When it comes to chocolate spread I’ve always felt a bit of an outsider – not only do I have a cow milk allergy to contend with, but I’m not really a fan of nuts either (gasp, not very foodie of me I  know). It was from this Nutella-ostracised starting point that I came across Sainsbury’s Popping Candy Chocolate Spread. One day, casually browsing food porn on Twitter, I came across a tweet from Sainsburys featuring the aforementioned spread and I decided I had to have it and so the experimental quest began

After a nice chat with the PR folk over at Sainsburys, I managed to secure myself a sample jar (yes!) even though the product has been on the shelves for over a year now, I’d somehow missed it – probably because I generally only linger next to the honey in the conserve section. I sat tight for a few weeks and eventually the jar arrived. Because I really couldn’t resist cracking it open, I sat at my desk rather uncouthly spooning in a couple of tablespoons into my mouth as I sipped on my cup of afternoon tea. FYI, this meant I digested far less calories than if I’d picked up a chocolate bar and the second option wouldn’t have been nearly as fun. My instant thoughts were that the flavour was pleasantly chocolaty, but at first I was somewhat underwhelmed – where was that crackle, pop? After about 20 seconds it kicked in on the back of my tongue and I knew then the jar was not going to last long.

Over the coming two weeks I made it my mission to slap the chocolaty crackle pop on as many nearly appropriate foods as possible (rather than simply eating it from the jar with a spoon) and this immediate mass consumption unfortunately resulted in me not taking a photo of the jar itself. Recording what the product looked like became an afterthought that I only hit upon as I scraped out the bottom of the empty vessel.

Now, let’s be clear, a quick read of the ingredients list and a nod to the the fact this spread’s key selling point is the use of a novelty kid’s confectionary, lets us know it’s not a gourmet product. That said, in combination with the food stuffs I tested it with, it was a sinful snack of the gods.

First I slapped the spread on some toast – it was the obvious thing to do, but far from the best use I came across. Somehow the warm bread seemed to dissuade the candy from being so poptastic and I felt less satisfied as a result and reached for my spoon once more. Next I tried the chocolaty -goodness on crumpets and though it was tasty, I felt like I was somehow subverting English tradition too far. However, I did stumble upon a breakfast choice winner when I used the spread on some fresh pancakes. I cannot begin to explain how nice the melted spread tasted on curled crepes, which seemed to act as a catalyst for optimum pop levels (snap, crackle, yummm!).

In all honesty, a lot of the spread did end up being eaten directly from the jar, though an equal measure was probably consumed via my now favourite tea accompaniment – popping candy chocolate spread on hobknobs. Thought you couldn’t improve the best biscuit ever? slap on some of this and you’ll realise you can always take indulgence up a notch, even if you shouldn’t!

Over the four fabulous years I’ve lived (and eaten)  in Leeds The Olive Tree restaurant in Chapel Allerton has made its way firmly to the top of my list of favourite places to eat.  The fact I used to live just around the corner from this compact but gorgeous Greek eatery undoubtedly gave it a good leg up the ladder, but the consistently great menu, generous portions and value for money have helped it keep its position.

The Olive Tree is one of those places that is so reliably good that you want to share it with everyone, which is why I found myself there early on a Friday evening a few weeks ago introducing yet another Leeds friend to my favourite find. The restaurant is of course by no means a hidden secret – it’s been the only Greek restaurant to make the Good Food Guide for the past four years, but because it’s a little out of town, those who live in the city centre can sometimes miss out if they’re not giving a little push in its direction.

So, having a convenient excuse to be there and being in possession of a tastecard that promised 50 per cent off the food bill, I set to work greedily ordering my favourite Greek dishes. Service can be a bit rushed at times at the Olive Tree (probably because they are so busy) and as I’ve come to expect this I’d set my heart on the Whitebait (£5.95) followed by the Arni me Feta (£15.95), long before I’d set my foot through the door – nevermind when the waitress came promptly to take our order. My dining partner went for a double whammy of lamb with Keftedes (£5.85) and Kleftiko (£14.95) and we selected a side of spinach with mint and garlic (£2.45) and a nice bottle of red.

During our very brief wait for starters to arrive we were presented with some warmed pitta slices, which we tried not to yum up all at once, as from past experience I knew I would need to save space for my hearty main course. When starters arrived my high expectations were once again met – the Whitebait was light and crisp and the tiny fish plentysome and not at all greasy. The fish was served  with a refreshing Tzatziki and lemon slice – tasty and simple. The meatballs my fellow diner had opter for were declared the ‘best’ he’d ever tasted and the standards for our tasty mains were thus set.

Whitebait and Tzatziki

The smell of the lamb mains were a delight for our meat-mad senses and we tucked in to the cinnamon, oregano and garlic fragranced joints in near silence. As forks were inserted the meat compliantly dropped away from the bone, it was moist and utterly mouthwatering and the  hint of cinnamon was perfectly complemented by my salty feta and slightly sweet salsa.

Arni me Feta

 

As has unfortunately become fairly routine on my trips to the Olive Tree, I was unable to finish my main course – though it’s worth knowing that if you do find finishing a struggle the staff will give you some tubs to take away any leftovers. I’m yet to sample the desserts – savoury fiend that I am I always opt for a starter. Still, it’s something to aim for as I’m sure I’ll find another excuse to go back soon!