December 11, 2007

Candy Wrap-up

As my time in London Comes to a close, I give you a rapid-fire list-and-review in no particular order of some candy bars I’ve eaten here. Nothing tells you about an area like the candy bars you can find there.

Double Decker
As the first candy bar I ate here, it will always hold a special place in my heart. As the name implies it is two tiered, with a layer of chocolate nougat and one of crispy rice, all covered in the obligatory layer of milk chocolate. It’s fluffy and crunchy at the same time, a rare combinations toward which more bars should strive.
4 Sporks

Your basic Milky Way with a new wrapper. Being a fan of Milky Ways, I’m a big fan, but the only real advantage this bar has over its American counterpart is its black wrapper with red writing and fun television commercials with lights turning on as a man eating a Mars Bar passes them.
3 Sporks

Fruit Pastilles
These little round gummy pieces of fruit are a real paradox. At first bite, they are revolting and sickeningly sweet. By the fifth pastille, you are somehow dreading the end of the roll. They definitely don’t taste like real fruit, but somehow that doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem.
3 Sporks

This is a very solid candy bar. Puffed hard toffee draped in a coat of milk chocolate. The toffee is “crunchie,” just like the name implies. Truth in naming and advertising is always worth some brownie points.
4 Sporks

This is a granola bar masquerading as candy. The wrapper seems to imply the fun of a candy bar, but the inside is the mundane dryness of granola.
1 Spork

From their ad campaign, I’ve deduced these were around in the 80’s, left store shelves, and are just now returning. They should have stayed gone. There is are sort of “blown chocolate” innards that are more air than filling. As a result, it is decidedly unsatisfying.
1 Spork

Coconut covered in milk chocolate, or, if you prefer dark chocolate. It doesn’t resonate with me because I’m not a big coconut fan, but the little palm trees and “bounty” stenciled into the bottom of the bar gets brownie, er, Bounty points.
2 Sporks

These are both “double” bars, following the two side-by-side bars in a single package of Twix. One is quite similar to a Twix, the other is “blown chocolate” covered in chocolate. “Blown chocolate” is not good; Twix is. Unfortunately for them, both bars have a purple wrapper and yellow writing, making it hard to differentiate between the two. Bad labeling + bad brand identity = inferior product.
1 Spork

Just like its namesake is king of the jungle, the Lion is king of the candy bars. A wafer sits in the middle draped in caramel and a thick outer chocolate shell. That thick shell also has puffed rice sprinkledin, making for a sensational mixture of tastes and textures unheard of in other bars.
5 Sporks

Boost wrappers claim the product is “Charged with Glucose!” It’s true. A creamy chocolate center has pieces of crushed biscuit in it and is surrounded by caramel. It’s all encased in milk chocolate. This is a flavor on level with the Lion, but is hurt by the fact that its shiny foil wrapper and high charge of glucose might give little children or older eaters a bit more than they can handle.
4 Sporks

It’s just Starburst in less colorful wrappers. This version of everyone’s favorite childhood candy are even more mundane because the flavors are grouped together in the wrapper, not interspersed like a proper candy.
2 Sporks

Wine Gums
Colorful little gummies that give your jaw a workout and have fun labels like “port” or “Chardonnay” on them. They don’t taste anything like wine, and really don’t taste like anything but Wine Gums for that matter. Still, they’re quirky and appealing.
3 Sporks.

Recognizable brands like Kit Kat, Snickers and Milky Way are also on the shelves. But if you get the chance, try something different. Candy is a lot less adventurous then Toad in the Hole, but it provides fresh new flavors and combinations just the same.

December 7, 2007

Lebanese Food is no Bologna

For over three months, I've lived in a Lebanese area of London; Edgware Road. I've walked by newsstands with Newspapers from the Persian Gulf. I've passed The Islamic Bank of Britain almost daily. I've looked up to read the names of restaurants that are written in both English and Arabic.

Somehow, I never went in to those restaurants to eat.

With my time in London drawing ever more quickly to a close, I had to atone for that sin as quickly as possible. The easiest way to do so was to eat lunch in an establishment called "Maroush" two doors down from my flat.

Maroush actually has 11 locations in London, according to the information on their menu. The chain was started in 1975, and now has diagram/phrase "We [heart] Maroush" stenciled on the windows. Inside, its pretty classy, not the usual change-in-your-pocket cuisine you're used to reading about in this blog.

For London, though, Maroush isn't expensive, even though its Web site says "a taste of Lebanese luxury in London." After my meal, no doubts twitter in my mind about the high quality of the cousine. It just doesn't come at the same price as luxuries in the Celebrity stomping grounds of Marlybone or Mayfair.

For just under £10 I got a plate of Falafel and a bowl of rice with lamb. Falafel is one of those funny things that some people hate and others simply adore. The quality of Falafel also plays a part, though. I hated the falafel in Syracuse University's dining halls. I loved it at Maroush.

Trying to describe falafel isn't easy. Calling it ground chickpeas and beans that are deep fried just doesn't do it justice. For that matter, it might not even be accurate. Just try it sometime, chances are you'll find it quite good.

The rice and lamb had much less uncertainty. It was, well, rice with chunks of lamb meat. Because of the way it was cooked, the rice became infused with lamb flavor. It might not sound good, but any doubters will be feeling sheepish after they try it.

Sheepish is how I feel for not trying Lebanese cosine earlier. I [heart] Maroush too.