Thumbs up for…

August Collage

Somehow the entire summer has slipped by without me bringing you a single Thumbs Up For… post. So, while we still have a few days of August before us, here are some of the tasty foods and drinks I’ve been testing on your behalf that I thoroughly recommend you look out for yourself.

New York Bakery Co Seeded Bagel

seeded bagelBagels are a big hit in our house. Perhaps it’s got something to do with the hole? Holey food in general seems to go down well. But I must say, these limited edition Seeded Bagels from the New York Bakery Co went down particularly well.

With that classic bagel chewiness, these tasty bagels are a satisfying source of fibre for slow release energy, packed full of linseeds, sunflower, millet and poppy seeds from the inside out. They cost around £1.60 for a pack of four and are available at Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Black Sheep Coffee Robusta Revival

coffeeTry as I might, I can’t go a couple of hours without a cup of coffee. But it needs to be decent coffee. So when the good people at Black Sheep asked if I’d like a sample of their new Robusta Revival, of course I said yes, particularly when I heard this is the UK’s first fine Robusta bean product. I was intrigued.

Black Sheep rebels against the common assumption that Robusta can only used for low-grade products such as instant coffees. Their product, available as beans or ground, comes from a single-estate in India – the only estate in the world to have received three ‘Fine Robusta’ certifications by tasting experts.

It definitely didn’t taste cheap or low-grade to me. These fine robusta beans made for a beautifully rich and creamy mug of coffee, not at all bitter but instead quite mellow and slightly sweet and nutty. Next time I’m in London, I’ll be heading for the Black Sheep cafe in Camden to pick up another bag, or two. At £5.40 for a 227g bag it’s not cheap, but then good coffee never is.

Västerbottensost Cheese

Cheese CollageIt might not be the easiest to pronounce, but Västerbottensost is a wonderful Swedish cheese. It’s full of flavour, slightly salty and slightly nutty, and is an extremely versatile cheese to cook with. It can be used in baking, sauces, salads or as a garnish for rice and pasta dishes.

I recently tried some in my mini vegetable frittatas, which will be appearing on the blog very soon, which were a hands down winner with all the family. The tasty cheese balanced the sweet veggies perfectly.

Västerbottensost is available in Waitrose, Ocado and Selfridges and costs around £8.90 for 450g. I’ll be looking out for when it’s on special offer!

Silver Spoon Chocolate Flavour Icing Sugar

Choc Collage

On rainy days, an activity I turn to again and again with the children is baking. And with a bag of this Chocolate Flavour Icing Sugar from Silver Spoon, creating some stunning* chocolate and strawberry cupcakes was simply child’s play with lots of bowl-licking action to be had (by kids and mum alike).

Widely available, a 125g costs around £1.60 and is enough to ice 12 little cakes. For more baking ideas, check out the Baking Mad website.

* Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; particularly when it comes to your own child’s creations.

M&S Summer of Flavour

mands CollageOne of the plus sides to commuting three days a week to Bristol has been the chance to pop into an M&S Simply Food store occasionally on my way home from work to pick up a treat or two.

I’ve rather enjoyed their Summer of Flavour range. These world-flavour inspired deserts in particular have proven particularly popular in the Bangers & Mash household, with the raspberry and lychee panna cotta my personal favourite.

The Summer of Flavour range also includes barbecue meats and sides, tasty snacks and cooling fruit juices and cocktails. If you’re quick, you might just pick up one of the M&S in store offers.

Tesco ‘Free From’ Coconut Milk

coconut milkI’ve been shifting rather a lot of this Coconut Milk from Tesco in the last couple of months. We’re enjoying it in our porridge and fruit smoothies – it’s delicious combined with pureed pineapple and mango – and I like a tall glass of it when I get back from a run, usually with some Camp coffee or Nesquik chocolate powder stirred in.  I know; we all have our weird little idiosyncracies and Camp coffee and cheap chocolate milkshake powder are a couple of mine!

But back to the coconut milk. It’s dairy, gluten and wheat free, so ideal for anyone with food allergies or intolerances and at just 67 calories a glass it’s also a handy substitute for anyone watching their weight. It costs £1.25 for a litre carton and is widely available in Tesco stores.

Wychwood Beers

wychwood beersI can’t say I’m much of a real ale drinker; cider is more my thing really. It’s generally only when my Dad comes to stay that ales make an appearance in our fridge.

But when Wychwood got in touch to say they’d like my opinion on their very British craft beers, I was tempted. Maybe it was the curious names, like Black Wych and Hobgoblin. Apparently each beer is named after a character that lives in the ancient woodland that is the Wychwood forest.

My husband was rather taken by the Black Wych, a sweet and smooth porter, but it was a little too dark for me. I really liked Hobgoblin, a fruity ruby beer, but it was Imperial Red that really surprised me. It’s a lovely malty beer that’s full-bodied but not too  heavy. I’ll definitely be drinking this one again.

Wychwood Beers are widely available from supermarkets and off-licences and cost around £12.50 of eight 500ml bottles.

What new products have you been eating and drinking this summer? I’d love to hear your recommendations and new discoveries…

Disclosure: I was sent complimentary product samples from M&S, Wychwood, Silver Spoon, Västerbottensost, Black Sheep  Coffee and New York Bakery Co for review purposes. No money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed are my own.

Grilled salad of courgette, chicory, basil and mozzarella from ‘The Natural Cook’

The umming and ahhing is over. The decision has been made. Our house is now officially on the market and we’ll soon be leaving the sticks and heading back to the big city. Bristol, to be precise, which isn’t exactly a heaving metropolis and is actually one of the most laid back, greenest and coolest cities I know.

Bristol was home for us until our first daughter was about eight months old, at which point we decided family life meant a bit of the good life, the country life. And while we’ve loved it here and having space and green fields around us, a veg patch and apple trees, foraging in the hedgerows, picnics by the stream and drinking scrumpy at the annual village fete, it’s now time to crank the pace back up again with a bit of inner city living. You can take the girl of out of the city, but you’ll never take the city out of the girl, it would seem.

There are lots of things I’m looking forward to about being back in a city. One of them is not having to drive so much to get, well, anywhere really. I love the idea of being able to walk back home after a night in a restaurant, or at least being able to afford the taxi fare. And one of the restaurants I intend on visiting as soon as we’re in Bristol is Tom Hunt’s Poco on Stokes Croft, with its emphasis on seasonal ingredients, thrifty cuts of meat and sustainably sourced fish, most of which is sourced from within a 50-mile radius, and at the same time producing the minimum of food waste. Continue reading

Thumbs up for…

April Collage

With only a few days left until Easter, here’s a quick round-up of some of the top products my family have been taste-testing recently, in case you’re on the look out for a few last minute shopping ideas.

M&S Easter Cracking Dessert

MS egg dessertThis ‘Cracking Dessert’ from M&S received a very definite thumbs up from my two girls. It’s a crunchy crumb layered with milk chocolate cheesecake and vanilla mousse, topped with orange and lemon curd.

Usually I find these types of pudding too sickly sweet but this is just the right combination of fruity tang and creamy sweetness.

£1.30 for a 95g single pot.

Hotel Chocolat You Crack Me Up Extra Thick Egg

your-crack-me-up-extra-thick-easter-eggAnother sweet treat that really made my children smile was this luxurious extra thick chocolate egg with its assortment of humorous mini chocolate creations from that wonderful British chocolatier, Hotel Chocolat.

At £28 you might argue this is simply too good for little people but I’d definitely recommend buying them just this one egg and  it’ll keep them going for quite a while. My girls wrote their own review, which you can read here.

thorntons eggThornton’s Masterpiece Easter Egg

If you want good chocolate but Hotel Chocolat is a little out of your price range, then how about this 70% dark chocolate Masterpiece egg from Thornton’s?

The seductively rich and dark chocolate egg comes surrounded by pretty mini masterpieces – chocolate art creations in delicious flavours including toffee, fudge, orange and raspberry. £9.99 for 270g.

Waitrose Ginger Truffle Mini Eggs

ginger eggsGinger and dark chocolate is one of my all-time favourite combinations and when I saw these ginger truffle mini eggs on the shelves at my local Waitrose I couldn’t resist picking up a box. At £3.50 for a 100g they make for an affordable naughty treat.

The truffle centre is gorgeously soft and smooth with a warming hint of soft ginger spice, covered in deep dark chocolate. Perfect as an after dinner chocolate with a cup of strong espresso.

Heston from Waitrose Acacia Honey and Ginger Hot Cross Buns

heston hot cross bunsAnother recent impulse buy from a lunchtime jaunt to Waitrose were these acacia honey and ginger hot cross buns from their Heston Blumenthal range. Beautifully spiced and not too sweet, I think I might be copying this flavour combination the next time I bake my own.

At £1.69 for two, they are much more than I’d normally pay for hot cross buns but they are very good, although possibly more of cake than a tea cake and just fabulous served with thickly spread with butter and a strong cup of tea.

Unearthed Chorizo de Leon

chorizo de leonAuthentically produced in the mountains of northern Spain, with an earthy, spicy and smoky flavour, Chorizo de Leon from Unearthed is great served as part of a selection of Spanish meats and cheeses for cold tapas.

It is also equally good as a cooking ingredient, as in the fantastic chorizo stuffing my husband prepared recently to serve with roast chicken for my Mother’s Day feast.

Available from Waitrose and Ocado, £3.79 for 220g.

Cool Chile Co Mexican Chorizo Seasoning

cool chileThis seasoning pack from the Cool Chile Co is a simple way to create your own wonderfully spicy, tangy Mexican chorizo meat. The kit provides you with chile ancho, chile guajillo, chile chipotle as well as a Mexican chorizo spice mix containing achiote powder, Mexican oregano, thyme, cinnamon, bay leaf and clove. £2.60 for 46g.

I was sent a kit recently to review and was a little dubious as to why I’d bother making my own chorizo meat rather than just buying it ready-made. But I am now completely sold.

I used the seasoning to create a beautifully flavoursome spiced pork mince which I then served as part of a queso fundido – essentially a Mexican take on a cheese fondu – and it was one of the most moreishly delicious dishes I’ve tasted recently.

I’ll bring you the full recipe on the blog very soon, I promise.

Loyd Grossman Lasagne Sauces

grossmanI don’t use packed or jars of sauces very often but this offering from Loyd Grossman is one I think I’ll use again.

My family loves lasagne but while it’s particularly not difficult, it’s not the quickest dish in the world to make either, and so if you’re looking to cut corners but still achieve that proper homemade taste, these sauces are the way to go.

The tomato sauce is rich and full of herbs, while the white sauce is creamy, with a lovely hint of nutmeg, and it isn’t too sweet, which is so often the case with these ready-made sauces. £1.69 per pack.

Bart Mediterranean Mixed Herbs in Sunflower Oil

bart herbsI actually first bought these Bart herbs in oil by accident when I was doing an online supermarket shop. I thought I was buying dried mixed herbs but these arrived instead. And I’ve been a fan ever since.

It’s delicious spooned onto homemade pizzas, stirred into pasta sauces and roast vegetables, and I also rather like mixing it through boiled rice. £1.79 for 85g.

Disclosure: I was sent complimentary samples of Hotel Chocolat and Thornton’s Easter eggs, M&S Easter Cracking Dessert, Unearthed Chorizo de Leon, Cool Chile Co Mexican Chorizo Seasoning and Loyd Grossman’s lasagne sauces for review purposes. No money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed are my own.

You Crack Me Up review

Hotel Chocolat Collage

Hotel Chocolat Easter egg review by Jessie age 9 and Mia age 6

When I told my daughters that Hotel Chocolat had offered to send me one of their Easter eggs to review but that I thought I’d have to turn it down because I was just too busy, you can imagine the look of devastating disappointment on their faces. Then it occurred to us, since many of their chocolate eggs are targeted at little ones, why not get the little ones to do the review? And that’s exactly what we did.

So without further ado, I have great pleasure in handing you over to Jessie…

hotel chocolat

When I was told by my mum that Hotel Chocolat had asked me to do a review, I was thrilled. It would mean tasting delicious chocolate. Yum!!!

They sent us an Extra Thick Egg called ‘You Crack Me Up’ which we thought was a funny name. Inside the thick egg were lots of little chocolates in different shapes and sizes.

hotel chocolat

The first thing I tried was a white soldier. Because there was two of everything, my sister had one too. It was delicious white chocolate on the outside with a mouth-watering scoop of chocolate like Nutella inside. It looked a bit like a piece of toast dipped into runny egg yolk. It was simply decorated but looked good. My rating:9/10.

This is what my sister said: “It was really tasty and delicious and nice. I loved the taste of the yellow bit.” Mia’s rating: 7/10.

hotel chocolat

The next thing I tried was the chocolate brownie. Although its name is chocolate brownie, to Mia and I it did not taste a bit like one. It looked amazing, but funny as well because of its sweet face. Also, it is amazingly smooth on the outside and filled with crunchy nut in the inside. This is my idea of a cute piece of chocolate. My rating: 7/10.

This is what Mia said: “It was really crunchy and sweet, I loved the taste. It was really yummy and nice. I liked the look the best.” Mia’s rating: 9/10.

The third thing I tried was an amazing looking chocolate chick. It looked spectacular, but turned out to be very rich. I loved the taste, but wouldn’t be able to eat too many! My rating: 7/10.

Mia thought: “The chick looks fluffy and looks so tasty and yummy. It was so delicious.” Mia’s rating: 7/10.

Next, we had a taste of the thick chocolate shell. I thought it was a gorgeously tasty smooth, hard shell. It tasted spectacular and was amazing. My rating: 10/10! This was my favourite bit!

Mia said:“The shell looks so yummy and delicious. I love it. It’s so scrummy and yummy.” Mia’s rating: 10/10!

Soon we came to eating the white chocolate fried egg. It was nearly as good as the shell. It looks amazing, tastes amazing, is amazing. My rating: 9/10.

Mia said: “Looks very fried, looks very tasty, it is very good to eat. It is yummy!” Rating: 8/10.

Now we were onto the chocolate rabbit. I loved it, especially the detailed decoration. Also it has a beautifully soft layer of chocolate. Yum, yum, yum!!! My rating: 8/10.

My sister adored it even more than me (as much as the egg shell). “It looks yummy and it looks really tasty and is tasty,” Mia said. Rating: 10/10!

your-crack-me-up-extra-thick-easter-eggNow we come to the final piece of chocolate. The crunchy praline – another cute, smiley face very similar to the chocolate brownie. It had a crispy outside and a spoonful of ‘Nutella’ inside. My rating: 9/10.

Here is what Mia thought: “It looks really crunchy and nice. It looks so tasty I loved it. Rating: 11/10!!! As you can see, this was Mia’s overall favourite!

After tasting this spectacular chocolate, Mia and I are pleased to say we thoroughly recommend this as a posh Easter egg. Enjoy!

Final note from Mum

At £28, you might think this is rather on the expensive side for a children’s Easter egg and I must admit I would certainly think twice about spending so much on chocolate. But a little goes a very long way with this egg. My children absolutely loved it (as you can tell from the frequent uses of spectacular and amazing in their review) but it has actually taken them a fortnight to get through it so I would say it represents good value for money.

Since my girls were kind enough to let me try a tiny nibble, I can confirm that the chocolate is ruddy good too and so much more delicious and attractive than those cheap as chips eggs you can buy in bulk in supermarkets.

Disclosure: Hotel Chocolat provided me with a complimentary You Crack Me Up chocolate egg for review purposes. No money exchanged hands and all opinions are my own (or my daughters’).

 

 

 

Thumbs up for…

Thumbs Up March Collage

It’s high time I brought you another selection of thumbs ups – my regular round up of favourite food and drink products I’ve either discovered myself or been sent to try out. In case any PRs are reading this, it’s probably worth pointing out that only products I really like are featured here; simply sending free samples doesn’t lead to automatic inclusion.

Sally’s Sizzling Sausages

sallys sizzling sausagesWith my family’s love of bangers, you can imagine how excited we all were to be sent a large box of sausages and burgers from Sally’s Sizzling Sausage Co the other week. And even more excited on serving up the Cumberland sausages with lots of lovely mashed potato to discover they are as delicious and gorgeously meaty as I’d been promised. We tried their 100% beefburgers a few days later and were equally impressed.

All products from Sally’s Sizzling Sausages are ideal for those with food intolerances as they are free from wheat, soya, dairy, egg, yeast, gluten and lactose. The company is based at Smithfield Meat Market in London and was set up by Tim Hixson, who himself has food allergies.

“Over the years I have been dismayed at the quality of some foods to the point where I decided to do something about it,” Hixson explains.

Sally’s range includes a wide variety of pork and chicken sausages, meatballs, burgers, continental meats, and kebabs. Vegetarians will be pleased to hear that they plan to introduce a vegetarian range in June 2014. Find out more at www.sallyssizzlers.com.

Cornish Sea Salt

cornish sea saltThis Cornish Sea Salt is so tasty you could almost eat it on its own, although a much better idea would be to sprinkle it over a fresh tomato salad. I’m also rather taken by the idea of trying it in chocolate brownies or some salted chocolate pretzels.

Cornish Sea Salt began trading in 2008 and was set up by Tony Fraser who discovered there had once been an Iron Age salt works near Porthkerris on the Lizard Peninsula, and his idea for a new business took hold.

Sadly, Fraser passed away in 2012, but the company continues to go from strength to strength and their delicious salt appears on the tables of some top restaurants and hotels.

If you haven’t tried it already, I’d definitely recommend you get hold of some. It’s available in most supermarkets and you can also buy online at www.cornishseasalt.co.uk.

Laimon Fresh

laimon freshAvailable in most supermarkets, Laimon Fresh is a new lightly carbonated lemon, lime and mint flavoured drink which got the thumbs up in our house when we received samples the other week to try.

I did expect it to taste a little synthetic but it’s actually a very refreshing and natural-tasting drink.

Jessie drank hers as it came and wanted more, but alas the grown ups in the house had already turned the rest into super easy mojito cocktails by mixing with white rum and pouring over crushed ice. The mojitos could probably have benefited from a little more fresh mint, but we enjoyed them nonetheless.

Oh, and Jennifer Lopez has been spotted drinking it too, so it’s clearly a hit with the uber cool set too.

La Rochelle Salad Croutons

rochelle salad croutonsThese Meditteranean style herb croutons from La Rochelle are so good you can enjoy them as a snack on their own, rather than tossing into a salad, although that’s how I like to use mine.

I adore croutons in a fresh green salad but generally can’t be bothered to make my own, so these are very handy to have in the cupboard on standby.

Flavoured with oregano, basil, parsley and thyme, these light and crunchy croutons are deliciously moreish and completely ungreasy as so many shop-bought croutons quite often are.

Dr Oetker Chocolate Hearts

dr oetker chocolate heartsWe received some sweet tiny chocolate hearts in milk and white chocolate from Dr Oetker. They were a big hit with my daughters, who chose to use them to decorate the banana, chocolate and ginger tray bake we made last weekend.

As well as looking ever so pretty, they also taste good and chocolatey, and I had to work quite hard to stop my girls from eating the remainder of the packet.

And if you like the look of the cake, I plan to post the recipe in the coming days. My aim is to get it up in time for this month’s Spice Trail challenge, as the theme is ginger. But I’ve got a mad week ahead, so I’m not promising anything.

Disclosure: I was sent complimentary samples of Dr Oetker’s Chocolate Hearts, Laimon Fresh and Sally’s Sizzling Sausages for review purposes. No money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed are my own.

‘Count on us’ Thai green curry

Thai Curry-Recipe Card

Photo courtesy of M&S

It hasn’t been particularly healthy here on the blog as of late; rather a lot of chocolate and cake and pizza about. I swear that’s not an honest reflection of my family’s dining habits in recent weeks, but it is true that my new year’s resolutions of eating more healthily have slipped somewhat.

So when M&S got in touch to see if I’d like to review one of their new healthy eating recipes, it sounded like a rather good idea. M&S have put together four easy recipe cards for under-400 calorie meals, which means they are particularly suited to anyone on the 5:2 diet.

I opted to test drive the Thai green curry recipe, which uses a jar of count on us Thai green curry sauce. Back in the days before I used to cook much, only about nine years ago before the children came along, I wouldn’t have though twice about opening a jar of shop-bought sauce when I was making a curry. But not these days. I find most jars lack any decent flavour and are never nearly hot enough for my taste. And Thai green curry is right up there at the top of my favourite curries list. The best one I’ve had recently was at the Pan Asia restaurant in Bath, where the bling decor is as fresh and zingy as their dishes.

So M&S would have to turn out something pretty tasty to impress my husband and me.

But do you know what? It was actually pretty good. I was about to continue that sentence with for a sauce from a jar. But no, I stop there. It was pretty good, full stop. OK, so it wasn’t as hot as I’d have probably made it myself if I was starting from scratch, but I do tend to like things hotter than most and the chilli flakes scattered on top took care of that. We were very liberal. It also needed the fresh lime and coriander to create those tingles on the taste buds you’re looking for when you have a green curry.  What I probably appreciated most though was how quick it was to make. We had it one evening after the children had gone to bed, and I really wasn’t in a cooking mood, and it took less than 20 minutes.

At just 385 calories per portion, it’s definitely a winner in my eyes. I’ve got my eye on their jalfrezi sauce to try out next.

Here’s the recipe or download the M&S recipe card as a PDF.

Thai green curry with chicken and vegetables

1 tsp sunflower oil or olive oil
250g skinless chicken breast (2 fillets), cut into strips
300g assorted vegetables, eg baby corn, sugar snap peas
1 small pepper, deseeded and finely sliced
350g jar M&S count on us Thai Green curry sauce
1tsp fish sauce
generous handful freshly chopped coriander
red chilli flakes & lime (to garnish)

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok and when very hot add the chicken. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until the chicken is
lightly coloured. Remove to a plate.

Add your choice of vegetables, such as baby corn to the hot pan, stir-fry for 2-3 minutes before adding the more tender sugar snap peas and pepper; stir-frying for a further minute or two.

Stir in the count on us Thai Curry sauce. When bubbling, add back the chicken, heat through for 2-3 minute then stir in the fish
sauce and chopped coriander.

Serve with egg noodles. Garnish with chilli flakes and a wedge of lime.

Photo courtesy of M&S

Photo courtesy of M&S

Disclosure: M&S provided me with all the ingredients for this dish in return for trying out their recipe. All views expressed are completely my own and are 100% honest.

Thumbs up for…

Thumbs Up January Collage

Here’s a round-up of some my favourite new foods and drinks (mainly drinks to be honest) I’ve tried this month…

Mr Trotter’s Proper Potato Crisps

mr trotter crispsWe don’t buy all that many crisps in our house, as I’ve made a conscious effort to cut back in recent years. But on those occasions when I am in the mood for a salty potato snack, I will be reaching for a lovely big bag of Mr Trotter’s Proper Potato Crisps. Thickly cut and incredibly moreish, they are fried with the skin on and taste almost meaty, although they are suitable for vegetarians. I guess that comes from the yeast extract, listed as one of the ingredients in Mr Trotter’s ‘original seasoning’. My children loved them too but I reckon they are too good for little ones, and next time I’ll wait until they’re in bed before opening another packet.

You’ll find Mr Trotter’s range of crisps and pork crackling in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Masons, Chatsworth House and a growing number of pubs, farm shops, delis and garden centres. You can also buy them in bulk online.

Korean Ginseng Drink

korean ginseng drinkThis Korean ginseng drink arrived in a recent food box from Kitchen Nomad celebrating Korean cuisine. This was one of my favourite products in the box, along with a jar of delicious Kimchi, a traditional fermented vegetable side dish.

I haven’t actually tried drinking ginseng since I was a child and I recall being rather unimpressed back then. This time I wasn’t sure at first. It smelled a little like boiled parsnip. But when you get past that, it tastes ever so good. Sweet and honey-like, almost like a non-alcoholic mead. What’s more, ginseng is apparently very good for you and a brilliant energiser.

Available from Tradewinds Oriental Shop and all good oriental supermarkets.

Elements for Life Spiced Raw Hot Chocolate

raw hot chocolate spicedThis spiced hot chocolate from Elements for Life is quite simply divine. Featuring cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, it gives just the right hit of spices without overpowering the luxuriously creamy chocolate.

I make mine with warm milk but the chaps at Elements for Life recommend using oat milk for the ultimate thick and creamy hot chocolate. And since it contains low GI/GL coconut palm sugar, it is also ideal for diabetics due to the slow release of energy from the sugar, unlike most hot chocolates that contain refined cane sugar.

Admittedly it’s not cheap, coming in at £6.75 for a 175g tins but I reckon it’s worth it for an occasional treat.

Elements for Life products are available from a growing number of health food shops, farmers markets and delis across the country (see the list online) and you can also order direct from their website.

Mere Fish Farm Smoked Trout Terrine

mere fish farm smoked trout terrineThis delicious smoked trout terrine is one of the specialties of Mere Fish Farm in Wiltshire, and I think I might be addicted to it. I bought it last week from their stall at Wells Market and had it with a jacket potato that evening for supper, and I simply couldn’t get enough of it. All the next day I kept eating more of it on hot buttered toast, and my daughter Jessie insisted of having some in a roll for her school packed lunch. Honestly, it’s just too good for words.

The terrine is mixed to Mere Fish Farm’s own special recipe, using trimmings from their cold smoked trout, unsalted butter, low fat natural yogurt, lemon juice, fresh herbs and spices. It tastes rich and indulgent without being at all heavy.

If you are based in the West Country, or visiting this part of the world anytime soon, I thoroughly recommend you try to get hold of some. For details of stockists, visit their website. I’ll be back to their stall next week, I think, to sample more of their products and, of course, to pick up some more of this terrine.

Pixley Berries Cranberry & Apple Cordial

pixley berries apple and cranberry cordialThis gorgeous cranberry and apple cordial from Pixley Berries is as good to drink as it looks. It boasts more than 60% fruit, none of which come from concentrates, and not a single artificial ingredient either. It’s a wonderfully refreshing cordial, soft and sweet yet with a marvellous twang from the cranberry.

My children loved it too, but while they liked drinking theirs with chilled water, their Daddy and I rather liked ours poured over iced vodka once they were safely tucked up in bed.

You can find Pixley Berries range of cordials at Waitrose, Ocado and other independent retailers – full details on their website.

Yumchaa Chilli Chilli Bang Bang

chilli chilli bang bang rooibos teaThis rooibos tea from London-based Yumchaa is the perfect cuppa when you need a bit of a pick-me-up. Caffeine-free, Chilli Chilli Bang Bang not only has a fantastic name but delivers a fantastic punch of flavour from cinnamon, ginger, red thistle, sweet red pepper corns, and chilli flakes. It isn’t a fiery brew but it does deliver packs of taste, yet manages to be a lovely soothing tea at the same time.

You can pick up a bag of this, or any of Yumchaa’s fine teas and tisanes, from one of their London shops or market stalls. Full details on their website.

Disclosure: I was sent complimentary samples of Mr Trotter’s Proper Potato Crisps and Pixley Berries Cranberry and Apple Cordial for review purposes. No money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed are my own.