Saturday, 30 November 2013

Today's Review: Kettle Chips: Smoked Paprika With Porcini & Garlic Butter

I'm always partial to a bag of Kettle Chips, and there's no better time to pick one up than when a new flavour is around. So imagine my joy when I spotted this "seasonal edition" of smoked paprika, porcini and garlic butter on the shelves. Not sure which season the flavour represents, but I don't need a season for a reason.

Well, these are Kettle Chips, so their crunchiness is as awesome as ever. As for the flavour? Well, they certainly have a nice, smoky flavour, but it's not particularly intense, as other flavours can be. But, while the flavour lacks a bit in strength, that works out well for the garlic butter, which is certainly noticeable, but quite subdued. My fear of getting bad breath from these was not realised. As for the porcini, I can't say my tastebuds pointed it out, but all the flavours work together quite well, giving a nice, smoky, creamy flavour. It may not be particularly strong, and certainly not my favourite Kettle Chips flavour, but it's worth a go, especially as it may not be around for long.

My rating: 4/5

Friday, 29 November 2013

Today's Review: Rocket Fuel Self Heating Hot Chocolate

I extolled the virtues of Rocket Fuel Self Heating Coffee a while back. A can of coffee that heats itself? A neat idea, and one that was pulled off quite well. But what if you don't like coffee, and want to initiate a chemical reaction to warm up your drink? Well, now you can pick up a can of Rocket Fuel Self Heating Hot Chocolate.

Yes, it's the same concept, the same can, but with hot chocolate instead of coffee. Well, according to the can, it's "Energy Chocolate", because it's infused with guarana. In essence though, it's just hot chocolate, and it's a pretty nice one. The heating process is easily started, as with the coffee version, and within minutes that drink is at a perfect drinking temperature. The hot chocolate is milky, smooth, just plain nice, and since it's already pre-mixed there's no nasty bitterness. I can't say I got much of an energy kick out of drinking it, but it's certainly nice, and I prefer it to the coffee. Give it a go.

My rating: 5/5

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Today's Review: Fox's Vinnie's Tastes Of America Biscuits

So, Fox's have a panda mascot, who is Italian, but has released a range of American flavour inspired biscuits. Sorry, I means biscwits, obviously. It's all quite nonsensical, but hey, it means a quite nice range of new flavours, so I'm all for it. There are four flavours in total: Key Lime Pie Crunch Creams, Cherry Cheesecake Jam 'N' Cream, Mississippi Mud Pie Melts and Blueberry Muffin Party Rings. They were all equally tempting, but I couldn't justify spending that much on biscuits all at once. Thankfully, they are now all on offer for £1 each at Tesco, so it was time to chow down.

Well, Fox's have certainly selected a nice range of biscuits to Americanise, and some interesting flavours to give them. My favourites are the Mississippi Mud Pie Melts, probably because they're so damn chocolatey. While the regular version are quite crunchy, these ones have a softer texture, which matches the actual dessert. These biscuits are soft, smooth, creamy and delicious. The softer texture is also employed in the Party Rings, and coupled with the blueberry flavouring, they actually do taste like blueberry muffins.

The Key Lime Pie Crunch Creams are my close second favourite, as they maintain the crunchiness and creaminess of the original, but with a fantastic citrus twist. It didn't take me long to polish off the whole pack, and this is probably the pack with the most biscuits for your buck. Lastly, there's the Cherry Cheesecake Jam 'N' Cream, which are basically like cherry Jammie Dodgers. They're probably my least favourite, but they're still damn tasty. The cheesecake element isn't overly noticeable, but it's an overall nicely fruity experience.
So there you have it, four lovely new flavours of well established tasty biscuits. They're all tasty, so you'd better pick them up and chow down, capiche? Seriously, why a Mafia panda?

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Today's Review: Terry's Chocolate Orange Minis

Christmas means Terry's Chocolate Orange. Don't ask me why, I'd gladly eat them any time of the year, but they only seem to come out in force during the winter months. There are several flavours of Chocolate Orange, and they are all awesome, and they are also available in individually wrapped "Segsations" if you don't trust yourself not to eat the entire orange in one sitting (a very real danger). But this year heralds the arrival of Chocolate Orange Minis, a new way to experience your Chocolate Orange... by making them mini.

I passed up on these for a while, as since I have already tried the original oranges and Segsations many times before, I didn't think there'd be much new on offer with this pack. These Minis are basically the Chocolate Orange equivalent of all those Cadbury pouches that have been brought out in recent years. Many small pieces of chocolate orange, and with no wrappers either, so you can just go ahead and empty the bag into your face with no fear of choking on plastic. But how do they taste?

Well, I was right in my assumption that these will being nothing new to the table. They are literally small pieces of chocolate orange. But that doesn't make them bad, in fact, quite the opposite, it's still the same tasty Chocolate Orange we know and love, just presented in a different way. These are great for sharing, and at least you don't have to break the thing open to start eating. I just hope that next year they bring out some Minis with some of the other Chocolate Orange flavours.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Today's Review: Jelly Belly Milkshakes

Jelly Belly provide the definitive jelly bean experience. They also make some nice sodas and candles. But now they have filled the other obvious gap in the market, by releasing a range of milkshakes.

These Jelly Belly shakes come in vanilla, banana and dark chocolate. They were on offer at 2 for £2, so one had to be left behind, sorry banana, it's purely personal. The vanilla sounded good right off the bat, as I love vanilla milkshake anyway. But the dark chocolate left me feeling apprehensive. I've never really gotten used to the bitterness of dark chocolate, so I wasn't expecting much.

Thankfully, these flavours are both delicious. The vanilla is smooth and silky. These shakes are 95% milk, so they're not overly thick, but they certainly have a nice creamy taste. The chocolate, as much as I was dreading it, is actually very nice. Most chocolate shakes are quite sickly, but the slight bitterness of the chocolate in this shake allows the flavour to blend in nicely with the milk for a lovely smooth taste. These shakes are delicious, and although I don't normally like banana flavour, I'll probably be picking one up in the future to see if Jelly Belly have done as good a job as with these flavours.

My rating: 5/5

Monday, 25 November 2013

Today's Review: Galaxy Iced Coffee

Since training myself to like traditional hot coffee, I've been working on getting to appreciate iced coffee too. It's going quite swimmingly, as there are certainly some tasty ones out there, from the Starbucks Doubleshot to the Emmi Caffe Latte. Now Mars are stepping into the coffee game with this Galaxy Mocha Latte iced coffee.

This cool, cylindrical treat comes in either single or double shot varieties. I went for the latter because I like my coffee strong, but it's nice to know there's an option of strength rather than just flavour, although there is only one flavour... Thankfully, it tastes great. It's smooth, creamy and chocolatey, much like the Galaxy milkshake, and the coffee flavour works very nicely, blending in with the chocolate flavour rather than overwhelming it, but also lending a nice kick to the whole experience. It didn't take me long to polish this off, it's very tasty and leaves a nice, creamy aftertaste, as well a nice energy boost from the coffee. This is well worth a try.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Today's Review: Hoods

Winter is coming, and the cold is setting in. It's time to wrap up warm, and most will opt for a coat with a hood. But not I.

Hoods are great in theory. They're attached to the top of your coat, hoodie, or whatever type of clothing they've decided to add a hood to, and is easily accessible for pulling up over the head to protect from the elements. Raining? No problem. Snow? Well, that's just frozen rain, so still not a problem. Slightly cold head? Yeah, a hood has you covered. Literally. Har har.

But, however good hoods may be at covering heads, they just don't work for me. First of all, most don't fully cover my head all the time, so there's always the danger of my fringe getting wet, or the thing eventually slipping off altogether. But that's nothing compared to the way hoods limit my vision. I rely a lot on my peripheral vision, especially when keeping an eye on my wayward, straggling kids. With a hood on, it's like instant tunnel vision. If I can't see either side of me it frustrates me to no end, so while I may be getting soaked from the rain, it takes a lot to get me to concede and put my hood up.

Hoods suck. While they may be convenient and relatively effective, I just can't see right while I'm wearing one. You know what's better than hoods? Hats. Whole head coverage with none of the sight restrictions. Even if I'm wearing something with a hood, I'm likely to take a hat. I really don't like hoods.

My rating: 1/5

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Today's Review: Domino's Twisted Chocolate Dough Balls

Domino's have a good selection of their Twisted Dough Balls on the menu already, including the gorgeous japaleño and the hot dog and mustard that I reviewed a few months back. But now these twisty, doughy bites are crossing over into the dessert menu, as Domino's have released a chocolate version.

It doesn't sound like a great combination, how can the dough that works with jalapeño also work with chocolate? Well, it's slightly different. The first thing I noticed is that it's very salty. Perhaps that's just because of the contrast in tastes, but it's a little overwhelming. Thankfully, the warm, melted chocolate chips add a much needed dose of sweetness, and the whole experience is certainly sweet and filling. Unfortunately, there just seems to be an imbalance between the chocolate and dough. There's just not enough sweet chocolate to cancel out the saltiness, and while I enjoyed them while eating, they did leave a bit of a bad aftertaste. These are certainly a nice attempt at a dessert, but they're not perfect. If you like the other dough balls though, you should certainly try these.

My rating: 4/5

Friday, 22 November 2013

Today's Review: Douwe Egberts Flavour Collective Coffee

I never used to be a fan of coffee, but I decided one day to teach myself to love it, and from milky sweet Starbucks lattes to pure espresso, I attained my goal. I normally have my coffee black, with no sugar, but the desire for flavour sometimes gets the better of me, leading me towards the far unhealthier lattes, loaded with flavoured syrup. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just have our coffees with a bit of flavour, instead of dealing with the sticky stuff? Well, you can.

This is the Flavour Collective, Douwe Egberts' range of flavoured instant coffee. It comes in four flavours: vanilla, chocolate, caramel and hazelnut. I forewent the hazelnut, as I'm not really a fan, but the others were mightily tempting, what with vanilla and caramel being my favourite kind of latte. Upon opening these jars, the aroma is magnificent. That distinct coffee smell, but with an overpowering sweetness, it really left me eager to dissolve these bad boys in some boiling water.

Once I had, I was ready to settle down and enjoy some nice, simple, flavoured coffee. The jar states that you should use one tablespoon of coffee per cup, but I found it not strong enough for my liking. I do like my coffee pretty damn strong though, so maybe it's just a taste thing. As for the flavours themselves, they certainly are bold. Not quite as pronounced as the aroma of the grounds suggests, but that's to be expected. The vanilla and caramel are my favourites, while the chocolate did leave a bit of an odd taste in my mouth, so they're not perfect. But they certainly are a nice change to your regular instant coffee, and carry about the same caloric content. I'll definitely be keeping a jar on standby in case I want something flavoursome, and I still have to try out the iced coffee recipe to experience these flavours in a different light.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Today's Review: Chocapic Cereal Bar

Chocapic is an interesting cereal. It doesn't seem to be available much in the UK, only in the form of odd movie tie-in cereals, but whenever I can get hold of it I enjoy it. Crunchy, chocolatey shells that taste great with milk. What more could you want? The same, but in a cereal bar? There it is. But, is it the same?

This is your usual cereal bar affair. A milky bottom layer, and on top, the cereal itself, held together with a sticky, shiny coat. It tastes good, chocolatey, and is pretty filling. The only problem lies with the diminished crunchiness caused by the aforementioned stickiness. One of the best things about Chocapic cereal is how nice and crunchy it is, and without that, the cereal bar falls a bit flat. Still, it's good for a milky, chocolatey hit, but I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to pick one up.

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Today's Review: Cheetos Duos

Ah, Cheetos. You come in many weird and wonderful forms, but are seldom seen in this country. I'm always excited to find a new kind of Cheetos, though I think nothing will beat the crunchy varieties. Here's a packet I found the other day, of Cheetos Duos. I'm not exactly sure what's going on with these, because the packaging is all Polish, but from the pictures on the front I assumed that this one packet contained two different flavours, pepper and cheeseburger. That's an... interesting combination.

Can you tell which crisp is which flavour? No? Neither could I. Every one looks exactly the same, and the shape is just weird. They're bulky, with weird ruffles, unlike any crisps I've ever seen. Why they couldn't stick with the regular long shapes, I don't know, but these chunky ruffled crisps are just a bit too heavy, and quickly turned to mush and got all stuck in my teeth. Not overly pleasant, but the flavours helped a bit in that regard.

Well, it helped with half the pack. You see, of the two flavours, only one is good, but I don't know which it is, because there's no real way to tell. One flavour is pretty bland, while the other has a fantastic strong, saucy taste. I'll assume the latter is the cheeseburger flavour, as it tastes a bit like burger sauce. But whatever it is, the bold flavour does well to overcome the issues suffered from the weird, bulky shape. The other flavour, however, does not, and eating those ones is not an overly nice experience. So I'm torn. These Cheetos are half good, but the other half both baffles me and does little for my tastebuds. A decidedly average Cheetos experience.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Today's Review: Kinder Country

With Surprise, Bueno, or just plain chocolate, Kinder is always a tasty option. But apparently there's more thsn the few varieties in the UK, as I found out today when I stumbled upon Kinder Country, a bar of Kinder chocolate containing cereals. Very tempting.

As you can see, the bar is pretty packed with cereal pieces, but they're not the crispy rice kind that I expected to find. Instead, it's more of a puffed rice cereal, and it tastes a lot like Sugar Puffs without the honey. The pieces definitely add an interesting texture to the Kinder chocolate, but the taste, while certainly good, is just a bit weird. I would have enjoyed it more with crispy cereal, but as it is it's just a bit too puffy and sweet for me. Still, it's an interesting Kinder variety that is worth a try if you can find it.

My rating: 4/5

Monday, 18 November 2013

Today's Review: The Wolverine

Superhero movies have come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years, even the X-Men franchise has recovered from a lacklustre end to the initial trilogy, and the subsequent not-so-great Origins: Wolverine. I thought First Class was a new era for the X-Men, but it turns out they weren't quite done with Hugh Jackman yet, as he returns in The Wolverine.

We once again follow Wolverine, who has cast aside his hero chaps and opted to grow a beard and commune with bears in the forest. But then a Japanese lady named Yukio tracks him down, on behalf of Yashida, a man Logan once saved, who is now facing death and wants to say goodbye. When Logan arrives in Tokyo, however, he is offered the option to become mortal, ending the pain he suffers from his eternal life. Before long though, he finds himself embroiled in warfare with the Yakuza, protecting Yashida's granddaughter and uncovering a sinister plot.

Yes, the movie is predominantly set in Tokyo, which of course means ninjas, ninjas everywhere. Even the people you'd least expect seem to be experts in martial arts, because hey, Japan. Still, it makes for some nice fight sequences, which really are needed, as the super-powered villain we're presented with is flat and boring, and even the precognitive Yukio takes on the role of a boring travel guide for the first half hour, explaining everything in unwanted detail.

You see, the plot is rather underdeveloped and drawn out, populated with characters who never really progress past their cookie cutter Japanese villain stages. As for the Wolverine, the plot does offer him a chance to reflect on an important life choice, especially when his powers are ripped from him without permission. Well, sort of, because he still manages to soldier on through the rest of the movie slicing people up. The premise had great potential for character development, but Jackman, while clearly comfortable and confident in his role, is just the same grunting, screaming guy he always was. Wolverine has certainly become more weary over the years, but I've grown tired of him too.

I think it's fair to say that I didn't particularly enjoy The Wolverine. It's watchable, yes, and pretty to look at, with some great action sequences. But a lacklustre plot filled with boring characters did little to rouse my interest. Probably the best thing about this movie is the mid-credits sequence at the end, but you'll have to make it through the rest first. If you like your average Blockbuster superhero movie, and indeed if you enjoyed The Last Stand and Origins, this is a safe bet. But with so many other greater movies coming out, I can't help but be disappointed.

My rating: 2/5

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Today's Review: Matchmakers: Yummy Honeycomb

Christmas means Matchmakers, or so I assume, I only see them around this time of year. I must admit that I don't think I've ever eaten Matchmakers. I'm not a fan of mint chocolate, you see, and that seems to be the flagship flavour. But today I picked up a box of the new flavour of Matchmakers, Yummy Honeycomb.

Lots of little chocolatey sticks, more than I was expecting really, you get a lot for your money (when they're half price anyway). As the box suggests, these are indeed honeycomb flavoured. Also, as the box implies, they are also yummy. The chocolate is littered with tiny, crunchy honeycomb pieces that give quite a bold flavour. Perhaps a little too bold, they taste quite fresh in a minty kind of way, much like fruit flavoured chewing gum still has that distinct minty taste. Perhaps it's just me, but while they are tasty, and moreish, the flavour is just a little bit off. I'll have to pick up the orange flavour to form a proper opinion, but these are definitely worth a try.

My ratimg: 4/5

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Today's Review: Haribo Fangtastics

I bet you thought Halloween was over. Well, you're right, but that didn't stop me picking up various Halloween treats at half the price a couple of days after. Among the bunch were Haribo Fangtastics, which are obviously a Halloween themed version of Tangfastics, and perfectly named too. I don't have a picture, because I scoffed them all, so you'll just have to make do with this wall of text, and your imagination.

Anyway, Fangtastics, unlike their regular counterpart, consist of only two different types of sweet. There are different coloured, foam backed bats, and the titular fangs. The bats are pretty tasty, coming in several lovely flavours that are as good as the crocodiles from the original pack. The fangs, however, are something quite different. They look the part, consisting of two teeth jutting out from some gummy gums, and while I'm not sure what the flavour is, it's great. These terrifying teeth are sour, sweet, fruity, and once I ate one it was hard to stop. There's nothing in Tangfastics like them, so I'm quite sad that I probably won't be able to get some more before next Halloween, and you should be too. Fangtastics are, quite simply, fantastic.

My rating: 5/5

Friday, 15 November 2013

Today's Review: Cadbury Little Wishes

I reviewed Cadbury Wishes at the beginning of this year, and was quite surprised as how tasty they were despite initially looking a bit boring. Well, this year Cadbury have brought out a bag full of miniature versions of their wishes, and once again I have held off on buying them as I didn't think they'd be anything special. But, since they were on offer, I took the plunge.

This bag contains star shaped chocolates that come in two forms. One is plain Dairy Milk, and the other has a truffle centre, much like the larger version. I was under the impression that it was a lucky dip situation, but then it was pointed out to me that each kind has a different pattern on top, so my illusion was shattered. Still, I'm not too fussed with the patterns on chocolate, just how it tastes, and these taste good. The diminished size makes the truffle not quite as delicious as the bigger version, there's just not enough filling to give that magnificently creamy taste. As for the milk chocolate stars, they're Dairy Milk, so obviously they taste great, but it makes me wish that all the stars were truffles. Still, it's a bag full of Dairy Milk goodness, so I can't complain too much. Not as good as some of the other Cadbury offerings lately, but definitely a tasty treat that's worth picking up.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Today's Review: Mr. Kipling Winter Whirls

Do you want to eat a mince pie, but don't like mince pies? Well, you're weird, but Mr. Kipling has brought out these Winter Whirls, which are like your regular Vienesse Whirls, but with a mince pie flavour filling. To be honest, it sounds like a very strange idea. If you want to eat mince pies, Mr. Kipling offer several different varieties, why would you want a mince pie flavoured whirl?

Well, I guess because they're nice, that's why. It's the same massively crumbly pastry you get in your regular Vienesse Whirls, and while the filling lacks the token chunkiness of regular mincemeat, it certainly tastes like a mince pie. The buttercream adds to the overall flavour as well. It probably would have been good to add a hint of brandy flavour to it, but it does make for a nice, creamy, crumbly mine pie treat. These don't give the full mince pie experience, but they're a nice alternative. Not as good as the originals, but they're certainly worth a go.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Today's Review: Fruittella Magics

Oooh, magic Fruittella. What illusions can they conjure, what daring feats can they perform? Well, they're flavour changing sweets. Not exactly a new idea, I've already tried Starburst's version of these, but I was willing to give these a try to see if they're any better (it wouldn't be hard).

Two flavours? That's not a great start. The Starburst Morphs have three. But still, these do seem to be quite interesting flavours, with no repeats either. We have orange which changes to strawberry (which is good, I prefer strawberry), and raspberry which changes to lime. Also, from what I've seen so far, you get five of each in every packet. That's a nice touch. 

Now, I don't eat Fruitella a lot, but I'm not sure why, because they generally taste awesome. They're generally a lot smoother than Starburst, and these Magics are no exception. They flavours are bold, and the sweets are easy to chew, with none of the weird residue that is left behind when you eat the Morphs. As for the flavours, they're all good and distinct. You can really taste them changing, and it's hard for me to decide which flavour is my favourite. It turns out that flavour changing sweets can be done right, so keep an eye out for Fruittella Magics, they're delicious.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Today's Review: Penn State Maple Bacon Pretzels

I reviewed Penn State's limited edition Halloween pretzels a few weeks back, but apparently they're not content with releasing just one interesting flavour this year. So here are some maple bacon pretzels, just in time for Christmas.

Yeah, bacon and maple syrup in pretzel form. While it may not seem like an inherently Christmassy flavour, it just seems to fit in nicely next to all the packets of Christmas themed nuts, and despite my overall hatred of meat flavour crisp products, I couldn't resist giving these a try.

Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. These pretzels actually do have a hint of bacon to them. It's more of a smoky flavour, but there's definitely a meaty taste that goes quite well with the thick, crunchy pretzels. Things get really good when the maple flavour comes in. It's sweet, almost sickly so, but the way it compliments the smoky bacon taste just makes for an overall tasty experience. Even after eating these pretzels, the dust left on your fingers is even worth a lick, for a deliciously sweet and smoky taste.

I wasn't expecting to enjoy these as much as I did, but Penn State have brought out another great flavour. They may have missed a trick with making the pretzels snowflake shaped, but I'm not mad. These are some delicious pretzels that are definitely worth a try.

My rating: 5/5

Monday, 11 November 2013

Today's Review: Voss Water

Humans need water, that's undeniable. If we don't get enough water, we'll die, and we have to drink quite a lot of it to stay healthy. Fortunately, those of us in developed countries have a limitless supply on tap. But who wants regular, boring, mere life-saving water? What if we want a higher class of water that we can throw our money at? Well, Voss have you covered.

This bottle of water set me back £1.45. That's £3.86 per litre, for water. Sure, it comes in a funky glass bottle, but why the hell does water cost this much? Well, it's super pure, apparently, pulled up from an underground layer of sand and rock that bears water. It's naturally filtered and extremely low in minerals, so needless to say I was expecting the most amazing bottle of water I've ever tasted in my life.

Well, it certainly tastes like water. Very nice water, yes, but still water. I've never been one to be able to discern the purity of water, in fact I rarely drink just water, I find it quite bland and tasteless. But nevertheless, Voss does have a clean, crisp taste, perhaps not significantly more so than other mineral waters I've tried, but it's good. I certainly won't buy it again though. As good as it may be, it's certainly not worth the price. After all, it's just water.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Today's Review: Reviews

Here it is, my 1000th review. I've reviewed many things since I started this blog, from movies and food to inanimate objects and concepts. Some have been in depth, others have not. But after all this time, there's something I've neglected to review, and something that could certainly use some evaluation. I'm talking about reviews themselves.

We all know what a review is. They're everywhere, be they published on dedicated review sites, summarised on movie posters, or mentioned in passing by a friend. Everywhere we go we're bombarded with other people's opinions on what's good and what's not. But should we take notice? As much as they are ingrained into our society, are reviews actually a good thing? Well, they certainly are, to a degree. We live in an age where there is a sheer amount of things to consume, more than probably hundreds, if not thousands of lifetimes worth. Back in the stone age, things were so simple. Cave? Good. Sabre tooth tiger? Bad. Fire? Scary, but useful.

Nowadays, though, an individual cannot even hope to scratch the surface of all the stuff on offer. We cannot visit every place, watch every movie, eat all the food that exists. We must seek out the best of the best, in order to use our short time on this Earth effectively, and what better way to do that than to gather opinions from those in the know? Reviews are a very helpful tool in deciding what is worth our precious time. Obviously some are more in depth than others. A review in a respected publication will clearly outline the pros and cons of something. But even a passing "it's alright" from a friend can do wonders for our decision making. In this respect, reviews are fantastic. They let us weed out the crap, to find things that match our interests, and live life to the fullest. Unfortunately, there's one thing that stops reviews from being perfect. Human nature.

You see, humans are extremely divisive beings. You'll never meet two people who share exactly the same interests and opinions. People have different instincts, upbringings, even taste buds, that makes experiences between any two people completely different. So how can we trust what anyone says? Why do we seek out other people's opinions on so many things, when they could end up being completely wrong or misguided?

As well as having different tastes and opinions, humans are also prone to such psychological effects as confirmation bias. If a person holds a certain belief or opinion, they are likely to favour information that conforms to that opinion. Let's say I have an obsession with a certain movie director. I've loved every one of his films thus far, but while looking up reviews for his new feature, I find that some have slammed it, while other have nothing but praise. I am likely to disregard those reviews that are being nasty to this awesome person, and may end up going to watch some poorly made turd of a movie that was the result of a fever dream. In this case, reviews can end up being completely ineffective. Indeed, many people only read reviews after they watch a movie. Look at any forum on IMDB and you'll see people saying "I can't believe this got good reviews, it's rubbish!", or vice versa. Reviews are used to start arguments, with people trying to win points for their side, because apparently it's our nature to be at war with ourselves, even if it's over how tasty the new Starbucks coffee is.

Another major issue is that reviewers themselves are unreliable. Take my aforementioned "previously good director makes crappy movie" scenario. If the movie is genuinely terrible, the people who gave it a good rating could have easily been paid off to ensure some good press, meaning more people will see the movie. It's hard sometimes to pick out when people are giving genuine opinion or spouting corporate twaddle. There's also the fact that people's tastes change significantly over time. A reviewer may love something one day, and harbour a deep seated hatred for it the next. Even I have found myself enjoying certain foods, only to find that I gave a pretty scathing review not a few months before. So what's the point of reviews, really? Humans are an argumentative, entirely subjective bunch who can barely make up their own minds, let alone effectively inform someone else.

Well, the truth is, having reviews is a hell of a lot better than not having them. Without any kind of review process, we'd be wandering around, scared to try anything new, probably even more set in our own ways than we are now. If Og hadn't mentioned casually to Ug that while fire does indeed burn your flesh, it cooks up a mean tiger steak if you're careful, we might still be shivering in our caves. So while reviews are flawed in a lot of ways, I feel the good outweighs the bad. Even with our biases, we can still pick out things that we can enjoy. There are plenty of reviews out there, enough for anyone to make an informed decision on pretty much anything. As for me, I'll certainly keep on reviewing. So here's to the next 1000, and beyond.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Today's Review: Mrs. Renfro's Raspberry Chipotle & Mango Habanero Salsa

I travelled to London the other day, and visited the branch of Whole Foods that is close to Camden Town station. I was there for one thing, and one thing only, another flavour of Mrs. Renfro's salsa. Well, two things, actually, I needed something to dip into the salsa. But that goes without saying.

You see, a couple of months back, I ventured into Whole Foods and was very surprised with its Tardis-like nature. The store stretches pretty far back, and the shelves filled with organic, fancy, quite expensive products (compared to my average Tesco shop that is). But I didn't want something simply organic, I wanted something interesting, and right near the back of the store, I found Mrs. Renfro's Mango Habanero Salsa:

Fruity and spicy? Sign me up. I'm not normally a fan of salsa. It's rarely that spicy, and the chunks kind of throw me off, but this jar seemed to be offering me a higher tier salsa experience, and that it did. The habanero is certainly the star of the show, making every mouthful spicy, but not enough to burn your face off. The quality of the ingredients must be top notch as well, as all the chunks just added to the overall experience. As for the mango, beautifully done. There's just a distinct fruity undertone that is always lurking, but takes over once the initial spiciness has worn off. The spicy and sweet don't vie for your attention, they work together perfectly. It's probably the best salsa I'd tasted in a long time.

So after that experience, I was eager to get back to Whole Foods and see what else Mrs. Renfro had to offer. I passed up on the ghost chilli (next time, oh yes, next time), and went for the above pictured Raspberry Chipotle. Obviously not as spicy as the Mango Habanero, but I love raspberries, so I had to give it a go. I have to say, this variety was flawless too. The salsa has a lasting spicy kick that doesn't overwhelm the tastebuds, while the raspberry provides a lovely fruity flavour throughout, mixing in wonderfully with the tomatoes and peppers. If you like salsa, Mrs. Renfro's flavours are a must. Even if you don't like salsa, try them anyway, because they're delicious.

My rating: 5/5

Friday, 8 November 2013

Today's Review: "The Bear & The Hare" John Lewis Christmas Advert

All other festivities are out of the way, no one can say it's too early for Christmas now. So it's nigh time for the TV adverts to come out in full force, to instill us with festive spirits and warm hearts. Some companies may go for the comedy factor, some will attempt to reduce us to blubbering, sentimental wrecks. Iceland will probably just parade out a selection of weird frozen desserts that cost £1. But here's John Lewis' offering, The Bear & The Hare.

Yes, it's the lovely, animated story of a bear and a hare who are the best of buds, but winter is coming, so Bear needs to hibernate, you know, to survive. This leaves Hare feeling very sad, because Bear never gets to see the wonder of Christmas. So, in John Lewis' own words, "This year Hare has a brilliant idea".

So while the other woodland animals set about decorating a gigantic tree (the birds do most of the work), Hare leaves a present at the mouth of Bear's cave, which turns out to be an alarm clock set for Christmas morning. So Bear wakes up, takes a wander, and discovers the magic of Christmas. How lovely, now you want to shop at John Lewis. Except now I know that John Lewis are advocated for animal cruelty.

You see, as much as this ad wants you to think that Bear and Hare are best buds, surely Hare would be more concerned with his friend's survival during the harsh winter months. Sure, Bear might like to see the wonder that is Christmas Day, but it happens during a time that he will likely freeze to death, which is why he is naturally hibernating. But Hare doesn't care about that, he leaves an intricately wrapped (for a hare) clock that will ring incessantly on Christmas morning, which will not only rouse Bear from his life-saving slumber, but force him to fumble about with the wrapping paper with his big bear paws and then figure out how to switch the damn thing off. He probably only left the cave to give Hare a slap and tell him to never do that again, but then he's distracted by the wonder of Christmas, so it's alright really. He can probably just make a fur coat out of the small rodents that he'll eat for a snack during his rude awakening. Not that there are many small rodents around, he probably ate most of them already. You know what? Let's not talk about the plot anymore. It's just not right.

So let's look at the ad itself. It certainly looks very nice. The animation is top notch, and despite there being a few different styles thrown in, it all works well together. The visuals do very well to invoke the spirit of Christmas, even though the delivery of the message is a bit... weird. I know John Lewis can do a lot more human stuff, their 2011 offering was fantastic, and last year's made me feel warm and fuzzy, even with the leading snowman. This just seems a bit lacklustre. A grandiose execution of a not-so-great idea. Even the soundtrack is a bit off. The choice of Somewhere Only We Go is a great fit, but why is Lily Allen singing it? Her distinct accent just isn't a good fit for the song, and certainly doesn't do much to make me feel Christmassy.

The Bear & The Hare is a good offering from John Lewis, at least on the surface. It looks fantastic, and carries the "joy of giving" theme that they've upheld over the last few years, but it just pales in comparison to their previous Christmas ads. The Bear & The Hare is a good attempt, but it probably won't be the best Christmas ad we'll see this year, especially now the Toys 'R' Us theme is back where it belongs.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Today's Review: KFC Scorcher Burger

I'm not even gonna bother with the promotional/actual burger picture comparison, we all know how it is. So here is KFC's new burger offering, the Scorcher. It's not exactly new territory for them, seeing as the Zinger burger has been around as long as I can remember, and the Supercharger came out a couple of years back. So I wasn't exactly expecting much from this offering, especially not the intense spiciness it claims to have.

This burger is a little different than previous offerings. It does have the old Supercharger sauce, which does have a nice kick, but there's also a Peri Peri Relish on the bottom bun, to add to the spiciness even more. As such, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the heat. It wasn't exactly intense, but it definitely left my taste buds tingling. The chicken is as good as always, and in the Scorcher there seems to be enough sauce around to not be overwhelmed by either the meat or the bread. Still, it's a quite basic burger, and nothing particularly interesting, but KFC have definitely stepped it up a notch with the spiciness angle, especially since the meal is coupled with Hot Rods and 2Hot4U dip. This is a nice burger, definitely worth a try.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Today's Review: Princess Chocolate Covered Marshmallows

Marshmallows and chocolate? What could go wrong? Yes, Princess, those master marshmallow makers, have come out with these chocolate coated marshmallows. These aren't your regular drippy chocolate fountain mallows though, they're encased in a thick shell of chocolatey goodness.

The chocolate is very nice. Perhaps not up there with the best of the best, but it's thick and creamy. The marshmallows themselves are smaller than your average Princess ones. Maybe it's because of their chocolatey prison. Marshmallows need to be free, man, they need room to breathe. But in this case, the smaller size means these mallows are denser than the average, but it actually works quite well with the chocolate, as the thick consistencies match each other and make for a tasty, filling treat. These are definitely worth a try, very tasty.

My rating: 5/5


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Today's Review: Rockstar SuperSours Bubbleburst

My last experience with Rockstar was not exactly a nice one, but I'm one to keep an open mind, and this can caught my eye. The Supersours label in particular piqued my interest, as sour stuff is right up my street. Despite the flavour being "Bubbleburst", which is cryptic at best, I somehow guessed correctly that it was bubblegum flavoured. Maybe it was the blue packaging leading me gently to the conclusion.

So, a sour, bubblegum flavoured energy drink? Doesn't sound too nice on paper (or aluminium). The truth is, it isn't too nice, but it certainly isn't awful. The bubblegum flavour is pretty spot on, in the way that it tastes like all the other "bubblegum" flavoured sweeties around nowadays. Unfortunately, it wasn't sour at all, so that part left a lot to be desired. But hey, it tastes alright. It's still quite syrupy and sickly, but not as much as the last one I tried. Perhaps the overly artificial flavour takes the edge off the consistency for a bit. Either way, I managed to polish off the whole can, but I probably wouldn't buy it again. The flavour, while pretty spot on, doesn't really work well with an energy drink, and it's just a bit too sickly for my tastes.

My rating: 2/5

Monday, 4 November 2013

Today's Review: Dairy Milk Tasters

Apparently these Dairy Milk Tasters have been out for a while, but I've certainly never seen them before. I pretty much love everything Dairy Milk, so I wasted no time tearing open this bag, even though it didn't seem to be full of anything new or crazy.

This is what you get. Small balls of pure Dairy Milk. So why do these exist? Don't we already have Buttons, Chocos, Wispa Bites, Dairy Milk bars themselves? But I didn't dismiss these spherical morsels so quickly, because Dairy Milk is delicious, and I will eat it in any form. The balls, while quite small, are certainly packed full of chocolatey goodness, and offer a more filling experience per piece than even a Giant Button, and a denser taste than your average Wispa Bite. After eating a couple, I popped the rest of the bag in the freezer, and a short while later was crunching down on perfectly separated pieces of cold Dairy Milk goodness, something that's hard to do when all the pieces are attached in a big bar. So are these a crazy flavour? No. Are they even that original? No. But they're a different way to experience Dairy Milk, and the chocolate still tastes as good as ever.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Today's Review: Refreshers Mallow Rolls

Not content with turning Refreshers into squashy, chewy sweets, Barratt have also decided to transform their fizzy delights into marshmallow form. I don't eat marshmallows too often, but these looked too good to pass up. Thinking about it, I don't ever remember eating flavoured marshmallows, and these boast orange and lemon flavour all in one. They certainly live up to their "Rolls" name as well, with the nice rings of colour throughout each marshmallow.

As for the taste? Pretty nice actually. They're very sweet, and certainly not perfect, but they are as soft and squishy as marshmallows should be. The fruity flavours are pretty nice, and mix with the marshmallow to give an almost lemon meringue-like taste. Sadly, they lack any of the fizziness that makes Refreshers great, but it's still a good effort to give us a new product, and they're certainly nice enough that I couldn't stop eating them once I started.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Today's Review: Starbucks Duffin

It's November, and that meant it was time to head down to Starbucks for my annual Eggnog Latte fix. But while I was queuing this interesting treat caught my eye. It is a duffin, because it is literally a doughnut mixed with a muffin, there is no other way to describe it.

The top looks like a doughnut, the middle looks like a muffin, apart from the jam filling, that's a decidedly doughnut-like trait. It is, by all appearances, a doughnut mixed with a muffin. But how does it taste? Well, I've got to tell you, it tastes like a doughnut mixed with a muffin. The top part is definitely doughnut like, but deep inside it gives way to a more cakey flavour, although the doughnut texture remains. It's pretty much like a muffin, but crumblier, and a tad more sugary. It pretty much tastes like a doughnut mixed with a muffin. It's certainly nice, but the texture just seemed a bit off to me, and the combination of jam and muffin takes a little bit of getting used to.

If you like doughnuts, and you like muffins, I'd say you'd probably enjoy a duffin. If bakery products could have babies, this would be the child of pedigree doughnuts and muffins. I really don't know what else to say, it's a doughnut mixed with a muffin. Just go try it, it's a unique experience.

My rating: 4/5

Friday, 1 November 2013

Today's Review: Dairylea Dunkers Mighty Mature & Fruity Pineapple

When I was a young boy, I was extremely excited about the release of the original Dairylea Dunkers, as I'm sure most kids were. Breadsticks, with cheese to dunk them in, all in one convenient package? What's not to love? Since the first instalment, Dairylea have introduced Ritz into the mix, which is an amazing move, but now they've gone one step further by releasing these Ritz Dunkers with different flavoured cheeses. I may not have eaten too many packs of Dunkers during my childhood, but I had to pick up these new varieties to give them a go, because I'm an adult now and I can eat whatever I want, mum!

Ahem. There are two new flavours on offer here, in the form of "mighty mature" and "fruity pineapple". The mature is pretty self explanatory (not that the pineapple is particularly complex), but it's a nice change from the regular cheese spread you'd get in your garden variety Dunkers. It's not exactly extra mature, but there's a tang to it that gives a nice little kick.

The pineapple flavour is pretty fantastic too. Everyone knows how well pineapple goes with cheese, be it cottage cheese or little blocks of cheddar on cocktail sticks. This is no exception. The cheese is smooth and creamy, with a subtle yet sweet pineapple flavour. Coupled with the Ritz biscuits you are given to dunk in the cheese, it's a great salty, sweet experience. The pineapple flavour is probably my favourite of the two, but I can't find fault with either. The only problem I find is managing to finish the biscuits without having a substantial amount of cheese left that I then have to scoop out with my finger. But hey, that's my fault, and practice makes perfect, right?

My rating: 10/10