Tuesday, July 8

Not A Food Review: Everybody's

Cuisine: Japanese Fusion
Price: $70 for set menu
Location: 44 Queen Street, Auckland
Website: http://www.everybodys.co.nz/

Not A Food Review is an informal first impression of a restaurant I've eaten at, in which I did not taste enough of the dishes to form a definitive opinion of the establishment.

Everybody’s (also known as Everybody’s Izakaya) recently refreshed their menu. Previously offering Japanese fusion, their latest menu has a heavier slant towards European and Western flavours. The décor is rather minimalistic with the low lighting projecting a casual, yet refined atmosphere. I arrived at Everybody’s with a vegetarian friend. The set menu looked appetising, so we ordered it for two people and challenged the chefs to use only vegetarian ingredients. What followed was an incredibly boring experience.


Yay bland baba ghanoush!
Half a dozen courses were served, most of which were cold or warm. Vegetables comprised the bulk of each plate with minimal dairy, grain or eggs.  Disappointingly almost all of the dishes were bland, under seasoned and boring. What was truly baffling was that if I cook some bok choi with soy sauce, sesame oil and light spicing, I can create a delicious vegetarian dish. How is it a kitchen of full time chefs, with dozens of ingredients, could fail to create a memorable vegetarian meal? I will say that the presentation was excellent, and there was a discernable effort made to use several ingredients per dish. As a result there was a variety of textures from the different vegetables. Perhaps the only enjoyable savoury plate was a potato heavy, creamy dish. The potatoes were fantastically crisp and the cream added a nice silky texture, which contrasted fantastically. The only true high point of the meal came at the end, in the form of a delicious chocolate lava cake. It was indulgent and we utterly enjoyed it.


At least the kale and potatoes were crispy, can't say much about the mustard seed bed.
At Everybody’s we gave the chefs a tall challenge, and it’s one they failed almost entirely. The dishes were typically bland, cold and under seasoned. The only saving grace was the excellent dessert. I will not be back to Everybody’s in a hurry, even if the meal included meat.

3/10

All Bark, No Bite

It started out like any drinking night. Clean the flat, buy booze, welcome people and socialise. We played drinking games; Ring of Fire (called Kings Cup or Circle of Death elsewhere in the world). I couldn’t recall all the rules, so I had to ad lib. We drew cards, we got drunk, then I lost. I drunk a mug full of soju, wine, whiskey and coke as the penalty for losing. After that I remember nothing.

I woke up in the morning, my teeth felt strange. I got up, and winced at the pain in my knee. I hobbled to the bathroom mirror and opened my mouth. A gap tooth monster started back at me. My central incisor was half gone, and the other one chipped. My mouth was bloody and my lip swollen.  I couldn’t remember a thing. I Skyped my parents and swore profusely about my lack of teeth.

When my flat mate woke up I ran to him and asked what happen. He didn’t know. Apparently I got into a fight. I could believe that, I’d been in fights before, but my wounds didn’t add up. I concluded that I must have face planted the payment and destroyed my teeth.

I arranged a dentist appointment for that afternoon. I arrived and chatted with the friendly dentist and technician. I was still partially drunk, so was extremely talkative and had the ladies cooing. 2 hours later and $200 poorer my teeth were fixed, and looked fantastic. Who knew that cosmetic dentistry was so easy and cheap?

I still feel slightly sentimental at the loss of my own beautiful teeth, but I can’t turn back time and get them back. So I might as well get on with life.

Maybe next time I won’t drink as much.
Maybe next time I won’t drink on an empty stomach.
Maybe next time I won’t lose Ring of Fire.

Saturday, June 21

Food Review: Better Burger

Cuisine: Burgers
Price: $14.50 for burger, fries and milkshake
Location: 31 Galway Street, Britomart, Auckland
Website: http://www.britomart.org/better-burger

Better Burger is a newly opened premium burger joint in Auckland’s CBD. After a cold, wet and windy Tuesday morning I checked it out. The seating was open air which, while great in more pleasant weather, was noticeably chilly on this particular day. Thankfully they had flame heaters, which provided some warm. Better Burger’s menu is extremely simple, with beef or vegetarian burgers, fries, soda and milkshakes on offer. I ordered the double cheeseburger, with fries and strawberry milkshake, and an additional vegetable burger. The staff were extremely friendly and happy to explain their philosophy behind the eatery. All of the produce is carefully picked, and cooked with care. For instance the buns contain honey, as opposed to sugar, for a fuller flavour. 


Much like the menu, the presentation of the food was simple but clean. I couldn't wait to get stuck in! The beef patties were thick and perfectly seasoned, the vegetables crisp and the rich cheese adding to every bite. Each mouthful was juicy, delicious and morish. The doubled fried fries were fantastically crispy, while still retaining a light and fluffy centre. To top off this delightful meal was the strawberry milkshake. Thick and luscious, it was like drinking ice cream. Heaven! The vegetarian burger featured a fried Portobello mushroom, which had a fantastic savoury flavour. 

Better Burgers concise menu doesn't provide a lot of choice. However what they do serve is incredibly delicious and good value. The beef burgers are cooked to perfection and the fries are crispy pieces of heaven. I will absolutely be back for more.

8/10

Monday, June 9

Just Dance

I remember back when I was in Glasgow, hanging out at a bar and being handed a flier for salsa classes. I used to find dancing an uncomfortable and awkward experience, in clubs I would simply head bop. Here was an opportunity to test the limits of my comfort, try something new and get better at dancing. That's how I ended up at my first salsa class.

I felt very uncomfortable in my first lesson, with me being so reserved at the time. Touching girls was a bit weird, the moves were hard and I felt like I was being judged. Despite this, after the first class I realised I was hooked. Dancing was surprisingly fun! So I went back, and even took lessons twice a week. After a few months I was somewhat competent at salsa and would enjoy myself immensely. Part of the charm was undoubtedly talking to the girls, many of whom were cute. I also found that salsa would dispel a sour mood and leave me over flowing with positive energy. If you had told me that I would enjoy, and become an okay salsa dancer, I would have thought you crazy. Salsa also helped me to become less self concious, to the point I really started to enjoy dancing in clubs. Then things changed. I graduated, left Glasgow and didn't continue with salsa in Singapore. Now, more than a year later, I started salsa in New Zealand.

There are several options in the city but calling out to me was a Latin American dancing school, literally, opposite home. So I signed up for a class and went for the first time last week.

I forgot how fucking amazing dancing is.

It felt like I rediscovered something I had lost. I was actually terrible at the dancing since the class was teaching LA salsa (as opposed to Cuban which I learnt in Glasgow), but it didn't matter. Even when I was screwing up the moves I still had a great time and was so happy for hours afterwards. I'm definitely going to make salsa part of my life. I just need to find the right school now!

Saturday, June 7

I'll Be There For You, When The Rain Starts To Pour

I've only been in New Zealand a short while, but I can say I've been very lucky in one regard; the amount of friends I've made. Perhaps it's because I've done my best to be proactive and friendly, I always try to be a genuine person, but in a way I've been taken by surprise in how fortunate I am. So far I've made enough friends that I could see one a day, or even groups, and still not have time enough for all of them. More importantly these are all people I sincerely like and enjoy spending time with. Sadly some of them will be leaving the country soon, but I still feel blessed for these relationships.

Wednesday, June 4

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

Being unemployed sucks. It’s been around two months now and I'm starting to feel the unpleasantness. I arrived in New Zealand in January, travelled until April, found a place to stay and I've been looking for work since. The first couple of months were fine. Many a time I was bored, but I somewhat enjoyed the freedom and time. Unlimited video games and movies? Yes please. Now things have changed.

The lack of day to day goals, challenges, team work and the feeling that you are contributing nothing of value to society is straining. Over the last few days I've felt afflicted by a feeling of malaise. To combat these feelings I'm pushing myself to keep occupied and challenged in the following ways:
  • Get out of the house every morning/afternoon, if only for a walk
  • Get out of the house during the evening
  • Socialise with existing friends
  • Embrace any opportunity to get out of the house and meet new people
  • Write blog posts more frequently to give me a sense of achievement and progression
  • Take up a sport or activity

For instance today my schedule looked like this:
  • Do laundry
  • Apply for jobs
  • Plan activities during the week
  • Arrange with friends to hang out
  • Go for a walk and get a snack and shopping supplies
  • Hang out with friends during the evening for an arts exhibition
  • Go to a bar to meet other friends

I still have far too much down time, but it’s keeping me sane just now. I’m afraid that if I stop, I will die.

Tuesday, June 3

Food Review: Giapo

Cuisine: Ice cream
Price: <$15 an ice cream
Location: 279 Queen's Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland
Website: http://giapo.com/

Giapo specialises in one thing and one thing only; ice cream (well, sorbets as well). Located conveniently on Queens Street, it's a must try if you are in the city centre. Giapo's compact premises have minimal seating so be prepared to take your ice cream for a walk. This is perhaps the only mar on an otherwise fantastic experience.


Giapo's June menu 

There are over a dozen choices of flavour, some of which change every few weeks. Each is lovingly crafted by the staff, who decorate the ice cream with creative toppings like blow torch melted marshmallow. Prices are extremely reasonable with double scoop cones under $10. You can also try deluxe cones, with one covered in white chocolate, which are worth trying for the novelty.
I've been to Giapo a couple of times now and eaten several flavours such as avocado, tiramisu and chocolate evolution.


Thursday, May 29

State Of Flux

Today was a weird day. I woke up at 4 am, for some indeterminable reason my sleeping cycle has gone to shit. I'll go to sleep at the usual time, between 10 pm to 12 am, and wake up at 4 am. This has never happened before, but okay, I can deal with it by napping. So I stayed awake until around 10 am, took about 45 minutes to nap, then went out to meet friends for lunch.

I met them and hanging out I felt a degree of awkwardness, or to put it more precisely; I felt disconnected from them. I don't know if it was in my head or it was due to the fact that the three of them know each other well, yet I've only met them recently. Either way the feeling of disconnect persisted and I wasn't as outgoing as I usually am. I did notice feeling especially full after eating lunch, and then sick after a combination of hot rock melon milk tea with lychee jelly and cookies. After spending a good six hours hanging out with them, I rushed home hoping to join some dancing classes. I've finally decided to take up partner dancing classes such as salsa, bachata and ballroom which are offered by a school opposite my flat. Yet I found that the school is closed the rest of the week, argh! So suffering defeat, I hung out at home for a bit before heading to meet friends at a bar.

There, yet again, I ran into trouble. That disconnect was there, worse than before, and my interactions were very mechanical and forced. People didn't react well to my presence and conversation would die. I started to feel shit. My energy and passion weren't there. Then over an hour after arriving, around the time I wanted to leave and go home, my energy returned. Suddenly I was lively, talkative and enjoying myself. I noticed people responding and enjoying my company a lot more. But I have to ask myself; why?

Why was my social interactions stunted for most of the day? Why did I feel disconnected and mechanical? Why did it suddenly change so late in the day? Was it because I was tired from my fucked up sleeping? Was it because I felt queasy from what I ate? I don't know. Its worrying that my social skills can fluctuate so much.

I hope this doesn't happen again.

Wednesday, May 28

No Touching!

One thing I learned while at uni was to introduce more physical touching with friends. Prior to that I would only physically interact with my family, play fighting, hugging, high fiving etc. I struggled to translate that physical closeness to outside my family. At uni I started to change and incorporate more physical contact with people. A simple, but important part of that was greetings. Shake hands with guy friends, hug female friends. Pats and high fives also work. It's something I've always tried to incorporate since then, to physical greet those I care about.

Recently however, I've found myself greeting people insincerely. I've met several girls through Couch Surfing who expect you to hug them, even if they have displayed no interest in talking to you. I've met guys who did the same. At first I played along with it, to fit in with the social veneer; 'Wow, look at me, I'm so friendly and open just like the rest of you!'. But no more.

When I hug a girl, or shake your hand I mean it as a sincere gesture. It means I like you and your company, that I consider you a friend. However if you are somebody that clearly has no interest in being my friend, or talking to me, why the fuck would I sully and degrade my own standards? Bugger you and your attempts to appear friendly. So from now on, if I don't like you, then no physical greeting, you'll get a "Hey" and that's it. 

Tuesday, May 27

Food Review: Blue Elephant

Cuisine: Thai
Price: $30 a main course
Location: 237 Parnell Road, Parnell, Auckland
Website: http://www.blueelephant.co.nz/

Blue Elephant ranks as one of TripAdvisors best restaurants in Auckland, so looking for an Asian treat, I went there with friends. The restaurant is located in trendy Parnell and the décor of Blue Elephant matches; simple yet refined. The restaurant had a cosy atmosphere and the staff were extremely friendly.

We decided to order four dishes; the beef green curry, chicken cashew nuts, sweet chilli fish and Blue Elephant spicy crispy pork. Rice is ordered per person and is unlimited. We also considered the set menu for $45 per person, which also sounded great. The dishes came promptly and we dug in with glee.



The beef green curry was presented beautifully. However it was obvious that it wasn't truly authentic Thai with native vegetables, such as carrot and broccoli, making up the bulk of the dish. The curry itself tasted great and was extremely moorish, some of us enjoying just the curry sauce with rice. The sauce was rich, with a nice subtlety of flavours.

Monday, May 26

Too Good To Be True

Over the last couple of weeks I've been interviewing for a promising job. The position: product executive for mobile (e.g. apps). The work place was literally five minutes walk from my flat and it was a global company, with a cool work space and fun employees.
I had three interviews; two of which were with a HR lady and my would be boss (product manager), the third with the global product manager. On Friday, after meeting with the global product manager, I left my final interview being told I was on the "short, short list". I was hopeful and optimistic that I would be employed and the changes it would bring to my life.
Unfortunately I was called today and told I wasn't what they were looking for. Apparently the global product manager wanted somebody who had mobile experience (I have none). To soften the blow I was told I presented well.

To say I am disappointed would be an understatement. I had high hopes of finally getting my life started in New Zealand. I guess I've already managed to move past this stumbling block and I'm looking forwards, to what I need to do. To keep myself happy, fulfilled and find employment I need to:
  • Send electronic heartfelt cards to friends in Singapore, after the physical ones I posted never arrived
  • Arrange meet ups with friends for later in the week
  • Check out MeetUp.com and see if there are any cool groups I can socialise with
  • Apply for jobs (though at this point I only see one suitable position)
  • Write up a couple of blog posts on good eating experiences I've had

Thursday, May 22

Lost In Transit

Over a month ago I sent several letters to friends and loved ones in Singapore. I had carefully picked each card to send, linking the art to a quirk of that person or experience we shared. I took the time to compose heart felt words, first writing drafts so my words would read fluently. I sent them away anticipating the replies from those people.

It was meant to take two weeks at most for the cards to arrive, now its been six. Chances are the post men, somewhere along the chain, fucked things up. I'm pissed off and there is nothing I can do about it. I'm also disappointed after putting in so much effort, that nobody will get to read what I wrote. 

For some of these people I’ll end up typing and sending them my thoughts. It’s not quite as romantic, but at least I can guarantee they will read them this time.

Tuesday, May 20

Confessional

I've been going to church, or at least Christian events for the last few weeks. I'm not a Christian, nor do I believe in any gods, so why would I go to such an event? It’s been for three reasons. One is the social element; I'm always keen to meet new people especially since I've moved to a new city. Another aspect is that I'm fascinated by how other people think and how they justify their beliefs. The last reason is that we are provided dinner with salad, main course and dessert. I'm hard pressed to turn down such an abundance of delicious food, especially when I'm not earning money. Last night, for instance, we were served roast lamb and beef, roast potatoes, kumera and pumpkin and an Asian salad. For desert some sort of pie. It was utterly fantastic and even after I went back for seconds, there was still plenty of food left over! Oh, one other motivation, church girls are cute.

Last night was noteworthy for something else. Some of us started asking some hard questions, which I felt the speaker didn't answer well. Essentially we were told that if you accept Jesus you will go to heaven, if not then hell. But an unborn child or somebody that has never been exposed to Christianity could never accept Jesus. Yet these people would be condemned.

I cannot believe that a God is loving and just, if he would condemn unborn children to hell for not believing in him. I'm still looking forward to next week, to hear whether this can be explained. Also MORE FOOD.

Sunday, May 18

A Retrospective On My Elder Scrolls Experience: Morrowind

My experience with the critically acclaimed Elder Scrolls series was somewhat unusual. I started with Oblivion, it being my first true open world and Western RPG. I then moved onto Morrowind, before playing Skyrim. In my last post I detailed my experiences with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. At the time I had only been exposed to JRPGs which tended to be linear, with non existant moral choices or freedom to explore. When I bought and played Oblivion on a whim, it blew my mind and exposed me to what RPGs could be. Oblivion was a beautiful experience, though as time went on I realised it wasn't without significant faults. After being drawn into one Elder Scrolls game I wanted more.

The year was 2009 and looking to expand my Elder Scrolls experience I decided to pick up The Elders Scrolls III: Morrowind. Morrowind was released in 2002 and was the first step in bringing the Elder Scrolls series into the forefront of WRPGs. I'd read about people's experiences and many considered it far superior to Oblivion as well as one of the best RPGs ever. Naturally I was curious about how Oblivions predecessor would play, especially seven years after its release date.

I was made aware of graphic overhauls that existed which would significantly improve the visuals of the now dated looking Morrowind, so after installing the game I decided to start there. Comparing the before and after was impressive, Morrowind perhaps looked even better than Oblivion.

After modding the graphics look as good as Oblivion's, if not better

Since it was my first play through I decided to leave the rest of the game intact and mod no further. The opening of Morrowind was far briefer than Oblivion and for that I was thankful. Within 10 minutes I was in a small village and start on my journey through the land. As mentioned in my Oblivion retrospective one of my favourite ways to play RPGs is as a thief. I steal, I strike from the shadows, I fighting battles on my terms. So one of the first things I did in Morrowind was attempt to steal valuables from the town. To my dismay I realised that your success in stealing isn't decided by your skill in environmental awareness, but instead entirely based on your Sneak skill. It didn't matter if you tried to steal right in front of somebody, or behind their backs everything was decided by this dice roll. NPC's didn't even have day cycles which meant they didn't go to bed and leave me the opportunity to steal. This was my first encounter with the stat focused gameplay of Morrowind, as opposed to the more action focused gameplay of Oblivion.

Saturday, May 17

Because I'm Happy

In the last few days life has been good, and more importantly my mental attitude has improved significantly. I've not been unhappy but there has been a noticeable malaise in my day to day life. I think there are a few events that have given me renewed vigour.

First off reducing my drinking seems to have relieved a burden. It almost feels like I was forcing myself to drink, and by stopping drinking I seem to have gained a healthier attitude towards alcohol. It's also given me significantly more financial freedom as I'm not burning money on drink any more. Today I bought this beautiful specimen with the money that would have otherwise gone on booze.


Secondly I've had a very successful interview (I'm currently unemployed) and have been invited back for another interview. Moreover I've been given a problem by the interviewer to solve. I now have an important project to work on, the consequences of which could change my life significantly. I can visualise in my head being hired and working in this company. If successful it would mean the end to my pauper lifestyle. When you are unemployed the constant scrimping and saving mind set is tiring. I can't hang out with friends, and drink or eat, as much as I would like. I can't update my threadbare wardrobe, where most of my clothes are years old. I can't read the books I want to. I can't take up the martial arts or dancing classes that my body craves. I can't buy the ingredients I want so I can indulge in cooking.

However I don't think spending abundantly is a good thing, I've always hated wasting money and impractical spending. I'm a saver. But when you are unemployed, too much of what you want is unreachable due to the lack of monetary resources. This especially jarring for me after being employed in Singapore, where I was able to do everything I wanted and still save 20% of my salary.

Thirdly I had a great Friday night with karaoke. I've never done karaoke and was keen to try it out with some of the Singaporean friends I've made in Auckland. The night started out very late. I originally wanted to meet at 9 pm, but we put it back to 10 pm, and by the time we started it was 11 pm. I spent the first hour or so hanging out with a Singaporean girl whom I initially took for shy. She opened up and I enjoyed our conversation. Once every one finally arrived there was slight awkwardness, since many of us didn't know each other. This awkwardness would quickly pass once we began singing.

I was nervous about singing, since I've always considered myself an awful vocalist and never sung in public. But I took up the mic on the 1st song and enthusiastically got right into it. As I've found time and time again in life, things are never that bad and the right attitude is important. I still feel I sung terribly but my friends were laughing and clapping as I sung. I couldn't help but join in the laughter, laughing at yourself is an important skill. I was having lots of fun, even if I was horribly off key. I also got to know some of the people there better and left with more friends than when I arrived.

So to sum things up, less drinking, great job opportunity and karaoke have helped me feel  more happy and fulfilled.

Friday, May 16

An End To Drinking?


The face of alcoholism

It’s now been over a year since I left Scotland. Over a year since I left the ‘drink to get drunk’ culture, where I would drink the equivalent of 3 bottles of wine on a night out. I would have a fantastic time getting drunk, talking with friends, dancing, listening to ear pounding music and flirting with girls. I would never get a hang over which meant I never experienced the painful, nauseating, morning after effects of heavy drinking. Alcohol is also relatively cheap in the UK, with bar beer as low as $3 and a bottle of wine $10. The low cost of alcohol meant I could get very drunk with as little as $30.

So this week, over 365 days since I left Scotland, I realised that I’d been looking to recreate those drunken times, and I'd so far been unsuccessful. When I was working in Singapore alcohol prices were so expensive that I mostly gave up on drinking. A single bar beer was $16. At those rates it would take me over $100 to get as drunk as I would in Scotland. I also found myself lacking the larger friend circle that getting wasted benefited from. So I essentially became a non-drinker and mainly hung out with a small group of friends.

After Singapore I moved to New Zealand, and what an opportunity! Beer was typically $6, and I could pick up wine for $10. During my first few weeks in New Zealand I went to Couch Surfing bar meet ups and got extremely drunk, consuming drinks in the double digits. But I still found something lacking. The people at Couch Surfing weren't looking to get wasted like I was, so after spending $60 a night I realised that this wasn't what I sought.

In the last month I stopped binge drinking and instead decided to limit myself to $20 a night, which can buy a reasonable 4-6 beers. I soon realised that I didn't get any enjoyment from being only slightly drunk. In fact one night after consuming 5 beers and one pizza, I realised I wasn't drunk at all and essentially wasted $15 on beer. So when the alcohol at bars was too weak for my tastes, what was I to do?


Thursday, May 15

Food Review: Little Sheep Hot Pot

Cuisine: Hot Pot/Chinese
Price: $30 per person
Location: 27 Cross St, Newton, Auckland
Website: N/A



Little Sheep Hot Pot is conveniently located near the top of Queen’s Street, and not wanting to trouble my friends with travel, I chose to eat there. The result was an enjoyable, but rather average hot pot experience.
The restaurant is clean and spaced out, a marked difference from traditional hot pot joints I've been which are often cramped and dirty. There were only a few other diners that Saturday and it continued to be quiet throughout the night. I felt it was a bit empty and soulless without the merry making din of others.

There were 2 staff that night and both seemed overwhelmed by the demands of us few diners. We had to wait longer than necessary for items like tea, food and drinks. The menu was confusingly partially Chinese, though all the important dishes were in English. All the staples of hot pot were accounted for like beef, fish balls, bean curd skin and cabbage.

The portions were pretty generous and we ate with glee. The spicy soup and pork soup both tasted good, and only got better as the night continued. Unfortunately a noticeable number of dishes came out still frozen, this was definitely not the freshest fare. At the end of the night we were stuffed and very satisfied with the meal.

Little Sheep Hot Pot offers an average hot pot experience. It’s not flash, or great quality, but you’ll still enjoy a good meal and its central location makes it convenient.

6/10

Monday, May 12

A Blog Post A Day?

I had a suggestion from a friend, that I should write a blog post a day and share my personal thoughts more. My original intention for this blog was to write informative pieces. I love food, so it made sense to write restaurant reviews.

Currently I have no other 'projects' that I'm working on, and I'm looking for work, so I need something to focus on. Something that will improve a measurable skill and I will enjoy. So writing a post a day doesn't sound like a bad idea. Maybe I'll also start the 100 days of happiness idea on Instagram.

So this is day number one, more exciting posts to come I promise.

Saturday, April 26

Food Review: Al's Deli

Cuisine: Deli/Brunch/American
Price: $50 (4 dishes and drink)
Location: 492 Queen Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland
Website: http://alsdeli.co.nz/

Walking into Al's Diner I was greeted by a décor which was a mix between an American diner and a cafe, the tone setting the mood for casual dining. When I spoke to the server I was happy to discover that everything in Al's is freshly made. This includes the bread, meat, cakes and milkshakes. It's rare to find an eatery where they make everything in house, so I was immediately excited to start eating! I was overwhelmed by choice, everything sounded delicious. I decided to start with the Mexican inspired bagel of the week and cheese cake, before moving onto a Mega Main and Moose Ears. I had chocolate milkshake to drink.



I had to try the cheese cake, and wasn't disappointed. The base was crunchy with a bit of sharpness to it, I think it was lemon. The cheese struck the balance between firm and soft. It had just the right consistency that it held together on your fork, but melted in the mouth. The topping's strawberries were fresh, though the jelly was perhaps too sweet. A fantastic slice of cheese cake and a great start to the meal.


Tuesday, April 1

Game Review: Diablo 3 (Patch 2.0)

Genre: ARPG/Dungeon Crawler
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac
Release date: 15/05/12
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment


Diablo 3 is the long awaited sequel to the monumental Diablo 2. At launch the game was plagued by the always online requirement, Real Money Auction House (RMAH) and poor looting. 2 years later some of the issues have been fixed with the addition of the 2.0 patch. The RMAH has been removed, loot itemisation vastly improved and heroes have been furthered balanced. Unfortunately the always online requirement still exists, which may severely hamper your ability to play the game. 

Diablo 3 is set some 20 years after the events of Diablo 2 with a mostly new set of heroes. You choose from the Monk, Wizard, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter and Barbarian. Each hero has the option of male or female and each features unique voice acting, which is appreciated. I created a female wizard, after playing a Sorceress in Diablo 2, and started on Hard difficulty.

Jumping into a new game the most striking feature is the dated visuals. While as usual, Blizzard's art style is strong and can make up for some deficiencies, the game clearly lacks in the graphics department. Characters are rough and low quality, which is especially noticeable when you take a closer look. Textures are also muddy. While it doesn't detract from the experience, the game certainly isn't beautiful. That said the presentation is otherwise impeccable. The voice acting, sound effects and sound track do a great job in bringing the world to life. 

Characters are especially visually lacking

Like its predecessors Diablo 3 drops you straight into the action, this time in the town of New Tristram. Your hero has followed a mysterious falling star and finds New Tristram beset by the walking dead. As your hero stymies the tide of monsters, you uncover the larger demonic plot and the threat to the world at large. Blizzard's recent attempts at story telling have been somewhat ham fisted and Diablo 3 is no exception. The game features B movie tier villains and so much hair brained bravado from your hero that it's hard to take things seriously. This is especially unfortunate as Diablo 2 managed to craft a brilliantly sombre atmosphere.