Cocktail Time: Valencian Orange

Summer is here! Warm sunny days, late nights, relaxing by the pool. Paddling pool, that is, as travel is still something out of reach for most of us at the moment. But never fear: Platinum Al is here with the perfect cocktail to enjoy on a balmy evening as you watch the sun go down.

The Valencian Orange cocktail can be a potent concoction, as you can tell from the ingredients. It should, of course, be made with freshly squeezed Valencian oranges, but as that’s a bit impossible at the moment, regular freshly squeeezed will have to do.

Valencian Orange Cocktail

  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Sugar
  • Cava
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice

You’ll need a large glass (see the big wine glass in the picture for reference). Add one measure of vodka, one measure of gin, and a teaspoonful of sugar.

Next, pour in a generous amount of Cava. There’s no specified measure for this, so play around with it to your taste. I’d aim for a small glass of wine’s worth for starters. You can play around with all of these measures to get your preferred taste.

Finally, top up with the freshly squeezed orange juice, et voila – one Valencian Orange cocktail.

TIP: The cava and the orange juice both need to be chilled (or ice cold) – as ice cubes will melt and water down the taste.

In the accompanying photo, you’ll notice that the glasses feature a sugared rim. This is really just for appearances. You can recreate this with grenadine and sugar, mixed on a plate – which you then place the rim of the glass into, upside down. Obviously, do this part of the creation before you put the liquid in the glass…

Now you’re free to enjoy this great cocktail. It’s refreshing, fruity and potentially heady, all in one drink. Enjoy!

Soundtrack: Spanish Caravan by The Doors, Gipsy Kings, Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Disclaimer: I’ve never been to Valencia. I stole this recipe from an episode of Travel Man, starring one of my heroes, Richard Ayoade.

All Hail The Twinkie

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When I first went to the United States of America, I had a mission.  I was 27 years old and had never eaten a Twinkie.  In fact, I’d never even seen one.  Twinkies, though they are a definitive piece of American snacking, were unavailable in the UK.  So on day one of my first US trip, I went to a supermarket and found the Hostess snacks section.  Finally, I was able to experience the wonder of the Twinkie.

You may wonder why this was such a big deal.  Especially if you’re American.

I had been fascinated by this “golden sponge cake” since my childhood days, when I voraciously read every Marvel comic book I could get my hands on.  Between the thrilling tales of Spiderman, The Avengers and the Fantastic Four (amongst others) were numerous adverts for American products that fascinated my young mind.  X-Ray Specs; Sea Monkeys; t-shirts and posters for KISS, Evel Knievel and Farrah Fawcett.  I had no idea what these things were, there was nothing like them in my world.  This pop culture ephemera were tantalising clues to the world I saw on television and in films. P_20140816_141833

Also advertised within the pages of these comic book master pieces were adverts for Hostess snack foods.  There were fruit pies, cup cakes, and of course Twinkies.

These ads featured Marvel superheroes defeating the villains with the aid of snack food items.  A short one page comic strip told how the hero would be able to distract the bad guys with the treats and save the day.  The plots were somewhat random mini stories that shoe horned the products in any way they could.  My mind absorbed it all.  Of course, there were ads in DC comics too, featuring their stable of characters.  You couldn’t escape Hostess snacks anywhere in comic land.

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A typical Twinkie comic advert

Add in the fact that these cakes have been featured in films and television as well, and you have a pop culture phenomenon.  Twinkies are featured in Ghostbusters, Die Hard and Zombieland, as well as many others.  One of my favourite examples is Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, where the villain – whose touch decays everything – finds the only food he can hold without it crumbling to dust is a Twinkie.  A nice reference to the old comic ads, there – and the urban myth of Twinkies being imperishable!

But what is a Twinkie?  It’s basically a sponge finger cake, with a creamy filling.  As I found out when I first ate one, they’re not that amazing really.  In fact I was a little under whelmed.  Mr Kipling this ain’t.  But then Mr Kipling didn’t stop Galactus from devouring the planet with a Bakewell tart.

Nowadays you can find Twinkies on sale in the UK, and in various forms too. Along with the original variety, I’ve tried banana; and chocolate is available too.  All easily found in your local B&M store, and a lot cheaper than the speciality American sweet shops that sell boxes for £13 (more like £3).

They’re good, but not the most delicious of cakes.  However the Twinkie is without equal in the realms of popular culture.  At least for those, like me, raised on American superhero comics.  Twinkies are still an exotic treat, to be enjoyed with a wry smile and fond memories of those old comics. P_20151122_153035

There are some great examples of Hostess adverts in comic books here.

The Hostess cakes website is here.

More Hostess foods soon!

Rancid Rock

In which our intrepid adventurers explore a world of oddly flavoured confectionery…

For our recent trip to Sci Fi Weekender in north Wales, my compadres and I were well stocked with food and drink.  Along with the usual savoury food stuffs, there was plenty of sweet: chocolate, cakes, Twinkies.  All the good stuff.

And yet, with the reckless abandon of enthusiasm and the bravado of beer, we were destined for far murkier waters.

Some time previously, I had purchased some novelty rock on a trip to Rhyl.  You know what rock is – long cylindrical sticks; usually peppermint flavoured; either chewy or (as the name suggests) hard and brittle.  Brightly coloured sticks of sugar, the quintessential seaside souvenir.  IMG_3995

It was three sticks for a quid, and I bought these flavours:

  • Chicken Tikka
  • Fish’n’Chips
  • Cookie Dough

After a few beers one night, I decided it was time to experiment with these substances and see what the effects were.  Here are my observations.

Chicken Tikka

Now I love Indian food.  However Chicken Tikka rock is not to die for.  Imagine, if you will, the miserable surprise of sweet tasting rock being replaced by a vaguely spicy Asian flavour.  My brain thought a cruel trick was being played on it.  The rock was chewy rather than hard.  The taste was bland; with a strange, mild spiciness.  Like licking a stick of celery that had been waved near a curry flavoured Pot Noodle.  The only good thing is that this rock wasn’t hot spicy at all, just leaving an insipid warmth on the tongue.  Totally vile.

Disgusto rating: 3/5

Fish’n’Chips

Next up was the Fish’n’Chips flavour.  Now what could go wrong – the amalgamation of two British seaside classics, rock that tastes of fish and chips?  More like what couldn’t go wrong.  The chewy rock was strangely missing the traditional sweetness, instead it was a truly bland flavour with a remote hint of ancient battered cod.  But the smell of it was utterly putrid – a million maritime nightmares sheltering in the salty cove of your mouth.  Plain sailing this was not – Fish’n’Chips rock is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever put in my mouth.  Like that time when, as a kid, you fell over while paddling in the sea; and got a mouth  full of salty seawater, seaweed, and dead crab.

Disgusto rating: 5/5

Cookie Dough

After the previous monstrosity, I was actually looking forward to Cookie Dough flavour.  Surely this one would be OK?  After all, the previous two varieties suffered from the juxtaposition of sweet becoming savoury.  No such luck.  Cookie Dough, despite being generally fantastic when added to ice cream, does no favours for rock.  It just tasted of aniseed.  Big disappointment.  Like being given an Easter Egg that looks great, but tastes of punch in the face.

Disgusto rating: 2/5

All in all not an experience I would like to repeat.  Though it was pretty funny…

Here’s what my friends had to say about the whole sorry affair:

Adam: “They smelt like the arse hole of a dead badger and pretty sure that’s what they tasted like too….  I can still taste it now late at night when it’s quiet in the house and I’m alone in my thoughts.”

Greeny: “I only tried the fish one, I didn’t dare try any others after that cos I wanted to die.  It tasted like cat shit and feet, wrapped in a thong that Jordan had worn for a month.  And it smelt pretty much like that too.”

Ultimate Banana Milkshake

Back in the Virtual Hot Tub with a new drink recipe.  This one’s a non alcoholic concoction that’s quick and easy to put together.  I like to have one of these for breakfast.  It’s a basic but fun milkshake that only requires a blender to make it happen.  No real skill required!

Ultimate Banana Milkshake

  • 700 ml Milk
  • 2 Bananas
  • Sugar
  • Chocolate cream (squirty variety)

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Peel your two bananas and put them in the blender.  Next, add 700ml of the milk and a teaspoon of sugar.  Hit the “blend” button and watch as everything gets mushed up (don’t forget to put the lid on!).  That’s my favourite part.

When ready, pour out a glass of your milkshake, leaving some room at the top.  Take your can of squirty cream and squeeze a large topping of chocolate on top (this last part is optional).

700ml of milk will make a lot of milkshake – you might want to share (or just be greedy like me, and have all of it).