, full of antioxidant ingredients, that are sweetened with organic agave and free from artificial colours flavours and sweeteners. I was sent two of their drinks in this months Degustabox (see post HERE) and was keen to give them a try. I do like tea based cold drinks, like iced tea, but they're often full of nasty ingredients, and it's great that Little Miracles offer this all-natural alternative.

I received two varieties: Lemongrass Green Tea with Orange Juice, Ginger, Ginseng and Agave, and also a Green Tea with Ginseng, Pomegranate, Açai, and Agave. Both varieties surprised me with just how refreshing they are - very thirst quenching and light but still with a lovely flavour. I wasn't sure if I would like the lemongrass drink as I'm not fond of that particular ingredient, but here is provides a mild hit of citrus that is very pleasant. The flavours in the green tea with pomegranate are also quite delicate, and I like the fact that the fruity flavours are more prominent than the actual green tea. I would definitely choose these drinks again if I was out and about, I felt like they gave a real boost of hydration and energy.

Little Miracles bottles are sold in some supermarkets (they're in my local Tesco), convenience stores, gyms, delis and many other locations. You can find your local stockist here:  http://drinklittlemiracles.com/stockists

Grocery Gems Verdict: Little Miracles Organic Drinks

Rating: 9 out of 10.
But it again?: Yes.

17 Oct 2014

New Instore: Lidl Halloween Range & Lidl Nespresso Compatible Coffee Capsules

A few interesting Halloween items that I spotted in Lidl today. I haven't tried any of their Halloween range before and I was really impressed with the products available. I ended up buying quite a few different Halloween treats, much more than I have from any of the main supermarkets, and they were all great value too!

Lidl Halloween Snacks: This was the first product to catch my eye. It's a large sized bag of sour cream flavoured corn snacks - in spooky spider and cobweb shapes. I can't wait to serve these up on Halloween! Great value at £0.89p for a 100g bag.

Lidl Halloween Iced Cake Bites: This looked like a biscuit decorating kit with the icing mix and pumpkin decorations included. £1.49 each.

Lidl Halloween Cupcakes - Bubble Gum Flavour: This was the one my kids were most excited about so I had to buy a set. It's a mix for chocolate flavour cupcakes with bubblegum flavour icing and includes sugar coated cereal balls to decorate. I'm not sure how tasty these will actually be, but it will certainly be a fun activity to do during the half-term in the run up to Halloween. £1.49 - makes approx. 12 cupcakes.

Cake Angels Halloween Sprinkles: If you prefer to do your own baking then these decorative sprinkles are great value. Each tub has four different Halloween themed sprinkles; green sugar pieces, orange sugar pearls, bat and ghost sugar shapes, and black and orange sprinkles. £1.49p for 81g tub.

Lidl Halloween Milk Chocolate Balls: Large nets filled with Halloween foil wrapped solid milk chocolates. There is a generous 200g in each net (over 20 balls) so these would be good for kids Halloween parties. It's hard to tell from the photo but the wrappings look really good - either scary pumpkins or a dark blue sky with a witch on her broomstick. £0.99p for 200g.

Trolli Magic Horror: Apologies I forgot to make a note of the price for this (if anyone know please leave a comment below!). It's a large 1000g tub of Halloween shaped sweets. The individual sweets in this tub looked really big - there are some massive shapes in there! It even had full Frankenstein figures and large spiders. I've never heard of the Trolli brand but I really regret not buying one of these tubs! £2.99 for 1000g.

Lidl Halloween Tricolore Pasta: If you'd prefer to keep things a little bit healthier this Halloween, then these Halloween Tricolore Pasta shapes are ideal. I love the mix of black and orange pasta with all the different Halloween shapes; bats, spiders and pumpkins. I did buy these! £0.99p for 500g.

Lidl Espresso Coffee Capsules (Nespresso Compatible): Also a quick heads up about the Lidl Nespresso pods which are half price this weekend - only £0.89p for a box of 10 capsules. I bought these a few weeks ago and honestly, I didn't expect them to be any good. Well, they are fantastic (the Ristretto ones at least), making a smooth strong cup with a lovely robust flavour. My husband couldn't believe they were from Lidl. Stock up! 

16 Oct 2014

Oishi Fun - Japanese Candy & Snack Box

Oishi Fun is a surprise subscription based candy & snack box, that ships direct from Tokyo, Japan. Each month Oishi Fun send out a box crammed full of different treats and goodies, often with limited edition and seasonal products included too. The boxes cost $25 (around £15) and unlike some other subscription boxes, you don't need to sign up for a set number of months - the subscription can be cancelled at any time. More details: http://www.oishifun.com

It was exciting to be asked to review the October Oishi Fun box, and once it arrived, I was staggered by just how many items were crammed into the medium sized box (it was like the Tardis in there!), including some awesome Halloween and kawaii items. There were plenty of full sized products along with lots of individual sweets and snacks. I've already decided to sign up for a few more boxes because the selection was just amazing and I can't resist the lure of these limited edition items. Check out the photos below for all the items. A little warning here - there are a LOT of photos!

Lotte Koala Halloween Pack: I'm going to jump straight in with the seasonal items that I was delighted to find included in the box. Lotte Koala are little biscuits with a chocolate fillings. This limited Halloween pack is not just cute packaging as the little biscuits are also printed with Halloween images. I've been eyeing this up on Facebook recently so I was thrilled to find it in the Oishi Fun box. I'll have a review up soon!

Kit Kat Pumpkin Pudding Bake-able: These look like the same Pumpkin Pudding flavour that I reviewed last year HERE but this time they are also bake-able. Take a look at my review of these baked Kit Kat HERE and you'll get the idea! As such a limited and coveted item (these sold out really fast last year), I was very surprised to see them included in the Oishi Fun box! Having such limited edition items really puts the Oishi Fun box ahead of other subscription boxes in my opinion. 

Halloween Treat Bag: There were also more sweets and chocolates included in a little cello treat bag put together by the lovely people at Oishi Fun. I loved the Halloween cello bag used  here - it's so cute. 

Inside were even more Japanese treats. I couldn't quite believe just how many were in this little bag, and amazingly there was another Kit Kat Pumpkin Pudding in here! There were also two Halloween themed lollipops (these are so cute!), some Hello Kitty sweets, Banana Milk Caramel and other candies.

A very scary looking gum. Okay, so here's the spooky thing - this gum has gone missing. I know it was in the box earlier today, but when I went back to write this review... it's gone. I have a feeling I'll find it on top of my pillow one day. It's seriously creepy looking but perfect for Halloween. Once I find it I'll update with more details!

Calbee Jagarico Crunchy Potato Sticks: These crunchy Jagarico potato sticks are so tasty, they have a deliciously buttery and salty flavour.

Tirol Chocolate Mix 9 Pack: This is an adorable box of nine different chocolate each with a unique flavour, including; Strawberry Jelly, Hot Cake, Coffee Caramel and White Cookie Crunch. I was so surprised to find this is in a subscription box, it's just fantastic!

Glico Collon: These were also wrapped in a cello gift bag (which you can see in the top left corner of the above pic) - it was lovely to find these individually wrapped items in the Oishi Fun box. 

Baby Star Ramen Chips: These are a classic Japanese snack that have been around for many years. They're chicken flavoured dry ramen noodle chips - I'm looking forward to trying them.

Kanro Puré Fruit Gummy: I've been wanting to try this range for quite a while. There were two different flavours included in the box; Lemon and Grape. 

Umaibo Pizza and Umaibo Corn Potage: Umaibo snacks are really tasty corn snacks that come in lots of different flavours (see my previous review HERE).  I always make sure to include a few different varieties whenever I order from my favourite online Japanese stores. However, I've never tried the Corn Potage flavour before so I was pleased to find these in the Oishi Fun box.  

Riska Choco Snack: These are chocolate biscuits in a long tube shape. I haven't tried these yet but they look like a sweet version of the above Umaibo snacks! :)

Glico Watering Kiss Mint: This is an interestingly named gum! Going by the packaging this one is pear flavoured but if you know more about this product then feel free to leave a comment below!

Morinaga Milk Caramels & a Popcan Disney Lollipop: I've reviewed the Morinaga Milk Caramels before HERE - they're deliciously creamy, soft caramels. The lollipop is so cute because it's shaped with two ears like Mickey Mouse. It looks like something that would be quite expensive to buy.

Meiji The Chocolate: Two individually wrapped Meiji chocolates. 

Even more Japanese candy!: And these are the rest of the smaller candies that were in the box. There are several different jelly based sweets, mini chocolates from Lotte and Meiji, a Fujiya grand nut and just too many other sweets to mention. There are actually a few chocolates missing from the picture above which gives you an idea how much was in the box! 

There was even this cute little kawaii cat in the bottom of the box (I seriously don't know how Oishi Fun managed to fit everything in). This cuddly cat is actually a small bag as there is a long strap that unfolds from the back and it has a little pouch too. Just adorable!

Overall, I'm extremely impressed with all the items in the Oishi Fun box. Not only is it stuffed full of exciting products, but it also has the feel of a gift that has been packaged up and sent by a friend. This is not something I've come across with any other subscription box before and I really can't wait to see what goodies the next Oishi Fun box will include! On the basis of this October box, I think the Oishi Fun box would make a fantastic gift too. 

Subscription Box Details: Oishi Fun

Rating: 10 out of 10 - I'm signing up!
Price: $25.00 each month (just over £15).
Delivery:  Free shipping. Parcels are sent out on 15th of each month.
More details: http://www.oishifun.com/faq

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