Friday, 29 August 2014

What's your favourite ice-cream? C1 level

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The best caramel ice-cream: taste test

Is Ben & Jerry's Caramel Chew Chew the ultimate incarnation of this ice-cream flavour, or can the supermarkets' own brands compare? We put them to the test
Everybody loves ice-cream, right? As we bask in the last rays (and/or torrential rains) of the British summer, it seems only fitting to end the holidays with a spoon firmly stuck into a tub of frozen cream and swirly sweet "bits". We asked the big high-street players to send us their best rivals to that Guardian food desk – nay, national – favourite, Ben & Jerry's Caramel Chew Chew. But how did the own brands compare?

Ben & Jerry's Caramel Chew Chew

 You know the drill: thick, dense ice-cream; well-distributed swirls of intense caramel (the listed salt presumably giving it its slight savoury edge); rich, chocolatey caramel cups that, crucially, melt readily; and, overall, an ice-cream of smooth, fulsome flavours that stops just short of sickliness. As Ben or Jerry might say, it's a doozy.

Marks & Spencer, The Ultimate Caramel Ice-Cream

 A grownup, bits-free caramel ice-cream made in the West Country with whole milk and whipping cream. The caramel flavour is a little meek and it finishes with a curious twang (there is salt and concentrated lemon juice in there, which may explain that). A cashmere jumper of an ice-cream: silky-smooth and supposedly sophisticated but, ultimately, rather boring.

Waitrose, Heston from Waitrose Salted Caramel Popcorn Ice-Cream,

"All your cinema favourites rolled into one …" to create a, well, horrific video nasty. You know how eating popcorn is a bit like eating bird feed and Styrofoam? Well, imagine that in an ice-cream also packed with hard shards of salted caramel. True, they have a great treacly, brown sugar flavour, but it is a textural nightmare. Like The Godfather III or Sex Lives of the Potato Men, this is what happens when no one has the backbone to take the talent to one side and say: "You know what, Heston? This is a rubbish idea."

Aldi, Gianni's Cheeky Monkey Ice-Cream

 "Chocolate flavour dairy ice-cream with a marshmallow flavour sauce, caramel flavoured sauce and chocolate flavour monkey face shapes." Note: everything in that list is a "flavour" of, a doppelganger for not the actual thing. That can be nice. The dark, cocoa powder profile of the incredibly dense ice-cream is not unpleasant. The "marshmallow" sauce, however, is terrible. Those "chocolate flavour" faces taste cheap and oily but melt readily and, hey, while a zoologist might quibble, they do look reasonably like monkeys. The whole shebang gets sickly quickly.
For kids? 6/10. Adults? 4/10

Sainsbury's, Taste the Difference Toffee and Honeycomb Ice-Cream

Cynically, you may read the blurb – "farmhouse … Devon … handmade toffee sauce … milk from Jersey cows … fresh, natural ingredients …" – and roll your eyes. But taste it and you will eat, if not your words, then a large portion. This is extra-thick, supra-creamy ice-cream that has its own coolly understated toffee flavour, but it is those thick seams of toffee sauce – salted, beautifully rich, long on dark muscovado notes – that are sensational. I found cant "crisp honeycomb"; it appeared to have melted into the ice-cream. Nonetheless, a mature alternative to Caramel Chew Chew.

Tesco Finest West Country Fudge Ice-Cream

Lustrously thick, velvety ice-cream whose fudgy flavour is well modulated. It becomes gradually more concentrated as you progress through the ice-cream, yielding fudge pieces to a knockout sauce – which, although supposedly rippled, does tend to collect in swirled cores. Should you want to mix'n'match, Tesco Finest's chocolate (£3) is also impressive: 70% Tanzanian cocoa solids give it a fruity, black forest gateau-like character. 7/10

Asda, Chewy Chewy Caramel

Full marks for testing the patience of Ben & Jerry's lawyers with that name, but the ice-cream itself feels a little thin and overly aerated (its chief ingredient appears to be reconstituted skimmed milk). It is also "loaded" with nearly 27% toffee sauce (excellent), caramel pieces and milk chocolate caramel cups, but those cups lack instant meltability (real chocolate, see?) and the sauce is timid.

Source - The Guardian - 28th August 2014

Vocabulary Builder:

incarnation - (noun) a person who embodies in the flesh a deity, spirit, or quality.

bask - (verb) lie exposed to warmth and light, typically from the sun, for relaxation or pleasure.

swirly - (adj) movin =g in or characterized by swirling shapes or patterns.

muscovado - (noun) unrefined sugar made from the juice of sugar cane by evaporating it and draining off the molasses.

doozy - (noun) north american informal, something outstanding or unique of its kind.

meek - (adj) quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive.

twang - (noun)  a strong taste or flavour which stands out, can also be used to describe a nasal sound.

aerated - (adj) (of a liquid) made effervescent by being charged with carbon dioxide or some other gas. (verb) introduce air to a material.

Styrofoam - (noun) (Trademark) a kind of expanded polystyrene used especially food containers.

treacly - (adj) resembling treacle in consistency, taste or appearance.

doppelganger - (noun) a apparition or double of a living person (or in this case, ice-cream).

Questions for Students 

 Taste experiment; Choose 2 supermarkets in your area and 2 ice-creams and compare, just like they've done in the article above.
Is ice-cream over rated?
Where do they make the best ice-cream?

For English classes via Skype, Contact Lisa by email or Whatsapp 0034645424237.




Thursday, 28 August 2014

Today's article - B2 Level


The Tomatina Festival - Buñol

The world-famous festival has been held in the Valencian town of Buñol on the last Wednesday of August since 1945. The event sees tens of thousands of tourists join the town’s 9,000 inhabitants to throw tonnes of tomatoes at one another .

An estimated 20,000 people descended on the town of Buñol in the east of Spain on Wednesday for the annual La Tomatina tomato fight – often billed as the world’s largest food fight – to hurl tomatoes for an hour in a storm of pulp and crimson.

The tradition began in the mid-1940s, though its origins are unclear. The festival’s garish new official website attributes it to a foodfight that broke out in the town in 1945 during the ‘parade of giant heads’ and had to be broken up by the police.

The food fight was banned in the early 1950s until 1957 when the locals held a funeral for a giant tomato in protest, parading it around town in a coffin, and successfully had the ban repealed. 

The town hall introduced a ticketing system in 2013, limiting the event’s attendance to 20,000 people.

Private tour companies sell tickets and accommodation in the nearby city of Valencia. Those willing to spend more can buy a coveted space on the back of the trucks that carry the tomatoes to the town, for an additional fee of €750. 

Over 100 tonnes of tomatoes are brought to the town and thrown during the hour-long fight, at an estimated total cost of €140,000, or €2,300 a minute.

The tomato fight, which takes place every year on the last Wednesday of August, is the culmination of a week-long celebration made up of street parties, fireworks and food fairs. The night before the fight, participants compete in a paella cooking contest.

There are two signals for the food fight to begin: the firing of the water cannon and the first successful attempt to climb the Palo Jabón, a greasy pole with a piece of ham on top, and knock the ham off its perch.

One tour website explains: ‘Technically the festival does not begin until one brave soul has climbed to the top of a two-story high, greased-up wooden pole and reached the coveted ham at the top. In practice this process takes a long time and the festival starts despite no one reaching the meaty prize.’ 

In recent years the festival has become so popular that organisers have had to turn tens of thousands of people away. In 2012, an estimated 40,000 revellers – more than four times the town’s population – made the journey to Buñol to take part.

 The fight begins at 11am with the firing of water cannon, and ends an hour later when they are fired again. According to the rules, participants must stop throwing tomatoes as soon as they hear the second round of cannon fire.

The tomato festival has become a global phenomenon, with copycat events staged at one time or another in Colombia, China, the US and Chile. The videogame Tekken 6 includes a battle arena based on the Tomatina, in which characters fight while surrounded by tomato-hurling revellers. 

The clean-up begins in the afternoon, when fire engines move in to spray down the streets. According to one tour site: ‘Once the tomato pulp is flushed, the ground is clean due to the acidity of the tomato.’

Source: The Guardian; Thursday 28th August 2014

Vocabulary builder:
Crimson - (adj) A rich deep red colour inclining to purple. (Noun) A rich deep red colour inclining to purple. (Verb) of a persons face, become flushed, especially through embarrassment.

Garish - (adj) obtrusively bright and showy. Synonyms - Loud, wover-bright, harsh, showy, etc.

Coveted - (Verb) Yearn to possess (Something, especially something belonging to another).

Questions for students

Do you know of any other festival which is as messy as the Tomatina Festival?
I would like to hear about your experiences at the Tomatina Festival or any other Festival?

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Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Aprende ingles desde tu sofa!

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