Friday, February 28, 2014

Nutrex Research Muscle Infusion Black Protein Blend - Chocolate Monster

I definitely crossed over to gym rat category a while ago; so much that I cannot imagine going a day without guzzling some protein supplement. After trying two flavours of Optimum Nutrition's very popular Gold Standard Whey - Extreme Milk Chocolate and Double Chocolate, I decided to give something else a shot.

As recommended by my trainer at the Powerhouse Gym, I chose the Chocolate Monster flavour of Nutrex Research Muscle Infusion Black Protein Blend. A protein blend may contain many ingredients like whey protein, calcium caseinate, egg albumen, milk protein isolate, maltodextrin, vitamins, minerals and added amino acids. As compared to pure whey, a protein blend is claimed to more beneficial by many, although that is open to debate.

Given the fantastic user reviews all over the Internet, I was pretty confident about the buy. And once I tasted it, I became a fan in an instant!

The powder is fine, although not as much as a Whey Isolate. However, it dissolves very easily in water (and milk), and forms this lovely, frothy, creamy shake. It is best had in water because it is rather heavy; but adding milk to it takes it to an altogether new level (never mind your bursting stomach). But a word of warning to those who do not like thick shakes... this one is.

The product lives up to its name - Chocolate Monster - with a mind blowing rich taste of chocolate. It has absolutely no aftertaste, and you're like... 'Oh, so all things healthy do not taste like crap!'

Nutritionally speaking too, the product is fantastic. Each level scoop offers 25 grams of protein, 2.5g of fat and 1.5g of saturated fat, 143 calories, 1.5g of sugar, 4g of carbs, and 35% vitamins!! Such marginal levels of sugar and carbs allows you to have up to 4 servings a day without guilt, if you are into serious bodybuilding. I'm presently taking just one scoop per day, which makes it very affordable.

A 5 lbs. jar costs around INR 5000, and is cheaper than most Whey Isolate products. I thoroughly recommend, not just in terms of price and taste, but also performance.


Friday, February 21, 2014

World Chocolate Wonderland 2014, China

After last year’s stint at the Himalayas Centre in Pudong, World Chocolate Wonderland is back in Shanghai with a new location in Shanghai Indoor Stadium. A vast variety of chocolate sculptures, artwork and even couture is exhibited at the World Chocolate Wonderland in Chongqing municipality since Dec 30, 2013. The chocolate-themed activity has visited Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung since its start in 2010. This year's activity will run till March 31, 2014.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Anthon Berg Dark Chocolate

Anthon Berg is a Danish chocolate brand with a history of over 125 years, having been established in 1884. Berg was a green grocer from Copanhagen, who started making chocolates at his shop, and soon grew to be popular in town, thanks to his persistence to quality and perfection. Their website fondly remembers their founder as a generous man, who would often dole out free chocolates to his customers standing in long to keep up their spirits. The demand for chocolates grew exponentially post WWII, thus increasing Berg's business. His son, Gustav, took over the business eventually and took the company to newer heights. Among the highlights is that the brand is appointed by the Danish court as purveyors.

The Danish brand has grown to be popular over the century, thanks to their various offerings, especially, their liqueur chocolates. Anthon Berg miniature dark chocolate bottles (min. 55% cocoa) are filled with some of the world’s most prestigious spirit brands. Rémy Martin, Cointreau, Grand Marnier and other favourites are some available variants, and each is individually wrapped in foil representative of the liqueur brand’s bottle.

It's such a pity that liqueur chocolates are not sold in Mumbai, and I have to depend on some visiting firang relatives to indulge in some. Anyhow, what I did get what a bar of plain dark chocolate from The Cocoa Trees in Mumbai.

Sadly, the dark chocolate (57% cocoa solids) did not live up to my expectation. It has a rather flat flavour and it isn't great on texture either. With some fat bloom on my bar, it also lost out on points for appearance. The bar looks so much shinier on the pack. Sigh. I would recommend it more for cooking than eating, priced feasibly as it is priced at INR 370 for a 200g bar.

RATING: 2.5/5

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Valentine's Collection from Celeste Chocolates

Since we all agree that Valentine's Day is the festival of corny and continue to 'celebrate' it anyway, why not go all out and look at these lip-shaped chocolates? Also, heart shaped boxes and chocolate couple sculptures, and erm, teddies, brought to you by Celeste Chocolates y'all!

Celeste Chocolates has been at the forefront of the gourmet chocolate business in India specializing in handcrafted chocolates available in premium range for every occasion including Valentine’s Day, Diwali, Christmas, Weddings, Birthdays and any other Occasion.

Celeste is a renowned chocolatier with Indian operations and global networks to serve specialist retailers blue chip corporate and connoisseurs of lifestyle. Inspired by the legendary chocolatiers of Belgium, France, Switzerland and the USA, celeste nurtures the long-cherished tradition of excellence – so that the great taste, exotic flavor and beautiful presentation of each Celeste product make it a unique creation and a cut above the rest.  The company has made a niche in the world market and strategically expands its global reach out.

The brainchild of Nidhi Bhageria, Celeste was inspired by the finest chocolate makers across Belgium, France, Switzerland and USA. Celeste has made a niche for itself as a maker of customized, artisanal chocolates. Established in the year, 2001, Celeste today has three boutiques in Delhi & NCR, and will be opening more retail outlets across Delhi and other metros as well. The brand has global aspirations and competencies and offers a unique flavor palette of chocolates, creating its own distinctive taste.

The Valentine collection comprises:

1. Silver Platter with embossed Chocolates -- 6000/-
2. Silver Tray with German silver Lamp ----- 9000/-
3. Blue Baby Pram Basket ----- 2500/-
4. Red Card Board Box ----- 600/-
5. Chocolate Romancing Couple with Fabric Cart ---- 9500/-
6. Heart Shape Praline Box -- 5000/-
7. Romancing Couple made of Chocolate -------- 8000/-
8. Celeste Valentine Pack --- 3000/-
9. Chocolate Lips  (Single Piece ) - 50/-

Celeste Chocolates are available at the following locations:
1. F-176, First Floor, Ambience Mall, NH-8, Gurgaon
2. Fortis, S-549, Greater Kailash-2, New Delhi
3.Pallavi Shopping Complex, Opp. Hotel Taj Palace, S.P Marg, Dhaulakuan, Delhi

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ghirardelli Dark & Orange

While I remain a purist and love my chocolate plain, orange chocolate is beginning to find some favour with me. And if the brand in question is a gourmet chocolate brand, orange chocolate seems particularly appealing. My first brush with Ghirardelli - Gourmet Milk - Coconut Rendezvous wasn't a great one, but one cannot help but give a reputed chocolate brand a second chance.

When the husband salvaged a few pieces from the American colleague stash and brought them home, I was more than happy to click it, eat it and review it. The Ghirardelli Dark & Orange chocolate was definitely better than their milk chocolate offering, but still did not manage to impress.

The chocolate scored again on a beautiful, rich aroma and fine, smooth texture, but fails again in the taste aspect. Instead of the usual orange-flavoured chocolate, the Ghirardelli Dark & Orange comes with a nice gooey centre filling. However, the taste of this orange filling isn't intense enough, and leaves you wanting. What I expect from orange or orange peel chocolates is a strong citrus flavour with just about enough tang that is countered and complemented by the sweetness of the chocolate. Ghirardelli failed me again on flavour, despite its impeccable quality of chocolate. Definitely not worth the almost 500 rupees you would have to shell out for a 100g bar.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Unibic Choco Kiss Cookies

Everyone's riding the centre-filled cookie wave, and the latest brand to join the bandwagon is Unibic. This Australian brand has been in India since 2004, and today has a wide pan-Indian reach through a number of products distributed through supermarkets and local retail stores. Given the variety of products, I'm surprised this is turning out to be the first review of a Unibic product.

It is, however, no surprise that their centre-filled cookies, called Choco Kiss caught my eye since everyone is making these and the category seems to be doing really well. So far, I've reviewed Sunfeast's Dark Fantasy Choco Fills, Sunfeast's Dark Fantasy Choco Meltz, Parle's Golden Arcs Choco Filled Rolls. The Unibic Choco Kiss cookies resembles Sunfeast's primary offering in this category, Dark Fantasy Choco Fills more than any other.

It's a plain cookie filled with liquid chocolate in the centre and scores over Parle's product, which has a gooey, but not runny chocolate filling. While Unibic's chocolate filling doesn't score too high on taste, one has to give it points for a very crumbly cookie. However, Sunfeast trumps both in terms of an overall taste experience.

Unibic's Choco Kiss Cookies are individually packed and a 75g box comprises six cookies. Priced at INR 35, each cookie comes to about Rs. 5.80. This makes it the costliest product in the category as compared to Rs 5 apiece for Sunfeast's Choco Fills and Rs 3 apiece for Parle's Golden Arcs Choco Rolls. Sunfeast's Choco Meltz is a more premium product with a chocolate coating on the outside and is priced around Rs. 7 per piece. Unibic, therefore, needs to find another USP if it is to pose any real competition to the existing players. For now, though, they can be happy with one happy tiny customer.


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