Monday, 29 June 2015

Due Vittorie Balsamic Vinegar of Modena - Taste Test and a Giveaway

Rich and sweet, Balsamic Vinegar has been produced in Modena, Italy, since the Middle Ages and is now famous throughout the world.  It's good to see Due Vittorie Balsamic Vinegar, is now available for us to buy in the UK from Due Vittorie at Ocado.

Traditional or ‘Tradizionale’ Balsamic Vinegar;
Made from cooked grape must, usually made from Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes.  The resulting thick syrup is aged for a minimum of 12 years in wooden barrels made from different woods (chestnut, cherry, oak, mulberry, ash and juniper). 
This connoisseurs’ product, also available from Due Vittorie at Ocado and costs £49.99 for a 100ml bottle. 

Due Vittorie Oro;
‘Balsamic Vinegar of Modena’ is £9.99 for a 250ml bottle has a remarkable sweetness and thickness making is a unique condiment.  It also fully meets the criteria for IGP* certification as “Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP” and has a minimum acidity of 6%.

The Taste Test;
I poured just 1 teaspoon of three different balsamic vinegars of different prices into small dishes.  
I won't name the other brand but it's the dish to the far left and costs £2.50 for 250ml.
As you can see it looks watered down.  Look how 1tsp covered the dish compared to the Due Vittorie Oro at £9.99 
But when you look at the one on the far right (Due Vittoire Traditional) it was beautifully thick in constancy.    
The unnamed brand (my usual brand) actually tasted very vinegary in comparison whilst the Oro (middle) tasted so much better.  I will definitely buy this rather than my previous brand.  

As for the Traditional; well I have to say this is the bees knees of Balsamic vinegars. 
Far richer and thicker and sweet tasting - yes this is amazing.  At £49.99 though, it would have to be used for a special occasion! 

A few ideas on how to use Balsamic Vinegar;

  • Drizzled over strawberries
  • Delicious on roasted tomatoes
  • Drizzled over grilled fish
  • Drizzled on grilled steak 
  • As an healthier alternative to soy sauce - especially good with with sushi
  • Drizzled over chips - says my friend Helen Hannah (must say I haven't tried it) but I bet it's good so thanks for that Helen!
  • Goes well with goats cheese 
  • Asparagus wrapped in Parma ham
  • To finish and sweeten sauces such as ragu or chilli con carne
  • In homemade ice creams such as strawberry & balsamic
  • To make salad dressings
  • Or mixed with olive oil (as shown below) for dipping bread; mix 2 parts oil to 1 part balsamic

So my conclusion is you do get what you pay for!
I have to say really didn't want to open the Due Vittorie Tradizionale since at £49.99 I will only going to use it on very special occasions - yes I'm keeping mine in the cupboard thank you very much and I'll just look at the bottle - I don't want to part with it!  
The Due Vittorie Oro is an excellent and much more affordable alternative for everyday use.

To find out more pop over to Due Vittorie.
Twitter @DueVittorie

Now for the Giveaway - 1 bottle of Due Vittorie Oro Balsamic vinegar worth £9.99

How to Enter - Entries must be via the Rafflecopter widget:
Please note the prize can only be sent to the UK only.  To see a short video on how easy it is to use Rafflecopter click here.

*Inappropriate comments will be deleted and entry/entries to the competition removed as will anyone that says they have left a blog post comment but really hasn't!

For information on how to find the URL of your tweet click here - Entries that do not show the URL of the Tweet will be removed. 
There is one main way to enter and several ways to get bonus entries, including bonus daily entries.
Competition end time is as shown on the Rafflecopter widget along with the terms and conditions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Roundup - Charcuterie Wine and Recipe Books!

A roundup of new and exciting food related products that I've been lucky enough to receive this past month - please note they are listed in no particular order.

The Carnivore Club

This is British Charcuterie at it's best; each box delivered to your door from Carnivore Club contains between 4-6 handcrafted cured meats from top artisans.
Our box arrived in perfect condition and the contents were from Deli Farm Charcuterie in Cornwall.  Our box contained Sliced Coppa, Spicy Chorizo, Pancetta, Devil's Poker (a spicy salami stick) Garlic Salami and Coppa Chops.

I must say we're really impressed with the whole thing from the packaging, delivery and quality of the meats.  The Carnivore Club is a great way to try many different cured meat products and also to learn about them too.  A really helpful booklet is included in each box and explains more about the supplier and the products included in the box.   

Subscription members pay £29/month and sign up for a 3 month minimum, and can cancel anytime once that period has passed.  However, if you don't want to join the club you can order a single box for just £32

The Carnivore Club is also available in the USA and Canada.  Treat yourself or send a box as a gift.

**I have a discount code for my readers - to receive 20% off your first purchase - please use Oil20 at checkout.

Carnivore Club Twitter @carnivoreclubUK

Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse

If you're craving junk foods and feeling sluggish and tired then this is the book for you.  Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse by Shauna Martin.  You don't need to starve yourself on the Daily Greens cleanse and you can make these green recipes in your own kitchen, anytime you want.

The book says; reset your body, lose weight, or just give yourself a much-needed energy boost.  I really need an energy boost and I really ought to have a go at the 4-day cleanse.  A great book packed with interesting information and healthy recipe ideas.   

Author Shauna Martin
Price £14.99
Published by Race Point Publishing Quarto

The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook

More than a mix of rich history, gorgeous beaches, and warm blue waters, the countries along the Mediterranean Sea and their people have a history of living longer and healthier lives and you can too!  By simply following a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, even drinking wine with meals, you can prevent diseases and prolong your life.

The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook integrates the latest research and clinical findings with 100 delicious, authentic, easy recipes and Mediterranean lifestyle tips while dispelling any myths and misinformation.

I really like this book, I love Mediterranean food so the recipes are just my kind of thing. Fresh colourful food from all over the med.  Also it's great that the book contains gluten free variations of some recipes.

Author Amy Riolo
Price £14.99
Published by Fair Winds Press Quarto

Wilde Thing wine by Lisa McGuigan

Fourth generation of an Australian wine dynasty, Lisa McGuigan launches her self-titled collection of wines in the UK. Lisa combines a wealth of wine knowledge and a flare for fashion to launch an Australian wine that speaks to consumers rather than intimidating them. 

Now I know very little about wine but what I do know is we both loved this.  Nice and refreshing and really easy to drink.  Perfect for sharing a bottle in the garden on a nice summers day or, if you ask me, any day for that matter!

Wilde Thing RRP: £7.00
Chardonnay Pinot Grigio
Clear pale straw in colour
Aromas of apple and pear combine with peach on a fruit forward nose
Palate: Apple and peach on the palate are complimented by a long refreshing finish
Food pairing: Fresh seafood or a mango salsa

For more information and where to buy pop over to Lisa McGuigan Wines
Twitter @lmcguiganwines

i heart Wines 

The grapes for the 2013 i heart Pinot Grigio were sourced from all over Hungary.  This is a fresh, crisp, dry white wine.  Delicate citrus aromas and lemon and lime flavours, with great balance and freshness on the palate.  Best served chilled - a great match for grilled white fish, seafood salads, chicken dishes or simply on its own.

As I mentioned before I know very little about wine - all I know is I either like it or I don't and this Pinot Grigio was easy to drink and very refreshing and yes I really liked it.

i heart Pinot Grigio £6.00
Light and Crisp

For more information and where to buy pop over to i heart wines
Twitter @iheartwines

Disclaimer - Many thanks to the brands mentioned for sending me these products to try.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Cheese and Wine Hamper Review and Giveaway - Serenata Flowers

Serenata Flowers are an online gift delivery company and they have a lot more than just flowers to offer.  You can send chocolates, wine, cheese and wine hampers, beer and ale, fine food, picnic hampers and also plants; hanging baskets, tubs of flowers or even a mini olive tree.  The list is huge and they even have hampers to welcome the arrival of a baby.

Having been sent this Bordeaux and Artisan Cheese Selection hamper to review I must say at £39.99 value for money it's not bad considering next (weekday) delivery is included in the price.  Each gift comes with a gift card and of course when ordering you add a message which is printed on the card.

  • Hand Waxed Black Berries & Apple Cheese 170g
  • Hand Waxed Scrumpy & Crunchy Apple 170g
  • Hand Waxed Worcestershire Gold Mature Cheddar 170g
  • Black Olive Cracker for White Wine 125g
  • Morrocan Spice Crackers for Red Wine 125g
  • Grangeneuve Bordeaux, Red

The hamper was well packaged and had more packaging than is shown above; I had to remove it in order to take a photo.  After ordering the hamper arrived the very next day, as with most companies Serenata don't deliver on a Sunday.  All in all I can't think of any reason why anyone that drinks wine and likes cheese wouldn't want to receive this hamper; we certainly enjoyed sampling it!

Find out more by popping over to Serenata Flowers.
Twitter @SerenataFlowers

Disclaimer:  I was sent this hamper to review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Now for the Giveaway!
The nice people over at Serenata Flowers are giving one lucky reader the chance to WIN £40.00 to spend over at Serenata Flowers and you can use for for whatever gift you fancy.

How to Enter - Entries must be via the Rafflecopter widget:
Please note the prize can only be sent to the UK only.  To see a short video on how easy it is to use Rafflecopter click here.

*Inappropriate comments will be deleted and entry/entries to the competition removed as will anyone that says they have left a blog post comment but really hasn't!

For information on how to find the URL of your tweet click here - Entries that do not show the URL of the Tweet will be removed. 
There is one main way to enter and several ways to get bonus entries, including bonus daily entries.
Competition end time is as shown on the Rafflecopter widget along with the terms and conditions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 26 June 2015

Regional Favorite Cocktails - Mix Share WIN

As part of its mission to shake up summer, has found that drinkers in London and Scotland favour the Mojito, the Welsh can’t get enough of G&T and Midlanders are split down the middle, equally favouring Pimm’s & Lemonade and G&T!

Photo supplied by

Northerners (25%) and Midlanders (32%) say they’re inspired by holiday experiences when it comes to choosing drinks - but southerners (20%) are more likely to be influenced by recommendations from family and friends.

Summer get-togethers are no longer a run-of-the-mill occasions either, with more than half (59%) of those surveyed claiming that the holiday period is the perfect time for drinking cocktails and 51% unveiling that cocktails are the perfect BBQ drink.

As a nation we’re shaking up our social occasions by hosting more of our own cocktail parties and Londoners are leading the pack with nearly half (46%) planning to host or attend a cocktail party this summer.

What's your favorite cocktail?  

The has some Shake It Up Tips: 

#1 No sugar syrup?  Replace with 2 teaspoons of sugar or a squeeze of honey.

#2 Add your favourite fruit to personalise your cocktail.

#3 With a Mojito you can switch the soda water with ginger ale for extra zing.

#4 Chill your glasses in the freezer for a few minutes before making your cocktail.

There's still time to enter - Mix, Share and Win!

As part of Shake It Up, is also giving cocktail heroes the chance to win the daddy of all cocktail trollies and barloads of home cocktail kits. 
All you need to do is take a snap of your cocktail. Then share it on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #letscocktail (T&Cs apply).

Twitter @thebar_GB

Disclaimer; I was sent the ingredients to make the mojito cocktail in exchange for writing this post. 

Monday, 22 June 2015

Vegetarian Chinese-style Spicy Beef and Peppers made with Quorn

Although we're not vegetarians it is sometimes good to have a meat free dinner.  In any case Quorn is super quick to cook.

I must say the Quorn beef strips (sold frozen) are as I say, easy to cook but in my opinion actually taste more like tofu rather than beef; that said personally I much prefer the Quorn beef than the chicken.  I find Quorn chicken a bit dry.
This dish can be on the table in a matter of minutes and since you cook the beef strips from frozen my recipe really is a doddle to make and is really tasty.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

How To Please Your Cat - What Cats Really Want

Just about everyone loves the TV cat called Felix as he’s always up to something mischievous.  Anyone who has a cat or indeed more than will know they can be hilarious.

Our Ellie loves to play with a ball made of screwed up paper and we’re sure she thinks she’s a dog as nine times out of ten she will bring it back to you when you throw it for her - yes seriously! 

We bought fancy nice soft cat beds for our two each costing a bit of money, but our Ellie prefers to sleep on the stairs (which is nice and dangerous for us at night I must say)!  Our other cat named Jim, never, ever gets in his bed since he prefers to be out pretty much all night and during the day he prefers the computer chair.  

I think most cats like Felix would prefer a box is best to sleep in!


One thing is for sure they both know the words ’do you want feeding’?  Yes I’m afraid like most cat or dog owners I find myself talking to them (well I do anyway) and once feeding is mentioned they both appear from wherever they’ve been sleeping.

Cats aren’t at all daft either, they know what they want and they are fussy too.  They know which food they like and don’t like, neither of ours will eat cat food that’s in gravy, only cat food in jelly will do for them.

Do take a look at the fun and amusing video ‘How to Please Your Cat’ from Purina FELIX® I think no matter what you buy them or do for then, this video sums up what cats really, really want!

If you have a cat, what do you find is the best way to please him or her?

Why not subscribe to Purina FELIX® YouTube channel
For more information pop over to the Felix website

This post is sponsored by Purina Felix.  All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Kinetico - FREE Simple Water Recipes eBook

Water is of course essential for life, but most of us probably don't drink enough of it.  It is recommended that we drink more than a litre a day; but you may prefer water with a hint of flavour to it.  Shop bought flavoured waters can be full of sugar so I find it's far better for you to make your own.

My Carrot and Orange water is very simple to make as are the other recipes in the Kinetico eBook.  The Simple Water Recipe Book is FREE to download and share - click here.

Kinetico are World NO.1 in water treatment and have the largest dealer network in the UK.  They have a range of water softeners and water filter systems to suit your needs for perfectly filtered water on tap 24/7
and can also filter your tap water to reduce the hardness, ions, calcium and magnesium, in your water and helps to prevent limescale build-up in your kettle, iron and food steamer, keeping them in pristine condition for longer.  Water will be better for you and your family to drink too.

To find out more about pop over to the Kinetico website.

Twitter @KineticoUKltd

Disclaimer: I received payment for my time creating a couple of recipes for the eBook.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Cheats Kefta Mkaouara - Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce with Eggs

Kefta Mkaouara is a delicious, and very popular Moroccan tagine of meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce and is usually served with flatbread.  
I’ve adjusted the amount of spiciness to make this suitable for children.  Also instead of coriander which is more common to finish the dish, I’ve used flat leaf parsley since it will appeal to the whole family. 
Life is so busy for pretty much everyone these days, but with my simple cheat you can still provide a delicious meal your family will love.  Scan Meatballs don't contain any artificial colour or flavour either so that's good to know. 

There's no need to faff about making meatballs; by using ready made Scan Authentic Swedish Meatballs (which only need to be reheated) this lovely Moroccan dish can be on the table and ready to eat in around 45 minutes.  Once you've added the eggs it can be bubbling away in your oven whilst you have a shower.