belVita Breakfast Biscuits: Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry, Honey Oat

Cookies for breakfast! No, your inner nine-year old didn’t mishear you. And we’re not talking about the Hollywood Cookie Diet, either. These are honest-to-goodness cookies…probably the ones your inner child would make a face at, but still. Cookies. You win some, you lose some. Already a hit in the UK, much like One Generation, Nutella, and the Royal Wedding, people are crazy about belVita. Although “belVita fever” does actually sound like some sort of jungle-based disease straight out of Conrad.
Kraft sent these over in the three varieties currently available- apple cinnamon, blueberry, and honey oat. A few logistical issues presented themselves immediately after opening the box. For starters, while the UK is clearly a very educated and clever place in close proximity to France, where the name’s double entendre invokes whimsical thoughts of a “good life.” Here, it just rhymes with Velveeta, an association nobody really wants to have when they think of breakfast or cookies. In the packaging department, while belVita markets itself as an on-the-go supplementary alternative to less healthy foods, it lacks the structural support of a granola bar to just toss in a purse or bag and forget about. Even before we tried transporting these, they were crumbled out of the box and broken in many places. Trying to bring them somewhere would likely reduce these to crumbs.
So, the flavors. Unquestionably, blueberry was our favorite out of the three. It tasted like a buttery cross between a Lorna Doone cookie and a muffin, complete with chewy dehydrated blueberries in each cookie. The combination of the crispy, dense oats and the fruit was delicious and it made a great addition to oatmeal as well as a fine stand-alone snack. Honey oat was more basic and would likely be good in the morning as a bland, easy snack before your taste buds wake up and demand real food. The only one that we really disliked was apple cinnamon. It had a fake, synthetic flavor that seemed more like the aftermath of chewing green apple bubble gum and then eating a cookie than a flavor unto its own. It was far too sweet and had a grittier texture than the rest. All were sweet, but could have used a little more salt to enhance the buttery cookie base.
While I like the concept of belVita- eating a few different things for breakfast to mix up the selection, I don’t think it’s a very healthy way to start the day. Its fiber is really the chief appeal- it adds an extra 280 calories and 8 grams of fat to whatever you eat. Although I’ve never been much of a breakfast person and prefer to nurse a cup of coffee, I still think that this is counterproductive if one is trying to eat better. That being said, one of these made a wonderful topping for my salted molasses oatmeal.

Hotel Chocolat Chili and Orange/Hazelnut and Ginger Yule Logs

Will the litany of classy international holiday offerings never end? Hell no! You can take your holiday-colored Oreos an’ shove ’em- I have connections in foreign places. Today’s selection comes from the wonderful Cinabar of Foodstuff Finds once more, my official hookup for the tantalizing UK artisanal brand Hotel Chocolat and more. This is a pair of treats from their holiday selection- adorable Yule logs in chili and orange and ginger and hazelnut.
If you haven’t heard of a Yule log, it’s a hard, dense log to burn during Christmas time. The desserts, if you’ve ever had a Buche de Noel, are fashioned after the logs themselves and eaten. These Yule logs look fairly branchy and tree-like, which the chocolate helps with, but more in a minimalist, Charles Eames-inspired kindling for a couture fireplace fashion. The edges are smooth and domed and studded with chunks of each key ingredient according to the bar. Both bars are made out of gianduja praline and have very short, concise ingredient lists- no more than seven or eight components make up the bars.
The gianduja base is fantastic. The bars are protected in their own molds, and you can clearly see where the chocolate was poured in, sometimes to the point of nearly overflowing! While it was difficult to get the bars out of their molds without marring the delicate surface, the end result was beautiful. As you can see, the chocolate is very smooth and soft. Mine didn’t escape without a few fingerprints! The toppings were set like jewels on top of the bars rather than being mixed into the chocolate.
On its own, the gianduja is cool and subtle, with a slow melt and pliable, fudgey chew and a bittersweet woodiness that was amplified in the ginger and hazelnut bar with the inclusion of lightly toasted, crispy hazelnuts. The crystallized pieces of ginger, which had a wonderful crunchy, jelly-like texture unto their own, added a spicy element to the bar. My only complaint was that the beautiful visual presentation, which alternated the ingredients to create a striped pattern down the length of the bar, allowed few bites to include both hazelnuts and ginger. With the complexity of the two toppings, it was quite a shame to not have that option when eating a bite.
The chili and orange bar was no less phenomenal. This bar also had nuts, sugared whole almonds. While there were no candied chili pieces with the candied orange peel on top, there was a persistent spiciness to the bar along with the pomander flavors in the candied peel– cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg that made for a delicious eating experience. This bar didn’t quite suffer from the same inconsistency in between bites as the other, but was a little messier to cut as the almonds were placed horizontally and cut somewhat irregularly. The spices in this were perfect, though. An easy and indulgent holiday treat.

Marks and Spencer Colin the Caterpillar Marshmallows

I feel the need to preface this by promising that by no means will I sneak insect puns into this review. That shit just bugs me. All right. Now I’m done. We can start now.
A gift from Keepitcoming Love, joining Percy Pig and his motley crew of DSM diagnosable friends is the binge-eating Colin, who “is what he eats.” Well, I suppose that’s sound advice. I got tested last week for a genetic study and was found to be one part cold Lunchables Pizza Kickers, one part Nat Sherman Fantasia, one part rhymes with “vagina” and one part Fruit 2 0 ‘n’ vodka, so I guess it works for all of us. But in Colin’s case study, which reads more like a rejected Grimm brothers fable for latter-day Augustus Gloops, he ate so much chocolate cake that he eventually turned into one, and from that day on, changed his shape, color, and flavor depending on what he ate.

Ignoring the fact that that’s pretty scary, abandon your thoughts of waking up one morning to find yourself tasting a lot like Cheetos and sweaty dicks and dissect Colin with me. From the looks of this package, Colin’s latest fad diet was marshmallows, probably promising a loss of 10 pounds in 3 days, just in time for the bug mixer or whatever the hell it was he was eating all the marshmallows for. True to form, each candy is shaped like a giant caterpillar, complete with thorax, spiracles, and all. Thanks, insect science! The marshmallows are squashy and powdery, your average jet-puffed with Neapolitan flavors.

Colin is a little paradoxical in that it’s a little hard to figure out what’s going on with the snack. First he’s a gummy candy bug, then he’s a chocolate cake, and now he’s a marshmallow, but he’s flavored like an Italian dessert. I sense a little dessert dysphoria going on. In any case, he can talk that over with Chaz Bono, because his marshmallows are here to stay. The flavors are generic tasting, no more sophisticated than your average flavored ‘mallow, but they’re incredibly fun to eat and pose.

Hotel Chocolat Summer Dessert Collection

You would think I wouldn’t be able to review these, assuming that summer has come to a close and that I’ve retired to my wood-accented dormitory to don my smoking jacket and smoke lugubriously until spring pokes her flowery bosom into my face, but YOU’D BE SO WRONG. God damn it. It’s officially what I consider to be mid-September. There is no reason for it to be 86 degrees and sunny. While other kids are frolicking with their shirts off, I’m sweating my loafers off and wiping sweat off my textbooks. In this vein, there is a steaming ray of hope, however, for I deem now to be the perfect time to show you the latest and greatest selection from Hotel Chocolat, courtesy of Cinabar once more…the Summer Dessert Collection.
Hotel Chocolat has been on my bucket list of chocolatiers to try ever since reading about Jim’s amazing experiences with things like slabs and sleeksters, all sorts of goodies we don’t have here. There is a US branch of Hotel Chocolat, but it has roughly three things, all over $50. It’s like going to a Toys ‘R’ Us as a kid after hearing that the one in the next state over has, I dunno, My First Dinosaur Gun playsets and going to yours for your birthday with the anticipation of shooting up a lot of velociraptors and finding that they only have three goddamned Boobah dolls and they’re all $200 apiece. It’s like paying for the privilege of being made fun of by your fellow peers. So, needless to say, I was incredibly excited to receive these. With all of the fanciful products Hotel Chocolat makes, this is on par with getting a small piece of magic in the mail, like Willy Wonka’s severed pinky toe courtesy of the sugar mafia.
The Hotel Chocolat box is incredibly crisp and summery, with Tiffany blue and Nat Sherman gold accents and a neat little integration of the flavors on the sides of the box. Upon opening, the truffles are very fragrant and have a fruity, intensely perfumed nose. There are four flavors represented in the box. One is a coconut bombe, a spiky confection typically made with ice cream, one is a chocolate mousse, one is a Neapolitan, and the last is a summer pudding. I like that Hotel Chocolat utilized summery dessert ingredients, like berry and ice cream, in their truffles, but would have liked to see a mojito or summer drink flavor, or even one of their Eton Mess truffles to round out the mix in lieu of the quintessential chocolate mousse. I should have expected that omission, though, as the front of the box explicitly states that there is no alcohol in these. Thusly, I’ll be bringing them to the Betty Ford clinic next week.
At around $8 for a box of four, it’s not a frivolous expenditure on par with Martin Kessman’s lawsuit, and is a delicate and unique gift to give as a present topper or along with other treats. And for the quality of its contents, it is worth every penny. These truffles are easily as good as, if not better, than some of the more expensive commercial brands across the pond. For starters, it’s worth noting that I take back my errant comment about the chocolate mousse truffle. This truffle was perfectly sweet and creamy, with a not-quite-ganache inside. That contrasted the creaminess of the shell with a perfectly smooth, glossy texture and a dark, rich flavor. Easily the tastiest plain chocolate truffle I’ve had in a while. The coconut bombe also had a creamy chocolate base, with a soft, grainy texture from being left out at room temperature. Its filling was similar to the mousse, but definitely had some coconut oil. Not enough to make it taste like a spoonful of Coppertone, but a pleasant touch.
Yet another gustatory pleasure was found in the Neapolitan truffle, which was adorably colored like its namesake ice cream and filled with a bright, fruity center. No one flavor dominated the others. The only truffle I wasn’t too thrilled with was the summer pudding. It lacked the moist breadiness of its larger counterpart and had an overly tart, medicinal finish. The inclusion of white chocolate was probably the best for blending purposes, but was just too sweet for my palate.

Terry’s Chocolate Orange Popping Candy Segsations

Ah, British candy. You’d think it would be similar to ours, but no, it’s a Bizarro-world level of awesome. Their cuisine may look staid on the outside, but on the inside, in their Sainsbury’s and Mark and Spencer’s, they get a little bit freaky. Goat cheese potato chip freaky. You like it. Hell, I like it. I’d sacrifice every Double Down in the country for a fair fighting chance at getting my paws on a few pints of Newcastle Brown Ale ice cream. That’s why I embarked on an epic transcontinental treat trade with Cinabar of Foodstuff Finds, who sent me a massive package of treats from across the sea, including these “segsational” Terry’s Chocolate Orange Popping Candy Segsations.
Before I start waxing nostalgic, I need to get the word “segsational” and all of its permutations out of my system. It holds the title of both being the most irritating word to type and the word that is also most likely to make me think of a Stegosaurus when I say it out loud. Please bear with me as I type this word no less than twelve times. It is so unnatural to type. My left hand’s going all over the home row and I swear that I just heard Mavis Beacon shoot herself in the face. Segsational segsational segsational segsational segsational segsational segsational segsational segsational segsational segsational segsational segsational don’t you know there’s fire in the hole and nothing left to burn. Phew! Done.
These candies are fucking adorable, which is even better than reguar type, like stock photos of tabby kittens. They are individually wrapped in a maroon/purple wrapper that I think would look really excellent with my complexion, were it in shirt form. There were 14 candies in the bag, which, though a little roomy for its contents, was detailed and colorful. I’d have purchased these if I’d seen them on the shelf. Terry’s describes these as milk chocolate with real orange and popping candy. No word as to whether the popping candy is real yet.
Each segment is individually wrapped and looks like a slightly less detailed piece of Terry’s regular sized Chocolate Orange, with little orange skin dots on the outer edge. They are visually appealing and clean, with small bumps designating where the popping candies lie. They are flat-bottomed, and that part does lack any design, but does make it easier for them to lay flat. This also a clever way to facilitate both the selling point and creepiest feature of the product. Taking a note from classic Valentine’s Day conversation hearts, these, too, employ phrases to catch your eye as you eat. Unfortunately, these sound like they were taken from the transcripts of a made-for-TV serial killer. I think the most upsetting was “Let’s play!” emblazoned across my pock-marked candy before I ate it, followed by “Outrageous!” and “Chatterbox!” Also, please take note that if I’m ever convicted for a pyramid scheme a la Gordon Gekko, I want my prison nickname to be “Big Kiss.” Nobody will fuck with me. These use more exclamation points than I do when I write these reviews after a few drinks.
In any case, they taste excellent, despite my anxious worries as to whether or not I’m accidentally ingesting small bits of one of Jack the Ripper’s ladyvictims. The chocolate flavor is smooth and not too sugary. 40% milk chocolate is a good balance between substantial and sweet. This particular blend has a caramely, milky base similar to most UK Cadbury bars and carries that quintessential orange oil flavor- slightly bitter, very citrusy and cuts through the sweetness of the chocolate quite well.
The texture is soft and grainy, made grainier by the inclusion of the popping candies. At first, these manifest themselves similar to Rice Krispies in a Crunch bar, simply an irregular texture and a bit of a crunch. As the chocolate melts, the candies aerate and pop more, melting against the tongue and popping quite a bit. They aren’t any particular flavor, so it doesn’t detract from the overall chocolate orange experience. I like these. I’m curious to see what other phrases I get. They’re a clever snack in a unique combination.

Twix Fino

Turns out America isn’t the only country with snack foods that pander to feeding the obese, hulking mass of good old fashioned misogyny. I first saw this ovary-themed bar on Jim’s Chocolate Mission, and Keepitcoming Love picked this up for me to review. Let me preface this by telling you something you probably already know. I’m a big girl. I like big foods. I like weird foods. So blahed-up, sized-down versions of snacks like 100 Calorie Packs just don’t turn me on. However, I do like new versions of old classics, so with this in mind, I checked out this candy bar.
As Jim mentioned, the bar was designed as a “healthier” option to expand the brand to the female professional market. In replacing the shortbread cookie layer for a less bottom heavy wafer, it opens worlds of opportunities for insult. Y’know, for when you get bored during those stuffy suit business meetings and just wanna eat an entire pint of ice cream. Amirite, ladies? From the get-go, this sounds like a product that just begs to be backed by a sunny KT Tunstall single and at least one shopping montage. Single professional girl in the city seeks…a lighter future. Fatass.
The Twix Fino isn’t too much lighter, in weight, than the normal Twix, which, for all intensive purposes, will be the UK version. Weighing in at a svelte 38 grams compared to the bulky 50.7 grams of its big sister and clad in a sexy, totally unexpected silver wrapper, the Twix Fino just begs to be seduced in a bar and swept up in the moment of a rom-com later at night. Unwrapped, the bar is flatter and a little wider than the original, but looks like your basic Twix knockoff. The mockolate melts creamily, imparting very little substance or nuances to its flavor, and the caramel was gooey but virtually nonexistent. As for the wafer layer, biting into it, it’s clear that this is just one gigantic laugh at the progress of babymakers everywhere. What’s inside? Empty space. Of course.
Aside from being a walking, edible version of “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell,” this bar is largely unsuccessful in providing a product that would captivate its target audience. I’m taking liberties and assuming here that the average buyer of these is a smart, working, weight-conscious consumer, with a focus on looking sharp and having a snappy appearance. With a bar that sheds its crumbs everywhere and tastes mainly of sugar cones and mockolate, this is more geared toward Jersey Shore watching, filthy mouthed middle schoolers whose biggest fiscal year quarter end goals are to master the art of the no-handed bleacher blowjob. This bar’s demographic is not looking for a product that cuts corners. We can do better than this.

Walkers Italian Spaghetti Bolognese Crisps

Italy. I haven’t been there in a long while, but it’s been long enough for the memories of the delicious foods, the darkened cafes, the cloistered caverns of wineries start to fade a little in my mind. My father and sister are currently there, the bastards, and in the spirit of their vacation, I’m consoling myself with these crisps.This is another flavor in the World Cup series from Walkers, and although Italy has long since been phased out of the game, this flavor still remains, and is surprisingly evocative of the actual dish it attempts to emulate.

A traditional spaghetti bolognese is rather difficult to screw up. In the basic flavors, you have a tomato sauce, the addition of any meat to that sauce, and a bed of pasta, generally topped with parmesan. It’s hearty, sweet, savory, and toothsome, and can be ordered anywhere. Unfortunately, this is where the problems start.True, Walkers emulates spaghetti bolognese perfectly. But due to the bastardized inbreeding of the dish, it’s about as common at any diner or kid’s menu as disheveled hookers are to downtown New Haven. The spaghetti bolognese in this particular chip is not a lovingly, hand-raised, grass-fed Kobe beef from Italy with sustainable tomatoes and a touch of heavy cream. This is the greasy remains of dinner at Applebee’s, with a downright saccharine tomato flavor, heavy on the salt, and the kind of herb and MSG combination reminiscent of early 90’s Mrs. Dash shakers.This recalls spaghetti dinners of yore, namely, those for lunch on Wednesdays at my old elementary school. Leaving nothing but a pool of orange grease and a sweet, oniony aftertaste in my mouth, I can safely assure you that these chips may be the reason Italy was booted out of the World Cup. Potato chips, especially the greasier, crispier Walkers, are rarely a good base for a heavy, heady flavor like this. They bog down the subtleties of a saucy attempt, both literally and figuratively, at a traditional dish. Sometimes you can’t pack eight hundred flavors into a snack. Sometimes you can. In Walkers’ case, perhaps this is one dish that ought to be relegated back to the Olive Garden.

Cadbury Bournville

Dark chocolate. When said too many times, it sounds like a bad pornographic film. Daaaaaark chocolate. I feel like there should be a synthesizer playing softly in the background.This hot number in the red suit is the Cadbury Bournville, and as Rebecca tells me, the best dark chocolate. We shall see. Cadbury is positively ace at making milk chocolate, but how do they fare on the dark side? The Bournville, aside from having a fantastically pretentious name, like a microbrew or a fancy hotel, comes off in large chunks that are big enough to stifle a full-grown mother or at least distract her from a lecture on skinny-dipping in thunderstorms and its risks.The flavor is really, really milky, almost like a milk chocolate, and the melt is grainy at first, but smooths out towards the end. It’s funny, with all the experience I have with dark chocolate, this just resembles more of a high end milk than a dark. It’s only 39% cocoa solids, a little paltry for a dark chocolate. My personal favorite for a dark percentage is around 54%, but this makes it a rather good mixture of tastes and textures from each chocolate. The flavor is caramelly and smooth, and reminded me of hot chocolate powder with its texture and taste.

This was a tasty chocolate bar, much better than a regular US bar, but not quite to the standards of dark chocolate that I generally frequent. If this were, as stated, a porno, it would be in the discount bin, covered with stains and packaged with naked midget wrestling. Its heart is in the right place, but it just don’t have the balls.

Cadbury Crunchie

Edit: Swap-Twats, begone! TL; DR, leave my site be. Thanks. Once again, I’ve signed up for another quirky website with lavish intentions and once again, I have failed miserably. I tried doing this Swap Bot thing, where you send one person a package and someone else sends you one, in a misguided attempt to make friends and get food from around the world, but alas, I wasn’t able to go to the post office and ended up forgetting the deadlines, but am now receiving packages from people anyhow.

One of the packages was from a girl named Rebecca in the UK, whom, if she doesn’t utterly despise me for not upholding the Swap Bot sacrament, I’d love to swap more with in the future. She send an utter panoply of goodies for me to review, one of which was the Cadbury Crunchie bar. Having tried one of these in the far past, it was nothing short of miraculous to have one again.Cadbury takes Milton Hershey himself and curbstomps the shit out of him. The coating of chocolate around the Crunchie is far preferable to an entire bar. Not only is this the real deal, straight from the UK, but it is a lot less sweet than the flavor a whole block of it would yield. That being said, that coating is generously applied and is rich and creamy. It does, in a small layer outside of the bar, what two Hershey bars rarely touch at. It completely satisfies the need for chocolate and delivers a powerful and amazing addition to the center of the bar.That center consists of a gradient colored honeycomb center. When you bite into the bar, the comb doesn’t shatter, but because of its foamy, packed texture, simply breaks off cleanly and leaves no mess. The center of the bar is a little more brittle and aerated than the sides, which remind me of floral styrofoam, slightly powdery and crumbling nicely. The flavor is nice and subtle, with a little honey and a little malt, and goes well with the chocolate to make a chocolate bar that isn’t too sweet at all. It’s perfect. I need more. I think I’ve found my new partner in crime.

Walker’s BBQ Rib Crisps

Image Copyright British Grocery- I’ll add my own photos later, I need new batteries in my camera!

I received my order from BritGrocery yesterday, and I’m so excited!

I’m reviewing the Walker’s BBQ Rib today. I love reviewing unusual flavors of chips, so I was extremely excited to get these in for you guys!

First upon opening the bag, there’s not much aroma, but a predominant smell of spices wafts up.

Upon biting into one of these, the first thing you notice is the texture. Because I’m American, I’m used to our soft, slightly greasy chips, but these are, if anything, very much like our Baked! line of chips here. They are very, very crisp, make a lovely crunch in your mouth, and don’t leave behind much grease at all.

The taste is good, but I have to preface this by telling you that is it NOT BBQ RIB. It’s curry, completely, and on a more complex note, tastes exactly like Chicken Tikka Masala from my local Indian place. It left a slightly buttery aftertaste in my mouth, like Tikka Masala often does. Works for the meal, not for the chips.

These are good, but deceptive. I was expecting a more smoke-based flavor, maybe some barbecue sauce and a little bit more meat flavor that British crisps are so famous for, but this is decent. I wish they’d just been called Tikka Masala, though.

4/10- OKAY