The 'Shroom:Issue 143/Critic Corner
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It's February and you know what that means??! Valentine's Day! The season of love, compassion, relationships, reaffirming bonds between friends and romantic partners. As this issue is posted up right after Valentine's Day is over, now is the time to ravage local grocery stores for their discount racks filled with half-price chocolate boxes!! Hurry now before all that's left are some Peeps and off-brand trash no one wants! I guess what's next to look forward to is uhhhhh President's Day and the 91st Annual Academy Awards! I'm torn between Glenn Close and Lady Gaga for Best Actress, but please please please Ruth E. Carter for Best Costume Design 🤞🤞
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Section of the Month
Bienvenue en février, le mois de l'amour!~ Ce mois-ci, je vous apporte des critiques de la France! Alright, well, they’re not all FROM France, but they’re French in spirit. Apparently there’s nothing particularly special about the culture that entwines it with love and romance beyond American media and 19th-20th century poet hipsters on a self-fulfilling pilgrimage making it so, and basically every reason you could come up with could be applied to really any of western Europe and the Mediterranean. Except you, England. Regardless, I’m going to feed into this trope and take advantage of this month of Valentine’s and review some French nonsense.
Macarons, easily confused with coconut cookies and the 25th President of France, is a meringue-based sweet that I guess is a cookie depending on how loose your definition is. They resemble a sandwich, much like an Oreo, with the cookie part being egg whites, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almond, and food coloring, with emphasis on the food coloring. One of the most readily noticeable traits of macarons are that they come in any color of the rainbow, and probably some from outside of it, and can be decorated with sprinkles or colored sugar or whatever else as a way to signal which of the endless flavors the cookies and filling are. The filling, by the way, is either buttercream, ganache, or jam. The odd flexibility in the mix-and-match ingredients and the unlimited selection of flavors makes the macaron something that is pretty impossible to try once and decide whether you like it or not, so I went and got a bunch from an array of places.Right off the bat, I’m whacked in the face and my wallet with how expensive these things are. Macarons are measly little things, easily consumed with two or three bites, but are easily a few bucks a pop. I guess they’re not far off from farmer’s market bakery vendor prices, or even much of the standard retail bakery options, which I see cookies going for $1.50 each. Additionally, the process to make this is allegedly notoriously difficult, with the cookie portion being a struggle to get perfect with precise oven temperatures and mixing methods and time, with them being brittle. perfect feet, as a pair of flawless feet is an indicator of the macaron’s quality. The slop inbetween seems relatively easier, though, with just requiring the application of a tasteful portion evenly. Mimi here, which I will link to again if you chose not to click my last link, has an exhaustive list of all of the qualities that make a perfect macaron, which I will use as a tool to check the caliber of each one I tried. Notable, however, is that a “perfect” macaron may or may not be what tastes the best to me, so as always I’ll be sure to provide what I think of it independently.
Quickly Boba & Snowsome reviews of milk tea places, to varying degrees of acceptability. Basically immediately after that issue went up, I tried out another place called Quickly Boba & Snow and got some macarons for the first time as well as a tiger milk tea which I guess was thai and jasmine tea mixed together with regular tapioca boba. It was very good and basically the first one I slurped down to its entirety, and has continued to be a regular visit for me to this day, especially now that I work nearby and drive past it on my way back home from work. It looked like a formal business that was filled with white people except for a couple Asian peeps who worked the bánh mi station, but it didn't have the gross cultural vulture vibe that Bubbleology gave off, and rather a hip place for young people who want fun drink and experience, which is basically part of the whole deal with boba. The neat deal about each of the Quickly cafés, though, is that it’s a very loose brand with some minimum menu staples, providing freedom to the owners and management to do what they please with the teas and food offered, allowing a level of flexibility in expression and creativity that other chains work hard to stymie.
As for the macarons, they were $2 each for the regular one, which I guess is the average rate. They also had available larger macarons, and like macaron ice cream sandwich things, but I felt it was best to stick to the baseline options so I could get an idea of what I’m getting myself into before I blow TOO much of my money. They had quite a few flavors available, all of them looking pretty quirky, including, but not limited to caramel, cookies & creme, rose, thai tea, vanilla, cotton candy, coconut, taro, maple bacon, almost all of them blasted with sprinkles and brightly colored. I opted to get Fruity Pebbles and Chocolate, to give me one oddball and one basic. In order to better know what these even were, I asked the worker there if they could survive a 95°F car ride home for 25 minutes, and they said likely not, at least not without losing their structure and much of their desirability, as they were made with buttercream. As a result, I plopped myself down and enjoyed staring at their murals that doubled for Pokémon Go gyms. The macarons look absolutely adorable, taking some of the sting out of their dinky size, and they tasted really good. The flavors were accurate to their names without being too sweet or fake, and the texture was very nice while cold. Firm outer shell immediately followed by a chewy, spongy interior, and then with a firm filling. It was kinda like eating an ice cream sandwich that had a shell, I guess. Good experience.
Le Macaronwildly expensive houses that I enjoy pretending me and a dozen closest friends will purchase together and split the rent on. Plenty of actually famous people frequent this area; not as much as the OTHER wildly rich part of Orlando where literally celebrities actually live, but a lot of more than well-to-do people exist, work, and shop here, resulting in the quantity of specialty boutiques rivaling the number of Amscots in the poor districts. I wander this area very frequently as the main shopping district is nearby, and it’s a pretty good spot to play Pokémon Go, with plenty of stops and gyms, and an enforced 10 mph road throughout all of it. There are also a disproportionate number of high-end restaurants and food places here, with extraordinarily inflated rates on tiny unsatisfying gourmet dishes that wealthy tourists can’t get enough of. Among these ranks are a few bakeries and shops that are pretty accessible to anyone with an above-minimum wage job, such as myself, and one of these is the American-owned French pastry chain, Le Macaron. As with Häagen-Dazs, another shop on this strip, it is a fancy chain that’s for those with an upper-crust aesthetic, but not above having locations inside each city’s singular good mall. Baskin-Robbins for the 99%.
Le Macaron has a bunch of pastries and treats, apparently, but their focus appears to be their namesake as they take up the entirety of one of two display coolers. There is a solid variety of flavors, with a consistent theming of sophisticated and worldly palates that have an exotic vibe, but retain a level of familiarity. The prices are a bit rough, though. I can’t recall the price of macarons individually, but their best deal by far was $15 for 6, that being a deal at $2.50 each. Given the part of town it was in, I let it get me as the expectation is to break the bank, and I wanted to give it a shot. Plus, my dad was with me visiting and I wanted to flex. I selected Black Currant & Chocolate, Rose, Belgian Chocolate, Chocolate Praline, Madagascar Black Vanilla, and Mango. They were kinda really disappointing, as the interior of the macaron is hollow, rather than a solid cookie pastry whatever thing. This also caused each one to smash super easily when grabbing them. I’d even bet that they came in from a corporate warehouse frozen and were just thawed, as reviews of their other pastries indicate. The flavors were also pretty difficult to tell apart, with being just some subtle sugary splinters.
They tasted substantially better after I forgot them in the fridge for 3 weeks and the buttercream in the middle became hard.
Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie
While I haven’t had the most gourmet experiences at Epcot’s Food and Wine Fest kiosks, their brick and mortar restaurants tend to be a bit higher quality, barring the rinky-dink cafeteria-style pizza shops that are built to get you in and out ASAP. One of these is Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie at the France pavilion. Tucked away behind some shops, and then within the back end of another shop, this café is known to me as one of the most anxiety-inducing lines to wait in as it’s a maze that splits into two sides, as directed by a worker whose only job appears to point someone to another worker waiting at the counter, who asks you want you want before you can even really see what there is available. Each side is just a cooling case filled with pastries and sweets, manned by some Actual French People from France who work extremely hard to not have their physical forms annihilated by having to listen to sweaty tourists butcher pronunciations. All you gotta do is just point at and attempt to say the name of whatever it is in the case that looks appetizing enough, and the workers will grab it and give it to you. Not really having any particular goal in mind when I got in line beyond just getting something chocolate, I ended up seeing a fairly large macaron thing while I was scanning. A Macaron with Raspberry and Lime Cream. Easily the most expensive macaron I’ve tried so far at $5.75 for a single one, but it was larger and had actual raspberries inside; plus, it was at Disney World so everything cost a bit more.
The raspberries were really good, though.
Selling at what seems to be the average rate of $2 each, there seem to be odd flavors only. Maple Pecan, Pumpkin Pie, Strawberry Rhubarb, Pistachio, Lemon Meringue, not the typical selections should they be the only selections. I wonder which focus group helped determine this; couldn’t even throw in a basic chocolate or vanilla? I opted to get the Maple Pecan and Pumpkin Pie because those are ones I haven’t seen elsewhere, and would at least be flavors I recognize. Actually trying them, the flavors are really hard to tell what they are unless you know/remember the name of them and placebo effect yourself. That’s not to say they tasted bad, but they just weren’t readily identifiable, and in a treat that’s only three conservative bites large, I don’t want to finally get the flavor as I’m chewing the last bit. This is likely a property of none of these flavors being any of the iconic sets that everything uses. As for texture, they had a crisp exterior with a chewy inside, as macarons should have. Must be a higher quality frozen products shipped to the store for repackaging only than Le Macaron has.
The bakery there also sells huge cookies covered in M&Ms for like $1.25 and honestly I’d probably pick that over these any time. Macarons seem more appropriate in scenarios with limited options.
Final Word: Macarons, in general, seem to be more presentation than punch, with their primary selling points being how cute and Instagrammable they look, and knowing that they’re expensive because someone worked hard to master them. They’re not very impressive as a delicate sweet treat in our age of abundance of pastry shops run by the unending number of contestants on Cupcake Wars scattered throughout our dimension. Nevertheless, they seem to have transcended their highbrow inception and have just become some kinda of snazzy quirky thing any genre of shop can just have with no regard to flavor or type. Ice cream managed to achieve this end of being able to exist in any form anywhere, but macarons seem to have retained their spirit of splendor and opulence; one of the last few treats to still be what they should be: a treat.
Beigneta problem plaguing every single Disney park as, for one reason or another, parents with unwieldy strollers plow through crowds, often running into anyone in their path, cutting people off, or just blocking access as humans aren’t yet gifted with a sixth sense that can extend to objects they’re holding. Often this is caused by overwhelmed parents trying to manage memory-crafting vacations without any flaw not necessarily being aware of their surroundings as much as the situation calls for, but equally often enough it’s just insanely rude people who think they’re the only one on a trip right now and are the top priority, using the stroller as a tool of brute traffic control.
Long story short, the Les Halles beignet dissolves all frustration and ill thoughts, as your mouth sinks into a fluffy pastry made from fried sunbeams and happiness.
Beignets are a simple catch-all name for what are basically doughnuts, traditionally as long as they’re fried dough with powdered sugar. The ones recognizable to Americans, namely from New Orleans Creole cuisine, are more flaky and croissant-like, with a crispier exterior, a heaping mound of powdered sugar, and served fresh and hot. The beignets at Les Halles seem to be made with sweet yeast dough, covered with powdered sugar and with a chocolate (perhaps Nutella?) filling, and are basically the German Berliner Pfannkuchen in all ways except being at the France pavilion with a French name. I’ve eaten plenty of doughnuts in my time here on Earth, and am pretty attuned to the intricacies enough to be a connoisseur of chocolate glazed donuts, both cake, and yeast, but this beignet is something special. It’s most definitely yeast dough, but is incredibly pillowy and uniform. The chocolate filling seems to be injected in by hand, given that it’s not properly in the center at all for even bite distribution, but it’s absolutely not a problem because the dough is a sweet treat itself, allowing the chocolate to be a pleasant surprise rather than the star of the show. Even the powdered sugar is a careful proportion that grants it an extra air of lightness and helps the beignet feel more fluffy than fried. Despite being such a cloud-like pastry, it was considerably heavy in weight and filling, well worth its price in the amount of product received. As I have gotten this every time I have been there since, which is often as I have an annual pass, I have come to find out that the fresh ones are inferior as they come right from the cooler, leaving the chocolate inside a bit more firm instead of like a standard filling. That's not to say it was bad, but the beignets are definitely better approaching room temperature.
Final Word: Not too many things win my love so quickly without being fleeting in turn, but this specific beignet has become a staple, and quite frankly more of a draw than the actual attractions, each time I visit Epcot. It’s a simple treat that I can find in some form in an innumerable amount of stores and bakeries, but the amount of perfection concentrated in this one is peerless. The only downside is that I know my annual pass has an expiration, and then my precious beignet will once again be locked behind a gated paywall of the intangible middle class.
Napoleon (Mille-Feuille)similar to a “Napoléon” enough that it gets constantly misconstrued as the same thing, but no one else in a cursory Google search of recipe blogs and cookbooks seems to care at all. Plus, the label at the bakery I got this at called it a “Napoleon” so that’s what this section is called. The variations in names and forms are confusing enough due to overlap and similarities that I’m just gonna link to the Wikipedia page for mille-feuille variant names and forms. In fact, I only found one source that actually stated what the difference was, but it’s still just a bit of a pedantic dissimilarity, especially with that article itself including numerous deviations from the apparently strict definition. Luckily I took a picture of it so all you gotta do is look at that.
I purchased this at a French gourmet bakery in the fancypants district I talked about earlier, which has expensive crêpes, croissants, and other stuff that all of the incredibly rude customers look at from above their upturned noses, but has a decent selection of affordable-enough pastries and desserts. It also has a newly hired cashier lady there who I vibed with over stories of unpleasant customers, told in full audience of said described unpleasant customers, providing her a visible morale boost with me having what I hope was restoring her faith in humanity. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to forge a golden customer-client relationship, I’ve made sure to return several times to try out stuff. Bear claws, scones, dulce de leche cookies, and eventually moving to the cold case where I got the Napoleon. It was like $5 plus tax and tip, but it was a decent size; I’d guess just under 3”x7”. Provided with a fork and knife, I sat down and got to work, and I do mean work. It was very difficult to cut, due to multiple factors. The Napoleon was three layers of puff pastry, with a decent amount of custard between each one, with a shell-like marbled glaze icing on top. A tower of tough and stiff layers that all compressed down at once instead of slicing, squeezing the custard out as I tried to frantically and hopelessly saw through damp dough, eventually settling on just pressing it with the side of my fork as hard as possible and then just scooping up the pastry fragments and custard. Aside from the miserable time I had cutting it, by no fault of the baker and all to just what the pastry is, it was actually pretty good. The pastry sheets were dry enough, and the custard thick, forcing me to couple this with drinking water every few bites, but I would still describe it as “delicate”. The smooth and slightly sweet custard with the sorta crunchy sheets of dough were a good textural pairing that complemented each other rather than canceling each other out. Overall it had a rather decadent mien.
Final Word: The fact that there are questions and guides on how to properly eat one of these elegantly, the Napoleon / Mille-Feuille is basically designed to be enjoyed sitting down, relaxing, enjoying the atmosphere, while the rest of the world’s snacks and treats get further and further streamlined for on-the-go quick munching. This is a convenient design to provide worth to the chef’s time making one of these, with the arduous process of flattening and folding layers of dough and butter until there’s upwards of 700 paper-thin layers. This particular Napoleon I had made me do exactly that, taking time to enjoy each piece, savor my time and peace, and enlighten me on why French cuisine is viewed as romantic.
As a bonus, check out how ridiculous of a departure from reality this recounting of a fated night with mille-feuille is.
Tune in next month where I get back to German stuff! Also, tell me what to review next! It can be games, movies, shows, physical actions, trying new foods, music, literally anything and I’ll cover it eventually if it’s not too ridiculous. Just send me a message here on my talk page or PM it to me on the forum. Don't like what I have to say? That's fine, and probably bound to happen because I've been told about how much people like Super Mario 64 and how they feel about any criticism of it! We at Critic Corner will welcome your alternate review of it as a new section for the next issue!
Hi Everyone! Happy February to you all. I was thinking since February represents the Season of Love for me. I thought I could talk about a few shows that I suggest you watch during this season. I’ll be naming my top three choices that you should check out. That you may fall in love. Now without further ado! I shall reveal the shows that I have been obsessed with.
Aggretsuko is about a female red panda named Retsuko who has a stressful job working in an Accounting area in a Japanese Firm. She undergoes harassment and constant bullying from her superiors. Ordering her to do extra work and do chores such as prepare tea. The creator of the cartoon almost makes her robotic in the sense that she automatically does anything whatever anyone wants her to do. I feel the utmost amount of sympathy seeing what she must go through. However, she has her friends there to try and comfort her whenever she needs it. She also has one big secret that no one knows about. That I will not spoil. Although I will say that this secret really threw me for a loop the first time I watched it. It's a complete 360 to her adorable personality.
There are also some cool notable people that are within the series. I was just informed that Nico Yazawa is the main character of the series Retsuko. Which is the reason why I'll probably watch the English dub of Love Live now. The Director of the series is played by Josh Petersdorf who some may know as Roadhog from Overwatch. It's awesome getting to see him take on more production. I hope to see more from him. Todd Haberkorn is also in it!
If you're a Sanrio fan, maybe someone who has a terrible job. You could get a kick out of this cartoon, just like I did. It's a great stress reliever from work and it may get a few chuckles out of you.
A Love So Beautiful
This show is about two neighbors who have grown up living next to each other ever since Kindergarten. They've been neighbors throughout Kindergarten to High School. Chen Xiao the main character of the series had to do whatever she could to try and be with him. However, due to an incident in Jiang Chen's life, he can't admit his feelings. He stays rather distant from Chen Xiao. However, he often does his best to try and be there for her when she needs it. There are obstacles that are going to be in their way as they progress from High School to University.
If you're someone who loves coming of age stories and this is your first Chinese Drama, then I would recommend that you check out this show. This was my first Chinese Drama show. When I first watched this show I got completely attached to the story. This show has a lot of chemistry between the cast making you really believe that this show is real. While I watched this show it brought me a sense of being in High School again. Perhaps it can also bring you guys a sense of nostalgia.
To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Lara Jean is the protagonist of the film she's a shy girl who dreams of having romances just like any teenage girl does. She writes letters to all her old love interests keeping them within a box that she hides away in her room. She doesn't really have much of a life outside of school. However, that all changes when her letters get mysteriously sent out to her old admires. Now she must deal with the impacts of these letters and a potential love for one of her crushes.
This is a great movie for teenagers of this generation. It felt like a cute quirky awkward teenager movie that basically felt like a Disney movie. The whole cliché of the Nerd falling for the Jock and vice versa was prevalent in this movie. It had its cute parts that I did enjoy. However, I think I'm satisfied with watching it once. It's no Notebook but it's a decent love movie.
I hope that you all will potentially look at these programs and see if they're right for you. Maybe cuddle up with a loved one and watch these shows together. Remember every show/movie is worth a watch, even the ones you don't enjoy. It helps you realize what elements you may or may not enjoy. I know I will be going back to do more in-depth reviews of two of these shows. Stay tuned for that and thank you for reading!
Virtual Console Reviews
I do not have a special introduction this time around, so I will make this introduction short, as today I am reviewing Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins!
The game's plot is short and simple: Wario takes over Mario's castle during the events of Super Mario Land. One thing to note right off the bat is that after the first stage the player can choose the game's six worlds in any order they like, a nice change in pace, however the main problem with this is that there is no difficulty progression, as the game's six worlds are easy with the final level, Mario's castle being a massive difficulty spike. The gameplay in this game is similar to the gameplay in Super Mario World, as you can perform a Spin Jump to break certain blocks, and overall the gameplay feels quite similar to Super Mario World's gameplay, which is not a bad thing at all. The game's six worlds are always creative as they feature a large variety of enemies, some of which only appear once. The worlds also have unique themes such as the Pumpkin Zone being Halloween-themed, the Space Zone being in space, etc. There is also a couple of extra stages that can be unlocked.
All of the worlds end with a boss. While they are not that challenging, they are still quite fun to beat, and once you beat them you receive the world's respective golden coin. The game also has two power-ups: the Fire Flower, which acts the same as you would expect it to act and the brand-new carrot, which transforms the player into Bunny Mario, which lets the player slow down their descent to an extremely slow pace, and this can often break the game's levels, although I still find this power-up quite fun.
My main problem with the game is what happens when you get a game over, as when you lose all of your lives, you lose all of your collected golden coins and thus have to replay all of the previously beaten boss stages. While the regular stages are not that challenging, the final stage is quite hard meaning there is a high chance of getting a game over if you are not stocked up on lives, so having to replay stages that you have already proven that you can beat to get a couple of chances at beating the final stage (as all of the six golden coins are needed to play the final stage) is annoying. As I said before, the final stage is difficult and is a fair and fun stage. After Wario is beaten in the final stage the game is beaten.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is an excellent game with some minor flaws that are well, minor. If you want some excellent 2D Mario gameplay then I cannot recommend this game enough. It is a creative and unique game with excellent level design and fun albeit easy bosses.