Whilst browsing the aisles of Tesco last week on the look out for new things to write about, I spotted these Jamie Oliver caramelles and thought I’d best give them a go, even though I was clueless as to what a “caramelle” was. It turns out caramelle translates to sweet which is what these little pasta parcels look like. I have no idea what the advantage to them over a ravioli or a tortellini is, but I do know that I have learnt something new so regardless of how they taste Jamie has been an educator and from what I know of Jamie he would be pleased to think so.
Before I cooked them I was excited to note that the front of the packet boasted it was a “Traditional Recipe” and that they were “Handmade in Italy” – they mentioned this twice so it must be true and I felt honoured that someone had gone to all the trouble. I then turned the packet over and found this on the back “Write to the nice people who made this for me…” Now from the info on the front you would expect the information following that ellipses to read something like this: Antontio Spaghettio, Fettucini House, 27 Marco Polo Street, Rome or some other slightly less racist Italian address – but take a look what does follow that ellipses “Continental Fine Foods, Guinness Circle, Trafford Park, Manchester, M17 1EB”. Now either my geography is worse than I thought or something doesn’t quite add up.
Anyhow leaving aside who made the pasta it was time to cook them. The instructions said “Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook your fresh pasta for 3 minutes, or until the pasta still has a bit of bite…” I know from my previous Jamie Oliver blog that the timings are not to be trusted, I’ve also eaten more than my fair share of ready made pasta and I know that 3 minutes will lead to burst pasta and a soggy exterior. Normally I’d cook for about 1 min 15 secs or 1 min 30 max, but as Jamie suggested 3 mins I gave him some grace time and cooked them for 2; guess what – burst parcels and soggy exterior – take heed of the “or until the pasta still has a bit of bite” instruction and ignore the 3 mins bit.
I drained the pasta, coated it in butter and ground over some pepper. Jamie reccommends freshly grated Parmesan cheese but I didn’t have any so whatchagonnadoaboutit Jamie? The texture of the pasta was better than most of its cheaper rivals, the mozzarella also had good texture and was a generous portion leading to a good balance of pasta and filling, the smell of the sweet tomato when I opened the packet was enticing, so it was very disappointing that it didn’t taste of anything, nothing at all, not one discernable flavour. I find mozzarella bland at the best of times unless it is the really good stuff which this wasn’t, I was hoping for some sweet tomato flavour after the packet aroma, but none came – it was just a mouthful of textures with some butter and pepper.
It might be worth buying this as the pasta is good and coating it with some kind of punchy sauce for the flavour element – but to eat on its own, I wouldn’t bother.
Jamie Oliver Amazing Tomato and Mozzarella Caramelle £2.99 for 250g from Tesco (serves 2)