The FoodChain team sample a selection of new and innovative foods and drinks

Quark express

Quark express
nutrii believes it’s high time Brits take a second look at the versatility of protein packed and virtually fat free quark as a snack. Quark, which is eaten as a breakfast, light dinner or healthy dessert option in the North of 12Europe, is still largely undiscovered in the UK. Compared with Greek yoghurt, nutrii quark is less sour, more filling and creamy and has a higher protein content – at least 20g per pot. Quark is extremely versatile and can be used as a sustaining ingredient in smoothies, spread on rye toast, a replacement for cream in cooking and baking or eaten simply with the addition of toppings such as fruit and muesli.

nutrii’s new range of quark products are designed to suit an active lifestyle and can be easily enjoyed on-the-go as an ‘al desko’ breakfast treat or as a post-workout protein boost. It’s proudly made in Britain using Dorset milk and is available in Plain, Raspberry and Mango & Passionfruit.

Not everyone on the team had heard of quark: “Isn’t that the noise a posh duck makes?” said one. We didn’t give her any. Instead, the Taste Test team’s resident Slimming World star tried the nutrii as he was already a big fan of quark and was keen to experience a different brand and also a fruit version that’s ready to eat from the pot. He was very impressed: “The samples were really tasty – the raspberry was my favourite. It was lovely straight from the pot, but mixed with broken meringue pieces, fat free fromage frais and fruit, it made a delicious version of an Eton Mess. This is a Slimming World treat and is only about four syns per serving!”

Beards and beer

Beards and Beer
In an unusual step for a men’s grooming brand, The Bluebeards Revenge has launched a beer. Best known for its barbershop-quality range of shaving and grooming products, the brand’s new tipple dubbed ‘The Ultimate Pale Ale for Real Men’ is the product of a unique collaboration between it and Hunter’s Brewery. Made with Citra and East Kent Golding’s hops combined with the finest of British ingredients, the Ultimate Pale Ale is bottle conditioned, unpasteurised and unfiltered, with what the company describes as a ‘strong, uncompromising and proud’ flavour.

David Hildrew, Managing Director and the brains behind The Bluebeards Revenge, explained that it had taken a lot of patience and determination to bring the beer to fruition. “It would have been easy to get a white-label brewer to smack a few Bluebeards labels onto an existing brew, but that is simply not our style. We wanted our very own, unique beer brewed by a brewery with excellent credentials, and with a route to market so that our beer could be on sale in pubs and supermarkets across the land.

“We have finally struck gold in the form of Hunter’s Brewery here in deepest Devon. They have done an excellent job at making our vision a reality, and the result is very pleasing indeed.”

Both our reviewers described the beer as ‘very drinkable’. “I don’t normally drink pale ale but this went down very well,” said one. “I am also very impressed with the branding and the idea of linking male grooming with beer!”

The second tester echoed these sentiments, adding: “I thought the beer had a unique flavour. I think it’s familiar enough to appeal to casual consumers but also offers a refreshing blend of richness and character so that it should also appeal to even the most seasoned ale enthusiast.”

Top of the pops

Top of the pops
Metcalfe’s skinny has launched Popcorn Crisps, a new gluten free snack containing up to 35 per cent less fat than the average tortilla chip. Unlike traditional deep-fat frying methods, Metcalfe’s skinny Popcorn Crisps are created through an innovative flash-griddled process. The kernels, oil and salt are dropped into triangular-shaped moulds; with the right pressure, temperature and moisture they pop to become a Popcorn Crisps!

Available in three flavours – Kettle Original has the delicious yet subtle flavour notes of melted butter, black pepper and lemon, while Sweet Chilli packs a flavour punch of chilli and tomato flavour. Say Cheese has all the indulgence of rich cheddar cheese and paprika but at only 137 calories per serving is a great healthier alternative to crisps when on the go.

“Gosh, I did like these,” said our reviewer. “I love tortilla chips, especially cheese ones, so to find something that is just as crunchy and tasty but with so few calories is just brilliant. I just have to remember it’s not an excuse to have two or three bags!”

Juice couture

Juice couture
Founded by university friends, ex Escape the City alumni, Charlie Leet-Cook and Rich Goldsmith, MOJU is a juice brand on a mission – making accessible, great-tasting juice in the healthiest way possible.

The three varieties of juice stand out for two reasons – they not only include more nutrient-rich veg than sugary fruit, but they are also cold-pressed, which maximises the health-giving properties of fresh, pure ingredients; cold-pressing is the closest you can get to fresh fruit and veg, extracting up to five times more nutrients than traditional methods. MOJU never heat pasteurises or ‘cooks’ its juice as it destroys vitamins, minerals and enzymes; instead, it uses pressure (HPP) to protect the nutrients and flavour packed within its balanced recipes.

With the aim of bringing juice bar quality juices to supermarket, coffee shop and deli shelves across the country, MOJU steers clear of corner-cutting purees, pulps and additives – in fact, its ingredients list is so clean that the recipe for each of its delicious juices is listed on the back of each bottle.

As a result of this dedication, MOJU’s TasteTestGreen, Purple and Orange Juices are 100 per cent natural, unadulterated and free from any additives or GMOs; at least four portions of fruit and veg are pressed into each bottle – equivalent to an impressive 1/2 of a kilo of fresh produce!

“These even look like they are going to do me good,” said the tester. “The taste is very fresh and natural, you can pick out the different ingredients but they are nicely balanced, nothing is overpowering. I think that you do need to be a veg lover to really appreciate these as you expect from their vibrant colours for them to be sweet and fruity, which they aren’t really, but they are still delicious!”

Time for tea

Time for teea
The world of tea is full of infinite and exciting variety, and tea is so much a part of our everyday life that it is easy to take it for granted. An independent, expert tea company based in London, Bellevue knows about the tea business, from plantations around the world, via producers, brokers and tasters to the current trends and tastes of tea drinkers here in the UK. It knows how to source the very best teas and infusions and its carefully packaged tea bags and carefully sourced leaf teas will add value to any retail environment, caterer or café.

Bellevue teas are available in a range of packs and sizes and all its catering leaf teas are blended here in the UK with great care to ensure that they deliver both quality and flavour. Bellevue has point of sale material to help market its teas and is happy to provide tea training and support to help customers deliver the best possible drinking experience to its customers.

We loved the English Breakfast tea from Bellevue. “This is delicious and I’ve been drinking it not just at breakfast but at all times throughout the day. I found it was not too strong and had a really great tasting flavour and nice warm colour. It was very refreshing too,” said our reviewer.

[Important additional question – does anyone actually just drink Breakfast Tea at breakfast? – Ed.]