30 Jun 2015

Review: Minion Ice Cream Lollies

With the UK currently basking in a mini-heatwave I made a trip to the supermarket just to stock up on ice cream and ice lollies. Since I've reviewed quite a few Minions related products already I though it was about time to give the new Minion Ice Cream Lollies a try.

I was actually surprised by how cute the ice lollies are - sure their mouths look a bit weird but they're a lot more recognisable than previous character ice lollies I've reviewed (anyone remember the Star Wars Stormtrooper Ice Lollies?). They really do look like Minions and the eye being an actual hole in the ice cream is quite a cute touch. The texture of the ice cream is very light and fluffy, almost airy, so they do melt quite quickly. The flavours here are surprisingly good, I was expecting bland, but instead there is a strong vanilla flavour at the top and a clearly differentiated fruity flavour on the bottom. It's a fairly simple ice cream overall but the kids really enjoyed them (and so did I!). 

Grocery Gems Review: Minion Ice Cream Lollies

RATING: 8 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition: 71 calories(per 60ml ice lolly)

Purchased: Sainsbury's.
Price: £2.00 (box of 6).

29 Jun 2015

Around the World - Korea: Nonghyup Korean Rice Punch

I picked up this little can of Korean Rice Punch in my local Tesco and was so intrigued I had to buy it for my Around the World reviews. The ingredients list is reassuringly simple, consisting of; water, malt extract, nonglutinous rice, sugar and ginger extract. 

The drink itself has a cloudy pale yellow colour with a small amount of rice floating around in it. The flavour is extremely sweet but still surprisingly refreshing. The flavour is hard to describe but it's a bit like a sweet rice pudding without any creaminess. Even though the rice flavour is sugary sweet, the drink itself is still quite watery. The rice grains are very small and soft, and add an interesting extra texture to the drink. Overall, this was a very unusual drink but one that is worth trying if you have a very sweet tooth!

Around the World: Nonghyup Korean Rice Punch

Country of Origin: Korea.
Purchased: Tesco.
Price: £0.39p (238ml can).
Nutrition: 35 calories (per 100ml).

27 Jun 2015

Around the World - Sri Lanka: Elephant House Orange Barley Drink

I recently picked up a few drinks from a local Asian supermarket for my Around the World reviews - I'm trying to pick up the pace on this challenge in 2015! There were quite a few products from this Elephant House brand which are all produced in Sri Lanka (such as lemonade and ginger beer) but I decided to go for the Orange Barley drink as it seemed a bit more unusual. 

The drink itself has a bright orange colour and is lightly carbonated. The flavour was much sweeter than I was expecting. At first it reminded me a bit of original Lucozade but I think that may just be the combination of the bright orange and sweet flavour. Once I drank a bit more it revealed a much fruitier flavour, with a bit of orange but also an artificial bubble gum sweetness. I couldn't really detect the barley aspect of this drink, although there is a slight wheaty flavour. Overall, this drink was far too sweet for me to enjoy but I still appreciate that it has a very unique flavour. 

Around the World: Elephant House Orange Barley

Country of Origin: Sri Lanka.
Purchased: Local grocery store.
Price: £0.49p (330ml can).
Nutrition: 50 calories (per 100ml).

26 Jun 2015

Review: Yushoi Snacks - Snapea Rice Sticks (UK)

A big thank you to Calbee who sent me a few sample packs of their new Yushoi snack range that is being launched in the UK (and is made in their new factory in Wales). The Yushoi Snapea Rice Sticks are a healthier alternative to fried crisps - they have less than 99 calories per pack, are made with green peas and rice, and are high in protein and fibre. The whole range is free of artificial colours, flavours, or MSG and is nut and dairy free too - making it suitable for vegetarians and vegans. 

There are four flavours in the Yushoi range; Sweet Chilli & Lemon, Soy & Balsamic Vinegar, Smoked Salt & Szechuan Pepper, and Lightly Salted.

The snacks are a unique pea and rice based snack that is baked not fried. Each pack is made up of distinctive pea pod shaped puffed snacks that look as if they will have actual peas inside them (they don't!). The texture is light and crunchy and the background flavour does have a hint of delicious green peas.

Sweet Chilli & Lemon: These have a gorgeously zingy combination of chilli with a subtle hint of lemon. The chilli heat has a little kick to it but there are also hints of garlic and onion that creates a unique flavour that I really enjoyed.

Lightly Salted: These have the highest pea content and are made with 74% green peas (the other flavours have 68%), which seemed to be reflected in the greenish colouring. The flavour here is the most natural and pea-like too with a mild sweet pea flavour combining well with the lightly salted flavouring.

Smoked Salt & Szechuan Pepper: These are really tasty, with hints of garlic, onion and oriental spices that creates a distinctive and vibrant taste. The overall flavour is both smokey and sweet which gives these a barbecue type flavour that is very moreish.

Soy & Balsamic Vinegar: Despite the strong competition, this was my favourite flavour from the Yushoi range. It's such a unique twist on standard salt and vinegar snacks. The combination of the salty soy sauce and sweet balsamic vinegar, coupled with the earthy pea background flavour, is absolutely delicious. I can't wait until these are available in bigger packs!

The Yushoi range will hopefully be available instore soon. Follow @YushoiSnacks and #StockOurSnacks for the latest news!

25 Jun 2015

New Instore: Tesco & Co-Op Round Up

A couple of new products spotted instore at Tesco.

Innocent Limited Edition Perfectly Pink: This is a fruit & veg smoothie which contains apples, oranges, bananas, pears, and also beetroot, which gives it a bright pink colour. Google tells me this was released a few months ago but it's the first time I've seen it instore. £2.79p at Tesco.

Tropicana Essentials Fruit & Veg: Available in three blends Fruit & Pumpkin, Fruit & Beetroot, and Fruit & Carrot Juice with all have added vitamins and minerals. I'm including this here because of the pumpkin variety - I'll definitely be giving it a try. £2.48p at Tesco. 

Tesco Carrot Spaghetti & Courgette Spaghetti: Gadgets that can easily spiralise vegetables seem to be increasingly popular at the moment. It didn't take long for Tesco to get on the bandwagon with these tubs of ready-prepared Carrot Spaghetti and Courgette Spaghetti. Apparently there is also a Cauliflower Cous Cous too! £1.00p each at Tesco (many thanks to Lucy W. for the photo).

Yeo Valley Limited Edition Papaya & Lime: Another thank you to Lucy W. for letting me know about this one and for the photo. The summer combination of papaya and lime sounds absolutely gorgeous for a limited edition yogurt. They're currently on offer for 2 for £2.00p at Tesco.

Alpen Light Jaffa Cake Cereal Bars: I know for most people these have been available for a few months now but they are finally available in my local stores (although I've never managed to find the Alpen Light Banoffee again). I think the "Jaffa Cake" name is just a sneaky rebranding of their Chocolate Orange flavour cereal bars. £1.99p at Tesco.

Chicago Town New Yorker Pizza: A classic deep dish pizza combo of pepperoni, ham, red onions and mozarella cheese with BBQ sauce, £2.00p at Tesco.

Twinings Fudge Melts & Cherry Bakewell Green Tea: I don't usually buy flavoured green teas, but I'm tempted by these interesting concoctions from Twinings. Especially the Cherry Bakewell which is green tea flavoured with cherry and vanilla. £2.49p at Tesco.

Tesco Goodness Mild Cheddar Mini Moons & Dinosaur Shapes: The Mini Moons look like a smaller version of Babybel. The individually wrapped cheese Dinosaur Shapes look cute and I'm sure they will be very popular. £1.50p at Tesco.

Aunt Bessie's Jam & Coconut Loaf Cake: There are quite a few new cakes from Aunt Bessie's instore but i was the Jam & Coconut loaf cake which really caught my eye! There are also Almond Bakewell Tarts, Raspberry & Coconut Tarts, Carrot Cake Loaf Cake and a Chocolate Cake in the range, £1.20p at Tesco.

The Co-Operative Truly Irrestible Passion Fruit & Coconut Cake: There are lots of new delicious looking cakes at the Co-Operative supermarket too. This passion fruit and coconut combination looks especially good! £2.00p at the Co-Op.

The Co-Operative Truly Irresistible Raspbery & Pistachio Roulade: This large roulade cake is decorated with toasted pistachios and dried raspberries. £4.00p at the Co-Op. 

The Co-Operative Summer - Lemon Swiss Roll Cake: A summery twist on a classic roll cake. There was also a new Lemon Sponge Cake in this range. £1.00p at the Co-Op.

The Co-Operative Summer - Rainbow Cake: It was hard to get a decent photo of this one the shelf but on it looks pretty impressive in real life (although the layers did look quite uneven). I like the fact that this doesn't have frosting all the way around - there's more than enough frosting in between the six layers of cake! £10.00p at the Co-Op.

If you've spotted any new products instore then I'd love to hear from you - email grocerygems@gmail.com or tweet me @grocerygems.

24 Jun 2015

New Instore: Japan Centre - Aero Matcha Chocolate & More

A few finds from a recent visit to the Japan Centre store in Piccadilly Circus, London.

Aero Mini Matcha Milk Chocolate: A few days ago I posted a slightly negative review of the new Aero Mousse chocolate bar that was released in the UK recently. It's a tasty enough chocolate but the flavour is completely boring and forgettable. In contrast, it seems that Nestlé Japan are keeping things a whole lot more interesting with these new Matcha flavoured Aero chocolates.  I couldn't resist picking up a bag of these and I hope to have a review soon. £3.98p at Japan Centre (for 20 pieces).

Nestlé Aero Mini Strawberry Cocoa: There was also a strawberry version available too described as individual wrapped pieces of sweet strawberry and cocoa infused bubbly chocolate. Apologies for the horrible photo (the shelf was too high for me!). £3.98p at Japan Centre (for 20 pieces).

Nestlé Crunch Mini Matcha: This Nestlé Crunch combines their well known combination of crispy pieces of puffed rice in chocolate, except that here the sweet white chocolate is flavoured with matcha green tea. £3.98p at Japan Centre.

Nestlé Crunch Mini Strawberry Milk: There was also a Strawberry flavoured variety available. I would really love to try this one too! £3.98p at Japan Centre.

If you've tried any of these chocolates then I'd love to hear from you in the comments below! I only picked up a pack of the Aero Mini Match but I'm regretting not buying a couple of the others too. Which one would you go for? 

Around the World - Dubai, UAE: Barbican Strawberry Malt Beverage

Barbican is a well known brand of non-alcoholic drinks produced in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, that is available in a wide range of flavours. I bought the Barbican Strawberry Malt Beverage from a local Asian grocery store and decided to review it as part of my Around the World challenge. 

The Barbican Strawberry Malt Beverage has a great appearance with a frothy top and golden colour. There is immediately a strong strawberry scent and it's matched by the sweet fruity flavour here. The base drink has a subtle flavour of malt and hops but it's the strawberry that really comes through as the main flavour. That's not to say that the strawberry flavour is overpowering or too strong, it actually has a light flavour that is refreshing and not too sweet. Overall, I did enjoy this drink, and although I probably wouldn't buy it again, it's still worth a try if you like strawberry flavoured drinks.

Around the World: Barbican Strawberry Malt Beverage

Country of Origin: Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Purchased: Local grocery store.
Price: £0.59p (330ml bottle).

23 Jun 2015

Review: Starbucks Frappuccino Fan Flavours - Cinnamon Swirl & Cupcake

Starbucks have introduced four limited edition Frappuccino Fan Flavours which have apparently been inspired by the fans. Well done to the "fans" - they've come up with some brilliant varieties! According to the Starbucks website, the four flavours are now available instore and are part of a social media vote with one flavour ultimately being announced as the winner by the end of this week. The flavours available are: Cinnamon Swirl, Cupcake, Summer Pie, and Cookie Dough.

Image: Starbucks
The strange thing about these new Frappuccinos is that, apart from a couple of tweets and the awesome reviews on Creamy Steaks, I haven't seen these drinks promoted or advertised by Starbucks. This means that asking for one of these drinks instore, more often than not, resulted in the Starbucks barista looking at me as if I'm crazy or just plain denying all knowledge of their existence. I've had both scenarios. And I'm not complaining about this happening in my local-outskirts-of-London-Starbucks, I'm talking about several Central London Starbucks not having the faintest idea about these drinks when I asked at the weekend.

Anyway, I did finally manage to get the Cinnamon Swirl Frappuccino and the Cupcake Frappuccino, both came without the toppings they're supposed to have, but I wasn't about to push my luck and ask about that.  

Being a cinnamon fan, I was most excited about the Cinnamon Swirl Frappuccino and it's appealing description of cinnamon syrup blended with coffee, white chocolate mocha sauce and vanilla, topped with cream and a cinnamon sprinkle (well, just skip the last part). It's a delicious Frappuccino, although the cinnamon flavour could have been more spiced for me, it's a little flowery tasting. Despite that, I did enjoy the balance of the sweet mocha sauce, coffee base and cinnamon syrup and I would still order this again.

The Cupcake Frappuccino is a simple combination of a Vanilla Créme Frappuccino base with added almond syrup. This would look so cute if it was decorated with sprinkles on top! The flavour here was more interesting than I was expecting it to be. The pairing of vanilla with almond really does create a cake-y flavour that was just delicious. I don't usually get non-coffee based Frappuccinos (I always need a caffeine boost!) but I certainly enjoyed the successful recreation of a cupcake flavour in this drink. 

Overall, both these flavours are worth a try - especially as they will not be around for very long at all. If you've tried either of these Fan Flavours Frappuccinos (or the other two!) then I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Review: Nespresso Limited Edition Perú Secreto

The latest limited edition coffee from Nespresso is a Pure Origin Grand Cru created with a little known Arabica from the Peruvian Andes, chosen for it's intense, round, and sweet espresso with roasted and cocoa notes

The  Nespresso Perú Secreto has been given an intensity rating of 8 and was recommended to me as being similar to my favourite Nespresso coffee - the Arpeggio. 

On the Nespresso website it describes the Perú Secreto as being best enjoyed with milk to reveal a sweeter more rounded flavour, and after trying it first without milk I can see why. The base coffee has quite a bitter undertone which is not really to my taste. Once I added milk I could appreciate the intense roasted flavour and hidden sweeter notes a bit more. Even so, this is a very strong flavour, which is not as smooth as the Arpeggio. My husband enjoyed the stronger intensity here but I doubt we will be stocking up on this limited edition.

Grocery Gems Review: Nespresso Perú Secreto:

Rating: 7 out of 10. 
Buy Again: Probably not.
Purchased: Nespresso.
Price: £3.80p (10 capsules).

19 Jun 2015

New Warburtons Shapes - Cat Shapes & Van Shapes!

Warburtons very kindly sent me a lovely hamper in celebration of National Picnic Week, filled with picnic essentials and a few packs of their latest Warburtons Shapes, in Cat Shapes and Van Shapes. 

These Warburtons  Shapes are such a fun addition to the Warburtons Sandwich Thins range. The soft breads are all pre-sliced and contain less than 100 calories each. They're cute enough to be enjoyed as they are but I decided to follow the inspiration from Warburtons and add a few extra touches!

As you can see it doesn't take much to add extra cuteness to the Warburtons Cat Shapes. I'm not creative at all but it really was easy to make a fun lunch for myself "for the kids". NO WAY was anyone getting their mitts on this Hello Kitty inspired sandwich apart from me.

Luckily the kids were still impressed with my efforts with the Warburtons Van Shapes and it's amazing how something so simple can make food more appealing and fun!

Warburtons Shapes are available in packs of six for £1.28p at Asda, Waitrose, Ocado, and will be released in other retailers too. 

PR Samples sent for an honest review.

Review: Aero Mousse Chocolate Bar

The new Aero Mousse bar is described as a bubbly Aero milk chocolate bar with a chocolate mousse layer inside. As exciting as that proposition sounds (which is NOT at all), the reality is even more boring than I expected.

The layer of mousse is very light and whipped in texture, rather than being a thick and creamy mousse. This gives the chocolate filling a light and airy consistency that is similar to another aerated chocolate bar- you know the one, it's called an Aero. The result being that the Aero Mousse tastes identical to a regular Aero chocolate bar. It's still a tasty enough treat, but I'm just not sure what the point of it is. 

Grocery Gems Review: Aero Mousse Chocolate Bar

RATING: 6 out of 10.
Buy them again?: No.
Purchased: Tesco.
Nutrition (per 1/2 bar):  94 calories (as long as you just eat half!).

14 Jun 2015

Review: Hartley's What's Your Flavour Jelly?

The new Hartley's What's Your Flavour Jelly? is a jelly mix that can be flavoured using your favourite drink. The possible drink suggestions given on the back are squash, fruit juice, cordial or fizzy drink - so it's really up to you! Each pack contains two separate sachets so you can give different drinks a try too.

As soon as I bought the Hartley's What's Your Flavour Jelly I knew that I wanted to use Lipton Peach Ice Tea as the flavouring. It's one of my favourite drinks (especially in the summer) and I just thought it would be great as a jelly flavour! Also I've tried cola and lemonade flavoured jellies before so a peach tea flavour just seemed a bit different too.

I'll have to update here with a photo of the finished jelly as I forgot to take one (too busy eating it!) but the jelly stayed the same colour as you can see above. The jelly itself is very simple to make, you simply add 300ml of boiling water to the jelly crystals and then add 200ml of your chosen drink. I was a bit worried that the Lipton Peach Ice Tea might not be a strong enough flavour for the jelly but it was actually fine. The jelly had a lovely sweet peach flavour, just like the Lipton Peach Ice Tea drink, and we all enjoyed the results as a jelly. I'll definitely be making this jelly again but next time using the new Lipton Raspberry Ice Tea as the flavour.

 Grocery Gems Verdict: Hartley's What's Your Flavour Jelly?

RATING: 9 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Vegetarian: Suitable for Vegetarians.
Purchased: Asda.
Price: £0.75p.

12 Jun 2015

Review: Hartley's Glitter Jelly - Strawberry

This is one of those products that I started searching for as soon as I heard about it. I know I'm old enough to know better but I just HAD TO give this Glitter Jelly a try. Even the packaging is so sparkly and appealing - the whole thing is just pure genius. 

It's easy to make, just like any other jelly crystals, by simply adding 500ml of boiling water. Even though it's not obvious from the photo above the glitter was noticeable as soon as I added the water. 

Once set the glitter is even more obvious with a shimmering sparkle visible throughout the strawberry flavoured jelly. 

The glitter very much reminded me of the sparkly J20 Glitter Berry drink - it's the same type of very fine, swirly glitter. It's so fine that there isn't any texture to the glitter, no gritty feeling at all, it's more of a shimmer. It just gives the jelly a wonderful appearance and creates such a fun and pretty twist on this classic kids treat. I'm looking forward to giving the Hartley's Raspberry Glitter Jelly a try next!

Grocery Gems Verdict: Hartley's Glitter Jelly - Strawberry

RATING: 8 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition: 94 calories (per 150g serving).
Vegetarian: Suitable for Vegetarians.
Purchased: Asda.
Price: £0.75p.

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