Wednesday, 7 June 2017

May Degustabox - The Picnic Box - review

The picnic-themed May Degustabox arrived last week and it is packed with summery ingredients that are perfect for al fresco dining or snacks at the park. This was a great box, with lots of products that appealed to us - a good mixture of unknown products from well-loved brands and a few wild cards, showcasing totally new (to us) brands and products.

The product that instantly intrigued us was Bean Bags, which look just like tea bags but they are made with "proper coffee ... in a bag". To the best of my knowledge, this is a first and it makes total sense, avoiding the need for expensive and often complicated coffee machines or the faff and mess often associated with ground coffee. (On closer inspection, the packaging says that they are the first pyramid coffee bags so maybe the idea was already available and had passed us by.) They're as simple to use as instant coffee but give a richer, more authentic flavour.

If you opted in for alcohol when you subscribed, you got a bottle of Crabbie's Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer (£1.89) instead of the coffee bags. Gluten free, made using only a handful of ingredients and crafted for six weeks using real Asian ginger, it's no surprise that this is the UK's number 1 alcoholic ginger beer. It can be enjoyed on its own or in cocktails - a dash of raspberry liqueur, lots of ice and a sprig of mint and it's a lovely long drink for summer evenings.

Zeo is another brand that we've already discovered in previous boxes and the Peach and Grapefruit can (£1.19) was lovely. The first sip reminded me of Lilt, with tart citrus flavours coming through, then a lovely peachy taste reminiscent of peach schnapps came through, reminding me of my favourite tipple back in my student days. Zeo is lightly carbonated so it's more refreshing than many overly fizzy soft drinks and it is made with natural fruit juices, exotic botanicals and a splash of spring water. The can only contains 36 calories too.

The kids were more impressed by the selection of sweets and chocolate ! Dairy Milk Big Taste Peanut Caramel Twist (£3.49) is the latest bar to join Cadbury's range and it got a thumbs up from us. It combines smooth chocolate with chunks of peanut, crunchy crispies, gooey caramel and whole peanut halves so you get lots of contrasting flavours and textures in each bite. Delicious!

Millions are tiny tasty chewy sweets that have been delighting kids (and adults !) since 1992. We had already tried and loved the brand in the past but didn't know the two latest flavours, Milk Chocolate Covered Strawberry Millions (2 x 50p) and Sour Strawberry Millions (60p). They promised to be totally moreish on the enclosed leaflet, and they certainly were - yum ! We're always impressed with how such a small sweet can pack in so much flavour.

More sweets (and more squeals of delight followed by appreciative murmurs!) - Candy Kittens (£3) are a new brand to us, but we loved the Sour Watermelon Sweets so we'll be looking out for the other flavours in the range : Sweet Pineapple, Eton Mess and Sour Blueberry (which some Degustaboxers got in place of the Sour Watermelon ones). Deliciously fruity, tangy and chewy, they're quite pricey but they are gourmet sweets that use the best quality ingredients, as well as being gluten-free. I used these as cupcake toppers - I'll be back to share the recipe very soon.

Another snack option - Cereal Lovers Crunch Time Nuggets (£1.59) - handy resealable pouches containing crunchy oats, seeds and malt granola (also available in Sunshine - oats, rice, orange and nutmeg granola - and Chocolate - oats, Belgian chocolate and honey granola). They can be eaten straight from the pack by the handful but the Madhouse kids also loved sprinkling them over yogurt.

Portlebay Popcorn (79p) is a premium brand that we have discovered in previous Degustaboxes. It is made with 100% natural ingredients and is hand popped in Devon. We weren't keen on the Sweet Thai Sriracha flavour but I think the Wasabi & Sweet Ginger variety that other subscribers got would have had just as much of a kick. We have enjoyed previous flavours though.

Hippeas (£1.50) were a new brand to us. Their organic chickpea puffs are a healthier but surprisingly tasty alternative to crisps and they're vegan friendly. I like the fun, quirky marketing - "In Herbs We Trust", #PeasAndLove, ... but at £1.50 a bag, they are a bit on the pricey side.

Two well known and much loved brands next. Fred the Flour Man put in a cheeky appearance on this bag of Homepride Strong White Bread Flour (£1.50). Made from 100% British wheat, it's perfect for making loaves and buns. I love the sturdy resealable packaging too.

MOMA Raspberry & Coconut Bircher Muesli (£3.20) is gluten-free, no-added-sugar, quick soak oats with fruits and seeds, perfect for a healthy and filling start to the day. I love the fact that you can have Bircher muesli (or overnight oats if you prefer) ready and waiting in the fridge when you jump out of bed and need to dash off to work with minimal fuss. These ones are ready in five minutes so it doesn't even matter if you're totally disorganised the night before !

The final product was a pack of Deli Kitchen Skinny Wraps (£1.25), with each wrap only containing 91 calories. I love the innovative shape with an extra flap on the end so that you can stop all the ingredients falling out when you pick up your wrap - ingenious !

I went gourmet (and cleared out the odds and ends in the fridge), topping mine with refried beans, spicy duck coated in Chinese five spice, cucumber and rocket fresh from the balcony. And yes, I did manage to fit all that in one wrap without all the filling falling out when I bit into it, which just goes to show how clever the flap bit is !

This month's recipe card features a Basic Crusty White Loaf recipe from the lovely Dom over at Belleau Kitchen. There is also a second sheet from Crabbie's, with clever ideas for using the alcoholic ginger beer - Crabbie's Ginger Chicken Stir Fry and Crabbie's & Stem Ginger Parfait with Raspberry Sorbet.

A subscription to Degustabox costs £12.99 per month including delivery, with each box having a value of much more than that, but the great news is, I have a discount coupon code for you which gives you a whopping £7 off the price of your first box, so you'll get it for just £5.99 - just enter code 0BS6T at the checkout.

for more information :

Also now on Instagram @DegustaboxUK

Disclosure : We received the box in order to write an honest review. As a Degustabox blogger, I receive all of the products that go into the monthly boxes, but subscribers may not get exactly the same selection.

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