Arnott’s Cheeseboard cracker assortment

December 29, 2017 at 17:08 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Christmas. Cheese. Those two words are intimately associated in my mind. When I was growing up, Christmas was that time of year when the fridge was piled high with more then just the usual economy Cheddar or Cheshire – delights such as mellow Stilton, rich Camembert, tangy Danish Blue. Later other more exotic offerings were also included – Shropshire Blue, Stinking Bishop, soft goats cheese. Mmmmmm. And, being Christmas, you were allowed to eat it – normal rationing was suspended for the festive period.

This is a tradition that Mrs Chillikebab happily has adopted, so as I speak the fridge is groaning with a cornucopia of cheesy delights. And to go with such a feast, you need crackers.

Arnott’s to the rescue – or more specifically, the Arnott’s Cheeseboard Assortment to the rescue. So how does this selection work out? Is it a worthy partner to my festive cheeseboard?

The selection features six different crackers – Sesame Wheat Cracker, Water Cracker, Harvest Wheat Cracker, Sesame Water Cracker, Stoneground Cracker and Entertaining Cracker.

Keen followers of either this blog, or Arnott’s biscuits (or perhaps both) will immediately realise that most of these crackers are not ones you can actually buy on their own. It’s a bit odd. ‘Entertaining Cracker’, but not Savoy or Jatz? ‘Harvest Wheat’, but not ‘Country Cheese‘? ‘Stoneground’, but not ‘Multigrain‘? Indeed, the only bone fide variety from the main range is the water cracker – probably the most boring one of the lot.

When Arnott’s make sweet biscuit selections, they include ‘all your favourites‘. But here, it seems they have taken a different approach. Rather  that giving a selection from their rather wonderful range of crackers and savoury biscuits, they seem to have baked some lower-quality alternatives and served them up all together the hope we won’t notice.

Boo, hiss, Arnott’s. These are not up to your normal standards. They are dry, flavourless, lacking in texture and boring. I’m going to give them a three out of ten. This is not worthy of accompanying my cheeseboard.

Oh, and ‘Entertaining Cracker’ is a terrible name. And it isn’t.

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Tin trail

December 10, 2017 at 13:26 | Posted in bicycles, biscuits | 1 Comment
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My new journey to work is full of excitement. Some of it of the unpleasant kind – there’s more to come on this topic shortly. But, as always, travelling by bike offers all kinds of opportunities to experience things that you would just pass by in a motor car.

The other day, as I rode to work, I noticed a tin in the road. A biscuit tin, to be precise – of the kind that perhaps your grandmother had. You know, and old-fashioned metal tin, printed with pictures of biscuits and heritage. Nothing unusual, perhaps – just the usual rubbish and detritus that accumulates by the sides of our roadways.

And then, a bit further along, I saw another one. And another. And another. I must have seen twenty or thirty of them over a stretch of about five kilometres. They were quite evenly spaced, and was it my imagination, or where they strategically placed around junctions, to show a route? Yes, surely that was it! This was a biscuit tin trail, and I was following it.

Or at least, I was until it petered out. Oh well, perhaps not so exciting as I thought. Clearly I’ve been reading too many Secret Seven books to the kids. More likely just a recycling truck with a badly secured load.

Or was it? Perhaps I will read in the paper about some dastardly thieves and their biscuit tin plot…

Shapes – Thai Chilli and Garlic Sauce

October 17, 2017 at 10:31 | Posted in biscuits | 2 Comments
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I’ve sort of lost track of what is going on with Arnott’s Shapes. New improved flavours, original flavours, special edition flavours, extreme flavours… I honestly have no idea what the current range actually is. Anyway, into this melee comes another new flavour – Thai Chilli and Garlic Sauce. I have to say, when I was travelling in Thailand, I didn’t see a lot of garlic, nor a lot of that gloopy sweet Thai chilli sauce that we get over here. It was more zingy limes, fragrant lemongrass and pungent fish sauce. Still, the box has a picture of a Thai floating market on it, so I guess it’s supposed to be authentic.

The first thing that strikes you about these biscuits is the colour. They are bright orange. Quite virulent looking, actually. They don’t really look a lot like biscuits, to be honest. We seem to be edging perilously close to the ‘chip’ genre here – they are thin, puffy and double-sided, like some sort of kids snack.

One thing they do have is spades is garlic. Wow. If you are unlucky enough to ever be confronted by a horde of thirsty vampires, I recommend breaking out some of these immediately. The garlic is strong to the point of overpowering. Best avoided if you are planning a romantic encounter (or even a business meeting) within an hour of consuming these, I’d say. The chilli part is also there, but more kind of that sweet chilli you get on chips, rather than a proper chilli zing. The texture is light and open, and it’s perfectly possible to eat these three or four at a time. Which to me is a firm indication that we’ve left ‘biscuit’ some way behind. In fact, I’m calling it. These are not biscuits. They are savoury snacks of the chip genre.

They are not terrible. But they’re not that good either. I’m going to give them a five out of ten, then take away one point for being anti-social, and another for not being biscuits.

 

Tim Tam Salted Caramel Vanilla

September 1, 2017 at 15:05 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Sorry it’s taken me so long to get to these. I’m not quite sure why it took so long; I think I bought some to review, and then left them at work. They then got eaten before I could try them, and I forgot to get any more. Anyway, here they are – the ‘Messina’ flavour Salted Caramel and Vanilla.

This is not the first Salted Caramel Tim Tam. And certainly not the first salted caramel biscuit from Arnott’s. So how does this incarnation stack up?

Well, the biscuit part of them is a rather strange orange colour, with a darker orange creme inside. They smell sort of cloying – so not a great start.

Unfortunately, they don’t taste great either. Very sweet, with hardly any salt, and with a distinctive cardboard taste. You know that taste you get from old ice-cream – the kind that comes in a cardboard box – when it’s been in the freezer a bit too long, and you get the bit from the last edge? Well, they taste kind of like that. Which I suppose captures the ice-cream vibe in one way, but I can’t help feeling Arnott’s were going for something a bit more classy than that.

This whole Messina thing to me has not been a huge success. I might humbly suggest it’s time for a re-think, Arnott’s? I’m going to give these three out of ten.

 

 

Mini Scotch Finger

August 22, 2017 at 11:32 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Mrs Chillikebab has a work for certain things that she likes – usually small, neat, cute things. They are ‘nobby’.

‘Nobby’ is not 100% easy to define. Just being small is not enough, nor is being cute or unusual. However, nobbiness is, when attuned to it, quite easy to spot. And these biscuits are definitely nobby. Little tiny versions of Scotch Fingers, no more than a few centimetres long, embossed just like the originals.

They come in small packets for snacking. Ostensibly we bought them for the kids, but I don’t think the kids have had many – and the box is now empty…

Nicely done, Arnott’s. Nobby Scotch Fingers. I give them a nine out of ten.

 

Arnott’s Shortbread Cream – Mango and Cream

August 1, 2017 at 15:41 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Arnott’s have been busy again, with more ‘Twisted Faves’. This time they have taken the Shortbread Cream, and made it mango flavour.

I love mangoes. They herald the arrival of summer; sweet, luscious and decadent. I like all varieties, although I’m especially keen on the R2D2 variety (that’s not what it’s called, but I can never remember the real name), and the more recent ‘Kerrygold’. The junior Chillikebabs like them too, and we often share a mango after lunch, popping it our into a hedgehog to endless delight.

Mrs Chillikebab doesn’t like mangoes. She says they smell of wee. So how will these biscuits fare? Sweet and luscious, or lavatorial?

Sad to say, they don’t hit the mark. Mango is a tricky thing to do in a biscuit, as that fresh zinginess is pretty hard to recreate. It seems Arnott’s have fallen into the all too common trap of making something too sweet and cloying, without any bite or fragrance. You have to search quite hard to get much mango flavour from these; they are just a bit sickly, with a slightly artificial tang. Tellingly, when I put the packet out in the kitchen at work, there were three or four biscuits left at hometime. This is a rare occurrence, so these are not really doing it for anyone it seems.

Sorry Arnott’s. It’s a nice idea, and good on your for having a try, but these I’m afraid are only getting a three out of ten.

Arnott’s Bites – Mint Slice

June 8, 2017 at 21:21 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Arnott’s are at it again, fiddling with old ideas. Apparently they have re-branded the ‘Chocolicious‘ range simply as ‘bites’, and also changed the flavours. In shocking news, it seems the dark chocolate version is no more. This is a tragedy, as it was by far the best one. However, in more cheery news, the Mint Slice is now honoured with the chocolicous bite treatment.

To be honest, I was never a fan of the whole ‘chocolicious’ thing, a rather unfortunate portmanteau that I previously blasted as ‘try hard and derivative’. ‘Bites’ is more to the point, although I now feel rather nostalgic for the old packaging, which I think did look more classy than the new, rather utilitarian design.

Enough of all that – how are the new Mint Slice versions? Well, the Mint Slice, as you will know, I believe to be Arnott’s finest creation. So I was pretty excited about these. The individual elements – the chocolate, the biscuit and the peppermint cream – are all there. But the proportions are way different. The chart below will give you the idea:

That’s a lot of chocolate. Chocolate dominates in this new format. That’s not all bad, as it’s Arnott’s delicious high quality dark chocolate, but it does rather unbalance the texture a bit; there’s not really enough biscuit to give textural contrast and structure. These are good, but not as good as the original. I’m going to give them an eight out of ten.

Tim Tam Black Forest (take 2)

May 19, 2017 at 11:12 | Posted in biscuits | 2 Comments
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Sorry it’s taken a while to get to this. It’s another of the gelato-inspired flavours, with packaging to match the others. Except that this one is not co-branded as ‘Messina’; it looks like the same range, but lacks the endorsement of the posh-ice-cream-shop-du-jour.

There’s a reason for this. It’s not actually inspired by gelato at all. It’s actually inspired by a 2011-era Tim Tam, called ‘Tim Tam Black Forest‘.

Yep, that’s right. It’s exactly the same biscuit. Same filling, same chocolate, same chewy centre. And I have absolutely nothing more to say about it. Read the other review, or just note that it’s not that good, and gets a six out of ten.

 

Update: between writing this and publishing it, it seems the pack has now been amended and does carry the Messina endorsement. Very strange…

 

Tim Tam Coconut and Lychee

March 10, 2017 at 17:35 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
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tim-tam-coconut-lycheeSo we come to another of the Messina flavours. ‘Inspired by ice cream’, or something. And once again, there’s just a whiff of recycled about this flavour…

The new twist is of course the lychee. On sampling, opinion was divided as to whether it was possible to detect any lychee at all. Most people opined that there was no lychee flavour at all, but a few souls claimed to be able to taste it strongly. Your mileage may vary.tim-tam-coconut-lychee-biscuit

Other than that, they are enrobed in that rather unfortunate ‘white‘ coating. The coconut is probably the best bit, but this is not a classic. Poor Messina. A bunch of recycled flavours that are, so far, failing to hit the mark. Perhaps things will improve with the other varieties. I’m going to give these a 5 out of 10.

Tim Tam Choc Mint

February 13, 2017 at 15:20 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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tim-tam-choc-mintWow! A whole new set of Tim Tam flavours have been launched. And with funky packaging too!

This new range has been ‘inspired by Gelato Messina’. For those of you who have not heard of Gelato Messina, it’s a posh ice-cream shop, and currently flavour-du-jour of the hipster classes. Move over Zumbo; this is the new cool in desserts. Arnott’s have clearly read the zeitgeist, ditched the patissier extraordinaire, and hope to ride the gelato craze.

There are four new flavours: Mint Choc, Coconut and Lychee, Black Forest and Salted Caramel Vanilla. Now, you may be excused for thinking that sounds all a little familiar. Arnott’s have previously ranged Mint, Coconut, Black Forest and Salted Caramel versions of Tim Tams. Indeed, some of those flavours were apparently created by the great Adriano Zumbo himself, so it must be a bit galling to not only be dumped in favour of an ice-cream parlour, but for them to steal your flavours too.

It was the Mint Choc I tore into first. To be honest, I was super-excited. The previous Mint incarnation of Tim Tam was, in my opinion, one of the finest Tim Tams ever made, and I was hoping that this would be the same biscuit, dressed up to capture those oh-so-fickle millennials.

tim-tam-choc-mint-biscuitWell, sad to say, it is not. it is similar, to be sure, but not the same. Instead of the rich mint cocoa filling of the original, this one has a slightly green-tinged cream that smells rather like the junior Chillikebabs’ toothpaste. It certainly has a minty taste, but a more creamy, almost vanillary version. To Arnott’s credit, it does actually taste quite a bit like Mint Choc ice cream. And it’s by no means a bad biscuit; they are quite yummy and easy to chomp on. It’s just not quite up to the high benchmark set by the original (which I went all out and gave 10/10 for). I’m going to give these a highly creditable 8/10. And Arnott’s – please bring back the original mint ones…

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