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Archive for June 2011

Another Fruity Drink

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When it comes to naming products, using the vernacular of schoolkids in the early 80s isn’t an idea that I would have come close to dreaming up.  But, the good people at Pataya have done just that.  I imagine they discarded Mega, Skill and Brill in favour of ACE Drink.  I tried searching for Pataya, but all I got was references to a beach in Thailand which seems is popular with the gay community.

ACE Drink

That is a 1.5 litre carton, though in the picture it appears to be about the size of a wardrobe.  So, what jumps out at you when you look at the picture above?  The anonymous nuclear family looking positively ecstatic with their empty cups?  The state of my table?  Or the picture of carrots on the label?

Yes, ACE drink comprises of 20% orange juice, 5% lemon juice and 5% carrot juice.  I’m jumping to conclusions here, maybe carrot and citrus juices are drunk by the Olympic-sized swimming pool (stock unit of measurement) every morning.  I’ve not heard of such a combination and was now eyeing up the contents suspiciously.  I had a look at the ingredients, not expecting much more than juices and water, but then I had my idiotic eureka moment.  The name ACE derives from the fact that the drink is fortified with vitamins C and E and provitamin A.  Now it all makes sense.

After recovering from how docile I felt, I looked at the smallprint.  Incidentally, this seems to be a common theme.  Being sold in yellow-fronted Eurostores means that the carton, for economical reasons, contains its information in many European languages.  The downsize of this is that you need a microfiche reader to discern any text.  This is what it claims:

“Quenches thirst and provides the body with important vitamins.”. Sounds good to me.  Then comes the odd grammar.

“The positive benefits of Pataya A+C+E vitamin drink combined with the fresh and fruity taste of carrots, lemons and sunripened oranges”

But what are the positive benefits, and why are they positive?  I had to read it three times before I realised it wasn’t just my eyes struggling to resolve text that appears to have been printed using photolithography and that it was in fact just a fragment of a sentence that somebody had decided to stick a full stop on the end.  Oh and they don’t make it any easier by using black text on that green background.  It then goes on about how much of your GDA of the vitamins it offers before concluding with this peculiar bit of marketing lingo.

“An ideal drink for active and health conscious people, for breakfast and in between meals”.  Clearly I am not their target demographic.  I am not particularly active or health conscious.  Still, I won’t tell them if you won’t.

I would show you what the juice looked like served up, but I didn’t see the point as it’s identical in appearance to the Linessa Light Multivitamin Nectar I wrote about two months ago, maybe a bit more orange, though that will clearly be a side-effect of the carrots.

I can tell you that this drink is really really tasty.  I heartily recommend it.   The citrus bite from the orange and lemon juice is softened by the carrot juice which means  that it’s possible to pour a large amount of this down your gullet before you realise how much you’ve drunk.  At only 99p for 1.5l, you certainly get your money’s worth.  This is definitely going on my regular purchases list.

Taste – 8/10
Swiggability– 8/10
Value for Money – 8/10
Text density on packaging – 9/10
Colour – 6/10

Total:  39/50


Written by just1bloke

22 June 2011 at 12:55 am

Posted in Beverages

Posh Grub

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It’s all very well reviewing different products, but what good is that if you can’t put together a meal?  Last year, my wife and I went to a swanky restaurant.  For the starter, I had prosciutto ham and sun-dried tomatoes on toasted muffins with red pesto, on a bed of wilted spinach and drizzled in olive oil.  It cost about £7.50.  So off I went to Lidl to purchase the requisite components.  Here’s what I bought:

The ingredients for my posh starter

I did add the Sickendiek sausage, mainly just to use the damn stuff, I’m sure it’s reproducing like some sort of elongated processed meaty single-cell organism.  Every time I open the fridge, it doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller even though I know it’s being eaten.  So, apart from the sausage, this was my shopping list:

Rowan Hill Bakery 6 White Muffins – 71p for 6

According to the packet, they are “Delicious toasted and served with butter for breakfast”.  There is also some heating instructions, storage instructions and additional information which comprised of a danger of suffocation warning.  I assume it refers to the packet rather than the product.  Otherwise they would have to put a similar warning on every foodstuff.  They are also suitable for vegetarians, though I can’t see how they couldn’t be.

Each muffin contains 167 calories, 4% of your daily sugar intake, 2% of your fat and saturates and a whopping Dead Sea inspired 14% of your salt intake.  That is a lot for just one muffin.  People will most likely have a couple at breakfast, there’s over a quarter of your salt before you even drink your coffee and go out the door.

To look at them, I thought these white muffins seemed a little too pallid for my liking, like the flour was overly bleached.  Maybe they used titanium dioxide as a food colouring.  I wasn’t going to actually taste one though, it was to be part of the meal.  Still, I wasn’t going to eat them as they suggested – toasted and smeared with butter, well actually going by the picture, the butter was more heaped on than smeared.

Similar muffins from Asda are only 68p for 6 and to be honest, they are tastier.  The Lidl muffins tasted a bit bland in comparison, almost like eating cotton wool.  You could also pay 85p for 4 Warburtons muffins, but I don’t see the point.

Windau Prosciutto (air-dried) – £1.00 for 100g

Prosciutto is one of those products that is more expensive than it needs to be, with shops charging a premium for it, because it is perceived as some sort of premium food.  This air-dried prosciutto breaks that stance.  It is made by Windau as part of their continental meats range.  I thought windau was what someone from Birmingham looked through to see if it was raining or not.  But no, it is a large German packet meat company based just outside of the Western German town of Harsewinkel (yes the funny language laughs just keep coming), which is midway between Dortmund and Hannover.

The packet tells me that it is “dry cured for several weeks and infused with a rich blend of spices”.  The best bit is the serving suggestion which depicts slices of the ham on something unrecognisable with a wedge of an unidentifiable fruit and garnished with a sprig of parsley.  I’m not sure where they got their meat from, but it looked nothing like what was in the packet.  Prosciutto ham looks like very thinly sliced bacon which you eat raw, and is therefore rather streaky with fat.  Looking at the ingredients, I learn that it is made from pork, spices and a selection of typical food additives.  The bit I like is that it made with 120g of pork per 100g of product.

Given the amount of fat on each slice, it is only 58 calories for quarter of the pack, which is a lot more than I used.  When I opened it, I tried a slice.  I’ve had this stuff before and I quite enjoyed it although the fat does make it stringy and quite chewy.  This was no exception, but it was rather nice all the same, as good as any other I’ve tried.  Asda brand was an incredible £1.94 for just 75g which works out at £2.54 per 100g.  Who are they trying to kid?  But then, Waitrose do 75g for £1.99 or if you want the good stuff, the organic riserva prosciutto crudo is £4.95 for 55g, nine times what I paid for it.  Incidentally, prosciutto crudo translates as “uncooked ham”.

Baresa Pesto Rosso – 99p for 190g

“Red pesto made with tomato and basil” it proclaims in the smallprint on the label.  Really, it’s a small label to start with, but they’ve crammed in the information in Italian, English, Greek and German.  As far as I know, red pesto also contains pine nuts.  This doesn’t.  The ingredients (fetches magnifying glass) list 33% tomato pulp, 12% dried tomatoes and 5% cashew nuts of all things.  They do go a bit overboard with the percentages as they also list 3% cheese, 3% basil, 2% salt and 1% garlic.  Is that information really necessary?  There is no mention of the Lidl brand on the label which means that this isn’t just a rebranded item from German shelves.  I tried searching for the brand on the internet, but found nothing.  But then I found the address on Google Earth.  It turns out the comapny is called “Polli” which doesn’t appear anywhere on the label.

By the way, the serving suggestion shows it mixed with something lumpy and served on a plate with mozzarella, a tomato, some garlic and basil.  Actually I think the serving suggestion implies that I break the second law of thermodynamics and revert the pesto back to its seperate ingredients.  I sampled a bit and it had good strong odours.  The tomato really stands out along with the basil.  The flavour matched the smell.  This was good stuff.  Better than the Tesco brand I had before, although that and the Asda brand are all about the same price give or take a few pence.  The Jamie Oliver brand is £2.20.  Outrageous.

Baresa Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Oil – £1.19 for 285g

On the label, it actually says Pomodori Secchi in olio di semi di girasole.  They comprise 45% tomatoes and 45% sunflower oil.  This is a big let down, the olive oil content is only 5%.  Sunflower oil is a bit yucky.  It’s good to fry stuff with, but not to keep tomatoes in.  That has really made the difference.  If it was 45% olive oil, then they would be fabulous.  It detracts from the taste of the tomato  I’m tempted to empty out the oil and replace it with the extra virgin olive oil I have in the cupboard.  The ingredients also mention the capers that are clearly floating about in the jar, but not referenced on the label, which is odd.

By comparison, Asda’s are £1 for 280g and are 53% tomatoes and only 41% sunflower oil.  Waitrose’s brand are £2.49 for 280g and are 47% oil and only 42% tomatoes which is a bit poor.  They also do loose tomatoes without oil at an incredible £2.29 for just 80g.

These Baresa tomatoes would be excellent, yes they may look like Niki Lauder’s ears but they have a strong taste and texture and on a plate with a bit of salad and some feta cheese, they are the dog’s.  Just a shame about the oil.

The End Product

I wilted a bag of spinach in a pan and grilled the muffins.  I then added a small amount of the red pesto and then the ham.  I topped this with another small blob of pesto, a few tomatoes and served the lot on the spinach with a healthy drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  I also threw on a few slices of the German sausage and thus, this was my dinner;

Recreating the swanky starter I had

£7.50 or so in the restaurant.  I reckon I did it for less than a quid, and I reckon the ingredients I used were better quality.  It certainly didn’t taste cheap, it was rather good and I’ve made it again since and probably will again.

So there you go.  Posh meal with stuff from Lidl.

Written by just1bloke

9 June 2011 at 7:16 pm

A quick update.

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Sorry I’ve not posted for a while, but I have a physics exam in a couple of weeks and I have been studying for that.  I might be able to squeeze in a short review between now and then though.

In other news, my local Netto has closed and has been replaced with Morrisons.  This is a pain as the nearest Netto now is awkward to get to.  Also, you may have noticed that I have yet to visit an Aldi store.  This is because it is just as awkward to get to, so I will have to stick with Lidl for now.  The other alternative is to start reviewing stuff from “Heron Frozen Foods”, though it isn’t a yellow-fronted Eurostore.  It is actually based in Hull with many stores across the North of England, and they do sell a lot of “what on Earth is this?” type brands.  That goes in it’s favour, but it isn’t one of the Eurostores I set out to write about.

Incidentally. the products that are available in these stores are not technically cheap nasty produce, in my opinion anyway.  I am fairly certain it is all the typical branded stuff that you’d buy in Germany, Sweden or wherever except it has been rebranded in English and shipped over here.

Also, I’ve just realised that I’m not mentioning the nutritional information of the stuff I’m reviewing.  This is important, after all, the product could be like manna from heaven itself and be dirt cheap, but it’s no good if it’s packed with sulphites and MSG.

Written by just1bloke

8 June 2011 at 1:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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