I spent the month of February with a self imposed supermarket ban, it was an interesting experiment and not actually as difficult as you might think. It was hard trying to find multi packs of crisps and yoghurts that weren’t priced so high they’d make a Russian oligarch weep, but put them aside and it was easy to do. I wasn’t so enamoured with the project that I will never return to supermarket buying (in fact on the 1st March I headed straight to Sainsbury’s) but in the long term I do hope to reduce my expenditure that feeds the profits of corporate behemoths. Anyway the reason I say all this, is that when you write a blog about celebrity endorsed food products and remove supermarkets from the equation you set yourself up for failure.
I think we can all agree that the main reason a celeb puts their name to a food product is to make money, and the best way to make money is to sell as much as you can, and the best way to sell as much as you can is to get supermarkets with their huge marketing potential and disproportionate share of the food market to sell them for you; ergo no supermarkets means dramatically reduced celebrity endorsed products available to write about.
My previous two reviews I wrote because they were products I’d picked up in the past and stuck them in the cupboard waiting for their moment to shine, but once they were gone I hit a brick wall. Salvation came in the form of Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast and a trip they made to “The Original Maids of Honour Shop” in Kew. In case you don’t know, a Maid of Honour is a little puff pastry case filled with a sweet cheese curd and they are as close to pastry perfection as you’re likely to get. They were originally created in Tudor times and have been served in the shop in Kew since 1887 – I’m not here to give you a history lesson though so if you’re interested you can read more on their website here. Then Jamie and Jimmy came along and decided to mix things up a bit by creating new versions of the originals in the form of chocolate, brandy and vanilla, strawberry, and apricot flavours which are now for sale in selection boxes in the shop. The Jimmy/Jamie involvement is mentioned on their website but when you enter the shop there is no sign of them anywhere and they aren’t credited on the displays – this is a wonderful thing and a far cry from the aforementioned supermarket hard sell. The only nod to Jamie and Jimmy is on a box that looks like this stating that they are flavour “variations inspired by Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty”, I stole that pic from twitter because when I went in they had run out of Jamie/Jimmy boxes so I was left with the original version.
Anyway onto the tasting… I warmed them up for a few minutes and settled down with one pot of Earl Grey, one girlfriend, one knife, two plates, five maids of honour and spent about seven minutes making them disappear. They were absolutely heavenly. My only negatives were that the brandy and vanilla one, didn’t have any discernible brandy hit which is a shame as I think it would have worked well – it still tasted great, just not of brandy. The chocolate one didn’t quite work for me as the gooey chocolate and savoury cheesiness were at odds with each other, but as there was only a little blob of chocolate at the bottom it didn’t put me off that much. The apricot one was delicious and surprisingly for me the strawberry was too, I don’t normally like strawberry themed things (although I do love strawberries) but the balance was just right so it wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet. However, for me the original plain version was still my favourite and if Kew wasn’t such a schlep I’d be heading in for a regular fix.
Jamie Oliver/Jimmy Doherty Maids of Honour £1.55 each
8/10 (but 7 for the chocolate and 9 for the original)