Arnott’s Tiny Teddy Cheesy Crackers

July 23, 2018 at 21:31 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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There is a definite phenomenon in my life that when I like something, they stop making it. It all started with ‘All Butter Crunch’, an own-brand biscuit from the UK supermarket Sainsburys. It was a feature of my youth – all the elder Chillikebab clan loved them. In some ways, my passion for biscuits perhaps stems from that one sweetmeat, fondly remembered from when I was eight years old. And then they stopped making it. (The same thing happened with Coffee and Walnut Angel Delight, I recall).

More recently, they stopped making Cheesy Stars. These were a star-shaped cheesy snack that you could buy in Coles. They were quite a feature in the contemporary Chillikebab household – especially by Mrs Chillikebab, who loved them, ploughing through packs ostensibly bought for the kids lunchboxes. Anyway, they stopped making those too. But never fear, dear friends, for into that breach has stepped Arnott’s, with a re-imagining of the Tiny Teddy into a whole new dimension.

Yes, savoury Tiny Teddies. Who would have thought? They are cheesy, and crackery. This brings a whole new level of chompability to the genre – they have an excellent crunch, and a good salty, cheesy flavour. We like them. Not quite as much as cheesy stars, but almost. I wonder if Arnott’s are planning any over savoury cross-overs? Other than the famous cheese Tim Tam, of course.

I’m going to give these an eight out of ten.

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Arnott’s Mini Jatz

May 25, 2018 at 11:34 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Arnott’s have been expanding their range of ‘mini’ biscuits, perhaps driven by the glowing review I gave to the Mini Scotch Fingers. There’s quite a few now, so this week we turn our attention to the Mini Jatz.

First of all, is there also a mini Savoy? The whole Savoy / Jatz thing intrigues me. It would be cool to have a selection pack with both mini Savoy and mini Jatz in it. It would facilitate very easy comparison tastings, for example.

As it is, we get the mini Jatz in a pack together with Mini Scotch Fingers and Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies. They look, well, like mini version of regular Jatz, They are crispy, salty, and quite moreish. So moreish, in fact, that I ploughed through them forgetting to count the number of biscuits in a pack. There’s enough there for a small snack. But you will want more after you finish them.

A solid eight out of ten for this mini contender.

Arnott’s Shapes Nacho Cheese

May 5, 2018 at 21:56 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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In 1985, Coca-Cola changed the recipe for Coke. Before doing this they engaged in endless trials and taste tests, in order to combat sliding sales against their main rival, Pepsi. But it backfired – everyone hated the new taste. Not long after, Coca-cola re-introduced the original recipe again, and sales rocketed – to the point that many people believe the whole thing was a ploy to drive sales.

I sometimes think about this when I look at the Arnott’s Shapes display in the supermarket. Do you remember the Shapes fiasco? A few years ago Arnott’s changed all the Shapes recipes, and everywhere exploded. The reason, you see, was that the new ones were not very nice. The Arnott’s social media team battled manfully on for ages; trying to tell everyone that it was all OK and the new ones were nice really, but in the end all the old flavours were brought back.

So now, when I go into the supermarket, there are acres of Shapes, all of which proudly sport the ‘Original’ tag. The new flavours are nowhere to be seen. Are they even still in production, I wonder? Are Arnott’s now selling more shapes than they were before? And was the whole thing a Machiavellian plot? This is the stuff that keeps me up at night.

But wait, what’s that on the bottom shelf? A lonely pack of New Shapes, with ‘baked in flavour’. It seems Nacho Cheese has survived; a relic of  this ill-thought our experiment. There never was a Nacho Cheese flavour in the old range, so it seems this new one has somehow survived. So I bought some.

So what are they like? Well, they are quite nice and crispy, with plenty of flavour. It’s sort of cheesy tomato flavour; the box mentions ‘Mexican spices’, but to be honest it’s more Bega Tasty with Masterfoods tomato sauce than Manzanillo. They do the job that is required if them – to be a sort of slightly artificial-tasting savoury snack that you can mindlessly eat when doing something else – maybe watching the sport, yakking at a party or even writing a blog. (Yep, I’ve pretty much finished the box already, having opened it just prior to writing the opening words above). I’m going to give them a five out of ten, with a bonus point for being a survivor.

 

Arnott’s Jatz Cracked Pepper

April 13, 2018 at 14:01 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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What is it with snooty Italian waiters and pepper grinders? You know, when you go to a trying-to-be-upmarket restaurant, and you want some cracked pepper on your pasta. So you ask for some, and the waiter disapprovingly comes over with a huge wooden grinder (surely he’s compensating for something?). You smile weakly, and gesture at your plate. Whereupon he gives a cursory twist of the top, leaving a  homeopathic quantity of pepper on your dinner. Forcing a smile, you ask for more, and another half turn is grudgingly given, before the pepper is whisked away, never to be seen again.

The whole charade drives me nuts, which is why I take my own pepper grinder out to dinner with me. I furtively pull it from my pocket to administer a heavy dusting when required. I guess it could also come in handy if I were to be mugged, sort of as a middle class pepper spray. I’d just grind it into the muggers face.  Although muggers in the Inner West of Sydney would probably complain it’s not single-origin tellicherry.

Anyway, I’m glad to say that Arnott’s have not been measly with the pepper in the Jatz cracked pepper. It has a good peppery flavour, and goes well with rounded cheeses, or indeed as a snack on their own. Indeed, the only criticism (which is not really a criticism per se) is that they make a less good snack than the original Jatz simply because the pepper becomes a bit overwhelming by the time you reach the fifteenth biscuit or so.

One interesting aside – those black bits you can see aren’t peppercorns. They are poppy seeds. I’m going to give them an eight out of ten. Very tasty.

 

Arnott’s Iced Coffee Tim Tam

March 20, 2018 at 11:34 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Some years ago, a good friend of mine married an Italian girl. (But not in Algiers). And when we went to visit, she made tiramisu. I also remember her trying to get us to say it correctly (‘Tieer – ra – meeee – su‘), with little success. Anyway, it was quite the best tieerrameeesu I have ever tasted.

If you want just a hint of how it tasted, you could do worse than go out and get some of the new Iced Coffee Tim Tams. They are the last in the new Messina flavours, and one that several of my work colleagues were particularly excited about. What is it with Australians and coffee? Just the mere mention of ‘going out to get a coffee, anyone want one?’ elicits a collective orgiastic groan, followed by excited gasps of ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’. Honestly, no decorum. I just drink tea. Bah humbug.

Anyway, these new Tim Tams sort of taste a little like coffee, but a whole lot like tiramisu. More creamy vanilla, less coffee. That said, they are really quite good – not too sweet, with a good balance of flavour. I’m going to call it – these are the best Messina flavour so far. They get a nine out of ten.

Arnott’s Choc Cherry Coconut Tim Tam

March 14, 2018 at 11:08 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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When I was a boy we would often gather around the pianoforte as a family to sing. And if that sounds weirdly Victorian, well, yes it was. I remember Mum’s crinoline used to get terribly in the way in our small dining room.

Anyway, one of the songbooks we used was the News Chronicle Songbook. It was a very old edition, quite possible also dating from the period. And one of the songs was called ‘Cherry Ripe‘:

Cherry-ripe, ripe, ripe, I cry,
Full and fair ones; come and buy.
If so be you ask me where
They do grow, I answer: There,
Where my Julia’s lips do smile;
There’s the land, or cherry-isle,
Whose plantations fully show
All the year where cherries grow.

I remember learning this song, which I would play on the piano as my father sang in his rather fine high baritone.

Goodness, enough reminiscing. What on earth has this got to do with Tim Tams? Well, here we are with the second in the new range of Messina flavours. Choc Cherry Coconut. Now, when I think of dark chocolate, cherry and coconut, I don’t immediately think of ice cream. In fact, I have never ever seen choc cherry coconut ice cream. Is it even a Messina flavour?

You see, when I think of choc cherry coconut, I think of something else. Yes, you are thinking it too. (And here’s a question – does the name of that particular sweatmeat have anything to do with the seventeenth century English poet Robert Herrick?)

Anyway, the link between these Tim Tams and all this cherry tomfoolery is very marked. You see, these Tim Tams taste exactly like a Cherry Ripe bar. The filling even looks like it. They are more crunchy, and the chocolate ratio is greater, but to all intents and purposes they are the same. Well, I would venture perhaps ever better, as the biscuit texture and additional chocolate actually improve on the somewhat flabby original.

I like Cherry Ripe. So I liked these, and an going to give them an eight out of ten. Well done Arnott’s. If you don’t like Cherry Ripe, then steer clear.

Arnott’s Turkish Delight Tim Tam (Messina)

March 7, 2018 at 20:09 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Oh dear. They did it again. Twice.

You see, I wasn’t that much of a fan of the original Messina flavours, but it seems Arnott’s were so thrilled with the success of the collaboration (or ‘collab’, as it seems to be called these days by those millennial types) they have done some more.

Then, it seems they based it on another dud from the archive – the Turkish Delight flavour. This one, as you will recall, holds the honour of being the joint worst Tim Tam flavour ever created (or at least reviewed by yours truly). Oh dear. My expectations for this are not high.

Still, there is some excitement in the packaging. This new range of ‘gelato inspired’ flavours is labeled not ‘Tim Tam’ but ‘Chill Me’, and you are urged to keep them in the fridge and consume them cold. This I would say is good advice for any flavour of Tim Tam, so it’s encouraging to see Arnott’s finally taking notice of my exhortations. To make the whole fridge thing even more thrilling, the words change colour when they get cold. Yes, you read that correctly. The words change colour when they get cold. Oh my goodness. Will the excitement never end?

Anyway, what are they like to eat? Well, to be honest, they are exactly like the previous Turkish Delight flavour. I did perhaps think they were slightly less sweet, but maybe this is due to them being dutifully chilled. They still have that artificial tang, they still have that strange chewy filling and still have the pink tinged creme – although perhaps a bit pinker this time? Anyway, they are still pretty ordinary, and I’m still giving them a three out of ten. I do hope the others in the range are a bit better…

 

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.

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.

 

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