Taste Test

The FoodChain team sample a selection of new and innovative foods and drinks

Delicious bars
The cake bars by Bells & Whistles were inspired by a younger generation being underwhelmed by the same old brands. It wanted to amp things back up a little and create an indulgent treat that was ‘Free From’ yet had all the indulgence you would expect from a cake. The company believes in good quality ingredients, simple processes and bold flavours. Plus, all its cake slices are under 120 calories each so eating a couple hopefully won’t break the calorie bank!
The Team nominated both a vegan and non-vegan to test these products, and the results were very positive. “They look and taste like a premium vegan product,” said tester one (the vegan). “They are the perfect size; not too sickly and nicely filling after. My favourite is the ginger and apricot.” The non-vegan added: “I love the nutty flavours. They are very tasty and I would buy them for sure. My favourite is the berry and cashew.”


Healthy indulgence
British start-up Vive has launched three (Dark Chocolate Coated Hazelnut, Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel) Belgian dark chocolate coated, nut butter snack bars with the tagline ‘Making Nature Taste Naughty’.

After finding typical ‘health’ bars lacking in taste and texture, Vive Founder, Ishak Valimohamed wanted to create a healthy, satiating and natural snack that tasted like a chocolate bar. The bars ingredients are carefully curated and the bars have been dubbed on social media as ‘the Vegan Snickers bar’ – all made using only natural ingredients and each contains 10g of plant protein.
Our tester used the hazelnut bar as a pre-gym afternoon snack, she reported that it really hit the spot! “The rich Belgian dark chocolate gave it a luxurious feel straightaway, for a small bar it had a good weight to it. The inside was like a smooth, ground nutty paste, I occasionally got a hint of the salt against the sweet, which I liked.”

The Dark chocolate was also the stand out part of the Salted Caramel option.

The Team thought that these bars were an excellent alternative to a standard chocolate bar, if you were vegan, or dedicated to organic ingredients.

Gluten-free bake off!
Answering the prayers of coeliacs across the nation, Essex Bakery, Davina Steel, has launched a new range of gluten-free baking kits.

The new easy-to-make kits take all the hard work out of gluten-free baking with a simple, three-step process, and contain everything needed to make perfect bakes every time.

There are six products in the new range: Garlic & Rosemary Focaccia, Onion Focaccia, Chocolate Chip Focaccia, White Loaf Mix, Pizza Base Mix (makes four pizzas) and Scone Mix (makes 8-10 scones).
“I liked that these kits are made with only natural ingredients, and free from 13 known allergens, as it’s hard to find products with this pedigree – plus as Davina Steel is a 100% gluten free bakery, I could be certain they were free from any gluten traces. The bread kit instructions were clear and easy to follow, and the resulting loaves were tasty – the focaccia particularly had a lovely rosemary taste. The scone kit was also easy – the scones were so good fresh from the oven, but didn’t have much in the way of longevity – this just means I need to eat them more quickly!”

A taste of Korea
Set up by married couple Sue Youn from Korea and Ben Ansah from Birmingham, Yogiyo was inspired by the traditional cooking of Sue’s mother in her family restaurant. The pair first started trading with a food truck in London’s Leather Lane market, with success and a growing interest in Korean food prompting Selfridges to stock their sauces. This led to an appearance on Dragon’s Den and backing from Peter Jones, with Sainsbury’s and Tesco subsequently listing their Korean stir fry sauces.

The company has now significantly expanded its range to include nine brand new products including meal kits, noodle pots, hot sauces and a Korean BBQ sauce – taking its SKUs to a total of 12.

The meal kits provide two servings and come complete with soft noodles, a sauce pouch and garnish, while the noodle pots are all low-fat and under 300 kcals. They’re also the first in the UK to be packaged in a compostable pot. Both hot sauces use a key ingredient in Korean cooking – ‘gochujang’, a fermented chilli paste. One is combined with yuzu and the other with wasabi to create hot sauces that have distinctively ‘punchy’ Korean flavours.
“I tried the fiery chilli udon ramen meal kit, and it was so easy to make – I just had to add water, meat and veg. They suggested beef, however I used chicken, and it was still delicious – a very good amount of heat, but the heat didn’t overtake the flavour of the broth, it was savoury, tangy and the fat udon noodles were perfect in the soup.”

The chilli sauce was also well received: “They don’t substitute flavour for spice – there’s a great combination of both,” said our second reviewer.

Wonder drink
Mizkan – the Japanese fermentation expert – is expanding its range of popular condiments with the launch of OSU – a premium apple cider vinegar – which made its debut in UK supermarkets on 7th October.

OSU is made from raw and unpasteurised apple cider vinegar blended with natural apple juice, giving you a superior taste experience. Vinegar connoisseurs will notice that the subtle sweetness of apples balances the tang of vinegar in OSU, making it more palatable than other apple cider vinegars.

Unfiltered, and containing the Mother culture (strands of protein), the good news is that OSU is free from artificial colourings, flavours and preservatives and is certified as vegan-friendly.
Traditionally, OSU can be enjoyed as a tonic or short drink each morning, so our tester started the day with a shot in hot water! “I could immediately taste the apple juice, sweetness first and then the tang of the vinegar,” she said. “I also added some OSU to my salad for lunch, and it gave a nice sharp bite to accompany the chicken and tomatoes. I am impressed with the quality of the product, and I am a firm believer in the healthy properties of apple cider vinegar and its benefits to digestion and gut health, and with OSU’s background, I don’t doubt it’s doing me good.”

Blast from the past
Warninks – the UK’s number one Advocaat brand – is bringing back a taste of Christmassy nostalgia to the UK this winter, launching the much-loved Snowball cocktail in a convenient, ready-to-drink can.

Made with Warninks Advocaat, lemonade and lime, the Snowball is the definitive Christmas-time cocktail. Combining the perfect balance of ingredients, Warninks new ready-to-drink format makes it even easier to serve the ultimate Snowball every time.

Surprisingly refreshing, they can be enjoyed as a festive treat straight from the can, or simply pour into your favourite glassware and top with a cherry or marshmallow.
“I was so excited to try the new Snowball, as I have such a love for them from when I was young!” said our tester. “I remember the little green glass bottles and drinking them from a champagne saucer and a cocktail cherry – the height of sophistication.

“The cans have the marvellous Warninks red and yellow packaging from the original Advocaat bottles, and the size is perfect for one cocktail. They’re easy to store in the fridge, pour perfectly, and are deliciously creamy, with a good zing of lemon and lime. You can drink them from the can, but now I have an excuse to drink out of a fancy glass, I am going to enjoy every minute. The nostalgia associated with a Snowball just made me so happy!”