Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pronto Cornmeal Cinnamon Porridge

My husband brought this home with him recently, just on a lark. I don't know what possessed him to pick this up, especially because he said it was specifically for me and I've never indicated any love for porridge, or even cinnamon for that matter. I'm not very creative when it comes to breakfasts, especially every day. I have cold cereal with milk, and that's usually it. Mostly because I wake up quite ravenous and just want to eat as quickly as possible. No time for all that frying and toasting, filling things up to lines, waiting three minutes for something to cool down...and that's why I only got around to trying this porridge as an afternoon snack.
I don't know much about Jamaican convenience food, I have no clue what sort of candy or junk is produced there! I'm curious to know more, even if my experience with this porridge was...not so great. This powdery substance was going to take 3 minutes to 'cook' after pouring boiling water up to a fill line. Certainly convenient, and quite befitting of the brand name Pronto. Not much else they can make under that name, huh? Instant noodles, self-heating coffee cans, minute rice...Anyway, I poured in the boiling water and waited.
Aw jeez, it looks like one of those lotus pods so popularly photoshopped on to otherwise pleasant things. Blergh, not looking forward to this one bit. It smells okay at least-- like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, or an otherwise sweet, powdered cinnamon product.
It tastes pretty horrible. As you can see it is lumpy. I don't know if that has to do with the way I prepared it (added hot water, stirred, waited) or if that is just the nature of cornmeal porridge. Inside the lumps were drier clods of sweet cinnamon flavor and powder. The rest of it was a slurry of cinnamon sugar paste, that at least technically provides sustenance. I definitely felt like I was not only at a hospital, but I was at a hospital that had ran out of all food except for powdered baby formula. Fact is, the taste itself isn't really the issue, it tasted a lot like any cinnamon was the texture. It had one of the more gruesome textures I've ever forced down... the powdery lumps covered in applesauce-smooth goo. I don't think I'd ever eat this, or any other cornmeal porridge again. It sort of reminded me of Cream o' Wheat, except with added lumps where Cream o' Wheat is unrelentingly smooth slop. I don't like either of them, give me a cereal crunch any day of the week.

Maybe porridge just isn't for me. This one is too lumpy, this one is too smooth, and this one is being eaten by bears. You know how it goes!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pumpkin Cupcake, Hummingbird Bakery

Before this (spoiler: glowing) review gets your hopes up, I'm sorry to report that this cupcake isn't available at Hummingbird Bakery anymore. However, there are a bunch of new cupcakes that look awesome, and the pumpkin whoopie pie has the same components, just stacked differently.
My husband picked these up, so I'm not sure at what point one of the cupcakes nearly upturned, while the other one inexplicably stayed perfectly still. I'm assuming he used some sort of voodoo, or perhaps another form of black magic. Funny enough, when I lifted the bent one out, the frosting sort of slid back onto the cake. More compelling evidence that our marriage is a case of reverse Bewitched. Well, as long as the cupcakes keep coming I don't mind.

Oh, these cupcakes are right tasty. I'll start with the cream cheese frosting, which comprises about 45 percent of the cake. This is a perfect example of cream cheese frosting if you ask me, very thick, tangy, and sweet. This stands in comparison with the cream cheese frosting at Bea's...while lovely, it wasn't traditional. Bea's seems to maybe mix their cream cheese frosting with whipped cream, taking away from the sweetness and tang. This is straight up cream cheese, powdered sugar, and uh, that's it. Great balance between the tastes, though! The texture is also perfect, not crunchy or runny. Good news is, the pumpkin whoopie pie has the same frosting. Nice.

When it comes to pumpkin cake, its the same story as any pumpkin flavored thing--what you're really tasting is pumpkin pie spice. Cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, a bit of ginger...warming spices that make me think of Thanksgiving. The pumpkin does however contribute to the moistness of the cake, it reminds me of carrot cake, or banana bread in terms of moisture content. The nicest part of this cake is the springiness, which reminds me a lot of a chiffon cake. So bouncy in your mouth! It feels like if you pressed your finger into the cake it would spring right back. That's a hard texture to attain, usually you end up with something very dry, or something dense and moist. This is light and moist, which in my opinion is an ideal texture for cake. I'm sure this has to do with the pumpkin, because the texture actually reminds me of the bounciness of a pumpkin pie! This was lovely, and I'm sorry to say that it isn't available right now. However, I really think that the whoopie pie would be similar!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nestle Princessa, Kokosowa

I picked up this bar from Tesco in the little Polish section--it was on sale and it looked like it might be coconut, so I was all in.
It was a super shiny wrapper, quite eye catching. I guess some promotion is/was being ran with L'oreal in Poland...couple this with the name, and I think this is a bar squarely aimed at the ladyfolk. Even more evidence of this comes from the candy contents- wafers, wafers, and more wafers. According to gendered chocolate, the ladies love wafers, crispy rolled things, and nougat that is whipped. Harumph, no thanks! The coconut definitely keeps me interested, though...
As you can see it is a bit more of a yellow color than you would presume a white chocolate to be. It smells very strongly of buttery, sweet coconut. Fact is, it doesn't taste much like white chocolate...but for all I know, it isn't even meant to be white chocolate! The taste is just heavily artificial butter flavoring and a decent coconut. The wafers are quite dry and powdery, they don't have the nice crispity-crunch that a KitKat has. The coconut cream is actually quite nice, it has a bit of a yogurt/tangy edge to it. Kind of makes me think of pina colada, rather than plain coconut.

If this bar was coated in milk chocolate, or a higher quality white coating, I'd really like it, but as it stands it was a bit too dry, buttery, and sweet for me.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Gingerbread Peeps

I was never crazy about regular Peeps, to me they were strictly ornamental. Very cute, inoffensive tasting, probably a great Easter cake decoration, but no kind of candy I'd eat of my own volition. Then Peeps started coming out with flavors and chocolate-covered variations, and I started warming up to them.

Last Christmas there were a few ones I had never seen before, including Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint, Sugar Cookie, and Gingerbread. I was unable to find the sugar cookie flavor, which was a shame as that was the one that interested me most, but I found the other two at, more near Christmas last year. This review is a bit out of date, clearly! I ate the chocolate peppermint ones long ago, and while they were pretty nice, they didn't inspire me to take notes or photos. Kinda minty marshmallow with cheap dark chocolate coating, would've been great in a hot chocolate but sort of boring as just a snack.

So, here's the gingerbread variety:
I love the guy looking askance at Toxic Avenger Peep...bound together until the day a hungry snacksmith such as myself forces them apart. One of the nicest things about Peeps is that they have a sugar crust, a bit like a poor man's brulee. In traditional Peeps, the only thing you'll taste is this sugar crust, so its a bit 'meh'. On the other hand, this gingerbread flavored variety is dee-licious and strong flavored with spice and sugar. Cinnamon, nutmeg, all your gingerbread classics. The texture is very nice, like a firm marshmallow coated in cinnamon sugar. I think since these are a bit older, they are a bit harder than a fresh Peep. Peeps are well known among snack fans as being better stale, as they firm up and get a bit chewier. I say always buy your Peeps out of season! In a couple weeks you'd be well off to pick up some Valentine's Peeps, like Strawberry Creme hearts. They'll be just right for munching at that point.

That being said, I hope some UK stockist takes a chance on these new-fangled 'Party Cake' Peeps!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bea's of Bloomsbury, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

I was so taken by Bea's of Bloomsbury when I went there for an afternoon tea, that I came back the next opportunity I had to kill some time in London. I didn't have casual afternoon tea supping time, but I did have a sweet tooth and a couple minutes to kill. Again, I visited the St. Paul's branch, and the service was once again perfectly fine--quite friendly, even! Basically, I wouldn't let Bea's reputation as a place with unfriendly servers scare you off of this location; I have no experience with their Matlby Street outpost our their original Bloomsbury location.

Since I was technically supposed to be on my way home, I picked something up to be split between me and my husband later on that evening. The girl at the counter advised me that this peanut butter cheesecake was a better choice for a shared sweet than the peanut butter cupcake, and it made sense based on mass alone. It was a very generous slice!
Aw, nice. It made the the treck back to my flat very well, it was in a tight-fitting box so it didn't get jostled around too much. You can see the layers in the cheesecake, the top layer is sort of a peanut butter ganache, underneath that is dense chocolate fudge, and then a thick slab of cheesecake with a biscuit crust. I wasn't sure what the crumble on top was going to be, looked a bit like Butterfinger bits but that seemed unlikely.

This really tasted amazing, the peanut butter ganache layer tasted like Reese's style peanut butter, so salty but sweet. The fudge was a semi-sweet chocolate, and coupled so well with the peanut butter topping. Kind of like a dark chocolate Reese's...I'd be absolutely fine to eat this layer as an entire pie, but then again I'm crazy for peanut butter chocolate. Also, I'd be missing out on this delicious cheesecake. Check out the texture:
Perfect! The photo doesn't do it justice, but this is just the kind of cheesecake I love. Dense and fully baked. Nice and chunky, I'm not into those whipped style cheesecakes, or the kind that are set with gelatin in the fridge. This is a proper 'NY' style cheesecake that makes you feel like you ate a solid mass of baked cream cheese. One thing to keep in mind, and I don't think it is a negative, this is a regular vanilla cheesecake base, the only peanut butter here is up on the top. Totally fine by me, otherwise it would probably be much too rich. Peanut butter is best left as an accent, as it is such a strong taste. The crumbles, as it turns out, are crushed peanuts that have a nice roast-y taste to 'em. This was really a wonderful cheesecake, and splitting it with my husband straight down the middle left us both feeling contentedly stuffed and sweetened up. For about £4.00, split two ways, this wasn't a bad dessert at all.

I really think it is worth grabbing something like this from Bea's if you're in the area, and I can particularly vouch for the St. Paul's location. I also like the movie night thing they're doing, it looks like a dinner event where you get chili dogs, macaroni and cheese, and apparently deep fried brownies. Unfortunately all the movies in the next month I'm either not particularly interested in (Footloose...sorry), or I've already seen a few times (Blazing Saddles!), or would bore the pants off my husband (All About Eve). Next month, maybe!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Feature: Food I'd Like to Eat, KFC Edition

KFC is so easy to find in London compared to where I came from in the USA. I wonder why that is, or if it is different in other states? I'm from Indiana, and I can count on one hand the amount of KFCs I saw...KFC was always considered by me to be a rare treat, a place where you'd get a bucket of fried chicken for a picnic--I can't say I ever thought of it as a place to eat lunch. I went to KFC very rarely, and the locations I drove by were usually completely empty, compared to the bustling Burger Kings and McDonald's next to them.

I think it is a bit different here, KFC is treated like any other fast food joint--pop in for a meal, take home a 'Sharing Snack Attack Pack from Way, Way Back' (cue kitschy disco theme and absurd ad), whatever. Maybe it was just my area, but if I saw an empty KFC cup in the trash, I'd be surprised. That did sort of change with the advent of the Double Down, but my local Colonel certainly never had the kind of business that he enjoys overseas.

Even though fried chicken places usually have names like 'Dallas Chicken Shack', 'Cowboys and Roosters', and 'Kenclucky Fried Chicken'-- I never saw half as many chicken shops in the Midwest as I see here. I wonder why that is...Well, I don't mind, who doesn't love chicken?

This KFC meal has intrigued me...I love dips, I even had an idea for a restaurant that just served dips...bring your own food. I call it 'Just Dip! by Sauceman's'. I'm still looking for investment.
(picture lifted from KFC UK)
There is no way that amount of dip would be enough for four fries and 12 to 16 mini fillets. Also, I'm not so sure about mayonnaise and ketchup being counted as 'dips'. Sure, you can physically dip things in them, but they're condiments. If everyone has a bottle of it at home, you shouldn't really count it as a special dip. I'm picky, though--I still would chow down on this happily. Nice thing is I might be able to do just that, as this is the first FILE highlighting a UK foodstuff!
(photo snatched from KFC Japan)
Aw yeah...this has already been covered quite nicely by Brand Eating, but I ought to highlight it as well, seeing as how it is a food I want to eat...very much. I'll say it right here, right now, for real-- I loved the Double Down. I also dug the Famous Bowls deeply...with my plastic spoon. That ketchup rice patty is so intriguing, ketchup rice is a Japanese comfort food, often found in omurice, an egg omelette with ketchup rice and chicken. I've never had one myself, but they look delicious. This just looks so good, every aspect is right up my alley; chicken breasts, ketchup, cheese, 'house' sauce, and rice. If this is still around the next time I'm in Japan, I'm definitely going to eat it.
(picture grabbo'd from KFC Singapore)
Of course, next time I'm jet-setting my way into Singapore, I'm going to eat this. This Roasta Twister is listed in KFC's AM menu, and it includes scrambled eggs, tomatoes, and cheese alongside the special marinated roast chicken, which looks amazing. I love rotisserie chicken! KFC should have that as an option everywhere...Grilled, fried, and rotisserie. The only improvement I can see is maybe instead of tomatoes, it could be salsa, or tater tots. Now I'm just being gluttonous, not that you should be surprised by that after an entire post of glistening fried chicken accompanied by the text equivalent of Homer Simpson noises.

I'm thinking we might end up eating that Ultimate Dip selection for dinner...and booking a Pacific flight after.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Empire Bottling Works Banana Soda

Banana soda, now that is pretty novel. Most of your weird sodas out there are just variations on fruits that people already drink the juice of--citrus and berry types, mostly. Bananas though...the juice doesn't even exist! Smoothies don't count. Smoothies never count.

That being said, I like banana milkshakes but I'm not fond of artificial banana flavor candies, like Runts. They are quite sharp tasting whereas real bananas are rather bland...Runts are tangy, and if I bit into a banana and it had the barest hint of tang, I'd throw it out and trip a clown.

Throwing this glass bottle, however, would really do a number on a clown's shoes.
Very cool label, like it comes from a world where banana soda is so common there is a generic version. Futuristic!

The smell is a lot like Runts, so I was prepared for the worst--a tangy, fizzy banana. I was wrong to be so worried though, as the Empire surely smiled on this formulation! It tasted like cream soda above all else, with a hint of banana. Definitely more banana milkshake than it was banana Runt. My soda-sippin' sidekick thought it tasted like Irn Bru, which he would describe as being 'metallic toffee flavored'. I've never tried Irn Bru myself, but I can see where he's coming from! While it doesn't taste very metallic to me, I can certainly pick up on some caramel undertones that make me think of cream soda. Suppose I ought to give this Irn Bru stuff the old college try, huh?

If you like Irn Bru, cream soda, Banana Yazoo, or any combination therein, I think you ought to give this a go! Pick it up at Cybercandy here in the UK, or if you're in the USA pick it up in Rhode Island or your local bright yellow soda pop vendor.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

White MeltyKiss & Almond Chocolate

Another lucky bit of snackage from my husband! Since these are pretty dinky and there isn't much to say about them, I've combined the two into one review.

First up, Almond Chocolate of unknown origin...
I've got a feeling this might be a product by Lotte, which is available at the Japan Centre's webshop. Easy purchase for people within the UK! As you can see though, this one is individually wrapped so maybe it was a bulk purchase from somewhere else...or, a different chocolate altogether!

Either way, it is a classy little wrapper of ivory and gold with bold typography.
I was impressed by the gloss and shine on this, you can nearly see me hovering from above. It was about the size and shape of a Jordan almond, and was very smooth surfaced like well panned chocolate. Basically, one quality lookin' snack.
I tried to make it look like Rilakkuma (or is it Korilakkuma?) was wearing the chocolate as a hat, but maybe I should stick to trying to get halfway decent photos period before I get too...artsy. Chocolate was fabulous! Milky chocolate in the Japanese style, which is always vaguely caramel-y to me, and a fat, tasty almond. That's all I can say, really! If you like chocolate almonds, this would be a great choice.
If you've never had a Meltykiss, they're sort of like bitsy little cocoa-dusted truffles that are specifically meant to melt in your mouth. It'll feel a bit cool and firm, but just give it a bit of time and it'll melt right into a liquid. The cocoa powder slows the melting, so you can enjoy the taste for longer. Basically, they're firmer, shelf stable versions of cocoa-dusted truffles.

This Meltykiss is a white chocolate version, which is also currently available at Japan Centre. Beginning to think someone at the office might've forgotten their souvenirs and had to pick something up in London, hehe...
See, look! Cocoa dusted, perfectly cubic. They're pretty little things, but are they ever tiny. You better let them melt or else you'll barely even notice you ate anything.
I took a bite so you could see the center, looks a bit like an Aero interior. It tastes a bit like cappuccino, probably because the white chocolate is so milky and the cocoa powder is like the topping on a cappuccino. If you've never tried a Meltykiss, honestly I'd try a different flavor first because I think that this one melts a bit differently than the others, maybe due to the white chocolate interior. It isn't as smooth, the white chocolate stays solid for a while longer than the regular variety's filling. Could also have to do with the way this one was stored, of course! You're supposed to keep these quite cool.

They've had some interesting varieties in the past, my favorite being Blueberry. Japan Centre is stocking a few different varieties, I'd like to try the Rum version!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Paul A. Young, Valentine's Shortbread

I really love Paul A. Young's chocolates, but I'm beginning to think I actually like his baked goods more. I've previously reviewed last year's Gingerbread Salted Caramel Shortbread and loved it, and I was anxiously waiting for my chance to try the Valentine's edition. I picked this one up on Valentine's Day, so excuse the lack of timeliness...but then again, do snacks even know what season it is?
This variant on the Salted Caramel Shortbread includes a chocolate shortbread base, salted raspberry caramel, and a rose flavored dark chocolate.

The shortbread was again quite crumbly and almost cake-like, it certainly isn't the same as a traditional Walker's style shortbread. In a weird way, it reminds me a lot more of shortcake--I'd say it is about halfway between the two. I think this is a nice way to keep the shortbread from being too heavy or cloying, as the caramel itself is immensely buttery and sweet.

The caramel is so perfectly 'raspberry', tangy and naturally flavored with a salty edge. It really is an amazing flavor, a perfect blend of sweet, zesty, and salty. At first I was the tiniest bit apprehensive, as salted fruit sounded like it could go horribly wrong (watermelon notwithstanding) but it works just as well as a regular salted caramel. Sweet and salty, but with an added touch of zip! The texture is amazing, like condensed milk caramel or a very good dulce de leche, thick but not at all sticky in your mouth.

The dark chocolate topping was lightly tinted red, and so shiny. Very festive and befitting to the holiday, without being ostentatious. The chocolate was a thin layer with a quality snap, and a tiny taste of rose. I usually hate floral sweets, but I'm pleased to report that the rose in this was...well, take it or leave it for me. I would be just as into this cake if it had no rose, but since it was such a delicate hint of it I didn't really mind. The rose was more of an aftertaste really, a lingering touch in your mouth. I presume rose breath is more romantic than chocolate breath, maybe that is the reason why it is only a bare hint! Or, maybe Paul A. Young is just a master of blending, and knows that too much rose will turn off people

Loved this one, if they're still available next time you're in a Paul A. Young, grab it! I have a feeling they'll have long been sold out, though...luckily, Easter is right around the corner, and so a new shortbread follows. Yes!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Milky Way Berries 'n' Cream

I'm not crazy for Milky Way, whether it is the caramel-topped style or mousse-y whip found throughout Europe--I just find it too sweet and texturally boring. I do like variations on popular candy bars though, so I was interested in trying this Australian edition of Milky Way, a wee little bar of whippy nougat flavored like berries...AND cream!
This is a tiny bar, in my smallish palm it is about halfway from  my wrist to the base of my fingers. If I was just glancing around at chocolate bars, I would've pegged this one as meant for children or people who are on pretty restrictive diets. Milky Way is pretty low calorie, so I can see the small size working in its favor if they're trying to tempt snackish weight watchers.

So, we've got a small bar of a candy that I'm not a big fan of, nyuk nyuk. The chips are stacked against this one, I'm afraid to say. When I split it in two, I was pleasantly surprised by the effort in differentiating between the cream and the berry flavors.
The color combination is nice, really reminds me of a Battenberg cake. Unfortunately it doesn't taste anywhere near as nice as it looks. Now, maybe you're a fan of Milky Way--and if you are, I can't see why you wouldn't like this bar. It is extremely sweet, has that whipped nougat, vaguely sandy texture that Milky Ways always have, but with a decent raspberry flavor thrown in the mix. The chocolate might as well not be there at all, it just feels like you're chomping down on sticky nougat. I'm of the opinion that nougat needs to have bits suspended in it to ever possibly be enjoyed. For instance, I think Snickers is pretty nice, but that is because the nougat is balanced by peanuts and a fairly thick coating of chocolate. I don't like Mars, because I think caramel does not properly balance is just sweet on sweet, gloop on chew.

For me, this Milky Way was far too sweet, and far too sticky to really enjoy. If you like Milky Ways already, the berry taste was pleasant and not medicinal or artificial, so you'll probably think it is a nice change of pace. If you don't like Milky Ways, this won't be the one to change your mind.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bea's of Bloomsbury, Afternoon Tea

I must confess, I've never had an afternoon tea before. Well, I've had tea in the afternoon, and I've certainly had my fair share of dinner-ruining afternoon cakes, but never the twain combined and formally titled 'an afternoon tea'.

My grandparents back home in the USA (!!) sent me the scoop on a place called Bea's of Bloomsbury, so it must be quite popular. When I looked them up, I saw a lot of reviews--mostly positive, but a few negatives with regards to service. Right off the bat I can say that the service at the St. Paul's location was perfectly fine, attentive and friendly. I felt very comfortable and had no issues with the email reservation system, server surliness, or the standard of hygiene. To be fair, I didn't make any special requests, and the place wasn't too busy the Saturday after Valentine's Day, so results may vary.

Like I said, I'd never had an afternoon tea, but what was on offer seemed like a pretty good deal at £19.00. A selection of baguettes, some brownies, some marshmallows & meringues, a scone with the assorted fixings, pot of tea, and a cupcake for which they are quite famous. I'm a fan of all of those things, as you might guess by the contents of this blog.

There seemed to be a decent tea selection, but that isn't really my area of expertise--I had a vanilla black tea which was very nice, like a vanilla spice. It suited my cakes, and that was all I was really concerned with.
 Speaking of cakes:
This is one side of the tray, here you can see the brownie bites, meringue-topped marshmallows, scones and the raspberry cupcake, and at the bottom the baguettes with ham, tomato, and cheese.
This side we've got another view of the brownie bites, the red velvet cupcake, and the vegetarian baguettes that had goats cheese, mixed leaves, and...something like a red pepper paste that was amazing. Wish I knew exactly what it was!

First thing we dug into were the baguettes, and the ham & cheese was above average, but nothing mind blowing. The vegetarian was delicious, the goats cheese and red pepper stuff went so nicely together and the mixed greens were crunchy and fresh. The baguettes themselves were so soft, not at all like the tooth-rendering crusty breads you find at supermarkets.

Next up we dug into the scones, that came with clotted cream and strawberry jam. I love scones...well, that's what I say, but what I really love is clotted cream. Any excuse to eat a mess of thickened dairy product, and I'm all in. The jam was sweet and tangy, and the clotted cream was just wonderfully stringy and thick. Stringy like how a really nice cheese gets 'stringy' as you lift it. Loved these!

We then had the meringues and marshmallows, which got eaten before the brownies and cakes because we anticipated that we would be a bit disappointed. Well, I was, at least. I don't really like meringue, and the marshmallow had a cool squidgy/springy texture and a strong raspberry flavor...but it was still just a marshmallow, they're never really going to make my go crazy. If you're into marshmallows though, these are probably quite good!

The blondie bite was interesting, I took a closer photo to try and show the texture a bit more:
As you can see the texture is quite dense and fudgy, which in my experience isn't very common for blondies. Brownies can veer between fudgy and cakey quite easily, but blondies are almost always cake-like. It is probably just a matter of taste, I think most people might find vanilla and white chocolate with that sort of underbaked consistency to be a bit off-putting, but I didn't at all. Picture a fudge brownie made with white chocolate and high quality vanilla, and that's what this blondie was like. From what I could tell there were no chunks, so it might be a bit much if you had a full-size one--but in bite form it was quite delicious. The chocolate brownie was great, perfectly baked to a dense fudge consistency without any goopiness, and the 'killer' brownie was equally impressive, except with a peanutty edge and a few walnuts in it.

Then we moved on to the cupcakes, and I was a bit disappointed that one of the selection was red velvet, as I had just made some red velvet cupcakes myself over Valentine's Day...Provided a good opportunity to judge Bea's against an (ahem) perfect batch, though. These red velvet were definitely more chocolate-y than mine, which were made using a very traditional (read, whole bottle of food colouring) American recipe. My red velvet cakes are mostly just an ultra moist vanilla cake with a bit of tang, and lots of cream cheese frosting. These were like a dense, mild chocolate cake with whipped cream cheese topping. They were absolutely tasty, and I would call them a variation on red velvet, but they aren't really the 'classic' American recipe. Not to say one is better than the other, really! I also think a lot of people coming to Bea's would be put off by the garish redness of a more classic red velvet.

The raspberry chocolate was very nice, with a very flavorful, not over-sweet dark chocolate cake and light raspberry buttercream. The buttercreams were very nice here, they're much lighter and whippier than the old fashioned, crazy sweet box of powdered sugar + butter kind that I usually see. I'm pretty sure the buttercream is done in a Swiss or Italian style, which includes egg whites and I think less sugar. Impressive!
Over all, I really enjoyed my time at Bea's of Bloomsbury, I think it was a nice place for a first afternoon tea, and the experience leaves me wanting to try it again. I'd come back, certainly--and I'd love work nearby as the sandwiches also looked quite nice.The one thing I was a bit disappointed by was the fact that were weren't asked our cupcake preference--just because in other reviews people indicated that they were given a choice. There were a few cupcakes I would've rather tried, like the peanut butter chocolate (which was available at the counter) and something other than red velvet...but that is a pretty minor complaint!

Thank you so much to my grandparents for providing the tip-off for this place! If you know of any other nice places to get an afternoon tea, I'd love to hear about it.

Abeno, Valentine's Day

I'm a big fan of okonomiyaki, which is sort of like a savory pancake made of cabbage, batter, and various sundries like cheese, kimchi, meat, and other stuff. I've been to both Abeno locations in London, and they are two of the very few places to get okonomiyaki in London. My preference is the original Abeno on Museum Street, just because you're able to get a table there even if you're a party of two, whereas at Abeno Too you'll be seated at the counter if you're less than three people. I can understand that, of course, but I just prefer a table.

Anyway, Abeno is easily one of me and my husband's favorite restaurants, so we made reservations to go there on Valentine's Day, hoping there might be a special menu--and there was! For £70 all together we had two cocktails, a big plate of starter-type bits, a double-layered heart-shaped okonomiyaki with beef, chicken, asparagus, corn, and mochi topped with crispy noodles, and a plate of little desserts to share, as well!

The cocktails were amazing, I'm not much of a drinker but I do like a cocktail that's been so sweetened and juiced up that it just tastes like soda--and these fit that bill. I can't quite remember what was in my drink, but I know it included plum wine 'squash' and Calpico as the primary ingredients. My husband had a lime juice something-or-other (probably sake-based), with a jelly bauble and sugar rim. It was also really nice, but quite a bit more potent than my girlish blend of soda and sweet wine squash, haha. I would've happily drank either, though!

After these cocktails we also decided to share a bottle of yuzu-infused sake, an excellent pick if you like citrus juice and don't like the burn of vodka or whiskey. Hm, maybe I am actually kind of a drinker these days!

So, we got this sharing plate very soon after placing our order:
Apologies for the picture, I'm never anyone's idea of a great photographer, but I'm particularly crap in a dimly-lit restaurant serving strangely colored foods, using the flash on my phone. Cards are stacked against me, I tells ya!

Starting from the far left, we've got palm-size prawn sushi, some kind of fried roll-up, sashimi, marinated squid, seared beef roll-ups, and chili edamame in the center. The prawns were so delicious, and I'm not crazy for seafood, but these were buttery and soft and pleasantly fishy instead of stink-fishy. The fried roll-ups were amazing, kind of reminded me of crab rangoons except spicy, and obviously not some bastardized American-Chinese junk food made of cream cheese. They did taste kind of cream cheesey though, not going to lie! The sashimi was high quality, but not much more to say than it was tasty and slippery, and the marinated squid was delicious--but again, basically tasty and slippery. The beef roll-ups were amazing, high-quality melty beef just barely cooked with onion and pickled carrots. Chili edamame was of course delicious, all the fun of edamame but with the added flavor blast of chili. Great start to the meal, just enough to tide two people over until the main course.
The picture doesn't do this justice, it was an adorable big heart with a little heart on top, all made of okonomiyaki, filled with beautifully cooked steak, chicken, asparagus, mochi, and corn...all cut into perfectly bite-sized pieces and marinated with various tangy and savory sauces. On top we've got the classics, Japanese mayo, tangy okonomiyaki sauce, seaweed flecks, and my favorite, bonito flakes. Bonito is dried fish that tastes like pickled meat...kind of. Not too strong though, and it is awesome to see it move around on a hot dish. On top of all that, there is a heart-shaped fried egg, and on top of that, there is a handful of crispy noodles. If you like savory pancakes, omelettes, or basically any other thing made from batter, you'll like an okonomiyaki. There are lots of fillings at Abeno, including chicken, steak, and cheese and bacon, so even people who prefer more domestic flavor combinations could happily chow down.

We were crazy full by this point, but there was a dessert plate to come:
And oh, what a plate it was! On the top we've got fried, chewy doughnuts (maybe some kind of mochi?) with a thick, sweetened chestnut sauce for pouring on 'em, and later spooning out greedily. Next to that is a couple cute heart jellies with berries suspended inside, then a green tea tart with glutinous rice puffs and a sesame crisp, and then a freshly cooked American style pancake with marzipan and apricot, served with green tea ice cream. Shoo! What a spread. All these desserts are the sort of tastes that are a bit hard to come by in the UK. Sure, green tea is getting more popular, but chestnut has yet to have it's day in the sweet sun, and jellies and mochi aren't the most conventional textures, either.

The chestnut puree/sauce/ganache was so nice, so delicately nutty and almost white chocolatey, it went really well with the fried chewy doughnuts. The jelly was so gentle, and the berries looked perfect and tasted fine. I think of these clear jellies as being more for show than taste, but it wasn't unpleasant in the slightest. The tart was very generous for a sharing dessert, and had the texture of a custard or American style pudding, and the taste of matcha latte. The white orbs on top were chewy, and probably some form of glutinous rice, and while basically tasteless to my Mountain Dew burnt-out palette, added an appreciable chew. The pancake had a lovely marzipan taste throughout, even though only three little chunks were used they were spaced so perfectly that every bite was imbued with sweet almond flavor, and the apricot in the center was gorgeously soft, and made honey sweet by the grill. The green tea ice cream was nice, but like every other green tea ice cream I've tried--if you like green tea, you'll like it just fine, but I've yet to meet the one that has me shouting from the roof tops.

The service at Abeno has been great every time we've gone, same goes for Abeno Too. Always friendly, and dab handed with the hot plate. If you're the sort of person who doesn't like to have waiters or waitresses hovering around while you're eating, you might be worried that it is awkward having someone cook right at your table--there is no need to worry, the servers are all business at the grill unless you want to have a conversation. They'll explain the toppings to you, and I heard different servers explaining the cooking method to people who asked, but if you're happy to keep chatting to your dining companions while they cook, they're happy to do it without interruption. Which is good for me, because growing up in America can make you a bit nervous about waiter-chat, lots of guys taking a knee and explaining steak sandwiches to you and then hitting on your mom...wears you out, makes you feel uncomfortable for everyone involved.

In the end, we were so happy to spend Valentine's Day there...and at £35 each for a cocktail, starters, okonomiyaki, and a dessert plate, not a bad deal! We left feeling fattened up and sassy, what more can you ask for on Valentine's Day?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Feature: Food I'd Like to Eat, Doughnut Edition

I really like doughnuts, they're the perfect excuse to eat fried dough and various fillings. You might've guessed this from my profile photo, caught mid-doughnut. Fact is, the best doughnut I ever had was the St. John custard doughnut, right here in the UK. However, I always want what I can't have...or what I had before and won't have again anytime soon, so I keep up to date on donuts worldwide. That hole is representative of Earth, you know.

(picture taken from Krispy Kreme USA's site)
Ah, cheesecake! Ah, graham crackers! Ah, cream cheese icing! Aw...USA only. Goofy because everyone likes cheesecake, right? I suppose the only thing that won't translate easily nor be can be sourced worldwide is the graham cracker topping, but I'm about to get real real with you...Digestives are close enough. There, I said it. They're much harder to crush, but once you do, the difference is pretty negligible. They're soft-ish, sweet but salty-ish, basically they're graham cracker-y enough to get over the differences, and this is coming from someone who would send a cheesecake back straight into the baker's face if it was made with a Nilla wafer crust. Don't even ask me what I think about cheesecakes without crusts unless you're looking for a fight.

Anyway, cheesecake filling rocks and cream cheese icing is always a hit--explains the success of carrot cake, at least. Bring this to the UK, Krispy! I'll personally vouch for other biscuit crumble options.
(picture taken from MisDo's Japanese site)
I really love mochi, because it is like eating chewy, half-baked food without the fear of salmonella. Also they usually have fun fillings or sides, like red beans or sesame, or anything else that goes well with chewy and vaguely sweet food. From what I can tell, and I do not speak Japanese (as evidenced by my crummy Chrome translation) this is a extra chewy doughnut made with mochi flour. I love the cute chocolate decoration of a lion face in the middle, and apparently underneath it there is somehow cream! Maybe the doughnut just looks like a ring, and actually has a thin little base to it. The whole thing is in the image of Mister Donut's mascot, Pon de Lion, star of this adorable commercial and many others.

There is no place on Earth, with the possible exception of Disneyland, that treats food with such whimsy as Japan. Even just buying something at a convenience store, the presentation is usually impeccable, the freshness is much lauded, and there is a fantastical flair to lots of stuff that most people would happily just stuff in their maws without thinking. You want some plain white bread? Look for the package with a picture of a smiling dog drawn by some famous guy! Limited editions also come with brand or artist collaborations, and personally, I love it.

I love the idea of eating candy that some pop star allegedly had a hand in creating, that just does something nice to my brain. Katy Perry and Popchips really warmed my heart, even though I know it is just shrill commercialism and Katy Perry has no known connection to kettle corn, I just like to think that a company is really, really trying, and willing to do incredibly silly things to win me over--and hell, who doesn't like new flavors and weird things to comment about?

What I'm saying is I'm ready for our corporate overlords so long as they're willing to get right down here in the mire and try to appeal directly to me: things like Pepsi x Space Ghost 'Ghostberry Blue Pepsi', or Nick Cave presents Salted Caramel Cream Puffs. Do that, and I will toil in your corn fields until the cows come in.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tokyo Banana Tree

As I mentioned before, my husband works for a Japanese company so on occasion he/we get to try Japanese snacks that are otherwise kinda hard to find online. For instance this cake souvenir from the Tokyo SkyTree.
So cute, huh! That little pink bow is on the wrapper, but it is positioned just so, it really does look like it is atop the banana, heh. Japanese packaging really can't be beat. The cake is just about palm size, and is inside a little tray inside the plastic wrap. I guess the flip side to the awesome packaging is that it can be a bit wasteful, but sometimes presentation is worth that sort of thing...I think so, at least. Earth probably disagrees.
Yeah, yeah, yeah! The leopard spots, as you can see, are on the actual cake--apparently it is embedded chocolate cake, but you won't really taste it. The sponge itself is so light and airy, really delicate like an angel food cake. The custard inside is chocolate banana flavored, though I mostly taste banana. The texture of this cream is somewhere between dense custard and Twinkie 'creme', but with an awesome and pretty realistic banana flavor. I love the way this treat looks, it is so fancy and special. The taste is nice and the texture is very delicate and light, if I was traveling through Tokyo I'd pick up a box or two of these to bring back to friends happily.
See? Look how nice. You can see how light the cake is, such even crumbs. This is an exclusive to the SkyTree, but you can get regular (non-leopard, non-chocolate) Tokyo Banana cakes throughout Tokyo.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thornton's Pop Bubbles, Fizzy Cola Flavor

I'll admit, I bought these because I really liked the retro milk bottle packaging.
I mean, it isn't like I'm crazy for cola chocolates...who is, after all? On the other hand, I'm not anti cola chocolates...see my Meiji Drink Beans review. I thought those were pretty cool, and they were soda flavored chocolate/sugar candy niblets. Heck, I'd eat them again.

I don't think I'd eat these again, though.There are a couple of other reviews already out and about, Foodstuff Finds and Kev's Snack Reviews both had nicer things to say about these than me.

Chocolates positioned to protect the identity of the innocent plate mascot...
Now, fact is I do like those weird little cola gummies, I like chocolate, and I like popping candies--seems this was a winning prospect.

Opening the glass bottle, straight away I knew things weren't going to go my way. It smelled just like a couple of gummy cola bottles stuck together by cheap chocolate in a trick-or-treat pail, or maybe an extremely flat soda. Very little spice, just sweet 'cola'--like RC or a particularly crummy batch of Pepsi.
Granted, that is basically what those cola gummies are like, but those don't also have chocolate in the mix to sweeten them up even further.

The taste was actually quite a lot like the sickly, dissimilar sweetness you experience when you take a bite of chocolate and then have a swig of coke. Not recommended, that's strictly cook-out style. So, if we were working with just chocolate and cola extract, we'd already be in an oversweet milk 'n' Pepsi kind of world...but then you get a bite of 'pop'. It gets worse from there, with a even more sugar and an unpleasant approximation of fizz. I don't want to eat chocolate that makes me think of drinking flat coke, and then have it fizz up in my mouth just a tiny bit. Just reminds me of sun-warmed Pepsi at a BBQ that a bee keeps dipping a toe in and making little carbonation waves. Oh, and the bee was walking all over a chocolate cake earlier.

Second opinion, my husband really likes them. He said it was good quality chocolate, and made no comment on the cola aspect, leaving me to assume either he has no tastebuds or he was being polite to Mr. Thornton's ghost out of some kinda national pride. Well, I don't have to mince words, this stuff was not that tasty. Thorntons is fine, cola candy is fine, popping candy is fine, but all together and no thank you.

I think a lot of the problem had to do with it being milk chocolate...the Cherryade and Lemonade variety are probably much nicer, being white chocolate with fruity flavors. Might give those a try someday, I can't give up on these cute bottles yet!...I'm a sucker.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lindt Lindor Coconut

I got the scoop on these little tasty such 'n' suches from Hannah at the Review Addict and she's done a great review already, but I feel like adding my two two cents are very similar though.
It is an eye-catching package, done in a gradient of jewel-tone turquoise to a pale eggshell kind of blue. Not a range of colors you see too often in the chocolate aisle, so I definitely think you'll notice it if you're browsing around. Unfortunately, you may have to limit your browsing to Sainsbury's because it is ex-cah-loo-sive to them. Also, £4.00 something which is way pricier than I remember Lindt going for...but then again I think this is the first Lindor box I've bought since moving to the UK. Funny, because I was crazy for them growing up. Lindor was my first taste of 'fine' chocolate, I used to buy their white chocolate and peanut butter varieties as loosies at Barnes & Noble. D'aw. Man, bring the peanut butter variety over here! It was fantastic.

Well, nearly as fantastic as these.
The color scheme continues on to the foil, it looks so classy for a wrapped truffle. I think the color really reminds me of Tiffany Blue, it isn't an exact match but it has that same sort of blue-y elegance, like a late-in-life egg born from a Patrician bird wearing a tennis bracelet.

The chocolate shell is classic creamy Lindt milk chocolate, but what you're really after here is those sweet, sweet innards. The coconut flavor is not overpowering, it is definitely tampered down by the white chocolate that makes up the actual bulk of the filling--it's like a coconut flavored white chocolate Lindt interior. I was really glad it wasn't any kind of oversweet coconut paste 'confection', but I didn't expect that it would be coming from Lindt.

The only thing that stuck out to me was that the filling as not nearly as melty as I'm used to with Lindt. I seem to recollect them breaking apart in my mouth as soon as I bit down, but this stays fairly solid, more like a traditional truffle than a filled chocolate. Maybe I'm just misremembering things, it makes sense that they would be more solid like truffles--but I swear they used to be gooey right away, these take a bit of sucking. Clearly I need to try one of the other varieties to confirm or deny my suspicions. Yes.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sioux City Prickly Pear Soda

Sioux City seems to make some pretty interesting soda, as they're also the company behind my earlier reviewed Cherries 'n' Mint pop.

This variety is Prickly Pear, which is apparently some kinda cactus juice, and not pear. I guess that should've been obvious by the cactus on the label--but hey, the Cherries 'n' Mint had an eagle, so I figured it might've been just some old west iconography.

Either way, the soda itself was a nice red-pink shade that smelled like watermelon--and wouldn't you know it, but that durn pop even tasted like watermelon! Specifically, the Jolly Rancher Watermelon soda, so really, not much like watermelon at candy watermelon. It also tastes a bit like raspberry, or pomegranate, but very sweet versions of those flavors.

It was quite tasty, but I can't say I'd buy it again considering I'm not that crazy about watermelon candy. If you are though, and you like wild west iconography, I can't think of a more perfect soda for you.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Red Bull Silver Edition + Red Bull Blue Edition

I'm not crazy for Red Bull, but I am crazy for limited editions of existing products--so when I saw that Red Bull had released three new flavors I was all about it. Well, all about two of them, at least. They were regularly sized Red Bull cans, and I think were about the same price as the classic flavor.

Red Bull Silver Edition is described as having the taste of the lime, with the effect of Red Bull, while the Red Bull Blue Edition has the taste of blueberry. There is a third one, Red Bull Red Edition, that is cranberry...but I'm not that into cranberry and I've had a few energy drinks with that flavor, so I assumed I'd know exactly what I was getting. Lime and blueberry, on the other hand, are not so common in the soft drink world.

Turns out there might be a good reason why they aren't common drink flavors.

Straight out of the gate, neither of these have any sort of Red Bull taste; that classic syrup-y, mixed berryish, 'energy drink' taste. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on your taste for tart bitterness.

The lime flavor is not at all refreshing, nor is it particularly tasty--it tastes exactly like those plastic limes filled with juice concentrate. If you want to try Red Bull Silver Edition without all that caffeine, just crack open one of those and pour a bit of sparkling water into it. Can't find the plastic lime? Try the lemon, then. It is just tangy, bitter, and unpleasant.

The blueberry flavor is definitely better, but I'd still rather drink a plain Red Bull. Again, wouldn't have guessed that this had anything to do with Red Bull unless it said so on the can, and it tastes like carbonated blueberry juice drink, the boxed stuff you get that tastes like candy. I'm not turning my nose up at this, I'm actually pretty into those juice drinks when I'm offered one--I even like to put a bit of lemonade in them to give it some fizz. This is basically just that, something fizzy added to a blueberry juice blend--but with caffeine. If you love that combination, and you need the kind of energy that these drinks offer, I'd give the Blue Edition a whirl.

The Silver Edition I don't think I'd suggest to anyone, even the most die-hard citrus & energy drink fans.

Although, I don't think I'm going to be having another Red Bull any time soon, diffusion line or no, because I've been tense and irritable all day. At least the cans are kind of nice, reflective and uh...classy for an energy drink.

St. John Custard Doughnut

I was so very excited to try this doughnut from St. John bakery. I've heard a lot about them (mostly from my fellow sweet-loving, awesome sister-in-law), but they have very limited availability, as in they sell out within hours of going on sale. I was lucky enough to have a willing pickup-partner visit their Spitalfields outpost, St. John Bread and Wine, which sells them on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

The funny thing is he managed to get some in the afternoon (around 2pm) on Friday, so if you're on the hunt for these, that location seems to be the place to hit up--as I had heard that the Druid Street bakery has a tendency to sell out before er...the afternoon, at least.

So here it is, fresh from our fridge, and full o' creamy custard. It was about palm-sized, covered in a fine mist of sugar, and quite heavy. The smell was fried dough, not entirely unexpected in a doughnut.

As you can see, it is absolutely filled with vanilla bean flecked cream, to the very brink. Not convinced, huh? Check this picture out, post just the first bite.

Okay, maybe I was two bites deep, but just lateral bites, I promise! The taste was amazing, ambrosial, light and creamy, and soft with fresh vanilla pod taste. The cream was custard-y in taste, but very much like whipped cream in texture. It really was like vanilla custard flavored cream. When it came to the actual doughnut, my buddy-in-eating insisted it was like a traditional English doughnut (a very good one, of course) but I held firm to my position-it tasted like an elephant ear or a funnel cake...again, a very good one, but it had a distinct extra 'fried' taste to it that I don't recollect in your work-a-day doughnut. Basically, it was amazing. It was like an elephant ear from the fanciest county fair on Earth, filled with cream whipped by the likes of an angel, flavored with fresh vanilla beans and eggs.

In the end, I had two of these doughnuts in a couple of days, and the best one was the one I had that was sort of room temperature. The doughnut itself was super soft and the cream was just light as air. When they were refrigerated, the doughnut had gotten stiffer and the cream slightly more dense--more similar to vanilla pudding or custard than the whipped cream texture it started off with. Don't get me wrong, I'd gladly to eat a rifridgerated one again, but these are definitely best eaten fresh at room temperature. Makes me wish I lived in London! Or, that they served these doughnuts everyday and from every bakery on Earth. They're £2.00 each, so a bit much to have each day really, not even counting in the calories...however, definitely worth grabbing one to try if you're anywhere near the Liverpool St. area from Thursday 'til Sunday.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dove Cookies 'n' Creme Bar

I picked this one up from Cybercandy awhile ago, I'm pretty sure it must've been on sale, because I otherwise probably wouldn't have chosen this bar.

I'm not really crazy about cookies and cream chocolate, I ate myself sick on it as a kid. Dove is a pretty decent brand, they've got a reputation for smooth melt and sweet, milky tastes. They remind me a bit of European chocolate, but of course, located in America. Their milk chocolate has the same fatty, mild, and milky taste that you find in Galaxy...except that this is their white chocolate, so I suppose I should be comparing it to a Milkybar.
Problem is, I have no Milkybar to compare it to--but, I've eaten a few Milkybars in my time and I remember them being quite buttery and even more quite sweet.

The segmentation is nice, each piece is just a bit bigger than my thumbprint, so you could do some serious portion control if you're into that. There are tons of sizable cookie bits throughout, and it smells like any old cookies and cream bar.

Too bad it just tastes like pure sugar, and this is coming from someone who loves white chocolate. Sweeter than a Milkybar for sure... It just tastes too sweet, I can't even taste the chocolate cookies, they just add texture to the otherwise super-smooth bar. Don't get me wrong, I did eat it but I certainly wouldn't get it again. I should've known better, though, because this particular flavor has made me feel sickly since I was a teenager. I thought maybe I was over it, ha. 

If you've never tried  cookies & cream in chocolate bar form, I would suggest maybe starting elsewhere...I really liked the Hershey's Cookies & Cream bar when I was a little kid, but like I said, I ate too many and got sick of them--but I'd probably try that first if I was curious about the flavor.

Friday Feature: Food I'd Like to Eat, Ice Cream Edition

I thought it might be fun to introduce a new feature for Fridays, just because I have so much to say about food I can't limit myself to talking about just the stuff I can physically eat.  There is lots of junk out there that I'd love to get my chops around, but it just ain't gonna happen.

For example, this ice cream:
 (image clipped from Baskin Robbins Japan site)

Tea and scone flavored, only available in Japan--of course. Now, if I may make one careful observation, here in the UK the ice cream market seems incredibly risk averse. How long did it take for lowly cookies & cream to be a mainstream flavor? The Ben & Jerry's that is available here is just the most basic of their lineup in the USA, like less than what you'd find in a gas station, and every other brand sticks to such traditional flavors. Well, I'm going to make a stand right here, right now...Tea and scones are a traditional English flavor, and I demand they be translated into ice cream for these territories. Nowish!
Now my homeland the US of A is no slouch when it comes to the cold dairy, either. I like to keep up on the newest releases by reading On Second Scoop--it goes to show you how much more ice cream there is in the US than there is in the UK that the blog is based around ice cream, and shows no sign of slowing down after many years.

I've missed out on a some great flavors since living in the UK, stuff like B&J's Late Night Snack and Red Velvet Cake, and Dairy Queen's Golden Oreo something-or-other and Birthday Cake.  This is the current promoted flavor that I'm pining for...

(image lifted from Ben & Jerry's USA site)
"Mascarpone Ice Cream with Fudge Covered Cannoli Pastry Shell Chunks & Mascarpone Swirl"
I'm frowning so hard right now, it'll probably be long gone by the time I visit again. 

I've also missed Peppermint ice cream for the last three addition to missing my family of course...yes.

Now, all this being said, you can find some pretty interesting ice cream in the UK, it just won't be on grocery store shelves. Like any big city, London has some pretty cool ice cream spots. I've been lucky enough to visit Camden's nitro ice cream hit machine* Chin Chin Labs when they had a white chocolate sorbet, and that was incredible. They also do extremely weird flavors regularly, but they tend to trend more on weirdness than the pure indulgence of 'weird' American and Japanese flavors. For instance, the two flavors this week are something to do with scotch and something sour with rhubarb. I'd love to try either, but it's the kind of flavor you try experience more than a tasty treat. However, that white chocolate sorbet I had was pretty awesome and I'd gladly get a pint of that if it were for sale.

Another place I've gone to a lot since moving to the UK is Scoop, a small gelato chain dotted throughout Central London. Even though the flavors are pretty simple, the quality is just tops. I really like the dark chocolate sorbet, it's basically black and incredibly dense with chocolate.

There is also the place that did breast milk ice cream, Icecreamists, but I've never eaten there and to be honest they seem really gimmicky and...stupid. I could be wrong, but I just don't gel the bad boy ice cream schtick. No matter how many skulls and rockabilly haircuts you attach to it, it is still a refreshing summertime treat adored by young and old. For all I know they have awesome product, but the approach is all wrong for me so I'm not tempted...also, their website doesn't seem to list any flavors, just lots of quotes.

Well, that's the first edition of Foods I'd Like to Eat. As you can tell the weather has just started warming up a skosh and already I'm thinking about ice cream.

*note: good name for a monster truck

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Guest Post: Yubari Melon Steamcake

This is a li'l guest review by my life-guest, my husband. For background, he works for a Japanese-owned company and they get quite a few interesting snacks in their office, so he makes me super jealous when he eats things like this...
Yubari Melon Steamcake, as told by Mr. Steamy Cakes...

A small individually wrapped bite-sized cake from Japan. Poppable but did not pop...

Tastes a lot like cantaloupe melon, very soft bright orange sponge with hint of a liquid/curd filling also distinct cantaloupe melon. Probably most of the flavor is coming from the centre, actually.

Sponge not dissimilar to a Twinkie, maybe slightly lighter and softer, kind of hangs around at the back of your throat after eating. Probably best washed down with some melon soda! Very tasty if you like sweet &
There you have it, folks! Now you'll know what a Yubari Melon Steamcake tastes like the next time your offered one by a high-profile Japanese investor, or something. Wish I coulda had one...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mr Kipling's Mississippi Mud Pie

I used to swear up and down I didn't like Mississippi Mud Pie...I think it was just a regional thing. I didn't like Mississippi, I'd be damned if I liked their stupid 'mud' pie. Psh, who would ever eat mud willingly, anyway? Mississippians...

I'm all grown up now, and I don't hate Mississippi, and I even find myself quite enjoying their mud pie. Well, at least as it is interpreted by English people...never had an American-made one, actually. I've tried the Melt Mississippi Mud Pie bar, which was amazing...but unfortunately I don't live or work anywhere near a Melt so...
Smart move, Kipling, smart move. Although, these are unlike other Mississippi Mud Pies that I've seen, sometimes they just look like plates of chocolate colored goop and sometimes they are inexplicably cake. Then again, sometimes they look quite a bit like this:

Which is chocolatey goop enclosed in a pastry shell. Oh, but this is some tasty chocolate goop. They say it is a mousse, but I don't get any whippy, moussey texture when eaten heated or cold. It is more dense than a mousse, but less dense than a ganache. Right in the middle of those two textures, really! The topmost layer is chocolate icing, but there is a real strong brown sugar taste to it--not complaining, it tastes amazing with the fudgey under layer.

It tastes quite chocolate-y, don't get me wrong, but there are also nice tones of brown sugar and graham cracker throughout. The pastry shell tastes a bit like graham crackers or digestive biscuits, with surprised me as it looks like more of a shortcrust pastry. I'm glad they went with this style though, as it is much nicer with the chocolate innards than a more savory crust would be. After all, this is a sweet, sweet pie. Too delicious, but quite small for something that packs 200+ calories a pop. That's what you get when you eat a tasty brown sugary chocolate pie, I suppose!

One of the top things that the UK completely obliterates America with is the availability of tasty cakes and pies on grocery store shelves. Mr Kipling could punch Little Debbie and Hostess straight onto the moon. You couldn't make me eat a Twinkie, but you couldn't stop me from eating an Angel slice.

By the way, I would highly recommended taking the time to heat these up, as the warming really seems to bring out the flavors and makes the texture more similar to actual mud. That is what we're eating them for, right?