The Best of 2019

Happy New Year, readers!  And welcome back to Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub – the web’s number one virtual location for soaking in warm, relaxing waters and enjoying my virtual adventures.

What a year 2019 has been.  I’ve been to Comic Cons; written album reviews for Ever Metal; indulged in another traditional Halloween Horror Fest – and finally managed to get to a few gigs.  Food and drinks reviews, as well as toy and tat blogs, have also made a comeback.

But what have been the most popular and widely read blogs in the last year?  Let’s rewind the clocks and take a look, with a good ol’ countdown from ten to the number one spot…

10. Little Shop of Halloween Horror Fests

At last!  Some Halloween Horror Fest love, with my final set of reviews breaking into the Top 10.  A first for my horror movie reviews, as far as I remember.  A triple bill of The Wolf Man, Little Shop of Horrors and Lust for a Vampire.

9. New Deck 2019 – Death Skateboards Richie Jackson

All about my latest skate set-up, including sexy pictures of a very fine skateboard.

8. Ewok Village Playset

My vintage Star Wars Ewok Village playset made a welcome appearance.  I must feature some more of my collection in the future.

7. That Beer Place

Very happy to see such a cool local beer emporium prove so popular.  Well done, That Beer Place!

6. Liverpool Comic Con 2019 – Part 1

A great day out, and the blog didn’t fare too badly at all.  No sign of Part 2 in the countdown, though…

5. Death by Tacos, Chester

The number one food place in Chester makes a justified appearance in the Top 5 most popular blogs.  Awesome food and service.

4. Tat Trek Update #8: Jo Guest Strip Pen

Miracle of miracles – an item from my Tat collection rockets into the most popular blogs for the first time ever!  Perhaps the saucy nature of the Jo Guest strip pen is to blame…

3. Wales Comic Con 2019

Always a great Comic Con, with fantastic guests and most importantly – as evidenced by this blog – amazing cosplay.

2. MCM Comic Con Birmingham 2019 – Part 1

The first part of my visit to the NEC for Comic Con made it to the number two spot.  Few words but plenty of brilliant cosplay.

And now – announcing the Most Read Blog of 2019 at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.  What could it be?  Why it’s…

1. MCM Comic Con Birmingham 2019 – Part 2

Only a couple of views more than Part 1, but Part 2 takes the crown for the most popular blog this year!

It’s great to see a variety of different topics be successful this year.  Comic conventions, food and skateboards always fare well, but I’m very happy to see Star Wars toys and a bit of tat break through for the first time.I’ll endeavour to deliver more in 2020 – who knows what we’ll see?

My thanks to all my readers over the last year – I appreciate every single view, like and comment.  I wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2020.

Death by Tacos, Chester

It’s been a long time since I wrote a food blog.  However, I’ve dragged myself out of self imposed food critic retirement, to plug a new local eaterie that I’ve become a huge fan of.  That establishment is Death by Tacos, in Chester market.

Anyone who knows me, or has read previous blogs, will know I’m a big fan of Mexican food.  So it’s no surprise that I love DBT.

On offer is authentic Mexican fare: freshly made, soft corn tortillas filled with a choice of various fillings and mouth watering dressings.  So far I’ve tried the chicken and the chorizo, and I’m working my way through the menu.  Both dishes were fabuloso!

There are also some amazing sounding sides available, like brisket loaded tortilla chips, that I want to try.  Plus with some groovy cocktails and beers, this is Mexican food heaven.

Sitting in Death by Tacos, I was right at home: a couple of skateboards on the walls and classic tunes (Black Sabbath and Smashing Pumpkins were on the playlist on my last visit!).  Plus the staff are friendly and helpful, making the whole experience a real joy.  Oh, I got a sticker and a badge too, wahey!

Chester market has been revamped over recent months, and now features various places to eat and drink that are worth investigating.  On Friday evenings they’re open till 9pm, and there’s a real relaxed and fun vibe that I can recommend.

Death by Tacos is worth your time to experience, trust me.  Great food, cool surroundings, what more could you want?

PS: this review ain’t going on Trip Advisor, ‘cos everyone knows Trip Advisor is for FOOLS.

Death by Tacos, Chester Market, Chester CH1 2HH. 

07791 068464

https://www.facebook.com/DeathByTacos/

www.instagram.com/deathbytacos_ 

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #10

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 2nd December 2016

“Another Vinyl Night, Daddy?” my six year old daughter asked.  Yes, sweetie, another!  After a bit of a quiet stretch, there seems to have been a little more vinyl action recently.  Well I ain’t complaining!

Back to the Queen’s Head in Mold for another Bring Your Own Vinyl Night, arranged/organised by Halcyon Dreams and VOD music.  You know the routine by now: play a 15 minute set of whatever tunes you like, vinyl only.

I travelled up with my good pal Brother Adam.  We got to the pub nice and early and had some food before the music started.  Happy to report that the food was very good indeed – I ordered BBQ pulled pork tacos, and they were mighty fine!

Next up, it was my turn on the decks.  This time I played the following:

Revolting Cocks – Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?

I was in the mood for slaying with some off the wall crazy tunes.  Revolting Cocks (or RevCo, if you’re in polite company) are an offshoot of Industrial giants Ministry, so this take on the old Rod Stewart cheese fest was sure gonna rock the house.  Imagine the seventies original put in a blender with sleazy guitars and a big, head throbbing beat and you’re most of the way there.  Ideal for any strip club.  This song can be found on the “Linger Ficken’ Good” album, though my version was from a clear vinyl 12″ that came in a liquid filled plastic sleeve.  The liquid looks very dodgy.

Vince Taylor – Brand New Cadillac

Absolute classic old school rockabilly mayhem from Vince Taylor, this version is from a recent acquisition called “Rockabilly’s Gravest Hits”.  That record is well worth the money.  I originally heard The Clash’s cover version on their “London Calling” album; years later I wound up jamming this song in a band practice.  It’s highly addictive, full throttle rock and roll and I love it. dz

Dread Zeppelin – Heartbreaker (At the End of Lonely Street)

For anyone not in the know, Dread Zeppelin specialise in reggae styled covers of Led Zeppelin songs.  With an Elvis impersonator on vocals.  This song, from a 12″ single, is a mash-up of Zep’s “Heartbreaker”, with “Heartbreak Hotel” thrown in for good measure.  Great fun and surprisingly good – the novelty factor works well on this number.

So there you have it – another great Bring Your Own Vinyl Night.  As it was the Christmas special, there was a buffet to enjoy as well as the great music.  Thanks to everyone, it was a great night.  Looking forward to more in 2017!

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

The VOD music website is here.

Food Quest: Chiquito, Broughton Park

chiquitoChiquito Restaurant Bar & Mexican Grill, Broughton Park

Regular readers will already know how much I love Mexican food.  It’s fair to say that I’m pretty obsessed with grub from south of the border, be it tacos, enchiladas, burritos or whatever.  Just wrap it up in a tortilla and I’m one happy hombre.

Of course, I have been to a Chiquito restaurant before, there’s one at ChOaks (that’s Cheshire Oaks, amigo).  However I was anxious to try the newer establishment at nearby Broughton Park, if only because – well, it’s nearer.

I got my chance on a lunch time visit with work colleagues.  I saddled up my pony and rode over the border home into Wales for some refreshment at the Chiquito cantina.  Even though the website says Broughton Park is in Chester (England), which it’s not.  Minus points for racism, Chiquito. nachos

As we only had an hour before the banditos would be back on our trail, starters were skipped.  Which is a shame, as there were plenty of tantalising items on offer.  Likewise, I didn’t opt for an alcoholic beverage with my meal, though I could have chosen from an array of suitable beers.

Instead I had a coke, but the good news was that there were free refills!  Just ask your courteous waiting on staff.  I like that.

So on to the meal.  After some deliberation, I opted for a chimichanga – a dish I love and have enjoyed before at other establishments.  Now for those of you who are unschooled in the ways of Mexican food, a chimihcanga is essentially a fried burrito.  Still none the wiser?  Take a tortilla, add the filling of your choice (in my case pulled pork) and throw in some rice, refried beans and sauce.  Roll it up and cook/fry.

el-taco-grande

El Taco Grande enjoying his meal

The chimichanga was accompanied by fries and the usual suspects – salsa, sour cream and guacamole dips.

This was all very tasty, and I really enjoyed the food.  It had a home cooked feel to it, not mass produced and thrown together at all.

The only thing that confused me was the serving style – the food was presented in a little deep frying metal container.  This looked very cool, but wasn’t the easiest way to eat.  Unless you’re supposed to pick the chimichanga up and eat with your hands – surely not?  I must be wrong.

All in all, my experience was very good – with a couple of minor criticisms.  Firstly, although the style and decor of Chiquito was really groovy, the music was a bit hit and miss.  It seemed like every other song was Enrique Iglesias, mixed alternately with some more authentic Latin sounds.  Enrique may be OK for the ladies who lunch crowd, but I expect more genuine Mariachi music.

My delicious chimichanga. Half eaten, sorry.

My delicious chimichanga. Half eaten, sorry.

But then Chiquito is Tex Mex, rather than just Mex.  They even have a steak and fish menu, as well as burgers.  This may be far too normal for my tastes, but I suppose that it may entice some Brits in – they may even, one day, try something a little more exotic than chips and egg.

I have no real problems with Chiquito – the food and service were both great.  I really enjoyed my meal and was impressed by the large amount of choice on the menu.  Go give Chiquito a try – but please, try the Mexican food!

Food Quest Test

  • Food: large amount to choose from.  Great Mexican dishes, with some more traditional choices for anyone with a less adventurous palate.
  • Drink: I was on soft drinks, but they have free refills – yes!  Tons of alcoholic choices too.
  • Service: Very good, friendly staff.
  • Cost: Acceptable for a lunch time treat!

Chiquito, Unit 19 Broughton Chopping Park, Broughton CH4 0DE

01244 530564

The Chiquito website is here.

Barburrito Lunch

My constant search for fine Mexican food has found many treats for my craving belly.  One such emporium is Barburrito, which offers fine street food of the Mex variety.  Although there are several Barburritos across the land, the Liverpool branch is the one I’ve visited on a few occasions.  On my trips to the city I have occasionally treated myself to some food from this excellent establishment.

The menu offers various tortilla filled delights, which the hungry hombre (or chica) can enjoy.  Basically, you make your choice and build your meal to your own tastes.  A bit like in Subway, where you add the fillings as you please.  Only here, it’s Mexican themed all the way. 5

On this trip, I opted for a burrito, filled with spicy shredded beef.  To this I asked the helpful serving staff to add rice, spicy beans, lettuce and cheese.  I selected the chipotle salsa, which was the hot option.  There were plenty of other ingredients to choose to individualise your meal exactly how you want it.  A great many British people stress out, thinking Mexican food will be too spicy – this is simply not the case.  Certainly not at Barburrito, where the food can be ordered just how you like it.

As per other restaurants, the meal can be augmented with extras; in this case items such as nachos and drinks.  A great thing about Barburrito is they sell beer, so I chose a bottle of Negra Modelo – a favourite Mexican beer of mine. barburrito

There’s no such thing, in my book, as bad Mexican food.  There is lazy, below par Mexican food though.  Happily, Barburrito is good quality Mexican food – prepared quickly but with skill.  It’s tasty, filling and extremely enjoyable.

My burrito was a bit on the spicy side, but not too much.  I made a good choice and really enjoyed my lunch time treat.  Great beer, too – though this combination wasn’t the cheapest option.

Food at Barburrito is well prepared and tastes great.  It’s also a lot of fun to eat there.  I’ve never been to Mexico (boo!) so can’t comment on authenticity, but Barburrito is a relaxed alternative option to the obvious high street choices.  Highly recommended.

The Barburrito website is here.

Lunch at Taco Bell

Buenos dias, compañeros amantes de la comida!

I went to Manchester yesterday, for a general look around and to spend some money on tat.  My plan, while I was there, was to have lunch at Taco Bell.  There is now a Taco Bell in the Arndale Centre food court, and it’s one of the few such restaurants in this country.

Back in 2000, I visited the USA and was able to persuade my travelling companions at the time to try Taco Bell one lunch time, rather than the Golden Arches.  As a fan of Mexican food, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  So the opportunity to eat there again was one that I could not pass up.

Lunch time at the Arndale Centre food court was fairly chaotic, with hundreds of people bustling about and queueing for their fast food of choice.  Chairs were scarce and the vibe was more seething ghetto than high class eating.  However, most punters were opting for the obvious Mac or KFC, so the Taco Bell area was slightly less busy.

I opted for a meal deal consisting of two soft tacos, served with fries and a drink.  As I was as hungry as a mountain bandido recovering from a heavy night on the tequila, I also decided to add an extra “Craver” to my tray.  There followed an anxious adventure to find a seat. 1939521_10152342074678714_1669132817_n

The Craver was first, as I treated it as a starter.  Cravers are smaller, appetite beating choices, like the 99p menu at other restaurants.  The option I chose was a soft tortilla wrap, containing chilli beef and cheese.  Not overly spicy, it was still a good start to my culinary trip south of the border.

I’d chosen Pepsi as my drink, and after the Craver started on the Mexican fries.  Though they were more chip than fry, I have to say that they were the best fries I have ever had from a fast food joint.  Basic chips coated in spicy seasoning, they were simply fantastic.  Highly recommended.

Along with the fries, my meal deal consisted of two tacos.  I chose chicken, in a soft tortilla (rather than crispy); with cheese, sour cream and diced tomatoes.  Very messy, but very tasty.  Other options are available, including beef – plus you could go for burritos, quesadilla, or numerous other options.

If you are a fan of Mexican food, or have been to a good Mexican restaurant, then don’t expect Taco Bell to live up to those standards.  But as an alternative to the standard burger and fries fast food choice, this was an enjoyable – and fun – replacement.  I just hope that the British public can forget it’s reluctance to try “spicy” food (it’s not spicy!) and try this out.  I’d love to see Taco Bell everywhere in the UK.

Good points:

  • A new, different option for lunchtime
  • Traditionally boring British palates mean that most punters are too unadventurous to try this – so the queues are smaller
  • It’s Mexican food – good or bad, that beats everything else in my book!

Could do better points:

  • It’s messy – clean up towels (like KFC) would be a good idea
  • The food could be spicier, and who knows how traditionally Mexican this is?!
  • Better seating arrangements would be better at this particular venue – I was there on a Thursday, so why was it so busy?

¿Dónde está la taqueria?

Check out the Taco Bell UK website here.

Go straight to the menu here.