Bartons Peppermint Bark Review

Bartons Peppermint Bark, also called Bartons Gold Old Fashioned Peppermint Bark Dark Chocolate if you try to look for it online, is a Christmas treat that is made of crushed peppermint candy pieces embedded in white chocolate with a layer of dark chocolate at the bottom.

Bartons Peppermint Bark

Bartons Peppermint Bark

There are many brands that make Peppermint back but, IMO, Bartons is the best. The large chunks (most brands use tiny pieces) of candy cane are crunchy but not hard on the teeth and the chocolate is thick so that the peppermint to chocolate ratio is great.

You might notice that on the box picture, the peppermint candy pieces are enormous and seem to fill the bark from edge to edge. I almost didn’t buy because of that since the candy bits looked like they were overpowering the chocolate. The reality is the image below.

Peppermint bark

As you can see, the proportions are much more equal and there is a good amount of peppermint candy but there’s also a lot of chocolate to balance it out. 10/10 would eat again!

The packaging isn’t pretty. The outer packaging is just a cardboard box and inside are these large sized bars of bark. However, what really matters is that the inside is absolutely scrumptious. Anyway, it’s also available in a tin but I believe it costs a bit more.

Links:

http://bartonscandy.com/ – the official website but it is currently under construction

Bartons Facebook Page – it hasn’t been updated since 2015

The Settlers 2: 10th Anniversary Review

Out of all the games I have installed on my PC, the one I play the most is undoubtedly The Settlers 2. I have the 10th Anniversary edition which has improved graphics.

Here is a video about the gameplay.

I love when the little men (I think it’s always men, they don’t seem to have any females but I could be wrong) are all over the place doing all the tasks that I have given them.

The game starts off with just one village and the goal is to build your empire from there. Obviously, what the player builds is limited by the resources available to him/her which means that the first order of business is to gather raw materials. Once those are available, then the raw materials can be refined into tools and such.

While you are doing this, the AI player is also building an empire and as you start expanding your territory, clashes between your settlers and theirs are inevitable. If the AI wins a territory fight then they take over your buildings and your people are conquered, therefore they all begin working for the enemy. Noooooo!

The trick is to win all of the fights and eventually take over the entire map. I enjoy doing that because it gives me a great feeling of satisfaction when I have control off the entire land.

Choya Sarari Sparkling (Plum Wine Cooler) Review

Today I bought this “mystery item.” It’s a mystery item for me since I cannot read the Japanese text on the can. Of course, when I got home I was able to google more info about this prodcust.

This is what it looks like:

choya sparkling

The only thing I could make out from the can were the words “Choya” and “sparkling.”

Since I was not sure what it was when I saw it, I only bought one.

A quick Google search yielded the information that this mystery product is something called Sarari Sparkling by Choya. “Sarari” means silky smooth in Japanese. According to the Choya website, the ingredients are ume, sugar, cane spirit, and brandy.

I have no idea what ume is but apparently it is a sort of fruit that is commonly called the Chinese plum. Hmmm. In this case, the can contains brandy in which ume fruits have been steeped to give it a nice ume flavor. In short, this can is a can of Umeshi soda.

The taste is great and I loved the bubbles. It’s basically a bubbly, fruity, alcoholic drink. Good stuff, I recommend it.

Trivia: Eating the pickled ume fruit for breakfast can supposedly stave off misfortune (source). Does this also apply to drinking the umeshi?

Zin Gourmet Finishing Salt – Triple Pepper Blend Review

In the past I used salt and salty condiments (soy sauce, Knorr seasoning, ect.) freely but these days I am trying to eat more fresh and healthy food. No more potato chips dripping with grease and salty goodness! Instead of using a lot of salt, it’s better to use spices. One of the things I have been using lately is pepper. Lots and lots of pepper!

Pepper is good for cardiovascular health because 1 teaspoon of it contains only 1 milligram of sodium which is less than 1% of the recommended daily allowance for sodium. (source) Using pepper in place of salt helps keep my daily sodium intake low.

Zin Triple pepper blend

Zin triple pepper blend

Just freshly cracked black pepper is quite awesome but I also use a nice blend of three types of pepper – green, black, and pink.

I have been trying to buy this at the nearest SM grocery store but alas, I was able to buy it only once. Subsequent visits yielded only the regular black pepper mills. Due to the lack of triple peppers in the local stores I have been buying this brand “Zin Gourmet Finishing Salt – Triple Pepper Blend” online. The pepper is easy to grind and the container has enough to last quite a while.

Zin also sells a bunch of other stuff such as pepper with pink Himalayan salt but I have not tried anything else yet.

I buy mine from Marketa.ph but Zin also sells it directly from their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/zinmanila/.

I have not been paid to blog about this nor did I receive any free samples/items.

Cookie Bar – Cookie Cups Review

This weekend, since some younger people were going to visit me, I ordered some cookies from Cookie Bar (http://cookiebarmanila.com/). Kids love cookies, right?

cookie bar review

Cookie Bar box

I got it from Marketa.ph. The box was pretty nice but what matters is what’s inside, right? What I ordered was a box of “cookie cups” which is a little bit different from the regular cookies that I normally like. Cookie cups are chocolate chip cookies with candy toppings like Milky Way, Snickers, Reese’s, Ferrero Rocher, Maltesers and Twix.

cookie cup review

A cookie cup

I actually only ate one because the cookies were for the kids. The one I got was really sweet, probably because of the candy topping (pictured above). The cookie part was soft and somewhat moist but nothing super spectacular. It tasted nice, exactly like a cookie with a candy bar on top of it. I would not recommend this for adults as it is too rich and sweet, unless you really have a craving for sweet stuff. However, the kids loved it and since it was for them, then it’s perfect, right?

The cookie cups are really something new to me. As a concept, it’s pretty cool. The other adults I showed it to thought it looked strange but they wanted to try it out so that’s good.

The box cost PHP 270 and had twelve mini cookie cups inside it. Since the box is nice and the price is not too expensive, it would make a nice gift. Cookie Bar also has a lot of other interesting things like fudge in a jar, giant cookies, cookie cakes, cookie shot glasses (for milk), red velvet cookies, and so forth. I might try out the dark chocolate cookies next time.

Pokka Sapporo Royal Milk Tea Review

Pokka Sapporo Royal Milk Tea (also called Pokka Sapporo Café de Crié Royal Milk Tea)

pokka sapporo royal milk tea

Pokka Sapporo Café de Crié Royal Milk Tea

Pokka Sapporo Café de Crié Royal Milk Tea Review

I normally prefer to make my own tea, either from tea bags or from loose tea leaves. I even own a Teavana Perfectea Maker that I almost never use. I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought that. These days I just use a mug.

Anyway, I almost never buy ready-to-drink tea but when I do, I like to buy Japanese milk tea. This time I had some Pokka Sapporo Café de Crié Royal Milk Tea which was absolutely perfect. Nice and cold, it was the right size and had that sweet milk taste alongside the goodness of tea. This particular brand is very milky. I like it.

I forgot to take a picture of the tea inside (sorry) but don’t worry it just looks like tea with lots of milk in it.

It’s convenient to have something that I don’t have to steep. Like, when I wake up and I feel too lazy to make my own tea, it’s great to be able to just grab a can from the fridge. Also, I tend to not have fresh milk. At home 3 out of 4 of us are lactose intolerant so when I buy fresh milk it goes bad before I can finish it since I don’t actually drink a lot of milk and no one else will touch it. Therefore, milk tea for me is a special treat.

Having said that, I still want to make my own hot mugs of tea.

GOG.com review

I play quite a lot of PC games and my vendor of choice is not Steam but rather Gog.com. “Gog” is short for “good old games” and the website has tons of older games. The reason why I prefer Gog over the other sellers is that their games are all DRM-free.

The games I have on Gog are:

The Settlers II: Tenth Anniversary Edition (with improved graphics)
Celtic Kings: Rage of War
Torchlight
Fallout Classic, Fallout 2 Classic, Fallout Tactics Classic
Don’t Starve
Divine Divinity
Book of Unwritten Tales
Recettear

Of those games, I play The Settlers II the most.

Gog is pretty easy to navigate and the website is uncluttered. Users can also create and share lists of the games they like. I often like to browse the user lists to find out what other people are playing.

Gog is my favorite because:

  • older games are cheaper than new ones, sometimes very cheap like below $10 cheap or even *gasp* less than $5
  • no DRM is a win for me, I hate when I buy a game and I can’t run it because the DRM makes my PC black screen all the time. I am looking at you, The Sims 3

https://www.gog.com/

Calbee Pizza Potato Chips

calbee potato chips pizza flavor

Calbee potato chips pizza flavor

Calbee is a Japanese brand of potato chips. Today I went to Family Mart and bought this one, it’s the Calbee potato chips, pizza flavor. As you can see it has some Japanese text in the packaging.

The nutrition information label says that each package contains two servings of 30 grams each (approx). One serving is 160 calories so if you eat the whole thing it’s 320 calories. Ouch.

Calbee Pizza Potato Chips Review

The potato chips themselves are quite yummy. They are a decent thickness and I cannot complain about the crispiness of the product. Unfortunately, I did not like the taste. It was too mild. It didn’t taste salty or spicy. There was a slight cheesy flavor and a little bit of sourness, perhaps an onion flavor?

By the way, sorry for the bad quality photo. Here is a nicer picture from their official Facebook page:

While I personally did not like it, my 6 year old nephew loved the chips. He likes pizza and for potato chips he prefers pizza-flavored ones. I guess it’s simply a matter of taste and/or personal preference.

By the way, I have tried the plain Calbee potato chips and they are great.

Ocampos Jewelry Review

I just got back from a shopping spree with a nice new ring from Ocampo’s Fine Jewelry.

Check it out!

ocampo's fine jewelry review

This is a 14k white gold ring weighing 2.7 grams with a 1.18 carat emerald-cut sapphire surrounded by tiny diamonds. When I say tiny I mean so tiny that I can barely see them with the naked eye. These are called brilliantitos locally. Derived from the word “brillante” which is the spanish word for diamond, brilliantitos means small diamonds.

Total cost for the original ring: 59,720 PHP (roughly 1,327 USD)

The display size for rings is only 5 so if your finger is bigger than a small child’s, you will most likely have to pay for resizing. Resizing cost me 6,850 PHP.

Total cost for ring and resizing: 66,570 PHP (1,479 USD)

The fact is, I had been looking for an emerald-cut sapphire for quite some time. Emerald-cut means that rectangle center gem you can see from the picture of the ring. Most of the time the local jewelry that I see have round or oval gems. Also, there are tons more diamonds than colored stones.

I was quite pleased to see this sapphire ring, it’s just my type. I bought it from Ocampo’s Fine Jewelry at Ayala Fairview Terraces. Previously, I had bought a pair of yellow gold earrings for my mother there. The salespeople are friendly and only “soft sell” which is great. I hate when salespeople are too pushy.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ocamposjewellery/ – I sometimes visit their Facebook page to see if there are any ongoing sales.

Zalora – https://www.zalora.com.ph/women/accessories/jewelry/ocampos-fine-jewellery/ – (update: sold out or no longer available) You can see some examples of their jewelry here and the prices. However, I personally prefer to buy jewelry from the physical store rather than online.

What you are reading right now is my personal blog. I have not been paid to review this product and I am not in any way connected with Ocampo’s Fine Jewelry.

Godiva Chocolates Heart-Shaped Box

This year’s post-Valentine’s day chocolates sale was pretty good, I managed to nab this Godiva gift item. The chocolates came in a super cute pink heart-shaped box.

godiva chocolates post-valentines sale

Godiva Chocolates in a cute pink box

When the box arrived (it was delivered to my home) I was very pleased since the packaging is so nice. As usual, due to the heat the contents had melted. However, the taste was still great so I have no complaints.

godiva chocolates heart-shaped box

The Godiva chocolates heart-shaped box, perfect for Valentine’s Day.

The box came complete with a gift tag and also a small “what’s inside” card. As you can see from the picture above, it has 7 types of chocolates. There were two of each kind, for a total of 14.

Today’s Daily Writing Prompt: Price

Godiva chocolates tend to be rather pricey so I prefer to buy when there is a sale. In this case I bought during the post-Valentine’s day sale. It was (if I remember correctly) 40% off. 😀 I love that feeling of “saving” money.