- There are many ways to celebrate the day of love (or other feelings caused by its presence). Me and my wife settled on large amounts of sugary baked goods. Some of them have turned up a little early, which means we’ve been trying them, because it’d be rude not to. We got some of Creme’s really big cookies and their white chocolate-miso one is amazing. I hadn’t really anticipated how it would taste but it really added an umami depth to the white chocolate. Also on the list was The Yummy Yank for brownies. We had their marzipan brownie yesterday, which again worked better than anticipating. The brownie was on the very dense, fudgy end of the spectrum, not quite on the “I’m eating chocolate fudge in the middle of a crispy cake exterior” end but pretty close. Both recommended so far.
Our vegetarian meal of the week came courtesy of Viverat’s plant substitute shwarma. It has in fact been so long since I’ve had it I honestly can’t remember how it’s meant to taste, so I don’t know if this was accurate but it was good. Had that on flatbreads with some homemade pickled veg and the leftover Tzatziki from our Hello! Fresh box. We used that originally on a spicy lamb and rice dish that was good and would have been even better in hard taco shells (but trying to behave). So far we’ve not had a bad dish from them, although I did find the prawn risotto helping a little small.
Finally, I got some more of the FreshAsia New Orleans Chicken Steamed Buns, and they are just as good as the first time. Chinese-Cajun fusion needs to be a thing. Sadly I was unable to get any interesting new weird crisp flavours at the Chinese supermarkets but compensated for this by getting the Walkers Max KFC. Readers, they really do taste a lot like KFC. I don’t think I’d get them again without an offer but they are a triumph.
- This was a far more interesting week in boozeville. The best was the Cigar City/Voodoo collaboration Un-Uninvited, which really was not fucking around with how much vanilla was in there. Very decadent. Turning Point’s Permission to Land and Northern Monk & Good Measure’s Manchester Tart Stout were also hits – stop giggling in the back there! The Northern Monk was interesting in particular for how jammy the mouthfeel was (thanks to the oats in part I suspect). I’m not sure I’d want a lot of it, but one improved my life. I also reintroduced myself to London Beer Factory’s Bordeaux Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, which really hits my sweet spots in terms of boozy decadence.
In non-alcoholic news, we splurged at Whittards (again, for love day) and got some of their special editions. The Coconut Oolong tea was pretty much what it said on the box. It’s the first time I’ve had Oolong (that I know of), and it seems to provide a very clean, neutral base for the coconut (which was strong). Liked it a lot. I liked the Chocolate Cherry Brownie hot chocolate even more. It’s not particularly brownie-esque, but the cherry is an almost kirsch-esque kick of flavour that elevates the chocolate and really makes it. I kinda wish I hadn’t discovered premium hot chocolate as I don’t need more ways to spend money, but it does feel worth it.
- I didn’t really listen to much new music this week, but would like to thank Tom Dare for plugging Wardruna on his blog. It’s a very belated discovery for me, but it’s just really evocative and fun to listen to. Incidentally, go check out of his podcast Hellbent for Leather too to hear about queerness and metal. I have yet to do so because I find podcasts hard to take in for some reason, but do as I say and not as I do here, because what I say makes more sense. And one of these days I will get round to it.
- Sports talk. My mother tried to phone me earlier today, not really thinking that my household doesn’t really stir before 1pm on weekends, thinking she’d be getting in before I sat down to watch the Six Nations. Understandably, as so much of my life has revolved around rugby. But, well, since she’s forced me to think about it… I don’t really have a lot of interest in watching this version of England. To me, the whole Eddie Jones era is tainted by its embrace of Saracens-esque rugby and its players. For a long time – a time that hasn’t stopped – I wouldn’t watch the Premiership as everybody knew Saracens were breaking the salary cap and I’m not watching a competition where we all know one team’s cheating and not getting punished. Throw in the club’s generally boring approach to rugby and I just don’t like them (even if my own club has a partnership with them and they’ve been decent to them in a time of need). Which means I don’t like England. So… I don’t know when I’ll get back to watching the Six Nations regularly again. But not today.
Watching the Pittsburgh Penguins hasn’t been much fun either. There’s a sense of gut-wrenching panic everytime they take a lead, knowing some stupid mistake from the team will sacrifice it. It’s not that they get outplayed, it’s that they self-destruct over and over. Brian Burke’s comments (that I didn’t see) about the team needing to play tougher or some other stuff doesn’t really help either, which is weird in a way because I fully believe the best version of the Pittsburgh Penguins isn’t a small team and it is one that plays in the tough areas, but I don’t really trust old school hockey people to mean the same thing as tough as I do. We’ll see, but I think this is a good time to emotionally withdraw a little from the team.
- This week’s historical snippet is a tweet thread on Thomas Cochrane, an utter lunatic who I first found out about from Bernard Cornwell. Speaking of Cornwell, I’m not sure what to make of the news of a new Sharpe release. I very much enjoy Sharpe, but the last few felt like they didn’t really have the historical context that puts the series at its best. My own reading has been on the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, but I’ve yet to really unearth any great entertaining nuggets (although it was a very entertaining period as a whole). I’ve also got some medieval ship history to read up on too thanks to a good friend.
- Finally, I can barely remember a damn thing I saw on TV last week. I have very much overloaded my brain and need to slow a step for a moment so I can take things in properly. I watched Hook and that remains a classic. I watched Buffy. I don’t remember much. There has been a lot in the media about Joss Whedon’s behaviour – a fairly much blanket condemnation of his behaviour from the Buffy cast – and it’s interesting watching it for the first time with that in my head. I particularly think about what Anthony Stewart Head says about his main memories of it being an empowering show and in a lot of ways, I think that still holds. Yet there’s moments where you can look and think “yeah, I wonder how comfortable everyone was with this”, or that maybe aren’t that empowering.
There’s also Superstore and the announcement of Brooklyn 99’s last season, which leaves me with half-formed thoughts about American 20 minute sitcoms that I’ve yet to get into. We mainly watch American rather than Brit here, as that’s where my wife automatically goes and she controls the gizmo. But, well, I think a sign of a good sitcom is how natural the comedic situations feel and how little it relies on someone making clearly awful decisions. Superstore’s kinda bad on that. Maybe that’s because compared to B99, the situations are naturally less powerful to begin with? As for B99 – it will be missed, but I think the show was reaching the end of its natural arcs anyway, so in a way I’m happy. That said, I imagine this as much about the difficulty of writing an intentfully utopian vision of law enforcement right now. And part of me sympathises a lot, and part of me wonders where the culture’s headed if all the people writing police shows don’t think the police should be more. But that’s a topic for a far more involved post, if I’m even capable of it.
That’s it for now, have a good weekend peeps!