The Blogging Bloke

#Ypsilonvice or #Ypsilonvirtue? Not sure it has either…..

Recently on Twitter I’ve seen loads of tweets using these two hashtags – it appears to be a long run of competitions that Chrysler UK are doing with Stylist magazine (you know, that one they always hand out by obstructing train stations). There have also been some more lengthy blog posts on the matter, which seems to be part of a wider outreach campaign, though I have no hard evidence of this, it’s just intuition.

 

Now, I like cars. A LOT. In fact, here is footage of me last week driving an Ariel Atom around Bedford Autodrome, an amazing experience that I will cover in more detail soonish.

 

 

At the end of last year, I decided to buy a new car (the decision was largely made for me by the total mechanical/electrical collapse of my previous wheels). I looked around the whole range of superminis, the category in which the Ypsilon sits, and in the end decided on my Mazda 2 Venture edition. It’s stylish, good to drive, very well equipped, and well-priced with good finance deals. These are all virtues that Chrysler claim to be present in the Ypsilon. But I’m not so convinced. Indeed during the search, I never considered the Chrysler at all.

 

This may be a bit of prejudice on my part. You see, this: is a Chrysler

 

1935 Chrysler main1 #Ypsilonvice or #Ypsilonvirtue? Not sure it has either…..

 

And this is a Lancia:

 

lancia montecarlo 2 #Ypsilonvice or #Ypsilonvirtue? Not sure it has either…..

 

The Ypsilon? It’s a clumsy collision of both – elsewhere in Europe it uses Lancia badges, but in the UK, Ireland and Japan they use Chrysler badging. You see, both brands are owned by Fiat, and this is where it all becomes clear. This car looks more like a collective parts bin of Fiat Group parts, bearing little resemblance to the two vehicles above. It’s made in Tychy in Poland (where my first car, the Fiat Seicento was also built), it shares the platform of the Fiat 500, Fiat Panda and Ford Ka, and uses Fiat Group engines.

 

It is cheap though. But so is the Dacia Sandero, and the Fiat Panda is as well. It has distinctive styling with cues taken from Lancias old and new, but then if I wanted a car that looks like other Italian cars, why not just go for the superb little 500?

 

What I’m getting at here is I cannot see a reason why I would even consider the Ypsilon, with all of its vices and virtues. Giving away scarves and cocktail kits and getting bloggers to go pole dancing (I’m not even kidding) is all well and good, but these are not reasons why a rational person would buy a car.

 

In fact, my list of cars in this category include the 208, Clio, Fiesta, i20, Mazda 2, Jazz, Yaris, Polo, Fabia, Ibiza, Swift, Corsa, Rio, Micra, Punto, 500, C3 and a few others I am forgetting, all of which are in a similar price bracket and size. That is 17 different models of car all with a wide range of options, trim levels etc. So what does the Chrysler offer, other than a strange social marketing campaign?

 

Now I must say I’ve not driven the Ypsilon. It might be brilliant. The cabin may well be a joy to be in. The ride superlative and the chassis lithe and responsive. But I somehow doubt it.

 

So here is my challenge. Chrysler UK, of 240 Bath Road, Slough (just down from O2 and BlackBerry), I challenge you to prove to me that the Ypsilon does indeed have its virtues, and could even be a vice to its owners. Prove to me that this is something more than synergy and economies of scale. More than a way of spreading the development costs of common platforms, engines and components.

 

Prove. Me. Wrong.

I’m happy to take a challenge or a bet, if you can prove me wrong. So come on, Chrysler, make me look like a proper tit.

 

Lodz

Barber Barber – So good they named it twice?

Hello! I am rubbish at getting my hair cut. An odd way to start a post I grant you, but nonetheless accurate. I maintained a consistent length at uni because 1. I had loads of time to get it cut in the week, and 2. It was a relatively cheap place that had a PS3 and Fifa while you waited. However, now I am gainfully employed from the hours of 8AM-6PM Monday to Friday, and play hockey on Saturdays, my options are limited. The places open after work are pricey, and the places close enough for a lunch hour trim aren’t up to much. Hence, I get a cut once every few months and go from short to shaggy in between.

 

On a particularly shaggy day, I decided to give a relatively new place just off Deansgate in the Barton Arcade, a fitting setting for an establishment harking back to the grand old days of traditional barbering. I trotted along on a Sunday afternoon which was surprisingly busy, but I didn’t mind as I sat down, relaxed with a beer in the refined surroundings, and chatted to some of the chaps there. They’ve even got a bar set up there with some fine liquors and bar stools.

 

The Mirror 1024x576 Barber Barber – So good they named it twice?

 

The premise is simple, it’s a safe haven where men can get a cut, a shave, good drinks, good company and good service (did I mention it’s a strictly men only place? Well it is.) Did it deliver? Oh my yes it did.
I emerged looking smooth and fresh with a brand new style, feeling thoroughly refreshed and slick. The staff there are all brilliantly trained (there are no tiers of employee here, everyone is at the same level and same price from the boss man down.) and really know their stuff, which really puts you at ease. Now there follows some terrifying images of my mush. Those of a nervous disposition should hit CTRL+W now.

 

before and after 1024x1024 Barber Barber – So good they named it twice?

 

Cuts are £24 and are inclusive of refreshments, and given what you get compared to some of the unisex salons around, this is a really keen price. I can’t recommend them highly enough, but enough of my waffling; get down there and give it a try! The Website is http://barberbarber.net/, and for you gents with long hair, they love to do a ‘Hippy Killer’. If you’ve been or intend to do so, let me know what you think. Me? I might just become a regular.

 

Much Love,

Lodz

Jambalaya

Ingredients; Serves 2 

1 Chicken breast, cut into chunks,

Small Handful (c40g) Smoked Pancetta lardons

½ an Onion, diced,

1 stick of celery, diced

1 small green pepper, diced

200g tinned chopped tomatoes

170ml Chicken Stock

125g long grain rice

½ tablespoon Blackened Cajun seasoning

½ teaspoon garlic granules (or 2 small cloves minced if using fresh)

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon chilli flakes (I used dried Ancho chilli)

¼ teaspoon Oregano

Generous ½ teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste.

 

This is a recipe I was inspired to cook this weekend as I was looking for something a little different to do, but didn’t want to buy a load of ingredients that would go to waste. The beauty of this is that much of what I have bought can have the remainder used in a Bolognese Ragout later on this week, so minimal waste – any surplus will be veg that can then be frozen.

 

You can put pretty much any meat into this, but I’ve used Smoked pancetta to get yummy bacon fat, Chorizo in place of Andouille Sausage, which is a pain to get, and chicken which is the most common meat to use, also I have a load of chicken in the freezer.

First, make your trinity, It’s like a mirepoix, but with green pepper in place of the carrot. I put in half an onion, a stick of celery, and a small green pepper. There is also some shallot in there which was feeling lonely. If you’re using fresh garlic, chop a clove or two into this as well.

Jambacollage Jambalaya

Cook the Pancetta on a medium heat to render the fat out, and once this has happened add in the sliced chorizo, give it a minute to release its flavour, before adding in your trinity. Whack the heat up and sauté for a minute or two, then add the chicken. Once the chicken has browned, deglaze the pan – I used a good slug of Sam Adams’ finest Boston lager, but you could also use some of the chicken stock, or any light beer you happen to be drinking. This is where I add my spices and give it a stir, cooking for a couple of minutes so the spices can get the heat. Throw in the rice and give it all a good stir for a minute, before adding in the tomatoes and chicken stock.

 

IMG 20131652 576x1024 Jambalaya

 

Cover the pan with a lid to help the rice cook, and turn the heat down to a low simmer. If you’re using gas, give it a couple of minutes on high before turning down. On electric the residual heat will give you a boil for the time needed. Keep an eye on it and stir regularly, more frequently as the liquid is absorbed, or the rice will stick. It’ll take about 20-30 minutes for the rice to cook. Once the liquid is absorbed, you should have nicely cooked rice, so give it a taste. Once the rice is done, it’s ready to eat. The photo below shows the amount of liquid before its started to absorb. The end product should not be very liquid at all, more like the Paella from which it derives.

 

all liquids 796x1024 Jambalaya

Serving Suggestion: Generously, with a glass of Gentleman Jack over ice, or another Sam Adams.

the final article 1024x576 Jambalaya

 

This stuff tastes even better the next day – after warming it up for lunch, one comment was ‘Lodz, you’ve given this side of the office a collective food boner’ Fuck. Yes. Jambalaya.

 

In my next food post, I’ll be making Bolognese, and demonstrating how the leftover ingredients you have can be used in the aforementioned dish.

 

Much Love, Lodz

 

 

 

King of Shaves Hyperglide – Shaving for the modern age

Hello!

I’m a big fan of King of Shaves, the brand has a great story, and founder Will King is one of the nicest and most accessible leaders in business, let alone grooming. I’ve got some of their electricals on test at the moment, but this post surrounds a new innovation from them – Hyperglide.

hyperglide 0021 King of Shaves Hyperglide   Shaving for the modern age

Will describes Hyperglide as being the iphone of razors, a paradigm changing technology to shake up the market. But I can’t stand the iphone so I would rather describe it as being like the SSD – technology that makes everything better, and makes the predecessor look like a load of old rust.

 

The slogan is ‘Just Add Water’ and this is how it works – a superhydrophilic coating on the blades creates lubrication without the need for gels, oils, foams etc. This is a bold move from a company that started out and made its name making shave oils! It makes sense, as the point of these shave lubricants is all to hold water to your face. That all changes if the blade does that for you, generating it’s own water based gel as you shave and add water. (KoS also say you can use traditional gels, oils etc which will also extend the cartridge life)

 

This is a huge innovation from KoS, and something that looks set to shake up the market. I’ll be getting my hands on one of these as soon as I can, and will report back (a tragedy as it means losing the beard!)

 

But for now, watch the Ad, and if you’ve any questions, visit shave.com , speak to @kingofshaves or drop me a tweet @lodztbb.

 

Much Love,

Lodz

 

 

 

Christmas Clobber

Another winterwear post from me today – some Christmassy gear to keep you stylish and warm over the festive period.

 

First in are these tidy brogue boots from Asos. The brogue has been huge this year, and a good pair is a staple of any guy’s wardrobe. These boots are a refreshing twist, and ideal for damp winter days. Available at Asos

 

brogue boots Christmas Clobber

 

This scarf from Paul Smith is sharp and sure to be super soft. Red and burgundy tones are festive as hell, and add a splash of colour to darker winter looks, which are often filled with blacks and greys. Available at the Paul Smith shop 

 

scraf Christmas Clobber

 

Rockwell by Parra have got this beanie bang on, ideal for hitting the slopes on a board or just rocking at the Christmas Markets with a glass of Gluhwein. This one is from Urban Industry

 

leap and run Christmas Clobber

 

Finally, what look would be complete without a Christmas jumper? This one is not one to bring out in front of grandma, but I love it. For Queens of the Stone Age to bring out a Christmas Jumper is, in my opinion, a stroke of genius. This one is bad ass and near the top of my gift list (just below the limited edition black on black vinyl of …Like Clockwork). Available from Rekords Rekords

 

QSA103c REINDEER SWEATER 800X800 grande Christmas Clobber

 

Hope you like my Christmas choices, let me know what you think!

 

Much Love,

Lodz

Winterwear wanted

The temperatures are diving, and it looks like winter has set in good and proper. If your winter wardrobe needs a bit of an update, then take a look at the winterwear I’m lusting after.

 

converse Winterwear wanted

 

I love a pair of Converse. I avoided them for years, but @msdriftedsw persuaded me, and I’ve not looked back since!

These shearling lined leather high-tops are sturdier and warmer than the traditional canvas, but still carry the timeless style of the Chuck Taylor.

 

These are available in Next  but most Converse dealers have them. Linky

 

uniqlo Winterwear wanted

 

Uniqlo’s extra fine merino is perfect for layering over shirt and tie, and provides warmth and softness without bulk. This V-neck is typical of the sort of stuff I’ll be rocking in the office over the winter months. Linky

 

coat Winterwear wanted

 

The peacoat is versatile and never goes out of style, this number from Asos being just the job. Linky

 

56D05GGRY large Winterwear wanted

 

I’ve never been much of a hat person, but have all of a sudden taken to wearing a beanie – I’ve got a couple of these from Topman, at £8, they are a handy accessory to have in the winter, particularly if you live in Manchester, home of drizzle!  Linky

 

I’ve got plenty of other ideas and things i’m lusting after, and with a LOT of holiday this month, I’ve got a load of wardrobe changes to make; so keep your eyes peeled.

 

Much Love,

Lodz

Wahaca Recipe Challenge – My Pork Tacos

Hello! The day of the dead approaches, and purveyors of Mexican wonderment Wahaca are always guaranteed to do something awesome. As part of it, they’ve challenged bloggers to come up with a dish using the Wahaca sauces to celebrate – here’s my effort. I’ve gone for chipotle pork tacos – They tasted amazing – here’s a sneak peek before the recipe.

 

IMG 20131106 1024x575 Wahaca Recipe Challenge   My Pork Tacos

 

Ingredients

 

Pork

Juice of 2 limes, zest of one

4 Tablespoons Wahaca chipotle sauce

2 tsp smoked paprika

1.5 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp cocoa powder

1 large green chilli, finely chopped

3 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely diced

Salt and pepper generously

Kilo of pork shoulder.

 

For Cooking

~300ml Chicken Stock

 

Pico De Gallo

3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped roughly

1 small onion chopped finely

1 medium green chilli chopped finely

Handful of coriander, roughly chopped

Generous squeeze of lime juice

 

Toppings

Radish, finely sliced

Spring onions, cut in a suitably pretentious manner

Grated Cheese – Queso Oaxaca torn into ribbons would be ideal, I used grated cheddar, though Lancashire would be good too.

Wahaca Habanero sauce

 

This recipe is somewhere between that of Carnitas and of Cochinta Pibil. (I couldn’t find any Achiote paste so decided to go for a bit of a hybrid.) I decided to go for the sweet, smoky Chipotle sauce as the marinade base, and then give the option of the other two to top the whole thing off.

 

Remove the skin from the pork, but don’t take off all the fat with it – it’s needed. Chop into rough cubes and put into a large bowl. Mix together the marinade ingredients, then add to the pork and mix so everything is coated. Leave to marinade overnight – 12 hours minimum is recommended. I gave it around 15 hours total (I’m not 100% as the clocks went back so my perception of time is off)

IMG 20131022 1024x575 Wahaca Recipe Challenge   My Pork Tacos

 

IMG 20131043 1024x575 Wahaca Recipe Challenge   My Pork Tacos

 

You may be asking, where did the lemon in the photo go? Well, you can’t cook without something to drink……

 

 

IMG 20131034 1024x575 Wahaca Recipe Challenge   My Pork Tacos

 

After a long rest and a marinade (both me and the pork) you get a much darker pork, as the rich marinade has soaked in, and the lime juice starts to cook the pork. You then bang the whole lot into a wok/pan/casserole with enough chicken stock to just cover it, and let it bubble for 2-3 hours. As the liquid evaporates and the fat renders down, you’ll end up almost confit-ing the pork as it pokes through the surface. Here it is about 30mins before completion.

IMG 20131063 1024x576 Wahaca Recipe Challenge   My Pork Tacos

 

After about 2 hours you can make the Pico de Gallo (throw it all in a bowl) and prep the toppings for the tacos. If I was just cooking for friends I’d put it all out in bowls and let everyone dig in. Aside from the habanero sauce and Salsa, the rest is up to you. You could put in sour cream, jalapenos, any of the usual suspects, though my preference is for finely sliced chicory leaves, which add a lovely edge of bitterness to cut through the fatty sweetness of the pork. The addition of rice, black beans and some onions would turn this into a kick ass burrito, too.

 

Remove a portion of the pork from the wok, draining off some of the reduced juices, and discard any large chunks of fat. Chop it up roughly and with abandon, and then we can start the fun.

 

Build – I used the soft corn tortillas available at my local supermarket so did 2 per person as they’re a bit large, but if you can get the smaller ones, three per person looks better. It goes a little something like this:

 

Tortilla – Pork – Pico – Habanero (teaspoon of, more if you like some heat) – cheese – radish – spring onion – Bit of torn coriander

 

collage Wahaca Recipe Challenge   My Pork Tacos

 

And you’re done. If you like you can top it off with a spoon of the cooking liquor, but if you’ve not skimmed it earlier, it will be quite fatty.

 

No homage to Mexico would be complete without a scratching – so take the skin you took off before, rub a bit of salt and paprika on it, and either deep fry or pop it in an oven at 200 until crispy and golden. Hack into bits and pop it on the table.

 

collage 2 Wahaca Recipe Challenge   My Pork Tacos

 

IMG 20131108 576x1024 Wahaca Recipe Challenge   My Pork Tacos

 

Chuck it all down with an ice cold Chelada and nibble on the scratchings!

 

I hope you like this one – I’m pretty proud of this one and how it turned out, so I’d love your feedback.

 

Much Love,

Lodz

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