Sunday 30 November 2014

Today's Review: Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Hazelnut Brittle

It's been a while since I've had some ice cream. Many people would steer clear of it now we're getting into the colder months, but it's always a good time for ice cream as far as I'm concerned. Especially when that ice cream is half price Häagen-Dazs. Skimming through the flavours for something that tickled my fancy, I came across this chocolate hazelnut brittle flavour. I don't believe it's particularly new, but I'd certainly never tried it before, and there's something about the festive season and nuts, they just go well together. So I was sold.

You know, I was expecting there to be a lot more hazelnut in this ice cream than there actually is. Sure, it's in the nut brittle, but I was hoping there would be some swirled into the ice cream. Instead, this is just a straightforward chocolate ice cream, and although there are a fair few chunks of brittle, they're not that big, and not too flavoursome either. It's like eating chocolate ice cream with a bit of a crunch to it. Not that that's a bad thing, I was just hoping it would be a more nutty experience, and I was met with something distinctly chocolatey. This is a nice ice cream, but if you're after either a chocolate or nut hit, you're better off seeking out a different flavour, as this is very middle of the road.

My rating: 3/5

Saturday 29 November 2014

Today's Review: Terry's Chocolate Orange Doughnuts

On occasion I have enjoyed the Cadbury doughnuts that have graced the Tesco bakery for a good while now. Now there's a slightly more festive option available, in the form of these Terry's Chocolate Orange doughnuts. But how close to the original classic can these doughy treats get?

Well, they certainly are chocolatey, featuring a chocolate doughnut, topped with chocolate, and filled with orangey chocolate. Despite only the filling having the orange flavour, I certainly got a hit of it from my first bite, and it continued until the end. There's not too much of the gooey innards, but in a way that's good, no one wants to bite into a doughnut and get chocolate oozing out everywhere. There's certainly enough filling to make every bite orangey, and it's pretty well spread throughout the entire thing. The doughnut itself is the main concern here. It's quite, well, doughy, in that it's pretty dry. If there was no filling, it would certainly be far too chewy for my liking, but thankfully the middle provides a little moisture. Still, the dough certainly is chocolatey, and the chocolate on top just adds another delicious layer, with a smattering of flakes to add a bit more texture. 

If you're looking for something Chocolate Orange themed but a little different, these may be up your street. They may be a little dry, but they're definitely tasty. They certainly don't beat the regular, classic orange though.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 28 November 2014

Today's Review: Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!

Well, that title is something of an indication of how this is going to go. I watched the first Nativity several years ago, and while it wasn't fantastic, it was still a pretty alright Christmas movie. I skipped the second one, but I've heard that wasn't bad either, and with David Tennant leading the way I'm tempted to go back and give it a casual viewing. But hey, this one has Martin Clunes, so how bad could it be?

I would say I don't want to spoil the plot, but since there's such little semblance of coherent plot I don't think I can really jeopardise it. They say it's a mostly improvised movie, and it really shows, but not in a good way. We start with a girl named Lauren recounting how her father, Mr. Shepherd (Clunes) managed to woo a betrothed vocal coach (Catherine Tate) away from a big shot "flash mob superstar", and it's all presented in such a way that I was sure that I'd missed out on some major plot points laid out in Nativity 2. After a bit of research, however, I've found that all these characters weren't even in the second movie, so why they feel the need to introduce everyone in such a strange way, I don't know. 

Also, I lied before. Nativity 3 doesn't start with this flashback narration, it begins in a shopping centre where a flash mob pops up and everyone has tons of fun. How festive. Anyhow, we then see the focus shift to St. Bernadette's school, where a big childish man named Mr. Poppy is let go by the new headmistress, because he has no qualifications that deem him safe to teach children, and there's an Ofsted inspection coming up. How does Mr. Poppy react? Well, he concludes that to save the school from shutting down, he needs to sneak back in and recruit pupils to take part in a "flash mob competition" (even though the very definition of a flash mob is that they are unexpected). 

Mr. Shepherd is shoehorned in at this point, arriving at the school as a "super teacher" meant to bring everyone up to standard, but after being kicked by a donkey he suffers complete memory loss, and it's up to Mr. Poppy and a handful of ragamuffin dancing children to help him out. However, after consulting a doctor, they receive the expert medical opinion that they should just flood him with Christmas based stimuli instead of visiting a neurologist. So begins a sequence of events more baffling than those I just described, where a clearly inept adult and his amnesia-suffering companion kidnap a group of over ten children from school, and drag them all over the place to dance and attempt to piece back Mr. Shepherd's memory.

I could write all day about how much this movie makes no sense. But I've gone on for long enough, and even writing those last few paragraphs was painful. Let's just safely say that Nativity 3 is so nonsensical that even the biggest suspension of disbelief won't save you. It doesn't even seem like anyone wrote a script, they just threw everyone into a random place, gave them one take to blurt out whatever they could make up and called it a day. The performances are awful, the jokes are flat, even the songs, which are meant to be the main focus, are uninspired and poorly dubbed. Nativity 3 is the worst movie I've seen in a long while, and I recommend you stay away lest your Christmas spirit be crushed.

My rating: 0/5

Thursday 27 November 2014

Today's Review: Southern Electric's Bus Stop Advert

I saw this interesting piece of advertising on the way home today, and while most ads are designed to be snappy, communicating their messages clearly within seconds, this one simply left me baffled.

Southern Electric are proud that all their customer call centres are in the UK. Well, that's nice, but it certainly doesn't explain the half faded orangutang gracing the majority of this picture. In fact, nothing does. Why is that orangutang there? Is it even an orangutang? I admit I'm not completely up to speed on my species of ape, but there's not even as much of a mention here as to why that thing is taking up the advert with no explanation. Is it a thinly veiled racist dig at those who prefer to outsource call centres to other countries? Or is it a statement that their green policies are preventing rainforests or whatever from being destroyed? Because hey, that would be something to be proud of, I'd prefer they mention that, instead of talking about having a building in this country and then sticking an ape over the top of everything.

In fact, the fact that Southern Electric have call centres in the UK is not something I'd consider all that important. I know it's become a big thing with people moaning about accents and British jobs and whatnot, but I'd prefer to be with an electricity company who is proud of delivering good quality and consistent service. That way I'd never even have to ring a call centre. Though to be fair to Southern Electric, when I used to call them they had Jack Johnson's entire In Between Dreams album as the hold music, so maybe their call centres are something to be proud of. It doesn't stop that picture being any less baffling though. 

My rating: 1/5

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Today's Review: Tesco Finest Mature Devonshire Cheddar & Norfolk Ale Chutney Crisps

My word, that's a mouthful. It seems these days all the food has to say which part of Britain the ingredients come from, just so everyone knows just how British they are. "Cheddar & Ale Chutney" was all I needed to know, not the geographical origins. Is Norfolk ale chutney really the best ale chutney? I don't know, but I doubt I'm going to get the full effect when it's powdered and sprinkled onto potatoes. But hey, these crisps might be pretty good. I mean, I'm not a big fan of cheese crisps, or ale, but I was willing to give these the benefit of the doubt.

Well, these crisps certainly are cheesy. It's definitely something of a mature flavour, but it's quite smooth at the same time. My tastebuds weren't overloaded with cheesiness, because I was certainly picking up a distinct ale flavour as well. It helps to distract from the cheese, and the chutney element shines through as well, delivering some nice, fruity undertones. Unfortunately, this only lasts for a little while, before the cheese takes over the show, but for that little while these crisps are something a little different, but not quite as insane as some of the flavours I've tried over the years. I can't say I'm a big fan of these, as while I did notice the hints of ale, I don't really like the taste. But for some distinctly British crisps this Christmas time, these deliver something a little bit different, without straying too far from classic roots.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Today's Review: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

I can't say I eat mac 'n' cheese all that often, but I certainly couldn't pass up this box when I saw it reduced in Tesco. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is a national dish of Canada (known as Kraft Dinner over there), and is one of those foods that have been referenced in many shows and movies from across the Atlantic, but has so far eluded my grasp. The box I found is a little lighter in colour than the classic, but I assume that's just because of the emphasis on whole grain. Either way, it's original flavour so we can't be that far off.

Well, before I could taste the Kraft Dinner, I had to prepare it, something I'm not quite used to doing for a review. Thankfully it's pretty damn easy to make up. The macaroni lies in waiting, loose in the box, so all you need to do it boil it for seven to nine minutes, pour in the sachet of cheese sauce powder, add in a few tablespoons of milk and margarine and you're good to go. 

I was a little concerned after mixing that I'd put in the wrong quantities. After all, the pasta certainly wasn't swimming in sauce, because apparently that's something I've come to expect from a food I barely eat. But in the case of this Kraft Dinner,  it seems less is more. The sauce is creamy and smooth, and while it's definitely cheesy, it's not overwhelmingly so. The texture and flavour of the pasta has a chance to shine through, and although the macaroni is pretty small, there's certainly enough to make a delicious, filling meal. Although I can't call myself an expert on the tastiness of mac 'n' cheese, I believe there's a reason why the Kraft version has been popular since the 1930s. It's just really nice. If you can get a box, give it a go.

My rating: 5/5

Monday 24 November 2014

Today's Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Apparently I didn't review the second instalment of The Hunger Games, but Catching Fire was a damn fine adaptation of a pretty exciting book. After watching the first movie I blazed through the books, and the last certainly wowed me. Now the first part of the movies based on Mockingjay is at the cinema. Yes, it's another victim of the two-parter final instalment epidemic that's taking Hollywood by storm, but I had faith that this would still be pretty exciting. By the way, if you haven't seen the first two, don't read this, although I'm sure that goes without saying.

Katniss has survived her second Hunger Games, albeit after an explosive ending (literally). She now finds herself residing in District 13, a place thought to be destroyed by the Capitol. The president of District 13 (Alma Coin) informs Katniss that her actions have sparked the beginnings of revolution, with members of other districts starting to rise up. With Katniss taking on the role of the Mockingjay, Coin hopes to unite the districts and take down the Capitol once and for all. But it's not such an easy choice for Katniss. With President Snow seemingly watching her every move, and with loved ones that could still be targeted, will she be able to lead a revolution?

Mockingjay is quite a departure from the first two instalments of The Hunger Games series, most notably because it doesn't actually feature a Hunger Games. This was certainly a good thing in my eyes, as I remember letting out an exasperated sigh at the idea being recycled for Catching Fire (although it was pulled off extremely well in the end). From reading the book, I know that Mockinjay is a very worthy finale to the trilogy, but splitting it into two parts doesn't bode too well for it onscreen. With so many new elements and characters to introduce, the first half of the book is something of a slow burner, and this is reflected in the movie adaptation. Still, they've managed to squeeze some pretty good action scenes out of it, especially one that wasn't explored with much detail in the book, as the narrative is seen solely through Katniss' eyes. When explosions and gunfire aren't taking up screen time, we are treated with a lot of war room planning, and Katniss alternating between anger and sorrow, and while it does get a little boring after a while, there's enough here to break it all up a bit.

One of the main things that saves Mockingjay Part 1 from being boring is the performances. Lawrence is on top form, moving from appallingly acted propaganda star to impassioned freedom fighter with relative ease. She certainly cements herself in the position as the very best choice to portray the lead. The supporting characters are wonderfully cast as well, from the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman to newly cast Julianne Moore, and even a small but very able turn from Natalie Dormer. Considering the script isn't overly engaging or full of action, the dialogue between the characters was enough to keep me interested until the somewhat abrupt end.

Aside from the acting, the visuals can't be faulted either. The settings are extremely apt, from the dark and dingy District 13 to the sprawling Capitol and vast forests surrounding the districts, everything fits in well with the feel of the movie, and the action scenes are perfectly shot to give just the right amount of suspense. 

Mockingjay Part 1 is by no means perfect. It's a bit boring, but it's saved by some great performances and a little bit of liberty taken with the source material. I could say that Mockingjay would have benefitted from being shot as one movie, but I'm not sure that would be the case. Part 1 serves to get most of the set up out of the way, and while it's certainly not as exciting as the first two instalments, it definitely kept me entertained. Roll on next year, the final movie looks set to be a blast.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday 23 November 2014

Today's Review: Tesco Finest Salted Caramel Crisps

This crazy flavour freight train just isn't going to stop is it? Savoury flavoured sweets, sweet flavoured savouries. But hey, I'm not one to pass something up just because it sounds strange. Just last year I tried Morrisson's salted caramel pretzels, and this year Tesco have come out with the same flavour, but in crisp form. I've always had good experiences with Tesco Finest crisps, even their apple crumble offering, so I delved into these with an open mind.

Well, even before opening the packet, I assumed that salted caramel is actually a pretty nice fit for crisps, as salt is a very acceptable flavouring to have anyway, just add some caramel and you're good to go. Indeed, the saltiness is pretty much at home here, blending in very nicely with the crunchiness of the crisps. It isn't long until the caramel starts to shine through though, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's sweet, certainly, but it's not overwhelming or sickly. It's a smooth flavour that is always present, and the strangeness is dissipated by the salt. Sure, these aren't perfect, the sweet caramel really doesn't fit all that well with the texture of crunchy potato chips, and the potato taste certainly does break through from time to time, but the flavourings are definitely tasty and well balanced. If you're after something a little different this Christmas, this is certainly a snack that will get people talking, and most likely strongly divide opinions. If you're just after the salted caramel, however, I'd say stick with the sweets.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 22 November 2014

Today's Review: Kettle Chips: Salsa & Mesquite

I've been on the lookout for the other festive flavours of Kettle Chips, which are both revitalised older flavours. Thankfully, I found this one in Tesco for just one pound, but unfortunately the better sounding Stilton & Port has been sold out for a while. But hey, salsa is pretty good, and mesquite is... a flavour, one that I hadn't heard of before. But hey, bottoms up.

The salsa is certainly noticeable in these chips. It's a bold, saucy flavour with a hint of spice, and the mesquite adds a nice bit of sweetness. But it's all a bit subdued, certainly not as flavoursome as other varieties. There's nothing really wrong with these, but they're definitely not fantastic, nor particularly festive. These are certainly some nice chips that will give you a nice warm feeling, but if you're looking for spicy there are more effective ones out there.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 21 November 2014

Today's Review: Domino's Mac 'N' Cheese Bites

Friday night is pizza night, at least it was this Friday night. This time I went for a big old bundle of food, which showcased some interesting Domino's products I hadn't tried before. I know the doughnuts were new because a nice big banner told me, but I'm not sure if these Mac 'N' Cheese Bites are the same. Either way, they were new to me, and I certainly couldn't say no. These are, quite literally, bite size pieces of macaroni cheese, boasting mozzarella, cream cheese and cheddar, all wrapped up in breadcrumbs, and served with a salsa dip.

It took a while to reach a proper verdict on these, I'm not sure what I was expecting when I took a bite, probably something like a hot jet of cheese sauce spraying down my chin, with piping hot pasta scorching the roof of my mouth, but I don't see why anyone would want that. I guess, really, I just wasn't expecting the innards to be so... chewy? They're certainly cheesy, and there's a fair amount of pasta in there, but since the texture of the cheese and macaroni are so similar it's hard to differentiate. Overall, the whole experience is a little bland, certainly edible, but nowhere near the realm of other awesome sides like the jalapeño dough balls. While the salsa  dip may seem like an odd choice for mac and cheese, it actually helps out here, lending a nice saucy texture with not too much spice. Still, even with the dip, I wasn't overly impressed. If you're looking for a form of cheesy bites with your pizza, this is what Domino's have to offer, and they're not bad. Just don't expect to be blown away.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday 20 November 2014

Today's Review: Werther's Original Sugar Free Caramelised Apple

I picked up this little box the other week, and although the prospect of apple flavoured Werther's Original was quite exciting, I certainly didn't get my hopes up much, due to the fact that they're sugar free. How, after all, can you have a caramelised apple flavour with nothing to caramelise?

Well, I don't know how, but they actually pulled it off. The distinct, buttery taste of Werther's Original is still intact, and there's a lovely, sweet hint of apple that really brings some new life to a classic sweet. Sure, it's not perfect, these do begin to taste a little bit artificial the more they wear down in the mouth, but they're definitely tasty. I think the main thing is that the butter is definitely present, and since that's sugar free anyway it makes for pretty smooth eating. The apple is just an added bonus that is a nice touch, and while I probably would've had a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth if I downed the entire pack at once, I certainly enjoyed making my way through it over a few days.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Today's Review: Wall's Magnum Caramel Chocolates

Of all the Wall's chocolate released last year, the Magnum ones were my favourite. I was a little disheartened by their bitterness, but the amount of chocolate was pretty sizeable compared to the other two. Now Wall's have released a new Magnum chocolate, this time featuring caramel. It didn't take much to convince me to grab a pack of these.

Each pack contains three lovely, rounded chocolates, thick shells of that classic Magnum chocolate. Inside there's a lovely, gooey caramel filling, as well as a layer of vanilla truffle. While I certainly pointed out the bitterness of the outer chocolate last year, it really wasn't much of an issue with these ones. Perhaps it's the balance that the sweet, smooth caramel provides, but the whole thing was just a nice, sweet chocolatey experience. The caramel adds a nice change in texture, almost gushing out when you take a bite, while the vanilla truffle layer was almost like an unexpected surprise, adding another light, creamy flavour to the mix. These Magnum chocolates are certainly the best to come out of the Wall's chocolate range yet, and I hope it's an indicator for things to come. 

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Today's Review: Vimto Skiddadles Trilogy

I reviewed the original Skiddadles a couple of years ago, and lamented the fact that they only came in one flavour. Well, someone may have listened to me, or come to the same conclusion themselves, as now you can pick up Skiddadles in a "trilogy" of flavours (a very weird term to apply to sweets). These little chewy delights come in original (blackcurrant-like), cherry and strawberry. That's fine by me, as the red and purple flavours are always my favourites.

Well, I enjoyed the original Skiddadles, and I certainly liked these too. The packet is pretty full, and the sweets themselves are pretty small, so there's certainly a lot to get through. Each sweet is juicy, and packs a bold flavour. They're pretty much on par with the other drinks and sweets that Vimto have produced, which is awesome. The only problem with these Skiddadles is that since they're pretty small, the outer shell does take over from the juicy innards a little, giving them a slightly chalky texture when first chewing. But that soon gives way to juicy, chewy goodness, and if you're a fan of Vimto I suggest you seek these sweets out.

My rating: 4/5

Monday 17 November 2014

Today's Review: Transformers: Age Of Extinction

If there's one thing the world didn't need, I'd say it was another Michael Bay Transformers movie. But hey, here it is, making that trilogy a quadrilogy, but also initiating a "soft reboot" that will inevitably form another trilogy. Can this be a new start for a franchise of over-long, poorly written explosion-fests? 

Mark Wahlberg stars (oh man, not a great start) as Cade Yeager, a down on his luck inventor who stumbles upon a beaten up truck that he wishes to sell for parts. Upon close inspection, he find that it's actually Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, forced into hiding after some particularly villainous top level humans started to hunt down his buddies. But why are the Autobots being targeted? What form is the new evil behind this threat? Most importantly, will Cade be able to fix the relationship with his daughter while being blown up and thrown around by giant robots?

I won't say much more about the plot, mostly because the story takes a turn every half hour, but also because none of it is explained very well. There are villains, but they simply exist to look menacing and fire missiles, their motivations are rarely well explained. Sure, there's some semblance of a story, but it only serves to connect gigantic battle scenes. I say that the plot twists occur every half hour, and that would be fine for a regular length movie, but this one consists of five half hours, and with each passing one I lost even more interest in what was going on. 

As much as the story and motivation of the characters is rushed through, in true Michael Bay fashion there's always room for one liners, especially in life threatening situations. Even directly after being crushed, thrown and probably singed, the characters can always muster up the strength to make a sarcastic comment. I don't think I can blame the actors too much for this. I've been starting to like Mark Wahlberg a little more lately, but with this script in his hand he seems to have receded back into his The Happening style of acting. Even with some greats like Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, and John Goodman as a Transformer, all the performances fall flat under the strain of some pretty poor writing.

But hey, we didn't come here for talking, we came here for the action, right? Well, Age Of Extinction certainly delivers on that front. While the movie certainly has its fair share of stupid, shoehorned in, "comedic" moments, there's always a battle around the corner, filled with scraping metal, massive guns and exploding buildings. I can't really fault the action itself, the effects are as impressive as you're gonna get, and there's enough fire and shrapnel to keep any blockbuster fan happy. But in the end, it still doesn't quite distract from the fact that this movie is so long. The quiet, poorly written, human-filled quiet segments seem to get longer every time, and even the action scenes start to drag a bit. There's only so much flying robot body parts I can look at in one sitting. 

Transformers: Age Of Extinction looked like it could have been a new start to the franchise. But it's just turned out to be an extension of it. It's long, and full of explosions and terrible acting. If it's a blockbuster action movie you're after, this certainly looks nice enough, but don't expect to find much substance underneath.

My rating: 2/5

Sunday 16 November 2014

Today's Review: Signalex "Americano" iPhone Case

With so many identical iPhones in the world today, it's hard to identify yours as truly yours, to express your individuality and personality. Perhaps you'll go for a highly personal case, a printed photo, or at least something that expresses your interests, like a cute licensed character. Perhaps you like to be more functional, going for an impact resistant shell or some kind of wallet-cum-case. But, you know, those things can cost a fair amount of money, and why would you bother when you can just wander into Poundland and drop a quid on this stylish Americano case?

Yes, this iPhone shell is styled to look just like a coffee cup. I say just like one, but it's certainly like no corporate takeaway coffee I've ever seen. Perhaps more suited to an independent chain, but I fail to see why they'd choose solid dark brown as their signature colour. But hey, at least there's some personality, across the badly moulded cup grip is the name of your favourite coffee, Americano. Forget the tasty lattes and mochas, this case is for the ones who like their coffee cheap and bitter, as to reflect their very souls. In case you were wondering, I certainly do not like anything about the look of this product, and I can only assume that it handles like cheap rubber too.

But hey, let's forget about how awful the thing looks, and instead examine the very nature of the product. Why in the hell would an iPhone case be in the shape of a coffee cup? I can only assume that the person who dreamt this up thought it would be funny to fool people into thinking he was drinking a coffee, but then that person would also have to know nothing about the anatomy of the human face. You put phones up to your ear, not your mouth, unless you're one of those baffling people who speak into the bottom while it's on loudspeaker. Even then, that would make the cup look like it was upside down. I can see no way in which this case is fun or interesting. Even if Starbucks got involved and made their own branded cases, I would still be baffled. But this bland version is something I think is destined for whatever sad, sorry place that products rejected from Poundland go to.

My rating: 0/5

Saturday 15 November 2014

Today's Review: Cornetto Double Chocolate Cones

Last year I reviewed the selection of chocolates that Wall's brought out to draw those in who weren't particularly up for an ice cream. Well, the trend has continues this year, with some new flavours coming out. One is the caramel Magnum chocolates, and the other is these Cornetto cones, now sporting double chocolate. The vanilla ones last year were pretty alright, so I figured these were worth a shot. After all, more chocolate is better, right?

These are basically the same deal as all the Wall's chocolates. Miniaturised versions of the ice creams, but with none of the ice cream. This chocolate does sport the classic Cornetto cone (albeit a smaller one), but on top there's a thick layer of chocolate, covered in white chocolate sprinkles. This is a pretty nice start, and while the chocolate may not be of the best quality, it's certainly tasty. What lies under the surface, however, is not as great. The packaging says it's a "soft chocolate centre", and they're right. It's soft, almost mousse-like, were it not of an overly syrupy texture. Chocolate is certainly the word to describe it, it's a sickly, almost overpowering taste, that is certainly a step back from the nice vanilla centre that the regular Cornetto chocolate sports. The cone surrounding it helps to balance the flavours a bit, but this was just a bit too much for me. It's not a bad little chocolate, and is certainly well presented, with some interesting elements. But the overall experience is not particularly great. If I were going to pick up some Cornetto chocolate, I'd stick with the original.

My rating: 3/5

Friday 14 November 2014

Today's Review: Peanut Yorkie

The Yorkie bar is a classic, and the raisin and biscuit variety is among my favourite chocolate bars. So I was quite intrigued to find that a peanut flavour was available. Despite not liking peanuts for a large portion of my life, I have come to truly love them over the last few years. So the idea of peanuts embedded in Yorkie chocolate was definitely tempting.

This bar follows true Yorkie fashion, the chocolate is nice and chunky, and it's laden with peanuts, making for quite a flavoursome bar. The saltiness and texture of the nuts goes well with the sweet, creamy chocolate, but I did find that with so many peanuts throughout the whole experience was a little dry. Perhaps with some added caramel, or even peanut butter, this could have been a clear winner. Still, this is a nice new variety for a bar that's remained pretty unchanged for a while, so I suggest you grab one as soon as possible. It may not be as good as the other flavours, but it's still good.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday 13 November 2014

Today's Review: Hungry Horse's Double Donut Burger

The Double Donut Burger has been all over the news the last few days, being slammed as "ludicrous and irresponsible", and "literally a heart attack on a plate" by Mel Wakeman, senior lecturer of Applied Physiology at Birmingham City University. But hey, there was already a donut burger available weeks ago from Flaming Grill Pubs, why was that not brought up in the same fashion? Probably because that one had salad in, or more likely because that one didn't contain almost an entire day's worth of calories. But hey, you've got to admit this Double Donut Burger looks pretty damn good, even if the thought of donut burger buns disgusts you. I think the one I got today actually looks better than the photo offered up to the news sites.

This monstrous burger contains two beef patties, four rashers of bacon, cheese and BBQ sauce, wrapped up in two individual glazed ring donuts. The patties are no joke, they're both a good few centimetres thick, and the bacon spills out of both sides, as seen in the picture. The cheese and BBQ sauce are laid on pretty thickly as well, so this truly was an awesome meal. While I found the Flaming Grill donut burger a little too sweet, with not much in between the buns to detract from the taste, this one is an absolute meaty delight. The donuts on either side are nice and chunky, and didn't disintegrate at all despite the juice, cheese and sauce dripping from the innards. The glazing adds a really nice, sweet kick, but one that blends in very well with the meat, making it seem more like I was eating a burger with caramelised bacon than meat between donuts.

While the Flaming Grill donut burger was merely a novelty that was fun to try, Hungry Horse have stepped up to the challenge, delivering a massive, meaty, sweet delight that is actually well worth ordering, if you don't mind so much about the nutritional content. But hey, it's not that bad. It's certainly not "literally a heart attack on a plate", because I walked away with merely a full stomach. Are Hungry Horse irresponsible for serving it up? Hell no, they're awesome. It's not like people are going to go out and eat one every day, and it's definitely not like one is going to kill you. So if you're interested, go ahead, and if you're not, I seriously suggest you take the plunge. This burger is awesome, even if it takes three hours of solid running to burn off the calories.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Today's Review: Tesco Custard Cream Spread

The spreads aisle at Tesco has become populated with some interesting things lately, like this custard cream spread. I was surprised to see this was a hot topic on Facebook a little while ago, not only because I'd seen it on the shelves for a while, but also because it had launched alongside a bourbon spread, and that didn't seem to get much attention. Still, I decided to give the former a go, and since I didn't have any "buttery rich waffles" to enjoy it with, I settled for dipping my finger in. After all, it needs to stand out by its own merits, right?

The first thing I noticed when perusing the back of the jar was that this spread contains biscuits. So instead of this being pure custard cream filling, it's actually filling that contains the biscuits that it is originally contained within. Trippy. While this does make the resulting spread less sickly than I imagined it would be, I believe it does hurt it somewhat. The texture is just a bit off, quite thick and slightly gritty. Despite the actual filling of a custard cream being quite thick, I find that it's a lot smoother to the taste than this spread is. Still, it does have a nice, bold vanilla flavour, and overall it does taste like a spreadable custard cream, and I guess that's what's being sold, after all, this is "custard cream spread", not "custard cream filling".

All in all, I think this is mainly a novelty thing. Was there really a gap in the market for spreadable biscuits? Probably not, and outside of spreading these on some waffles, flapjacks, or other baked goods, I can't see me eating a whole lot of this. This spread is an interesting enough idea, but the result is not all that great.

My rating: 2/5

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Today's Review: Cocon Grape Gummy

I felt it was time to wander into my local Asian supermarket again in search of snacks, but nothing particularly interesting stood out (apart from the pickled mango with chilli, but that's for a time when I have a stronger stomach). Still, I did come away with this bag of "Grape Gummy", apparently with "100% grape juice". I quickly determined that this was not true, because the ingredients actually state these are 5% grape juice, and also because the sweets themselves were not in liquid form.

Instead, this bag contained a fair few individually wrapped gummy sweets. Individually wrapped? Why? Seemed wasteful to me, although I was mainly annoyed at how difficult they were to open. Often I was left with a small gap in the packaging, forcing me to grab the gum with my teeth and pull it through. I guess that's an upside of these sweets being squidgy, but apart from that there's nothing all that special about them. The grape flavour is your regular bold, American style of grape, a bit too sweet for my liking, but not bad. The gums themselves, despite being quite soft, are chewy and quite filling. I can't say I enjoyed these as much as I would a Grape Fanta or a Jolly Rancher, but these are a decent enough bag of gummy sweets, even if the individual wrappers leave less room for more. If you're into the grape flavoured stuff, dig in. If not, you're not missing anything special with these.

My rating: 3/5

Monday 10 November 2014

Today's Review: McDonald's McPizza Pepperoni Burger

I regretfully missed out on last week's My Burger entry, so if anyone has one left over, could they please flatten it down, slide it into a jiffy bag and mail it to me? Anyway, this week was the one I was looking forward to most, with the most inventive looking burger on the menu, the McPizza Pepperoni. The idea is simple, it's like a pizza crossed with a burger, and the ingredients certainly seem to add up to that vision. Beef patty, lettuce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, tomato and paprika sauce, all wrapped up in a cheese topped bun. 

How does it taste? Well, pretty much like a pizza. A pizza with a burger slapped in the middle. The mozzarella cheese adds some great flavour, while the cheese on top of the bun helps it blend in as well, lending the taste and texture of a pizza base. The pepperoni is a nice touch too, and probably an essential one for a true pizza experience, adding another great meaty layer on top of the regular patty. Where this burger really shines, though, is the sauce. The tomato is fantastically bold, and the paprika lends a lovely spice that doesn't take over. It's  a sauce that pulls all the other ingredients together, and all in all I got the impression that I was tucking into a pretty tasty pizza. A pizza with a burger slapped in the middle, of course. But hey, a pizza with a burger slapped in the middle is what McDonald's promised, and that's what they delivered. This is definitely another winner from My Burger, and while it may not reach the heights of the Sweet Chilli Fiesta, it's definitely a close call.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday 9 November 2014

Today's Review: Merba Cranberry Cookies

I've tried a few varieties of Merba cookies, and have always been pleased with the results. So imagine my joy when I came across yet another flavour in a Co-Op store (and later in Morrissons at a cheaper price...) These are probably the least adventurous of the ones I've tried, opting for a good old fashioned cranberry and white chocolate filling. But hey, you probably can't go wrong with fruity, chocolatey cookies, right?

The picture on the packaging makes it look like these cookies are absolutely packed with chunks, and you know what? They are. There's about as much filling as there is cookie, meaning every single mouthful is packed with flavour, a smooth, chocolatey, fruity delight that;s actually backed up by crumbly cookie instead of overwhelmed by it. These cranberry cookies have absolutely cemented my belief that Merba are some kind of cookie overlords, existing only to provide us with magnificent cookie experiences. If you're skipping over these ones, thinking they're just like all the other sloppily filled cranberry cookies, think again, these are delicious.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday 8 November 2014

Today's Review: Tesco Mince Pie Cookies

The Tesco bakery has been host to a whole bunch of interesting products this year, and the festive season is no exception. There are gingerbread and yule log muffins, turkey and stuffing Weirdoughs, and a duo of festive filled cookies, the most interesting of which are these mince pie cookies. Yes, if you fancy a mince pie, but aren't too keen on the pie bit, you can now have them in biscuit form.

Quite simple, really. These are soft, chewy cookies with a mince pie filling. As bakery mashups go, it's not too outrageous, but it's a neat idea that's pulled off quite well. There is a hint of nutmeg in the cookie that adds a little bit of spice that I wasn't expecting, and I wonder if it would have been better without it. But the cookie itself is definitely nice and soft, if a little heavy. I can't fault the filling though, authentic mincemeat that's fruity and satisfying, and you can get a piece with every mouthful if you methodically eat around the exterior of the cookie. This is another great bakery product from Tesco, a well thought out biscuit treat that is quite tasty, even if the recipe for the cookie itself feels a bit off to me. This is one to look out for in the run up to Christmas.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 7 November 2014

Today's Review: Kettle Chips: Cheshire Cheese, Red Wine & Cranberry

I'm really impressed with the amount of seasonal flavours that Kettle Chips manage to turn out, and I've counted three so far lining the shelves this Christmas. The stilton and port variety is very tempting, but I managed to find this cheshire cheese, red wine and cranberry for just over £1 at Morrissons, so I figured that would tide me over until Tesco reduce more of their Christmas stock. 

I was definitely looking forward to nice dark, fruity hints spread throughout my chips, but all I managed to taste was the cheese. There's a reason why "cheshire cheese" is in the big, bold writing, because that's really all I could pick up. I tried as hard as I could to identify something a bit more full and fruity, but to no avail. It can't just be me, as I passed the bag round a table of family members, and they all testified as to how predominantly cheesy these are. I mean, it's a nice cheese flavour, very bold, but not overpowering, but there's just nothing else to draw attention away from it. I'll definitely be looking to the other seasonal flavours to put me in a wintery mood, these really didn't do much for me.

My rating: 2/5

Thursday 6 November 2014

Today's Review: Tesco Turkey & Stuffing Weirdoughs

Tesco certainly aren't giving up on their Weirdoughs range, they've now brought out a festive flavour to go alongside the recent addition of smoky bacon. So here we have turkey and stuffing flavoured doughnuts. I can't say I've seen too many turkey and stuffing flavoured crisps, so perhaps these should just be emphasised as savoury doughnuts rather than crisp-based ones, but that's neither here or there, I was just looking forward to trying these.

The first thing I noticed when biting into these is how much the consistency really helps contribute to the flavour. It's a lot like eating the real thing, but in dough form. It's soft, slightly chewy, and it certainly has a very bold stuffing flavour, with a lovely meaty hint behind it. I think this is where the "cross a doughnut with a crisp" doesn't quite apply here, as there isn't any hint of crispiness, but that's a good thing. I didn't hesitate in wolfing these down, and every bite was just as flavoursome and soft as the last. For someone who doesn't really like meaty crisps, I certainly enjoyed these meaty doughnuts, and they'll definitely be an interesting addition to any spread this Christmas.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Today's Review: Joseph Dobson Bonfire Toffee

Honing in on the post-Halloween reductions, I managed to snag a bag of this "bonfire toffee" for a mere 50p at Morrissons. I wasn't exactly sure what bonfire toffee was, but it certainly has the appearance of charcoal. Since it was bonfire night, it seemed the perfect treat to pick up.

Opening the bag, I was presented with a whole load of dark, hard toffees, pretty much like boiled sweets. Each one has a fantastically bold toffee flavour, but with none of that tooth-threatening chewiness you'd get with regular toffee. Sure, the flavour is a bit off without that classic chewy toffee consistency, more bitty instead of smooth, but there's enough throughout these hard sweets to make them pretty damn nice. These are certainly some nice toffees to suck on in the cold winter months, and are especially good if you want some toffee but are scared for the safety of your teeth.

My rating: 4/5 

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Today's Review: Cold Weather

Well, it's been a good run of clement weather, but this morning it was truly nippy. It is November after all, so from here on in it looks like it's going to be cold. But why does it have to be cold? I know the answer is due to the Earth's rotation and orbit relative to the sun, but that's no excuse. Apparently humanity is on the way to increasing Earth's temperature to new heights, so why haven't we done away with the cold weather yet?

Coldness is just an annoyance. I'm not wishing we could all exist in sweltering heat, a consistent warmth would be nice. The cold just makes everything that little bit worse. Warm showers, cosy clothing, hot beverages, these are things we all crave (cold beverages are nice, I guess, but that's the exception to the rule). The only thing cold weather does is make me not want to go outside, and it turns out I need to go outside to be a functioning human being. So I have to tolerate the cold, let it chill me to the bone, or force me to pack extra layers. Sure, people may sometimes complain if it's too hot, but that's nothing compared to people complaining about how cold it is. Everyone knows being cold sucks, so let's all work together to raise Earth's temperature by a few degrees, that's not gonna hurt anyone, right?

My rating: 1/5

Monday 3 November 2014

Today's Review: Butterkist Smokey Bacon Popcorn

I reviewed a packet of bacon popcorn a few years ago now, but that was of dubious origin, and didn't fare well with my tastebuds. I've noticed the Butterkist version for quite a while, but was always put off buying it because of my past experience. But, spotting a box in Poundland finally persuaded me to take the plunge, you can't go wrong with 33.33p per bag. So in the microwave it went.

Smokey bacon is the correct name for this flavour, especially while cooking, as it fills the kitchen with an ungodly, smokey barbecue smell. Once the microwave had done its job, I was met with a bag of pretty average looking popcorn. It popped quite well, no burnt bits, and few kernels, so that was nice. But the taste? Well, it's better than I was expecting. Not great, but certainly not bad. It's a predominantly salty flavour, like the other bacon popcorn I tried, but not overly so. This is more like a salt popcorn with a hint of bacon flavouring, although it struggles to come to the forefront a lot of the time. The end result is some pretty bland popcorn. It could have been better with a bit more of a balance between flavours, but as it is it's not awful. I wouldn't pay more than a pound though.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday 2 November 2014

Today's Review: Tesco Finest Jalapeño & Cheese Tortilla Chips

After reviewing the beef burrito tortilla chips last week, I went back to Tesco intent on grabbing another flavour. I went for something a little more conventional this time, even in shape. These are jalapeño and cheese chips, nothing special, right? Well, they are Finest, so they must be made from some quality ingredients.

Well, yes, these are certainly some well made chips. Almost all of them were still intact, and that's because they're nice and thick, with a very satisfying crunch. The cheese flavour is pretty damn nice, I guess I'd compare it to cheese Doritos, except, I don't know, less powdery I guess. It's a bold, cheesy taste, that is supported by an underlying hint of spicy jalapeño. This is where these chips fell kind of flat for me, the spiciness is not very prominent. Sure, things warm up after a few mouthfuls, but I was expecting a little bit more, and was mostly met with the cheesiness. Not that I mind too much, it's a nice cheese experience, but I get the feeling these could have been much nicer with a bit more jalapeño. 

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 1 November 2014

Today's Review: Cornetto Soft Vanilla Choc Chip

I have returned from my journey to Legoland, but at a pretty late hour, so here's a quick review of the one treat I managed to pick up that I don't think I've had before. Yes, it's a soft Cornetto, for when you want soft serve ice cream, but want to fall back on a brand name you know and love. I went for the chocolate chip version, because it has chocolate in it, and I certainly wasn't disappointed.

Let's be crazy and start from the bottom up. The cone is a multi-layered affair that is pretty much the same as your regular Cornetto cone, except there's no little piece of chocolate at the bottom. But, to be fair, I wasn't expecting it, they need to stack these cones up high to keep up with demand. Inside the cone itself is, of course, the soft ice cream. It's smooth, creamy, and very tasty. It's that signature Wall's ice cream, with a delicious vanilla flavour. The chocolate swirls throughout are just right too, giving a great balance between different flavours. The chocolate isn't too sickly or overwhelming, and the chocolate chips sprinkled throughout are small and manageable, but very flavoursome. This is one smooth, chocolatey, delicious ice cream, and I will most likely be picking up another one once I find somewhere else that sells them. Even more excuse to go to a theme park.

My rating: 5/5