Category Archives: CASUAL GRAZING

PINGVIN LÆKKERMIXEN

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Average Food Blog does not shy away from niche international foodstuffs, and after a Danish friend left a half-finished bag of these Scandi snacks in my home, it provided a perfect opportunity to slip back into a subgenre of mediocre food writing we know so well.

First things first: on the packaging reads the words ‘Blød SKUM’. This means ‘blood SCUM’, and I have no desire to hear the views of either a) Google Translate or b) Danes as a means of proving me otherwise.

The pingvin after which these sweets are so named is also illustrated on said packaging, taking on a downright threatening pose. Armed with knife and fork, instruments of no traditional role in the eating of liquorice sweets, it is a blatant admission that the blood scum in question is of human origin.

As it transpires, the liquorice/blood scum mix is very pleasant.

I am an unashamed Liquorice Allsort fan, against all whims of fashion and good taste, and despite the addition of blood scum, these are very much playing on a similar stage. In fact, with all due respect to Bassett’s, the murderous polar bird sweets are the headliners, to Allsorts’ mid-afternoon set.

There is a broader palette of flavours here, from a deeper, more oaky liquorice than the British tongue is quite used to, to the tang of fruit. The sugary bits are more subtle than Bassett’s, more an exciting courtship than a hook-up in a pub toilet.

While this is not a Euro sweetmeat selection on a par with Isleri + Eurocrem or even Salam de Biscuiti, it is a solid, varied and worthy effort from our north European neighbours. Ultimately, though, not one for the squeamish.

7/10

TESCO 7 CHEESE SELECTION PACK

7-cheese

 

Guest blog by Dan Simpson

 

A cheeseboard at Christmas is de rigueur these days, and the supermarkets want to make it easy for you by offering a convenient cheese selection pack. Why spend two minutes choosing your own cheeses from the same shelves for a lovingly custom-made cheeseboard when you can just buy this and be done with it? I’ve eaten three of these atrocities over the holidays, and I’ll tell you why.

I have attempted to write individual reviews of the seven cheeses on offer in this selection: a difficult task, given that were you to spear a bit of any of these cheeses at random, you would not be able to distinguish one from another. The box says to “Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving to allow flavours to develop” – though you needn’t bother, since the flavours develop like a poorly-taken low-light night-time photograph: you wonder why you even bothered in the first place.

Brie

Brie is a bad karaoke version of cheese: the coward’s Camembert. And Camembert is itself a spineless cop out in the face of Vacherin. To choose Brie is to say: I don’t know what I’m doing, and I despise taste. But we have not chosen Brie: it has been chosen for us in this box of cheese-approximations. Which is appropriate, given your decision to buy this selection in the first place.

Cheddar

Some will say that cheddar – the most popular and, yes, often blandest of British cheeses – deserves no place on a civilised cheeseboard. Those people are snobs, and wrong: an aged cheddar, full of flavoursome bite and crunchy tyrosine crystals, is a strong part of the line-up, holding its own against the blues and soft Frenches. This cheddar is not that. This is a disgrace: not just to cheddar, but to all cheese.

Red Leicester

Indistinguishable from the cheddar, aside from the highlighter-pen-neon orange.

Edam

When chewing on this theoretically hard cheese, all rubber texture and polybutadiene taste, you may be forgiven for thinking that you forgot to remove the plastic that each of these cheeses comes vacuum-sealed in. Looking down to check and realising that no, this is it, this is the experience of this cheese, it may cross your mind to fish the packaging out of the bin and eat that instead.

Stilton

This is acceptable, in the way that Stilton often is. It tastes like a blue cheese: no more, no less. Your cheese selection is in trouble if this is the best thing on offer.

Austrian smoke flavoured processed cheese

This cheese doesn’t even have a proper name, merely a description of what it is. It’s an obvious joke told by an observational comic – with a bad Austrian accent designed to cover the deficiency of thought behind it. Adding ‘Austrian’ to the name to give it some continental gravitas is a superficial marketing trick no one is fooled by. And, given what Tesco have already done to Edam and Brie here, I can’t blame the EU for wanting nothing more to do with us.

Wensleydale with Cranberries

Grow up and buy some chutneys, and allow people to decide what fruit-flavours they want with their cheese – instead of foisting dried-up bits of cranberries into our mouths, which have the consistency and appeal of dead flies.

Summary

The word ‘selection’ in this product is a lie – it implies that thought and care has gone into the choosing of these cheeses. This is a magnificent smorgasbord of sub-mediocrity, adding up to much less than the sum of their parts. A cheeseboard can be a glorious showstopper: a bountiful overflowing of colours and shapes, textures and taste. Thoughtlessly bunging out this greyed-out selection box wastes that potential, and makes a mockery of indulgence at Christmas. Am I saying that this cheese selection has the power to singlehandedly ruin Christmas? Bitter experience says: yes.

TESCO 7 CHEESE SELECTION PACK: 7/10*

*It’s still cheese, and cheese is always welcome

FERRERO ROCHER

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Reader, I know full well what you want me to write in this blog.

You want me to go straight in on The Ambassador, don’t you.

You want me to put down on this niche blog what you’ve always wanted to express, namely this: fuck you, The Ambassador. Fuck your impeccable taste in mediocre sweetmeats, your mediocre moneyed guests with shit accents and over-enthusiasm for your mediocre sweetmeats.

Fuck everything you stand for, The Ambassador, you utter besuited prick. Fuck the diplomatic codes of politeness, clandestine soft intelligence gathering, sweetmeats arranged like ancient tombs.

But I can’t express any of that with honesty, no matter how much you might want it. Average Food Blog cannot be the crowd-pleaser you so eagerly crave.

Because Ferrero Rocher, if you look beyond all the abject wankery of Ferrero’s marketing department, are pretty decent.

Sure, it’s hardly the world’s best chocolate or premium nuts involved in the mix, but the combination of flavours and textures is somewhat compelling, especially within the context of finding yourself lolling in the sort of advanced state of passivity that only major Christian festivals can bring.

They are not the best of their food genre but nonetheless are indelibly linked to serial eating, much in the same way that Pringles are not a leading crisp but have the same effect.

Of course, there is some possibility that mind-altering chemicals have been injected into each and every bobbly, spherical melting pot of doom to make me feel this way. That ultimately I’m being duped, that the powers that be have got their claws into AFB in a way that strongly suggests the direct or at very least implied involvement of yes, you’ve guessed it, The Ambassador.

OK OK, fuck The Ambassador. You happy now?

Season’s Greetings to all on the internet.

FERRERO ROCHER: 7/10

QUICHE

quiche

just say no

Do you want to hear the most depressing joke in the world? Here goes: what do you get if you cross a really shit pie with an undercooked, anaemic cheese omelette?

A quiche, that’s what.

If you are an elderly woman looking for an inexpensive yet vaguely ‘sophisticated’ item of food to take to the vicar’s coffee morning down the village hall, then you just about might have an excuse for indulging in this soggy, tasteless abomination.

Or perhaps you actually enjoy the texture of mashed-up jellied eyeball encased in reconstituted sawdust.

If neither of the above applies to you, then what in God’s name are you doing? Put that bloody thing back on the shelf and get some proper food.

Be on the lookout: as the festive season approaches, it is probable that you will find yourself in a situation where kids are doing quiche. You may think it looks big and clever, but it isn’t. If you want pastry, have a pastry. If you want cheese then have some cheese. If you want some bacon then have some bacon.

Quiche? You’re better than that..

1/10

CARROT-FLAVOURED BREAD STICKS

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And never the twain shall…oh.

Bread sticks. Carrots. Average foods, both. I have often thought that the two should be combined.

Wait, did I write ‘often’? I meant ‘never’.

Greece has, though, long decided to bring the two together in mastication matrimony. And fair play to it, because as things have transpired, it’s proved a worthwhile endeavour.

Bread sticks are of reliable quality and frequency in Greece, so if anyone was going to pull this stunt off, it would be here. And it’s a stunt worthy of a beige, bready Evel Knievel.

The eating sensation goes something like this: bread stick, bread stick, no this is just a bread stick, wait a minute, here it comes, yes!

It’s a little sweet, mildly aromatic. Overall it’s not as bland as a bread stick, not as healthy as a carrot stick. The bread stick is the winner here, and the carrot can rightly feel a little exploited.

7/10

GREEK MAC

greek-mac

Readers, you get the Average Food Blog you deserve.

When it was suggested, via social media, that perhaps my first bit of Greece-based reportage covered a food that might be considered a little ‘high-end’ in its market, I was forced to make it abundantly clear that our philosophy to muse upon and review the average was still intact.

People of the internet, here is your average.

I lie to you not; there exists beneath the golden arches of the Hellenic state the ‘Greek Mac’. It is decidedly mediocre. It is served inside a cardboard wallet. 

Conversely, while abandoning the ‘Big’ of Macs found around the world in favour of an unimaginative nationalistic branding, it may in fact be bigger than a Big Mac. But this does not lead to an elongation of any tangible sort of pleasure. It tastes loads of yoghurt and little of anything else.

The pitta, standing in half-heartedly for a bun, was soft and a bit floury. Its shape was highly uniform. The lettuce, tomato and onion was haphazard and bland.

While unsurprisingly going in for those big 100% beef claims that McDonald’s is so fond of touting, the meat probably tastes marginally worse than that which can be found at Athens’ range of two Euro souvlaki joints.

That’s right – I am hereby claiming that 50% pig trotter 50% unknown ‘meat’ is superior in flavour to McDonald’s’ 100% beef. I cannot really compute what has gone wrong here, in part because I’m terribly hungover, following the kind of binge drinking which leads to the eating of a Greek Mac. In this context, it sort of did a job as a vaguely flavoured soaking device.

I ate this corporate national symbol in the early hours of the Greek 28th October public holiday. My show of sympathetic nationalism was met with slight bemusement, but mostly apathy. All the Greeks around me ordered Big Macs.

5/10

PANINIS

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There’s no easy way to write this, so I’ll write it the hard way: paninis are shit.

They are the bread equivalent of eating a fucking panini. That’s right; paninis are so bad they transcend their food genre and become a benchmark of badness.

It’s basically eating a slimline, slightly-rounded brick with anaemia and a tan as an afterthought. Eating a panini is a chore akin to cleaning the sand out of a well-used pair of astroturf football boots.

Paninis detract from any filling you could possibly put in a panini. Wraps, baps, buns, baguettes, scones, crackers – these and all other bread-based products are superior to this pointless, not hard, not soft, not flexible, not inflexible grillable nonsense.

If that’s the only fillable option you can think of in a given moment when standing gormless at the counter of your local cafe/deli/whatever, just order the filling, in your hands.

It’s almost as if paninis thought they’d be given a free ride forever, just for having a Mediterranean-tinged name. This cheap con trick is over.

And let’s make this clear; paninis have no direct connection whatsoever to sticker manufacturer Panini. The latter’s stickers, though grossly overpriced, provide hours of entertainment for children and adults alike. Much distance should be placed between these two paninis, outside of this blog.

I strongly recommend to governments everywhere: deal with your housing crisis by forcefully commandeering all existing paninis and building homes with them.

All this considered, I will still give them a single point simply for adding meaning to the day-middles of office workers.

PANINIS: 1/10