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MarkN

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  1. It's a tricky one, but as someone who aspires to be vegan eventually, I'd like them to be trying to win with no provisos in place ideally. It needs to beat the regular stuff (and I reckon for many things that's possible, perhaps not all). If they're going to let a vegan enter the competition though there has to be the belief from the people running the thing that they can win, otherwise the competitiors are on a hiding to nothing from the start. I don't know how much this is the case here - but if they let her enter, she should have had a fair chance of winning. If that means making allowances in challenges where it may be harder to compete I think I'm OK with that to an extent - just a little wiggle room (otherwise just don't let them enter because it isn't a level playing field). I think a suitable comparison might be to golf, where players of different levels play together with handicaps in place. Allowing a vegan contestant a little slack due to choice of ingredient (rather than lack of skill) seems acceptable to me. I actually felt sad for her going out, because I liked the sound of what she wanted to make in the showstopper. It did look like a fuck-load of bread/cake and very little of the good stuff in the end though, so she had it coming. Saying that was exactly what she wanted - nope! Not buying that.
  2. For myself - I normally wouldn't bother with an advent calendar, but I'm tempted to just buy a Crimbo selection box from Hotel Chocolat, and pick my way through it each day in December. When I had much more cash I used to subscribe to Hotel Chocolat's monthly box scheme and just scoff one or two a day, and I kind of miss it. I don't eat much chocolate (I genuinely can't remember the last time I ate something like a Mars or a Twix - unless you count the mini ones in tubs of Celebrations, and even then we're talking maybe 4 or 5 years...) But I do like choccy done well, and HC is pretty good for the most part. I wouldn't have bothered this year, but I've had a bit of bonus cash come in, and I'd like to spend some of it on a genuine treat, and this now feels like a nice idea. I've added it to my Crimbo prep list...
  3. I've picked maybe half a dozen for orders at work, including a Tony's Chocolonely one which I was jealous of, because the couple of bars I've had of the stuff has been pretty good. It's also about twice the size of most of the others we stock (and probably at least twice the price). But yeah - advent calendars are one of the things you absolutely should buy in advance. Every single year I've done this job we get people coming in on in the last few days of November/first few days of December asking where they are, when we've usually sold out of everything by then, and had sold out of the popular ones and high-end ones sometimes weeks before. If it's on the shelves now, it'll keep, so grab it while you can. It's better for the store to sell out a little early than be stuck with stock that they'll have to reduce significantly to shift. And the more expensive ones go first, because that's where they'd potentially lose most money from reductions. So in my job, when I get orders towards the arse-end of November asking for high-end advent calendars, they basically generally all get given the basic Cadbury's one which is all we'll have left, or one themed around Frozen or some other franchise.
  4. MarkN

    Cricket Thread

    Just seen this on the Guardian's weekly Youtube round-up. A crazy amount of movement:
  5. Agreed. I love this song. Can't remember where I first heard it, but back then I found a mate who shared the Chairlift album, and it did nothing for me. It's just this song. It gets bonus points for being one I can howl/yodel along to, but it's lovely enough without that...
  6. Some of the vegan burgers and sausages available are getting really good. As an aside, it strikes me as strange that the bacon alternatives seem a bit pants in comparison - given firstly that it's many veggies and vegans most-missed foods, and secondly that there are products (such as Hellman's Vegan Baconnaise) that are getting a closer flavour (OK that's a completely different product, but if I could buy veggie bacon that had a similar bacon vibe to it I absolutely would). Also, it's one of the biggest-selling meats (I know, I pick loads of the stuff for orders each day) and yet there are comparatively few veggie options available on the supermarket shelves. There must be a dozen types of veggie sausage on the shelves and in the freezers where I work, and about half of them are pretty bloody good. There may be 4 or 5 types of fake bacon, and I don't think any of them are even remotely ballpark to the actual thing, on flavour alone, let alone texture (which is even worse, and usually it's clear no effort has been made to even attempt to replicate it).
  7. Crystelle's focaccia sounded amazing, even if it didn't rise properly. Feta, roasted grape*, walnut and a few fennel bits - yowzer! I could do with a big plate of those breadsticks (done well) right now too - they sounded amazing. But yeah - Giuseppe was brilliant there. *I'm going to have to try roasting grapes - I've seen it mentioned a few times in the last few months. I usually just freeze them - love a frozen grape.
  8. I genuinely don't know. I'm guessing for fruit and veg it probably comes from the same farms, so maybe there's degrees of grading - these are for the top end range, these are good enough for standard, these are good enough for basics, and the rest get binned, possibly. So, I'd guess it's mostly automated, so size and shape, and maybe appearance? I'm all for buying the basic stuff on anything simple like fruit and veg, tinned tomatoes and I think flavour-wise they're usually on a par with the regular stuff. I mean - a carrot is just a carrot at the end of the day. As an aside, one of the things that I liked about the basics range was that I could see if an order I had to pick was full of basics easily, because it was just orange. It meant if I picked another basic product I probably knew with order to put it in, so was marginally faster. Also, it showed where people wouldn't compromise. I'd get orders where 80% of the stuff in it was basics - so they're clearly keen on saving money, there'd be several products in there where there was no basic alternative, but then there'd be a pot of Taste The Difference custard, or some really nice cheese. I only recall ever picking one shop that was entirely basics. That must take some willpower, because the range isn't that comprehensive. FWIW - the other basics ranges that I recall are - meat and fish products became J. James Butchers, tinned stuff became Hubbard's, chilled products (ready meals etc) became Stamford Street, and cleaning prducts became 24/7.
  9. They've just been rebranded to these: The whole Sainsbury's Basics range got rebranded a while back. So the snacks are now branded "Just Snax", the dairy is "Mary Ann's Dairy", the veg is "Imperfectly Tasty" etc. There's loads of them, and the packaging no longer has standard colours, so it's less clear.
  10. If you like coconut these are really good. Crispy toasted coconut shreds with just a hint of salt to them. They'd be nice without the salt, and it's quite subtle, but it just lifts them so much. I could scoff these all day:
  11. I'm suddenly interested in this. Rab Florence wrote some great articles for Eurogamer and RPS.
  12. Ooh! Haven't seen those. I prefer dark choccy, so I'd probably share your opinion. Will keep a look out for them...
  13. This has just been announced - see here: RichCast Article I became aware of it just over a week a go when I was invited to be a creator, by one of my old bosses, Philip Oliver. Sounds interesting. It's a platform for audio interactive fiction, where you interact purely through speech. The main idea being speech recognition has got good enough to be pretty reliable, and artificial speech is ballpark enough to be acceptable, so we're in a place where you can just converse with AI characters to play a game (they have a library of 100s of computer voices to use, but you can replace with actual speech if you want, which is probably a plan in many cases, tbh). As a (one-time) game designer it intrigues me. Especially the idea for games that don't need graphics at all (I've played a couple of games for blind people, and they can work very well). I've got ideas buzzing around my head, but story-based is not the strongest area for me. I've got an idea I'm fairly keen on though - just need to find the time to work on it. I've had a quick play with the software - it seems pretty simple. They're currently looking for early content to build a launch catalogue for the platform, so are looking for creators to commission - writers, artists, logic (they've not specified coders because it's super simple to use, but if you can code you'd do it standing on your head), audio (which I'm guessing includes voice work). I'm hopefully going to put together a pitch in the next week or so. I thought other folk here might be interested in this as an opportunity though. You can sign up here, if you're interested: https://www.panivox.com/
  14. Seems pretty strong to me. I rewatched the first episode of this series again last night - it's a cracking opener, and hopefully the start of a great series. I don't think there's a weak link in the contestants - they were all good fun. Alan Davies is a great addition. He can switch between being amusingly incompetent and actually pretty shrewd at the drop of a hat, and is perfectly happy being the butt of jokes, or self-deprecating. He fills the "old codger" role beautifully. But Morgana definitely looks set to be the star of the series (I love a good swear, and she's very good at it).
  15. Maybe we need a chocolate-based thread then? I don't eat that much of the stuff, but I do like decent quality stuff. Have you tried these? I'm not the biggest fan of Lindt chocolate generally, but as a hazelnut fan myself I do find these rather good:
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