Cake Bot takes on M&M World, London

Oh God. Oh God! IT'S OPEN TILL MIDNIGHT??*bags post pub candy munchies*

Oh God. Oh God! IT’S OPEN TILL MIDNIGHT??
*bags post pub candy munchies*

M&M World
Leicester Square, London

CAKE BOT:
As a young robot, my parts and I grew up harbouring a small obsession with the smiling faced m&m guys. Their happy faces gracing the front of the packs, saying “It’s okay, my little rustbucket buddy, we want you to eat our friends. They’re tasty…and so are we” in the slow, soothing voice of the yellow, peanut-bellied one. How I came to love him so, amassing a sizeable collection of small plastic figurines of him within my abdominal cupboard. Alas, many years have passed, and those figurines are now but history. My love for the yellow fella and his moreish friends, however, hath not waned one bit.

Which is why a trip to m&m world featured at the top of my ‘to-do’ list on myself and Beer Bot’s recent robotic outing to London. Oh dear…I was not prepared for what lay in store. Nor was Beer Bot prepared for my curse-word laden exclamations of joy and fear-inducing chasing of a human dressed up as a giant, furry M. The human seemed used to such displays of affection. But from children. Not robots well into their fourth decade of existence.

All of them. ALL OF THEM. NOW!

All of them. ALL OF THEM. NOW!

I’ve never seen so many chocolates in one place in all my service span. Every colour of the rainbow, and then some. Not to mention the special colour combination mixes…

Aww...I love you too, guys...

Aww…I love you guys…

With the opportunity to bag your own candies, and choose from a ridulous array of novelty dispensers and containers, I really was spoiled for choice.

Fueled by chocolate!

Fueled by chocolate!

I’ve not even mentioned the Christmas decorations, chess sets, kitchenware, ornaments, magnets, stationery, jewellery and clothing…how I am jealous of you humans and your ability to wear smiley-faced pants and boxers.

FOUR levels of fun!

Oh God. Oh GOD! Four levels of fun!

That’s right, FOUR levels of fun. I went wild. My circuitboard went into overdrive as I wheeled from floor to floor bagging an alarming array of merchandise and – of course – armfuls of multicoloured sugar coated gems of chocolate joy. The limited edition dark chocolate peanut variety were a particular delight. Sadly, not available elsewhere in the UK I’m told, which is a shame given their prevalence stateside.

The Periodic Table of M&M's. Worth learning.

The Periodic Table of M&M’s. Worth learning.

Not only a shopping experience, m&m world takes the experience further by adding a hefty dose of fun. Everywhere you turn there are giant smiling characters to be photographed with, a character portrait gallery, an interactive ‘colour finder’ and an m&m ‘mix lab’ where your very own special combination can be created.

The Colour Finder

The Colour Finder

Yellow and Red as Watson and Holmes.

Yellow and Red as Watson and Holmes.

The fellas taking on Abbey Road

The fellas taking on Abbey Road

Have your own M&M's coloured and printed especially for you.

Have your own M&M’s mixed up especially for you.

All this was just too much to bear. I had to go back three times. Well, when faced with this many cute little plush characters, it was so hard to choose. And of course there was always the worry that I hadn’t bought enough chocolate. Or m&m character cookie cutters. Or enough chocolate. With only three large bags left a few weeks on, I’m still not convinced I bought enough. The only things missing from the overflowing wonderland of m&m world are those elusive stateside brands I pay so much for in import stores – such as mint, coconut, peanut butter, pretzel, the afoermetioned gorgeous dark chocolate numbers etc. I really do long for the day when ALL of the varieties will be available widely in the UK. There’s a market for them, even if if just consists of me.

Oh God. Oh God!

Oh God. Oh God!

"Hello, Cake Bot! Are you my new mom?" Oh God! OH GOD! *weeps oil tears*

“Hello, Cake Bot! Are you my new mom?” Oh God! OH GOD! *weeps oil tears*

You! Second shelf, second in from the left, beside the red guy! Wait...the little one is your son?? Oh God. OH GOD!

You! Second shelf up, second in from the left, beside the red guy! Yes, you! I’ll take you! Wait…the little one is your son?? Oh God. OH GOD!

A trip to m&m world is more than worth it. Okay so it’s a chocolate shop, a toy shop, and a merchandising excuse…but it’s so much more than that. These guys are not the institution here that they are stateside yet, though if this is the level of fun they inject into all their shopping experiences? I hope they take over the UK as soon as possible. They certainly injected a whole heap of joy into the heart of this happy Cake Bot. Next stop, m&m world Vegas!
To orange flavour, limited edition raspberry flavour, AND BEYOND!

Remnants of the Valentine's Mix I bought as a love token to myself and my growing metal hip joints

Remnants of the Valentine’s Mix I bought as a love token to myself and my growing metal hip joints

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Word of Mouth, Leith Walk

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Word of Mouth Bistro Café
3a Albert Street, Edinburgh

HEDONISM BOT:
Although not a huge array of fare, a still never-the-less fine, varied selection of tempting dishes. Start with the Specials board: Soup of the day, quiche, filled croissant, filled baguette, savoury crepe, green salad, mouth-watering full breakfast available a.m. and all day at weekends. Best enjoyed hungover! Nothing too Avant-Garde in this but, everything on this list looks to be a fresh, homemade, rustic delight. I would recommend at least once trying one of the Croque toasted sandwiches: The Monsieur, the Madame or the Veggie.

As a robot with only an assigned gender of ‘Male,’ and as one with a tendency to never deny any of lives ‘pleasures,’ especially due to something as malleable and fascinating as human sexuality! I ignored my programming and chose the Madame Croque, a toasted sandwich crammed full of fine ham and hot melting, smoked mozzarella. Literally ‘topped off’ with a perfectly cooked fried egg. Absolutely delicious with a Fentiman’s Ginger Beer. Also available is quality Coffee, teas,  smoothies, the usual soft drinks, plus some dandelion and burdock and red grapetizer for the elderly or more middle class adventurous.

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The selection of homemade sweets available was just too enticing for such a weak willed, indulgent Bot as I: Sweet crepe, waffles, pastries, tray cakes, scones and flapjacks. Do not judge me dear reader as I succumbed to the unsweetened delights of the vanilla cheesecake, washed down with a second Latte, “Oh God! ‘shivers’ truly orgastic.” Oh please, gentle reader, allow me a moment to compose myself.

All-in-all I thoroughly recommend supporting and enjoying this varnished wood haven. The atmosphere is pleasant and welcoming. The Staff appear knowledgeable and friendly. The background music stays in the background. With obscure folky, indie sounds interjected with a toe-taping Smiths number. The ethos of: homemade, local, free range, fair-trade and recycle, is admirable and a boon to the local community.

wordofmouth

The premises are small and a little cluttered, but not untidy. Games and books are strewn around on shelves and odd shaped furniture to peruse. One is assured that the Produce, Arts and Crafts, available for purchase are local and/or ethical. Plenty of events such as the very interesting Low Def film fest and other film nights, Open Mic. nights, Live Acoustic music, Poetry nights, I personally am most intrigued by Pudding night!

I am inspired by the seemingly effortless quality here to rally my fellow Bots and check out Word of Mouths sister establishment, The Skylark, in Portobello. Just to test the very limits of their Gin selection.

CAKEBOT:
Gin, you say? Make it so.

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Gaia, Leith Walk, Edinburgh

gaia

GAIA, ITALIAN DELI and CAFÉ
32 Crighton Place, Leith Walk

HEDONISM BOT
Situated half way down Leith Walk and just across the road from Scotmid, Cash Generator and Pilrig Church, Gaia is an oasis of cushiony seats and mouth-watering aromas. This small ‘family’ run Café and Delicatessen offers a welcoming rest and recharge – if only from selling your stolen CDs to Cash Generator in exchange for Heroin vouchers! But if that is the case, get out of my face and go to Greggs you repugnant fleshy meatbags! Despite all that, its location only adds to the congenial respite from shopping on the ‘Windy’ Walk.

The menu is lunch based with Antipasti. ‘Freshly made’ Paninis, Paitti Freddi cold dishes, with Soup of the day and a few tempting mains on the Specials board. Jazzy Muzak and Italian pop keep you company along with the low conversational murmur of your smug fellow lunchers. “Have you finished with the Guardian? Why thank you.” 

In the interests of a balanced view I chose the aptly named Classico from the 14 Paninis listed. You are also invited to create your own from a decadent heap of meats, cheeses and roasted vegetables. The Classico is a ham, mozzarella and tomato filled beauty and was a delicious treat. All washed down with arguably the finest coffee available anywhere on the Walk, and all this for under £6! Cheaper fare is possible nearby in the aforementioned ‘Bakery,’ but personally my pleasure circuits will no longer abide anything less than the quality and culinary satisfaction available here.

The staff are affable and friendly, but on this occasion I sat and waited 15 minutes before eventually approaching the counter to order…perhaps it is not table service and I failed to notice? Hedonism Bot would advise not waiting, but instead ordering immediately, especially as freshly-made means a short wait. The Deli produce on offer is another reason to pop in, with authentic Italian/Sicilian delicacies, fresh and tinned. My optical sensors browsed shelves stacked high with enticing treats. 

Hedonism Bot is always willing to indulge in a little debauchery, but the selection of sweets was a little limited. On this occasion neither the Sicilian Cannoli nor the Tiramisu tempted me. Believe me darlings, I like nothing more than great, sweet dollops of indulgence topped with temptation and I really can’t abide leaving anywhere or anything, not utterly sated.

Ooooh! that reminds me, just about time for my fairtrade chocolate bath…be a dear and hold this for me, will you?

gaia2

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Valvona & Crolla, Elm Row, Edinburgh

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VALVONA AND CROLLA
19 Elm Row, Edinburgh

BEER BOT
Upon entering the Tardis-esque confines of Valvona & Crolla in Elm Row, we wandered past the exotic items of Italian cooking* where if price is no object then you are more than welcome. At the back of this corridor of delights was the famed café of which I, Cake Bot and my inventor were stopping in for lunch.

The place was empty so we had our choice of station (table) where Cake Bot was quick to dock at the one nearest to the radiator. The attentive and polite waiting-staff were quick to supply us with our menus and alert us to the soup of the day, onion. Once I had studied the menu in question I decided to order the panatella ‘Paesano Salciccie e Mostarda di Frutta’ with a cup of said soup, before that though we decided to have a selection of the freshly made bread which was delicious enough to short circuit Cake Bot’s prevention of carbs file.

This was nothing compared the salivation caused by my “sausage sandwich”**, the mustard fruit chutney further complemented the sweetness of the panatella, and the sausage was able to ensure that the sugariness didn’t take over the dish. The side salad ensured that all this depravity didn’t rust the insides too much*** and brought a nice freshness to the whole dish. The soup itself complemented it all superbly, again sweet but not overpoweringly so as well as a nice sharpness, and heated up my tin plated insides for the cold Sunday afternoon.

The debauchery carried on though, with a cake of the day and nice cup of black coffee. The cake was of the chocolate variety with a dollop of crème freche on the side. Now normally I am not one for chocolate cake but this was rather light, not too bitter and, dare I say, felt pretty guilt free****.

Thus we found it was time to take off contentedly in the freezing cold, bodies filled with Italian joy, and very much looking forward to visiting again.

*I nearly made the error of purchasing a bottle of sherry vinegar when my scanners identified it as a bottle of beer. I am getting them serviced as soon as…
**That’s what she said!
***At least that is what I tell myself.
****If you enjoy the guilt then this isn’t for you; I would argue some people only eat chocolate cake for the guilt – sick bastards!

CAKE BOT
Oh wow. I love this place. An Italian delicatessen stocked to the ceiling with some of the finest foods known to mankind.  As a recovering non-eater, often living in extreme fear of food, Valvona and Crolla should strike terror into the heart and have me running for the door. In fact, it does quite the opposite. It encourages me to discover new things and look at eating in a different way. The food on the shelves, and the dishes served in the hidden café at the back are all about the pleasure and enjoyment gained from using quality produce. From expensive oils, aged vinegars and marinated olives to top of the range chocolate, speciality meats, cheese galore, vegetables that look how vegetables should look and beautiful freshly baked breads, the deli area is a delight for the senses. Pair that with the smell of roasting coffee beans wafting through the gift shop and it’s not long before caution is thrown to the wind, the call of the pastries on the counter becomes too much to handle, and my shiny metal pincers are flailing with wild abandon.

On this visit I opted for the Pollo Panatella. Which wasn’t – as my dubious translation device initially thought it may turn out to be – a chicken cigar. The dish actually consisted of smoked chicken, creamy mayonnaise and fresh rocket sandwiched between toasted bread that was crisp on the outside, and soft on the inside…accompanied by a sweetly seductive onion soup and some damn fine coffee.

All this tasty goodness combined with a hefty amount of running the previous day, led to finishing with a gorgeous slice of chocolate cake. Sorry, did I say cake? Really it was more akin to a large slice of exceptionally light and delicious truffle. Not overly sweet, dark and decadent – served with crème fraiche, fresh berries and a cute little physalis. Oh ye gods. I never wanted it to end. Every moment was fantastic. I’m still thinking about it now. And Googling recipes like an android possessed. This, from a Cake Bot who says she doesn’t care that much about chocolate. Bullshit, eh? Obsessed.

Finest Hour: The chocolate cake. THE CHOCOLATE CAKE. Pleasure sensors on fire.
Downsides: They had to ask us to leave. We’re not mentalists or anything. Really. They were just closing early.

GHOST BOT
There was a wine sale. A WINE SALE! Also, there was a ridiculous array of our favourite Wilkin and Sons jams, pictures of happy pigs, and friendly young male staff. Let’s come back every week. No, really. There’s a massive huff on the horizon if we can’t.

NOTE: HEDONISM BOT was again absent, lying under a pile of empty Gin bottles round the back of Tesco. He apologises for nothing, as usual.

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Robot Bartender

Holy hell…would you look at this?
Hedonism Bot has just fainted.

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Cafe Nemrut, Leith Walk, Edinburgh

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CAFÉ NEMRUT
255 Leith Walk, Edinburgh

BEER BOT
After an excessive few months contemplating how Café Nemrut can still be open considering I don’t believe I have ever seen anyone feasting within its walls, myself and Cake Bot decided it was worth some investigation.

Upon entry my circuits went a bit haywire as – to my surprise – there were other people dining inside. As we were feeling slightly adventurous (I can’t stress slightly enough) we shared a Mezze platter between the two of us, with the promise to the waiter that we would be ordering more a little later. We were met with a plate full of delights that Cake Bot can definitely describe better than my limited-vocabulary self. However, the potato salad with spring onion and egg, and the aubergine and tomato delight – which seemed like a wonderful savoury bastardisation of a Mr Kipling* cake – are too good to omit from mentioning. This was washed down with Turkish coffee which was a simple, but nice, espresso with some exotic ** spices to lift it up a little.

After waiting 10 minutes or so to reorder (the staff were engrossed in a rather exciting game of backgammon***) we received our menus to continue the dining experience. After my original choice had been declined as they had run out, I went for the Kofte kebab as a main course, and Cake Bot ordered pesto chicken couscous. I was met with a plate full of meaty lamb goodness, flatbreads, couscous, a grilled tomato**** and side salad. It did look a little thrown together but it tasted good so I can’t complain a great deal. However, Cake Bot’s chicken couscous had a lot of chicken, not very much couscous, but you know… a lot of meat, with pitta bread on the side.

It wasn’t until I paid and the attendee read the order as ‘one Kofte kebab and one Chicken Kebab’ – promptly correcting himself and stating chicken couscous – that I was illuminated as to why what was presented didn’t sit right in my mind. I didn’t cause a scene or anything a la Michael Douglas in ‘Falling Down’ though, as my programming would not allow me to.

Overall the surroundings were nice enough and the food was tasty, it just wasn’t what we ordered.

*It was exceeding good, surpassing Mr Kipling himself.
**I’m not sure what it was…
***I don’t know how to play backgammon.
**** I’m as confused as you are.

CAKE BOT
Café Nemrut is a bright and spacious wee eatery specialising in Turkish dishes. With a varied menu of snacks and more substantial fare, there also seems to be a lot of choice for vegetarians, a fish specials board, and a nice array of cakes on the counter. Of course, as mentioned by Beer Bot, I was only feeling slightly adventurous, therefore the thought of baked goods reaching my stomach made me feel a little dizzy and quite panic-stricken. Moving on…

I settled initially for sharing the starter platter Beer Bot talks of, that consisted of Greek salad, feta cheese, a Pacman Ghost-shaped mound of couscous (bearing more resemblance to bulgar wheat in texture), marinated olives, tzaziki, taze fasulye (green beans sautéed in olive oil with tomatoes), a rather tasty aubergine and courgette pie (with some fine-ass pastry) and a spot of arguing over who would get the last of the potato salad – which had not only a good scattering of spring onions added, but a hefty dose of egg. Oh, and bread. Yes. But I left most of that to Beer Bot due to carbohydrate worry, and indecision regarding the next course. Which eventually – after some confusion – turned out to be a nicely seasoned chicken kebab, served again with a small ghost of couscous, grilled peppers and onions, salad, yoghurt dressing and pitta breads.

The main itself was nice enough, just a little lacking in flavour, but considering my problems with eating and food in general, there was little to no guilt. Not too bad.

Finest Hour: That aubergine pie. An overall lack of worry due to the healthiness of the food, a very fancy restroom, and – last but not least – why have we never thought of adding egg to potato salad?

Downsides: The over-enthusiastic server who tried to swipe my Turkish apple tea before it was even halfway finished. Not a wise move. Mind you, it was less apple and more mixed berry…a little confused regarding its identity. Much like my main course, which was supposed to be ‘pesto chicken’.

GHOST BOT
Ghost Bot liked the aubergine pie and the lamb Kofte, and fact that the staff were taking part in a backgammon tournament, but thought they could have paid more attention to the customers than ‘silly wee discs on a wooden board’.

NOTE: HEDONISM BOT was sadly absent, lying in a gutter off Constitution Street. He apologises for nothing.

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