Shapes – Chicken Crimpy

February 23, 2014 at 19:30 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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chickencrimpyboxWell, here we are with another Shapes review, despite your protestations and howls of derision. However, in my defence I will say that these ones come in a box, and are much larger. indeed, they are more reminiscent of Jatz than of the rest of the shapes range.

They also feature the ‘flavour you can see’ line, but I have to say I’m confused by this. There is no ‘flavour’ to be discerned on these biscuits (unlike the Barbecue Shapes, for example). I suppose you could argue than pretty much anything comestible has ‘flavour you can see’, in the sense that you can see it is an edible item which presumably will taste of something. Perhaps Arnott’s are merely reassuring us that these biscuits are not invisible.

chickencrimpybiscuitThe biscuits have scalloped edges (hence the ‘crimpy’, I suspect), and are about four centimetres across. They are crunchy, and for all the world taste like plain biscuits for cheese sprinkled with a lot of chicken salt. Perhaps that’s what they are. Given the saltiness, I’m not sure they would go with cheese very successfully, but they did dip quite well into a guacamole salsa that I had in the fridge.

I’m going to give these a five out of ten.

Shapes – Barbecue

February 16, 2014 at 13:30 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
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bbqshapespackIs this a step too far, I wonder? I have begged your indulgence to write about savoury biscuits, and you have responded magnificently,with an overwhelming response asking for cheesy reviews. But this? Sold in a bag, and clearly not meant for putting with a cheeseboard? Well, dear readers, let me know what you think as we step into the dangerous waters of the savoury snack biscuit.

There are a number of things about these that Arnott’s are very keen you should know. Firstly, they are ‘baked not fried’. Well that’s alright then. Clearly slathering fat all over something and then putting it in the oven, rather than merely dipping it into hot oil is to be applauded. After all, potatoes baked in duck fat are practically a health food.

The other thing is that they have ‘flavour you can see’. This seems strange to me. Personally I prefer flavour you can taste. Maybe it’ one of those post-modern things, like paintings you can hear. I looked at the flavour long and hard, but didn’t really get any hint of barbecue – more pencil shavings or bits from the dust-pan. Nothing to suggest burned sausages or parrafin lighter fluid.

bbqshapesbiscuitsTo eat, though, you do get some flavour. It seems the flavour is not just for looking at after all. The biscuit is crunchy and quite OK texture-wise. The flavour is of the generic ‘barbecue’ type, which is to say it really has very little to do with barbecues, and a whole lot to do with monosodium glutamate. Salty, spicy and slightly sweet tasting with a chemical edge that strips your tongue. Oh, and very addictive. The packet will be gone in a flash.

Of course, they are terrible. Artificial, gimmicky and lacking all depth and subtlety, But, for all that, they do deliver on expectations for the genre.

I’m going to give them a four out of ten.

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

February 9, 2014 at 19:24 | Posted in books | Leave a comment
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nightcircusThis book was given to Mrs Chillikebab a few year ago, and she has not yet got around to reading it. So one evening when I fancied reading a book, I pulled it down from the shelf, knowing nothing about it at all.

As it turned out, it’s a fantasy novel that revolves around a magical Victorian circus created by the two main protagonists, Marco and Celia. They compete to create, manage and hold together this complex construction as part of a strange contest to which the rules are never made clear. The contest was set up by two shadowy figures who drift in and out of the novel. There are also a host of other characters who play parts in the drama, and one of the good things about the book is how all these disparate threads slowly come together towards the finale.

The writing is richly descriptive, and very evocative. There are some lovely passages describing the environments of the circus, as well as other locations that are beautifully realised. This is really the main strength of the book – you can loose yourself in the rich scenery, and it stays with you after you have put it down.

Where the book is let down in is its characterisation. The main characters particularly seem very two dimensional, and there are some truly cringe-worthy moments when they declare their undying love for each other that make you wince. How can someone who can create such rich backdrops write such trite dialogue better suited to a teen romance novel?

That said, it was an entertaining enough read that I rattled through in a couple of evenings. It’s not great literature, and there are all sorts of holes you could poke in it (not least the way the characters in no way seem to behave or reflect the era the book is set in – their manner, style, behaviour and language are all completely contemporary. And the ending is, to be honest, somewhat predictable.) Overall though its strengths outweigh its faults, perfect if you are looking for a light read to take on holiday that’s  a step or two up from airport fodder.

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