Jamie Oliver Telicherry Black Pepper

Before this post begins properly I warn you that it is the shortest blog I have ever written because I have very little to say. So here goes…

Jamie Oliver Telicherry Black Pepper is described on the packet as having “… a rich and fruity flavour. It’s often called the finest in the world. A little goes a long way!” so far so good. I popped off the lid and there was a nice fragrant peppery aroma that came out. I thought I was in for a treat but it tasted like any other pepper. The end.

Jamie Oliver Pepper

Jamie Oliver Telicherry Black Pepper £4.99 for 180g from TK Maxx (this is a real bargain – it is £2.50 for just 50g of the bog standard one in Sainsbury’s).

5/10

 

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Sean Wilson Signature Collection – Yorkshire Pudding Mixture

It’s a few months since I tried Sean Wilson’s pancake mix which was my previous encounter with the range. In that blog I made my thoughts on packet mix batter very clear and the same rules apply to Yorkshire Puddings as they do to pancakes, which is that they are all shades of wrong. Sean likes to go the extra mile though and not content with making stupid products he couples it with bad copy.

IMG_0485

This is what Sean has to say about his Yorkshire Pudding Mixture “It’s not just this fab recipe that gives you the best Yorkshires. There are a few simple rules to follow when cooking, to make the ‘perfect’ Yorkshires. They should ALWAYS be made by an adult.”. Now putting aside the obvious cringe factor I wonder why Sean is so insistent that an adult has to be involved? Has there been some instances of 7 year olds ending up in A&E because Sean wasn’t specific about who should be using his mix, or is it just part of a greater concern Sean has for our wellbeing as evidenced in the next paragraph with phrases like:

“..until the fat is just smoking (be careful here).”

“Very carefully, with oven gloves on…”

“…place on a safe surface.”

“With your oven gloves on again…”

As we’ve already been told that only adults should be making the Yorkshires I would expect them not to pick up a scorching hot tin without oven gloves, or place it on an unsafe surface, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. At the end of the blurb he tries to justify all that safety advice by telling us “We want you to have FUN with your Yorkshires and impress your family and friends every time you use our traditional recipe and follow my instructions.”. So it seems it was all because he wanted us to have fun – which is nice. I do take issue with his use of the term “traditional” though as the ingredients list includes Calcium Carbonate and Iron Nicotinamide which are two ingredients I don’t think I would have ever found in my Granny’s traditional pantry.

Yorkshire batter

Anyway I’ve spent enough time examing the packet so it was time to give them a try. I whisked up the powder with 200ml of water and an egg, chilled the batter for a bit before pouring it into the preheated tin and cooking for 15 mins. They came out brown and puffy and looking delicious.

Sean Yorkshires

I was partnering these Yorkshires with a cote de boeuf that cost me £24 so they were in good company. Ironically after taking the beef out of the oven in its grill pan karma kicked in and I forgot to put oven gloves on and seared the skin off my fingers. Where was Sean and his sage advice when I needed him most?

I served up my dinner and got stuck into the Yorkshires. It pains me to say they were a pretty good version, sure they could have had a bit more seasoning but they were light and had just the right amount of chew and they would stand up pretty well against a home made version. I did not see that one coming.

I’ve only got a packet of dumpling mix and some cheese crisps to go before Sean and I stop meeting on these pages, but I feel like I can look forward with a little less dread in my heart.

Sean Wilson Signature Collection – Yorkshire Pudding Mixture 39p for 128g packet (B&M Bargain).

7/10

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Apple and Elderflower Candy Kittens – Jamie Laing

It had to happen. It was only a matter of time. For the sake of the human race I am saddened. For the sake of this blog I couldn’t be happier. One of the cast of Made in Chelsea have stepped up to the plate and decided to spend their well deserved, hard earned cash on setting up a food business.  Jamie Laing (the blonde one with a posh accent if that helps) has set up Candy Kittens which the website describes thus “We’re a fashionable confectionary company that is truly young at heart. By combining fashion and confectionary we aim to challenge the dated traditions of the market, striving as we do, to make candy cool. We believe we’re bringing something that’s fresh and unique to your shelves. Sugar has never been put to better use.” You can make your own jokes.

The fashion area of the business includes things like a pink beanie hat with candy written on it, a top with Laing 13 to emphasise the ego of it’s creator and a t-shirt that comes complete with in built sexism saying “I’M A CANDY KITTEN”. The range of clothing is only for women so unfortunately I won’t be donning any of Jamie’s wares. I don’t think this an oversight though as one of the ideas behind the brand is that the people selling you the sweets are “his” Candy Kittens. Being a Candy Kitten means you get to wear a skinny tshirt and look sexy whilst you sell sweets, or if you’re particularly lucky you get to drive around in (and this is honestly true) the Candy Van and sell sweets on the streets of London. Watching the promo video of the candy van it looks like you are only allowed to buy the sweets if you’re female, but men can stand in the background and watch you do it.

Candy Kitten Bag

Anyway you aren’t reading this to hear me pass judgement on a business model you’re probably here to see if this new range of “candy”, not sweets – even though we’re in the UK are any good. Well the answer is that yes they are, I like them. The candy comes in four flavours Peaches and Cream, Eton Mess, Sour Watermelon and the flavour I have Apple and Elderflower. They are made with all natural ingredients, are gluten free and contain real fruit juice. They look a bit plasticky but the texture is excellent, it sits somewhere between the gummy one in a Haribo Starmix and a Percy Pig. Initially I thought the flavour was a little subdued but I’m now on my second sitting and eating them for breakfast on a Sunday and the tartness of the apple is punchy, you can still taste the elderflower and being candy they are of course very sweet.

Candy Kitten sweets

Surprisingly, in spite of being male, I enjoyed these creations and would like to give some of the other flavours a try – not the Eton Mess one though, that’s just wrong. If you can find them (my bag came from Topshop) or spot the candy van then let me know what you think.

Apple and Elderflower Candy Kittens – Jamie Laing £3 for 150g bag

7/10

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Estrella Inedit – Ferran Adria

A few weeks back I reached my tolerance level for eating horrid food stuffs created by celebrities. I was struggling to muster the enthusiasm to put fingers to keyboard and write enthusiastically, or indeed scathingly about them and consequently I haven’t published a new blog for some time…. But after a summer of eating at some decent eateries – Zucca, Coast in Saundersfoot, Jackson and Rye, Cafe Murano, Stax Diner, The Dairy and The Camberwell Arms if you’re interested, I have raised the bar in my eating expectations and am ready to have them dashed once more with a return to the ridiculous, the mundane and the downright disgusting. I have also spent that time stockpiling products ready to carry me through the next few weeks. There’s a couple of Jamie products, the ongoing horrors of the Sean Wilson Signature Collection, some sweets from a chump on Made in Chelsea and no less than two products from culinary mastermind Ferran Adria.

Adria Beer Bottle

I am picking up again with a beer as it seems to be the new thing to endorse. Not long ago I tried an ale from Professor Green, now Ferran Adria is getting involved and Rick Stein is in on the act but I haven’t tried his yet. If you read my Professor Green blog you will know that reviewing a beer is particularly tricky for me as I’ve been pretty much tee total for the past 17 years. Trying to impart knowledge as to the quality of a product I know next to nothing about is tricky, but then the majority of blogs are from people imparting knowledge about stuff they know next to nothing about so I’m in good company.

The label is surprisingly light on copy, it simply states “WHITE & LAGER BEER BLEND CREATED BY FERRAN ADRIA THE WORLD’S MOST AWARD-WINNING CHEF”. If you saw the bottle on the shelf and didn’t read the copy you wouldn’t know that Ferran was involved, but when you got to the till and were charged £5.95 it might give you a clue that this is something more than a can of Skol! To be fair there is 750mls of the stuff so we can forgive him the price tag.

Adria Beer

As the label suggests it’s a very light beer in both look and taste, the best description I can give is that in beery terms it is the opposite of Guinness. I asked Naomi (my girlfriend) to expand and all she could come up with was “It’s like Leffe – a bit fruity, slightly creamy you know. It’s alright, but I’d expect more from the greatest chef in the world.” so there you have it, that’s as much of a recommendation as you’ll get here.

Estrella Inedit – Ferran Adria £5.95 for 750ml

5/10

 

 

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Levi Roots – Caribbean Crush and Tropical Punch

Levi Roots was once a regular occurence on this blog and for a time you couldn’t go into a shop without seeing a new product on the shelf. Recently the expansion seems to have calmed down, either that or I’m now blind to the swinging dreadlock silhouhette emblazoned across every packet. These drinks are not new, they’ve been out for years, but it was only when I spotted them in poundland at two for a pound that I decided to give them a try.

I never really drank fizzy drinks as a child as my mum wouldn’t let them in the house apart from at birthday parties, I used to argue with her about it but largely just to be contrary as in truth I never liked them anyway. Occasionally I would have them at other friends houses but in my teens I stopped drinking them altogether as I was questioned every six months by Roger the dentist about how many fizzy drinks I had. Apparently I have soft enamel and he always attributed any deterioration in my teeth to an excess of fizzy drinks. Eventually the message got through that I wasn’t drinking any and he took to grilling me on acidic orange juice which was the next thing to go. By my late teens and pretty much ever since my liquid intake has been restricted to a lot of tea and sometimes, when no tea is available a glass of water.

I forgot to take pictures in advance so this is an empty bottle and a half empty bottle.

I forgot to take pictures in advance so this is an empty bottle and a half empty bottle.

So tasting Levi’s carbonated delights was dangerously outre for me. The first one I tried was the Caribbean Crush, I didn’t gulp it down in one crazy session but had a mouthful a day over a few days. In hindsight I think was wise as I imagine drinking a bottle in one sitting would have a) dissolved my teeth in an instant (if Roger the dentist was to be believed) and b) brought on a hyperglycaemic attack as this stuff was incredibly sweet. For all intents and purposes the Carribean Crush is Lilt by another name. I actually quite liked it, it had grapefruit in it to give a bit of a bitter edge and the other flavours were mango and pineapple – all fruits I’m very keen on. Fruit juice however only made up 5% of the ingredients and what juice there was came from concentrate so as a contribution towards your five a day it wasn’t going to make a dent.

Tropical Punch

Next up was the Tropical Punch and if the Carribean Crush was sickly sweet, this stuff could give a Hallmark valentines card a run for it’s money. The fruits featured were again pineapple and mango but instead of grapefruit there was apple. It tasted horrible. It was like some kind of children’s medicine and Levi had used extra sugar to disguise how horrid it actually tasted, a sort of liquefied desperately sweetened ear wax drink. God knows what Roger the dentist would have made of this stuff, but I’m pleased he spent so many years encouraging me to avoid it.

Levi Roots – Caribbean Crush and Tropical Punch £1 for two 500ml bottles.

Caribbean Crush – 5/10

Tropical Punch – 2/10

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Duff Goldman Conefetti Premium Cake Mix

I’m not sure if I’m the only person that watches Food Network on freeview, but in case I am I’ll give it some context. Food Network as the name would suggest features a selection of food programmes for 21 hours a day and fills the other three with some teleshopping. It’s intriguing in its scheduling in that it shows some great programmes like vintage Nigella, Jamie and Delia in the day when people are at work and can’t enjoy them and then in the evening when people are free it shows a stack of dreadful programmes like Barefoot Contessa featuring the endlessly smug, misinformed and irritating Ina Garten; Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives presented by a chap called Guy Fieri who only knows how to shout; Bitchin Kitchin for which I have no words and also Ace of Cakes featuring Duff Goldman a beardy, cap wearing baker who creates cakes that look incredible but I always suspect taste a bit dry and bland. It is Duff who has created this weeks product, a packet cake mix which is usually only stocked in the US, but which you can pick up on Amazon or in Harvey Nichols. As I’m not crazy about funding tax avoiding corporate giants, I spent my money at the Manchester branch of the temple to middle class consumerism Harvey Nichols.

Duff Box

The history of cake mixes on this blog has not been good, first there was the Mary Berry disaster then the Jane Asher fail so I wasn’t full of hope for Duff. The picture on the box didn’t even make it look like that nice and presumably that is the ideal version of the cake so it was a real toss up as to how this would go.

The box is surprisingly heavy and on top of whatever sachets I would find in there, Duff also required me to provide one and a quarter cups of water, four egg whites (a bit extravagant I thought), and a third of a cup of oil. So with everything in place it was time to bake.

I opened the box to find just one sachet of white powder dotted with brightly coloured flecks (the confetti). I was a bit dissapointed to be honest as that meant I had spent £5 on a bag of flour with some mini sweets in it. There was no topping or icing sachets – I was just getting the basic sponge and anything I wanted on top of that was at my expense. The instructions are pretty specific telling you first to mix all the ingredients and then “Beat 2 minutes at low speed or 450 strokes by hand” I can’t say I was in the mood to count to 450 so I dug out the electric mixer. The resulting mixture looked like a bowl of sick from a toddlers birthday party, a sort of food colouring flecked thick slurry. This was then poured into the baking tins and 30mins later the cakes were ready.

Duff Slurry

Now as there was no icing provided and as I don’t really like icing anyway I decided to eat the sponge cakes as they were, this probably meant they would be more boring than they are intended to be, but it also means I can judge the product Duff put in the box without any extra things getting in the way.

Duff cakes

The cake was OK as packet mixes go, but as cake goes it wasn’t so good. The sponge was light and airy with a crumbly texture and the bright coloured flecks were fun but ultimately it was too sweet. It had a mechanical, pre packed pound shop cake flavour to it and I fear that after a long haul flight from the US, a £5 price tag, four egg whites, a big dose of oil and 40 minutes of my time I won’t be eating anymore of Duff’s cake. I’m left feeling poorer, wasteful and unsatisfied and I won’t be returning to Duff’s range in a hurry.

Duff Goldman Conefetti Premium Cake Mix – £5

3/10

 

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Sean Wilson Signature Collection – Scouse

A while back I posted a blog called “A sign of things to Come” which talked about my yield of Sean Wilson products. When I wrote it I thought I would write a series of blogs in consecutive weeks all about Sean’s products, however as I tried them and it became clear just how bad they were I couldn’t face eating them in quick succession. It has taken me a long time to pluck up the courage to try the scouse in a can and as the moment approaches I feel struck with dread at how it looks and what the smell will be like when I open it.  I can’t help thinking, why oh why does this product exist? I see it and remember the words of my mother as she saw it go into my basket and she said “Are you actually going to eat that?” well the answer is yes mum, yes I am. I didn’t start this blog so that I could shy away from the worst celebrity endorsements out there, I started it as I felt I could rise to the challenge and offer a public service saving others from the fate to which I was destined.

Scouse Can

Unlike the packet for Sean’s pancake mix which tried every trick in the book to persuade you that you were in for a good time, the marketing copy on the can of scouse is non existent. It is like they already know they’re onto a losing battle and trying to convince you that the contents are edible is futile. In fact the packaging in general looks like the result of a GCSE Design Technology project.

Scouse is a meat and veg stew largely associated with Liverpool. As far as I know there isn’t an official recipe for it and it’s open to interpretation- some people use beef and some people use lamb. When I was growing up my mum used to make a good one using beef that I would drown in brown sauce. If you go to Liverpool you won’t have to look too hard to find a pub or cafe serving it and I’m sure each place will have their own ideas about how it should be done. What is a bit strange about Sean Wilson coming up with his version is that generally he is all about Lancashire – even the logo on his products is a blatant rip off of the Coronation St one and so for him to go all Merseyside/Brookside on us is a bit off message.

I opened the can and the smell wasn’t as bad as I feared, it smelt like a can of beans or something, nowhere near as pungent and farty as I anticipated. It did look worse than I imagined though, it was watery like a meaty soup rather than a stew. The meat was really weird- it was like mince that had then been minced again, so instead of strands there were miniscule lumps of brown protein each one about the size of half a maggot.

Scouse -pan

I heated the Scouse through and had a taste. It was horrid. The meat got stuck in my teeth and the gravy somehow managed to be simultaneously watery and gloopy. The carrot, which was completely devoid of anything that I would call flavour, disintegrated as soon as it hit my tongue, the potato tasted exactly the same as the carrot but was a different colour and firmer in texture and the pea which tasted like the carrot and potato was trying as hard as it could to be green but was fighting a losing battle and had turned into a sphere of dejected brown. I can’t really describe the overall taste as I’m not sure there was one, but I do know that my my mouth was salty for the next two hours and no amount of water was going to help.

So once again Sean has created another crap product. I’ve only got strong cheese crisps, Yorkshire Puddings and then dumplings left to try and I will be free of the range (unless it gets expanded – which could well be the end of me) see you on the other side!

Sean Wilson Signature Collection – Scouse 400g can – 99p

2/10

 

 

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