So here we are again, another month and another Degustabox filled with delicious delights drops onto our doorstep.
Now this month we're graced with a rather stuffed-full box with a mixture of old favourites and new faces...Usually I waffle on for a bit on this preamble but for a change I'll just dive straight in with the sampling, starting with the new faces.
Walker’s Biscuits - RRP: £2.00 (for 4 packs)
While not exactly a new face, the numbers of boxes of shortbread we've consumed over the years being enough to break through even the toughest amnesiacs memory blocks, these are new to the Degustabox; and this is the first time we've seen these two-biscuit snack-packs... so they're kinda new to us too!
We were sent four different biscuits, so starting with the old, familiar favourite of the shortbread fingers... which were delicious and tasted just as you'd expect, like Walker's shortbread/ With all of these we found that the pack size was nice, ideal for slipping into a lunchbox and making a nice treat to have after the main sandwich.
Next up to be sampled was the Oat n’ Honey flavour; these had a definite crunch to them and you got the oat-y texture and flavour, although there was still a bit of a lingering shortbread taste to them (I think); not that that was a bad thing.
Third in our civilized biscuit consuming session was the fruit and lemon flavour (surely Lemon is a fruit – although, I guess ‘fruit and fruit’ just is nonsense, and it is nice that the pack highlights the fact that there will be lemony moments; and lemony moments there are). These are exactly what they say on the packet. In a shortbread biscuit we have a lemon tasting flavour running through that compliments the Mediterranean fruit (which I assume is just raisins and things) really well. It’s not too overpowering, and not too subtle; it hits the right balance and makes a nice, refreshing taste.
Finally we have the chocolate chip shortbread; which I’m assuming will taste like a cookie – which is the main reason it’s been left until last – I did plan to start and end with the familiar.
I have to say I was wrong; this was nothing like a chocolate chip cookie – it was more like shortbread with chocolate chips in… which I guess makes total sense because that is exactly what it is. It’s not a bad combination really; although, of all the flavours, I have to say it’s my least favourite… but that’s just because it’s a bit boring compared to the others. Nothing at all wrong with it, I just found the others a little more interesting.
Scheckter’s Organic Energy - RRP: £1.45
I did like this; I think the price (£1.45 per can) puts it in the mid-to-high canned drinks range; especially for a 250ml can – although it is all natural, doesn't taste bad and is award winning, organic and vegetarian approved.
Db’s Discovery: Primal Pantry - RRP £1.49 per bar
Another new face is from the Primal Pantry; we were sent two Paleo bars, Hazelnut and Cocoa and Apple and Pecan Raw paleo bars. First up to be sampled was the Hazelnut and Cocoa. I have to say this is a bit of an oddity. It has an appearance not dissimilar to a chocolate-flavoured biscuit; however, biting into it – it's firm, but soft; so no crunch. Looking at where it was bitten looks a little like what it looks like to bite into liquorish. It isn't that sweet and despite the colour and cocoa flavour on the label, doesn't taste that chocolatey. In fact it tastes a little bitter (maybe) and most of the sweetness you get comes from the pieces of hazelnut.
This was one of those ones where you go "I'm not sure if I like this – nom, nom, nom" and then before you know it the bar is gone and you're like "I've not made my mind up."
Fortunately for me the degustabox contained another bar; this time the Apple and Pecan. This tasted a little sweeter (my guess is from the apple) and was a little lighter in colour, and taste and texture. I think the Apple and Pecan is a definite “will pick up again” while the Hazelnut and Cocoa is a definite “will pick up continually until I work out whether I like it or not”.
This was the Db discovery this month; the Primal Pantry Company was founded by nutritionist Suzie Walker with a mission to make great tasting Paleo and primal foods accessible to everyone.
The bars are handmade in the UK and free of any junk and they’re naturally gluten and dairy free.
Life Tonics Dalandan Orange flavour - RRP £1.49
Now when we saw this in the box we did a little hesitant gulp. This is another drink with coconut water in – and, as we found in our June Degustabox review coconut water isn't to everyone’s tastes. In our household, Neil liked it but I was disappointed it didn't taste like Malibu minus the alcohol.
This drink is different. I think the coconut water drinks people have cottoned onto the fact that coconut water is very much a marmite drink – you either like it or hate it. Life tonics drinks come in a variety of flavours; only one of which (coconut and mint) jumps out and says “this tastes of coconut!”
We were sent the Dalandan Orange flavour, but there is also the aforementioned “Coconut and mint” as well as an “Elderflower and Juniper” flavour which others may have received in their boxes.
Last time we had coconut water, we thought it would be a good post-sport/ post-exercise drink; so this time we tested it in exactly that way. Neil liked the coconut water last time so by default got to test this one this time – plus, he does sport and stuff so it wasn't exactly a hardship for him to go out and sweat for a bit!
First up: you don’t really taste the coconut water. There is a hint of coconut in there, but mostly you get the refreshing orange taste – which works really well.
Second up: The drink contains vitamins and minerals, which I think means it helps replace some of the things you’d sweat out during your workout. He couldn't fault it. He said it tasted nice and really hit the spot.
Third up: This is another “no artificial sweetener/ refined sugar product” – but you don’t really notice. It tastes good and plenty sweet enough anyway.
It was nice; it seemed to work. Neil would probably pick up some of the other flavours in the future if he saw them.
Product of the month: Barilla Penne Rigate and Barilla Arrabbiata sauce -
RRP £1.50 and £2.00 respectively
This falls into the Degustabox category of “something to make up and eat.”
We have been sent sauces and pasta before, but it is nice to get a natural pairing like this in the box. It gives you no excuse not to whack a pan on the stove and put together a plate (or bowl) of yumminess! So that’s exactly what we did …
We used some quorn mince. We’re not vegetarian, but we don’t let that stop us munching on vegetarian products… and we do find that quorn mince has a similar flavour to beef mince, but without any worries of finding “odd gristly bits” in it… plus, it’s lower fat and a little healthier.
We stuck the pasta in a pan to boil; it was about 12 minutes from “dropped in the pan” to “cooked, but with a little firmness still”; not quite al dente, At the same time we heated the quorn mince, adding a little oil, herbs, a stock cube and letting it defrost and start cooking. After a few minutes the sauce went in.
Anyway, it cooked; pasta got drained and it was all arranged artistically on a plate and a little cheese was sprinkled on top.
I have to say, it tasted good! The pasta had quite a nice flavour to it; I mean, pasta is pasta is pasta – but it had a really nice taste. The sauce was a little spicy; but we’re talking more “warming” than “burn your taste buds off!” It looked to be a thicker sauce and was packed full of flavour. We definitely liked it and would have it again!
Ryvita crispbread - RRP £1.44 each
Now I’m going to be honest, we haven’t yet sampled these. You know what it’s like when you have a packet of crackers or crispbreads on the go; if you open them, and then leave them to go and eat other ones… when you come back to them, they have a bit of a “cracker that’s been open and the air has gotten to them making them a bit soggy or something”. Essentially I’m saying, “We’re already eating a box of crackers/crispbreads and didn't want to start a new box until we finished the old one!” The packets say they’re now in “foil-stay-fresh” packs which is a bonus.
Saying that, we were sent two flavours of Ryvita; cracked black pepper and Sesame crispbreads. Of these, we have previously tried the sesame and loved it. (We are big fans of the seedy crispbreads).
Oh – I should note before I forget – the recipes on the back of the Degustabox checklist feature a couple of alternative uses for the Ryvita crispbreads. I might try the ‘breaking and using like croutons’ one in soup in the future – because that does sound like a nice idea!
Williamson Ginger Grove Tea
Now Neil is a fan of Ginger, and a fan of tea; so he gets to trial this box of Williamson Ginger Grove Tea – lucky boy!
When you open the box of tea bags, the first thing that goes through your mind is “this is a quality product.” Inside the box is a clear plastic, easy-to-open inner bag, and inside that are 20 bags of tea in delicate little silk (well, material) bags with a drawstring and a little elephant emblem on. Once you open the box’s inner bag, you are greeted with a waft of fragrant ginger.
When I’ve had ginger teas/infusions in the past, I usually find there is quite a strong ginger presence that grabs you and says “HEY, I’M GINGER!” – but with these, it seems to be a little more subtle. You can pick up the ginger hints, but this is no “punch you in the face” levels of potency. It’s more delicate. I nice drink for an afternoon brew.
Dr Oetker Mug Cakes, RRP £1.37 each
Here is the second of our “things to make” products in this months box.
Now I've encountered the idea of mug cakes before; not through product but through a family member discussing something they’d seen created online and they’d gone and replicated and was, for all intents and purposes, quite happy with the results.
This month Degustabox sent us three mug cake mixes – lemon, chocolate and chocolate chip. At time of writing we've tried the lemon and the chocolate chip, but the process is the same for all of them. First, you get your mug. You need a mug that will be able to contain 250ml of cake. To the mug you add the contents of the sachet and 60ml of milk (semi skimmed is recommended), stir and then stick in the microwave for approximately a minute and a half. Take out and eat. Simple.
Baking simplicity dealt with, what do they taste like? Well, the lemon tastes like a lemon sponge. It's not quite as good as making a "proper lemon sponge cake" – but considering all you do is add a little milk and stick it in the microwave for a minute – it is pretty awesome. The same can be said about the chocolate chip one. (The double chocolate we gave to a relation as part of a food package for a birthday present - but shhh - it's a surprise!)
The consistency was a little more rubbery than your traditional sponge; but this didn't really detract. It was nice. We enjoyed our little cakes. With a little more thought we'd have gotten a little cream or custard ready to go with it... maybe next time.
So what do I think of it overall? I think these are a great idea and a great last minute “I forgot your birthday so I made a cake” sort of affair; and obviously, you don’t have to stick to a mug – any 250ml container (that is microwave-safe) should work (I’d imagine). I can see having a few sachets in the cupboard ready for those emergency pudding situations we always face.
Pick up! Dark chocolate and Choco Leibniz White - RRP £3.48
And finally the last of the new faces in this month's box. First up are the lovely Pick up! individually wrapped dark chocolate biscuits which makes them great to add in packed lunches or for on the go. The biscuit is lovely and has a nice crunch to it, while the chocolate filling is a firm rectangle of actual chocolate; no fondant filling here. We love them.
Next is the Choco Leibniz White which are a similar affair; lovely chocolate biscuit base with a generous slab of white chocolate on top. Another that we absolutely love. A great quality biscuit.
A returning face this month from last months box is Fru Snax. This bag of freeze-dried fruit with yoghurt is full of surprises; not least being that the yoghurt is freeze dried rather than coating the fruit! We loved how different this was from any other fruit snacks we’d encountered when we saw them back in July and still love them now.
Baked Bread Bites
These bacon-flavour, bread snacks were quite enjoyable back when we first had them in March. Back then we had ideas of using them instead of croutons in soup or salad, but I have to admit, we just ate them out of the bag!
And there it was – August’s Degustabox. A nice variety of old favourites and new friends.
If you would like your own Degustabox, please go to their website. It costs £12.99 a box (including delivery) however Degustabox has given us a special offer code for our readers to get £3 off their first box. The code is:
We are very happy to recommend the service and selection they provide.
Disclaimer: The August 2015 Degustabox was sent to me for the purposes of this post. All opinions are my own.