For those who don’t know, the One Chip Challenge involves a single tortilla chip made by Paqui, coated in a deathly black jacket of dust, and you have to eat it. That’s the challenge – handle the heat and you’re a chili champ. The heat comes from Carolina Reaper pepper, formerly the hottest pepper in the world. Participants include Kristen Bell, Michael Peña and almost everyone with a YouTube channel and a few hundred thousand followers.
In LGR’s case, someone sent him the chip and the results were just as I expected. The smell is demonic and the taste is pure unadulterated heat. But it doesn’t hit you straight away and LGR found that out as time progressed.
Remember Dasani? I’m talking to the UK readers because the US still stocks it and people still buy it for some reason. The ill-fated bottled water brand came and went like a flushed piece of toilet paper when it launched in the UK.
But comedian and YouTuber Stuart Ashen found a bottle that was 15 years old, unopened, and decided to have a taste with fellow YouTuber, Tom Scott. But why is this such a momentous occasion?
Whatever happened to Dasani?
The Coca-Cola water brand launched in 1999, to compete with Pepsi’s Aquafina. The first giveaway that something wasn’t right is the fact it’s filtered tap water with added sodium (using reverse osmosis). That’s not out of the ordinary or necessarily bad but… you can buy a Brita filter, turn the tap on, and get the same thing (minus the sodium).
But when Dasani was launched in the UK in 2004, it was a PR disaster. This was thanks to an unsubstantiated story that claimed the water was tap water from a suburb outside London which killed any hope of success for Dasani.
To rub sodium chloride into the wound, UK authorities also found a batch of Dasani contained levels of bromate above the legal limit for sale – bromate is a carcinogen. The FSA said there wasn’t an “immediate risk to public health” but that was enough for Coca-Cola to pack up and remove Dasani from UK shelves for good.
Dasani Water – not the choice in a disaster
With all the panic buying that’s going on, people in the US have been clambering for water. And guess which brand has been left? Dasani. I mean, why would you spend your money on it when there isn’t a pandemic?
Anyway, Tom also made a video called “Why You Can’t Buy Dasani Water in Britain” which you can stream below.
It wouldn’t have been my choice but a Swiss gruyère was named the world’s best cheese at the World Championship Cheese Contest in Wisconsin on Thursday 5th March.
The win gave Michael Spycher of Mountain Dairy Fritzenhaus in Bern, Switzerland his second victory (his first was in 2008). In fact, it was a Swiss 1-2 as a hard cheese called Gallus Grand CRU finished second.
This year’s tournament, the first since 2018, received a record 3,667 entries from 26 countries but due to international travel restrictions, 30 Japanese university representatives couldn’t attend.
I love ginger ale. I especially love the American variants (as they weren’t hit by the sugar tax like the UK). So when I found out about the Boston cooler, I had to investigate.
The first thing that surprised me was the fact it’s not from Boston at all. The soda shake comes from Detroit, Michigan and its history is quite complex. But one thing is clear – an authentic Boston cooler is made with vanilla ice cream and Vernors ginger ale. And it has to be Vernors.
Essentially, the Boston cooler is a type of ice cream float (or a coke float or spider to some) and if a jerk made you one, that would be a good thing.
Why is it called a “Boston” cooler?
The name is based on a street rather than the city. The drink’s inventor is said to be a man called Fred Sanders who named the beverage after a street in a neighbourhood known as Boston Edison.
How a UK version would taste
Import costs are high for US products, especially food and drink. But we have plenty of ginger ale brands to make our own variant here in the UK.
Schweppes Canada Dry
For me, this is the easiest choice and common in the UK and US. Canada Dry is the brand of ginger ale I always buy from the supermarket and I think it’d work well for a quick and easy Boston cooler.
This is slightly more upmarket but still affordable.
I know Britvic for its orange juice but they also do ginger ale.
Pronounced “beever” to own the French, Belvoir makes a style of ginger ale, blending a “fresh ginger root infusion with botanical extracts” and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Ginger ale from the sponsors of Queen’s Club Championships would add a touch of class to a jug of Boston cooler. A true transatlantic union.
London Essence Co.
Marketed as a “delicate ginger ale”, the company use sugar from the stevia plant as a healthier sweet option. There’s even some “liquorice notes coupled with distilled aniseed and fennel essences”.
This brand has an array of unusual soda drinks, including Salted Paloma, Cadamom, and even Chocolate. But it’s ginger ale is a dry variant which would work well with a soft and creamy vanilla ice cream.
Franklin & Sons
Started 20 years after Vernors, Franklin & Sons Ltd offer some great soft drink flavours and award-winning ginger ale uses British spring water and natural British sugar. Hurrah!
Any supermarket brand
If all else fails, go for a bottle from Asda or Tesco. Waitrose has one too if you fancy pushing the boat out.
What about the vanilla ice cream?
Much like your choice of ginger ale, the vanilla ice cream you choose for your Boston cooler is important. But there isn’t a specific brand you need, which is good if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, for example.
Sainsbury’s Madagascan Vanilla
Jeni’s Honey Vanilla Bean
Waitrose 1 Madagascan
Green & Black’s Organic (with Real Bourbon Vanilla)
Or you could make your own.
And if you have the cash and the means to do so, you could probably make some vanilla ice cream using donkey milk or moose milk. But that’s your call and your money.
Non-dairy (V = Vegan, VG = Vegetarian)
Swedish Glace (V)
Alpro Vanilla (V)
Northern Bloc (V/VG)
Booja Booja (V)
Morrisons V Taste Free From Soya (V)
Or you could make your own. (V)
Feeling delightful devilish? Use ginger beer
This is totally off-script but hear me out. Ginger beer packs a punch and would be the perfect complement to something soothing like vanilla ice cream. What better way to represent Detroit than a fiery Boston cooler variant of its famous drink?
I recommend Crabbies or Old Jamaica, with a splash of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey (if you’re old enough to drink in your country and you drink aware).
How would you make your Boston cooler? Let me know in the comments.
I love my West Indian heritage. Whenever I can, I claim it above being British as I feel more at home amongst family and my kinfolk. A part of that comes from the Jamaican cuisine and having to buy ingredients for certain dishes.
As a teenager, I’d have to go out to various ethnic shops (often South Asian-owned) but I also went to West Indian shops that stocked all the things my mum needed. I didn’t always enjoy doing it (who wants to run errands while you’re in the middle of playing video games?). But as I got older, it was nice to go for a walk and immerse myself in the culture.
So, here are 5 things my mum made me buy from West Indian shops.
Jamaican bread (or hard dough bread to everyone outside my family)
I didn’t know it was generally known as hard dough bread until my late teens. I always knew it as Jamaican bread and that’s what I call it to this day. It’s the best bread on the planet as far as I’m concerned. It’s thick, sweet, and demands a slab of butter on it by default.
In terms of size and shape, I started out buying the square-shaped loaves but as time passed, we moved onto the rounder loaves. It was a better choice. You got more bread for your money that way. Who cares if it’s misshapen? This ain’t Bake Off.
Bun (spiced bun)
There is no better bun out there. The Jamaican spiced bun is often eaten during Easter and that’s when I usually got it but the tradition extended to Christmas because why not?!
For anyone who hasn’t experienced this Jamaican delicacy, the bun is often round and dark brown, filled with currants or raisins and goes hand in hand with cheese (although I eat it with butter mostly). And a glass of milk to wash it all down. I’m sure the vegan alternatives would go superbly with it as well.
This often shocks people but I don’t like coconut. The taste makes me wretch, particularly if it’s desiccated coconut. Not a fan of the water. But the cream and the milk is fine in food… if the flavour isn’t prominent.
That’s how I managed to eat rice and peas with coconut cream in it for so many years. It was a Sunday staple and I’d regularly buy the boxed form from KTC.
My mum couldn’t eat her food without Encona. Had to be that brand. Recently, she’d been “slumming it” with Tabasco as they didn’t sell Encona where she lived. When I visited earlier this month, I brought two bottles of Encona for her. She was happy.
The pepper used in the sauce is the Scotch bonnet, which is more than 10x hotter than the hottest jalapeño. It’s no ghost pepper but it’s fire for anyone who can’t handle heat like me. You’ll definitely need another glass of milk for this one.
This wasn’t a regular purchase but still one I made. Some may know them as guineos in Latin America, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic and they’re basically unripened bananas. My mum would boil them and we’d eat them with dumplings (often boiled too but occasionally fried) and yam (we’ll get to that one later).
Not my favourite savoury food as it didn’t taste of anything so that’s when the gravy came in, to add some flavour.
Some of these weren’t exclusively purchased at West Indian shops but they were things I bought on my travels and remind me of my black heritage.
There was an art to buying the right yam. My mum did it most of the time but on the occasions I did, the pieces had to be clean-ish, big-ish, and cheap-ish.
Much like green bananas, I wasn’t a fan (in fact, I hated them as a kid). But my tastes matured and a bit of gravy went a long way.
KA drinks – Karibbean Kola or Black Grape
The Caribbean amber nectar. I know people love Supermalt but Karibbean Kola and Black Grape were my drinks. Sweet beyond words but the flavour! They were exquisite.
West Indian shops often have fridge shelves filled with them. That’s when you know you’re in the right place.
Speaking of delightfully sweet drinks contributing to diabetes in black people, it’s Nurishment! Besides the sugar, the cans have all the vitamins you need for the day and it comes in an assortment of flavours – my favourite is strawberry.
I still buy them every now and again but I always check the price. If they’re on offer, they’re about £1 otherwise I don’t pay any more than £1.40, which is the RRP. I don’t usually buy them in West Indian shops either.
A while back, I wrote about pule, a unique cheese made from donkey milk. Well, there’s another expensive and rare cheese out there and it’s made from moose milk.
Moose cheese brings in the cheddar
Christer and Ulla Johansson are the two farmers from Älgens Hus (Elk/Moose House) farm in Bjurholm, Sweden and they’re believed to be the world’s only producer of moose cheese. Due to its rarity, the moose milk generates 300kg of cheese per year at a cost of over £750 per kg (around $1,000). That makes it one of the most expensive cheeses in the world.
What kind of cheese does moose milk make?
The milk creates four types of cheese:
Two types of blue cheese (dry and creamy)
As well as being sold, the Johansson’s also serve the cheese at their Älgens Hus’ restaurant in Sweden.
This is all made possible by three female moose named Gullan, Haelga, and Juno who lactate for 5 months of the year between May and September.
Why not visit The Moose House?
As well as the moose cheese, you can also visit Älgens Hus and take a tour around the farm. Say hello to all the tame moose and moose calves witness the Kings (and Queens) of the Forest in all their Scandanavian splendour.
The farm is a 30-minute bus ride and walk from Bjurholm busstation on the 113. By car, it’s around 10 minutes.
Made and sold in the USA, Lil’ Nitro measures 9,000,000 on the Scoville scale, a scale used to measure the heat of chilli peppers. Put into context, that’s 900 times hotter than a jalapeño and over 5 times hotter than a Carolina Reaper. It comes with a “cool shield foil wrap” and an ice pack to ease the pain (because you’ll need it).
If you can handle the heat, you’ll be disappointed to hear there’s only one Lil’ Nitro Gummy Bear available per box but I can’t imagine there’s much demand for a packet of gummies with 9 million Scoville rating.
Lil’ Nitro is a next-level spice challenge that shows that even the sweetest things can be corrupted.
Oh, and it’s not suitable for vegans because it contains gelatine. It’s also not suitable for children despite what this questionable Amazon review says:
Alex (full name Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz) is a French “Self-taught Homecook / Self-taught Filmmaker” and he managed to find a way to make a foodsafe kintsugi hack. The video starts in September 2017 in Alex’s studio with a small bowl which he drops and, naturally, it broke. He then discusses how much he loved it and goes through his kitchen, showing all the other broken utensils he had patched up.
So, rather than send his favourite blue and white bowl to ceramic heaven, he took it to Mizuyo Yamashita, a London-based ceramic artist who specialised in kintsugi. But it’s not only Japanese artforms she uses:
I work now mostly on the potter’s wheel and apply surface decorating techniques that stem from Japanese and Korean traditions such as shinogi, mishima and kohiki or carve the clay surface using Japanese chisels for wood-printing.
I love kintsugi, visually and philosophically. It’s a beautiful technique that teaches so much about life and the objects in our lives. Minimalism is portrayed as an antithesis of our post-postmodern maximalist world. But a lot of it does the opposite with nothing more than licks of white paint and expensive items – even if there aren’t many of them.
Kintsugi offers a chance to repair something beloved; that holds a value in our lives – and gives it a new golden life. Sure, Alex’s “hack” cuts the time down and might remove that time of contemplation but you still have a beautiful bowl that brings you joy. Marie Kondo would approve.
I grew up on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series (known as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in the UK because they thought ninjas were too dangerous for kids). Their pizza love inspired mine and here we are in 2019. That’s why this immediately caught my eye.
ThinkGeek are selling a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pizza Cutter and Spatula Set as a “GameStop/ThinkGeek Exclusive”. According to TG, it “adds some flair to boring kitchen items (and sheathes)”. I particularly like the faux-wooden handles like the Turtles’ weaponry in the original series.
I don’t like wine but I am partial to a cup of tea. I never used to drink it that much but I go through about 2-3 cups a day at work. At one point, I even synchronised my cuppas with a bunch of people on the internet until Noel Edmonds killed it. But according to an article from Beverage Daily, “Tea 3.0” is here. I’ll try and explain what that means.
The experts behind the World Tea Expo (being held in Las Vegas in June) are ushering in a new era for the beverage. “Tea 3.0” will be “driven by consumer demand for good taste, good health benefits and convenience”. According to a report on Statista, industry revenue amounts to over $129bn in 2019, with the most generated in Brazil ($16.526bn in 2019).
There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.
But how will good taste, health benefits, and convenience look for tea’s future? And where does the tea as the new wine analogy come in? Well, the tea industry includes sommeliers who taste test before they’re approved for the masses. Experts believe consumers will want to know more about where their brews come from and many brands fake their origins. This poses a problem for brand trust and integrity, hence the need for transparency.
Look. I’m no expert. An ex-girlfriend once bought me a Mr Tea mug in honour of her making me do tea runs for her all the time but I don’t think that qualifies me. What I will say is I doubt the general consumer will care as much about where theirs comes from as long as it tastes how they want and it’s cheap enough. My personal favourites are Ahmad Tea and Whittard of Chelsea but I’ve not bought any of their products in months. As the price range increases, the wine analogy comes into effect and you start to treat the beverage in the same manner. I guess in that way, fancy cuppas are as close as I’ll get to a glasses of wine. I wish I had the bank balance to reflect it.
Despite being one of the blandest vegetables, cauliflower is enjoying success amongst foodies. Now it’s being used as a crust for pizzas at Blaze Pizza, a California-based chain. The brand boasts celebrity investors such as Maria Shriver, John Davis, and Tom Werner, co-owner of the Boston Red Sox.
Blaze Pizza is set to open its fifth Palm Beach County location on Tuesday 7th May and offer two new crusts: cauliflower gluten-free crust with added vegetables and a low-carb crust.
Cauliflower as a crust? It’s not for me but I’m sure people will lap it up in a pursuit to eat healthier. I guess? I don’t know. For more information about the pizza franchise, head over to this Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza Franchise Review.
I add extra cheese to any pizza I buy (and I eat a lot of pizza). But 154 different varieties? I’d go into a cheese coma. 400 Gradi is a restaurant in Melbourne, Australia. Its chef Johnny Di Francesco is the man behind a new Guinness World Record – The World’s Cheesiest Pizza.
The previous record stood at 111 by Johnny himself, after his initial 99-Cheese Pizza (a brilliant reference to Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). But he wanted to set a new benchmark. Needless to say, he accomplished it again.
“We had an overwhelming response from our customers, so much so that they petitioned to have it a permanent menu item. Since then we decided to up the ante and create a 154-cheese pizza.”
What I want to know is what cheeses were used? Johnny told the Guinness Book of Records, “the cheeses included the likes of gorgonzola, pecorino, Taleggio, aged cheddar, gouda and of course, many more!” The pizza has been so popular, it sold out of all 400 Gradi venues within five days, with a total of 797 sold. Okay, I need to stop writing about this as my mouth is watering.
The U.S. Virgin Islands is a group of islands in the Caribbean and home to an amazing pizza restaurant. But it isn’t on dry land. Pizza Pi is the Caribbean’s only “food truck boat, specially fitted with a commercial kitchen that cranks out New York-style pizzas”.
Based in the Virgin Islands, you can order a Pizza Pi pizza by boat radio, phone, or email, but they don’t do delivery. Instead, you have to collect your pizza in Christmas Cove. That means people on the west of the islands will need to travel a bit.
Sasha and Tara Bouis were the masterminds behind the Pizza Pi but sold the boat to another couple, Heather and Brian Samelson. Despite changing hands, the food remains the same and there haven’t been any complaints so far.
When I was little, my dad would play a lot of reggae in the car. One of the songs was I Am Not A King, originally recorded by Delroy Wilson. But the version my dad played was by a Jamaican singer called Cocoa Tea. At first I thought it was just a Jamaican name for hot chocolate. I didn’t think much of it after that. 20 years later, it entered my life again in a Gastro Obscura article and my assumption was wrong. Cocoa tea was not a Jamaican term for hot chocolate. And it wasn’t really tea either.
Cocoa or chocolate tea is made from mixing grated cocoa balls or sticks with milk and water, before boiling. So in some ways, it’s a lot like hot chocolate. But the secret to a perfect cup is pure unsweetened cocoa. Authentic cocoa balls are best but hard to obtain outside the Caribbean. Adding traditional Caribbean spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, or ginger is the proverbial icing on the tea. The biggest difference is the lack of sugar (which is a big part of Caribbean sweet cuisine) and that’s where condensed milk comes in (which is a big part of Caribbean sweet cuisine). This can, of course, be substituted for any kind of milk and the spices can vary depending on where the drink is made.
It’s not even specific to Jamaica and Barbados. Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Dominica and Saint Lucia are some of the islands who sip on the hot beverage. So why is it even called “tea”? Think of it as a Caribbean umbrella term for a hot drink at breakfast.
There is a myriad of old wives’ tales describing ways of curing hangovers. But one popular cure in Turkey is işkembe çorbası, translated as literally “tripe soup”. Naturally, this isn’t vegetarian or vegan but it’s not reserved for the morning after a boozy night either.
İşkembe Çorbası Recipe
1/2 lb. veal tripe (about 230g)
4-5 cups water (about 1 litre)
2 tbs. butter
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk (about 60ml)
2 garlic cloves
Cook the tripe in water and salt for about 1½ – 2 hours or until tender. You can use a pressure cooker to cook it faster. Remove the foam from the surface. Take the cooked tripe out of the water and cut it into bite-size chunks. Keep the water for later.
Melt butter, add flour, stir, and add about 2 cups of the water, stirring constantly. Blend until smooth; then add the tripe. Cook 15-20 minutes over medium-low heat.
Slowly pour the egg yolk and milk into the pot and stir very slowly. Cook for 3-4 more minutes over medium heat. If it’s too thick, add some more boiled water. Pour the soup into bowls.
Add mixture of melted butter and red pepper to the soup. Finally, add the garlic and vinegar in a small bowl, pouring 1 tbs. into the soup.