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African Special

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This is a long overdue review, and I apologise for sitting on this product for as long as I have. Brace yourself for this, it is, to date, the most unusual product I have ever seen in a shop.  Are you ready for this?

Springbok Steaks.  Yes, springbok, that is not a typo.  For those of you unfamiliar with your even-toed ungulates of the Kalahari, here’s a picture.

What my tea came from.

I was in Lidl and they were having an African food promotion, so I had a look what they had.  I got an unusual fruit juice, which I’ll write about later (yes, another fruit-juice review), a type of tomato based sauce and then I saw these steaks.  My reaction was “I’m having those!”.  I used my mate Adam’s imminent birthday as justification for paying the rather costly £4.99 for them.

So, what does the box tell us? Frozen Springbok Steaks (an African speciality from Krause Meat) are brought to us by Krause Meat, a meat suppliers 30 miles south of Hamburg who supply beef, pork, lamb, venison, springbok and suckling pig.  Oh, and ostrich too.

Although not very clear under the logo in my piss-poor photography below is the statement “… gut gegessen  …bewusst ernahrt”.   This translates as “…well nourished …eaten consciously”.  That reassures me.  I like my meat products to come from animals that have had a good diet as opposed to malnourished emaciated ones, and also that I’m not expected to be in a coma when I eat them; not least because of the logistics involved.

The serving suggestion (or serveringsforslag for the Swedish) on the box depicts a plate with £20 worth of steak scattered with chilli seeds, some slices of what looks like mango, some balls of what I assume is a sort of stuffing and some cous-cous with pomegranate seeds.  All depicted with a backdrop of an African plain with a couple of giraffes and a 30ft tall ostrich, though no antelopes at all.

On the back, it suggests I either fry or barbecue the steaks.  So, being at my friend’s house, I let him do the handiwork and he elected to fry them once they had defrosted.

Shrink-wrapped? I wasn't expecting that, seeing they were frozen.

The box contains two good sized (about 6oz) shrink-wrapped steaks.  They looked like pale beef medallions, maybe venison coloured.  We cut the packet open and our primary observation was that they appeared to contain little, if any trace of fat whatsoever.  He heated the frying pan, added a tiny bit of oil and stuck them in.

They took about 10 minutes to fry all the way through.  Unlike beef which shrinks a bit with cooking, these actually seemed to get bigger.  Not having any mango, cous-cous or unidentifiable stuffing, we decided to eat them on their own.

Cooked and served up.

With yet more evidence of the lack of ability of my camera phone to focus, I present the cooked steaks.   Not being beef, we made sure they were cooked all the way through as advised on the box, rather than leaving a bit of pinkness in the middle.  They were remarkably tender for fried steak and indeed did not contain the slightest trace of fat at all.  I expected them to be a bit gamey like venison, but they tasted more like beef, but the best beef steak I have ever tasted, and I do not make that claim lightly.  They were truly divine.

Adam added a bit of ketchup on the side of his plate but in the end didn’t bother with it because the natural jus that came out of the meat was more than enough of a sauce.  Adam was as equally impressed as I was  and resolved to visit Lidl and get some more.

Being a promotion, they might no longer be available in stores though you may find them somewhere.  If you see them, then don’t hesitate to buy some.  In fact go now.  Now, go on, go cruise around the local Lidl/Aldi stores to see if you can find them.  Go on, well read the rest of this entry first at any rate.  I cannot recommend them enough.  The only thing that lets them down is the price, but then what price good steak?   Especially one that you can eat whilst conscious.

Taste – 10/10
Succulence – 9/10
Value for Money – 8/10
Accuracy of packaging illustration  – 6/10
Novelty value of animal used – 8/10

Total:  41/50


Written by just1bloke

18 October 2011 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Meat Products

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

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

This Sausage Looks Veerry Suspicious…

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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.

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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