Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock/Metal Albums of 2019

2019 has been an exceptional year for new music.  It started off slowly, but by the end of the year I was struggling to keep up.

As per last year, Ever Metal asked me to produce a Top Ten of my favourite rock and metal albums of the year.  So here we go:

  1. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Yn Ol I Annwn
  2. Speedealer – Blue Days Black Nights
  3. Obey – Swallow The Sun
  4. Acid Reign – The Age of Entitlement
  5. Sunn O))) – Life Metal
  6. Earth – Full Upon Her Burning Lips
  7. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel – Very Uncertain Times
  8. Giant Dwarf – Giant Dwarf
  9. Monolord – No Comfort
  10. Crobot – Motherbrain

All fantastic records.  Honorable mentions this time to Kadavar, Firebreather, L7, Wizard Rifle and Duel.

For more rock reviews, interviews and top tens, head over to Ever Metal.

Happy New Year everybody – wishing you a very healthy and prosperous 2020!

And thanks for vising Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub!  Make sure you come back next year, and if you’ve got any requests or suggestions, please get in touch.

The Great British Choc Off

Which is best – Cadbury Dairy Milk or Galaxy?

Chocoholics rejoice – for one of the greatest chocolate guzzling times of the year is nearly upon us.  For verily, we shall gorge upon the delicious brown confection till we are fit to burst.

But the age old question still stands: what is best, Cadbury or Galaxy chocolate?

I have been plagued by this conundrum for many a long year, until finally deciding to put this to a scientific test.  So I engaged the help of colleagues in a quantifiable research scenario that would answer the problem definitively.

Now in this particular test, to reduce the amount of variables, I dictated that the subjects were to compare only Cadbury Dairy Milk and Galaxy chocolate bars.  None of this Fruit & Nut/Caramel/Cookies and Cream/Ripple deviousness – this was to be a pure Choc Off between the staple brands.

Though to be fair, those variations are damn fine (except for Fruit & Nut, which is an evil mutation).

So I ask again:

Which do you prefer: Cadbury Dairy Milk or Galaxy chocolate? 

Here are the results from my stringently selected test group:

Galaxy was chosen by: Karen, Kirsty, Claire, Hannah, Bridget, Liam, Laura and myself.

Cadbury was chosen by: Joey, Steve, Simon, Pete, Dan, James, Dave, Wayne, Paul, Chris, Helen and Anne-Marie.

So the evidence proves that Cadbury chocolate is the more popular choice over Galaxy., with 12 votes to 8.

Some interesting data is revealed in this test.  For example, those favouring Galaxy were mostly (but not exclusively) female, with the reverse true for Cadbury.  Of course, this could just mean that the more amateur choc fans are largely male, choosing the Cadbury option…

Either way, my investigation revealed that Cadbury was the victor.  I’ll have to conduct further tests.

Disclaimer: although I voted Galaxy, I’d like to point out that I am a fan of Cadbury chocolate too.  It’s a very tough decision to make.  It’s not like I’d turn down Dairy Milk!  Or any chocolate for that matter.  That ain’t gonna happen.

Thanks to my ever reliable colleagues for their opinions in this research.  Next time: what’s the correct pronunciation of “scone”?

Questions #11: Chocolate bars

I love a bit of chocolate, me.  I often indulge my love of the delicious sweet, and I’m regularly spoiled for choice when carefully selecting which treat to go for.  At this time of year, I look forward to (hopefully) receiving a selection box of choc bars that I can guzzle.

So I decided to find out what the favourite chocolate bars were amongst my friends.

The choices were limited to the sort of chocolate bars that you can buy in a sweet shop, or the confectionery counter of a newsagent.  Boxes of chocolates – such as Milk Tray or Roses – wouldn’t count.  Neither would chocolate cake or chocolate digestive biscuits.

Also, the choice would have to be actual chocolate – so the vote  I received for Highland Toffee was also discounted.  I allowed Caramac, though – because Caramac is great, and I make the rules.

Q: What’s your favourite chocolate bar?

Helen – Fry’s Turkish Delight

Steve O – Munchies

Jen – Twirl

Simon B – Double Decker (from the fridge)

Karen – Spira

Chris A – Wispa

Claire H – Toblerone

Jamie H – Daim

Jack H – Lindor chocolate

Laura J – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Mike R – Yorkie Raisin & Biscuit

Kirsty R – Picnic

Dan G – Yorkie Raisin & Biscuit

Brett H – Starbar

Mark H – Wispa

Gary B – Starbar

Mandy – Starbar

Snips – Starbar

Sadie – Starbar

Mike Stone – Marathon (that’s a Snickers, kids!)

Michaela – Starbar

Naresh – Caramac

Steve W – Double Decker

Ben – Wispa (sorry, Ben – took this as your default choice!)

Claire W – Picnic

Sara-Jane – Green & Black’s Ginger

Abigail R – Freddo

Greeny – Double Decker

Kiaran – Lion bar

Kate L – Finger of Fudge

Danny “Chef” Burke – Wispa

Claire B – Double Decker

Neil C – Caramac

Chris J – Fry’s Five Centres

Cathryn R – Nestle Dairy Crunch (white)

Kathryn W – Fry’s Turkish Delight

Bryn – Marathon

Shaun C – Texan bar

Jazbo – Texan bar

Corrine – Galaxy

Urien – Wispa Gold

Lee T – Picnic

Steph C – Wispa Gold

Lisa P – Cadbury Fuse

Vanessa – Fry’s Turkish Delight

Me – Galaxy

The result?  It’s a draw!

Both Wispa and Starbar received six votes each.  Although I did count Wispa Gold in with the other Wispas…

Double Decker put in a brave fight to come third.

I tried a Starbar after this poll, just for research, you see.  It was quite nice, but I didn’t like the nuts.  For me, nuts shouldn’t be in chocolate.  Peanuts should be served salted with a nice beer.

I’ll happily leave this poll as a draw, safe in the knowledge that the dreaded – and totally over-rated Crunchie – didn’t show it’s evil face.

Food Quest: Quay Fine Dining

Quay Fine Dining, Connah’s Quay

A family gathering provided a recent opportunity for my second trip to Quay Fine Dining.  The restaurant is located at the top of Connah’s Quay near Morrison’s supermarket, on the site of what was once known as the Top Kwiks.

Also, incidentally, very near where a young Platinum Al (only aluminium in those days) spent some of his childhood years.

The casual bigot may be confused at the idea of “fine dining” in Connah’s Quay.  However I will proudly declare that this town deserves some respect, and indeed a quality restaurant.  The first thing that strikes the eager food lover when entering Quay Fine Dining is just how smart the interior is: up to date, modern, clean and luxurious.  It’s really quite spell binding.

The menu is largely Indian, with Thai and Greek options available also.  On this particular visit, I opted to stick to an Indian theme.  This began with the classic, if obvious, couple of popadoms (together with the usual chutney accompaniments).

Before taking this gastronomical journey any further, I should point out that Quay Fine Dining is not a licensed restaurant.  But you can take along your own booze (which the staff will very kindly keep cool for you if desired).  This means that the night out can work out reasonably cheaply, but you must plan this well!  More on this later…

For our starters, Mrs Platinum Al chose chicken chaat puri, which was “lovely”.  I tried some and can confirm that is was very good indeed!  My own choice was chicken pakora, not something I have had very often.  I made a good choice, it was excellent.

There was quite a wait between courses, unfortunately.  As we were the only group in there at the time, I’m not sure why this was.  This also meant that I ran out of drink before my main course arrived.  Yes, I had somewhat underestimated the amount of booze required; though regardless the time between courses was a bit much.

Eventually the main courses arrived, and Mrs Platinum Al was very happy with her choice of chicken tikka shahi.  This is one of my favourite Indian dishes, though I had picked something different.

My choice was chicken shashlik, a dish I have enjoyed elsewhere in the past, but not ordered for a very long time.  I just felt that this would be a good choice.  I wasn’t disappointed.  It’s an impressive meal, brought sizzling to the table.  The side salad/garnish was a bit limp and superfluous, but the dish was very tasty and highly recommended.  My only mistake was ordering keema rice to go with the meal, there was plenty enough to eat without it (the dish is also served with a very nice curry sauce).

In conclusion, Quay Fine Dining not only offered a wide variety on the menu, it was also able to deliver a superb standard of food.  Plan your drink right and you’ll be rewarded with a very fine dining experience indeed.

Food Quest Test

  • Food: a massive choice, and from experience – great quality food without being over faced.
  • Drink: not licensed, so take your own.  No problems if you plan ahead.
  • Service: slow between courses, but the staff are exceptionally helpful and friendly.
  • Environment: visually impressive, modern and – dare I say it – extremely elegant.  Classy.
  • Cost: regardless of whether you save a few quid with the drink situation, the meals are very good value.

Quay Fine Dining, Ffordd Llanarth, Deeside Shopping Centre, Connah’s Quay CH5 4UP

01244 836565

The Quay Fine Dining website is here.

Questions #9: On Toast

What’s your favourite thing to eat on toast?  A simple question, yet this one offered a lot of interest and whole load of suggestions.

Toasted bread is a very simple idea (even I can cook that) – but it’s appeal is massive, judging by the response to this question.  Some of the suggestions I received are obvious, some sound delicious – others are a matter of taste.

Q: What’s your favourite thing to eat on toast?

Nathan: coleslaw

Matt R: bacon

Sian: bacon & sausage

Terry: Bacon

Jamie: butter and tomato sauce

Iain: peanut butter and jam

Sam: marmalade

Jayne: bacon

Mike R: salmon & scrambled egg

Mike Stone: mushy peas

Nick Jones: melted cheese

Mark “Hungry” Harper: peanut butter (smooth)

Lindsey Over: butter

Dan Graham: sardines

Irene Thomas: peanut butter, honey & banana

Annette Evans: spaghetti hoops

Steph Cottam: tomato puree, sliced tomatoes, sliced bratwurst, cheese (grilled)

Sarah Docherty: Branston pickle and cheese

Colin Pugh: sausage, fried egg and tomato sauce

Greeny: apple sauce

Adam Halliday: black pudding and cheese

Andrew Redman: strawberry jam & butter (on white bread)

Lisa Lord: Tomato puree, mature cheddar, Henderson’s relish and black pepper

Sarah Fickling: Dairylea and cucumber with a little black pepper

Claire Bujeaud: beans

Jayne H: sardines

Snips: Runny poached egg, fresh ground black pepper and Anglesey sea salt

Ade Cappadona: cold chilli con carne

Neil Calloway:  poached egg and lashings of marmite

Cheryl Jones: pot noodle

Mark Dutton: crispy bacon and marmalade

Adam Butler: butter

Brian Hall: HP sauce

Matt Barnes: lard

Michaela Jjones: peanut butter and raspberry jam

Laura Jones: Marmite with a poached egg and cheese on top, sprinkle of salt and pepper

Vanessa: cheese and beans

Belinda Spry: Vegemite (+ cheese)

Peter Higginson: thinly sliced haloumi with sliced green olives, dash of black pepper

Zoe Cullen: beans and cheese

Corrine Bufton-Sales: peppered mackerel

Mandy H: cheese and tomato

Donna: cold caviar on piping hot toast with Dom Perignon

Bryn: bacon lardons, red onion and cheese

Mike W: bacon and cheese

Richard Pearson: roast dinner

Me: peanut butter (crunchy) and chocolate spread

There you have it: some excellent ideas.  Some very simple suggestions – like good old butter – we often forget how good that tastes.  Then there’s the Full English options, right the way through to some that sound like they could be on a menu.  I’m also partial to sardines on toast, so nice to see that crop up a couple of times.  One or two of these “favourites” may well be jokes, but I’m not sure…

Sweet or savoury, there are some great ideas here that I would like to try.  I’ve not picked a winner, I hope this fun exercise has given you some “food for thought”.  But – roast dinner on toast?  Regular readers will be able to guess what I think of that…