McDonalds McRib – they’re back

This beauty is back in Maccys, only available until 3rd of February. I gotta get ’em in fast. Don’t know how many I can get in me fat gaping maw by then.

As a food stuff they’re nutritionaly redundant and very bad for you. But I don’t care they’re delicious.

Favourite Chocolate Bar

I’m a savoury boy at heart. A sausage roll over sweeties any day. But occasionally you just hanker after and crave a chocolate hit.

Crispy wafer and chewy caramel covered in peanuts, raisins and Cadbury milk chocolate. Picnic has been going since 1958 and you can still find its nobbly goodness in a shop near you. I love a Picnic.

It used to be a Rowntree’s Nutty but they don’t make them any more. Shame, still there is a million and one choccy bars to keep me happy. The Walnut Whip, the Double Decker, the Wispa, the Marathon(Snickers), the Mars Bar. The Lion Bar, the Kit-Kat, Kit-Kat Chunky. Yorkie, the Boost, the Curly Wirly(Mr Ploppy’s personal favourite), the Topic, the Daim, the Galaxy Caramel, the Toffee Crisp. Maltesers, Twix, the Crunchie, the Milky Way, Rolo’s, Turkish Delight, the Flake, the exquisite Chomp, Freddo, Star Bar, the Toblerone, and just enough to give a girl a treat – the Finger of Fudge.

The Picnic trumps them all and consequently, triumphantly, gets eaten most. Om nom nom.

What’s yours?

Christmas Dinner done right.

Many people in the UK at this time of year, Christmas, have a massive meal on the 25th and as a kid and as a Husband, I used to do that in years gone by. Turkey, roasties, mash, brussell sprouts, carrots, parsnips, pigs in blankets, gravy, bread sauce, and other veggies if you are so inclined.

Since a time in the distant past, I always wanted “Egg and Chips” as my Yuletide dinner but was always thwarted, my requests and protestations going unheaded. Now I am master of my own destiny and no longer shackled to a wife or beholden to parents, I eat what I like.

As you can see from the photo above… nailed it.

Two eggs naturally

 

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Next to Mexican food I have to say my next choice of food group is Italian. Now as we all know there has to be a million and one ways of shaping pasta. I shall not go through a great big list as basically, imagine a shape. Yeah that’s right – there’s a pasta version of it.

When I cook a pasta dish at home for the offspring, it’s nearly always Spaghetti. She won’t eat any other shape!

Spaghetti is nearly always served with Bolognese sauce and minced beef. Luckily I do a good one, even from scratch. As I am no longer allowed to cook from fresh (an indecent with a Shepherds Pie and food poisoning) Spag Bol is the only dish I get away with.

But I like my minced beef in ball form. I love me a meat ball. I tried her with it once. Although she ate it and enjoyed it. Mince is the only way with that one.

I have had a plethora of different meat balls from all sorts of restaurants, be they dedicated Italian or some chain or other. Even the ones you get at Frankie and Benny’s are good. Mahoosive, you only get five. Soft, not heavy, tasty, just the right amount of seasoning. Same with Bella Italia and Prezzo, albeit smaller and more plentiful. Beautifully cooked meat and pasta to go with. They all do a great sauce. Whether you’d call em Bolognese is a matter for debate as that’s an English invention.

Obviously the crowning glory has to be a generous grating of Parmesan cheese. I like to have enough to cover the whole dish. Kind of like a pie crust if you can picture it. Has to be freshly grated off a block. None of that powdered shite. Why bother if you’re only gonna serve that crap.

If a food outlet of any type cannot do Spaghetti and Meatballs properly there is something seriously wrong. Even using cheap ready made balls from the supermarket produces a good meal. If you’re paying upwards of £20 for some the least they can do it make em fresh, make em light and soft with no gristle or hard bits. If I can do it so can they. If they are too unskilled to make a meat ball, even using Campbells meat balls would be preferable.

I recently got a bit mad that Bella Italia was so far away as their Spaggy Balls were sublime, yet so out of reach for a casual meal. Then up stepped Prezzo right next door. Well 18 miles away, but still, close enough to make it a possible tea time treat.

I will get my once-a-week fix. Bring on the balls.

The Burrito

The humble Burrito. A Burrito is a Mexican food. It’s also utterly delicious.

It consists of a wheat flour tortilla wrapped or folded into a cylindrical shape to completely enclose the filling. The flour tortilla is usually lightly grilled or steamed, to soften it and make it more pliable.

Burrito fillings generally include a combination of ingredients such as Mexican-style rice or plain rice, refried beans or beans, lettuce, salsa, meat, guacamole, cheese, and sour cream, and the size varies. Typically, American-style burritos are stuffed with more ingredients than the primary meat and/or vegetable filling. Luckily for me as, fully stuffed Burritos are the ones we have here in the UK.

Meat wise you cannot beat Pulled Pork (Carnitas). Nothing comes close to Pulled Pork. A lot of the various emporiums embellish theirs, such as…

Mission Burrito – Slow cooked pork, seasoned with thyme, bay leaves and orange zest then cooked for hours until fall apart tender.

El Mexicana – Pulled pork with achiote, fresh lime and orange juice.

Tortilla – Quality assured, outdoor reared is patiently braised for hours, in a blend of spices until it’s fall apart tender.

Along with the heaven that is Carnitas, there is rice – usually a selection of different flavours, coriander being a fave – refried beans, a bit of lettuce, and then the salsa.

I’m not a big fan of hot heat, preferring the milder, medium spiced salsa. I particularly like Salsa Tomatillo (green tomatillos with jalapenos, onion, coriander and lime). Salsa Verde (a traditional Mexican green salsa, made with roasted tomatillos, serrano chiles, sautéed onions and fresh coriander). But most salsas will suffice.

So the rest of the Burrito has a goodly portion of cheese, grated in really thin strips. Sour Cream and Guacamole. Some places charge extra for the Guac. So be it.

If I were to rank the Burritos for awesomeness I would have to say…

  1. Mission Burrito – Reading and Oxford – they need to come north.
  2. El Mexicana – made my own Tomtom POI so they must be good.
  3. Tortilla – again southern, good job I travel a lot with work.
  4. Hungry Horse – yay, there is one less than a mile away from home.
  5. Taco Bell – a bit industrial but edible.

If I were told I could only eat one meal for the rest of my days, I would have to say Carnitas Burrito. It’s a pity that my first three favourites are so bloody far away. The nearest is El Mexicana on the A1 at Peterborough services. I mean yes, Hungry Horse is a mile away and so I can indulge myself in fine feast, but it’s a sit down, not a takeaway (I wonder if they would wrap one up in foil for me to eat out?) -To the others I plead –

Move north my fine friends, customers waiting.

Then there’s the nachos. Oh the nachos. Salsa, Cheese, Jalapenos, Nom nom nom.

In fact I love all Mexican food, Burrito, Taco, Enchilada, Nachos, Chimichanga, Fajita, Quesadilla, Churros, I love it all.

Bran Flakes? Really?

To quote internet parlance – OMG, WTF – breakfast has changed, not completely I hasten to add. But changed it has. Obviously not a permanent change, that would be idiotic. Completely rule out Fry-Ups – I should coco!

I am, and always will be, a big fan of the Full English Breakfast.

Eggs (fried, poached, or scrambled, 3 minimum), Bacon, Sausage, Beans, Tomato, Mushrooms, Black Pudding, and Hash Browns**. Altogether—preferred—or in a myriad of combinations of the above ingredients. Always with brick-dust (white pepper), sometimes with Brown Sauce, sometimes with salt. Tea or Coffee. Orange Juice—don’t want scurvy now do we.

On the road? well let’s have a Sausage and Egg butty. At a pinch a Bacon butty. Eateries of all types, be they roadside trailers, huts or full-blown cafes, always serve shit bacon. I have never come across a Bacon butty done to my requirements. Sausage it is then. McDonalds do a good Sausage and Egg Muffin with hash brown so I’ll have that then.

When available from such fine brasseries as Wetherspoons, I am quite partial to Eggs Benedict. Two poached eggs sat on a loverly slab of ‘off the bone’ ham, sat on half of an english muffin smothered in creamy hollandaise  sauce. Frankie and Benny’s do an example of this dish, however due to their breakfast starting at 9:00am we are usually at work by then. Must try harder to sample it’s morning cuisine.

But wait on a minute. There is room for cereals such as Weetabix and Corn Flakes. Full of sugar and preposterous claims of fortitude aside, they’re nice to eat and make a reasonable change from a fry-up (cannot believe i just typed that!). As does porridge. If it’s made with milk—full fat—and has the consistency of thick soup, delicious. No sugar added to either as they’re sweet enough for me. Unlike Daughter No.2 who has cereal with most of the contents of the sugar caddy. Weirdo.

Being a lardy fat bloater, and getting fed up of it, a bit of a health kick sometimes washes over me and I go all diet crazy. Thus Bran Flakes. These things have never appealed to me as they are wholegrain, fibre packed, burned cornflake looking, cardboard. Well I always thought they tasted of cardboard.

They don’t though. They actually taste delectable, less sweet than other cereals, which in my book is a good thing. I was staying in a Hotel last week and breakfast was getting a little boring, porridge was ordered and discarded for being, A: made with water, and 2. The consistency of dough. A croissant was explored, dry and uninspiring they were dismissed also. “Let’s try Bran Flakes. Can’t be that bad. You don’t know until you try”. Gotta try being a bit healthier and a soupcon of sacrifice is always needed when it come to health.

I am now a convert. They are my breakfast cereal of choice. I can feel my bowels loving the fibre. I can feel my arteries loving the absence of saturated fat. That’s not to say I’m ditching the tremendous Full English. It’s going to be a once a week treat. But let us try to lose a bit of fat and reduce the cholesterol a smidgen. If I can do it whilst enjoying the alternative then all the better.

You will notice in the photo I took in me kitchen, blueberries. These tasty little balls are good for you in many, many ways. Classed as a superfood they do you no end of good. For example, Catechins found in blueberries activate fat-burning genes in abdominal fat cells to help with weight loss, and belly fat loss in particular. Good, because if it’s one thing Tucker needs it’s less belly fat. For more info on Blueberries, click here to read about 12 reasons why they should be in my diet.

Bran Flakes – bit of fruit – full-fat milk – Tea

** Capitalised to show my appreciation for these ingredients.

Earl Grey Tea

I’ve gone all posh. I’ve widened my horizons and battled with the urge to brew the PG tips and now my favourite tea is – Twinings Earl Grey.

It was favorable for Captain Picard*, although he had his sans milk. Even though I am scum and not at all posh or civilised (China teacup, saucer and tea-pot not for me) I don’t feel out-of-place with a box or two in my Tesco trolley.

I’m a mug boy and will always be a mug boy. I like my Earl Grey with a good glug of full fat milk, poured in first, boiling water on top, and then brew for one and a half minutes. Lift the tea bag out, there’s been no stirring during the brewing process, let that little bag of wonder drip the goodness into the mug. Still no stirring. No sugar neither, perish the thought. Perfect cuppa.

I like the taste of this Earl Grey, with its ‘Oil of Bergamot’–no, I don’t know what it it either–giving it a nice smooth finish. No tannin or bitterness. Just loverly smooth tasty tea.

Even though it has become de rigueur to ask for it, there is no such thing as builders tea, nonetheless you could call PG, Yorkshire, Ty-Phoo, or Tetley, builders. I will drink these on my travels, hotels and roadside cafes, but now the home preference is Earl Grey.

I never really thought about tea alternatives until I happened upon a documentary by Victoria Wood, who I like, on BBC2. She gave us a history lesson and a rundown of various tea blends and types. Following this I bought a few choices and Earl Grey came out on top.

I have been known to drink green tea in the past and will continue to do so. If you brew it for just the one minute it can be a very refreshing drink. However, plain green tea is good, green tea with peppermint is good, green tea flavoured with fruitiness is too sweet, so not for me.

Assam is quite nice and is my second preferential choice. Looks a bit weird as it has a ruddy yellowy colour to the brown-ness but has a great taste. I am fully prepared to experiment with new teas, although I think being a simple (read lazy) boy they are going to have to be the bagged variety. I may miss out on some great beverages but cannot be bothered with all the faff.

Earl Grey, full-fat milk, NO sugar, 00:01:30 brew time. Nice cuppa.

*if you don’t get that reference, don’t despair – not everyone is a nerd like me.

Perfect Fried Eggs

Is it me? I love fried eggs, but I’m particular in the way they are cooked but more so in the way they are consumed. There are many ways to cook an egg, as in, poached, scrambled, baked, omelette, and I like them all. Let’s be honest here, fried is the best.

The best way, for me at least, to cook an egg to perfection is a three-point plan.

  • Point 1: Don’t have the oil – or better still, lard – too hot. It makes the white bubble, not good, and produces that brown crap around the edge and underneath, also not good. A perfect fried egg’s white should be just that, white.
  • Point 2: Don’t, I repeat Don’t, ever, and I mean it, pop the yolk whilst cracking the egg into the pan. Ever.
  • Point 3: Flick not flip. Flick the oil/lard over the yolk. Don’t flip the egg – this could produce the nightmare situation of yolk sack breakage. Too horrible to contemplate.

We have the perfectly cooked chicken ovum on our plate. Time to eat the treat. Now I have been called weird and strange – on more than one occasion, and to be honest on many a subject  – but I eat my eggs in a regimented and structured way.

First off, I cut the white off, using straight cuts with the knife. So as the yolk and a little white is left. Then I eat the rest of the breakfast or dinner. It has to be stated here and now that a ‘Full English Breakfast’ is the daddy of all meals, and a personal favourite.

Then, once the meal has been consumed. The Yolk. Slip it onto the fork with care and attention, mustn’t break that delicate membrane keeping all that yellowy goodness intact. One fluid motion and it’s in the pie-hole. Slowly break the seal with the tongue, and let the flavour flood out into the mouth and then I take my time to savour that flavour, for it is a fleeting pleasure. And remember, there is nothing more heart breaking than egg-yolk on porcelain.

And there we have it, the perfect fried egg experience. I have eaten eggs this way for as long as I can remember and today at work, a kindred spirit arose from the mire of philistine yolk breakers. Brian, a gentleman of advancing years revealed his credo of egg consumption. Exactly as above described.

I am not alone.

I was going to say the egg must be a proper free range one so it’s tastier. However, recently there was TV proggy going into the wheres and why fores of different classes of ovum. From battery through barn, free range and upto organic.

There was a slight difference in the food the birds eat depending on how they are kept. The big surprise for me was the addition of natural colours, marigold in the 3 cheapest foods – plus paprika in the dearest, to make the yolk that loverly yellow colour. If it wasn’t in the feed the yolk would be an unappetizing shade of grey. Eugh!

Anywho, they did a blind taste test with, you guessed it, fried eggs.

There was no discernible difference in taste, texture or nutritional values. Hummmph.

What to do, what to do?

On welfare grounds I would say to buy free range, as I continue to do so. But if budget negates this stance, battery eggs are just as good as the others.

So an egg is an egg is an egg. Eat them, eat them often; boiled, poached, scrambled, on toast, in bread, omelette, but best of all fried. Don’t be put off with idiots in years gone by saying they were too full of cholesterol and you should eat them once a week at most.

Eat the little buggers everyday I say. Yummy.

Chips

I love chips me. I do. you can tell because as stated earlier I am rotund, fat, lardy. I’m a fan of the fried potato. So simple; potatoes, fat and of course heat. But why is it so difficult to cook the perfect chips?

Oh, a clarification for all you loverly peoples from the US and A – Chips are what you would call ‘fries’. I know chips to you are what we in the UK call crisps. They are different. I love ’em both. Crisps is a subject for another time, here we will concentrate on chips.

Anywho, now we have cleared up the semantics of the fried potato let us move onto a bit of a rant. I know variety is the spice of life and I know people have their own tastes and all that but how is it that it’s very hard to find the ideal chip. The ideal chip ladies and gentleman is a chip that is cooked in very hot fat, until it is golden and just on the cusp of going brown on the points and corners. The result is a chip of such immense flavour and texture as to tickle you taste buds into a frenzy of ecstasy. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside.

For instance we have a great chippy not 200yds from where I live – Excel Fisheries – and two ways of cooking. They use real dripping for their cooking liquid which is the fat of choice. So we have the same potatoes and the same frying medium in the same fryers in the same shop. This is where the similarity stops unfortunately. OK so both the following scenarios produce chips which are better than most admittedly but that doesn’t detract from the fact there is a clear gap in the deliciousness of the finished product.

When the gentleman of the shop is on cooking duty the chips. . . well they look and feel as if he has just shown the potatoes to the fat. They are anaemic to be honest. They still taste great for sure, but the visual and textural aspects are sadly lacking. It’s also a suspicion of mine that the fat is not of the high and required temperature to give them a golden glow… even if he left them in long enough that is. However salvation is upon us as most of the time the lady of the shop is on the rota more often than not. She has the fat so hot it smokes, she has the knowledge and fortitude to leave them there potatoes in the fat for a goodly long time, until a golden hue radiates from every stick of spud. Oh heaven.

The way I have described also leaves the chips dry. A lot of chippies in this humble little corner of Lincolnshire produce soggy, wet, greasy chips. My in-laws are in the wet soggy greasy camp. They shun the ideal; crisp, golden dry chip, with a paucity of regard to their taste receptors. Each to there own I suppose, but who’s writing this?

Portion size is another issue that boils my piss. At my local mentioned above we have a medium portion that is enough to fill, but not so much you feel bloated. Some decide that a single scoop is sufficient. They would be wrong. There is a chippy in a village a few miles away that does fish patties. These are a slice of fish sandwiched between two slices of potato and then battered. No chippy that I know of in town does these, they are sublime by the way, so off we go to the village in question only to be confronted with a portion of chips that makes even McDonald’s medium fries look generous. (McDonald’s, and Burger King for that matter, they are not chips they are fries. So they don’t count.)

There is nothing quite like ‘Chips and Peas’ in the fresh air, better still if the air in question is cold, preferably salty like at the seaside. Chips and Gravy is also a winner.

with a shit-ton of salt and vinegar – obviously.

Favourite Menu Items

(updated 12/02/2017)

Ah loverly. Done right, the Full English Breakfast is the best meal ever. Doesn’t even have to be morning time. Any time will do.

Whilst not having the F.E.B. these…

Mcdonalds-90s-logo.svg  Double Sausage and Egg McMuffin & Hash Brown

BKsmall  XL Bacon Triple Cheeseburger & Chili Cheese Bites

Nandos_Logo_940x350px  Mango & Lime Whole Chicken (only Hull/Lincoln)

frank180  F&B Meatballs on Penne Pasta, loads of Parmesan

yo1  Chicken Katsu Curry & Yo Rolls & Okonomiyaki

AkkYAgD3 copy  Budweiser Mega Ribs with baby potatoes

fayresmall  Corn Dogs – Fillet Steak Medallions

WetherspoonL  Eggs Benedict / 12oz Angus Steak

Subway-Logo  Pulled Pork, Cheese, Olives, Pickles, Red Onion

logo-300x300  New York Deli

Domino-pizza-logo-1024x768  Mighty Meaty

greggs  Sausage/Egg/Bacon Roll – Bacon/Cheese Savory

Kfc_logo-9  Fillet Tower Burger Meal (only Scunny)

Print  Carnitas Burrito with Salsa Verde

Taco_bell_logo-3  Grilled Stuffed Burrito

Reds  North Carolina Pulled Pork ‘n’ Slaw

500px-Tgi_fridays_logo13.svg copy  Double Glazed Ultimate Ribs

brewer_fayre  Steak, Kidney & Boddingtons Pudding

crown-carveries-in-general  Turkey, Gammon & plenty of Roasties

bpsmall  Indian: Chicken Tikka Sagwalla

3026-waga-logo  Pulled Pork Gyoza

Giraffe-logo_orange  Giraffe Burger and Skin on fries

harry-logo  Haddock, Chips, and Peas

Ed-s  Barbecue Deluxe Burger

Chiquito  Pulled Pork Baked Enchilada

HardRockCafe  Legendary 10oz Burger

44ce0de1-6858-47eb-8df9-0d3ad5a454ea  Carnitas Burrito with Salsa Tomatillo

1_frame_HEADER_IMAGE  Arancini Margherita

download (2)  Man vs Burrito with Pulled Pork

education-news-wok-and-go1  Mee Gee Seafood Box

little-chef  Breakfast Wrap, Lavazza Coffee

carluccios  Ravioli

tortilla copy  Carnitas Burrito

chimi  Pulled Pork Burrito

New-Bella-Logo  Polpette Americano (Spaggy Meatballs)

  Spaghetti with Meatballs

rebels  Pulled Pork Ultimate Platter with Beans and Chips

download (3)  8oz Fillet Steak with spicy chips

fiveguyslogo  Bacon Cheeseburger with Five Guys Style Fries

download (2)  All the Meats

37h6NGqS  Haddock Chips and Peas

sizzling  Complete Porker

  Utah Burger with Fried Egg, and Chips

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