Tag Archives: food review

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

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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

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

THANKSGIVING SPECIAL: TURKEY

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mmm, cardboard

I love meat. I don’t eat it anymore, because it comes from dead animals, but that is not to say it doesn’t taste nice. It is one of the mournful actualities of human existence that all the most enjoyable things are laden with immorality. Except masturbation. I fail to see how such an act can be considered immoral; it’s not like the baby-juice runs out or anything. And it’s not like, in the normal course of things, anybody is harmed by it. It is the quintessential ‘free lunch’. (Not literally, of course.)

Now, it’s been five years since carcass has passed my lips, with the exception of a much anticipated but ultimately somewhat underwhelming salt beef sandwich ‘cheat’ meal in New York at the tail end of 2015. Nonetheless, my memories are such that I am imbued with a degree of authority regarding what follows. And even if I had no such authority, so what? We live in a post-truth age, capeesh?

The subject of today’s lecture concerns turkey, and we’ll get to it in due course my pretty ones. But first I want to talk about football. Football fans can be a very witty bunch. One of my favourite chants occurs using the schema, “[referring to x] you’re just a shit y”, where x is deemed to be similar to but ultimately less good than y. An example: Carlos Tevez and Diego Maradona are both Argentinian, but the latter was much better than the former, leading fans of whichever team Tevez was playing against to chant “you’re just a shit Maradona.” Oh, the hilarity! My favourite example was when Spurs fans chanted at Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, “you’re just a sh*t Peter Schmeichel’, Peter being Kasper’s dad and a superior goalkeeper.

Back to the turkey, my friends, back to the turkey. (A phrase no immigrant wants to hear. Too far?) Turkey is just sh*t chicken. There, I’ve said it. It tastes like chicken, but is just drier and less tasty. If it wasn’t for its hallowed position at the centre of tradition, no one would ever voluntarily choose it. It requires slathering* in sauce before attaining a palatable level of moisture, and comes with so many trimmings and accoutrements that one is naturally led, with suspicion, to ask: just what is it trying to hide? A complete lack of tastiness, that’s what. It’s like when a munter cakes herself in make-up or swaddles himself in designer clothes.

I think the world would be a happier place if we did away with this turkey bollocks and just ate chicken instead. Good, old-fashioned chicken. Chicken, chicken, chicken. Seriously, man, that’s the answer: chicken. Chick chick chick chickchicken, lay a little egg for me. Think about it: would there still be wars if we ate chicken instead of turkey? Wait! Where are you taking me? Let me go! I’m NAPOLEON goddammit.

Anyway, to sum up this lecture: chicken > turkey.

Sod it all, I’ll have the nut roast.

*one of my favourite words

GREEK MAC

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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

TSAKIRIS TRIPATO CRISPS

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There has been a bubbling revolutionary fervour in Greece* for the last few years.

This leads to the obvious question: how has this affected the nation’s domestic crisp market?

Significantly.

The world has seen the flat crisp. The world has seen crinkle cut crisp. Tsakiris Tripato brings….get this…the lattice.

Much in the way that fourth generation astroturf proved to be a qualitative game-changer, this ‘third-gen’ crisp has done the same in its own market.

I can’t stress this enough: THERE ARE HOLES IN THIS CRISP. UNIFORM, DELIBERATE HOLES.

With enough structural joints to entertain a 9/11 conspiracist for hours, this is the crunch to end all crunches – perhaps appropriate for a country so acutely feeling the effects of global financial folly. The flavour of my pack, ‘Smokey BBQ’, was brought to the peak of its powers in this innovative crisp format.

Ironically, though, it is this crunch that I fully believe, in the right hands, could bring Greece out of its current dip. This product is what the world wants. It’s just a shame that it won’t do that – Tsakiris being wholly owned by the Coca Cola Company.

Best stick to the traditional revolution idea then, I suppose.

9/10

*perhaps influenced by cuisine innovations seen in a 2015 trip, I am currently residing in Greece. Expect more Hellenic nonsense where this came from.