Monday, 22 January 2018

Today's Review: Awfully Posh Hot Chilli Pork Crackling


Here's a quick review of a nice looking bag of pork crackling I picked up the other day. It's "awfully posh", as evidenced by the monocle, but I didn't see how it was much different from your regular fried pork rind. To be fair though, it is better than a generic bag. I prefer the "pork crunch" to the crackling, as it's easier on the teeth. Thankfully this stuff leans more towards the crunch, each piece is easily chomped down to size, and it unleashes a decent, lingering heat that kicks up the flavour. It's not scorchingly hot, as the packet promises, but it's nice to see pork crackling with a bit of flavour. It's not too overwhelming, although there could be more spice to take the edge off that pork fat taste. Still, this is one of the better bags of pork crackling I've had. Definitely one I'd try again.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Today's Review: Buttermilk Pumpkin Seed Brittle


Here's another little treat I picked up from Homesense, a pumpkin seed brittle. Now, I haven't had too much brittle in the past, but this one seemed particularly interesting, boasting cinnamon and nutmeg as well as the aforementioned pumpkin seed, all wrapped up in a butter toffee brittle. That's a lot of different elements to chuck into a sweet slab, but it actually does a pretty good job of representing everything. The butter and toffee is prevalent upon first popping it into your mouth, a smooth, sweet sensation that then gets joined by the nicely spicy cinnamon and nutmeg. Crunching through this allows access to more layers of spice and sweet, but I can't say I noticed the pumpkin seed all that much. With all the other flavours going on, I didn't pick up anything reminiscent of pumpkin, and the texture isn't noticeable, seeing as I was crunching through the brittle itself. Still, pumpkin aside, this is a very nice, sweet tasting brittle, with a lovely warming kick of spice. Much better than I was expecting.

My rating: 4/5

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

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Today's Review: Fitting Carpet

I laid a carpet today, which is a new thing to me. We haven't had carpet down for a while, because small children are prone to destroy nice things. But the time has come where they've grown up enough to stop perpetually spilling things, so we took the plunge and got some of the good stuff. They make carpet fitting sound like a pretty big deal, since they add in the option of getting someone to fit it for you. But we figured we'd give it a go ourselves, what could go wrong?

Well, we didn't quite have the right equipment, as while we're resourceful, we're also ill prepared. Still, we managed to do a fairly good job. Laying a carpet isn't too bad. It's just a matter of unrolling the stuff, squaring it up to the corners, and cutting it to shape. I didn't have a carpet spreader or carpet whatever else to get it properly laid down, but since we have furniture lining every wall, tucking it under the skirting board was enough to give a pretty decent appearance. I'm sure if we did it all properly it would have been more of a hassle, but doing it the slightly sloppy way gave us the desired result without too much aggravation. So there's no need to spring for the carpet guys to do it for you, unless you've got a really weird shaped room. After all, that's why it's called DIY.

My rating: 4/5

Friday, 12 January 2018

Today's Review: Mattessons Slow Roasted Fridge Raiders


I picked up a multi pack of Fridge Raiders the other day, because they were on offer and it's been a while since I had some. After eating a few packs, it's become apparent to me why it's been a while. 100% chicken breast, they say, but in fact these are 91% chicken breast, with the other 9% made up of the flavourings, starch and rusk that make up the seasoning. I guess it's a seasoning that increases the longevity of the chicken pieces, because these are still good for two weeks. 

I'm not sure how processed the chicken itself is either, but it's a little on the watery, chewy side. I mean, as processed meat snacks go, these aren't awful, they do at least taste like chicken. While there's some dubious stuff in the seasoning, it adds something of a roast taste, but it's pretty overwhelming and not exactly the tastiest. So yeah, I'm not sure I'll spring for a pack of these again. Not the best quality chicken in here.

My rating: 2/5

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Today's Review: My Internet Connection

I've been trying to get to this point for a long time now. My internet is playing up, with long load times and intermittent connection problems. Frankly, it's just annoying to be met with those in this day and age, I may sound entitled, but I lived through dial up and its myriad of problems. Broadband was supposed to make everything better, but now I'm stuck waiting ages for pages to load like some kind of medieval peasant.

If only fibre was available at my place. Broadband is the new dial up, and it seems everything on the internet has advanced to the point that high speed isn't enough, I need super speed. So I'm stuck here for now, with my inadequate internet, unable to write about anything of substance because I can't be bothered to sit and wait for any pictures I might want to use to load into existence. The internet is a revolutionary, amazing invention, but mine sucks.

My rating: 1/5

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Today's Review: Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle


I wasn't looking forward to this as soon as I saw the trailer. Jumanji is a classic movie, and this seemed like a shameless cash in. Still, I had some hope that it would surprise me, everything deserves a chance, right? This is Jumanji, but not as you know it. It starts in 1996, where the titular board game is found washed ashore, and given to a teenage boy who says that nobody plays board games anymore, despite the fact that the board games industry has soared in recent years. Anyway, apparently the game takes note, as overnight it transforms itself into a video game cartridge instead. Because this movie is down with the kids. 

Fast forward to present day, and four unsuspecting kids find themselves sucked into the game when they try to play it, and transformed into characters that are not like them in real life. The awkward nerd is now The Rock! The burly guy is now Kevin Hart! The self absorbed teenager is Jack Black! Get used to those hilarious switcheroos, because that's the basis of most of the jokes in this movie, and the foundation for what little story line there is. I wanted to like this movie, I wanted to be proven wrong, and see that Hollywood might have some integrity left, but this is just a bad movie. The characterisation is terrible. You can pretty much guess everyone's progression from the moment you see them. The anxious nerd learns to be brave, the self-absorbed girl learns to be... not so self-absorbed. It's cookie cutter stuff, and I will say that the actors do a pretty good job with working with the crappy material they have. Kudos especially to Jack Black, who plays a teenage girl surprisingly well. 

The story is terrible, with plot points and set pieces only laid out to set up a joke or carry on the meaningless character development. Our heroes have to save the jungle, but all the villain does is show up every now and then and tell them to surrender, he's far from menacing and has no impact on the story whatsoever. Action scenes are drawn out and unimpressive, it's just a bit of a mess really. There are a lot of jokes packed in there, and a few did draw a chuckle out of me, but it wasn't nearly enough to make this even an average movie in my eyes. My suspicions were correct, this is a poor movie with the Jumanji name needlessly slapped onto it, they could have just made a movie about people being sucked into a video game under a different name, but clearly they want that nostalgia money. I'd say don't give them the satisfaction.

My rating: 2/5

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Today's Review: M&S Hazelnut & Cinnamon Latte Popcorn


I thought the whole fancy popcorn phase was coming to an end, but popping into M&S at the weekend I saw they had a nice range of delectable flavours. This one was a mere pound, and promised me cinnamon and coffee in one bag, so I had to snatch it up. I'm thinking this range is new, but I can't say I frequent M&S, and this one was reduced to clear, but I figured I'd give it a go anyway.

This is some pretty decadent popcorn, there's a lot going on here. Let's start with the cinnamon and coffee, which are the flavours given to the popcorn, which is also toffee coated. The coffee is quite noticeable, a slight bitter taste underneath the sweetness, with a little hint of cinnamon spice as well. The toffee does tend to overwhelm it, but the flavours are there. This stuff is also covered with white chocolate, which lends a creaminess to that coffee taste and helps to round out the flavour, and it's also rolled in hazelnut pieces, which tops it all off with a sweet, nutty finish. With all the stuff going on in the outer layers, the flavour of the popcorn itself isn't as strong as it should be, but overall this is a very nice bag of popcorn. I'll have to try out the others soon in case they get reduced to clear.

My rating: 4/5


Monday, 8 January 2018

Today's Review: Costa Coconut Flat White


The festive drinks are out, and the coconut is in. Yes, carrying on the recent coconut craze, Costa have introduced a line of drinks containing coconut milk, adding a twist to a few classics. There's a coconut vanilla latte, a coconut mocha, and this coconut flat white. I went for the last one so I could get that pure coconut experience, to dip my feet in the coconut milk so to speak.

I have to say, if you're a coconut fan, this is pretty good. The flat white is a nice smooth coffee drink as it is, and the sweetness provided by the coconut milk kicks it up a notch, injecting a nice, natural flavour. The coconut taste is a little on the watery side, as coconut milk naturally is I guess, so it's not a perfectly formed coconut experience. But it's a pretty great twist on a classic drink, and I can't wait to try out the rest of the range.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Today's Review: Tuc Sour Cream & Chive Sandwich


It seems all the Tuc varities are being made into sandwich form now, and that's not a bad thing at all. Look at this one, featuring a sour cream & chive filling between two regular Tuc Biscuits. Now, I lamented the fact that the sweet chilli ones didn't have the spicy Tuc either side, but I feel it would have been too much here. What we have in this packet is a good balance between flavours, the fantastic, salty, buttery taste of the Tuc and the creamy, herby filling. The stuff in the middle is great on its own, but eating a lot of it would be a bit too much. The biscuits help to alleviate it, also providing a great crunch to go alongside the smooth texture inside. All in all, it's a great combination, and these are some great biscuits. Well worth picking up.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Today's Review: Shoulders

We sure do have a lot of useful body parts, organs, digits, facial features, they all help us stay alive and perform a wide variety of tasks. But there are some parts of the body that I don't immediately think of as useful, and shoulders is one of them. Shoulders have a clear, direct purpose, being the anchor points for the joints that let you move your arms. That's how they evolved, and that's how they're mainly used.

But shoulders are even more useful than that, and I feel their full potential wasn't unlocked through evolution alone. There are functions that shoulders have only come about through modern advances. We can use our shoulders to hold the phone to our ear when we want to use our hands for something else. We can use our shoulders to give a non-committal shrug that only comes from having a wealth of options available and not really wanting to do any of them. We can use our shoulders to barge into doors in a futile attempt to open them at inopportune times.

So yeah, shoulders are great. An essential part of the body that seem to get more useful as we progress as a species. Maybe in the future we'll do everything with our shoulders. Probably not though...

My rating: 5/5

Friday, 5 January 2018

Today's Review: Popchips Barbeque Galactic Puffs


Yay, it's a Star Wars. Forget the Space Raiders, now you can get Popchips that are shaped like your favourite Star Wars things, like the Millennium Falcon, BB8, a Tie Fighter, and a helmet! Not only are these shapes fun to look at, they're also apparently "fun to eat", so I couldn't wait to pop these... popped chips in my mouth, and let that barbeque party begin.

I'm not sure how something is fun to eat, but I wouldn't say these were. They're alright, but the shaping seems to let them down quite a bit. Nice little Star Wars designs, but it results in less surface area for the flavouring to cling on to, which means a blander taste than your regular Popchips. The barbeque is sweet and smoky, quite nice, but there's not too much of it. These are good quality chips though, a nice texture that seems healthier than your average potato chip, if these are on offer again I may pick up the sour cream flavour. I'm just not particularly blown away.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Today's Review: Go Ahead! Milk Chocolate Pretzel Bites


Chocolate covered pretzels are a scarcity in these parts, unless you want to go for the slightly expensive Toad-Ally imports you can find around the place, which are pretty mediocre. You can also pay through the nose for the vastly superior Flipz, but while they're great, it's a lot of money. The Cadbury chocolate pretzels were pretty awesome, but short lived. But now it seems Go Ahead are bringing the chocolate pretzel back to the shelves, advertised as a healthy snack food no less. I picked up this five pack for £1 in Asda, and each one only has 94 calories!

Of course, with that calorie count, I was expecting about three pretzels per pack, but while there obviously isn't a lot in there, the amount is substantial enough. They're small pretzels, with a fairly liberal chocolate coating, and they taste pretty good. The chocolate, while not the best quality, is still smooth and creamy, and it gives way to a satisfying crunch underneath. The saltiness of the pretzel wasn't immediately apparent, but built up as I made my way through the bag. All in all, I'm very impressed. A little bag of chocolate pretzels you can have as a snack, and at a reasonable price too. Not as good as Flipz, but definitely easier on the wallet.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Today's Review: E. Wedel Supreme Raspberry Jaffa Cakes


Off brand jaffa cakes rarely stack up to the McVitie's classics, but this pack drew my attention yesterday as it had a nice big raspberry on the front. Yes, these are raspberry jaffa cakes, and forgiving the fact that the "jaffa" part is meant to refer to oranges, I had to give them a try.

Well, these aren't as good as McVitie's, that's for sure. They're different though, and it's nice to see a different flavour sandwiched between cake disc and chocolate. The sponge part is fairly firm, a little dry, but there's enough flavour in the jelly part to make it less bland. As for the chocolate, it's quite dark, and has a good snap to it, but I feel milk chocolate would have blended with the other flavours quite well. So while these add in a nice, different fruity flavour, the rest of the cake doesn't quite stack up. Worth a try, but nothing special.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Today's Review: Müller Rice 5 Grain Blueberry


Here's a promo shot of the Müller 5 Grains Blueberry pot, because mine fell on the floor as I was unpacking the shopping and cracked. I managed to salvage most of it into a bowl, and saw it as the perfect opportunity to stick it in the microwave and chow down. As the title may suggest, this is like a regular Müller Rice, but with five grains instead of one, and some blueberry thrown in. More grains is more health, or so they would have you believe... Well, what do I know, I'm not a nutritionist, I'm just here to tell you if it tastes good.

Well, this is lumpier than a regular Müller Rice, I'll put that down to one of the grains, though I couldn't tell you which one, In essence, this just tastes the same, but it's a bit chewier. I mean, it's good, but I can't say I can discern between all the lovely healthy grains chucked in there to bring up the price. The blueberry is a nice touch, a lovely thick puree that adds some good fruity flavour. So yeah, a pretty good pot of rice, one that looks very diet-worthy, although I don't see how it's much different from the standard one grain version.

My rating: 4/5

Monday, 1 January 2018

Today's Review: Bounty Spread


Happy new year! I would say "new year, new me" but apparently I'm starting this year doing what I've always done, eating a likely unhealthy amount of spread. I'm still working my way through the Tiptree chocolate set, but figured I'd squeeze this one in the middle. I was always put off buying Bounty spread due to my love of coconut not being quite fully formed. However, I found this in Poundworld, and the price tag was too good to pass up (it was £1). So here we have the Bounty spread, which seems to be devoid of chocolate, instead being a milk flavoured spread with coconut flakes. 

I guess they wanted the focus to be coconut here, and my word they have succeeded. This is a pretty damn fantastic spread. The coconut presents as soon as it hits the tongue, the flakes are mixed in wonderfully, giving a great hit of flavour, and incorporated with the creamy milk spread, it makes for a smooth, very sweet topping for whatever you want to put it on top of. This is basically like spreading coconuts on things, except actually possible. So if you were ever wondering how to get coconut on your toast, wonder no more. I mean, I put it on pancakes, which was great, but I assume it would be good on toast too. It's just great.

My rating: 5/5