Monday, 13 February 2017

Review- M&S NEW LE Mac 'n' Cheese & Bacon Pie

Holy moly, steady yourselves. M&S have gone and combined 2 of possibly the greatest foods that life has to offer.. Saucy macaroni pasta meet all buttery pastry, with a sprinkle of the porky stuff as it would be rude not to, it's only Mac 'n' Cheese & Bacon Pie! 

Oh how the excitement was overwhelming when I stumbled across the 200g Limited Edition, sunny boxed delight, at the start of the month! - Shame about the £3 price tag when bought individually but what can you do.. It is M&S after all! Fit to serve 1, (With nutritional values that may make you anything but!) the Pie is to be heated at 180ºC Fan for 30 minutes until possessing the heat of molten lava.. 

Cooked macaroni pasta in a cheese sauce topped with smoked bacon crumble, in an all butter pastry case. 

So I did just that and it came out beautifully - Golden on top, crisp around the edges and smelling very scrumptious. Then came the challenge of getting the thing out of the foil*.. A quick game of "Hot Potato" and miraculously it was on a plate in one piece! Hallelujah! 

Cutting the Pie in half, I did expect there to be more of the oozing sauce suggested on the packaging image.. But no such luck despite being piping hot. Thankfully, this minor blip didn't reflect in the taste, as cheesy it certainly was! ..But starting with the buttery pastry, the upper crust was extremely short and crisp, transitioning into something much softer, although not soggy, and having far more of a flake. This contrasted nicely against the full size, soft macaroni pieces, packing a good amount of the aforementioned Cheddar and Regato flavours combined with an undeniable indulgent creaminess. The crumble added a second crunchy aspect a long with a lot of seasoning, albeit perhaps personally too much for me, and bacon tones of both the pleasant smoked "farmyard" variety and something a tad more artificial which as expected, wasn't quite so appealing.. But generally went well with the cheesy pasta/pastry combo! 

Overall, this NEW LE Mac 'n' Cheese & Bacon Pie delivers all that it promises and makes for one  solid little snack. The only thing I am torn over is the fact it is exactly that.. A snack. Not one to usually be overly fixated on the fat content of foodstuffs, it is very much hard to ignore when a red symbol is slapped straight in front of your peepers and you know full well, you will be having a potato product as an accompaniment.. And maybe a can of baked beans.. Or is one meant to just have salad to make it a meal? Salad offends me. Either way, it still packs a serious punch for something so dinky.. Not to mention, to consume in one sitting since we're still only talking about one lonesome meal here! What about all the other "bad" things, one eats in a day? I am genuinely surprised that M&S are down with selling such "unhealthy"** options in such tiny packages***.. But I enjoyed it nevertheless****! It's a 4 out of 5 from me*****. 

*Turns out, you are meant to remove said foil and place on a preheated baking tray which poses the question.. Why use the foil to begin with, hmm!?
**The rest of the NEW LE Pies, e.g Chicken & Bacon, are no "better". 
***Everything in moderation. 
****To be enjoyed as part of a healthy active lifestyle. 
*****Please don't make me eat salad. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Review- McDonald's UK NEW Bacon Clubhouse Double

Oh hi Bacon Clubhouse! It's nice to see you again.. Oh, you've found your long lost beef patty twin? That's beautiful, I am so pleased for you! ..Christ, I'm talking to a burger. A picture of a burger, at that. This is what happens when you don't have a McDonald's for a good while.. It's a slippery slope, my friends!

Perhaps the extent of my "in the beyond-ness" can be attributed to the fact I had to drive all around my bloomin' county to acquire the bloomin' thing! - Unbeknownst to me, my local Fast Food store is under renovation. Until the 21st March. I am yet to figure out how I will cope. So, a major detour was taken and finally, at long last we were reunited. 

Two 100% British and Irish beef patties, Big Mac sauce, two rashers of Beechwood Smoked Bacon, a slice of Cheddar Cheese, Grilled Onions, a slice of Tomato and Lettuce, all in a brioche style bun.

Despite the miles it travelled, the burger looked most inviting indeed.. Smaller than I remembered but pretty much picture perfect with some sneaky lettuce and onion on show - Not the usual slipey-slidey, sloppy-moppy mess, that I am all too often presented with!

Cutting the Burger in half, things seemed fairly soft and squidgy with a good amount of "added extras" on show. Starting with the bun, it appeared plenty fresh, tasted pleasantly bread-y and was surprisingly robust enough to withstand all that it held despite, the light, airy texture. The Big Mac sauce packed that signature gherkin-esque flavour which paired up nicely with the grilled to perfection onions, a long with a burst of freshness from the salad. As expected, the melted cheese and slightly smoked bacon were a match made in heaven, providing both mellow and smokey tones.. Unfortunately however, this was where the positives came to a grinding halt. Cooked seemingly well and being plenty juicy themselves, the beef patties did deliver on being meaty.. But without a shadow of a doubt, were far too "bitty" and difficult to get down, regardless of the quantity of sauce above, making the burger overall about as dry as a dog! Disappointing. 

Ah McDonald's.. I fear it is a case of "so close and yet so far"! - This NEW Bacon Clubhouse Double isn't anywhere near as good as it could be (Or it's predecessor!).. But so easily rectified! An extra slice of cheese and a squirt of the Big Mac sauce between the two patties, to break up the texture and I reckon, the entire dry aspect would be avoided. To be honest, I can't fathom why McDonald's didn't consider this to begin with.. Surely during taste testing, they realised that the lower half of the bun and bottom beef was essentially redundant without having something to hold it together? I mean, I ended up chucking that part away as it had no place or purpose! Such a pity - It's a Fast Food forlorn, 2 out of 5 from me. 

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Review- Nestle Fab NEW LE Birthday Cake Ice Lollies

Happy Birthday Fab! Congrats on making it to 50! To celebrate, Nestle have only gone and done something ingenious.. Not only have they supplied their own birthday cake but they've incorporated it into an Ice Lolly too! This has to be sorcery! 

My beloved Kevvie was the one to point me in the direction of this NEW Limited Edition flavour and I headed to Sainsbury's to pick myself up a box of 6 for £2. Suitable for vegetarians and without artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, the only thing, according to Kev The Gluten Free-er, that one has to worry about, is the use of maltodextrin which apparently is "suspect".. Whatever that means. 

Raspberry water ice and sponge cake flavour with a vanilla flavour coating and sugar strands.

My Lolly's raspberry had bled into the cakey part which was a shame.. But it smelt amazing so I got stuck straight in! Completely forgetting to picture the inside, the Fab had the standard layout of water ice coated in a creamy coloured layer, followed by the vanilla 'icing" with a finishing sprinkle of sprinkles. Taking a bite, taste wise, I pretty much fell into heaven - A sugary sweet crunch was the first thing to hit, moving to pure vanilla and an almost caramelly, condensed milk flavour which although wasn't exactly that of sponge, it wasn't far off and most certainly delicious! Fruity raspberry and nothing but came in abundance from the "iced" part itself which did somewhat remind me of the jam in an actual Birthday Cake.. Even if it was a lot more potent in this case! All the elements went superbly together and I soon found myself longing for another - Yummy yum yum!

Eek! Nestle certainly haven't let themselves down here.. These NEW Birthday Cake Fab are very tasty, indeed! I highly recommend you go grab yourself a box (Make it several as I reckon they're going to be dead popular!) whilst you can - Whether you are a cake fanatic like myself or not*, young or "old", a first time buyer or longtime lover, there really is nothing not to like!

Thank you Fab, for being my favourite Ice Lolly for the last 20 something years of this Snack Warriors little life and here's to another 50 together! It's a 4.5 out of 5 from me.

*Why aren't you a cake fanatic? Please go and take a long, hard look at yourself. 

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Review- M&S NEW Baked Doughnut Mix

As some of you may already know.. I am big on baking. Massive in fact. I take no greater pleasure in life than whipping up something from scratch.. So when my Sparks* offers came through this fortnight and one was "20% off Home Baking Kits", I felt nothing but personally offended. How dare M&S force such sacrilege upon me? Who do they think they are? 

Well actually, I should probably eat my words as when having a quick peruse around my local store, I stumbled across this vegetarian friendly, NEW Baked Doughnut Mix which I figured would kill several birds with one stone - 1. Utilise my offer 2. Get potentially yummy Doughnuts 3. Bit alternative thus good for the bloggy. And just like that, I was convinced and hotfooted it to the till where I paid £2 (£2.50 without the 20% off). 

Inside the box was the doughnut mix itself, a bag of caster sugar and 3 sachets of raspberry jam with all one needing to bring to the party being, 90ml of warm milk, 50g melted unsalted butter and a lined baking tray.

So filled with the joys of spring, I cracked on and measured out my milk before giving it a quick zap in the microwave until it felt tepid.

I added it to the doughnut mix, in a large bowl as instructed and mixed to form a dough, prior to giving a good knead on the table for about 5 minutes, until it felt smooth. 

Plopping the dough ball back into the bowl, I proceeded to cover it with clingfilm and left to prove for an hour, or as the instructions stated, until doubled in size. 

Well.. As I often find with anything that is meant to rise, my dough didn't exactly expand much despite being left for longer than an hour and having been sat in a warm spot. So, that's brilliant. 

Following the next step of briefly kneading said dough and cutting into 6 equal (Semi equal) size pieces, I "gently" rolled each into a ball and placed them onto a not so lined (I forgot) baking tray, evenly spaced apart. A further 45 minute prove or once again, until doubled in size, whilst being covered and then they would finally be ready for the oven.. Thank the lord. 

In the mean time, aside from doing a jig around the kitchen, a "waiting dance" if you will, I melted the 50g of unsalted butter in a little tumbler - It was certainly sunny in appearance! 

At least the rise was more apparent this time.. Sort of.. Ish. I brushed approximately a third of the above, melted butter onto the balls and whacked them in a preheated 190ºc Fan oven for the recommended 6 minutes.

Out they came and a second coating applied before going back in for a further 6 minutes or.. Wait for it.. Until golden brown! Who saw that one coming? M&S love a vague "until" option. 

I left the little nubbins to cool by the window and got my jam ready..

There was no way I was going to faff around with making a small hole in the top of each doughnut and filling with half a sachet of raspberry jam - How was that ever going to work? Is one meant to spoon it in? It would have to be a really diddy spoon? Who has one of those? Stupid bloody M&S. I chose to utilise the use of a syringe.. Meant for my pet fluffy.. My needs are greater than hers. Soz. 

Tadaaaaa! 6, jam squirted, raspberry doughnuts that had been brushed with the final third of butter and rolled in the caster sugar. 

So what did they taste like? Good question after what felt like an eternity in the making! Unfortunately.. I can't say that the doughnuts produced were anything other than totally boring. Taste wise, the dough itself wasn't one thing or another - Not particularly sweet when eaten alone or possessing the flavour akin to any doughnut, baked or fried, that I've ever had. The jam centre was nice enough in being fruity and supplying pleasant raspberry tones with the sprinkling of sugar on the outside really heightening the overall sweetness - It also provided a crunchy contrast in the texture to the "soft" bun. 

Crikey. What a palaver. Not so surprisingly, this NEW Baked Doughnut Mix just isn't a winner for me. It takes far to much effort, for the end results to be nothing short of lack lustre. One could literally just buy a part-baked roll, slather it in butter, bake it off, roll it in sugar and then consume it with jam.. It would be no different, taste or quality wise. Now, someone go and buy me some proper doughnuts, the need is dire. - It's an exhausted, 2 out of 5 from me.

*Find out about the M&S Loyalty Card here - The offers can be anything from food to clothes to homeware and definitely worth having!