Sunday, 28 April 2013

Cadbury Crunchie Bar and Biscuits

I only discovered about a week ago that, in the world of confectionary, honeycomb isn't actual, hanging-from-a-tree-bees-live-in-it honeycomb. Yes, I have eaten real raw honeycomb before, but no, it didn't occur to me that the crunchy, golden, yellow, aerated stuff in chocolate bars and stuff were not dried-up honeycombs, but heated, risen and hardened sugar syrup.

Revelation aside, here is a review of Cadbury's Crunchie bar (65p), which is a block of honeycomb coated with milk chocolate.

If this sounds like diabetes to you, I assure you that it probably is. It is a sweet, decadent treat, and the crunchy honeycomb melts warmly in your mouth, with a great burnt sugar taste. However, a few bites into it and I started getting an uncomfortable, sharp feeling in my throat, from the sugar overload. It may have 185 calories (just think – half the bar is made up of air bubbles), alright for a chocolate bar, but every ounce of it is sugar, which is too much for one to handle.

On the other hand, the biscuit version of the Crunchie bar has become one of my favourite things ever.

There are 8 thick and round , chocolate-coated biscuits in a pack, which I grabbed at a good Tesco offer of £1. (U.P £1.79)

These biscuits are really ones to try. The chocolate coats a layer of biscuit and a layer of honeycomb, so you get varying textures – smooth milk chocolate, crunchy biscuit, and crispy honeycomb. The flavour in it is also really good. The honeycomb gives the biscuit a lovely taste instead of being overpowering, like in the bar, while the biscuit prevents chocolate and honeycomb combination from clogging your throat.

I often fill half my suitcase with cookies when I return to Singapore for visits during term break – these biscuits are definitely going in there.


I didn't have a good impression of Greggs right from the start.

The first time I heard about it was when I chanced upon an article on the Daily Mail, in which a Greggs employee acts like a gassed eight-year old and decides to badmouth artisan bread-maker, Paul Hollywood, for doing the plaited loaves all wrong and speaking like an Enid Blyton narrator. Accompanying the article was this picture of a Greggs shopfront:

I am not a big fan of the storefront. It looks more like a bookstore than a bakery to me.

The other thing is, you can't insult Paul Hollywood, you simply can't.

Just look at all that adorable-ness.

Bam. No one can make bread-making look more epic than the Hollywood.

The whole thing was probably a publicity stunt by Greggs, but nevertheless I chose Greggs, out of curiosity, as a lunch option while shopping in Hounslow.

The café section was preceded by a bakery section. I think. There were about two shelves, which contained doughnuts, muffins, and loaves which looked very neat and identical.

Moving on to the café section, they had yogurts, salads, pasties, cakes, Danish pastries, croques, sandwiches, pasta, coffee, and other quintessential café food items. The prices were really appealing, with pasties costing about £1.50 and a bowl of pasta for £2.99. 

A steak bake pasty and an iced apple cream Danish cost me exactly £3.

The steak bake was puff pastry filled with beef stew. I loved the warm, creamy and hearty taste of the beef stew, which were quite generous chunks.

Emma, my food buddy for the day, tried some of my dessert. After the meal, I commented, "I do wish that there was more apple in it, though."

She replied, "It was supposed to have apple in it?"

The Danish pastry sandwiched a thin layer of apple and sauce under a thick poof of whipped cream, storybook style. The apple's taste was drowned out under the cream which was a bit much, and I could only occasionally feel its gooey texture.

Greggs is a good option for a cheap café lunch, with tasty-looking pastries and a few other limited options for savoury items, which includes customisable sandwiches (Emma: "The lady took forever to make my sandwich, and look, all my onions are falling out.") and fish fingers. Not somewhere to return to day-after-day, but alright when on a budget and for convenience's sake. Their next step will be to redesign their banner and stop being so cocky and dissing my Hollywood.

Greggs (Hounslow)
181 High Street
Tel: 0208 577 2890

Greggs on Urbanspoon

Friday, 26 April 2013

Dorayaki Obsessed

Dorayaki refers to a Japanese confectionary, which is made up of two mini pancakes sandwiching a generous amount of azuki red bean paste in the middle – think dessert hamburger.

Before coming to London, I had never heard of dorayaki, and now I'm wondering: how many other great things in life have I missed out on!?

The first one which I encountered was from Japan Centre near Piccadilly Circus, which is a Japanese supermarket and restaurant. Knowing that a combination of strawberries and cream makes everything better, I decided to purchase a Wagashi (brand name) Strawberries & Cream Dorayaki from the fridge. (£1.59, maybe?)

I couldn't help but let my eyelids fall in ecstacy as I took a bite off the dorayaki. The pancakes are just so soft, light and fluffy, while the cream filling with strawberries blended and infused is smooth and delicious. What. A. Treat. It was love at first bite.

For a while, I was worried that I'd have to specially make a trip to Japan Centre every time I had a dorayaki craving, but my worries subsided when I realised that Wasabi, the express Japanese food franchise, sold different types of dorayaki as well. (£1.50 each)

Having had to pass by Hammersmith Broadway Shopping Centre for eleven days straight (long story short, I had rehearsals in town everyday and didn't want to spend £40 on transport in total, so I took a 2-hour bus ride to and fro my rehearsal venue throughout Easter break), I grasped the opportunity to try out the dorayaki from the Wasabi in the shopping centre.

The one filled with red bean was nothing special for me, but it was satisfying and yummy indeed. I'm aware that many non-Asian people are sceptical about red bean paste, and that for most, it is probably an acquired taste. Red bean paste is sweet, has the consistency of mashed potato, and has a very mild level of bitterness to it. (I'm a person who can't take any sort of coffee stronger than a chocolate Starbucks Frappuccino, keep that in mind.) There is a strong fragrance which you have to experience on your own in order to understand the taste of red bean.

I bought a Green Tea Mascarpone dorayaki because I love mascarpone cream cheese (long live tiramisu), and was curious to taste how the green tea would work within it.

This. Dorayaki. Is. Just. So. Good. I. Hope. That. All. These. Periods. Emphasize. My. Point.

Much like the dorayaki with strawberries and cream, the lightness of the pancake compliments the creaminess of the mascarpone, and the green tea powder adds a pleasant fragrance to it. My favourite thus far.

Fuyumi brought some authentic dorayakis from Japan when she went home for Easter break, and promised that they were the 'real' kind.

These are considerably different, mostly in the fact that the pancakes are yellower and richer, probably with more use of egg yolks, which added moisture to the dorayaki, gave it a slightly denser texture, and an eggy smell and taste.

These were nothing too far away from the Red Bean Dorayaki from Wasabi, which is a relief, considering how I've had sweet, un-spicy curry and bland stir-fry noodles here in London. However, I slightly preferred the dorayaki from Wasabi and Japan Centre, mainly because of the stunning, Europeanised fillings and the lighter pancakes.

Japan Centre
Address: 16 Regent Street, London SW1Y 4PT
Phone:020 7255 8255

Wasabi (Hammersmith)

Address: 77 Rannoch Rd, London W6 9SX
Phone:020 8748 8675

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Magnum no. 5 Stolen Kiss: Tarte Aux Pommes

Spring is here, and anyone who has been faced with six months of gloom, rain, sleet and howling wind will find any possible opportunity to have an ice cream.

Or maybe it's just me.

The 9th of April was a good day all around the UK.

I enjoyed the scoop of 'Vermonster' flavoured ice cream from the Ben & Jerry's at Leicester Square's Odeon, which is a maple syrup ice cream with pecans and a caramel swirl. Such lovely flavours in that ice cream... there really is nothing else to say about Ben & Jerrys' ice cream, other than 'yum.'

This caught my eye in Tesco Express because a) it was in a fancy green box b) it is packaged and named like a fragrance and c) tarte aux pommes means apple tart, ooh yeah.

A little bit coffin-like in presentation, but I was delighted to see that the chocolate coating was white.

The only other time I've had apple pie-flavoured ice cream was when I had a mini cup of Ben & Jerry's Oh My! Apple Pie, a vanilla ice cream containing chunks of apple and pie crust. It fared well, but Magnum one-upped that by coating a similar mixture with cinnamon-infused white chocolate, which really enhances and completes the taste of an apple pie/tarte.

If I had an endless stomach pit + insane metabolism + immunity to fat + all other physical traits I can't have, I would have this ice cream everyday!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Cybercandy | Part One

Somebody was obviously discontented with the array of British chocolates, cookies, candy and cereal, and felt that the five million aisles of sweet items in British supermarkets weren't enough, so they opened Cybercandy, which imports soda, sweets, chocolate and cereal from the USA, Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, and other parts of Europe, and sells them for a doubled price.


Clockwise from left: Oreo O's, (the Korean replica version. The original cereal was discontinued in 2007) Megaload Caramel Cups, Megaload Peanut Butter Cups, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Treats bar, Boyer's Smoothie Peanut Butter Cups with Butterscotch coating, Boyer's Mallo Cup. (£1.15)

Lo and behold, a product name which implies a marshmallow filling, containing a description which promises a whipped 'creme' center. Seems like they can't make up their mind on what the mysterious white fluff in their own product is.

And neither can I. It's sort of like a tasteless white mousse similar to the insides of a melted marshmallow. Sounds appealing to some but is really nothing special at all.

The difference between this peanut butter cup (£1.15) and a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is the butterscotch-flavoured coating, instead of the usual milk chocolate. Butterscotch is not as prominent of a flavour as chocolate, and when paired with peanut butter, just causes a confusion on your tongue. After having Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, it is just not the same when having this peanut butter cup coated with butterscotch. Your tastebuds will be wondering where that familiar chocolate and peanut butter flavour-pairing is, and what the hell is this butterscotch doing. It doesn't even go here.

On the flip side, this was a purchase which I fairly enjoyed. (£1.39) The, uh, 'King size' pack boasts three peanut butter cups, each with a different topping, namely a chocolate chip cookie, M&Ms, and a chocolate sandwich cookie.

They look absolutely tempting and adorable when opened. The toppings have held well and nothing has crumbled or fallen off.

The cookie is stuck fast to the peanut butter cup, and the entire treat looks precious. The peanut butter filling, unlike the crumbly texture of the one in Reese's, is creamy and smooth. I personally prefer the crumbly version, because it stands out from the already-smooth chocolate. I guess, in this case, it coordinates well with the crunchy cookie atop the buttercup.

The peanut butter cup with M&Ms is a colourful piece of bite-sized joy which you can hold between your fingers. I like this one – the crunchy M&Ms contrast well with the soft chocolate and peanut butter.

Even though these are not Oreo, I'm glad that the chocolate sandwich cookies are from Famous Amos, and are not some ridiculous own-brand with tastelessly patterned grooves called 'Poreo' or something.

These peanut butter cups are simply delightful to look at, and make great gifts for friends or children – they're all the same kind of people when it comes to chocolates. However, if you want a peanut butter cup for yourself, I'd much rather buy it from Reese's and slam an Oreo cookie atop it – there is nothing spectacular in terms of taste, here.

Mr Falafel | Part 2

Click here for part one.

I went to Mr Falafel a second time and didn't order any falafel.

It was a mistake, but I didn't feel too bummed about it – I only realised after finishing my Vegetable Cocktail Wrap (£3.50) that the wrap did not contain falafels, but I was absolutely satisfied by the wrap anyway.

The 'Vegetable Cocktail Wrap' was "served with fried florets of cauliflower and fried potatoes including fried aubergines, garlic sauce, lemon juice, and our usual pickles and sauces." Of course, due to the hungry state that I was in, I immediately assumed that there was going to be falafel in the wrap which did not state anything about containing falafels.

Nevertheless, the wrap was delicious, I really didn't mind not having falafels in it.

The flavours and spices were great – they danced around my mouth excitedly. The sauces oozed out of the warm, delicious Lebanese flatbread, and the vegetables were colourful and tasty.

Mr Falafel
New Shepherd's Bush Market 
11 Uxbridge Road, London, Greater London W12 8LH
Tel: 07798 906668

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