Saturday, 20 January 2018

Today's Review: Landgarten Apple Loves Chocolate

I went into Homesense for the first time today, and quickly found it was one of my new favourite places to go. It's got that TK Maxx not-quite-organised chaos vibe, the shelves just piled willy-nilly with random items. But part of that chaos was the reduced food section, where I found a few cheap little delectables to take home. This is "Apple Loves Chocolate", which is a pretty good name, but doesn't really tell you what's in it. Basically, these are freeze dried apple pieces, wrapped in chocolate, with a bit of cinnamon thrown in for good measure.

Let's start with the chocolate. It's pretty good, not quite gourmet stuff, but it's layered on pretty thick and has a nice creamy texture. I figured the apple inside would be pretty crunchy, but they still retain some chewiness and actually retain their flavour very nicely. Not the freshest way to experience an apple, but a nice fruity centre that works well with the chocolate. The little hint of cinnamon adds a little extra layer of sweetness and spice, and helps bring it all together. These are some great little chocolates, I don't think I've seen chocolate covered apple pieces before, so these are worth seeking out.

My rating: 4/5

Friday, 19 January 2018

Today's Review: Windows Updates

I just tried to boot up my laptop to knock out this review, only to be greeted with an update screen. It's been stuck on 100% for a while now, and there's no end in sight. Such is the consistency in quality of Windows updates. I used to be a Mac man, until I had to spend my money on feeding my family instead. So to go from the smooth updates undertaken at my own pace to the Windows version is entirely painful. 

It starts simply enough. Windows lets you know there are updates to be had. You can choose to "snooze" them or do it right away. But despite me hitting the snooze button a few times, it seems Windows has gone and done it anyway, leaving me without a computer at a crucial moment. I'm sure the computer knows what it's doing. It seems to slow to a crawl, only to update when I restart it out of sheer frustration. These updates take a long time as well, so it's not like a nice little patch that's done in seconds, it's a long, annoying slog. Get it together, Windows. Make your updates more user friendly. 

My rating: 1/5

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Today's Review: Smarties Orange Mini Eggs

The Easter products are out in full force, though I haven't yet found many new ones floating around. I did pick up this bag of Smarties mini eggs though, and they're all orange! I know Smarties have done singular coloured packets of their regular ones before, but these eggs boast an orange flavoured shell, essentially making them chocolate orange mini eggs.

I wasn't sure what the effect of putting the orange in the shell rather than the chocolate would be. Turns out it doesn't harm them too much, though it does affect the balance a bit. As soon as i bit into the chocolate shell, I was met with a bold, almost overpowering orange flavour. It's probably a bit too sweet, but the regular chocolate inside does quite a bit to absorb the flavour and mix everything up. Still, it's not perfect, this is no Chocolate Orange we're talking about here. The orange in these mini eggs could be better, more natural tasting, but once you'd chewed through a few of these the chocolate and orange blends together quite nicely, making a pretty nice tasting bag of mini eggs. Grab them while they're still around.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Today's Review: Pick Hungarian Spicy Snack Salami

I grabbed this bag as a quick snack while I was rushing out of Sainsbury's, I know it's a snack because it says it right there on the packet. Anyway, this pack was a mere pound, and contained four Peperami size salami sticks. I figured they might be a better quality, and I'm still not entirely sure if they are. They have that dry, almost chalky looking finish on top, like those sausages hanging in a Polish deli. Biting into one reveals a pleasantly meaty interior, but as I chewed through it began to taste a little too processed. Still, there's a decent enough amount of meat in there, and the thing is filling. I'm somewhat hung up on the spicy part though. The packet gives these three chillies out of four, but the heat wasn't particularly intense, more like a mellow spice that lasted throughout, so I was quite disappointed. These aren't as nice as a Peperami, but they're a decent enough snack, and at the moment they're a decent enough price.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Today's Review: Coco

I'm a pretty big Pixar fan, so obviously I booked up Coco tickets as soon as the preview weekend came around. It's their first original movie in two years, after the pretty good The Good Dinosaur and the quite sublime Inside Out, which both came out in 2015. We've had some sequels since then in the shape of Finding Dory and Cars 3, but I find Pixar are at their best when the explore new territory. Coco follows Miguel, a young boy in Mexico who finds himself transported to the land of the dead during the Day Of The Dead festival. He only has until sunrise to return to the human realm, or else he'll turn into a skeleton himself. Like in Back To The Future, but with bones instead of nothing. So he has to enlist the help of his no-longer-living family members who now dwell in this mystical land, and a crazy adventure begins.

Let's get this out of the way first, this movie is absolutely beautiful. The Day Of The Dead theme is always a reason to get creative with patterns and colours, but Coco really kicks it up a notch. It's a celebration of life and colour, so many wonderful shades on top of perfectly animated characters. Comparing the human models from Toy Story to now, it's evident to see how finely Pixar have honed their craft. The characters themselves are vibrant too, distinct personalities and quirks that play very well off each other, and all the voice actors do a great job at portraying what would essentially be a pile of bones without that Pixar touch.

The story is... okay. It's not quite as polished and clever as some of the Pixar classics, but it has a few twists and turns along the way. It also leaves room for a lot of humour throughout, and it certainly got a few chuckles from me. The main plot may seem a little generic, but at its heart Coco is a film about family, and those themes are running very strongly all the way through, a great message supported with some fantastic songs. I'm sure the original song Oscar is coming your way, guys. So while this may not be Pixar's finest, it's a very good quality movie that looks fantastic and is pretty much a joy to watch. Hopefully we won't have too many sequels between this and the next original movie, although I am looking forward to The Incredibles 2...

My rating: 4/5

Monday, 15 January 2018

Today's Review: Starbucks Almond Latte Macchiato

Costa have their range of coconut drinks now, but Starbucks seem to have one upped them by introducing not just coconut, but almond and oat milks. I went for the almond, because I'm a bit nutty like that. Ha ha. I had it in the form of a latte macchiato, so with some frothed up milk and some good old fashioned espresso, I dived right in.

I could get used to having these different milks in coffee. It's like having a syrup shot, but without all the sugar. This is a smooth coffee with a satisfying amount of froth, all tinged with a sweet almond flavour that mixes in well with the coffee rather than overwhelming it. Certainly fulfilling, and still creamy, without the dairy. I thoroughly enjoyed this macchiato, and I'm looking forward to trying the others.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Today's Review: Asda Blue Charge Diet Orange & Mango

Looks like Asda have a fair few flavours in their diet energy drink range. I grabbed this one earlier for a little pick me up, it's orange and mango, so it's like, totally tropical. Well, for a while anyway. It has that distinct energy drink taste, combined with sweetener, and I wouldn't expect less for 30p a can. There is some semblance of orange and mango in there at first, and it's quite a nice combination, and fairly well balanced. It's somewhat muted though, and doesn't last too long, but for a cheap can of diet energy drink, I suppose this isn't too bad. Definitely not up there with the big boys, but a somewhat fruity, energising drink.

My rating: 3/5