Last year, Flavrbox put a call out on Twitter asking for food bloggers who’d like to try one of their boxes for review. I loved the idea - a box of assorted surprise food goodies delivered to your house once a month. I’m generally a fan of these subscription-type services, mostly because it’s always so much fun getting the box and finding out what’s inside!
I replied saying I’d very much like to do a review. Unfortunately they were a little over-stretched (I think far too many people wanted to do reviews!), and for a couple of months I waited to get a box and it never came. In the end, I ended up speaking to the owner Seb on the phone. It was a great conversation where he explained that they were new, and they had learned a lot over the first few months. He apologised for my wait, and the conversation assured me that they are really genuine, and that they are very passionate about good food indeed.
In the end I got the January Flavrbox, and here is my review of all the goodies inside:
On arrival, I was really excited to open up the box and check out everything I got inside. They make the experience really nice. The neat little box opens up to a ‘hello’ message and a leaflet to ‘Meet the Makers’ of the products inside.
In the box there was a great selection of bits and pieces -
- Karyatis green olives with chilli
- Sharpham Park oatcakes
- Pink’s empire chutney
- Drink Me Chai green tea chai latte
- Tan Rosie ginger fudge
- Eat17 bacon jam
I was excited to try the fudge, as ginger is one of my favourite flavours. Flavour-wise I wasn’t disappointed, as it combined sweet fudge with big lumps of spicy ginger. I do tend to be a bit fussy with my fudge though, and the texture here was too crumbly for my liking (I prefer my fudge very soft and squishy). If you’re a fan of more crumbly fudge this would be great for you though.
I had the olives as a snack at work. Despite finding the first one had the stone still in it even though they were called pitted on the bag, they were actually very nice olives. They had a firm texture and a lovely, sharp and rich olive flavour, which paired really well with the just-hot-enough chilli marinade.
Out of the box, the product I was by far the most excited about was the bacon jam. I’ve been wanting to try this for quite a while so I was very happy when it turned up in my box. It’s actually an onion jam with bacon pieces in that give it a really thick, chunky texture, and make it taste deliciously meaty and smokey. I think it would be great added to other dishes (I’m thinking bolognese sauce) to add a lovely depth of flavour, but for now I’ve just eaten it more or less by itself as it’s so very good!
I first tried it on the oatcakes that also came in the box. I wouldn’t usually choose oatcakes as a cracker as I find they tend to be a bit dry, but these were quite a nice version. They contained spelt, so they had quite a nice nutty flavour, even if I did find the texture was still a little too dry for my taste.
The opposite of the bacon jam, i.e. the product I was the least excited about trying, was the chai latte. I don’t drink milk in tea, ever. Actually, it makes me feel quite sick even thinking about the idea. I don’t understand why anyone would do it. Tea + milk is just very very wrong. Very. The idea of green tea with milk seems even worse than regular tea to me. However, I am a sport, and I decided I at least needed to try it once, especially as I do like things with spices and milk (like pumpkin spice lattes). I must confess I could only manage two sips and then I had to pour the rest of my mug away. I hated it. In fairness to them, I’m sure if you’re someone who likes milky tea, and especially if you like chai lattes, then this would be very nice. I wasn’t the best choice of person to give an unbiased opinion on this particular product!
I haven’t got around to trying the empire chutney yet, so I can’t give my review of that, but it’s a tomato chutney with coriander and star anise, which sounds rather nice indeed. I think I’ll try it in a sandwich with some grilled chicken and mozzarella…
Anyway, overall I really enjoyed the Flavrbox experience. Whilst I didn’t love every product, there were several that I did, and it was fun to try everything. If you’re looking to try a few new foods each month in a convenient and luxurious way, this would be a great choice. It would also make a really nice gift for someone, especially if they live away and you’re looking to send them a nice treat.
Last week I got asked to visit the Cardiff branch of Miller & Carter for a review. I’ve been there a few times before, and I’ve even mentioned it on here a time or two, but I’ve never done a proper review before. They recently brought out a new menu, so I was very excited to see what new treats they had to offer.
We started out the meal with a drink. I went for a glass of their Zinfandel, which is deliciously fruity, and very easy to drink. My boyfriend Pie went for a chocolate martini, which isn’t the most orthodox choice for a pre-dinner aperitif, but was extremely yummy nonetheless. I would certainly have one myself, though probably after my meal!
One of the new items on the menu (or at least I think it was new, I don’t remember ever seeing it before), was this Spinach, Artichoke and Mozzarella dip. It came topped with roasted cherry tomatoes, and some crunchy tortilla chips on the side. The dip was pretty tasty and packed full of lovely, stringy mozzarella, but I think it might have been that bit better served with some nice crusty bread instead.
When you order a steak in Miller & Carter, it always comes with a range of sides. You get a choice of fries or baked potato, a choice of sauce, a slice of their onion loaf (which is amazing), and a bowl of their signature salad. The salad is a big wedge of iceberg topped with a choice of dressings, and as we have every time we’ve been, I went for the stilton and blue cheese, whilst my boyfriend went for the bacon and honey mustard. A big hunk of lettuce doesn’t sound like it will be that exciting, but the dressings are really good, and the mild, crisp taste of the lettuce actually pairs very nicely with the rest of the meal.
We decided to try out the chateaubriand, which is a double-sized fillet for two to share. I normally tend to get my steak medium rare, but Pie always gets his blue, so we compromised and went for rare. It was very tender, and had a lovely flavour, though there wasn’t quite the same meaty punch as you get from sirloin which I normally go for. This was definitely a great treat to try though, and it was really fun to get a giant slab of meat to share.
With the chateaubriand you get two sauces, so we chose peppercorn and blue cheese & bacon. They were both nice, but we both definitely preferred the peppercorn. Pie’s favourite on previous occasions was always the barbecue sauce, which sadly had been taken off the menu. He really missed it, so we shall have to campaign for the barbecue sauce to come back!
For dessert, I was going to go for the Banoffee Pie but they’d sold out, so I chose this Summer Pudding instead. I was actually glad of my choice in the end as I think the pie might have been a little sweet on an already-full stomach, whereas this was packed full of tart fruits which were quite refreshing, even with the huge scoop of whipped cream on top!
Pie went for a Mango Eton Mess, which came as a giant portion in a big sundae glass. It definitely looked like there was enough to share! The rich cream was mixed with lots of crunchy meringue, and both big chunks of mango as well as thick, sticky mango puree at the bottom. We both agreed it was delicious and we’d definitely order it again.
I’ve recommended Miller & Carter to friends before, and I’d certainly do so again. Their meat is fantastic quality, and it’s always backed up with great sides and desserts too. If you’re looking for a good steak you’ll certainly never go wrong here.
I was invited to complete this review by Miller & Carter, and as such our drink, steak and desserts were complementary. Thank you for a great meal!
A while back, I was asked if I would like to go to a launch for Food North Wales, a new website which celebrates independent food producers in North Wales, and the fantastic foods they make. Unfortunately I couldn’t go to the launch as it was on a weekday morning, but instead, I was asked if I’d like to do some phone interviews and product reviews with a few of the producers. I always like to try local produce, so I happily said yes. The first producer I spoke to was Llior Roberts, whose family run the Llaeth y Llan Village Dairy, where they make their own yogurts.
The yogurts are all low fat, and they come in 13 flavours (plain, toffee, and 11 different fruit flavours). I got sent 4 large pots and 12 small ones to try, so I got a taste of every flavour! It took me a little while to get through so much yogurt (hence why this review has taken me a little while to write), but they were all extremely good.
I spoke to Llior about the history of the dairy. Her parents Gareth and Falmai founded the family dairy in the 1980s. Their farm had been through a few generations and they’d started a small milk round in the 1970s, but they saw a niche in the market for yogurt-making. There was an emphasis at that point in time on farmer’s diversifying, so they invested some time and money to learn the technical side of yogurt-making, then started making different types of yogurt of their own to work out what best suited people’s tastes.
Llior hasn’t always worked at the dairy. Up until 2 years ago she was working in fashion in London, but she decided that she was up for the challenge and wanted to come back to the family business to give it a go. She now works on all kinds of aspects of the business, from marketing to finance to product development, and though it has been even more of a challenge than she expected, she is loving it.
I also asked Llior what she thought about the Food North Wales project and North Welsh food in general. She thinks that anything that can highlight the wonderful foods from the North of the country, from real ales to cheeses, is really important. A lot of people holiday in North Wales and many of them have lots of nostalgic memories of the foods there, so it’s really invaluable to show off what is available here, not just foods you can get other places like France and Italy.
My last question for Llior was what her favourite flavour was. She said that lately her favourite was mandarin, so I decided to try this one first. I must say she has very good taste as I thought the mandarin was absolutely delicious, and was definitely one of my favourites, along with the peach melba. I recently noticed that you can get a few of the flavours in my local Morrisons (you can also get them in some Tesco and Asda stores plus lots of smaller local shops in Wales) so I’ll definitely be getting a few with my weekly shop in future.
Thank you to Llaeth y Llan and Food North Wales for arranging the samples and interview.