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Archive for May 2011

Breakfast

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“I don’t bother with breakfast” some people confess, “I’ll usually grab a snack later on”.

Why skip breakfast?  You’ve not had anything to eat since maybe your evening meal, and that was 12 hours ago.  Would you go 12 hours during the day without anything to eat?  No, you’d be clawing at the cupboards or kicking the fridge door in to find something, anything to fill your belly.  12 hours is a long time to go without food, and this is why I am a big advocate of breakfast, most important meal of the day, yada yada.  It bloody is too.  Forego it, and you’ll be pigging out on a packet of crisps or a Lion bar by your mid-morning break.

Personally, I will always go for cereal as it’s easy.  If for some reason we don’t have any, or insufficient milk, I’ll do a round of toast, most likely spread with Hollybush Butter.  Given my early childhood, it’s a wonder I like cereal.  I remember as a 5 year old, being given Weetabix, which was made up with hot water.  Thinking about it, it sounds revolting.  Weetabix with hot water, and a splash of sterilised milk.  For those who haven’t experienced sterilised milk, ask your grandparents.  At the time, I didn’t know any better, but it’s not nice.  Providing it isn’t opened, it lasts forever even without a fridge, it doesn’t so much have a shelf-life as a half-life.  The problem with Weetabix is that you have to wash the bowl as soon as possible.  If you leave it to dry, then you might as well bin it as it sets like grout, and nobody wants to have to use a Dremel when doing the washing up.

Anyway, that aside, I needed to stock up on cereal and as I was near Lidl, I thought it only right to see what they had on offer.  I chose Master Crumble Strawberry Crisp.  I can’t help but say Master Crumble in a Sam-From-Lord-of-the-Rings accent.

So what is strawberry crisp?  It explains that it is “Crisp Multigrain Cereal Clusters with Freeze Dried Strawberry Pieces.”.  It is 49% oat flakes (so essentially porridge oats) and 2% strawberry pieces.  One 50g serving with 125ml semi-skimmed milk gives you 247 calories.  No artificial colours, preservatives or flavourings and is high in fibre.  All the usual stuff.  Oh, and is suitable for vegetarians.  I’d be surprise if it wasn’t.

The most striking thing is the picture on the box.

Master Crumble and his Odd-ball Serving Suggeston.

That container containing the cereal is a glass vessel of sorts, most likely a large tumbler.  Who eats cereal out of a glass?  “What are you having for breakfast?” “I’m having a glass of cereal”.  Maybe it’s a German thing.  To the side of the picture is the all-encompassing phrase “Serving suggestion”.  However, I eschewed the tumbler of cereal idea and opted for the more tradition bowl.  In case you are wondering what the recommended serving looks like, this is it.

The recommended serving.

Pitiful isn’t it?  I bet you all pour out a lot more than that, I know I do.  So I got a spoon, sat down and tried it.  It was yummy, just as good as any other strawberry clusters cereal I’ve tried before.  The main difference, and what makes this particularly good, is that the strawberry pieces rehydrate themselves quickly.  In, say, the Asda version of this, or even the Jordan’s brand, the strawberry pieces stay dry and crispy to the end.  I shouldn’t need to leave my cereal to soak for 10 minutes before it becomes palatable.  Another good point is the size of the clusters.  I was expecting, not being a known brand, for the clusters to be tiny and fragmented with the lower half of the box being comprised of tiny gritty pieces and dust.  No, they were a good and consistent size.  I also bought a box of the Asda version for comparison.  The Asda clusters were 2 – 3 times larger, however as I dug deeper into the packet, they became very small, I’d go so far as to say pulverised by less than half way down into the box. I imagine the last quarter to resemble porridge oats.  The machine that makes them is either very inconsistent or the warehouse staff put each box into a paint shaker before packing them off.  The Asda clusters were quite bland too, whereas Master Crumble’s clusters were slightly sweet, but not so much as to ruin the taste.

They are certainly a good price.  £1.09 for 500g.  Compare this to the Tesco label which retails for £1.25 for 500g, Asda at £1.29 and Jordans at a whopping £2.19.

Scores:
Taste – 7/10
Texture – 7/10
Creativity of serving suggestion – 8/10
Value For Money – 7/10
Rehydration quality – 8/10

Total:  37/50

Written by just1bloke

11 May 2011 at 12:06 pm

Posted in Cereal

Soup for Lunch

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It’s not very often I have soup, but when I saw a can of Farmers Fayre Chunky Beef & Vegetable Soup in Netto, I thought “Why not?”.  My favourite bread to dip in soup is a cheese topped roll, so when I saw they had some, I snapped them up too.  That was today’s lunch sorted.

Beef & Vegetable Chunky Soup

I’ve had Tesco brand chunky soup recently, and it wasn’t chunky at all, it was more like lumpy gravy.  The soup in the picture on this particular can did certainly look chunky, but I wasn’t going to count any chickens just yet.   The picture, like so many food labels, had the caption “Serving Suggestion”.  So, in the interests of science or whatever, I followed it.  This involved heating it up and then putting it in a bowl with a spoon.

I opened the can and tipped the contents into the pan.  I would say that the soup was even chunkier than the label portrayed it to be.  Bonus!  While the soup was warming, I read the rest of the can.  As I suspected, and indeed hoped, it was made exclusively for Netto stores.  On the back of the can, under the description “Chunky Beef and Vegetable Soup” were the ingredients.  Apparently it comprises of 26% vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions and peas).  I disagree; I’d say it’s more like 35%.  It’s also 7% beef, which I reckon is about right.  A full can will deliver 208 calories.  That’s about it, apart from the cooking instructions.

I then turned my attention to the cheese-topped rolls.  Aldreds The Bakers, 2 Cheddar Cheese Topped Rolls.  These are 14% cheese.

Cheese Topped Rolls

I occasionally get cheese topped rolls from Asda.  They aren’t 14% cheese, or anywhere near.  I get the impression that the cheese on the Asda rolls was an accidental spillage as they were going into the oven and they said “sod it, just leave them” and just left it on.

I served the soup up, sliced my roll and buttered, though sadly not with Hollybush butter.

My Lunch

The soup was delicious, not only was it chocka with chunks of potatoes and carrots and lots of peas and onion, every spoonful contained a good bit of beef too.  Examining the beef, it appeared to be decent quality stewing-steak, with barely a trace of fat on it.  The rolls were magnificent; I had both of them in the end.  The cheese seemed to be good quality mature cheddar that actually tasted of cheese as if I had grated it myself from a block.

Now, here’s the important bit.  The soup was 69p for a 400g can.  Compare that to Asda brand at 72p for a 400g can, as is the Tesco brand.  Heinz Big Soup is £1.04 for the same size can.  I suppose if you’re in Asda or Tesco, then you could just grab their own brand as the price difference isn’t worth wandering about between various shops, but if you’re passing a Netto, then go in and get some, I’d put it up there with Heinz in the quality stakes.

The cheese rolls were 69p for 2.  A pack of cheese topped rolls from Asda are 64p for 4, although they are smaller and contain a scant amount of cheese, truly pitiful in fact.  I will most definitely be buying this for lunch again as it really is souper.  Tee-hee.

Scores – :
Taste – 7/10
Chunkiness – 8/10
Beefyness – 6/10
Cheesyness – 8/10
Value For Money (soup) – 7/10
Value For Money (rolls) – 7/10
Accuracy of Packaging – 7/10

Total:  50/70

Written by just1bloke

9 May 2011 at 1:34 pm

Sweeties

with 2 comments

Supermarkets, well all genres of stores really, but primarily supermarkets have “Point of Sale” stuff near the tills.  Lidl and Netto are no exception, and when I was last in Lidl, I grabbed a packet of sweets and added it to my purchases.  “Fritt” supplemented by the ambiguous tagline “+Vitamin (e) C”.  Well which is it, e or C?  I’m assuming C as there are pictures of strawberries on the packet.

Fritt + Vitamin e or possibly C

Excuse the picture quality, I really ought to invest in a better camera.  Around the main logo, it tells me that it is ‘chewy candy‘.  It also informs the Romanians “bomboana de mestecat” (translates as gum candy), to the Spanish it’s “caramelo blando” (fudge) and to the Polish, and my favourite, it’s “cukierek rozpuszczalny” (candy soluble).  I think us Brits and the Romanians are best informed, telling the Spanish that it is fudge is a downright lie.  It seems the main selling point to the Polish is that it will dissolve.  Not like that insoluble candy that you can’t taste or indeed digest, a candy that will pass through your digestive tract like a plastic bead.

Manufactured by Ludwig Schokolade, based in the German town of Saarlouis not far from the French border, they are more accurately described as “6 fruit chewy candy strips”, I cannot begin to imagine how that is marketed to the Polish.

Even though the rest of the capitalist world is desperately tying their brand to the 2012 London Olympics, even McDonalds which is irony most blatant, Ludwig Schokolade is an official partner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 in Dusseldorf.  Given that this affiliation is advertised by means of an adhesive after-thought, rather than a redesign of their packaging, it just shows how committed a partner they are.  No expense spared here.  In fact, this partnership between soluble confectionary and the most watched music event in the world is clearly far more important than the fact that it is made with natural flavours and colours which is what the sticker obscures.

Opening the packet, I was greeted with this.

Fritt 6 chewy candy strips

This I was not expecting.  It’s a peculiar format, 5 small pieces partially connected in strips.  They certainly weren’t fudge, but were chewy and also soluble, which was handy.  They were pretty much strawberry flavoured Fruitella or maybe Maoams.  The texture was less chewy than they claimed, Opal Fruits/Starburst are chewier, but the flavour was good, and tasted of strawberries rather than just some chemical based strawberry suggestion that leaves a nasty aftertaste.

How do they compare to the competition?  I’m not sure what the competition is, but I think Maoam chews are the nearest even though they are a different shape.  Fritt chews are 45p for 70g. Maoam chews are 24p for 66g.

If fruit chews are what you want, then Maoam are the ones to go for, primarily on price, as there is little difference between the two brands in every other aspect.

Scores:
Taste – 7/10
Texture – 6/10
Chewiness – 6/10
Value For Money – 4/10
Solubility – 8/10

Total:  31/50

Written by just1bloke

8 May 2011 at 9:19 pm

Posted in Sweets

This Sausage Looks Veerry Suspicious…

with 4 comments

It’s not all sweets, cakes and drinks at SFV.  In fact a couple of days ago from Lidl, I bought what appeared on the receipt as “Gourmet Sausage”.  The label says “Twinner Speciality German Cooked Pork Sausages” followed by ‘Ready to Eat’.  They are made by “Sickendiek Fleischwarenfabrik”, (or meat factory) based in Northern Germany.  I can assure you that unlike Hollybush Butter, I didn’t buy this product simply because it said Sickendiek on the label.  I bought it because it looked like this.

Sickendiek's Finest Cooked Pork Sausage.

That’s quite a lot of German sausage.  £1.99 for 650g and they are larger than you think; the scale can’t really be appreciated from the picture.  Again, the label reveals that this product is made for Lidl Stores.  The label also informs that 100g of this product carries 287 calories and the ingredients say that they are 75% pork.  I’m not sure as to which parts of the animal can constitute as pork, but I have a feeling it’s best I don’t know.  But then, the next ingredient is pork fat which narrows the options down.  The ingredients also advise that it contains celery and mustard as allergens. I know mustard can make your eyes water, but can celery?  And if so, how?  Also, it may contain traces of nuts.  How?  It’s processed pork so where do nuts come into it?  Unless it refers to one of the parts of a pig that can be called pork.

I grabbed the scissors and viciously hacked at the packet to release the vacuum packed sausages.  They are remarkably hefty even separately and would probably be a good choice for personal defence.  If someone tried to mug you, and you pulled one of these out of your pocket and belted them with it, it would be really annoying and they may just leave you alone.

I examined it, trying to be as un-homoerotic as possible, and found that the ends were sealed with a small metal crimp.  I took a small knife and circumcised the end and peeled the skin back.

Inside the skin

The first thing that struck me was the colour, it was a light pink, like cheap sausages are, but not like cooked pork, which is usually almost a whitish colour, this was more the colour of almost cooked pork.  The label mentions no artificial colours so where does the pinkness come from?  I suspect it was the traces of nuts.  It also has a mottled appearance which is usually found on very cheap processed meats and is often traces of fat and connective tissue.  Connective tissue really is as unpleasant as it sounds, and it is what hotdogs are made from.

I cut a few slices to sample it.  Taste wise, it was quite nice.  It tasted a lot like pork-pie meat.  A bit of jelly and some of that pastry and it could well be sold as “Mock Pork Pie”.  The difference was the texture.  It was smooth, smoother than any other such cooked pork sausages, even things like Mattessons which has some chunkiness to it.   This was smooth like a potted meat paste.  This usually means that it is heavily processed.  They have taken a pig, cut off all the meat that can be sold as joints, steaks, chops and bacon, removed the offal and then the remains have been slung in a machine that jet-washes the rest of the flesh and tissues off the bones and then it is compressed through a mesh.  This mush is then drained and then moulded into frankfurters and sausages like this, along with sliced cooked ham and pork including that stuff shaped like a bear’s face.  In fact, anything with the word “reformed” on the label.  Yummy.

Even with these ghoulish origins, it is still rather tasty.  I couldn’t eat more than a few thin slices in a sandwich with salad cream, but that pork-pie porkiness swings the balance the other way.  Well partly anyway.  Compared to other such reformed pork products, such as packets of processed ‘reformed’ sliced meats, this sausage is superior.  Though in context, that is like saying liver disease is superior to lung disease.

On the whole, I was quite disappointed with this.  I was hoping it would be of better quality rather than clearly being an extruded lump of  mashed pig carcass and this is the first purchase that I haven’t been happy with.  It lacks something, maybe a hint of smokiness might have made the difference, or even better would be if the texture wasn’t so fine.  It needs to be just ever so slightly chunkier.  I might try a few slices in a bowl of salad just to see if it can be made desirable.  I doubt I’ll be buying any more of this though, for a start you just get far too much for your £1.99.  With Mattessons, you get 227g of Mattessons Reduced Fat pork sausage for £1.45 and although Sickendieck is far cheaper by weight,  why would anybody need 650g of cooked pork sausage?  It’s all very Teutonic.

Scores:
Taste – 7/10
Texture – 4/10
Capacity for Innuendo – 9/10
Value For Money – 6/10
Potential – 6/10

Total:  32/50

Written by just1bloke

2 May 2011 at 1:30 am

Posted in Meat Products

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