Arnott’s Cheeseboard cracker assortment

December 29, 2017 at 17:08 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Christmas. Cheese. Those two words are intimately associated in my mind. When I was growing up, Christmas was that time of year when the fridge was piled high with more then just the usual economy Cheddar or Cheshire – delights such as mellow Stilton, rich Camembert, tangy Danish Blue. Later other more exotic offerings were also included – Shropshire Blue, Stinking Bishop, soft goats cheese. Mmmmmm. And, being Christmas, you were allowed to eat it – normal rationing was suspended for the festive period.

This is a tradition that Mrs Chillikebab happily has adopted, so as I speak the fridge is groaning with a cornucopia of cheesy delights. And to go with such a feast, you need crackers.

Arnott’s to the rescue – or more specifically, the Arnott’s Cheeseboard Assortment to the rescue. So how does this selection work out? Is it a worthy partner to my festive cheeseboard?

The selection features six different crackers – Sesame Wheat Cracker, Water Cracker, Harvest Wheat Cracker, Sesame Water Cracker, Stoneground Cracker and Entertaining Cracker.

Keen followers of either this blog, or Arnott’s biscuits (or perhaps both) will immediately realise that most of these crackers are not ones you can actually buy on their own. It’s a bit odd. ‘Entertaining Cracker’, but not Savoy or Jatz? ‘Harvest Wheat’, but not ‘Country Cheese‘? ‘Stoneground’, but not ‘Multigrain‘? Indeed, the only bone fide variety from the main range is the water cracker – probably the most boring one of the lot.

When Arnott’s make sweet biscuit selections, they include ‘all your favourites‘. But here, it seems they have taken a different approach. Rather  that giving a selection from their rather wonderful range of crackers and savoury biscuits, they seem to have baked some lower-quality alternatives and served them up all together the hope we won’t notice.

Boo, hiss, Arnott’s. These are not up to your normal standards. They are dry, flavourless, lacking in texture and boring. I’m going to give them a three out of ten. This is not worthy of accompanying my cheeseboard.

Oh, and ‘Entertaining Cracker’ is a terrible name. And it isn’t.

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Seasonal grocery shopping

December 23, 2017 at 13:06 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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Ahhh. Seasonal shopping. It seems that no-one really enjoys it much. One thing that strikes me, though, is how much of the stress seems be be centered around parking. Any discussion of it inevitably seems to lead to a moan about parking. So much so it even spills onto the national news. Of course, the option of not taking the car shopping seems to not occur to most people.

Last weekend, I did my present shopping. A quick ride out to my nearest mall, easy parking right outside the door. Shopped, loaded up and out in under an hour.

Today I needed to get the Xmas groceries. So it was off to the shops again. Straight past the queue of cars waiting to get in and a free park right outside the entrance where the food bit is. Here’s my shopping list:

That was a pretty packed trolley…! I did have a minor panic about getting it all on the bike, but in the end it was all fine, with the zip-up cold bag tied on top.

Easy peasy.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

New bike for christmas…

December 27, 2014 at 20:49 | Posted in bicycles | 2 Comments
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bykChristmas. Such an exciting time. I can still remember the thrill of coming down on Christmas morning to find a pair of bikes parked in the lounge – one for me, one for my brother. I was probably about four years old, and the bike was way to big for me – as I recall my father had to tie blocks of wood to the pedals so I could reach them. It was a Raleigh Champ, a cool red and gold affair with chopper handlebars and a banana seat.

So it was with great pleasure that I was able to recreate that momentous day for my own daughter this year. She was a bit less excited about it that I remember being when she first saw it – in part because she’s a dedicated scooter rider, and never really got the hand of the balance bike (which my younger one now hares around on with extraordinary grace and expertise – it’s quite something seeing a three-year-old practically doing a track-stand on a tiny kids bike), and in part because it was clear from the get-go that her younger sister was envious, and dying to have a go.

Still, she did finally give it a go, and in the end really enjoyed it, especially when I took her over the park and she could ride on a wide, flat path. Indeed, she asked to go back there later in the day to ride some more.

The bike is a BYK 350, which I bought without taking Girl Chillikebab #1 to the bike shop to try out. However, she’s just over a metre tall, and nearly five years old, so she is right in the middle of the range of that bike as it is advertised. However, I do have this niggling feeling it’s just a bit too big for her.

Part of the reason for this is the coaster brake. When she’s on the bike, she can’t get her feet down. No a big drama; she has training wheels, so she climbs onto the seat and starts to pedal. Except that if the pedals are not the right position, she can’t. With a coaster brake, she can’t pedal backwards to get the pedal in place to start, and she can’t scoot the bike forward with a foot on the ground to get it rolling and move the pedal forward.So I have to keep giving her a push start.

She pretty quickly got the hang of the regular brake levers, so I am wondering if I should somehow disconnect the coaster brake. Or even if such a thing is even possible. It was a problem I never really thought about, given I haven;t ridden a bike with a coaster brake since I was about eight. (My Raleigh Champ had just one hopeless front brake, and I survived. I even remember doing deliberate front-wheel skids on gravel with it. Kids these days are just spoiled, with their small-reach, tektro-alloy, machined-rim v-brakes…).

Still, she’s four years old, and loving riding a bike that’s a bit too big for her. Such is the spirit of Christmas.

Jatz

December 30, 2012 at 17:27 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Arnott's Jatz  boxChristmas. A time of good cheer, over-excited kids and, in our house at least, cheese. All sorts of cheese bulging out of the cheese box – blue veined, soft rinded, hard crumbly. Maybe it’s just us, but we always overdo the cheese.

Still, that at least gives me a chance to test some cheesy biscuits – and I’m going to start with the Arnott’s Jatz. The Jatz is a small round cracker that comes in a smart box, and is to all intents and purposes exactly the same as the Arnott’s Savoy, which comes in an identical box (and before the pedants jump in, yes, I know they are different – the Savoy has golden syrup vs malt extract in the Jatz. But still, to have two such similar lines in similar packaging is really the kind of thing only Arnott’s would do. We’ll return to the Savoy at some point in the future).

arnott's jatz biscuitThe Jatz is a small, round cracker with a sprinkling of salt on the top. This salt, together with the slightly sweet, crispy biscuit, makes them very munchable even without cheese. I’m a big fan of such snackable cheesy biscuits. In terms of cheese pairings, I suggest a soft cheese with chives, or perhaps a creamy blue. Yum. You get a good serve of Jatzs in the box, but it’s quite easy to much through the lot. Even my young daughter agrees, carefully selecting the last few Jatz from the cheese biscuit barrel whilst eschewing the rest.

The Jatz is a solid contender for Arnott’s. Highly snackable, tasty, moreish and good both with cheese and without. I like them, and am going to give them an eight out of ten.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Biscuits

January 8, 2011 at 13:16 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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I finally got around to eating some of the biscuits I got for Christmas.

Arnott’s do a range of seasonal packaging for the festive period, and this year I was lucky enough to score this handsome porcelain jar. It contains several individual packets of the Scotch Finger / Nice combination, so as well as getting a nice jar you can also pretend you are staying in a hotel by putting a packet by the side of your bed each night.

The main label around the jar is simply a paper wrapper, so this can be removed, which I’m sure will make the jar even more attractive. I would say that I will then use it to store my unfinished packets of biscuits in, but having an unfinished packet of biscuits is such a rarity I doubt it will get used much.

The other biscuit I got was a packet of Tim Tam Fingers. These are the same as Tim Tam Originals, but made long and thin and sold in a snack pack containing two fingers. Sometimes a change in form factor can make a biscuit taste different; something to do with varying proportions of chocolate coating and the like. However, in this case I can report that Tim Tam Fingers taste exactly like Tim Tam Originals.

For a moment I did entertain the thought that the ‘Tim Tam Slam’ would be considerably more difficult given the extra length of these biscuits, and was tempted to give it a try. However, I actually think that the Tim Tam Slam is a waste of both good tea and a good biscuit, so I decided against it. Perhaps someone who has tried it could share their experiences via the ‘comments’ section below.

 

Christmas Eve at the Fish Markets

December 26, 2010 at 20:57 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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Christmas. A time of good cheer, families, gifts, food and unbelievable traffic congestion. Or at least, this last item was evident this on Christmas Eve morning when I went to the fish market to pick up our Christmas seafood. Cars everywhere, cops directing traffic, chaos in the car park. Really, why do people put themselves through it?

I felt suitably smug wending my way through the traffic into the fish markets; no need to queue, no need to sit in a traffic jam, no need to pay to park. On the way in, I met a friend, also on his bike.
‘I said to my sister that I was going to the fish markets this morning,’ he said, ‘and she said I was mad. I told her I wasn’t driving…’

The queues, though, were not just in the traffic lanes. People were queuing outside the retailers to get in. Having successfully avoided the queues to get into the place, how could I avoid these ones too? My friend wanted to go to a particular shop, so joined the queue winding out of the door and across the car park.

Trying to be clever, I checked out the various retailers, and chose the one that seemed least busy in terms of people inside – Nicholas Seafood. Walked in the back door, found an assistant, and picked up what I needed. Result! Got served in under five minutes. Had to queue up at the till to pay, but that was only another five minutes or so, so everything was looking great. At this rate, I’d be in and out in the time it was taking those poor car-bound motorists just to get into the car park.

Paid for my fish, and then queued up at the collection counter. It quickly became clear why Nicholas Seafood was serving customers quickly at the front end; their process clearly was designed to maximise the number of people they took money from, rather than the number of people who actually walked out with seafood.

The system worked like this. Each receipt had a number written on it (mine was ‘L20’). As each order was completed it was put in a bag with a matching number on the receipt inside. Those bags were then haphazardly piled up on the counter. An small army of cheerful girls then attempted to match the numbers on the receipts clutched by the (increasingly unhappy) punters with the ones inside the bags.

The pile of bags just grew and grew. There was no way of knowing whether my bag was actually in the pile. Nonetheless, an assistant gamely checked dozens and dozens of bags, opening them all to look at the number inside. They couldn’t find my number. There must have been fifty people in the queue waiting; perhaps fifty identical plastic bags piled up on the counter; seafood spilling out of them as they were checked over and over again; the poor assistants swarming around them vainly looking for specific numbers buried in the mountain. And still more and more bags were being piled on top.

It was an amazing sight. I wish I had taken a photograph; the absurdity of the system was hilarious. Myself and the guy next to me just got a major attack of hysterics about it.

‘This is freaking hilarious’, he said, wiping tears from his eyes. ‘This has absolutely made my Christmas!’.

Eventually, after about 30 minutes, a miracle. My bag had been found! I made my way out, and loaded up the panniers for the ride home. I checked the queue at the place my friend had been to. Much reduced. And his bike was also gone. Seems like I didn’t avoid the queues after all…

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