Monday, 30 June 2014

Today's Review: Omani Halwa

What is this gelatinous blob? Why, it's Omani halwa, and apparently it's a delicacy. Halwa literally translates to "sweet", and in an upwards of 50 degree heat that renders chocolate melted and useless, halwa is a long lasting snack that Omanis love to eat. Recipes vary around the country, but ingredients include eggs, sugar, corn flour and fat, with spices such as cardamom and saffron thrown in, along with a dash of rosewater. My dad brought this batch of halwa back from Oman for me, so I'm not exactly sure what went into it, but I do know that I wasn't too fond of the stuff I tried last time I was over there. But hey, time to tuck in.

I ripped off a small corner, and even that was a bit much for me. This stuff has the consistency of jelly, although stickier. Taking a bite, however, reveals lots of bits and pieces that didn't exactly thrill me. But hey, that's what you get when you throw a bunch of spices into a gelatinous blob. What you also get is a very overwhelming flavour. There's certainly a hint of sweetness in there, but there are also many different other tastes fighting for supremacy, and my tastebuds just couldn't handle it. When I was last in Oman, I was served halwa with coffee as an appetiser for a meal, and indeed, the Omani coffee is also very strong and bitter, so I guess it's just a case of different tastes in different cultures. I can get on board with most foods, but this one was not for me. I can't even get through that small piece, let alone the whole box. But if any of you foodie bloggers out there want to give it a go, I'll be happy to send you some. 

My rating: 0/5

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Today's Review: Haribo Tropifrutti

It's always nice to find a bag of Haribo I haven't tried before, especially when it's sitting at the Tombola table at a school fete. This Tropifrutti bag contains a nice selection of colourful, fruit shaped gummies, and I couldn't wait to give them a go.

There's a nice selection of tropical flavours to choose from. As you can see, we have pineapple, banana, orange, uh... palm tree? Yeah, they're not exact, but each sweet is bursting with juicy flavour. The pineapple tastes like pineapple, the banana tastes like banana, the snozzberries taste like snozzberries. That's what I'll call the palm tree shaped one, although it does have a lovely hint of melon. The purple one even tastes like passion fruit, which is not a flavour I've seen used too often in sweets. The texture is pretty interesting too. They're much like fatter versions of the tiny jelly babies you get in the Super Mix, which I find are far superior to the popular UK Jelly Babies. A soft, chewy shell, concealing the thick, tasty jelly within. I always loved those Haribo jelly babies, and now I've found something better. If you like your tropical flavours, this bag is for you.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Today's Review: 4-Ply Toilet Paper

I went shopping at Lidl the other day, and among the bargains I picked up was a ten pack of 4-ply toilet paper for less than the price of the regular cheap 2-ply 9-pack I pick up from Tesco. How could I say no to that? Now, it's been a while since I've tried anything other than 2-ply, and I've learned how to get by. 2-ply is fine, it does the job. I thought anything more was reserved for the upper echelon of society who can just throw money away willy nilly on thicker paper. But now I am part of that elite, and I don't want to go back.

4-ply toilet paper is nice. It's thick, it's soft. They use those extra layers to pockmark little patterns into each sheet, and that's charming. Now I know what I was missing all those years while the Andrex puppy playfully unrolled all the toilet paper, and I just thought "Christ, that's a waste". I imagined rich earls and barons wiping themselves with something akin to carpet, but it's certainly not that extravagant. It's just nice, and extremely affordable if you know where to look. Now I've gone 4-ply, I don't want to go back. I still don't get that whole shea butter thing other brands have got going on though.

My rating: 5/5

Friday, 27 June 2014

Today's Review: Lego Simpsons Minifigures

I've never really paid attention to the Lego Minifigures series. In my mind, Lego is always too expensive, but since all the Lego video games have been coming out, and my kids have been getting into it, I've been keeping up with what's being released. The Back To The Future Delorean, The Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters, both awesome. But The Simpsons house was the big release that caught my eye last year, and while I certainly wasn't going to spring £180 for that, I was certainly willing to start picking up a Minifigures series made up solely of Simpsons characters. I may not have completed my collection, but I'm getting close.

Look at those, how awesome are they? With the amount of franchises being snapped up by Lego in recent years, The Simpsons is probably the best fit, as Lego men and Simpsons are yellow alike. This series of 16 minifigures contains the most famous characters from the hundreds that have shown up over the years. We have all of the main Simpsons family (Homer has so far evaded my grasp), Ned Flanders, Chief and Ralph Wiggum, Apu, Krusty (and Itchy And Scratchy) among others. Each one is perfectly formed, and looks just like their cartoon counterpart. Each one also comes with an awesome accessory or two. Homer has his remote and donut, Bart his skateboard, and Ralph even has his doomed Valentine's offering for Lisa. 

These figures may be £2.50 each, but I actually don't mind spending the money on them. Besides, with each character having a unique accessory and/or head shape, I've actually managed to feel the blind bags and figure out exactly who I'm getting. I may look a little weird fondling Lego in Tesco, but hey, at least I'm not wasting money on duplicates. This is an awesome collection that would look good on any shelf, and there is plenty of potential for further Simpsons sets and figure series. I for one would love to see a Kwik-E-Mart or nuclear power plant, or a set including Patty and Selma or Sideshow Bob. As for whether Lego will actually expand the collection, only time will tell. But at least we have these awesome figures to be getting on with.

My rating: 5/5

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Today's Review: A Cool Breeze

It's getting hot nowadays. Summer is approaching, or maybe it's here. It's hard to tell, what with the intermittent rain, separated by hot, sunny patches. But hey, that's England, and when it's hot, it's hot. I find the heat is a lot different in this country compared to others. In some places it's a humid, atmospheric heat that permeates your very soul, while here it's as if the sun's rays are beating down on you in particular, like a cosmic being is aiming a magnifying glass at your face, and all the places you're sweating from. Sure, heat is nice, to a degree. It's certainly better to be warm than cold, but when it's too hot it does get unbearable. That's when a saviour can come along, in the form of air particles rushing from one place to another. Sometimes, a cool breeze is all we need to feel better.

My flat is a relatively new build, constructed from pure concrete, double glazed, and apparently very efficient at keeping in the heat. That's a good thing in the winter, but not now. Even now the sun has gone down and it's cold outside, I was sitting here, uncomfortably warm, almost sweating just from sitting on my sofa. Then I realised there was a window right next to me, and since opening it I am now at peace, as a cool, constant breeze is washing over me, and I like it. Cool breezes can happen anywhere. If there are no windows inside, we can use electric fans, an artificial cool breeze that you can't help but stick your face into. Even outside it may be sweltering, but all it takes is a slight gust of wind for you to go "Aaahhh". There are many different people on this planet, disagreeing over all kinds of things, but I can guarantee that if you put them in a hot environment and blew a nice, cool breeze at them, they'd all say "Ooh, that was nice". Then they'd probably go back to fighting, because their problems run a lot deeper than that. But for the one moment, that feeling would unite them all. As long as there is heat, may there forever be a cool breeze to take the edge off. It's certainly making my evening better.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Today's Review: Double Stuff Oreos

These aren't exactly a new addition to the Oreo line up, but I don't believe I've actually tried these before. But once I saw a pack for 50p in Asda, there was no excuse. These double stuff Oreos are, quite simply, Oreos with double the stuff, and by stuff they mean creme, as highlighted by the "x2 creme" annotation they added on for good measure. I guess they didn't call them "Double Cream Oreos" in case people thought they were cookies with actual, runny, double cream inside, but "Double Stuff" also has a nice, roll-off-the-tongue ring to it. 

So does double the stuff mean double the fun? Well, it does to me. I know there's a certain way to eat your Oreos, twisting, licking and sticking in your milk and all that malarkey. But a lot of the time I just eat them straight from the packet, and having more stuff inside makes it a much more smooth and creamy experience. Regular Oreos can be a little dry when you're eating them, well, dry, but these balance out the ratio of creme to cookie very well. Even if you're a dunker, you still get to lick up twice the creme after you twist, so everyone's a winner here. These are a simple twist on the regular Oreo cookies, and they're delicious.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Today's Review: Mattessons Brazilian Chargrilled Fridge Raiders

I don't normally buy Fridge Raiders. They're nice as a snack, sure, but they're also pretty expensive for the amount of chicken you get. But they've brought out this new flavour to celebrate the World Cup, and although England are out, I actually don't care about football in the slightest, but I'm more than happy to keep trying these new Brazilian inspired foods.

I tried to figure out exactly how what flavour these Fridge Raiders were. A lot of people have gone with combinations of lime and chilli, but perusing the ingredients didn't tell me that these were included. In fact, there wasn't really any mention of a certain flavour at all. It turns out that this is because these chicken pieces don't have much flavour at all. There's certainly a tiny hint of spiciness, but it's very mellow and overpowered by the chicken itself. They don't taste too much different from the original Fridge Raiders, and while that certainly means that it's some nice chicken, I did feel a bit cheated by the lack of some nice, Brazilian style flavour. Apparently they just chargrilled this chicken in a Brazilian fashion, but I'm not exactly sure how you do that, and apparently it doesn't have too much of an effect on the flavour. These Fridge Raiders are nothing special, but hey, at least there's a bit more effort than those different coloured M&Ms.

My rating: 3/5

Monday, 23 June 2014

Today's Review: The Laughing Cow Triangles With Blue Cheese

Blue cheese should not be a thing. Who has ever looked at a piece of food and thought "Hey, you know what would make that better? Sticking some mould in it!" But hey, someone decided to eat some mouldy cheese, and then figured out how to make more of it, and actually blue cheese is not all that bad. Certainly a strong, acquired taste, and certainly accompanied by a variety of bad smells, but I can definitely say I enjoy it. Though to be fair I like almost everything. 

But many still don't appreciate watching, or smelling, people eating lumps of mouldy cheese, and thankfully The Laughing Cow have you covered with these cheese triangles that contain blue cheese. They're much like your average cheese triangles, and they certainly don't smell bad. But contained within is a nice percentage of blue cheese to add that unique flavour to whatever you feel like spreading it on. There is a fair amount more regular cream cheese in the way though, so the flavour wasn't as distinct as I'd hoped. Still, it's a nice, soft cheese that certainly packs a bit of a kick. It's certainly a good way to get your blue cheese fix without having to slice some up or alienate yourself from blue cheese haters. 

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Today's Review: Towels

Just look at that picture of a piece of white fabric. That's all it is, but you know what it stands for. We all know what towels are, and we use them every day. There's a reason why a towel is the most important thing an intergalactic hitchhiker can have, and while I may not be bounding across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta anytime soon, I can certainly appreciate the value of a good towel.

Without towels, everything would be wet. We wouldn't be able to dry our hands after washing them, or after washing dishes, or after a water balloon related incident. Sure, they'd dry eventually by themselves, but there'd be that lengthy period afterwards where everything we touch would become moist, and that's far from desirable. There may be alternatives to damp handedness, such as hand dryers and those paper dispensers, but they pale in comparison, unworthy copies designed for mass consumption. But we'll always come back home to a nice, soft towel. Our towel.

Aside from hand drying, can you imagine having a shower or bath without a towel? Standing there, waiting for the moisture to soak into your skin, for who knows how long? Towels are our friend, they're there to wrap us up and make us dry and warm. There are body towels, beach towels, kitchen towels, all sorts and in all sizes. Towels are just so versatile, and there to protect and dry us every step of the way. I certainly couldn't live without towels, and I know that because I panic when I can't find one. Yes, without towels, I think society would collapse into a slightly moist wreck.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Today's Review: #PoundlandSelfie

Wandering past Poundland today, I was scanning across the various posters illustrating all the stuff you can buy for, you guessed it, £1. But I couldn't help be drawn to the dashing man on this poster, and the imbedded picture of a strange person taking a picture of of himself next to said dashing man.

Now, I'm not a fan of football, but a quick Google informs me that this Messi character plays for Spain, and I guess he's pretty good or something, because Poundland think you want to take a selfie with his cardboard face. It's not even a properly proportioned face. It would be better if there was a proper life size cardboard cut out, but no, this is just a regular picture of a face, attached to a stand. There is some kind of competition involved, with the chance to win a football, but is this really what we're reduced to? Why is there a hashtag involved. Who would actually do this and post it on Twitter? 

Oh, well, those people. Honestly, I can't see the point in it, it just seems very slapped together at the last minute. Still, there only seem to be a few hashtags popping up per day, so maybe you're still in with a chance of winning one of those footballs. But at what price? Looking like an idiot, pointing your phone at yourself next to a close up cardboard face, in a pound shop. That's the price. I think I'll pass.

My rating: 0/5

Friday, 20 June 2014

Today's Review: Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles Froosions

There seems to be a new craze of bringing out sweets with multiple flavours. Starburst have created Flavour Morphs, while Fruittella have gone with Magics, and while they're interesting, they didn't really surpass the originals. But that didn't stop me picking up this bag of Froosions, which is basically a bunch of Fruit Pastilles that packs two flavours into each sweet.

Like the other dual flavour sweeties already out, there really isn't as much variety as there could be with these ones. We have green and yellow, orange and yellow, and purple and green. I was secretly hoping for a red and purple, but I guess those flavours are too similar, and you need some polarising colours. The thing that caught my eye about these sweets is that they don't claim to change the flavour as you chew, which Fruittella and Starburst both implied. Nope, these are straight up two flavours fused into one, and experienced at the same time, and I must say they're actually very tasty. The green and yellow is a mellow, fruity flavour, the orange and yellow has a great citrus kick, while the purple and green come together to make a lovely complementing apple and blackcurrant flavour. I was very impressed with these sweets, especially after not really being too impressed with other flavour "morphing" sweets. These are great, and you should try them. Though I don't see how they're too different from just sticking two Fruit Pastilles in your gob at once...

My rating: 5/5

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Today's Review: Keyrings

We, as humans, require keys throughout our daily lives. You don't see birds locking up their nests before they fly off to look for food, or lions in the savannah placing their antelope in a locked cupboard. No, only humans need keys, because we all distrust each other, while simultaneously wanting to steal each other's stuff.

So we have keys. Keys of all shapes and sizes. Keys for our houses, cars, bikes, post boxes, so many keys that it's often hard to find the right one. But our lives would be a whole lot harder were it not for the often overlooked, small piece of metal that we put our keys on, the keyring. Do you have any idea how difficult it would be to dig around in a pocket of loose keys in order to find the right one? It would be like trying to sort through a handful of change, except the change would be long and pointy. Thankfully, we don't have to imagine this nightmarish scenario, because keyrings have been around for ages. Even those old medieval people in the movies have keyrings, and they don't even have functioning toilets. That's how important keyrings are, people wanted to solve the problem of key organisation before finding a better toilet solution than shitting in a pot and throwing it out of the window.

I know, keyrings are fiddly sometimes, you might ruin your nails trying to pry it open in order to slide some keys on, but really it's a small price to pay for the ease of use you get from your keys afterwards. For what is a key without a keyring? Well, it's still a key, but it's a really annoying one. Keyrings are awesome.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Today's Review: Ben's Cookies

Ben's Cookies is certainly not a new experience to me. I first tried them many years ago, but since it's been a while I thought I'd pick up a box on my latest visit to London. There are a fair few chains spread around the capital, but I went with the Covent Garden branch, although the range of cookies is the same everywhere. 

Ben's Cookies aren't your average, thin cookies that you can pick up from Millie's or a supermarket. Each one is chunky and packed full of stuff, and the come in an awesome variety of flavours. I went for a selection of seven, and got a selection of chocolatey treats, oatmeal raisin, and even peanut butter. Every cookie is a fantastic doughy treat, with a nice crisp on the outside, but with a soft gooey centre. There are generous helping of huge chunks spread throughout, whether they be chocolate chips, cranberries or globs of peanut butter. I couldn't fault any of the cookies I've tried, and while they're certainly filling, it was hard to stop myself attempting to devour the lot in one go. If you're after a cookie fix next time you're in London, Bath, Oxford or Brighton, then pay a visit to Ben's Cookies. You'll be glad you did.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Today's Review: Spun Candy

Just down the road from Covent Garden market sits a quaint little candy store with a striking purple awning. This is Spun Candy, and they don't just sell a wide variety of rock candy, they also hand make it on site. This video gives you a tantalising look at the mixing and bubbling going on beneath the surface, but walking into the store is an experience in itself, as I was presented with a massive selection of brightly coloured candy, with yet more being rolled out behind the counter. 

The selection really is quite wonderful for an independent store. There are various kinds of lollipops, and various bags and jars of different flavoured candies. It was hard not to snap up one of everything, so I was quite conservative in choosing a bag of sour candy, and some butterscotch.

The sour mix contains a great selection of brightly coloured, boldly flavoured sweeties, reminiscent of Jolly Ranchers in intensity, but with a fantastic sour kick that tingles the tongue without going overboard. The butterscotch, almost on the other end of the spectrum, is a smooth, buttery experience, much like Werther's Original, but with a slightly imperfect texture that give it a distinct, handmade feel. These candies are all delicious, and I'm excited to go back and try out some more, especially the Fizzy Mix and Honeycomb I saw on display. But what I couldn't resist trying out this time was the pick 'n' mix in the corner, boasting a wide range of fruity pieces, cut from some classic seaside style rock.

Yes, they may be tiny, but each of these pieces packs a powerful flavour, and some fantastic designs to boot. I picked up the seasonal Father's Day candy, but also tried from the wide selection of fruity flavours, ranging from strawberry and grapefruit to lime and passion fruit, some with awesome cross sections that match the inside of the fruits perfectly, and some with more unique and interesting patterns. I couldn't fault any of these pieces, they're all uniquely flavoursome, and it didn't take me long to get through the twenty or so I picked up. 

So next time you find yourself in Covent Garden, you owe it to yourself to pay a visit to Spun Candy. All the candy I picked up is fantastic, and I'll definitely be going back for more. Even if you can't make it to London, you can still order online, so you've got no excuse not to try these awesome treats.

My rating: 5/5

Monday, 16 June 2014

Today's Review: Jelly Belly Jelly: Berry Blue & Cotton Candy

Jelly Belly make some damn good jelly beans, everybody knows that. They've also dabbled in soda and milkshakes, which are also pretty awesome. But with a name like Jelly Belly, why not make jelly too? Well, now they've done just that, and released a range of jellies based on some of their classic flavours. I picked up the Cotton Candy and Berry Blue varieties. Apple Green is also available, but I figured these would be more interesting.

Well, these certainly do taste like their jelly bean counterparts, but there's just something a bit off. The flavours are quite sickly, but they also taste watered down somehow. Perhaps it's the sheer volume of the jelly compared to the regular bean, or perhaps it's the composition of the jelly. But I certainly didn't enjoy these pots as much as I thought I would. They're certainly alright, but if you're after a bold, flavoursome Jelly Belly experience, there are a few other places to get it.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Today's Review: Haribo Tagada Purple Intense

I certainly enjoyed the French Haribo varieties I picked up near Disneyland a few months ago, so when I found this bag at Cyber Candy I couldn't resist picking it up. I wasn't entirely sure what Tagada was, but they were purple, and that's one of my favourite colours of sweets. Well, it turns out that Tagada is a type of candy actually invented by Haribo, who also invented Gummi Bears (which I certainly did not know). The original variety is the Fraise Tagada, which you may have seen in the UK as Strawberry Softies. 

Well, these are pretty much identical to the Strawberry Softies, except they're "purple" flavoured. I figured they were taking Homer Simpson's stance that "purple's a fruit", but a quick scan of the ingredients and my basic knowledge of French informs me that these sweets contain apple and cherry flavouring, and knowing that I can certainly pick up those flavours within. Mixed together they certainly do taste purple though. As for the "Intense" part? Well, yes, the flavour is pretty bold, but since these sweets are pretty much just mounds of sugar coated in more sugar, they are pretty sickly, so they really just taste like squishy purple sugar cubes. The Strawberry Softies are certainly not a favourite of mine, and these purple ones just don't add up flavour wise. The only thing I think I'll gain from these is intense tooth rot.

My rating: 2/5

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Today's Review: Kettle Vegetable Chips

Chips (or crisps, if you ascribe to the proper British term) are a classic snack food. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes as flavours, and can be found lining the shelves of any food outlet. Probably the most popular is the potato chip, but why potatoes? Sure, they're good for cutting into slices and frying, but as a vegetable they're mightily bland. What about some alternatives? Well, a few brand names are having a go at making different vegetable chips, and Kettle Chips is one of them.

This nice little bag contains a selection of sweet potato, parsnip and beet root chips, which means there's a nice variety of colours present when you open it up. I must say I was excited by the first two flavours, as I love those vegetables, but since I'm not a fan of beet root I was expecting to skip over a third of the bag.

But it turns out, all these chips are delicious. They don't rely on various flavourings and seasonings to taste nice, each one has a bold, sweet, natural taste, with a satisfying crunch from the cooking process, and a nice pinch of salt to really bring out the flavour. I devoured the bag in no time, and I'm certainly going to be tucking in again. These are delicious.

My rating: 5/5

Friday, 13 June 2014

Today's Review: Chocolate Covered Maple Smoked Bacon Soda

A couple of years ago I reviewed a chocolate soda, and found it to be completely awful. Fizzy, chocolate water? No thanks. But apparently I never learn my lesson, as today I picked up this monstrous creation, which promises chocolate, maple and bacon all in one fizzy drink. Does that sound good? No? Well, you'd be right.

Now, for some reason, this stuff doesn't taste as awful as the regular chocolate soda. I'm not sure why, because the other flavours aren't noticeable at all. This basically tastes like carbonated, watered down chocolate sauce. No hint of bacon. But I guess the maple takes the edge off the awful chocolate, as I'm actually able to nurse this a lot more than its predecessor. But it's still awful. Absolutely awful. Don't drink this stuff, you might think you'll like it, but you won't.

My rating: 1/5

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Today's Review: The Free Issue Of The Sun

I don't buy newspapers. Sure, I read news sometimes, probably not enough, but I certainly don't use individual publications as my sole source of news, as there's a long history of spin and malice that I can't bring myself to support. Sometimes I may find a copy of The Sun, and peruse it to chuckle and despair at how they'll exploit the most irrelevant facts and figures to inform us that foreigners and benefits claimants are destroying the country. But today I didn't have to seek one out, as a copy was dropped through my door, much like it was dropped through the letterbox of 22 million homes. this is a historic newspaper issue in order to commemorate the start of the World Cup, it's just a shame that there's no news in it at all.

The cover sets the scene for the rest of the paper. We have a photoshopped collage of all kinds of British personalities, with some flowers and Big Ben thrown in for good measure. Excuse the cross marks on the faces up there, that comes from me and the missus playing a game of "Who The Hell Is That?" There are all kinds of people here, from John Cleese and Dizzee Rascal, to David Attenborough and Tinky Winky. Of course, the Royal Family are bigger than everyone else, because England.

On the next page, we have various polls that The Sun conducted with English people about English things. One asks if we are proud to be English, with the "Yes" portion emblazoned with a patriotic flag, while "Don't know" and "No" coloured a putrid green and yellow, because those people make us sick. Also, some don't consider themselves to be English, and they're obviously a dangerous blood red. Other questions include "What are the greatest English inventions?" and "Who do you think is the greatest living English person, and why is it The Queen?"

I could analyse every page in detail, but every "story" is a twee fluff piece about how awesome England is, such as how Robbie Williams is moving back here because he just loves this country so much more than his glitzy LA home, and a full double page mockup of what The Sun front page would look like during historic English moments. Apparently the same pun laden awfulness as always, and I'm sure one of them is just the name of a Horrible Histories book.

I'm probably being a tad cynical here, but hey, it's what I do best. To be fair, there's no mention of benefit grabbing scumbags or foreigners stealing all our jobs, this just seems like a nice little tribute to our country, designed to drum up support for a competition we haven't won in 48 years. But there are little snippets of text that hint at something a bit more sinister when compared to the regular paper's politically charged messages. It's stated that being proud to be English has become seen as toxic, almost racist, but that this certainly isn't the case, and we should be proud of our own country just like anyone else. 

I certainly agree that we can be proud of our own country, but with the amount of "Britain for the British" being thrown around, and calls for us to close our borders and send people back home, it's easy to see why such flagrant patriotism is not the most inviting of things. Perhaps The Sun understands this, and wants to change the image of national pride for the better. At least, that's what I thought, until I saw they published a column by Rod Liddle, who says that the best thing about being English is that he's not French or Belgian, and anyone who wakes up and realises they're Belgian would probably want to start self-harming. I wish I was making that up, but it's exactly what he says.

Ha ha! Only joking. But I'm not really.
Oh well, looks like The Sun has a way to go. Or, more like, they'll just stagnate until the end of time. But hey, thanks for the free paper. It'll come in handy when I make a papier-mâché pig with the kids.

My rating: 1/5

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Today's Review: Jaffa Cakes Mini Rolls: Berry Burst & Tropicool

Mini Rolls have been around for a while, you could say they're a staple snack, and perfect for picnics, packed lunches and the like. But recently they want to be seen in a different light. All these packets of Mini Rolls seem to be screaming at me, asking to be frozen. I don't know who came up with this idea, but I must say, it's a good one.

The latest Mini Rolls demanding to take up space in your freezer are these Jaffa Cakes varieties, coming in tow quite summery flavours. We have Berry Burst and Tropicool, because there's always room for a pun. For the sake of review I tried one of each frozen, and one of each at room temperature. The warm ones were okay, a bit squishy in the warm weather, and all the flavours kind of blended in together. There was a hint of something fruity, but it wasn't all that interesting. The frozen rolls, however, are delicious. Each layer freezes into different textures, and the flavours get trapped within. So we have a nice, flaky chocolate coating, giving way to soft, yet substantial sponge, much like an arctic roll. Then finally, the filling comes into play, and the fruit flavours are much bolder than when they're left at room temperature. They're still not all that strong, the berry flavour especially, but the Tropicool certainly has a lovely citrus kick, with a strong hint of lime that's certainly delicious. These may not be the best Mini Rolls I've had, but they definitely have some nice flavours, and they especially taste a lot better from the freezer.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Today's Review: Singing Rhymes By Wendy Body

Sometimes my daughter chooses some nice books at school for me to read to her. Other times, not to much. This is actually the second time she's brought this book home from school, expecting me to read it. The first time I passed it up in favour of a Dr. Seuss classic, but this time she was insistent that I follow through. So it was time to delve into this... interesting collection of playground songs. I state in the title that this book is "by Wendy Body", but the cover actually says that it's "remembered and collected" by her. This basically means that Wendy was sitting down one day, and thought "Oh yeah, I remember some stuff I used to sing in school, I should write it down and sell it to people". 

She didn't even do that good of a job. You know how many songs are in this book? Five. Spread over 12 pages. That's not a book, it's a pamphlet. At least I didn't have to sit there and sing songs for too long, and better still, I couldn't quite remember how one of them went, so I got to skip over that one. You see, a book full of lyrics isn't particularly helpful if you don't know the melody, but hey, maybe I should have remembered these songs as well as Wendy did. The best part is that this book isn't just full of regurgitated playground frivolity, there are also some interesting illustrations drawn by Avril Turner. 

Yeah... Interesting. We have a nice cast of ethnically diverse children, assuming various positions in order to portray the actions of the songs. But this is another thing that doesn't really work on paper, there's no clue as to which action to perform at which point during the song, or even if there are other actions. For those who don't know their playground ditties, this book reads like bad poetry that you have to recite while contorting your body into uncomfortable positions. 

They see me rollin', they hatin'
Perhaps I'm overly cynical. I mean, I certainly couldn't draw children as well as that, especially the emptiness in their eyes. Oops, there I go again, but seriously, I could not get into this book at all, and not just because I finished it in a couple of minutes. It seems like a low effort production clapped together in an afternoon, and while the illustrations are nicely detailed and plentiful, the amount of writing that's gone into it is lazy at best. If this turns up in my daughter's book bag again, I'll be heading straight for Green Eggs And Ham.

My rating: 1/5

Monday, 9 June 2014

Today's Review: Snyder's Jalapeño Pretzel Pieces

Pretzels are a nice little snack, but there aren't too many varieties available over here, especially of the hard variety. Sure, we have Penn State, but they only come in a few flavours. Thankfully, I picked up these Pretzel Pieces from the import section of a local Tesco, and for only £1.50. They're also available in honey mustard flavour, but I was definitely more interested in jalapeño. 

So why pretzel pieces, instead of entire pretzels? I don't know, but these pieces are pretty awesome. They range from tiny specks to massive chunks, but each one is distinctly crunchy, with a great texture. I was worried that the salty pretzel taste may win out over any spiciness, but this bag packs a whole lot of flavour. Each mouthful was spicy, and the flavour lasted long after I'd devoured the bag. These pretzel pieces are delicious, and are much more chunky, flavoursome and satisfying than your regular spicy chips. You get a lot in the bag too, so I think it was probably worth the inflated import price for once. I'll definitely be picking up some more bags in the future.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Today's Review: Choc Brownie Tim Tam

I've been wanting to try Tim Tams for a while now, as I've only ever heard good things. Although there are vast amounts of things that can kill you in Australia, the way they talk about Tim Tams almost makes it seem worth living there. So while I couldn't quite find the original Tim Tams, I did find this chocolate brownie version, that is apparently created by Adriano Zumbo, who Wikipedia tells me is a famous pastry chef. So what could go wrong, with a famous biscuit designed by a pastry master?

The biscuit is pretty much like a fat Penguin, with its chocolate biscuit with chocolate in the middle, coated in chocolate. It certainly is nice and chocolatey, with some nice textures between the layers, and a lot of flavour spread throughout, but something just seemed a bit off. Perhaps it's the addition of the chocolate brownie flavour, but there was a strange aftertaste that didn't sit well with me, a sort of spiciness that lingered for a while. It was good while I was eating it though, and I certainly won't be quick to discount the whole brand. It's now my mission to seek out more varieties, especially the original, as I'm sure all the Tim Tam fanatics must be on to something. As for this flavour, it's okay, certainly worth a go if you can't find anything else.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Today's Review: Stella Artois Raspberry Cidre

After my review of Carling's cherry cider but a few weeks ago, I was surprised to discover a new interesting flavour from Stella Artois, in the form of this raspberry variety. I've been a fan of the other flavours of Cidre, so I was expecting good things from this one.

Turns out it's another hit. The raspberry is very sweet and tasty, without being saccharine. There's a nice tartness that masks the taste of alcohol, so it's extremely drinkable. There may only be three flavours of Cidre to choose from, but this is by far my favourite. It's bold and delicious, and and definitely one of the most refreshing ciders I've tasted.

My rating: 5/5

Friday, 6 June 2014

Today's Review: Dunkin' Donuts Strawberries & Cream Donut

It's summer time, I think... Well, with the intermittent bursts of sunshine and rain, I guess it's shaping up to be a true British summer, and what better way to celebrate than with a distinctly British summer themed donut from a distinctly American donut shop? This strawberries and cream donut certainly looks good, but I wasn't too sure what to expect when I took a bite.

The donut itself is pretty fantastic. The dough is soft and sweet, as with all the Dunkin' family, and while I was a bit disappointed at finding only one side seemed to contain cream, it turned out it was injected all around the outside, meaning every bite was accompanied by smooth, sweet creaminess. The strawberry elements exist in the frosting on top, and while the pink icing is certainly wonderful and flavoursome, the strawberry bits sprinkled on top are a little distracting. The crunchy texture doesn't really go with the rest of the soft, doughy goodness, and the flavour is certainly very bold, distracting from everything underneath that works so well together. This is certainly a nice donut, but I think it would work a lot better without the pieces on top. Still, it put me in a summer mood, and I'm looking forward to whatever Dunkin' Donuts might have up their sleeve for the coming months.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Today's Review: Kettle Chips: Jalapeño Chilli Salsa

I've reviewed a couple of limited edition Kettle Chips flavours before, and have very much enjoyed them. So I was pleased to find another flavour that I haven't tried today, in the form of these jalapeño chilli salsa crisps. Would it be a hat trick of awesome flavours? 

You may know that I love my spicy food, but obviously jalapeños aren't the hottest of chillies out there, so I wasn't expecting to singe my tastebuds with these. What I found inside were some Kettle Chips pretty generously coated in flavouring, giving them a lovely dark colour. There's certainly a lot of flavour packed into the bag, and while they're certainly not very spicy, the flavours all work extremely well. The jalapeño gives a lovely mellow spice, a warm tingly feeling that spread across my tongue, while the salsa is certainly noticeable in the form of a great saucy texture. Basically, they taste just like the flavour name implies, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed them despite their quite subdues spiciness. This flavour is another great effort by Kettle Chips, and I'm certainly looking forward to their next limited edition flavour.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Today's Review: Butterkist Pop 'N' Pour Chocolate Microwave Popcorn

I mentioned yesterday that Butterkist have a few new sweet flavours on offer, so I thought I'd review another one today. This one is a little different, as it's a microwave popcorn with a sachet of chocolate sauce. Sounded good to me though, chocolate and popcorn is a magic combination. The sauce comes in a little sachet that you can stick in warm water to make it nice and warm for your freshly popped corn. So once all the elements were ready, it was time to put them together. Put the popcorn in a bowl, drizzle over the sauce and give it a good stir.

This is the result. It may not look like a great coverage, but the small sachet of sauce actually goes quite a long way with the amount of popcorn in the bag, and it sticks quite nicely onto the corn too. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite taste as good as it sounds. The popcorn itself is plain, and while the chocolate sauce adds some lovely flavour, there's just not enough to stop the odd flavourless kernel impacting a mouthful. I think it would work a lot better if this stuff came with a bag of sweet popcorn. Also, while the chocolate sauce is nice, it's certainly goopy after sitting in warm water, so you should be prepared to get in a sticky mess when you reach in and grab a handful. This is a nice idea for a different kind of popcorn, and it's quite nice when it's all put together, but it's not quite flavoursome enough to get a high score from me. There's also a chocolate orange variety out that might add a bit more flavour, but I don't think it would be as nice as other sweet popcorns.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Today's Review: Butterkist Strawberries & Cream Popcorn

With the massive amount of savoury popcorn coming out lately, it's easy to forget about the sweet stuff. All you can really pick up is toffee, sweet, or some variations on those themes. But Butterkist are leading another popcorn revolution with a few new sweet varieties, one being this limited edition strawberries and cream flavour.

Yeah, strawberry popcorn. It's a simple idea, but a unique one, and the cream certainly adds a further summery twist. For the most part, it's quite nice. It's a very sweet popcorn, but the smooth creamy flavour helps offset the sugary taste. The strawberry is quite strong too, and while it blends in with the other flavours quite well at first, it soon starts to become a bit powerful, and definitely tastes artificial. But there's no mistaking that it's strawberry, and the nice creamy undertone does help take the edge off. This popcorn may not be perfect, but it's a nice new flavour that certainly put me in the mood for summer.

My rating: 4/5

Monday, 2 June 2014

Today's Review: Tesco Peanut Butter Style Cupcakes

It was not long ago that I entertained the thought of creating my own peanut butter cupcake frosting. After all, peanut butter makes everything better. My plan may not have come to fruition, but in the last week I have found two different peanut butter cupcakes, one in a nice little cupcake shop in Covent Garden, and another in Tesco of all places. The Tesco effort is perhaps the most weird and wonderful of the two, despite not actually having peanut butter in the ingredients. 

Yes, these cupcakes have a soya frosting, that is simply flavoured like peanut butter, but let me tell you that they have done a great job. The frosting tastes distinctly nutty and creamy, and it was definitely as if someone had swirled some peanut butter on top of the cake. As someone who loves peanut butter, that first bite was all kinds of awesome. But there was more to come.

Yeah, that's right, there's jam in the middle. This just turned from an interesting peanut butter cake to a full blown American inspired peanut butter and jelly cake. Most people recoil in horror at that combination, but seeing as I love PB&J, this cake pulls it all together surprisingly well, with the jam adding a nice sweet kick to the bold, peanut flavour. This is sweet, salty, creamy goodness, all wrapped up inside a nice soft sponge. I've tried a few of the new cupcakes that Tesco have to offer, but this is definitely the most interesting, and probably one of the tastiest. You may not want to try it, but I suggest you do.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Today's Review: Maoam Tropical Pinballs

I couldn't care less about the football, but at least there are plenty of Brazil themed treats being brought out for me to try. Here we have some tropical Pinballs, which are like your regular Maoam Pinballs, but only in two colours, which correspond to the Brazilian flag. The green ones are lime, and the yellow are pineapple, which certainly sounded interesting. But are they a patch on the original?

Well, the lime ones are pretty nice. They're zesty and flavoursome, and pretty sweet despite their tartness. They may not be as nice as the pink and red original Pinballs, but they're definitely tasty. As for the pineapple ones? Well, they actually taste just like Lilt. There's definitely a hint of pineapple in there, but there's also quite a sour element to it that I just didn't like. I easily gave the yellow Pinballs a miss and aimed straight for the green ones. But really, what else could I do? The problem with this pack is that there's so little variety compared to the regular one, and since I don't like 50% of the sweets it's not really my cup of tea. These Pinballs are a nice idea to celebrate the World Cup, but they're not a patch on the original.

My rating: 2/5