REVIEW: Chocolat Lovers

Some words just go together.

Fish and Chips, Morecambe and Wise and, most importantly, Christmas and Chocolate.

It’s that time of year once again where it is perfectly acceptable to eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and tea (or dinner if you’re posh!) and during the festive season it is simply a given to replace your regular five a day with five treats from a box of Celebrations.

I was lucky enough to receive a beautiful box of choccy delights from the ultimate on-line chocolate boutique, Chocolat Lovers, recently and given the fact I’m usually happily settled in the savoury camp when it comes to snacking, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed devouring the contents of the little black box.

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Inside I found three bars: A Dark Chocolate Amsterdam Liquorice and Hemp Bar (£3.50), a Sea Salt & Caramel Bar (£3.50) and a Lemon & Poppy Seeds Creamy White Bar (£2.29)

The first came in a cardboard box, designed to look like an old postcard from Amsterdam and on opening it up was met with a lovely looking dark chocolate bar decorated with butterflies.

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Usually preferring the Dark Side to the usual milk or white chocolate I was eager to try this bar but when I did was a little disappointed in the flavour that was promised.

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The immediate reaction was “well this just tastes like a really nice dark chocolate but I can’t taste either liquorice or hemp” but when the chocolate was long gone from my mouth a slight liquorice-y after taste lingered.

Though I’m not a fan of that particular flavour usually it was quite a nice surprise. Not sure I’d buy this bar myself but it would be a nice gift.

Onto the Sea Salt & Caramel Bar.

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This was my absolute favourite of the three. The decorative use of the caramel and sea salt on the milk chocolate bar was showcased in a cellophane wrapper and on tasting I found that the chunky pieces lent themselves to creating a gloriously crunchy chocolate bar.

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Perhaps my preference of savoury snacks over sweet made me like this more than the others but the fact that I found it really hard to put down and that is disappeared in very little time speaks for itself. Would buy this one again in a heartbeat.

Finally the  Lemon & Poppy Seeds Creamy White Bar. Although an unusual pairing of poppy seeds in a chocolate bar I was curious to dig into this particular bar. So curious, in fact, that this was the first one I opened even though it was at the bottom of the box.

The creamy white chocolate was interspersed with the tiny black poppy seeds and popping it into my mouth on a cold Winter’s evening transported me back to the heady Summer warmth. The lemon flavour was not overpowering and the poppy seeds gave it an added bite. I could imagine eating this in the garden with a cold, crisp, white wine or a small tot of Limoncello it was so refreshing and a real eye-opener to what other chocolate flavour possibilities are on the market.

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Having tried and tested just this small sample of what Chocolat Lovers have to offer I’m sure I’ll be paying a visit to their website very soon.

Chocolat Lovers have some great Christmas gifts if you’re still struggling to find that perfect gift from Chocolate canvases, cars, teddies and trains that double up at tree decorations, as well as brilliant chocolate hampers.

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National Vegetarian Weeks: Days Six and Seven

And on the sixth day…………….I caved *sad face*

But all was not lost.

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Though I had failed spectacularly on Saturday night – M&S’ Two Dine for £10 deal was on and there was no way Mr Mc was going to EVER go for the veggie option – I was still waving my veggie flag high and wondered if there was a loophole I could get through meaning I could still get away with having vegetarian influences in my life.

So, I thought I’d try an alternative way to be veggie. 
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Enter, my Green Good Fairy, Lush.

Their cosmetics are full of fresh fruit and veg and made with organic ingredients where possible so all was not lost.

AND our furry little friends are safe, because, as many of you know, the cosmetics are not tested on animals *hurrah*

So, they are 100% suitable for vegetarian155-Flying-Fox-resized 29-Angels-on-Bare-Skin-resizeds and a whopping 80% are approved by the Vegan Society.

I was sent a lovely little package consisting of the Flying Fox shower gel, Angels on Bare Skin facial cleanser and the Vanishing Cream moisturiser.

Happily for me I was also sent the Ocean Salt face and body scrub that I had recently run out of so *bonus*.

As of yet I haven’t tried out the latter three but the Flying Fox shower gel is an absolute joy. The smell is quite unusual but it certainly wakes you up in the morning because the honey that is used in the gel gives it a glorious scent. Mr Mc asked me what the smell was after I’d used it and now I can’t stop him from nabbing it. Plus you can smell the scent on your skin for most of the day.

Also, it’s especially good at The Time of the Month, because Lush have added the top essential oils for calming PMT AND it doubles as a shampoo (not tried this yet) – win

Will have to let you know when I use the rest so I can give you an update 🙂

Overall, the experience of spending a week as a veggie wasn’t as hard as I had originally thought, all it takes is a little planning and imagination. I’d recommend  it if you fancy challenging yourself.

National Vegetarian Week: Days Four and Five

A new challenge faced me on day four.

Having had a catch-up meal with my girlfriends planned for an absolute AGE (we take a lot of organising) I felt a little bereft when I realised I would have to choose from the vegetarian side of the menu – no steak for me, no Siree.

I’m one of those people who see a steak as a bit of a treat so when I go out I like to have one, or a nice piece of fish if I’m feeling a little hefty. So when we arrived at the Revolution bar in my hometown and my dining partners one by one opted for a juicy burger or pizzas covered with large chunky pieces of chicken and Serrano ham (be still my beating heart) I looked forlornly at my spicy bean burger which, on first appearance, looked a tad dry.

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Oh how wrong I was. The kidney bean base, coupled with sweet, sweet, sweet potato were a taste sensation. Not in the slightest bit dry and it disappeared a lot faster than it took to arrive *take the hint Revolution waiter man*

An added bonus was the fact that, for an indicisive creature such as myself, the two page menu was whittled down to around 11 items, making the decision making process that little bit swifter where I was concerned.

Belly full, kisses goodbye, off to bed – fabulous night all round.

By day five it appeared I was taking being a veggie in my stride, no real complaints.

But with an horrendously busy morning at work I was willing lunchtime to arrive so that I could escape to the nearby supermarket for a breather and some scran.

An equally busy afternoon lay ahead so a swift call later it was back to the office for a desk picnic.

Oh, I know why you're laughing you evil shelf stackers

Oh, I know why you’re laughing you evil shelf stackers

Quelle horreur! To my dismay the falafel flatbread I had seemingly plucked from the fridge had morphed into the Moroccan chicken version. As the pair had sat next to each other on the shelf and had similar packaging I had picked up the wrong one! There has been one and one time only that I had felt like throwing a temper tantrum at my desk – and this was it. Now all that I had to eat were cucumber sticks and an emergency punnet of dried fruit from my Graze subscription. And here I was thinking I had it together??

Being a Friday, with the added  bonus of being the one before a Bank Holiday (score!) my editor had brought in an array of cakes so all was not lost.

There are worse things you can have for lunch than cake – every cloud and all that!

National Vegetarian Week: Days two and three

In an attempt to broaden my repertoire further than Asda’s Pizza Vegetable Supreme, I decided to browse the internet for quick and easy recipes that may come in handy for my week on the green side and what a world I discovered – I felt like Princess Jasmine *cue magic carpet ride*

Heading over to my favourite recipe site, a search for vegetarian dishes threw up an array of wonderful dishes but the ones that 1) were quick to prepare and cook and 2) made use of whatever was in my cupboards/fridge/freezer were my immediate go-tos.

Why the rush you may (may not) think? Well, as much as I enjoy cooking, my kitten had to be at the vets on Day 2 with the appointment smack bang in the middle of the evening and I had to pick up my car from its annual MOT (hence the reason for needing to use up what I already had – my purse had been cleaned out) so I was faced with a half an hour slot to cook and eat my food.

First up, Falafel burgers.

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If you’re not familiar with falafel it is basically just chickpeas whizzed up with added spices and fried – b.e.a.utiful 🙂 Apart from a mild drama with my food mixer, it was pretty straight forward to make and, dare I say, mine looked better than the pic. Ten mins to prep the recipe said, ten mins it was – winner. And despite my eagerness with the chilli (read: adding 1/2 a tablespoon instead of 1/2 a TEASPOON of chilli flakes) they still got the thumbs up all round.

If you fancy giving them a go, here is the recipe.

Day three I had a little more time for my evening meal so headed over to the National Vegetarian Week website to see what they had on offer.

Disappointingly I could only find just seven recipes – seven?! But, undeterred, I had a mooch and opted for the mushroom stroganoff.  I had mushrooms to use up 😉

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Now, I’m one of those people that gets disappointed when your own concoctions don’t turn out like the picture in the recipe book/blog/website etc, so when this did – I was delighted (I’m that much of a saddo). Perhaps I’ve found my niche?

Though the official recipe stated to use soya single cream, you guessed it, I had creme fraiche to use up, so whacked a whole dollop of that in instead and it tasted just as good. polished off with a few more slices of garlic bread than my waistline would like, it was delicious. The only slight bugbear I would add would be that the recipe on the website said there would be enough for four people. If your family is anything like my family, you may want to add a little because the four people recipe just about stretched to three.

I reckon I’m getting quite good at this veggie malarkey.