Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Manor

We went out to eat with my in-laws to celebrate their anniversary a few weeks ago (happy anniversary by the way, guys!) and The Manor in Clapham was chosen as the place to be. It's just opened recently, and it's from the same people who run The Dairy, a very popular restaurant in the same area. This style of food, sort of new British or European cuisine, it's not really something I'm terribly familiar with - so don't take this review as that of an expert: I'm a humble American raised on Kraft Mac & Cheese and frozen burritos, haha.

We started with cocktails and a quick amuse bouche - it was a puffed cracker and tasted quite a bit like mayonnaise with a hint of the sea. To be honest, I can barely remember it. I remember that I liked it at the time, but it must not've been the most memorable part of the night! Really, you're in trouble if an amuse bouche is the most memorable part of your meal. The cocktail I had was one of my top favs so far this year, and I've had some good ones. I highly recommend the Clockwork Orange to my fellow tangy 'n' zesty citrus fans.

We were recommended to have four courses each, which would've been a ton of food. I had three & a half and felt very full, as did everyone else at the table. I mean, maybe at dinner four courses would be more reasonable, but at lunchtime it would've been wild. The portion sizes vary, but my vegetable & fish course was both quite sizable and would've been enough as just two courses, even.

We ordered the sourdough bread with chicken butter - definitely a great start. Warm, and sour & slightly lactic sourdough (one of my favorite breads, not terribly easy to find a good one here in the UK) with whipped butter dotted with fried tiny bits o' chicken skin. Salty, savory, and just a little bit sour: this was a lovely beginning. It was served in a cloth bag that kept it warm, and was presented all together very charmingly. No pictures, by this time we were quite hungry, haha.

My first chosen dish, however, was my favorite - spiced beef droe wors. Droe wors is a South African sausage snack, It's traditionally dried and quite chewy, but in this case it may have been made more fresh & therefore was softer like a cured salami or summer sausage. It had a strong beefiness & spicy hits of coriander, black pepper, chili, and perhaps paprika. This one was super tasty, I'd happily have just wolfed down a double-sized portion of these.

The vegetable course was burnt kale, cavalo nero, and toasted almonds. It was slightly bitter & tasted a bit like Parmesan, in the pleasant way that kale does, and reminded me a bit of burnt popcorn - being burnt, in all, it's just char. Masses upon masses of it was set upon the plate. The almonds & the addition of butter made it seem quite decadent, and I think the amount of butter probably evened out the healthiness of the kale, haha. If you ever chomp down happily on the charred bit of anything, you'd probably love this. I like burnt crusts & burnt bits of brownie, so I was a big fan. Interesting to note that kale & cavalo nero are almost the same thing.

I also had the "Lady Hamilton" smoked pollock, cultured cream, new potatoes and sorrel. The fish was, pardon, swimming in the cultured cream, which at first I was into, but quickly became a bit much. I love cream: sour, fresh, fraiche, whipped, sweetened, whatever. This is a thin cream with a sour tang, presumably 'cultured' in the same way yogurt is - similar to buttermilk. The fish was exceedingly well-cooked,very soft & tender flesh with a light smokiness, but that cream...just too much. Every mouthful of every thing on the plate had to be eaten with about half a tablespoon of cream. And I love cream, and I'm even partial to buttermilk, but this stuff was just too much. I nearly enjoyed this dish, but it really just had to have about half the amount of cream that it did, and it would've still been quite a lot.

I had heard that there was a dessert bar of sorts, a 'make your own sundae' style bar with more adult toppings. Unfortunately, I'm always a bit nervy to ask about 'off menu' things and this sundae bar wasn't listed anywhere or being advertised anywhere in the restaurant - I had only heard about it via the Heroine in Heels blog. I'm sure had I asked our server about it, I would've gotten an answer - maybe it's only available at weekends, et cetera, but I clammed up. That's my fault! My guess is it is just for dinner time.

All is fair though, because I did get a delicious spiced dark chocolate mousse & blood orange, and brown bread ice cream platter. The mousse was creamy and quite heavily spiced, the blood orange came in the form of lightly sweetened slices and a bit of syrup, and the brown bread ice cream was malty & delicious. There were also crisps that tasted like cocoa nibs - all in all, a well-balanced & tasty end to the meal.

...but it wasn't the end! We also got little cubes of jelly that were like malty quince. Very nice - I actually would've happily taken a box of these home, and I'm not usually a jelly fan.

All in all a very good meal with far more hits than misses - just the fish wasn't so good, just because of the amount of cream. I've seen a few other pictures online of this dish, and it seemed to have less cream - so I think that I may have just accidentally gotten more. I'd highly recommend trying the bread, the droe wors, and of course the sundae bar that I couldn't find, ha. A very nice meal, and good service - I'd go back for sure, and I'd like to try The Dairy as well.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mikan Orange Pretz | Ramen Pretz | Ghana Black Chocolate Shrimp Chips

I've got lots of Japanese snacks to review - both things left over from my vacation there last year, and new things I've ordered for myself in the interim. I'm a glutton for snacks, especially ones which are different. Therefore, I'm an unstoppable force when it comes to ordering foreign (to me, that is) snacks. Japanese ones are definitely the most accessible, as they are highly regarded the world over. I'll be trying to tackle multiple at once so I can clear the load a bit, to make room for more sundry snacks later on. Today is an odd mix - salty, sweet, and shrimpy.

The following two Pretz were promotional packs for regional mascots to promote their region's best known product. I'm not sure what the other variants were off the top of my head, but the two I tried here were Tochigi Ramen and Mikan Orange.

The ramen Pretz have an adorable dog with an upended ramen bowl on his head. Super cute! They tasted almost exactly like Chicken in a Biskits to me, maybe just ever so slightly sweeter.

 If you've never had one of those crackers, they taste a bit like well, funny enough, the chicken flavor seasoning in an instant ramen, but slightly more herbaceous & sweet. They were very moreish, and we quickly polished off the box. I'd get these again.

The mikan orange Pretz are sponsored by a strange little duck, done in a sweet Kawaii Pet Megu kinda style.  They were also tasty! Sweet & mellow - more like an orange cream soda from the USA than anything tart & orange. Just sweet &  creamy, perhaps this is the way a mikan orange tastes?

It was a simple flavor, and there was no salty or savory aspects to it, but I thought there might've been since it's a pretzel cracker base. There was also an awful lot of the flavor powder on the sticks themselves, which wasn't a bad thing to me, but might perturb others who are more fussy about getting mucky while they snack. They're just like sort of graham sticks with a creamy orange flavor - I'd eat them again if someone handed me a pack, but probably wouldn't purchase. They reminded me a lot of the sweet version of Goldfish crackers that have came out in recent years.

The Ghana Black Chocolate Shrimp Crackers...well, they weren't kiddin' folks! These crackers taste like dried shrimp, or more accurately, prawn crackers - covered in a semi-sweet dark chocolate. The texture is puffy & light, sort of melt-in-your-mouth, and the coating is shiny and attractive...they're super weird, but not disgusting.

 Worth a try, but would I get another bag? absolutely not. It did however encourage me to seek out Ghana dark chocolate & shrimp crackers...separately. Smart marketing if you ask me, in a country where new things come out with such frequency as in Japan, making something this distinct will drive attention to your products. I'm sure Ghana's dark chocolate & those shrimp chips both experienced a boost in sales afterwards.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Laduree in the City, London

I hope everyone's been having an awesome Easter break! We just recently moved into the heart of the city of London from the suburbs, so we've taken a couple extra days off on either side to explore our new digs. One of the biggest shocks for me was finding out that there is a Laduree about 10 - 15 minutes away from us now. I've recently been on a real kick for patisserie & hunting around for cool bakeries in Paris (wistfully, all the while) so Laduree was on my radar as I passed by it on a bus journey back towards our new flat.

This location is sort of across the street from The Royal Exchange, where a Paul A Young shop is...a perfect corner of the world, sweets-wise, if you ask me. It's amazing - I don't know how I missed it! Not only is this Laduree nearby, it keeps pretty decent hours during the week (early morning 'til 8 pm) but is closed at the weekend entirely. That's the only downside to this neighborhood, everything is shut at the weekend. However, if you find yourself on the side of town (or within a 10 minute walk or so, like the Liverpool St area) during the week with some free time, I highly recommend having a stroll & a piece of cake or chocolate around here. It's just so much less busy & fretful than Soho or Covent Garden, provided it isn't before work, during lunch, or straight after work.

There is no seating inside that I could see, but they had a menu of hot drinks in addition to the macarons & a few other pastries - literally, like 3 left. I asked the lady working there if they usually had more patisserie options, and she said yes, they just so happened to sell out early on that day - maybe because it was the Thursday before the bank holiday. Fair enough, hopefully I'll be a bit more lucky next time because they have some cool stuff with lots of cream on the website. I was really most interested in trying their most famous treats of crispity-creamity flavorsome macaron-y, anyway!

We chose a box of 6, which ended up being a good amount for two to share as a light afternoon snack. The flavors we selected were Cherry Blossom, Pistachio, Chestnut, Yuzu Ginger, and two Marie Antoinettes. In hindsight, we made the absolute right choice in getting one Marie Antoinette each, as it was easily the best flavor. They were all very soft & creamy centered with a crispy meringue style cap 'n' bottom. Can you tell I'm no expert on macarons? I can count on one hand the amount of times I've eaten them, counting this Laduree trip.

The Marie Antoinette macaron was flavored with a special Laduree house blend tea, unsurprisingly also called Marie Antoinette. It had a lovely delicate black tea backnote, with a citrus-and-honey top flavor. The black tea base just sort of grounds it & keeps it from being too sweet or too zesty. It reminded me of an earl gray tea with just a splash of milk, but sweeter. Hey, it is a macaron after all. A really lovely refreshing flavor.

Pistachio macaron was nutty & a weensy bit salty, and was super accurate to the taste of pistachio in ice cream or cake. Was it like a real pistachio? No, but that's a good thing - they can be a bit bitter & oddly tart for a nut. This wasn't though, thank goodness! Went particularly well with the tea, perhaps because it was less sweet than the rest.

Chestnut macaron was also nutty & sweet, no salt - with a bit of a vanilla note as well. Reminded me a lot of mont blanc pastry, which are some of my favorites. Not a whole lot to say about this one, it was sweet, nutty & vanilla-y...hard to go wrong.

Yuzu Ginger macaron was my husband's favorite, and I was a fan too. I think the best flavors at Laduree (in my incredibly limited experience of...this trip) are the citrus & fruit ones. They certainly had the most unique & true tastes, brightest & cheeriest colors, and refreshing, revitalizing flavors. This one was a honeyed yuzu with just a bit of warming spice from ginger. I'm usually not a fan of ginger, but it plays nicely here.

Cherry blossom macaron had an oddly rosy taste, with a hint of sweetened cherry flavor. Can't say it really reminded me of other cherry blossom/sakura sweets I've had, but it was nice all the same. The predominant flavor really did seem to be rose, with a bit of fruity sweetness.

They were all quite tasty, no losers in the bunch. The over all winner is definitely the Marie Antoinette, followed closely by the Yuzu Ginger. Next time I want to try Lemon & the Orange Blossom, as I thought the citrus flavors were best of the bunch. I'd fill the rest of the box with more Marie Antoinettes, and then try a cup of the namesake tea. Or, if they had more pastries out, I'd get something creamy!

Just before I forget, another cool thing about this location is that they sell Laduree candles as well. There are a few really nice ones, including 'Incense' and 'Coffee'. They're expensive, but a nice luxury if you're a home fragrance fan!

Saturday, March 28, 2015


One of the most recent big openings in London has been Jinjuu - already declared by The Independent as one of the restaurants you must visit in 2015, must, simply must darling...Well, that's what they say, but what about your ol' pal Creamy Steaks? Will this classy establishment reach the lofty heights set by oh, the Domino's Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza, or a Russell Stover Red Velvet Santa?

We were very lucky to get a lunchtime table last week on Sunday - checking again at the beginning of that day showed all tables taken up around that time for the next two weeks! However, I did notice quite a few empty tables when we were there. Not that the place wasn't busy, it just wasn't "no bookings, stack 'em on top of each other" busy, you know? For that reason I'd suggest not falling into despair if you can't get a table - it's worth just showing up, as they may have some tables reserved for walk-ins anyway!

So it's considered small, sharing plates for the most part - anju in style, Korean food best had with alcohol. So, clearly we had to order cocktails. I highly recommend both of the ones that we tried, and I'll try to remember the names: South Korean Sling and Soju-juicy, or something? They were both strong & fruity without being overly sweet. A great accompaniment to the meal! If they don't tickle your fancy, there are tons of cocktails to try, all of which have at least one exciting ingredient, other than booze.

It was with much despair that we decided to not gorge ourselves to the point of sickness and - spoiler alert - we did not end this meal with dessert. Regardless of how you hear that this place is small portions & sharing little bits, or you're advised to eat x amount of plates each, I think our amount of food was perfect for a big, sumptuous & very filling lunch.

We started off with Gochu Bombs, three served on a plate, jalapeno 'poppers' in style: filled with bulgogi beef & pork, cheddar & Parmesan cheese and served with ranch on the side. These were very nice - I was a bit worried they'd be overly rich with jalapeno, bulgogi-marinated meat, and all that cheese. Honestly though, for my druthers it could've been a bit stronger throughout.

The jalapeno ended up being the dominant flavor for me, along with a slightly sweet & spicy bulgogi pork. I didn't get much of any cheese, but that might've been for the best. I'd get these again, but maybe not for my very next visit. They just lacked a bit of heat, and I probably would've liked them more if instead of bulgogi it was gochujang pork & beef - certainly would've hotted the proceedings up, but maybe it would alienate people who don't have iron stomachs & mouths like me. The ranch sauce it was paired with was definitely more on the sour cream side of things than a full-flavored ranch, but again - probably for the best for the average tastebud.

Then we had the Bulgogi Beef Tacos, two served per plate. The beef was tender & sweetly spicy, not a ton of heat so these would be totally fine for a person with a more mild sensibility. The slaw & kimchi were both fresh & zingy, with a good amount of crunch. I'm not sure exactly how kimchi is meant to be prepared, but I like it both crunchy & floppy - this one was crunchy. These were super satisfying even though they weren't large, and both of them plus one more dish (and a cocktail) probably would've made for a decent lunch by itself. I'd like to try Korean-Mexican fusion in San Francisco, presumably the place it was born when you consider immigration patterns, sometime. If it's anything like this, it works really well. The asian slaw & kimchi acts almost in the same way as a salsa, bulking out & adding some freshness to some well-seasoned, spicy meat. I can see where the two marry well.

Then we ordered their sort of hallmark dish, the Jin Chick thighs (you can also get wings), 4 big pieces per plate, with both sauces Jinjuu Black Soy & Gochujang Red. The fry batter is crispy & light -bordering on tempura but a little thicker- with a savory & salty hit. It must be lightly seasoned before being fried. The meat itself is dark & well trimmed, with no odd bit of gristle or anything. I don't know how restaurants do it, because every time we've tried to cook chicken thighs at home they're quite dreadful. These were super tasty though. The two sauces, as recommended on the menu, do go best together & compliment each other very well. The dark soy sauce is a little bit sweet and a lot umami, while the gochujang red has a punchy, spicy heat. When you put them together, it's almost like all the best elements of Korean flavors & even more, that special different 'taste' that Asian cuisine in general has compared to Western spices & sauces. Really excellent stuff.

Alongside this one we had the Kimchi Fried Rice, which was the largest and cheapest plate we ordered. I was surprised at how generous this one was, at just £4 it was loaded with pancetta, vegetables, and of course, kimchi. All that topped with a fried egg? I'd happily order it for a lunch during the work week and be fully satisfied. It was soft, pickle-y from the kimchi, and the pancetta was salty & smokey. Nothing to complain about here, and I still can't get over the price.

I'd love to go back to Jinjuu, as a matter of fact, I must. I need to try the bibimbap & the Snickers Hotteok, of course. If they ever put something in the style of tteokbokki on the menu, I'd be there the very same night. It's a great place with a cool & unpretentious atmosphere, and I found the staff super pleasant and helpful. There were a table of older ladies next to us who seemed a bit unfamiliar with Korean food, and they got lots of attention and consideration. It's definitely not the kind of place that's 'too cool' for anyone, and the prices for the food is all quite reasonable given the portion size, especially on some of them like the kimchi fried rice & the chicken. The cocktails were expensive, but intriguing. If you could resist them, you'd actually have a right reasonable bill at the end of it all, I think!...but why resist? They're very nice.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Candy Adriatico, March Box

I was the happy recipient of the March Candy Adriatico box - I'm sure you recall my delight with February's offering. As you can see, there was a real red theme throughout that box (I was told by the lovely owner of Candy Adriatico that this was indeed on purpose for the Valentine's season) and this month it's much more green! There was also some green paper inside acting as a buffer, too.

 Not only did it make me think of fresh spring weather (still waiting on that one in London!) but also St Patrick's Day. Being an American of Irish descent, I really tried to make it a special day on the 17th, but it's just not as big here. That made it even nicer when I opened this box up on March 17th - it was like an American style St Patrick's Day celebration in London by way of Slovenia. What a wild ride, huh?

Without further fluff, onto the sweets.

Gorenjka Jaffa Cake Bar - This was quite a bit sweeter than the classic McVitie's Jaffa Cake we get here in the UK, but still had a bit of zing from the jaffa. I think the chocolate isn't as bittersweet, but still dark, and the jaffa jam itself is quite lightly zesty. The cake was significantly softer than a McVitie's, and it was a far bit bigger. It would make a nice treat with tea, and the main difference is the softer cake. I kind of like the stale cake texture of Jaffa Cakes, but this bar feels a bit more high quality. There can be no arguing that this was a biscuit rather than cake!

Šumi Silk Hazelnut Hard Candies - These were a very unique experience for me! I've never had a hard candy that tasted exactly like this - most hard candies are fruity & tangy. This one is hazelnut flavored, quite subtly at that, with a delicate hazelnut cream in the middle.I didn't get a photo of these, but they sort of looked like root beer barrels with a cream-colored swirl. I really enjoyed them, it felt very indulgent while still just being a hard candy. It reminded me of a classier chocolate flavored Tootsie Pop, with a creamy center & a nutty, natural taste. I'd like to hear what other people think of these, as they're so unique!

Kinder Bueno Bites - What can I say about Kinder Buenos? They're one of my go-to chocolate bars when I'm just craving something sweet. The crispy thin wafer, the milky nutty center, the delicious chocolate covering - Kinder Buenos are a 10/10, and when you put them in little bite form they're still a 10/10. These are just like the individual segments of a traditional bar, and I think I ate all four of mine in quick succession. What can I say, they're one of my favorites. People with more self control than I can probably use these individually portioned bites to have "just a little bit" of chocolate.

Kraš Bonko - These are little taffy 'fruit caramels' that are individually wrapped. The flavors are all really refreshing, but my favorite is definitely the pineapple. These are a bit softer than Starburst, but otherwise fairly similar in terms of sweetness vs tang. When I looked them up online I saw they had lots of different flavor assortments, including a cola one which I bet is very nice. Another plus is it's a big bag - I think I can't manage to get through an entire bag of candy these days, but years ago these wouldn't have lasted long at all around me.

Animal Kingdom Chocolate - This is a popular bar with children, and I can see why. I think it came with a cute squirrel sticker, and on the wrapper is a sweet cartoon lion. The chocolate itself is very thin so not too much for a little appetite, and it tasted a lot like Hershey's chocolate, which surprised me given how much European chocolate usually doesn't taste like Hershey's! I loved it, but if you don't like American chocolate you may find this one not so appetizing. Mine melted a bit in transit, but it was the only casuality - and it was still tasty!

Ciocori Rice Chocolate - This one wasn't as nice as the Dorina rice chocolate that was included in the box last month. The rice wasn't very crispy, there wasn't that much of it, and it was just a bit sweet & plain. Not memorable for me, it was the only one in the box that left me a little cold. Then again, other people may really enjoy this one.

Bauli Croissant - I've had one of these before, and it's quite impressive how soft & fresh they stay even though they're shelf stable! This one is no different - soft & buttery, but not really flaky like a traditional croissant. Hey, you can't have it all! The vanilla custard innards are delicious, they even manage to get an eggy flavor in there. This one was really good - maybe my favorite in the pack, outside of the delicious Bueno Bites, of course.

Over all it was a really great surprise box! A nice variety of things - something for everyone. Candy Adriatico is a sweet company in many ways - I recommend a sign up.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Shackfuyu is the latest opening from the Bone Daddies/Flesh & Bun family of restaurants. Allegedly only open for the next year, but with any hope that's not going to be the case. For you see, this place is far too delicious to only be around for one measly year.

It's sort of a small plates place, so go with a large group if you want to try a bunch of stuff. There were a few 'mains' on the menu, including beef with kimchi butter tare, a whole seabass with coriander miso, and presumably the hot stone rice could serve as a main as well. My suggestion if dining for two (like we did) is to split two 'small plates', one main, one dessert. I mean, depending on which small plates you get - we went with two of the heartiest and it made for a very filling lunch.

Beef Picanha with Kimchi Butter Tare - I've never had this cut before, apparently it's from the rump and quite popular in Brazil. It had a nice beefy taste with a bit of resistance, but the tender fat is left on. The sauce is amazing - hot & slightly sour like kimchi. I'm ashamed, or maybe not so ashamed because here I am writing about it, to say that I took my spoon to the sauce after the meat was gone. I absolutely loved it - hot, spicy, a little bit sour & high quality beef. It's got every right to be the highlight of the menu.

Fried Potatoes and Japanese Curry Sauce - Excellent curry sauce, better quality than your curry roux blocks that are now fairly easily found in the UK. Thick but not unctuous, hotter than standard Japanese curries (probably, funny given the history of curry in Japan, made that way to appeal more to English palates) with crispy diced potatoes.

The indulgent freak & me wondered about topping them with cheese - but they totally didn't need it, I'm just a freak for cheesy potatoes like all red-blooded humans. I can absolutely see this being served in Japan too. Either at one of the 'family restaurants' that are popular there (like Jonathan's or Denny's) or at Cocoichibanya. Curry sauce & potatoes is universal - and if it's not, it damn well should be.

Mentaiko Mac 'n' Cheese - Every time I see mentaiko, I think 'mental', as in "That's mental!" - an exclamation you may use as you eat this. See that big plop in the middle is mentaiko: AKA fish roe, AKA fish eggs. I've had it before but never in a proper form, just as a pasta sauce or a Cheeto (reviewed here) - so I wasn't sure what I'd think of it as a straight up plop. I'm not the biggest fan of very fishy things, but I'm pleased to report that it's not strong at all. It's very mild - not that it tasted like lobster mac & cheese, but it had a similar level of "fishiness", which isn't that much. The cheese wasn't very strong at all, which is probably for the best in order for the subtle taste of mentaiko to shine. I really enjoyed this one.

Kinako French Toast with Green Tea Softserve - The green tea soft serve is lovely - strong and not overly sweetened, it's a very refined dessert and would've made for a lovely light finish served all by itself. They don't stop there, however - the kinako french toast alongside is a big ol' thick slice of sweetness. We all know the best sort of french toast has three distinct textures: crispy edges, sturdy top 'n' bottoms, and a nearly gooey middle. Right, we all know that.

This one has it in perfect balance. The kinako flavor is subtle, and while I really enjoy toasted soy powder, I can see the need to keep it light. Kinako can tend to have the slightest savory edge, like peanuts or sesame in a dessert. I think it's presence here keeps the french toast from being overly sweet.

No cocktails this time around! They do have some great ones though, and I think it's cute that they're served in a little bottle for you to pour at your own discretion. Not sure if that means they've been aged, which would be quite cool, or if it's just a fun way to serve them. Either way, I've got my eyes on the sake cherry gimlet for my next trip. Really looking forward to returning, especially as they'll be changing the menu periodically!

Thursday, March 19, 2015


I was pleased to be contacted by Pastinos and asked to write a review about their snacks. I've seen them before, I believe in Selfridges and a small Italian cafe in my old town. Here is a list of all the places stocking Pastinos at the moment. They have four flavors:

Lemon & Black Pepper, Chianti & Olive, Arrabbiata and Tomato & Sweet Basil.

These are made with real pasta, and I have no clue what they do to render them into crunchy but not tooth-shattering crisp style snacks. It's very cool, though! I also really appreciate the unique flavors that remain true to the pasta roots of the snack.

Perhaps my favorite flavor of them all was the Lemon & Black Pepper, which was tangy whilst remaining savory, with a strong hit of black pepper. It's a classic combination in life, but not so much so in snacking form, so if you like lemon & pepper with meat, chances are you'll like it on crispy pasta snacks as well. What's really nice about this one too is that you can sort of taste the 'pasta' behind the flavoring, which makes it seem even heartier of a snack.

I also really enjoyed the Tomato & Sweet Basil, which was a very accurate name. This one had all the familiar comforts of red sauce kind of Italian food, your marinara, your tomato sauces of all shapes & varieties. I enjoyed it - I shared this one out with a couple of co-workers who also liked the flavor, so it seems like an easy pleaser.

The Arrabbiata flavor was a lot like the above Tomato & Sweet Basil, but with an added chili backdrop. They come in as a close second favorite, but the Lemon & Black Pepper just pips it - in part because it was such a unique taste.

The Chianti & Olive was interesting, tasted a lot more like an olive than I was expected which was good news for me as an olive fan. The chianti, well, can't say I've ever actually drank it (also never had fava beans, funny enough) but I think perhaps it made them a bit sweeter? If these had been just olive flavored I probably would've really enjoyed it, but the combination of something slightly sweet with olive just didn't do it for me as much as the others. I will definitely give it this - it was a very different flavor!

Over all, I really enjoyed these snacks and I think there is lots of room to grow in terms of flavors while staying true to the pasta roots - flavors like macaroni & cheese, saffron cream, and maybe best of sauce? Sounds good to me! These are a great change from regular crisps, and definitely feel more filling with more exotic flavors.

(Pastinos provided me with these snacks for a fair and square review)