Marvellous Milk Chocolate Flapjacks

Flapjack. It’s an odd kind of word. It’s a very British kind of word. Whatever the origin of the word I associate it with a tasty treat made of oats, sugar and syrup that goes down exceptionally well with a cup of tea!

I picked up a pack of these from Thomas J Fudge who you may remember that I recently wrote about as the makers of the fine Marmite Biscuits. The pack contains 8 pieces of flapjack made right here in the UK – Dorset to be exact. This is about a fine a flapjack as you’ll ever find on these shores since it’s sweet, soft and dipped in delicious chocolate in one corner. I’d have no hesitation devouring the whole packet to be honest (though on reflection, eating two pieces was more than enough in one sitting!).

Marvellous Milk Chocolate Flapjacks

Unlike some, this is devoid of any fruits like raisins and sultanas and is a plain flapjack which is flavoured with sugar, butter and agave nectar. The chocolate itself tastes familiar and reminds me of the chocolate found on a Marks & Spencer biscuit. At over £3 a box these are pricey but would almost certainly satisfy someone looking for a sweet flapjack treat. My only criticism would be that I think they might be a tad too sweet (both the chocolate and the flapjack) and that they are perhaps not as good as a freshly homemade batch, but then nothing rarely is!

Product Information (at the time of writing):

  • Made in England.
  • £3.25 Waitrose.
  • 473 kcal/100g or 170 kcal/36g flapjack.

Marmite Flatbreads

Marmite. You either love it or hate it. I love it which is why this is the second Marmite-flavoured product that I have reviewed for this blog. Following on from the Marmite Biscuits, today’s yeasty snack will be these Marmite Flatbreads. Let’s get cracking – literally.

Marmite Flatbreads

Someone needs to tell me what the difference is between a flatbread and a cracker as I genuinely don’t know. These flatbreads/crackers are coated with a Marmite flavouring and topped off with melted cheddar cheese. Like the Marmite Biscuits these do smell and taste just like Marmite and they certainly have that distinctive bitter taste to them. I think that it’s possible to taste the cheddar cheese on the top, but only just.

Marmite Flatbreads

I really enjoyed these and they work really well as a snack. At 40kcal per flatbread, and the fact that they are quite moreish, I think it would be all too easy to eat too many and gain a few pounds in weight. I’m not entirely sure what I’d put on these to make them better. Butter might work. What about Marmite and cheddar – now that’s a thought!

Product Information (at the time of writing):

  • Made in England.
  • £1.99 Waitrose.
  • 441 kcal/100g or 40 kcal/9g flatbread.

Made in Britain: Jeans

I was never a fan of jeans when I was younger as I found them too stiff and rigid and as a kid of the 80s I grew up with jogging bottoms and shell suits (how were they ever in fashion?). However, these days, I rarely wear anything but jeans – even at work. However, my favourite pair of blue Levi 511s recently developed a couple of holes. They were repaired a month ago but alas the holes are back so I think they’ve had it. As such, I am in the market for a pair of jeans which got me thinking as to whether you can buy jeans made in the UK.

It turns out that there are quite a few places that make jeans in Britain. The denim itself is usually derived from Japan, the USA or Turkey but the manufacture of the jeans happens in the UK.

Disclaimer: I have attempted to make this article as accurate as possible but please do double-check with the company/website before ordering as companies change suppliers and products all the time meaning that this information may not be 100% correct at the time of reading.

These are the companies that I found, and what they offer, in alphabetical order:

ALARLEO

I stumbled across ALARLEO on social media and I am glad that I did since they craft some really nice clothing items here in England. Admittedly their shop is quite limited but they do in fact produce a pair of jeans made here in Blighty. Their single pair, a limited run of 100, is an indigo tapered fit, and uses high quality 13oz selvedge denim. At just £85 a pair they are a steal compared to some of the other items featured in this post.

  • Made in England.
  • Denim unknown.
  • Average Price: £85.

Athlete Denim

This sounds pretty niche but Athlete Denim specialise in jeans for people with muscular legs – catering more for people who play sports like rugby but who struggle to find jeans that fit. If that sounds like you, then these are your guys. Of course, they are not on this list for that reason but because their jeans are made in the UK. Fraser Sinclair, from Athlete Denim, confirmed to me that every pair of their jeans is made in the UK, using denim from a world famous mill in Turkey. They don’t use sweat shops and because the jeans are made in the UK they are confident that the quality is high. On the downside, they only have two styles at the time of writing and one of which was out of stock at the time of writing.

  • Made in England.
  • Denim from Turkey.
  • Average price: £80.

Blackhorse Lane Ateliers

The front page of their website has a nice photo with the words “Made in London Jeans”. Brilliant – we are off to a good start! They certainly offer what they say they do with a great range of fab looking jeans (both selvedge and raw denim) which look as premium as their price tag. The jeans made by Blackhorse Lane are built to last with hidden rivets, bar-tacked stress points, and heritage-style waistbands. The inside of their jeans also look as good as the outside which is a sign of good craftsmanship. The labels, screen prints and patches are also made in the UK.

Not only do they offer jeans, but their expert team run a range of workshops on how to make and dye jeans. These guys are pros when it comes to making jeans and it shows in the quality of their product. Top tip: If you subscribe to their newsletter you can get a cheeky little discount on your first purchase!

  • Made in London.
  • Denim from Japan.
  • Average price: £130-£260.

Burrows & Hare

Setting their stall “for the discerning gentleman” Burrows & Hare sell a range of lifestyle items for guys who take pride in their appearance. On their extensive product list are two pairs of jeans that they make in England themselves from premium Japanese selvedge denim. Both jeans are more a regular fit though one does have some tapering but still looks quite wide. I like the look of these jeans and the added hand wash diary on the inside pocket is a nice touch.

  • Made in England.
  • Denim from Japan.
  • Average price: £150-£195.

Cock & Bull Menswear

This supplier is a bit different in that their jeans are made from hemp and recycled polyester rather than denim. Available in olive green or charcoal grey these jeans are very hardwearing even if they don’t look 100% like traditional denim jeans. Cock & Bull Menswear have a big focus on ethical sourcing and production of their clothes which is good to see.

  • Made in London.
  • Average price: £125.

Community Clothing

Community Clothing is a textiles and clothing cooperative that is championing the UK textiles industry. They have a relatively small range of products and a few pairs of jeans on offer but their products all look very well-made and modern. £65 for a pair of cool-looking jeans made in Blackburn? I’m all over it!

  • Made in Blackburn.
  • Denim from Thailand.
  • Average price: £65.

Dawson Denim

Dawson Denim operate from a workshop in Brighton where they make jeans using high quality selvedge woven and dyed denim from Okayama, Japan using looms that are 90 years old. In the UK they use 70 year old sewing machines to stitch the jeans by hand. They appear to have 8 designs in both indigo and black in regular and slim fits. Their styles are quite classically modern (an oxymoron I know), which I like.

  • Made in Brighton.
  • Denim from Japan.
  • Average price: £230-250.

Dress to Undress

For something a bit different Dress to Undress manufacture jeans in the UK using ethically-sourced denim from across the world and “pre-loved” upcycled fabrics in their jeans and they say that they “never use new fabric, as we feel that all pre-loved and old clothing need a second chance in life to be part of another garment”. For the eco-conscientious consumer these are some jeans worth looking at and I am sure that each pair will be slightly different to the next. They sell their jeans through Etsy and they have a wide range for both men and women including styles not provided by other companies including jodhpurs and baggy top jeans.

  • Made in Doncaster.
  • Denim from Italy, Turkey and other sources (including recycled).
  • Average price: £40-£300.

E. Tautz

Imagine a classic, slim-fit, 5-pocket pair of jeans made with dark indigo dyed selvedge denim made in England by a company with a Saville Row pedigree and you’ll have these jeans by E. Tautz. They have a high rise with some nice styling. £159 a pair seems pretty reasonable to me.

  • Made in London.
  • Denim unknown.
  • Average price: £159.

Empire Jeans

Empire Jeans have a wide range of jeans (35 at the time of writing) available to purchase and they are all made in the UK and have been for the last 35 years. I can’t see a reference as to where they source their denim but they have a wide range of colours and styles on offer at a very affordable price point.

  • Made in the West Midlands.
  • Denim unknown.
  • Average price: £42-£125.

Eversbrook

Eversbrook make a selection of jeans in London and currently have 9 pairs available. There are some which look pretty minimal but would be great in a professional/office environment coupled with a crisp shirt and a nice jacket. They’ve also got some pairs which are a bit more dressy. They’ve even got burgundy-coloured jeans. Burgundy! I’m thinking of Anchorman here! I’m personally not sure about the Journeyman Jeans Blue which are styled in a way that it makes it look like you have spilled coffee over your crotch. A lot of their jeans seem to feature a Burgundy dye so if you’re looking for something a bit different, take a look.

  • Made in London.
  • Denim unknown.
  • Average price: £180.

Fallow Denim

Fallow Denim are the second maker of jeans (jeansmiths?) that are based in Brighton. Using denim from traditional looms in the USA and Japan Fallow Denim assemble their jeans in the UK. What’s more, they use deer hide patches branded in Scotland and labels woven in the South of England making them truly British. They have two modern-looking pairs of jeans in a regular and slim fit. For selvedge jeans they are a great price but they do have limited runs of their products so you have to snap them up if you want a pair!

  • Made in Brighton.
  • Denim from Japan and the USA.
  • Patches and Labels made in the UK.
  • Average price: £168-£186.

Finisterre

When I visited their website they had 4 styles of jeans available for men which were all made in Britain – Blackburn and Manchester in fact. Despite the fact that there are only 4 styles they cover Japanese selvedge denim, water-resistant denim and wool-blend denim in straight and slim cuts so there should be something for most people. I’d say that these are minimal in appearance and are quite understated so if you are not one for big brands or lots of ornate detail then these should be on your consideration list.

  • Made in Blackburn & Manchester.
  • Denim from Japan & Turkey.
  • Average price: £110-£150.

Fox Wilson

Fox Wilson are a clothing manufacturer that cater for cyclists. Their clothes are designed in London and made in Sussex. All of their products are hand-made in England using high-quality, and often bespoke, fabrics. The jeans look good and are probably some of the best I have seen for cyclists as they feature Anti-UV coatings and even reflective tape inside the right leg which increases visibility during cycling in low light when turned up. The denim looks amazing in the close-up shots on their website and is a “technical” type, favoured by cyclists.

Fox Wilson also take their environmental responsibilities seriously and are working on ways to minimise their environmental footprint by using more sustainable materials and cutting down on waste and water in production. Kudos!

  • Made in Ditchling.
  • Denim unknown.
  • Average price: £89.

Freddies of Pinewood

Freddies of Pinewood have quite a retro website but that’s quite fitting as they specialise in clothing styled from the 1940s and 50s. They have a small selection of retro jeans that are made in England with denim bought from Italy, Turkey and the USA – clarified after speaking with Phil at the company. The relatively wide-leg retro styling is rather niche but their relatively competitive pricing is compelling. They also have a wide range of women’s jeans and denim products which are also made in England.

  • Made in England.
  • Denim from Italy, Thailand, Turkey & the USA.
  • Average price: £95.

Hiut Denim Co.

Hiut’s mantra is to “do one thing well” which is a mantra I really like and one which fills me with confidence if I am to drop quite a bit of coin on a nice-looking pair of jeans. Hiut, who manufacture their jeans in Cardigan, Wales, use denim from Turkey for their organic jeans and Japan for their premium selvedge styles. Their factory produces around 100 pairs of jeans a week and has a fantastic back story. Long story short: Cardigan used to have a factory knocking out 35,000 pairs of jeans a week, employing 400 people, and after 30 years the factory closed down. Hiut have sprung up in their place to being jean manufacturing back to Wales, and Cardigan.

Hiut offer free repairs for life which is awesome. They also have a no wash club encouraging people not to wash their jeans for the first 6 months. Seriously, these guys live and breath jeans and even tried a breaking club where they paid people to wear jeans to break them in before passing them on to paying customers! This is like jean science!

  • Made in Cardigan.
  • Denim from Italy, Japan, Turkey & the USA.
  • Average price: £145-£230.

Hood Jeans

It is immediately apparent that these guys are proud of their British heritage and the fact that they manufacture in the UK. Geared towards bikers, Hood produce a range of jeans specifically for motorcyclists with details including flat rivets that don’t scratch the paintwork on your bike and materials that protect bikers in case of a fall. The attention to detail is brilliant and if you are a biker, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a more suitable UK-made pair of jeans. There is a good range of colours and styles including jeans for both men and women.

  • Made in Attleborough.
  • Denim unknown.
  • Average price: £120.

Meccanica Cycles

Geared more towards cyclists and motorcyclists, Mechanic Cycles are a clothing company based in Cheshire, England who make classic cut jeans in the Isle of Wight. The jeans themselves feature triple-stitching and have a nice Union Jack label detail. These are also some of the cheapest jeans on this list. Speaking to the Founder, he has told me that they are currently changing suppliers and the denim in their jeans will either be sourced from the UK or Japan.

  • Made on the Isle of Wight.
  • Denim unknown. Soon to be from Japan & the UK.
  • Average price: £75-£85.

Monkee Genes

If you would like a modern pair of British jeans that doesn’t break the bank then Monkee Genes have you covered – literally! For £65 you can pick up one of their Made in England pairs which for the price, look good for a classic pair of jeans. Unfortunately, their range of jeans that are made in the UK are not organic unlike many of their other jeans made in other countries – namely Turkey.

Helpfully, and unlike other sites, you can filter their products by the country of manufacture so you can easily find a pair that’s made in the UK. Monkee Genes appear to be committed to their Made in England range and look to grow this further in the future – good work! Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the only men’s jeans I could find were all skinny or super skinny.

  • Made in England.
  • Denim unknown.
  • Average price: £65.

Nigel Cabourn

Now for something with a military theme. Nigel Cabourn’s collection of clothes have an army & navy look to them greatly influencing their colour and style. They offer one pair of jeans, made in England, using a Japanese selvedge denim, in a classic workwear pair. They sit high on the waist and feature military painted rivets.

  • Made in England.
  • Denim from Japan.
  • Average price: £209.

Oliver Brown

When is a pair of jeans not a pair of jeans? For me jeans are made of denim but if you are not worried about such semantics then you may be interested in the range of English jeans offered by Oliver Brown that are made from 100% cotton (albeit what denim is made from) although the jeans themselves are marketed as cotton jeans, moleskin jeans and needlecord jeans. If that’s not your bag, then they have some linen jeans which would be great for the summer or for trips abroad to nice places with better weather than the UK!

  • Made in Yorkshire.
  • Cotton unknown.
  • Average price: £75-85.

Oliver George (via Bone Clothing)

Whilst not denim, these moleskin 5 pocket jeans can be picked up at Bone Clothing for £90 a pair in stone or olive. They are produced by Oliver George and are made in the North of England. I’m not sure about moleskin myself and would almost always prefer to wear denim.

  • Made in England.
  • Cotton unknown.
  • Average price: £90.

Original Issue

According to their website “Original Issue has been making classic, timeless jeans in the North of England since 1992. Created by David Kent the Company is a unique platform to showcase jeans that move seamlessly between town and country…from urban life to the rugged open spaces of the great outdoors…a personal expression of authentic lifestyle clothing that will for ever transcend fashion.” Their website was under construction at the time of writing.

  • Made in England.
  • Denim unknown.
  • Average price: unknown.

Quantock

Quantock provided all the information I was looking for on their website so rather than recreate the wheel, read their summary below:

“Designed and Made in England from Japanese selvedge denim woven on looms for a tighter and denser weave by the Kuroki Company in Okayama, Japan. Our Quantock jeans are then cut, made and trimmed to exacting standards in England. There are currently two styles to choose from – rinse washed, which some refer to as indigo jeans, or classic stonewashed finished. Both will wear gracefully over the lifetime of the product to add to their timeless appearance.”

I think that pretty much sums it up. They have a small selection of jeans available but they are classic cuts which I think look really good. The prices are very good as well though they don’t offer free repairs unlike some.

  • Made in Rugby.
  • Denim from Japan.
  • Average price: £115-£125.

Rabbie Denim

I’ve seen a lot of photos of pairs of jeans for this blog, but these jeans by Rabbie Denim are different. They are made in Scotland and have a “contemporary Scottish twist” to quote their website. They certainly do! If you combine jeans with tartan, the result would be these Rabbie jeans. However, before you go running for the hills or if you think of jeans made from tartan kilts, think again – these are modern jeans with tartan detailing around the belt line and pockets. Whilst some are not my cup of tea, I really, really, like the selvedge denim with Watson tartan. I’d say it’s a perfect nod to people to say “hey, these are no ordinary jeans” but not enough to look outlandish. The non-tartan bits are 14oz indigo selvedge denim so you are buying quality, but at nearly £300, these are some of the most expensive jeans going in my list. However, these are probably the most unique jeans on this page so I’d say the price is justified.

  • Made in Glasgow.
  • Denim unknown.
  • Average price: £169-£274.

Richard James

Richard James of Saville Row makes one pair of jeans and they are, of course, made in England. Using Japanese Selvedge denim, Richard James has created a slim fit, mid-rise jean for £245. The jeans have already been cold washed to make them less rigid and feature some nice detailing inside the jeans and in the custom rivets used to keep the fabric together. Made in England tag. Check!

  • Made in London.
  • Denim from Japan.
  • Average price: £245.

Road Skin

For motorcyclists, these jeans will provide the best protection in case of an accident. There’s some really good science that has gone into their materials, which are produced in the UK, and you can see from the drag test data that they could help save your life, or skin, if you come off your bike at speed.

  • Made in the UK.
  • Materials from the UK.
  • Average price: £119-£199.

Sunspel

Sunspel offer one pair of jeans that are made in England made from a Japanese selvedge denim. They are a classic, regular, cut in indigo and have been rinse washed to ensure that they are soft and the right size from day one. Nice.

  • Made in England.
  • Denim from Japan.
  • Average price: £195.

Tender

Tender offer a wide range of jeans made in England using Japanese selvedge denim. They have a very wide range of jeans in different colours and styles at different price points but are on the more expensive side of this list. Their website is not the easiest to navigate as they have one page with all their products. The jeans are towards the bottom.

  • Made in England.
  • Denim from Japan.
  • Average price: £195-£330.

TRiCKETT

Made in Lancashire, TRiCKETT manufacture two types of jean suitable for people looking for a slim, but not skinny, jean. Available in black and indigo, the Compton Road and Blackpool Sea jeans (their respective names) are made from 14.5oz premium selvedge denim with a strong yellow thread giving these a classic, but still modern, style.

  • Made in Lancashire.
  • Denim unknown.
  • Average price: £125.

Universal Works

Regular and slim fit Selvedge denim jeans in indigo and ecru. Only a few of the pairs are labelled as being made in England, with Portuguese denim, whilst the others have no country of origin information. The jeans themselves are founded on a classic style but with some contemporary design tweaks including unique pocket shapes on some of their cuts.

  • Made in Leicestershire.
  • Denim from Portugal.
  • Average price: £135-£145.

Wizard Jeans

If you are looking for UK-made jeans, then be careful when shopping at Wizard Jeans as not all of their jeans are made in the UK. I reached out to Wizard Jeans who told me that “all Wizard Jeans are now made in the UK unless it says so on the product page of the website – and this only refers to a few old styles”. As a female fashion site, there are loads of modern styles of jeans for women of which a good number are made in the UK, with others (presumably the old styles) primarily made in Hong Kong. I’m not an expert on female fashion so if you would like some women’s jeans, made in the UK, I suggest you take a look at their range!

  • Made in the UK.
  • Denim unknown.
  • Average price: £125-£175.

Closing Notes & Changelog

Well, that’s your lot! I hope that this post helps you to find a suitable pair of jeans made in Britain! If you spot any mistakes or omissions please let me know in the comments or contact me directly. I hope to keep this page updated so do get in touch if you have anything to add. If any suppliers have any photos they would like me to add to this post, please also get in touch.

Ombar: Organic Chocolate… with Coconut

I, along with many people, like chocolate and I especially enjoy trying chocolate that I’ve never tasted before. I’ve never tried Ombar chocolate before so I’m in for a treat… literally!

Ombar manufacture organic, vegan and ethical chocolate so it ticks quite a few boxes. It’s also made in Cambridge so it ticks the most important box for this blog. As you might expect the ingredients themselves are not necessarily British with the cacao sourced from Ecudador, coconut products from the Philippines, Vanilla from Madagascar and fresh fruits from across Europe.

This isn’t normal chocolate. Firstly, since it is vegan it contains no milk or other diary products and uses coconut ‘milk’ instead. There’s also no refined sugar with whole coconut sugar being used to sweeten the cacao which itself is raw complete with all the minerals and goodness that it contains. The ingredients are all natural and there are some vegan live cultures added to make it even healthier. So, on the case of it, this sounds like some pretty healthy chocolate. However, none of that matters if it doesn’t taste particularly nice. On to the taste test…

Coco Mylk Buttons

This is milk-free milk chocolate. The dairy substitute is creamed coconut and this is very evident from the taste. That said, this is very good chocolate (and their best seller) with a strong cacao flavour accompanying the coconut. I like coconut so I’m absolutely fine with this and I think it adds another dimension. If you made chocolate buttons out of Bounty bars, I imagine they would taste like this (but less sweet).

Coconut & Vanilla Centres

If the buttons above tasted like coconut then these give you a big coconut-flavoured smack in the face – so much so that I couldn’t really taste the vanilla. In fact, I couldn’t taste it at all. I’d go so far as to calling this a coconut cream chocolate bar. Very pleasant with a pleasing smooth texture in the middle.

90% Cacao

On the one hand, this doesn’t have the overwhelming taste of coconut that the previous chocolate had, but on the other hand, it’s a very bitter chocolate given that it’s 90% cacao. I couldn’t eat a lot of this myself but if you like really dark chocolate then this will be right up your street. I’m also surprised that this is only 1 calorie less than the coconut & vanilla truffle bar!

72% Cacao

There’s not much more to say other than it’s like the 90% cacao bar but less bitter and that it tastes marginally more like coconut. If you don’t like coconut I don’t think this would offend your tastebuds. 72% is clearly the sweet spot.

Mandarin Centres

Also known as chocolate orange. To be fair to Ombar this really does taste like mandarin rather than generic orange so it’s unlike any other orange-flavoured chocolate that I’ve eaten. This works really well but I’m personally not a big lover of mandarins and prefer oranges – even that generic orange taste.

60% Coconut

Can you guess what this tastes like? This is like the above, sans mandarin flavour and with added coconut flavour. I think I prefer it to the mandarin as it tastes like Bounty, which I like. This is also a fair bit sweeter than the 72% and 90% bars and I reckon I could eat this in fairly large quantities. Just watch me!

Raspberry & Coconut Centres

This is an exceptionally soft and smooth chocolate which is lovely and velvetty. The raspberry taste is quite subtle with the chocolate and coconut being the stronger flavours. Raspberry and coconut isn’t the classic combination like strawberries and cream but it’s ok. However, my favourite is definitely the vanilla and coconut.

Ombar

In summary, I did enjoy trying these Ombars but I found that the coconut did become a bit much after a while overtaking all the other flavours – which is great if you are coconuts about coconut (sigh!). If you are a vegan then these are definitely worth a try if you are in need of a sweet fix and the fact that they are organic and ethical are a happy bonus. Ombar? Om nom nom.

Product Information (at the time of writing):

  • Made in Cambridge, UK.
  • £1.99/35g bar and £1.79/25g bag (buttons) Ocado.
  • Coco Mylk Buttons: 594 kcal/100g or 149 kcal/25g pack.
  • Centres – Coconut & Vanilla: 577 kcal/100g or 202kcal/35g bar.
  • 90% Cacao: 575 kcal/100g or 201kcal/35g bar.
  • 72% Cacao: 583 kcal/100g or 204kcal/35g bar.
  • Centres – Mandarin: 566 kcal/100g or 198kcal/35g bar.
  • 60% Coconut: 577 kcal/100g or 202 kcal/35g bar.
  • Centres – Raspberry & Coconut: 577 kcal/100g or 202 kcal/35g bar.

A Splash of Summer: Yarty Cordials

In addition to the Toffee Vodka I recently picked up at the Hatfield Food Festival I also picked up some non-alcoholic drinks in the form of these cordials from Yarty. I drink a lot of cordial (or squash as I call it) and Yarty had some interesting flavours to choose from, so I picked up a few bottles. Well, it’d be rude not to!

Up first was the rhubarb & ginger cordial. I feel sorry for rhubarb as it’s often shunned in the food industry for other flavours like strawberry, lemon, lime and blackcurrant (unless you live in the USA where blackcurrant doesn’t get a look in and grape is king!). There must be some reason why we don’t have rhubarb flavoured fruit pastilles or chocolates with rhubarb fondant. However, I digress. As for this cordial, the rhubarb is sweet, and not tart, and the ginger compliments it well. Based on this I’d like to see more rhubarb-flavoured drinks as it is quite delicious.

Yarty Cordial

I also tried the elderflower & goosegog cordial. Like the rhubarb cordial, this is sweet and fruity, but I think I could drink greater quantities of it than the rhubarb & ginger as the flavour is a bit lighter and perhaps a tad more refreshing. For good measure, I also bought a bog-standard blackcurrant cordial to see how it compares to the likes of Ribena. As you can probably tell by the photo this has a rich dark purple colour and is much more like a syrup than the other cordials. It was a good cordial but I’m not sure it was significantly different to any other blackcurrant squash on the market.

Overall, I enjoyed trying these cordials but I found that you need an awful lot of the stuff to get a strong flavour which makes it quite expensive. Perhaps I’m spoiled by the double-strength squash on the market or perhaps I’m just a bit of a glutton as I drink squash by the pint – yeah, I’m a cheap round on a night out!

Product Information (at the time of writing):

Fenlands Toffee Vodka

Let me start by saying that I don’t drink a lot of alcohol and when I do drink I tend to drink ale, lager or cider. I am really not a fan of spirits and I especially hate vodka. Who drinks vodka for the taste? I find it disgusting and I can just about manage it when it has been mixed with cola or something similar.

However, and this is a big however, I recently attended the Hatfield Food Festival and tried a sample of this Fenlands Toffee Vodka and it has completely changed my opinion on the stuff. Ok, so this isn’t a bog standard vodka, which I still despise, but I have to say that I love this toffee vodka. It probably helps that it’s got a shed load of sugar in it making it very sweet but it also has a very nice flavour that is most definitely toffee.

toffeevodka2

Fenlands make drinks in Upwell, Norfolk, including a range of flavoured vodkas including a chocolate vodka (which I tried but didn’t think was as good as the toffee vodka) along with different liqueurs. Their toffee vodka is their biggest seller, unsurprising given how good it tastes, and can be purchased in 25cl and 50cl bottles.

At 26% ABV this is quite strong but it’s also very smooth and doesn’t taste nearly as alcoholic as you would expect so it’s very, or perhaps too, easy to drink! It’s designed to be drank cold on its own, or with ice, but I can also see the suggestion of using it in coffee or with vanilla ice cream going down particularly well. As a cheeky dessert drink, this stuff is awesome! The only downside is that I found it quite difficult to open the bottle given that the cork is covered in black wax – although I admit that it looks good!

Product Information (at the time of writing):

Fentimans – British Brewed Beverages

Fentimans are a classic British drinks brand. Their Victorian-esque branding evokes images of women in fancy summer dresses and well-dressed gentlemen with perfectly groomed moustaches enjoying a lavish picnic in a country garden. They are entitled to this image as they have been making drinks in Britain since 1905. Golly gosh!

I’ve picked up 5 of their drinks, representing half of their range, as Waitrose didn’t sell the other 5 unfortunately. Fentimans specialise in botanically brewed beverages which essentially means that they infuse, blend and ferment natural ingredients to get the best flavours. Nothing artificial here. It is worth noting that whilst they make drinks in the UK they do source high quality ingredients from around the world. They do however have some truly British flavours from Dandelion & Burdock to Wild English Elderflower, which is the one I am starting this review with.

Wild English Elderflower

Fentimans Botanically Brewed Drinks - Wild English Elderflower

I’ll start off by saying that Elderflower is rarely a drink that I’ll deliberately pick – it’s not that I don’t like it but 9 times out of 10 I will prefer to drink something else. If you’ve never had an elderflower-flavoured drink before it is very light and refreshing. It’s also a very summery drink – I don’t think you’d drink this at Christmas. I would probably only drink this on a hot day during a barbecue or picnic… and if there was nothing else available. However, please don’t get me wrong, this is a very nice elderflower drink but it’s just not a flavour I am a massive fan of.

Dandelion & Burdock

Fentimans Botanically Brewed Drinks - Dandelion & Burdock

This is a quintessentially British flavour but what the heck is burdock? Some kind of plant allegedly! I remember drinking this when I was younger as we used to get big bottles of the stuff from the milkman (remember them?) along with bottles of cream soda, limeade and cherryade. You’d think that a drink made from plant roots wouldn’t taste particularly nice, and it is a bizarre flavour to try and explain to someone who hasn’t had it before, but I’d say it’s a cross between Vimto and root beer. This is one of the nicest dandelion & burdock drinks that I have ever had the pleasure to drink as the botanical brewing process gives it a delicious flavour that is very strong. Some might say that it tastes medicinal but I’d say that it is truly delightful.

Ginger Beer

Fentimans Botanically Brewed Drinks - Ginger Beer

For me, drinking ginger beer conjures up images of The Famous Five on one of their adventures. Fentimans Ginger Beer is very tasty. It’s not overly sweet but it does have a strong ginger flavour – more so than the Gingerella that I reviewed recently from Karma Cola. It does have a bit of a kick from the ginger but it isn’t going to turn your mouth into a blazing inferno. I downed the bottle fairly quickly which, I think, is a sign of how good this is!

Rose Lemonade

Fentimans Botanically Brewed Drinks - Rose Lemonade

This is pink lemonade but not pink lemonade if that makes any sense. Pink lemonade is traditionally made with raspberries, cranberries or event strawberries but this is flavoured with rose oil and coloured with red cabbage extract. This tastes like a very nice traditional lemonade… with rose – as you would expect. It’s hard to say much else about it really! It’s a shame that I don’t like the flavour of rose very much as I find it a bit too floral and it reminds me of an old lady’s perfume. However, if you like Turkish Delight then you’ll probably like this. I found this one to be quite curious so it should have perhaps borrowed the curiosity moniker from the next drink…

Curiosity Cola

Fentimans Botanically Brewed Drinks - Curiosity Cola

Lastly, we don’t just have cola, but Curiosity Cola. I wouldn’t say it’s curious, but it’s very much cola. Like all the other drinks, this has a very strong flavour and it tastes distinctly like old-fashioned cola. If you’ve ever eaten a cola bottle, that’s what this tastes like. Of course it would be remiss of me to not compare this to Coca-Cola or Pepsi as the two biggest cola brands in the world. I have to say that I think I might actually prefer Curiosity Cola for it’s pure depth of flavour and the fact that it doesn’t taste completely artificial. That said, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a classic Coke as I tend to drink Coke Zero, Coke Zero or Pepsi Max, so perhaps it’s just the sugar that’s delighting my tastebuds. Would I buy this again? Absolutely. Of all the drinks tried this was my favourite.

Fentimans Botanically Brewed Drinks

All in all I have been extremely impressed by these drinks from Fentimans and they were some of the best drinks that I have tasted. It pleases me to see a company still making these traditionally-flavoured drinks in the UK using old-fashioned techniques that make a massive difference to the taste. All the drinks have bold flavours and taste exactly as they should. I am personally not that partial to elderflower- or rose-flavoured drinks but if you do you will love these. However, as far as the other 3 flavours go, I’ll definitely be buying them again. If only they sold cans or large bottles!

Product Information (at the time of writing):

  • Made in the UK.
  • £1/bottle Waitrose.
  • Wild English Elderflower: 36 kcal/100ml or 99 kcal/275ml bottle.
  • Dandelion & Burdock: 45 kcal/100ml or 127 kcal/275ml bottle.
  • Ginger Beer: 39 kcal/100ml or 107 kcal/275ml bottle.
  • Rose Lemonade: 51 kcal/100ml or 140 kcal/275ml bottle.
  • Curiosity Cola: 44 kcal/100ml or 121 kcal/275ml bottle.

A Day at the Hatfield Food Festival

I heard about the Hatfield Food Festival only a few days ago and since the weather was absolutely glorious on Saturday I decided that it would be a good idea to pay a visit. I like food and I like the sunshine so this sounded like the perfect combination!

The grounds of Hatfield House are very beautiful and a great location for what I would call a giant garden party. However, the key element to this party was food and there was a lot of it about.

hatfieldfoodfestival2

There were stands and stalls across the site from lots of companies selling British produce which made this blogger very happy! Most of the stallholders had free samples to try from sausage, pickles and cheese to chocolate, cake and fudge (which I am enjoying as I write this blog!). There were also quite a few stalls selling alcohol with samples of cider, gin and vodka to taste. It was really fun being able to try foods that you might not normally try. On the whole, I liked most things that I tried and snapped up a few items to take away. I should say that it cost £11 per adult to get in to the festival, and with purchases, it probably cost me closer to £40.

hatfieldfoodfestival3

Aside from the stalls there were product demonstrations and hands-on masterclasses including a couple of sessions with celebrity chefs which on Saturday turned out to be The Fabulous Baker Brothers. Perhaps it was seeing them that inspired me to bake something today, except that when I started assembling ingredients I realised that we didn’t have enough sugar. Darn it!

Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a food festival if you couldn’t buy food and drink to eat there and then and there was a wide array of stalls selling burgers, hot dogs, BBQ and street food from around the world. Whatever your tastes, I think you were pretty much covered. I spent a good amount of time sat on a hay bale in the warm sunshine enjoying some live folk music with a pint of cider whilst the smell of BBQ wafted across my nostrils – it was bliss.

hatfieldfoodfestival4

Overall I really enjoyed attending my first food festival and I would very much like to do it again. The weather really made it enjoyable and I don’t think it would have had such a great atmosphere if it had been raining and you couldn’t sit outside or on the grass. However, being able to try food and drink made in the UK, including items I had never even seen before, was probably one of the highlights. This included charcoal cheese, chilli-infused ginger ale and toffee vodka. One of these items will be appearing in a review on this blog in the not too distant future so keep an eye out for it!

Vivia Crump – Queen of Chutney

As I mentioned in a previous post I am a huge fan of the humble cheeseboard. Give me a selection of cheese and crackers and I’m happy! For me, one of the key elements of a cheeseboard is a nice fruit chutney. Someone recently told me about Vivia Crump and her range of “extremely scrummy chutney” that’s made in Rutland so, since I’m a bit of a glutton, I’ve got my hands on 5 jars to review.

Vivia’s chutneys are all handmade and use quality ingredients with no artificial flavours. The packaging is very professional and I was surprised to learn that these aren’t stocked in more places. In fact, the only place you can pick these up are direct from Vivia through her website, at her market stalls or select shops in Rutland. Anyway, it’s time to dig in!

First up I tried the Bramley apple and date with root ginger chutney. Date and apple is a classic combination and the flavours work perfectly together. I found this to have a texture more like jam than chutney and it’s extremely sweet… like jam. The sweetness completely overpowered the humble smoked Appleby cheese that I was eating though I think it would work well with very strong cheddar. To be honest, I think this chutney would excel as a sweet pie filling!

Vivia Crump's Chutney

Next up was another sweet chutney, and it’s Vivia’s apricot Whisky Mac. Who would have thought of mixing apricot and whisky in a chutney? Let me start by saying that the whisky doesn’t blow your head off like some alcoholic relishes do and it simply provides a nice background warmth. Oddly, the flavour was very similar to the taste of mincemeat found in mince pies. As such, this is probably quite a nice chutney to have at Christmas. Yes, I said the C-word in May!

Vivia Crump's Chutney

Taking a break from the sweet chutneys I tried the lemon and mustard seed chutney. If you’ve ever had lime pickle at an Indian restaurant on your poppadoms then this tastes very similar – except it smacks of lemon rather than lime. This is very much a savoury chutney compared to the first two and is sour rather than sweet. I really liked the flavour and it was easy to pick out both the lemon and the mustard seeds. I think it’s too powerful a flavour for cheese but if you prefer lemon over lime, stick this on your poppadoms!

viviacrumpschutney4

Continuing the savoury theme I tried the beetroot and horseradish chutney next. This one most definitely tastes of beetroot but I couldn’t really taste the heat of the horseradish. To be honest that didn’t matter as this was my favourite so far when combined with cheese. It’s a nice, but not overbearing flavour, and the pickley-vinegar taste from the beetroot was great with the smoked cheese. I’d most definitely buy this again as a cheeseboard accompaniment.

Vivia Crump's Chutney

Last but not least is the red chilli and pineapple with roasted pepper chutney. Oh my goodness – this is awesome! I don’t rate things on this blog but this would get 5/5. This is truly delicious and was my favourite of the chutneys tried, followed by the beetroot and horseradish chutney above. It packs a spicy punch but is equally sweet and fruity. The only downside to this chutney is that it’s a bit like a salsa in that it contains quite a bit of water making it slightly messy on crackers. However, I’m willing to forgive for the flavour is truly remarkable. I’m smitten.

I’ve only scratched the surface of Vivia’s chutney and relish range and I look forward to trying another batch of chutneys in an upcoming review. The tomato and chipotle chutney sounds particularly appetising to me as I love the flavour of chipotle. If you are looking for delicious handmade chutneys to put in a hamper, or to eat yourself, look no further!

 

The Karma Cola Collection

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend and the weather is actually amazing for once! Enjoy it while you can as I’m sure it’ll all go downhill from here! As it’s been so warm I have been on the lookout for something cold and refreshing to review on the blog and I came across these drinks from Karma Cola.

One of the reasons I went for these drinks, other than the fantastic packaging and because they are made in the UK, was the fact that they contain Fairtrade and ethically-sourced ingredients ensuring that the growers receive a fair price for their products. Splendid stuff.

The first drink I tried was Gingerella which, as you might imagine, is a ginger ale. I’m partial to a ginger ale every now and then and find them quite refreshing – apart from the ones which are too spicy which require a further drink to extinguish the fire in your mouth. However, I found Gingerella to be sweet with a subtle ginger flavour and a distinct hint of vanilla (which I think adds a lot to the overall flavour). If this were a curry it’d be a korma rather than a jalfrezi, so it’s perfect for a summer’s day!

Next up I tried the Lemony Lemonade. Like the ginger ale, this wasn’t too sweet and I didn’t find it to be overly lemony despite the fact that it’s 31% lemon. It was very pleasant and tasted like traditional lemonade made with real lemons. I can’t say that it tastes better or worse than other “real” lemonades but for the conscientious consumer who wants to buy Fairtrade, this is great.

karmacola2

Finally, I tasted the Karma Cola which I would describe as a “real” cola in that it tastes more like cola than chemicals. If you’ve ever eaten a cola-flavoured lollypop, or a cola cube sweet, this has a very similar flavour. As such, I’d describe the taste as more organic and botanical and I personally found it to have a mild treacle taste. I did enjoy drinking this and I would buy it again.

Overall, I found all three Karma Cola drinks to be very pleasant and I give extra points for the fact that they are all Fairtrade. You can read more about the Karma Cola Foundation and their social mission on their website. I see that they have now teamed up with Honest Burgers… I feel a trip to London coming on

Product Information (at the time of writing):

  • Made in the UK.
  • £1.59/bottle Waitrose.
  • Gingerella: 45 kcal/100ml or 149 kcal/330ml bottle.
  • Lemony Lemonade: 40 kcal/100ml or 132 kcal/330ml bottle.
  • Karma Cola: 42.8 kcal/100ml or 141.2 kcal/330ml bottle.