Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Caffè la Terrazza, la Rinascente in Florence

In Florence the department store la Rinascente is a lot smaller than Harrods or Selfridges but it has something I don't think either of the London stores has: a rooftop terrace. Take the escalator up to the top floor, cross over to the back of the room to the tiny wee food department and look for the stairs which take you up to a minute cafe. And then there's another little flight of stairs up to the terrace. Do beware. The terrace is not very big so I imagine it's tough (or impossible) to find a table at busy times. When we were there in March there was only one empty table.

This little cafe is written up all over the place as having great views over the rooftops of Florence. And I suppose that's true. But you should prepare also for great views of air con units, TV dishes, rainwater goods and broken roof tiles. I reckon you get a better, and much closer, view of the famous dome if you go to the top floor of the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. And that has the merit of being wheelchair accessible.

Why, you ask, am I boring on about a rooftop cafe? This hasn't suddenly morphed into a travel blog has it? Well, no. But although I haven't been testing many crisp snacks recently, here's something I did try.
Yes, when you order a drink here you get a crispy snack. Corn chips (in the traditional triangular shape) and plain salted potato crisps. Pretty tasty too.

So, (and have you noticed that every second sentence begins with "so" these days? I noticed it particularly when I was in hospital. Every single person began every single sentence with "so". Particularly the doctors. It was a little bit disconcerting and I began to feel I was missing out on an important language trend. Oh dear!) so, if you go to a nice cafe in Florence and only fancy a snack, do check out the other tables for signs of crispy snacks because you might not need to order anything other than a drink.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Caffè Gilli in Florence

After my brush with hospital the Chef and I went on holiday in the hope that I would be able to completely relax and feel a lot better. Although I have to admit that Florence is not the most relaxing place in the world, it was nice to get away.
One day we fancied a snack at lunchtime so we went to Caffè Gilli in the Piazza della Repubblica. I read that it was opened by a Swiss family in 1733, which is nice, and I also read that it's difficult to get served and the waiters may ignore you. We didn't have that experience here at all; far from it. In fact we were ushered in by a senior-looking waiter and served quite promptly.
What you need to know is that if you order a cup of coffee and a glass of wine at Caffè Gilli you get a  selection of tasty snacks. You get nuts, little square chunks of something a bit like quiche, and a dish of  corn chips.

Now I don't know who manufactures these corn chips but I can tell you they are  pretty tasty. It's interesting trying round corn chips instead of the usual triangles.
Our hotel has a live feed of the Ponte Vecchio projected on to the lobby wall. Because it's black and white it looks weirdly like a silent movie from the 1920s but if you step out into the street you see all the same people.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Monomasa Tomatillo Salsa

Monomasa do have the nicest designs I really like the way they make a fancy pattern from the ingredients. So I guess what we are looking at here is a tasteful arrangement of Peruvian Amarillo Chillies, some green Mexican tomatoes, and a sprinkling of Quinoa.

I'm not a mad keen fan of tortilla chips and these are particularly floury which is not a texture that really appeals to me, but some of the reluctant taste testers were happy to snack into this high quality product. The taste was quite nice.

Monday, 13 March 2017


Little Square cheesy biscuits. Not super exciting we thought  but fairly OK.  I'm sure I have heard of Cheese-Its and I was hoping for more exciting stuff. But as Slightly Red Haired Bristolian said, these are kind of like mini cheddars only not so much.

For some reason I seem to have forgotten to photograph this little square snack. Perhaps because I wasn't that thrilled with them. OK but that's as far as I am prepared to go.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Walkers Bacon & Tomato Ketchup

These crisps are supposedly made with Heinz Tomato ketchup and I have to say I'm not that madly impressed. The ketchup flavour is basically more of a vinegar flavour than ketchup and I would never have guessed it was Heinz. It reminds me of that almost clear liquid you get when you open a fresh bottle of ketchup and don't shake it up enough. History Graduate taste tester agreed with me and Noble Friend had much to say on the subject of vinegar. 

We couldn't detect much sign of the bacon and didn't really feel we could recommend this crisp. Definitely could do better.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Dinafood Cheetoz Crunchy Snacks Cheese

Regular readers will have noticed I haven't had much to say recently. Unfortunately I haven't been very well and not fancying my food much. And if you don't fancy your food you can't taste test crispy snacks much less write about them.

But lucky for me I have escaped from the local hospital, albeit with piles of drugs to take forever,  and the reluctant taste testers have given me a lovely bunch of flowers and (of course) a mystery packet of crispy snacks. From Iran no less!  Apparently Noble Friend found them but I don't know where.

Noble Friend just rang me up and as it turns out she went to the local Persian shop specially to look for bonkers crisps for me. And this is what she found. How very kind.
I can't tell you much about this crispy snack because the packet blurb is in Arabic script and Russian. Neither of which I can read. Well, since I learned Greek I can read a bit of Russian, but I don't speak the language so that doesn't really help much. They are very crunchy, as advertised on the packet, but not very cheesy, and a little bit greasy tasting. But actually quite nice.

Now that's enough writing for today. I need  rest.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Seabrook Lattice Food Heroes Steak & Ale

And another packet of Seabrook crisps bought for the delectation and delight of the reluctant taste testers by Noble Friend. The Food Heroes in this case are Black Sheep brewery; a new brewery started by Paul Theakston using 6 generations of experience, and of course they are based in Yorkshire.

I liked these a whole lot better than the Chorizo crisps but honestly I am not completely convinced by this flavour. There is nothing the matter with it, but I couldn't pick the steak flavour, nor the ale flavour neither. Now Tech taste tester is a meaty crisp flavour fan but I'm not sure he was particularly impressed here. A shame because obviously someone has gone to the trouble of choosing a particular beer brand and creating a specific flavour. It isn't a nasty flavour, of course not, just not a flavour that encourages me to have another crisp or buy another packet.

Why are Seabrooks trying so hard to succeed with fancy flavours when they make the plain ones so brilliantly? I adore their sea salt flavour: a true great. It's on our list of favourites because we love it.  But this is ordinary.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Seabrook Lattice Food Heroes Three Little Pigs Chorizo

And another exciting flavour from Seabrooks. Oh dear I really don't like chorizo very much. I just adore salamis and eat them all the time, as often as possible, but chorizo really isn't for me; it's far too oily. And I am not convinced that chorizo works at all well as a crispy snack flavour. Mind you, the Chef & I tried a salami flavoured crisp in Italy and were very unimpressed.

As always with Seabrooks crispy snacks the bite is very nice and light and the texture wonderful. I just really disliked the flavour. I think Slightly Red Haired Bristolian quite enjoyed this flavour but I am sorry to say that most of the reluctant taste testers were pretty reluctant when it came to this flavour.

Very sorry but we didn't enjoy this crispy snack much.

Three Little Pigs is a proud artisan operation, fully committed to their happy free range pigs and making food the slow way in the stunning Yorkshire countryside. I read that Charlotte & Jo started when they were given a rare breed sow as a wedding present. Their chorizo wins wards. Honestly, I cannot think what I would do if anyone gave me a sow (rare breed or no) as a wedding present! but since I live in North London I suspect this is an unlikely occurrence. 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Herr's Buffalo Blue Cheese

Oven baked with real CHEESE screams the packet, and you can certainly taste the blue cheese in this spicy, bright orange crispy maize-based snack. Very crispy, very orange and very strong tasting. Nothing subtle here. I don't really pick the buffalo flavour; presumably that's chicken wing flavour in its weird American disguise. I'm sorry, I can't help finding it weird that chicken wings are called buffalo wings and hence simply buffalo.

History Graduate taste tester, who has family in California, was excited to see this flavour. Apparently he had blue cheese fries the other day. Which means nothing to me: obviously I have led a very sheltered life and only ever eaten "normal" fries. But maybe I should take steps to try blue cheese fries if they taste anything like as good as this crispy snack.

A lovely light crunch, and a great big snack, so not many in this little 28g packet. I've only tried 2 flavours from Herr's but I really like both of them and would likely buy far to many if I had access to a ready supply.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Andy Capp's Hot Fries

The reluctant taste testers really loved the Andy Capp Cheddar Fries that we tried the other day. However, these Hot Fries are another story.

Very very hot. Too hot we thought. All the reluctant taste testers agreed that this crispy snack was really too hot for us. Tall taste tester told me seriously that you could only eat one or two, and as he spoke he absent mindedly crunched into another one, or three he added. But that was about it.

This very hot crispy snack was not popular and most of them did not get eaten so I chucked them in the bin. What a difference compared to the Cheddar Fries which we enjoyed to much.
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