Monday, 27 June 2016

Reivew- M&S NEW Spirit of Summer: Kentucky Bourbon BBQ Corn Chips

Kentucky Bourbon BBQ Corn Chips - It's a snacky option for Spirit of Summer review number 4! 

Kentucky bourbon whiskey and barbecue flavoured corn chips with black pepper and coriander. 

I can't say I was overly impressed with the selection of "exotic" crisps in M&S when I picked up this 150g bag for £1.50.. I am not sure what I did expect really - What does constitute an exotic crisp? Something salsa-y? No doubt spicy too, much to my dismay! These Corn Chips seemed to be the best of a bad bunch and a good all round option as they're gluten free, Veggie and Vegan suitable! 

Being so conditioned to Doritos, the rectangle shape of the potent BBQ smelling Chips threw me at first - I did like their neat appearance however! Having a munch, they proved to be very crunchy as expected with the signature almost sweet, corn flavour. I found the BBQ aspect to fairly mild in comparison to the scent with the main taste being herbs, general smokey-ness and chilli which naturally, I found to blow my head off. The coriander lingered afterwards along with quite a bit of salt making them moreish with a kick of heat at the back of the throat. As for the bourbon whiskey aspect, I could taste none and am dubious to how much was actually put in to begin with given it's one of the last ingredients to be listed on the packet! 

Overall, these Kentucky Bourbon BBQ Corn Chips aren't much to my liking due to the "spice" but they went down a treat with my taste testers despite the different flavour elements being a little off - The bag hardly lasted the afternoon! Having said that however, I still can't help but feel M&S have missed a real opportunity here.. They even could have done a "dessert" crisp, the way they're chucking dulce de leche and coconut around - Now that would have been totally unique! It's a 3.5 out of 5 from me.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Review- M&S NEW Spirit of Summer: Lemon & Ricotta Cheesecake Slices

A calm after the storm may seem the furthest thing from the truth right now but the sun is back out -It's bright, it's yellow, it's happy and a bit like todays review.. It's Spirit of Summer Lemon & Ricotta Cheesecake! 

I was most excited to see these in the range amongst a smorgasbord of cheesecakey goodness - It was almost to difficult to pick which flavour to buy but I couldn't not opt for something citrus-y given my love of lemon.. Even if it does all look very pineapple-y! The pack of 2 slices, each weighing in at 110g each cost £2.60 and are suitable for Vegetarians - Isn't is snazzy how the majority of things are actually Veggie friendly? Who knew. 

The plastic tray was robust and prevented the rectangle slices from getting buffed or squished but blimey.. They were tricky to get out! I adopted a sort of tip and slide technique and even then, it split in half! 

Sicilian lemon and ricotta baked cheesecake on a digestive biscuit base topped with a Sicilian lemon glaze and candied lemon peel. 

Aside from the aforementioned breakage, the cheesecake cut beautifully, staying together rather than turning to slop, thanks to it's baked nature. This definitely reflected in both texture and taste with a soft yet dense feel and super creamy, sweet but not to sweet, flavour. A real kick of pure lemon from the jelly like topping cut through to prevent things from becoming overly sickly and added a load of fresh zesty-ness to the mix, heightening the overall citrus flavour without being lip puckering tart. As for that thick buttery biscuit base, it was the perfect pairing, tasting exactly as digestives should and without a shadow of a doubt, the only thing that was ever going to work. Proportion wise, the amounts of each element were equally as ideal - The potency of the lemon really was the star of the show despite only being a thin layer! 

Overall, these Lemon & Ricotta Cheesecake Slices are mouth-wateringly good and I could have quite easily eaten both given the chance! The quality is just undeniable - Any baked version is always going to be head and shoulders above but they really are superb.. It's all about the ricotta, I tell you! 

So, does this mean all of the M&S Spirit of Summer Cheesecakes will be a winner? Should I buy different flavours or would that be a slippery slope, stormy suicide?  I don't know the latest forecast.. Best keep a weather eye on the horizon.. Everyone. It's a 4.5 out of 5 from me! 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Review- M&S NEW Spirit of Summer: BBQ Pulled Pork Mac 'n' Cheese

The weather may still be grey, muggy and imploring for a thunderstorm but the Spirit of Summer is still well and truly running through me and today's little number is one I've had my eye on for quite a few months.. It's BBQ Pulled Pork Mac 'n' Cheese! 

The 300g cheesy pasta is actually designed to feed 2 as it is a side dish within a Pizza meal deal. I wasn't in the mood for the whole shebang so bought it on its own for £3.. Whilst eyeing up the Onion Rings and Cheesy Fries! 

Cooked pasta in a creamy cheese sauce with pulled pork in a smoky barbecue sauce topped with mature cheddar cheese and parsley. 

I cooked as instructed at 180ºC Fan* for 25 minutes on a baking tray after stabbing the film on top with some aggression - Trust me, it helps. 

The Mac 'n" Cheese came out smelling delightful - Super cheesy with a hint of BBQ. Unfortunately though, I was disappointed by how dry the pasta looked.. There was no where near enough sauce to coat the lot evenly and in turn, some of the macaroni had caught slightly! This was only reaffirmed when eating with a mish mash of textures - Soft and Al dente in parts yet rock solid in others despite giving a bit of a stir! The sauce itself, even though there was little of it, was decent enough with a thick gooey texture and good cheesy flavour. As for the pulled pork, a fairly generous lump was present and had the soft, melt in the mouth texture one would expect.. If only it didn't taste of fennel and nothing but! As a passionate hater of the stuff, I found this to overpower the entire dish and scooped the lot out promptly and ended up just picking at the bits of pasta it hadn't touched! - Yuck! 

Good grief - How can anyone get Mac 'n' Cheese wrong? I've heard nothing but good things about the one in M&S regular line! Some serious recipe editing needs to happen here starting with the amount of sauce being doubled to prevent dry, solid pasta pieces and that meat.. Well get rid of the fennel at least, if not do away with it completely - I think I've been put off entirely! It's a 2.5 out of 5 from me. 

*Nuke for 3 minutes if that's what tickles your pickle. 

Monday, 20 June 2016

Review- M&S NEW Spirit of Summer: Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

Today, the 20th of June is officially the beginning of Summer which can mean only one thing.. It's raining? Well, yes it is awful out there and chucking it down but no, today is all about the spirit.. The spirit that I just know is currently busting out of all of us.. The Spirit of Summer! 

The time has finally come! I am opening my arms to M&S and their South American fiesta of a quest by buying into their "exotic" range for the next few months - Trust me, there is enough to keep the party going all year round given that the entire store is over run with the brightly packaged stuff.. But I'd probably fall asleep before then. Hopefully something cold will keep me awake - 500ml of Veggie friendly, £3 a tub, Key Lime Pie Ice Cream! 

Dairy key lime flavour ice cream with key lime sauce (10%), digestive biscuits (9%) and meringue pieces (4%). 

We are inside the tub for todays shot with biscuit pieces, meringue and sauce all plain to see! The ice cream itself, although not smelling of much, was super thick and creamy with a subtle lime-y flavour - Not all that different to the outside of a Twister Ice Lolly, I suppose! The real kick of the zesty stuff came from the sauce swirled throughout which heightened the overall flavour to produce something really quite refreshing and undoubtably citrus. Contrasting in texture was the abundance of triangular shaped biscuit pieces which had a good digestive flavour even if a little on the hard side - I did fear for my teeth at one point! As for the meringue.. Sadly, it was a case of few and far between but the odd few bits I did notice were airy, sweet and just how they should be. All the elements went well together and were surprisingly, somewhat reminiscent to Key Lime Pie.. Even if the proportions were a little off! 

Thank the Spirit of Summer that I picked a good item to kick things off as this Key Lime Pie Ice cream is really quite delightful! It's tasty, refreshing and not like anything I have had before, that's for sure. My only complaint is the biscuit pieces.. They really are quite solid and I can't help but feel a soft cookie dough would have been more suitable. Also, more meringue please M&S! - It's a 4 out of 5 from me. 

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Review- Lily O'Brien's NEW Irresistibly Milk: Malted Chocolate and Caramel Crunch

I'm always on the look out for NEW chocolate to try.. Although it seems that the same flavours can be seen throughout all brands and it tends to just be a case of picking your favourite. Today's review is no different with the not particular unique, Malted Chocolate and Caramel Crunch Irresistibly Milk. 

My Buddy-Chum, Admiral Burger was the one to bring these Bars (Albeit he had the Salted Caramel) to my attention.. Given that I hadn't tried Lily O'Brien's previously, I figured why not and bought both in Asda for £2 each. Containing no artificial colours or flavours, the chocolate is suitable for Vegetarians whilst containing 30% cocoa and 20% milk solids, respectively. 

Shiny, paper backed gold foil wrapped each bar which gave a bit of a luxurious feel - In my opinion, Chocolate should always be wrapped in the stuff! 

Malted Chocolate Crunch

Slip into the luxurious silk of creamy milk chocolate that slowly melts into the sweetness of mellow malt crisp. 

Starting with the Malted, at first I was a little confused - It smelt of booze but not beer as you might expect.. More of a liqueur! Scanning the ingredients, none seemed to be listed so I gingerly took a bite and immediately concluded that it also tasted a lot like alcohol! I couldn't put my finger on what boozy beverage exactly but definitely something I've had before and I can only assume in a confectionary. Thankfully, this did develop into something chocolatey but with very little in terms of malt which was disappointing given the quantity of crunchy pieces. The booze flavour sort of faded the more I ate but overall was only alright, mostly weird and certainly not creamy or mellow! - A 2 out of 5 from me! 

Caramel Crunch

Melt into intensely creamy milk chocolate and surrender to a savoury-sweet burst of golden caramel scattered with Atlantic salt crystals. 

Moving onto the Caramel and my hopes weren't exactly high - The chunks smelt a lot like cheap calendar chocolate.. And to my horror, tasted a bit like it too! Semi chocolatey although not super rich or high quality, it did have a nice smooth, melting texture and wasn't unbearable by any means but it definitely felt as though something was missing flavour wise. Was it the caramel? Perhaps as I can't say any was particularly distinguishable! One thing that couldn't be missed and was essentially like a train to the face.. The salt! - Huge gritty crystals ran throughout which was a nice contrast to the sweet at first.. But sadly short lived as once the chocolate had melted, I was left with a mouthful of overly saline nibs which made me feel nothing but icky! Not great - A 1.5 out of 5. 

From boozy to salty.. These Lily O'Brien's Malted Chocolate and Caramel Crunch Bars are such a let down! I was expecting so much more given the hefty price tag and "premium" appearance but have been left with a bitter taste in my mouth.. Quite literally! I definitely won't be buying again and suggest you steer clear also.. Don't you be lured in by those glossy descriptions.. They're lies, I tell you - LIES. 

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Review- M&S Eton Mess Tartlets

After 3 savoury reviews in a row, I feel it's about time we go back to sweet.. M&S Eton Mess Tartlets! These were purchased off the back of the legendary Banoffee's which featured at the beginning of last month - I figured that since those were so spectacular, a berry version had to be too! 

The bright magenta box of 6 were once again included in the 2 for £4 offer along with a whole host of cakey treats.. But rather sneakily the total weight is 150g and not the 195g seen previously - I can only assume this is down to the difference in toppings.. No dried banana chips here!

All butter pastry cases filled with British raspberry jam, topped with raspberry coulis buttercream, meringue and freeze dried raspberry and blackberry pieces. 

I do like the look of these little tarts - They're just the right size, bright in colour and would look lovely laid out if you were putting on a summer spread! 

A knife cut through the layers of pastry, jam and buttercream with ease - I do however think the latter here was softer than that seen with the Banoffee.. It did appear to be fluffier! Taking a bite, the pastry proved to be up to the usual high quality with a short texture and buttery taste. Above this was a real kick of almost tart fruitiness from a jam come compote which was full of raspberry flavour along with pips for authenticity! The buttercream layer was lightly whipped, sticky and full of further berry tones with an obvious load of sweet thrown in to help mellow the "sharp".. Although given the sprinkling of freeze-dried fruits on top, it did still have a edge to it! As for the meringue.. There was zilch! - Not even a lonesome bit lurking. 

Overall, these Eton Mess Tartlets aren't to shabby at all but are certainly for the fruit go-ers who don't mind a bit of a tang - Yes, they are sweet but not sugary sweet and nothing like the Banoffee. Also marks have to be deducted for the total absence of meringue.. You can't really call a product Eton Mess if it doesn't have any meringue! I hope you're listening M&S - It's a 3.5 out of 5 from me. 

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Review- Lurpak NEW Smoked Chipotle Infusions

Does anyone else have a particular Baking Butter of choice? I know I do.. It's Unsalted Lurpak - Always has been and always will. When it comes to quality I don't think you can beat it.. Which is exactly why I was quite excited to see something a bit different from the brand - It's a NEW Infusions line! 

Give your flatbreads and wraps a flavour kick with Lurpak Infusions Smoked Chipotle. The whipped blend of Lurpak butter and rapeseed oil, infused with smoky chilli and spices, is the easy way to life your food Dollop and spread straight from the fridge, then top with whatever takes your fancy. 

I discovered the dinky 115g, Smoked Chipotle tub in Tesco where it was on offer for £1 along with a Chilli & Lime version as well as Sea Salt & Pink Peppercorn. The spread which is suitable for Vegetarians, contains no palm oil, hydrogenated fats or artificial colourings.. And is suitable for home freezing but not microwaving*. 

Since I'm not all that keen on flatbreads or wraps, I decided that topping Ryvita with the spread was the next best option. Very light and mousse like with a texture that I can only liken to Boursin, the Infusions smelt also like a spiced cheese and was very smooth in the mouth. Taste wise, it wasn't cheesy at all but super smoky with a real kick of chilli which almost bowled me over but MSW loved it. A garlic flavour was also most apparent, pairing up nicely with the fiery heat. As for the "butter" aspect.. I wouldn't say you would know it was one despite containing 62% - There was no real flavour of Lurpak itself due to all the Chipotle burn.. But was delicious nevertheless! 

Well, this NEW Smoked Chipotle Infusions is definitely one for the heat lovers - The potency of spice is unquestionable and as spreads go, it's faultless. I would say though, if you're looking for a butter equivalent, this isn't really it.. And if you're looking for a cream cheese equivalent, it's not going to be that either.. It's more of its own mysterious, tasty condiment! - A 4.5 out of 5 from me! 

*Does anyone even care about this information? I get the Veggie brigade kicking off (Ish) but who is concerned if they can microwave their spread.. Heck, you're clearly a bunch of rule breakers anyways and would do it regardless. 

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Review- M&S Chargrilled Vegetable & Basil Pesto Wood Fired Pizza

Pizza isn't something to feature much here on R4R.. We just aren't pizza people in my house with no real logical reason as to why - We all love bread more than we should, cheese never goes a miss and we get through tomato sauces like they're going out of fashion. In theory we should be living for the stuff but alas.. Afraid not. 

Pizza base topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, chargrilled yellow peppers, chargrilled courgettes, Santarella red cherry tomatoes, balsamic onions and basil pesto. 

Having said that MSW saw this Chargrilled Vegetable & Basil Pesto number in M&S and took enough of a shining to it to buy it for a rather pricey £5.50. The 476g, loaded with veggies, Wood Fired Pizza is designed to feed 2 which I thought was quite generous and is suitable to Vegetarians (I should think so to!) but not for freezing so don't do that. 

I cooked the Pizza as instructed for about 12 minutes, at 200ºC Fan and it turned out beautifully - Melted, crisp and only slightly burnt. Cutting with a wheel, the base proved easy to get through thanks to just the right thickness and robust nature. Taste wise, it was flawless - The tomato was fresh and vibrant, only complemented by the gooey mozzarella and naturally, going well with the abundance of soft vegetables. A balsamic flavour definitely lingered with a real kick of basil from the pesto which not only added a bit of moisture but also heightened the flavour of the courgette and pepper. Surprisingly no element was lost and all in all with the strong bread-y, sourdough base, there wasn't a shadow of a doubt that it tasted like all the good of the Med! Yum!

See, it makes zero sense - Both MSW and I adored this M&S Chargrilled Vegetable & Basil Pizza and yet we still claim not to be Pizza people! Times must be changing though as I am already eager to see how the rest of the Wood Fired range fairs.. A chicken option may just be slipping into my basket very soon. It's a 4.5 out of 5 from me! 

Friday, 10 June 2016

Review- Kettle Chips NEW Chef's Signature Burrata Mozzarella & Sweet Chilli Jam

So it seems that Kettle Chips Chef's Signature range is expanding - No, it still isn't the "boring" Salt & Vinegar flavour that was unduly lacking in September with the Yorkshire Wensleydale & Cox Apple Chutney.. But instead, Burrata Mozzarella & Sweet Chilli Jam! 

Hand cooked potato chips with Burrata Mozzarella and Sweet Chilli Jam seasoning. 

I picked up the 150g resealable although not recyclable, bag in Sainsbury's where they are currently on offer for £1. The real question is.. What's a Burrata? I hadn't the foggiest so off to the Interweb I went and learnt that it's a fresh Italian cheese made from Mozzarella and cream with a soft and squidgy centre - Every day's a school day! Also for anyone who may not know, Stokes, the company in partnership and providing the Chilli Jam in this case, are from my home away from home - Suffolk! They make a whole host of yummy sauces, chutneys, jams and much, much more and are definitely worth looking into if you fancy something a bit different. 

I had to heavily crank up the brightness of todays picture.. No word of a lie, it was like looking through a Smurf. Thankfully, the off-red seasoning was still plain to see with each crisp being generously coated. The Crisps smelt amazing - Slightly greasy, very potato-ey with a smokey sort of scent. Crunching my way through, the texture was also spot in being thin and fresh with a flavour to match. I wasn't sure just how spicy they were going to be but boy, did they pack a punch! - Even MSW who loves a bit of heat ended up spluttering over one! A sweetness lingered after the initial Chilli and although no Mozzarella (Or cheese in general) taste was distinguishable, perhaps it did assist in mellowing the aforementioned. Tasty and more-ish! 

Overall, these Burrata Mozzarella & Sweet Chilli Jam Crisps from Kettle Chips are a cracking addition to Chef's Signature! - The quality is undoubtably reflected in the decent flavour and more importantly, consistency throughout the bag. It would have been nice to have had more of a cheese flavour to balance out some of the spice for amateurs like me but they went down a treat with my taste testers so no real complaints here! It's a 4 out of 5 from me.. Us? MSW and BSW.  

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Review- Hotel Chocolat Coconut & Coconut

Last week, I received a rather lovely surprise in the post.. My Peanut had sent me goodies! There was an amazing Bakewell Flapjack that I scoffed immediately, DVDs, lip balm and of course, the obligatory chocolatey treats - Nibs knows the way to my heart thats for sure! 

Solid coconut flavoured white and milk chocolate blended with desiccated coconut. 

I was most giddy when I saw this Hotel Chocolat Coconut & Coconut.. You can't not get excited about double coconut! 

My excitement only grew when I saw that there was not just one but two 50g mini slabs, each with a fancy swirly pattern! 

It smelt good - Coconutty, chocolatey and all that it should. Breaking off a piece, the desiccated flakes were plain to see and I delved right in! Beautifully smooth and silky with a fantastic melt, the chocolate itself was superb and very much cocoa rich. The tropical tones came through a treat not overpowering but complimenting the aforementioned along with adding a nice chew in terms of texture. Despite being more white than milk chocolate the high quality of each seemed to balance one another out - It was definitely sweet but not overly so! Delicious! 

Ah Peanut, you've hit the nail right on the head with this Hotel Chocolat Coconut & Coconut - It is perfect and all to easy to eat in one go.. MSW was lucky to even get a look in, it was that good! If you are a coconut fan then you most definitely need to get yourself down to your local HC store and snap a couple up - It's a 4.5 out of 5 from me! 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Review- Nestle Blue Riband NEW Dark with Orange

I love a Blue Riband. They've got to be up there with the best biscuit bars ever.. It was always a happy day when I discovered one in my lunchbox anyways! Up until a few years back, Nestle hadn't deviated from the same old but epic, plain treat but now have upped their game with a Coffee version and this NEW Dark with Orange - Chocolate orange with wafer? Yes please! 

I picked up the packet of 8, individually wrapped, 99 calorie Ribands from Asda where they cost £1.25.. Although they are currently part of a 2 for £2 deal so if you haven't tried the Coffee yet, get those too! Vegetarians get excited as these are suitable for you but do contain wheat and milk.. Can you eat wheat and milk? 

Crisp orange flavour wafer biscuits covered in dark chocolate. 

Why is everything so small nowadays? I really don't think it's a case of me just having gotten bigger.. The Riband really was tiny - 3 bites and gone, tiny! Thankfully they were bloomin' tasty to compensate for the lack of size. Super light and munchy from the airy wafer which delivered both the signature Riband flavour along with a fairly muted but still apparent kick of orange - The "biscuit" part was perfect. The dark chocolate was what it was - Fairly generic but complimented the citrus nicely. Together the elements had a very much "Orange Chocolate Snaps"* feel which Cadbury use to make and I just so happened to be obsessed with when little.. Delicious!

Overall, these Dark with Orange Blue Ribands are a fabulous addition to the range - They taste good, they're extremely moreish and I doubt will offend anyone.. Not even those against orange as it isn't in your face. Definitely worth a whirl - It's a 4 out of 5 from me. 

*Chocolate "Crisp" Thins you can still find in Lidl, Family Bargains, B&M and such places, just FYI. 

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Review- Krispy Kreme NEW: Lemon Cheesecake and Nutty Chocolatta

As I am sure many of you are aware, Krispy Kreme have released a Nutella Doughnut.. Rather sneakily "leaked" through a "Confidential Internal Memo" marketing stunt which caused uproar all over social media. I wasn't champing at the bit to buy into this NEW Nutty Chocolatta but decided to bite the bullet along with a NEW and improved version of the Lemon Cheesecake

Both of the Doughnuts looked pretty darn flawless with a nice circular shape and a decent size - It's a miracle. I bought them as part of a trio box from my local Tesco Cabinet but individually they were priced at the usual £1.90 for the Lemon and £2 for the Nutella - KK know how to take our money! 

Lemon Cheesecake

Hand dipped in cheesecake icing, with a lemon & cheesecake filling topped with crunchy biscuit and lemon sugar finished with a tangy lemon drizzle. 

Fruity first and I wasn't sure what to expect - Aesthetically the doughnut didn't appear all that different apart from a moving in topping placement. Cutting in half, I was naturally disappointed by the amount of filling but held out in hope that more would be hidden inside - Thankfully in the right half, lemon was in abundance! A real zingy kick came from this with a ever so slight tang from the cheesecake goo which surprising did taste of cream cheese.. Well with some imagination, I mean. The dough incasing all this was up to the usual KK standard in being soft, fluffy and generally a delight. Topping wise, I tasted nothing listed in the ingredients, not even lemon - It was just plain sweet! Not bad and marginally better than last year - It's a 4 out of 5 from me. 

Nutty Chocolatta

Filled with pure Nutella hazelnut spread, coated in chocolate and decorated with white chocolate swirls and caramelised hazelnuts. 

Nutella time and it smelt jolly good! Once again, the dough itself proved to be perfect with 0 in terms of stodge and certainly not dense. Amongst the fluffyness was a big old blob of the delicious chocolatey spread which was thick, rich and super nutty - More so than you find in some jars anyways! A generous layer of set chocolate coated the top and although it was pleasant enough, it wasn't exactly anything to get excited about. Contrasting to all the soft were the nibs of hazelnut for that final boast of nutty flavour, to round up things nicely. Decent enough but just Nutella in doughnut.. I didn't faint, dribble or scream - It's a 3.5 out of 5. 

At the risk of sounding like a right Debbie Downer*, these 2 NEW offerings from Krispy Kreme are alright hence the marks.. But really nothing special. By no means is there anything wrong with them.. The Lemon Cheesecake tastes of lemon and the Nutty Chocolatta tastes of Nutella but they are hardly going to change ones life - Heck, any fan of the aforementioned has probably already put the spread with a KK to get their fix! Now, if only I could find the Berry Pavlova.. I really do have high hopes for that one!

*I would just like to formally apologise to my Debbie Downer of a twin, NibsnScribs who I failed to tell I had these Doughnuts. As she is the Peanut Butter Queen, I suggest you all go and pester her for a review of the NEW Reeses PB & Jelly, leave her a nice comment for me and fingers crossed, reap in its glory!