I’m a fan of chilli sauces. I haven’t posted in a while (various things) but buying a new chilli sauce, albeit one that I have tried before made me feel like posting a review. This particular sauce was on offer at Sainsbury’s today, which, by the way, has declined somewhat in its offerings, choice and general randomness. The coffee section is dominated by Taylors of Harrogate blandness and Costa/Starb*cks ‘house’ varietals. This isn’t the kind of world that I want to see, but perhaps it is the kind of world that the average Sainsbury’s shopper wants to see, and thus, the buyer(s) have either cottoned on, or been co-erced into abandoning their whimsy. I digress.
tabasco in light on keyboard/©mattu
It’s a thick sauce, with a small neck, and so the first attempt at shaking some directly into my mouth fails. The sauce is, like many top quality and high end chilli sauces, fermented for taste. The Tabasco company age their sauces too, and in this case, there is the added dimension of smoke which is imparted from the classic smoky chilli, the chipotle. I shake the bottle and try again.
Out come a few drops, onto my tongue and, accidentally, onto my face. Ignore the burning on my face: there are rich notes of spice, of smoke, of salt (perhaps too much salt) and there is a balancing sweetness. The ingredients don’t hint at this, and the sweetness is surprising and in some ways, disappointing. In the long run, it is probably necessary. All in all, a good, solid mark for this, which is reflected in its price and cultural cachet. People don’t look down on you for having a bottle of this at the table, in the same way that they do if you have a bottle of Encona or Dunn’s River. Which of course, is classist nonsense, because both of those sauces and their varietals are very good. HP chilli sauce, on the other hand, what are you thinking
Hello. A brace of reviews, hold tight.
First up is Toad-Ally Snax Kanga Roos, which are chocolate coated pretzel nuggets that feature an interior butter pouch. Hopefully you can see the connection between the naming of the snack and the design: kangaroos, in the wild, have ‘pouches’. These particular ‘kanga roo snax’ have been tamed and filled with peanut butter goodness. Thus nature is subverted to the will of Man.
They are actually quite nice : inoffensive chocolate and crispy salt pretzel that is then overpowered by the sweet/salt umami of peanut butter. One or two is enough and then you feel a bit sick.
Also sampled was Kefir, now bottled and flavoured with (in this instance) ‘honey and mint’. Kefir is fermented milk, and it comes from the family that gives us lassi and so on. It’s an acquired taste, and this flavoured style is a bit like mango lassi – it’s lassi for people who would rather be drinking chocolate milk or some sort. So, its fine, but really, you might as well just have a honey mint yazoo as the pro-active bacteria in something this size isn’t really going to be hugely helpful, and no doubt food safety regulations mean anything halfway helpful has been neutered.
I enjoyed it, but that enjoyment was tempered with many conflicting feelings, much like you might summarize my entire life so far. I fear this is the path I am on until death, and after death, it will be too late to change.
The vending machine here at the Westwood Centre for Teacher Education (Warwick University) is a real blast from the past. Some classics : Fry’s Peppermint Cream, a Nestlé Crunch bar, a row of Rio canned fruit juice. It appears to have been stocked completely at random by a British office worker. It also featured one of Walker’s use it or lose it campaign with new flavours. The lime here is weak and reedy – like a dilute cordial – and the pepper also weak and chemical-tinged. Let’s be honest : this is mass-produced food as chemical engineering, and it shows. Pleasant enough but it seeks to replace Salt and Vinegar – not a chance, buddy.
I picked these up from Sainsbury’s. L and I were wandering the aisles looking for novelty in consumer form, one of my favourite activities and something I find genuinely gratifying, if a little hollowed out. There is probably something wrong with me deep down, something unfulfilled (I always wanted to live by the sea; I also feel perhaps I could have been a sailor?). In any case these sugary snacks were chosen to fill the gaping wound that is modern urban life.
They are not good. Neither one thing or the other, it isn’t praline enough to be a smooth praline and the hazelnut overtones interfere with the artificial earthy peanut taste so beloved of fans of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. These pay homage to those vaulted kings of the luxury chocolate snack aisle, but in the same way that a long poo is an homage to a lovely meal. They don’t even have that little black bit of paper lining to make them seem posher than the Yorkie that you put down right before you picked this up.
Avoid these if you can.
Today I had occasion to visit Leytonstone, E11, and noticed a new place in the station called ‘Peaky Blenders’. They are originally from E17 – yes, that’s right, Walthamstow. Dog tracks, Brian Harvey and hipsters who can’t afford Hackney. The man making the coffee had a trilby on, and so you can kind of see what they did there, right.
Here is a picture:-
I had a ‘Long Black’ which seems to the be new name for ‘Americano’. I agree with this, given how much brand USA has been trashed recently. In any case, it was £2.50, which is pretty pricey for a station coffee.
I tasted it as I rattled into London on the Westbound Central line and it was good. It was strong, and it had a pleasing amount of coffee oils in with the hot water. There was that sour, citrus taste that you get with short to mid-extraction upscale coffee – although sometimes really what you want is a roasted and burned to shit Starbucks (as I enjoyed in Birmingham New Street, served by a woman who could. not. have. been. less. interested.) It’s different strokes for different folks.
They also operate a scheme where you can ‘donate’ a coffee – put it in ‘reserve’ for people in need, who then just ask for a reserve coffee and are given one, no questions asked. It is remarkable if this scheme works without being exploited, but Leytonstone might just pull it off. It’s unlikely that people won’t take the piss – they did at Waitrose, and then they had to stop.
I enjoyed my short experience of Peaky Blenders and on their website they have links to their academy, training courses and all sorts of other things including mail order coffee and merch. So get to it.
I tried these at lunch the other day, for the first time. They are interesting – a mild cheese flavoured corn based snack.
Their ‘fun’ shape allows for good scooping of salsa or some other dip or condiment. The fact they are corn and not potato based makes me wonder if they still count as ‘crisps. Walkers Crisps is the full name of the company so perhaps they should clear this up. This is crunch, as opposed to crisp.
Here is a close up of the ‘fun shape’:
As you see, they look a bit like wizard hats rather than bugles and there is no opening to blow through as you would expect from a bugle.
I would say a 6 out of 10.
Today I had a Waitrose Fairtrade Banana. Bananas are a yellow fruit that it eaten by peeling the exterior ‘wrapping’ off to expose a soft off-white fleshy protuberance. This particular banana had been in my bag for two days and was rather bruised, but the interior had survived relatively unscathed. Sadly, it was not sweet, or pleasant, nor creamy, like some of the best bananas are. This was a tepid, phlegmy affair that I felt almost too sad to continue with. I ate it all though as I was hungry. I would not give this more than four stars out of ten, perhaps only three. Bananas are rich in antioxidants and potassium. This was a banana rich in regret.