26 September 2013

Hot crisps. You know you want to. (Sept 2013)

It's been a few months since the last insertcrisps.com hot crisps update, so:

Brandless Chips Picantes. Found these in Lidl. Despite being labelled as "Jalapeño", they aren't as picante as they claim to be. In fact, they are incredibly bland. Some vegetable pepper flavour, but no heat whatsoever. On the Insert Crisps heat scale: zero. Avoid.

Pipers Chorizo: These babies are rather nice. They are sweet and smoky and spicy (2.5 or 3 on our heat scale) from the smoked paprika in the chorizo, and they are suitably savoury and meaty. Very good, although they are exceedingly salty. I must get some more.

I was hoping to compare these with the new Burts chorizo flavour, but I haven't been able to get hold of any yet. I have, however, obtained some of their new crinkly Jalapeño & Red Pepper flavour:

Burts Jalapeño & Red Pepper: These crisps have an appealing appearance, but then Burts know how to make an attractive crisp. "Wave cut" (crinkle cut to you and me), with a rich red-orange colour and an excellent crunch, these have a strong red pepper flavour and are immediately hot in the throat and on the tongue from the jalapeños. This then builds further to a searing 5 on our heat scale – the hottest crisps we've tested yet (even hotter than the Nando's Peri-Peri crisps, also made by Burts, but equalling the Lidl's Inferno variety). Find, eat... drink water, eat more... repeat until false.

28 August 2013

Memories of Norwegian ferries

Found this note that I made last year on my phone when in Arctic Norway:
“Loo on ferry from Bjarkøy: exploding taps, paper towels soluble immediately on contact with wet skin. Very tight for space: even though I’m still relatively slender and agile it was almost impossible to open or shut the door past myself. Pity the corpulent tourist...”

Happy days.

21 August 2013

An unlikely thrashing for Man United

Portland 7 Man United 1
Top marks to the wag who created this fine piece of satire that I saw yesterday. Beautifully hand-painted letters in the correct roadsign font. Genius.

06 August 2013

Finding Unicode characters

Neat little service I stumbled across at shapecatcher.com that lets you draw a character, and it will try to find a match in the Unicode set.

03 August 2013

Burts bacon crisps – alas no more

The last of our packets of Burts bacon crisps, now formerly the best crisps in the world as Burts have discontinued the line. This is a crying shame, as these were unutterably superb and hold a special place in our hearts due to times and places we've shared a packet or two. I've lost count of the hours I've spent tracking them down over the last decade or so as their availability in local stockists varied. We even visited the factory and bought a boxful at one point. (Maybe I am a bit sad.)

Truth be told, I took these photos six weeks ago. I'm still getting over the loss (hence the hiatus in blog postings). I'll have to console myself with something hot and spicy. I see Burts have some new lines for me to try...

Fractional fail

Bright and shiny new fingerposts on the Dorset coast path near Burton Bradstock where the path has had to be diverted due to landslips... but on this one the distances have been poorly marked: "11/4" and "21/2". It should read, of course, "1¼" and "2½". Another nearby sign has spaces before the fractions, which is better, sort of.

06 May 2013

Hot crisps update, May 2013

Hello snack fans everywhere. (Good evening, Enceladus!) Here we go again with another update on the hot/chilli crisps scene. Two more offerings for you this time: Real brand Jalapeno Pepper flavour, and Levi Roots’ Reggae Reggae crisps.

Reggae Reggae first. Groove cut, appropriately, and manufactured by our old friends in Devon, Burts, these babies have a pleasant appearance and flavour but no heat. Which is a shame, especially as the bag says “Medium”, not “Mild” (nor “suitable for patients recovering from surgery”). Reminiscent of our favourite Nando’s Hot Peri-Peri crisps (also made by Burts), but registering only 0.5, maybe 1 on the insertcrisps.com heat scale. Nice but not the full ker-ching.

Real (a make to be found in Starbuckses, and elsewhere) have repackaged their crisps in bold colours, and the relaunch includes this new (to us) flavour: Jalapeno Pepper. (What, no tilde?) They claim to be hot, and – huzzah – they are: we registered substantial heat on the tongue and in the throat, hitting 3 or 4 on our homebrewed heat scale. Very salty though. The colour is deep and golden, thanks to turmeric being used as a colouring. Recommended.

13 April 2013

Gotta love Unicode

Love this decodeunicode video on Vimeo. Basically it's all the Unicode characters, at a rate of some per second, and it's transfixing. And two and a half hours long. Nice soundtrack too if you like minimalist electronica (and I do).

Now that’s Crème Brûlée ice cream

You may recall my utter disgruntlement with Carte D’Or Crème Brûlée ice cream recently (I described it as “basically just foam”). But now, hot on its heels comes Häagen-Dazs’ version, from their Secret Sensations range (name: 0/10).

Yum. It’s suitably creamy and ... mm ... ooh, nice crunchy “crème-brûlée-caramelised-top” bits, and there are pools of gooey melty caramelly sugary stuff, and, well, you get the picture. That’s how you do Crème Brûlée ice cream, people.

10 February 2013

Chilli crisps roundup: Waitrose parsnip crisps yay; Sunbites woo; Lidl chili storm meh (Feb 2013)

It’s been a while since we last discussed chilli-flavoured crisps here (no, really, it has), and there have been some new developments, so here’s the February 2013 update from insertcrisps.com.

El Tequito “chili storm” tortillas from Lidl

Seeing as Lidl have previously served up joy in the shape of their Inferno chilli crisps, I thought these tortilla chips would be worth a go, but sadly they are a disappointment. The texture is oddly hard and bony, rather than pleasingly crunchy. When it comes to flavour, well, nothing much comes at all: there is a certain taste of popcorn, and they are a bit sweet (sugar ranks high on the ingredients list). Definitely more of a slight tomatoey salsa vibe than chilli, and there is absolutely no heat at all – stone-cold zero on the insertcrisps.com heat scale. “Chili storm” my elbow. “Mild salsa” flavour more like.

Walkers Sunbites, sweet chilli flavour

These were a present/suggested test sample from my auxiliary tester. I don’t normally do Sweet Chilli flavours here because we are looking for heat, but nevertheless I’m glad to report that they are very pleasant and quite moreish. Nice, a bit tomatoey, with some gentle chilli heat (scoring 1). Nice texture too.

Waitrose winter-spiced parsnip crisps with chilli

These are absolutely my new favourite thing. I have a great fondness for parsnip crisps but it’s hard to find good ones. These, I’m glad to report, are very very good indeed. They pack a proper chilli kick (3 on the insertcrisps.com scale) – really nice and spicy with cinnamon and, according to the packet, cloves (I must admit I couldn’t tell you what cloves actually taste like, although reportedly they go well with Tom Collins mix and frozen pie crust). Given that these crisps are labelled “winter-spiced”, it may be that they will only be available for a short time, so stock up now, kids.

07 February 2013

Time Team map fail

Last week's Time Team featured a map animation showing the routes taken by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in the invasion of Britain.

Curious how the various peoples' homelands, as shown on the map, exactly match the borders of modern-day Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.

Fail, people. Back to school for you. Fail, fail, fail.

26 January 2013

Cinnamon pretzels

Delicious, large, soft, cinnamon pretzels from Patisserie Melissa on Camden High Street. Yum.

19 January 2013

Meaningless offers

OK, this is a particular bugbear of mine: claims such as "Removes up to 100% of stains", "Up to 50% off" and so on. These are almost meaningless and simply designed to mislead.

If something removes "up to 100% of stains", then maybe on rare occasions it might remove all the stains, but usually it will remove anything from 0% to 99% of them. And here, "up to 60% less" might as well say "Prices reduced on some products. In some cases by 10%, in others 25%, in a few 60%. But don't expect to find any price reductions better than this. And some products haven't had their prices reduced at all." Aaargh.

04 January 2013

Crème Brûlée ice cream? Meh brûlée, more like

Regular readers of this blog (poor you) will be aware that I am a bit of a fan of ice cream. You may also have noticed mentions in passing that I'm partial to crème brûlée. So imagine the general yayness I felt on seeing this stuff on sale. I mean, crème brûlée ice cream – what's not to like?

Well, there is a layer of burnt – sorry, caramelised – sugar on top, and the flavour of the dessert is fairly CB-like. But the texture is an utter disappointment: it's basically just foam. It barely registers in the mouth at all. And there are interesting-looking layers and swirls within the ice cream, but these prove to be the same stuff, just a different shade of beige. Totally unremarkable, I'm afraid.