Saturday, 10 January 2015

Degustabox Review - December 2014 Box

Hello everyone! Happy New Year. It's been a busy time for us so I have only just gotten around to putting together this review of the latest Degustabox.



Like always, we cannot fault the selection. There's a mixture of sweet things, breakfast things, drink things, snacks and mains. But let's crack on and get on with the foodie goodness:

The Chia Co. Oats+Chia - RRP £1.70




First up we have a breakfast thing to sample. It's porridge. But not just any porridge, it's mixed berry porridge. But not just any mixed berry porridge, this is Chia mixed berry porridge.

If you're like me, you probably mis-read that the first time and went "oh, that's tea.” but then, you're probably thinking of Chai which is tea (what a difference the order of a couple of vowels makes!) Your next thought would probably be "what, those clay pet things that grow like grass on them?" and this time, I think you'd be right (although I probably should google and check).

The sample pack we were sent contains one portion of the porridge which contains chia seed, oats, fruit and coconut oil. It's a "just add water" porridge, which will make Neil happy - he prefers to add water, I prefer to add milk. It's one of those things. As well as the porridge sample, there's a "Chia shot" sample pack which contains some chia seeds to add to regular porridge, yoghurt and other things.

Why chia? According to the notes, it's the best plant source for getting omega-3, fibre and protein (and has a whole bunch of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants). It's meant to be flavourless so shouldn't affect the flavour of the thing it's added to. But what’s it like?

The porridge is simple to prepare – just add water, stir and wait a minute. We were given the mixed berry flavour, and the red from the berries bled into porridge mix and gave it a slightly off-putting pink colour; that combined with the dark fruit bits made it a little unappetising to the eye. Taste-wise the berries made it a little tart which meant sugar was needed to sweeten. (It tasted a little like the filling of a rhubarb crumble).

I couldn’t really notice the chia seeds – although it might be a better test in something which is much more subtly flavoured. We’ll have to try the “chia shot” on some yoghurt or plain porridge and see what sort of difference that makes.

I probably wouldn’t pick out the berry porridge myself in future, but would be willing to give some of the other flavours a try. Especially if the chia seeds are as good as they’re claiming to be.

Bonne Maman Marmalade - RRP £2.30




Staying with the breakfast theme, next up we have a jar of Bonne Maman coarse Shred marmalade. It's not been that long since Neil finished off the last marmalade we were sent in September's Degustabox and he kept meaning to, and forgetting to, pick up a fresh jar - so this one arrives in a timely manner. I'll let him tell you what he thinks of this one (as I'm not a lady marmalade).

I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on some marmalade for a while. I am a bit of a fan of it and often have some on my toast in the morning. The Bonne Maman marmalade is a darker orange – almost brown, and reminded me a little of Paddington Bear’s marmalade sandwiches (he always has one under his hat, just in case).Flavour-wise, I think it was a little less bitter and a little less sharp than other marmalades I’ve had, but that’s not a bad thing. I think I might need a few more tastes to be sure though (not that I need an excuse to munch toast).

Pukka Herbs Organic Green and Lemon Tea - RRP £2.39




Yep, still in the breakfast kitchen here. Next up is a box of 20 Pukka Herbs tea bags. These are organic green tea and lemon tea bags that claim to spring clean your spirit. Neil (again - he's doing well this month) is more of a tea and hot drink person (I don't drink hot drinks - well - except the occasional hot chocolate) so it's down to him to review this one.

As Ellen says, I'm the hot drink person. I'm a big fan of teas and infusions and green tea. The only tea I tend to shy away from is the lemon ones, so I approached this with a little trepidation. However, on glancing over the ingredients list, we're talking more than just green tea and lemon. We're talking fennel, dandelion, nettle, liquorice and more. One of my favourite things is liquorice and that aniseedy taste you get from fennel teas. In fact, you get a great smell of aniseed escaping from the box before you even open it.

I have to say I really liked this tea. The main flavour you get from it is of the fennel/liquorice and not the lemon; the lemon is there but it's much more subtle than I was expecting. When we get to the end of the box, I will definitely be getting another one to replace it.

Bahlsen Choco Leibniz, Milk and Caramel Flavours - RRP £1.79 per packet




Enough of breakfast, onto snacks. First of the snacks this month are two packs of Bahlsen Choco Leibniz biscuits. One pack of Milk (chocolate) flavour, one of Caramel flavour. The caption says "more chocolate than a biscuit," and we didn't disagree.

Opening the box presents you with a nice tray of chocolate biscuits (not individually wrapped, we’re talking more an offer these around while you drink tea/coffee with friends sort of affair). Each box has nine biscuits; we're talking quite nice chocolate with a thin, crunchy biscuit. Lovely. Just wish there were more in the box because these go far too quickly!

Popchips - RRP £1.79 per 85g bag 




One of the things that is nice about Degustabox is that they almost always send something to snack on which is a bit "better for you" than regular snacks. In this case, Popchips are an alternative to regular fried crisps or baked crisp alternatives. They are low fat and made with natural flavours. We were sent the barbecue flavour to try this month, but other flavours are available.

The crisps are nice and crispy and have a bit of a bubbly look to them. They feel less greasy/oily than regular crisps and have a really good barbecue flavour to them with a bit of a spicy kick to them.

They make lots of claims on the bag how they're not fake and don't lead to greasy, fluorescent orange fingers that leave stains on clothes etc. and as far as we can see those claims are pretty much valid. We really enjoyed these and would consider getting more in the future (and maybe trying some of the other flavours!)

Frylight Infuse Chilli - RRP £2.00




Now Degustabox always slips something in to help with cooking (or encourage it – like the meal kits) and this month’s box is no exception. We’ve used spray oils before and on the whole have been happy with them. It is nice being able to control how much oil we add to the pan (rather than it being “a rather large blob” from a bottle) and still have the food cook well – without it being overly greasy – for taste and health reasons.

We’ve not tried any of the flavoured sprays before, but this one sounds like a nice one. It says it should give a little bit of a chilli kick to your food – but how much of a kick is that? I know some people like a little warmth and some like to feel like Vesuvius is exploding on their tongue; but where does this fall?

To try it out we fried some eggs; well, it is something fairly quick and simple to prepare and gives us a fairly bland and benign food-stuff to sample the chilli oil on. Plus were it to be a complete disaster it’s not like we’ve ruined a £20 steak or something!

The eggs cooked well through and didn't seem overly greasy. Flavour-wise the chilli seemed to give a subtle kick to the egg and wasn't overpowering (which was a worry, thankfully unfounded). Definitely will use this again and replace it when it runs out; and am looking forward to trying it out with some more “adventurous” recipes!

Kent's Kitchen Meal Kit - RRP £2.50




Now we had one of these in October's Degustabox and were impressed. That time we were sent the Bengal meal kit which made a really nice curry; this time we have the Brazilian Moqueca Capixaba kit. Just like last time, this is something we’re not that familiar with and don’t really know what to expect on having seen the name.

Fortunately all the meal kits have full instructions along with what they expect you to add. In this case, the meal makes a Brazilian fish and tomato stew! Which is perfect for the harsh winter weather (we’re not really having here in the UK at the moment) but not really that good for using up left-over turkey meat we had at Christmas. Never mind, I’ll look to make this up in the future and write a little edit to talk about the flavours.

Like all the meal kits, full and detailed instructions are provided. You need to add the meat (in this case it’s a “white fish” selection – they suggest cod, monkfish, and swordfish (etc.)) and a tin of chopped tomatoes. They say it should feed about 4 people – but I expect, like with the other kits, you simply add more ‘meat’ to cover more mouths.

I am happy with these kits – they do what they say and make even the most kitchen phobic capable of producing flavourful, quality meals quickly and easily.

Gloworm Premium Mixers - RRP £1.50 each




Gloworm drinks are premium mixers and are intended to be added to spirits. There is Raspberry and Orris which is meant to be added to vodka, the pear, spice and lime which should be added to rum, a cucumber and apple that partners gin and a ginger and lemongrass which mixes in with bourbon. They are sugar-free, taurine-free (I feel like I should know what Taurine is, but I don’t) and less caffeine than “the market leader.”

We tried the ones for vodka and gin and were impressed. We sampled them first without alcohol to see how they tasted and were impressed - then we added the alcohol and ice.

Both tasted fruity and had a really good flavour to them - and if anything, the taste improved with the ice and alcohol (what's nice is the website tells you how to "best mix" the various drink combinations).

I have to be honest, usually our mixing of drinks amounts to adding cola to spirit and not much more, but these were a nice change of pace and we would probably consider getting these in again.


Eisberg Alcohol Free Wine 




The last item in our degustabox this month is a bottle of wine; but no ordinary wine. We’ve been sent a bottle of Eisberg alcohol free wine; we’ve been sent a bottle of their (chardonnay/Riesling – I need to check) which pretty nice. Visiting their website you can see that they’re flagging up the health benefits of being alcohol free, and the benefits for those who drink and are pregnant (but don’t want to give the game away just yet by stopping drinking their favourite wines). What I think they’re missing though is that there is a big campaign going on during January 2015 again to encourage people to cut out alcohol for a month (Dry January). An alcohol free wine like this seems an ideal substitute.

On sampling the wine - and I'm no Oz Clarke so I'm not sure I'm going to describe this in the best "hint of cork and old tennis shoe" language; but it's tasty. There is definitely a crispness to it and if I didn't know better I'd swear I tasted a bit of apple in it. As regular occasional drinkers, we sampled the wine over a few days and it seemed to retain its flavour. It felt and tasted like your regular alcohol-containing wine - and if we didn't know better, we would have sworn it was the real deal. Not a bad substitute for those looking to go alcohol free.


So, all in all we’ve had another good box. A few familiar things (which are always welcome) and a chance to sample a wealth of new flavours we probably would have overlooked in the supermarket. We are always impressed with the selection of products; even if there’s one or two things that aren’t quite to our liking, it is great being offered the chance to sample them (how else would we find out otherwise?).

You can subscribe to Degustabox over on their website - the normal subscription is £12.99 per month including delivery. However Degustabox have given us a promotional code to share with all you readers to get £3 off your first box. The code is:

HW6AD

So why not give it a try for yourself?

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