Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Chocolate Cherry Sandwich at Tesco

The festive season is upon us! I've often been overheard mumbling about how the UK should get a proper holiday for in-between Halloween & Christmas. I mean, yes I know about Bonfire Night but it's kind of a mid-level holiday, isn't it? It's no stitch on the celebratory American Thanksgiving, am I right? It's a nice enough evening, but there are just a handful of products that get released specifically for Bonfire Night, and most of them get released alongside the smattering of Halloween goods. So - you need a separate, distinct all-day affair of a holiday. Maybe with some time off, even. Any suggestions? Smart alecks, I await your "Thanks(for getting rid of those puritans)giving" responses.

Anyway, this year like all others brings with it some awesome festive-themed food. Your classics like Christmas Lunch Pret sandwiches, mini yule logs, and one of my personal faves - the Festive Hot Pot at Eat. A real stand out this year was this: the Chocolate Cherry Sandwich from Tesco. It got covered as being 'bizarre' at the Evening Standard, but I don't find it too strange. 

Not too strange to eat, at the very least. As someone rightly pointed out in the article, Nutella is often eaten betwixt bread - so what's the big deal? I also know that cream cheese & strawberry sandwiches are popular addition to an afternoon tea, so yeah, chocolate & cherry doesn't seem such a stretch anymore.

I snatched it up as soon as I found one, and I'm happy to report that it is indeed delicious, if you understand going in that you're about to eat a sweet sandwich. The bread is advertised as being cinnamon, and it does have a subtle hint of sweet spice to it, like a very subtle cinnamon bun without frosting.

I'd liken the chocolate filling to something similar to American style chocolate pudding, sort of flabby - certainly not dense like a traditional 'chocolate spread' as sold here. More on the custard side of the spectrum texture-wise, with a fairly generic chocolate flavor - certainly not dark, but identifiably chocolate. The cherry does come through pretty nicely, and I think they went with actual bits of cherry fruit interspersed into the chocolate filling. It's not artificial tasting or all that strong.

The mascarpone cheese really kind of feels like an after thought, or a bit of a bulking agent, but then again it may cut through the richness that would otherwise be present and mellow it out.

This was a tasty little sandwich, don't believe the negativity opinions! I will admit I don't understand when exactly you should eat this - I had half as an evening snack, so I suppose something like that? It's certainly not a good choice for a lunch time meal deal. 

Sorry for the low quality iPhone pics, I just had to hurry as I was quite hungry!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Whopper in the UK

Happy Halloween Eve, everyone!
So the big news of last week was the surprise release of the Halloween Whopper here in the UK. I'm not crazy about Burger King usually, but I've got to support any fast food restaurant that is willing to release a Halloween themed burger, especially in the slightly unresponsive-to-spooks UK market.

There aren't many Burger Kings in London - so I had to make a special trip to Leicester Square. They also have the Coke Freestyle machine, which was...nice, but every single machine available was either broken, or was missing some element, such as Sprite or Coke base syrups, and no ice available at all, anywhere. What is it about fountain drink machines in London and them falling into disrepair? Meh, I wasn't there to review the Coke Freestyle machine, so it's not a biggie.

Couple differences between the UK Halloween Whopper & the USA Halloween Whopper include: the use of barbecue sauce instead of A1 Steak Sauce, and natural colors rather than artificial colors. I respect both decisions, as even though I like A1 it's not something well known in the UK in the slightest, and it's just a sort of tangy sauce. Using natural colors I think will also ensure there will be no instances of green poops in the UK, at least not resulting from this Whopper.

All that being said, the bun is still super black. Everyone I was eating with was shocked, I suppose we all expected it to be not so densely dark. I was also surprised by how matte it was, no sheen to it at all.

I forgot that Whoppers had a lot of 'fresh' vegetables on them, the most noteworthy to me being the large pieces of onion unlike the McDonald's dehydrated variety. That definitely adds a real onion-y bite to the burger, which is nice coupled up with the barbecue sauce. I always take out tomatoes so I can't comment on that, but the lettuce was fine. I mean, it's a Whopper. It's fine.

Basically, it tastes like a Whopper with a bit of barbecue sauce. The novelty factor is what really makes it special - and if you like Whoppers you'll like this. Mostly, I'd recommend buying it so that the UK gets more cool stuff in the future!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Puccho Salted Salmon

I'll cut to the chase, this was disgusting. Disgustoid. Highly illogical. Unpleasant.

Watch me eat it.

Friday, October 16, 2015

OyatsuBox October Unboxing

Hi everyone! Sorry I skipped September's OyatsuBox - I did receive it, but I was on vacation for a lot of September so I never really got around to doing an unboxing. Needless to say, I did open it up - lots of nice stuff in there but alas, no real review material.

So, moving right along to this month's unboxing. The October box is really good, even in the mid-range tier. So take a look and see what you think. The one thing I'll say is a bit more Halloween theming wouldn't have gone amiss, but I know that's a lot to ask. :) We did get cute Halloween Koala March cookies, so pretty good! I also happened to get a rather  s p o o k y  gachapon toy.

Thanks for watching!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hammond's Candy Corn Chocolate Bar

I've got a weakness for candy corn. For me, it's just one of the classic Halloween treats - and I've got a super weakness for Halloween. Whenever I see candy corn flavored anything, I've got to give it a try. In a world that has happily taken pumpkin spice on board as the fall flavor, candy corn often gets left behind. I mean, I get it, it's kind of just honeyed sugar bits. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's a bit boring. In the past years I've reviewed Candy Corn Oreos, and tried but did not review Candy Corn M&Ms & the Hershey's Candy Corn chocolate bar. Consensus? Very sweet for the Hershey's bars with a bit of a chew factor, lots of honey flavor in the M&Ms and generally pleasant for mixing in with other candies or popcorn. In all honesty, I think I like candy corn thematically more than I actually like it in practice.

Now I'm trying probably the classiest candy corn crossover, the Hammond's Candy Corn Chocolate Bar. Hammond's is a sweets maker that straddles the line between drugstore mainstays like Hershey's and fine chocolates like Vosges. They do some interesting things with chocolate (see bacon & potato chip bar) and some interesting things with hard candy (birthday cake lollipop!) - but this was the first time I'd actually seen them do something seasonal with their chocolate line. I picked this bar up at Target back in America.

So, to start, this is a milk chocolate bar filled with candy corn flavored fondant. A nice amount of embossing, and segmentation is solid.

 Long story short, it's a milk chocolate bar filled with fondant. To be fair, the fondant is a bit runnier than usual and sort of a caramel/fondant hybrid...but the taste? Purely fondant. Like most of the good candy corn products, it tastes like honey in it's sweetness instead of just pure cane sugar.

I mean, what is candy corn but fondant that's been hardened into a corn shape? The real appeal of this bar comes from the seasonality, which I do feel down in my heart. The bright orange filling, the sweetness, and the creamy & high quality milk chocolate all remind me of great times at Halloween. It's not the sort of bar I'd buy more than once, but I would certainly include one in a gift basket, and I may buy one each year if it comes out. The milk chocolate is high quality, and it did encourage me to seek out Hammond's bars again if I see one that catches my eye. The price point is really good for bars with this variety of flavors & quality.

It's just not a very unique or particularly tasty bar, unless you're really into Fry's Chocolate Creams from the UK. British expats who are missing Fry's, seek this one out. People who enjoy sweet chocolate & appreciate Halloween - you seek it out too, but maybe just the once.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Twirl & Dip Soft Serve in San Francisco

Ah, San Francisco. I had a lovely time there - thanks for asking, running commentary in my head! One of the places I was most excited to try was the Twirl & Dip truck, heralded as the best soft serve ice cream in America. I love soft serve ice cream, and while I've had some that was marginally better than others, I've never had any that was like, "This is far and away better than a McDonald's Vanilla Cone."

That is, until I tried Twirl & Dip! We had a nice little stroll through Golden Gate Park, as evidenced by these photos of my greatest foe, the outdoors:

. It's so...bright. In order to cajole me outside, I was informed that the Twirl & Dip truck was situated in Golden Gate Park, or rather, the very near outskirts of it. There was a massive line when we arrived on Labor Day weekend at about 4 pm, which is to be expected. It moved relatively quickly though, I mean - it is ice cream, so you really won't be waiting long.

I ordered a vanilla cone with dark chocolate TCHO dip, with an olive oil & sea salt sprinkle. Not only did it sound crazy delicious & right up my salty-sweet alley, it's also the most highly recommended item on the menu. Well, I didn't plump for the specially crafted sugar cone, so I didn't get the most highly recommended version. I did my own slightly cheaper variation using a cake cone. That being said, the sugar cones sure looked cool. They were sort of embossed with attractive retro patterning. As you can see the cake cone is plenty photogenic, with the big soft peak of ice cream coated in dark chocolate really taking center stage anyway.

So, onto the taste. Most soft serves are vanilla in name only, tasting mostly just sweet & milky. The better quality ones out there will taste the slightest bit vanilla, but never reaching the heights of say, a quality true vanilla ice cream.

I'm pleased to say that this vanilla soft serve tastes as strongly of vanilla as a high quality, natural vanilla bean ice cream. It's warm and sweet with rounded edges, just like the best vanillas. The chocolate dip is where this really shines, though. As a long time player in the salty-sweet game, I can tell you that this is a special mix. Dark chocolate which isn't too bitter, married to delicious flecks of mild sea salt - the olive oil just lends a bit of savory oomph & warmth to the proceedings. If you've ever tried a brownie made with olive oil, it's something a bit like that.

The price can quickly rack up on these cones, however. I believe mine was about $5.50, with the base soft serve & cone being $4.50 and an additional $1.50 for the dip. If you spring for the fancier cone, you're looking at a $7 soft serve. So, yeah - judge for yourself whether or not you think a real A+ soft serve experience is worth nearly $10, but I certainly felt that the $5 ball park was acceptable for such a perfect dipped cone. I'd convince someone else you're with to get that fancier homemade sugar cone, and just take a photo & a quick nibble before you dig into your delicious and cheaper option.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Candied Yam Cupcake, Hummingbird Bakery

I'm no stranger to Hummingbird Bakery's charms - particularly around this time of the season when they regularly bring out pumpkin flavored bits. I've reviewed the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie and also a 'head to head' battle of the butter & sugar titans in the form of a Jam Doughnut Cupcake & a Strawberry Milkshake Cupcake.

So, while this year they've neglected poor, pitiful pumpkin quite a bit (who knows, maybe they're saving it for November?) they have, in fact, released 2 very cool & as far as I know totally new cupcake flavors. First - Snickers. Which I'm sure is absolutely fine, but I also feel like I could write that review without ever tasting it. Chocolate frosting, perhaps with a 'nutty' component (think Nutella), filled with caramel, and chocolate cake. On top, as you may suspect, half a fun-size Snickers. If someone brought me one just on a lark, I would eat it before they could even turn around and walk away, sure - but when it comes to buying it myself for the blog...well, I went with the more exciting option.

Candied Yam Cupcake. Huh. That's something I can't really presume anything about. While many American families enjoy the gooey sweet potato/marshmallow/"candied yam" dish on their Thanksgiving table, mine did not partake. Not sure what I'm on about? Take a look at this recipe. Basically, it's cooked sweet potatoes topped with a brown sugar & cinnamon mix, with brulee'd marshmallows on top. So how do you make that a cupcake? Turns out the answer is with ease.

It's a natural, really. The cupcake base is cinnamon & nutmeg like a classic spice-based cake with more vegetal sweetness like you find in a good carrot cake. That's because it's a 'sweet potato' based cake. Look ma, it's healthy! Then the frosting really tops everything off, chuckle chuckle. It's like whipped marshmallow creme with a bit of toastiness on the top. It's also the perfect amount to just be an excellent compliment to the slightly spiced cake. Since it's marshmallow based, it's extremely sweet - if they had stacked it as high as say, the Red Velvet Cupcake pictured below - purchased only for comparison's sake, of course - it would've been over the top. 

The texture was excellent too, with a dense & moist cake (you can expect a quality level sponge from Hummingbird in my experience) and the marshmallow frosting was very light and whipped - as it should be with something that sweet.

Would I recommend it to the average consumer over the classic Red Velvet or even a Black Bottom? Perhaps not, but I would suggest it to anyone looking for something a bit different than the usual - or anyone who just loves marshmallow.