BLT / BBQ CHICKEN DOUGHNUTS
Int bread brilliant. Been thinking about it of late and I’ve officially decided that bread is the greatest food of all time. I doubt I could tire of eating bread and don’t even get me started on toast. I got back into baguettes recently (2013 what’s up) and oh snap, why isn’t everyone eating these all the time? There isn’t a choice stockist on my daily route so that’s why I’m not eating one right now. They sell them at my local co-op but they’re inevitably stiff as a stalewart and overpriced – classic shitehawk co-op! Go back to bed, you can’t even get bread right. What I’m saying is, bread and butter is my bread and butter. Why do you think sandwiches are the most famous lunch option of all time? Bread sells.
Imagine if all bread throughout time wasn’t bread though; imagine if all bread was donuts. Imagine you’re eating a sandwich but the bread is a donut. I know we Brits are supposed to spell it “doughnut” but I just feel like such a Gran typing it out, it seems an unnecessary overthinking, just do-nut man and get over it. “Doughnut” is total bowler hat territory; it makes as much sense as spelling sandwich “sandwhich”.
We’d heard about this donut savoury crossover trend. The mashed out terrain was paved by the brioche burger bun explosion one would fancy. My friend told me of a burger called the “Luther” which comes served in a glazed krispy kreme donut and tops 1,000 calories on the fat man charts. Some can’t stomach it but I’m into a bit of sweet/savoury crossover – I like to think I’m an early forerunner, crisps and chocolate anyone?
I was in Morrisons with Lady Legend, we’d basically just gone in to check out the buoyancy of the eternally spritzed vegetable selection. Check it out crop dusting/sprinkler system fans, the vegetables look holy and make all other fruit/veg displays look positively knackered. Visiting Morrisons is like visiting a foreign land, such is my unfamiliarity with the store layout. It’s not a land too foreign though, it’s a land where pies are still the national dish and bags of sausage rolls are the eating man’s briefcase. It was around bonfire night, I was picking up some parkin – I was looking to exchange £1; that was my only aim. On the way to the self-serve I stunted past the packaged sandwich display, craning my neck for any reduced opportunities. There wasn’t any but camouflaged within the usual suspects was a double donut sandwich £1.50 OMSQUEEEEEEEEEE!!
On paper I wasn’t fancying the BLT donut option much, the BBQ chicken option was popping more but we know from past experience that BBQ chicken packaged sandwiches are inevitably drabzilla. I slept on this double pack overnight and penciled in an early lunch the new day, I was jonesing to git into it. On opening the packet my worst fears were realised, something I thought I’d seen but persuaded myself otherwise, the donuts were NOT sugared nor glazed. The donuts were bald.
Bald blank donuts, nice one. What’s the point of playing your wildcard if you’ve not sugared nor glazed it? I don’t really care what the donut sandwiches taste like after this point because Morrisons tote bags dropped the ball, they half-arsed and dodged the bullet. An unsugared donut is essentially weird tasting soft bread. They could have gone in all guns blazing like pop, pop, pop but they didn’t.
The innards were good as it happens. The BLT beat the BBQ Chicken by some stretch. The bacon was sweetcure and tangible, the tomatoes were choice. The donut part just ruined it, not saying it woulda been Hollywood on normal bread but I am saying it *might* have been blockbuster on a glazed donut.
Might get my own donuts and give it a whirl.
Might get fat and eat a twirl.
BLT / BBQ CHICKEN DOUGHNUTS
TESCO BOSTON CREME DONUT
Christmas is cancelled. I went to Aldi yesterday and of the many chocolate Santy Clauses a good few had their heads caved in; their foil outers spliced and two-faced, decked by the hands of youth and folly. I can relate, who doesn’t like to poke their finger through a Faberge egg? Makes one feel alive to smash up a display doesn’t it? I long to drive my shopping trolley through a tower of teetering baked bean tins. Does it make me a bad man? I picked up a pristine 99p Santa and rested his against the metal rim of the shelf, I wanted to show these half-hearted finger pokers how it was done – I longed to lop his head off so spectacularly that the aisle would become a mist of choccy detritus and glittering foil confetti. I wanted to make children cry.
Lady Legend stopped me. She said I didn’t need to go through with my vulgar display, she said I was better than that. She broke off a bit of a smashed-in Santa and placed it in my palm. More often than not, Lady Legs is my moral compass. Sure, sometimes she’s skewed or too close to a magnet but she’s always there. Except from when she isn’t…
Remix, I’m alone in Tesco Express. NEE NAW, NEE NAW! Bargain hunters head to the Tescoloids in Heaton Chapel, Stockport on the A6! Price malfunction on aisle five! Tesco’s “Boston Crème” donut is retailing for 50p rather than the 80p advertised online and instore elsewhere. As a Krispy Kreme alternative, it’s an absolute steal at this hilarious RRP.
Picture the scene, it’s a donut but encased in a thin chocolate icing outer. This chocolate-effect layer is decorated with a marbled white zig-zagging. Inside the shiny outer, and it is shiny, lies a regular sized donut – light as a leaf and more inspired by the KK template than Tesco’s gateway bread heavy donuts. Within that donut lies a crème core, a vanilla crème that screams “THIN CUSTARD”…in a good way.
I went to pick one up, at a low ebb, and almost had to abort my quest because I couldn’t open the plastic bag to place one inside. My fingerprints and all prior purchase had somehow left me in the night and now I was stood, embarrassed, flailing and failing with the plastic bag. Maybe I could tie a bag around the donut without opening it I thought, maybe I could do away with a bag altogether. The slight stickiness and bizarre perma-sweat of the donut’s casing made a no-bag scenario a moot option; this puppy would pick up all manner of shrapnel left to its own devices, raw in the devil’s basket. After a few hours trying, my grip returned, I got in and skedaddled out, praise be!
This was my 4th or 5th purchase of a Boston Crème. It’s a triumph! One of the standout elements of the donut is how the casing stays together. You’d expect it to shard and fall away, later to find melted chocolate spots on your crotch. I can’t abide this behaviour anymore; good portions of my life to date have been ruined by unforeseen landslides. I’ve shaken more drinks without lids on than I care to remember. At least one pair of jeans has been thrown away following a Mars drink eruption. You should’ve seen my grease stained chinos at college, slowly eroded by flaked pastry from a hundred hot sausage rolls. I’ve been a mess and I’ll be a mess again, but not whilst I’m eating a Boston Crème.
Did I mention its light as a lid? Sure is! The inner membranes are peppered with air holes; it’s like the perfect bake – more immaculate than natural sponge. The piping of the crème is just that, piped. There’s a sequence of worm holes that give a more pleasant experience than the traditional oozing central pocket. Basically, you could eat this donut on the move and not need to have a bath afterwards. It’s a sweet treat that can’t be beat.
I’ve never really got the dunkin donuts and krispy kreme naysayers. If they’re rinsed off with the pricepoints of said powder puffs then mebbies fair dos, but it’s just a good donut ain’t it? It’s light and sweet, it might not fulfil like the sugared bread buns of olde BUT come on, it’s better than that. It’s better than the six/twelve portion of standard sugar rings from supermarkets for a fraction of the cost of a single supreme. Quality-wise it is, quantity-wise it obviously isn’t. This Boston Crème is of dunkin crème descent, template-wise, equally as refined yet slightly more substantial, and less than half the price. Or at least it is at the current price malfunction.
A HISTORY OF JAMIE OLIVER
Solid milk chocolate in a crispy sugar shell? It’s a story we’ve all heard a thousand times before, it’s so familiar that I feel like I’ve been a solid milk chocolate in a crispy sugar shell. It’s like that programme with the celebrities where they get hypnotised and believe they’re in a different time. Where are you now? I’m in ancient Rome, what’s poppin’ my liege! It’s great here; I’m firing arrows at the moon, my maidens are fair to middling, Baldrick is making me a pheasant mayo sandwich. I’m walking down the streets I’ve walked a hundred times before, familiarity is fabulous! NEW! Dairy Milk Pebbles! They’re like mini eggs but not! a bit like Smarties! something akin to M&Ms! I feel I exchanged my horse for a grab-bag of these in Ancient Rome. When I removed my pelt for bedlam I could have sworn one rolled from beneath my undercarriage. These Pebbles I hold must be from another time, surely! Solid milk chocolate in a crispy sugar shell, I’ve been here before!
Think of Galaxy’s Minstrel; so smooth and so refined. The pleasing curvature of the chassis, the purity of the build, that’s what Pebbles have attained here. I offer Minstrels over Smarties or M&Ms because Minstrels are more a marvel, in terms of smoothness/rigid body, for their pleasing over-size. You could walk upon Pebbles in place of pebbles on your local beach and not be disappointed. They’re shaped, believe it or not, like pebbles. For plastic fans, they’re slightly smaller than a plectrum. If Mini Eggs truly are a seasonal delight then there is a place for Pebbles as a mainstay. They work out like a Mini Egg but squashed, I want to say a 2-D mini-egg but they still rise from the page. Pebbles’ shell is fired and glazed, unlike the barnyard “tooth” of the Mini Egg where you half expect to find a feather attached. Mini Eggs are fairly unbeatable, they’re top of the confectionary elite that leave you wanting more, more, more. Due to Pebbles’ strength in lack of depth, grab-bags come steeped with shoals of the fellows. You can fully submerge your fingers like you would dipping your toes in the sea. You feel nothing of grabbing a handful, a shuck, and playing with the clickity-clack tactiles, swaddling them around before skimming one in off your tongue. I’m thinking in terms of if you were sharing a bag, or being a restrained gatherer when offered. It’s not like Mini Eggs where you’d feel guilty about signing more than a threefold. Have you got a knife? Shall I carve this third Mini Egg in two? We can split the difference. Such frugality reminds one of the time I was at my friend’s (let’s call him Blankdrew) house after a bout of school. Blankdrew’s Mother was that winning one-two punch of loud and large. My face was in their fridge no sooner than my foot had crossed the threshold. I was 12 years old and I was looking for choccy. I spied a case of bootleg After Eight mints, sorted I thought and asked Blankdrew if we could partake. Blankdrew shouted to Mother, owner of the fake Eights, she borked back that we could share one, between us. One. Between us. The afternoon spiraled out of control from there and came to a climax of “deadleg” punches in Blankdrew’s bedroom. I left, the hobbling victor, after administering some solid blows to Blankdrew’s lower thigh, leaving the receiver temporarily immobilised. I only wish I’d have grabbed the fake Eights on my way out and unleashed an arc of mint chocs and paper wallets across Blankdrew’s driveway.
Pebbles’ shell is crisp, as advertised, substantially so, not the brittle clasp of Smarties, nor the filo membrane of cheaper chocs. Speaking of cheap chocs, it’s Cadbury’s here, darling, so you know that sh1t be flying off the chains. I had a large amount of fun with these, they keep giving for a time. I picked up my pouch for an introductory £1.50 from my local Co-Op. Though it’s 50p more than I like to be paying for my introductory grab-bags, it is approximately 50p more laughs so I’ll say leap on board now before the RRP shifts towards the £2 mark.
STUDENT FOOD GUIDE
Think student, think Scott Mills. Radio DJ Mills is the oldest student in town. He famously still lives in halls of residence, 38 years after completing his Leisure & Tourism course at Loughborough Uni. And you can see why! Students love a bit of it. To live in halls of residence is to love in halls of residence. Residence though, bit of a residential word ain’t it? “Halls” sounds a bit pipe and slippers too. Not very on-point to describe the mayhem that goes on within is it? It’s like when people used to call uni “university”, what daa faa does that mean? Food Legend is officially starting the campaign to rebrand “halls of residence” as “halls of resi”, or even better “hall-o’s”. It’s going to be a word of mouth thing rather than an actual “here, sign this petish”. Look out for it anyway, it’s going global!
It can be a daunting prospect living away from home for the first time. Your head may fog with the mere possibility of being able to go out on a school night just like *click*. You can buy all the offensive posters you want and plaster your room with them; F this, suck that, chong on those. You’re finally free from the shackles of adolescence; you’re a man mountain, a well of womanhood. You have to clean your own underpants, you have to brush your own teeth…or not! What would happen if I didn’t brush my teeth again? What would happen if I didn’t wear underpants again? What about him over there, that quiet one in the corner…will he wash my underpants? He looks like he’d wash my underpants. Maybe I’ll find my new Mummy here. Maybe your halls will come spring loaded with a mature student, the kind that might milk you and wipe your bot. Yes, a new Mum or Dad. I knew I came here for a reason. There are so many things you don’t know or you never paid attention to when you were a child. You get a mental block midway through using a tin opener, which bit goes where? Topside or sidewinder? Some of you may never have used a tin opener, it’s all ring pulls these days. I’m not here to answer the big questions. I’m here to tell you what to eat as a student.
The shopping list for student life is much the same as the shopping list for Leeds festival 2000. You don’t want individual ingredients (or elements) that combine to make a larger, complex mass. You want bish, you want bash, you want bosh. Peperamis are the first thing that should be on your list, get down to your local wholesaler with a card carrying member and hook yourselves up with 100 boxes or more. Even if you’re a vegetarian it’s worth a punt. Think of it like on Big Brother when a non-smoker housemate has packed 200 cigs in their suitcase. No they don’t smoke but yes they are doling them out for instant mates (just add cigs). What a future-classic statement to just be throwing out gratis Peperamis like you’re the King of Spain on Mardi Gras. Whoa, who’s THIS guy? We’ve all seen Clint Eastwood leaning against a doorframe, or cow shed, chewing on a toothpick/twig/Peperami. Who doesn’t want to become a cult near-mythic entity on day dot of halls of resi? Plus, they’re not half bad either.
Next up is Babybels, that iconic bouncing cheese. This could be seen as a vegetarian alternative to the Peperami option but for true legend status I’d recommend packing both at all times. This can be pulled off using the same approach as the meat substitute but there is potential for added flair. Straight up carry an open net in your blazer pocket as a second-lining or get the girls onside by teaming your bundle on the end of a bamboo stick for instant bindle hobo-chic. Hobo with a cheesestring? I’m all up for you just popping these off in your room but I’d recommend learning a few tricks. First off, and this is pretty much essential, you need to master the art of rolling the Babybel down the inside of your arm, flicking the reverse-elbow out (the hinge?) and catching it in your hand. This trick is your bread and butter. If you were a magician, you would be David Basics at this point. Nonchalance is key; you want to be popping this stunt off semi-permanently as you drag your flip-flopped feet from A to B. Bonus points for yawning and texting at the same time. If you really want to go project how horizontal you are then aimlessly launching the Babybel after catching in a stone-skimming action is a must. Further bonus points at this advanced level come from hitting a person or knocking something over. Headshots = one pint of lager. Ballshots = bachelor of the universe award, first clarse honours mate. Another thing you can try with your wax jacketed cheese is to just covertly bowl out Babybels down your halls corridor whenever you hear someone coming. This is best achieved by lying on your bedroom floor and back-paddling the Babybel with your hand through the crack in your door. Maybe “phantom cheese roller” wasn’t the title your parents expected that you’d return home with after three years at the coalface but deep down they’d be proud.
Showboat snacks aside, your real meat and drink should be the humble pasta bake. All you needs do is stock up on jars of pasta bake sauce. You don’t even need to cook the pasta, you just lob it on and bung it in the oven. Lob and bung should be the Horne and Cordon of your culinary skillset, if you can’t lob it or bung it then chances are it’s a precious waste of the old time stuff. Midways through the cook you want to draw it out of the oven and sprinkle (or rather, lash) on a couple of fistfuls of your non-finest cheddar. Don’t ask me how but it comes out golden and crispy. Speaking of crispy, don’t be shy of mixing it up a bit. Why not lob a couple of crisps on there? You want to carve a third/half of a tray per-serving. The leftovers will sit in the baked-on tray in your fridge until midnight munch o’clock.
Freaky points can be garnered by going the other way and rejecting junk. Instead of your stereotypical stude noshing on a bag of crisps, you could be a salad bag snacker. Mixed leaves instead of mixed nuts if you get what I’m saying. Just dog around in your slobs with your hand in a bag of watercress and rocket. Get into sparkling water. Really get your fill of the RDA for H2O, lash it down like it was pure pints – make a big deal of it to onlookers in your kitchen, “God, I’m so hydrated fuuuuck”. Get into weird stuff that no-one’s ever seen before like lychees. Preach about the sugar content of Innocent smoothies outside your Sainsbury’s Local. Fuck 5-a-day, you’re on 35-a-day and you don’t care who knows it! Stick your nose up at those snack-size Mars bar munching monkeys with their freeze dried water activated arses. You’re born of the earth and you yield nature over nachos.
Basically, forgetting the above, your basics are store cupboard. You don’t want chilled items that sit waiting like cheese on deactivated mouse traps for your flatmates to pilfer. You want a basket or bin of go-to bedroom-based items that fuel your tank for getting tanked. If you’re out and about then you want handheld hot HD-ready takeaway tittle tattle. If you’re too vaporised to veer outside then absolutely yes I endorse stocking up on Dr Oetker frozen pizzas but please do padlock your allocated freezer drawer. Soundproof your room with cement bag sized multipacks of Monster Munch by all means. Food can be used as pranks too, why not wang a piece of sushi under your mate’s bed for fishtastic results? In time you will achieve the next level of humanity but for now it is expected, nay, encouraged, that you eat out of the bin for a few years ‘til you’re back on your feet.
P.S. Other endorsed foods include beans on toast, supernoodles on toast, butter on toast, bread on toast, toast on toast, fart-scented Swedish meatballs, Rustler Burgers, Heinz spaghetti, Pringles andddd Flumps.
MINDI’S CURRY POTS
Chicken Tikka! It’s the nation’s favourite. My old Gran can’t eat it. My old man swears by it. Indian takeaway on a Friday night? Best of British to you, mate! Lashings of lager I presume? Don’t mind if I do! Ring of fire? Never experienced it but I wanna! What’s the matter, mate? You’re acting all euphoric. Are you on a curry? Get the nurse, he’s not moving! He’s just laughing! How many did you have, mate?? I’ll hold up my fingers and you nod when it’s how many. Stay with me, mate! Beep beep beeeeeep. We’ve lost him. The patient blissed out at 10.37pm, Friday night. “The Power of Curry” by Frankie goes to Bollywood skips on CD in the background. This was his favourite song, he loved curry.
Mindi’s has introduced a new snackpot luncheon-themed microwave activated ready-made curry range. More power to them. You’ve got your “Classic Chicken Tikka”, you’ve got your “Chickpea Chana Masala”, you’ve got your “Kick Ass Chicken Korma” anddd you’ve got your “Fiery Chicken Masala”. They’re retailing at £3.99 a pot and you can pick yours up locally from Booth’s in Salford Medium King Prawn City. I gather that Booth’s is the only outlet at the moment but lord, what an outlet. Have you been in that particular branch? It’s like a top-drawer car showroom; I want to have my wedding in there. Not popped the question to Lady Legend yet but her “yes” guns were blazing when I asked her to accompany me on this curry voyage. She’d even brought her own naan bread! I should note at this point that Mindi’s sent me a selection box of the aforementioned curries for review purposes. Curry in the morning? From a postman? Lady Godiva!
I’m dropping the word “snackpot” like it’s common wordplay but if you can’t fathom won’t fathom then imagine one of those Innocent pots, it’s like that. I’ve got beef against the Innocent pots, mainly thus…they’re shit. Whoa, throw rocks at the king and you best have a good hidey hole. I know, right? Don’t get me wrong, I admire the spinach leaves in there and the photo-realism of the ingredients but I just think they’re boring. Under-seasoned and bland he says. Whoever bought one at full RRP anyway? Their whole shelf lifespan is basically them queuing up to get in that reduced counter. We’ll hit it if it’s sub-£1 but not a penny more. So these Mindi’s come in an identically shaped plastic pot/tub. From the cross section first thoughts were that the mix was a bit rice heavy and that the whole piece didn’t fill the tub as much as we’d like. The curry element sits at the bottom with the rice layer on top. The idea being that you microwave it and presumably nosh it from the tub on your lunchbreak. We (unforgivably) don’t have a microwave at Food Legend HQ and so we were relieved to read the alternative hob reanimation guidelines on the packaging. The transition from tub to pan was as pleasing as these things can be, it didn’t drift out in a semi-solid tub shaped relief at least. The beauty of these things, as realised later, is that in the pan process (or indeed the half-way microwave stirring process) the rice is thoroughly mixed with the curry, making for coated grains. So what you say, maybe you like your rice as white as the driven snow, a separate entity from the curry to be introduced slowly on your plate and on your terms. Anndddd no, you’re wrong. That’s like so last year and every other year since rice and curry came out.
Fiery Chicken Masala is the real boss of the set. It come with a three chilli rating, the hottest of the job lot. With ready-meal curries I’m always thinking yeah yeah when it comes to the spice warning, none seem to fulfil that urban promise. This wasn’t blow your face off hot but it packed a heat, a genuine earthy heat that satisfied. More a kick than a punch, you might even say it was “fiery” like it promised. The pieces of chicken were realistic and large. The size variants differed slightly which pleased. Nothing worse than a shop bought curry with identical small meat sizes…am I right? *tap tap* Is this thing on? The chicken is nice and flavourful and not small and rubbish, what more could one ask for? It was tasty, there was bits in there. Don’t know really, I had great fun. Lady Legend concurred that this was something special. I should add that we consumed one pot each for our evening meal. We added a cucumber yoghurt medley and a tomato onion mash up. I’d suggest adding similar elements should you find yourself fending with one of Mindi’s tubs for your tea. It was a gracious and filling amount.
Next day we shared a “Classic Chicken Tikka” and a “Chickpea Chana Masala”. The chicken tikka topped the masala by an angel’s whisker. Some of my best friends are chickpeas but as a card carrying chicken monster, I got to go with my boy chicken. There were visible mustard seeds in that chicken tikka too, how you gonna go make me pass on that? Having the two curries on the plate was the bomb, variety truly is the spice (chamone) of life. Both these curries carried a chilli rating of two, they were pangful and not without zest. Lady Legend remarked that she “didn’t want it to end”. You know it’s been a successful night at the dinner table when Lady Legs has her fingers out and is practically eating the plate. In truth, I had to hold back. My plate could have been left spinning with its content beamed up from it in a flash of light. Instead I tried to make it last, to dwell on mouthfuls thinking about how it made me feel. I’ve mentioned before that I might not have any taste buds. I find it hard to pick apart flavours in a crowd. I know when something is good but sometimes I can’t say why, especially if I can’t see it…especially if merged in a sauce formation. Both of these boys had stuff going on beneath the bonnet, they were legitimate finely tuned curries.
Today came “Kick Ass Chicken Korma” and “Chickpea Chana Masala” (again). It’s a bit strange to see the legend “kick ass” before “korma” when our domestic tongues are used to korma being the whipping boy of currydom. Has korma ever kicked anybody’s ass with its mild-mannered coconut tones? Even associating the word “ass” with curry is a bold move from the branding team. Did it kick my ass? Maybe it kissed my arse. Did I kiss its arse? I’ve got my hand on its arse right now. It’s a good arse, ooh it’s really bright and saucy. It got lucky because that’s how I like my arses. It was rich and creamy (again, great arse) like the description offered and the chicken pieces were as genuine and life-like as the other chicken pots. Less spiceful (this was a one chilli rating) curries can prove a mite disappointing but the korma is such a distinctive taste that it swerves that danger. The chana masala was a great laugh as it had been the night before, I miss you already mate.
It is said that Mindi’s uses rapeseed oil instead of ghee and that’s how the tubs present a healthier, lighter option. It is also said that Mindi’s tubs are gluten free. In truth, we don’t know what gluten is. I know I should by now but I close my eyes and I picture yeast, the elasticity of bread dough. I certainly didn’t miss the gluten even though I don’t know what it is. Mindi’s offerings beat any supermarket ready-meal curry that I’ve ever encountered and trounces a fair few takeaways too. It didn’t feel dirty or dishonest, it was fair and true. For a penny shy of £4 you’d be the best dressed chicken in town if you returned to your office toting a tub of Mindi’s. I hear on the grapey-v that Mindi’s are planning to add a Lamb Seth Rogan and a Lentil Sophie Dahl to their range, and also a strictly sauce strand. Mindi’s is one to watch in the supermarket sweep stakes. To my mind no-one else is offering the tub-format curry for power lunchers on the spritz, credit to them.
My household is sad now the complimentary curries have gone. It was said in the heat of the moment that we could eat Mindi’s tubs forever. It was a wild rollercoaster while it lasted. I never thought I’d pick Mindi over Mork but now look at me. I love you?
P.S. More curry please
JAMIE OLIVER (REDUCED) PACKAGED SANDWICHES
Go on the Oliver! Get in, lad. Big lad, fat lad, what a lad. If there’s a pie that old Olive Oil hasn’t got his finger in then you can more or less bank on it being a nailed-on clanger. Seen his new programme on C4 is it? Something about making do with less, buying dirty old caged chickens or stealing free range corn-fed private school chickadees down your undies from Sainsbury’s. I’ve not seen it (I have) but I imagine that’s the gist. He might use a penknife instead of a big expensive knife, he might do away with cutlery altogether and rebrand everything “street food”. B-b-but Mr Olive Oil, I can’t eat my roast dinner with me fingers. Course you can you big Jess! You sold all your silverware to afford the beef brisket I opened with in episode one! Oliver’s sleeves are up or even off (can’t afford sleeves on a budget) and he’s crawling around your kitchen table with gravy on his face. Even though his new budget series is a bit of a durr brain, we welcome it after struggling to bankroll all 15,000 ingredients from 15 minute meals. Food Legend is sponsored by Jamie Oliver. What can I say, we’d love to meet him. I think I’d get confused if I ever met the big lad. I wouldn’t know whether to shake his hand or tug him off. Chances are I’d ending up shaking his hand…and his sausage. Wait, what? That’s not what I wrote. Medic!
Oh he’s everywhere isn’t he! That bloody Jamie Oliver, is nothing sacred? You walk ‘round Sainsbury’s these days and it’s like walking around the inside of Jamie Oliver’s head. It’s like that film “Malkovich” but everything’s like “Oliver, Oliver? Oliver?” and you’re like ARRRGHHHH, I don’t want cheese with Jamie Oliver’s fat face on! I don’t want fish fingers that Oliver implores that you butty up and “squash a little bit, dunno why but it makes ‘em taste better!”. This is what the average guy on the street is saying but me? I kind of love it. When I first heard a couple of years back (maybe) that Olive Oil had turned his trotters to packaged sandwiches, I was most certainly “having it”. Boots exclusive they said, higher price point than your usual (£3.50+), reinventing the meal deal (snack is out, bottle of water is in) I heard. I didn’t check ‘em out instantly but I knew that we’d meet one day, on my terms, in the reduced counter trough. Today was that day.
Picture the scene, I was taking Lady Legend for her debut visit to the Trafford Centre (AKA The Triffic Centre). I’d told her it was a shopping centre monolith, once rumoured to be the largest of its kind in Europe. She asked, “does it have charity shops?”. It most certainly doesn’t, I think the vast majority of its clientele would be sick in their handbags if it did. “What’s that dirty thing over there with l-l-last season’s deck shoes a-a-and the Stig’s autobiography in the window?”. Screaming would ensue. Deck shoes are a thing, right? That’s a one-time fashion trend, right?? I wanted to say “banana trousers” first because that IS a thing, right??? I tried some on by accident once and I thought I’d gone mad. Anyroad, I suggested we hit Boots to check out the reduced range (natch) and we only bleeding touched base to find the whole J.O sandwich range in RRP tatters! Pretty much the entire spread was priced down to £1 a pop. You might say they were reduced to a shadow of their former selves, heh. This kind of result (there isn’t any other word) is Food Legend’s lifeblood, it’s the food equivalent of winning the lottery. It’s like you’re playing a fruit machine (put another quid in the fruity) and you crank the old stick(?) and three packaged sandwich icons line up…ding ding ding. Finally! The kids will eat tonight! I was sick of bells and lemons anyway. Is it a lemon on the fruit machine? Kids today won’t know what a fruit machine is, they’ll be picturing a vending machine with fruit in it. Long story short, we spent £6 deciding that we’d feast on the sandwiches as part of a “platter” for this evening’s meal with leftovers for our luncheons the next day. So far, so fabulous.
It felt powerful and strong to be carrying a bursting carrier bag of reduced sandwiches around one of Europe’s largest shopping centres. I wanted to stop punters in the gangways and whisper in their ear about my winnings. Get down to Boots mate, Jamie Oliver has got a sale on! I think he’s finally gone bonkers this time! Here’s what we picked up:
1 x New Yorker (salt beef, dill pickle, mustard)
1 x Chicken, Bacon & Avocado Wrap
1 x King Prawn Cocktail
1 x Farro & Roast Veggie Salad “cup”
1 x Prosciutto & Salami Flatbread
1 x Seaside Salmon Salad
I was desperate to knock one off in the car but Lady Legend was adamant that we should save the sandwiches until we reached home. I reluctantly did so after folding in a choc-chip shortbread square from M&S in the car park. Highly recommended by the way, a joy at 59p a tile. My most eagerly anticipated sandwich from the line-up was the chicken, bacon and avocado wrap. Basically, I wanted to see how Oliver turned his hand to a wrap. Supermarket wraps are oft disappointing, lacking in filling and heavy on bread. They start off promising but descend into empty folds by the time you reach the base. Thus is life. Olive Oil’s wasn’t fully distanced from this template but the innards were more buoyant and life-like than your usual fare. The avocado was the real star; it was plentiful and gave the wrap true moisture. The chicken too was much more flavourful and buttery. I forget what the bacon had to say but you know it was more Waitrose than Toys-R-Us. At the end of the day the bread folds were stacked and I was a mite disappointed that Oliver hadn’t made it his mission to eradicate that. The King Prawn Cocktail sandwich was plied with a light red cocktail sauce (Prawn Marie Rose, one helluva gal!) and hallegedly “spiked with chilli”, I didn’t pick that out particularly but it did have a certain zing. The prawns were big but not as many as I would have liked. The cucumber was pickled which was a nice touch. When does a pickled cucumber become a gherkin though? The leaves were (literally) mixed as you might expect and the bread was of the brown persuasion. In lesser hands all of these sandwiches were in danger of being dry, such was the realistic nature of the brown bread, but the fillings were finely oiled so we didn’t have a problem. The most dry conditioned sandwich was the New Yorker, it’s bread being rye so it was always going to be up against it. Both Lady Legend and I have been a bit knocked sick by pastrami of late, it was my go-to sandwich meat of choice for years but we experienced a too-real incarnation of it in America last year and things haven’t been the same since. Having said that, this wasn’t technically pastrami, it was salt beef. Don’t know what the difference is but they’re pretty similar for my money. I know that salt beef sandwiches are bang on-trend in London right now (or were) so maybs that’s what Oliver was cashing in on with this. The gherkins were on point anyway, love those guys. There was a cabbage, carrot and apple coleslaw which sluiced things along nicely. Probs the best New Yorker-style sandwich I’ve encountered in supermarkets. The Seaside Salmon Salad was one of those large packaged platter salads that you know is going to be a disappointment before you’ve even opened it. There was some potato salad, some golden salmon flakes, some leaves, some zzzzzzzzzz. I’m not anti-salad, far from it, but this was snoring. Must try harder, Joliver! We’ve yet to experience the faro (eh?) and roast “veggie” salad or the prosciutto and salami flatbread so can’t comment but they look promising and bread-heavy in equal measure.
So, did Oliver smash it on the packaged sandwich front? He certainly connected with laces and came close. He hasn’t reinvented the packaged sandwich. They still taste like packaged sandwiches; you couldn’t confuse any of them for home-made offerings. I’d say he’s upped the flavour ceiling within the realms of the packaged sandwich but I’d still not opt for one (outside of a meal deal situation) unless they were languishing in the reduced. This is largely down to the inflated cover price. Are they recognisably Jamie Oliver? There isn’t that much of a stretch outside current packaged sandwich trends but the themes across the Jamie Oliver selection are consistent with Oliver’s enthused and go-to ingredients IRL. Did Jamie Oliver HIMSELF make these sandwiches that stand eaten before me? I feel with buying six that he must have made at least one of them, or at least he’s been in the same room as one of them. At a push he might have licked the knife. Regardless of whether he got his hands dirty, it’s worth scanning your local Boots around kicking-out time.
The Jamie Oliver reduced packaged sandwich selection sh*ts in the face of any of Boots’ other offerings but it ain’t going to change your life. I re-learned that a packaged sandwich platter for tea is always a disappointing choice. I maxed out, I feel like Breadward Scissorhands. I’m sat with the empty packages before me, lined up like burnt out box-cars from a demolition derby. I’m neither happy nor sad; I feel like I nodded out through the main event and woke up abruptly to a stadium-sized ovation with a hot dog stuck to my head. My eyes are half-open and my feet are already making their way down towards the track, stepping over seats and receiving pats on the back while my voyage plays on the jumbotron-5000 high above the stands. What year is that? Who’s this? Is Jamie Oliver still the president? I’m like that film “Hangover”, the only way I start to put the pieces together is when I groggily wake up the morning after, pull a crust out of my shirt pocket and I’m like, “Dude, Where’s My Car!”. The president makes packaged sandwiches now!? A sphincter says what!
LOTUS BISCUIT SPREAD
Egg on chips! Pastrami on rye! Beans on toast! Biscuits on toast? Not so much. Lady Legend truly wasn’t grasping the premise. She thought it a spread for biscuits; biscuits on biscuits. She didn’t know why the “crunchy bits” were biscuits too. Biscuits on biscuits on biscuits, she supposed. I sat her down with a stiff drink and explained that it was, in fact, a spread for toast. Biscuits on toast? If anything that made even less sense to her. I was prepared for the concept, I knew about Lotus’ biscuit spread from the get go. It started life in the UK as a Waitrose exclusive I gather, only recently making the leap to other supermarkets. I picked up my jar in Sainsbury’s, Stockport. It was £2.30ish, a price point that would usually be too high for spreadables in my household but this was a semi-essential purchase so to be honest I would have laid out up to £4 large, plus Lady Legend was buying! The jar clocks in at a substantial 380g size. The blurb on the label places the biscuit spread as an alternative to peanut butter or chocolate spread. I can buy that. I can imagine peanut butter hit some of the same kind of walls when it first came out, “Peanuts…on toast?”. It’s a similar texture too. I opted for the crunchy option over the smooth. More biscuit for my buck I reasoned, plus I favour a chunky peanut butter so chunky biscuit butter made sense.
Before I start yacking on the spread, I’m presuming y’all are familiar with the Lotus biscuit. That famous Belgian (just looked that up, thought it was French) biscuit, sorta similar in form to the humble Malted Milk, is the coffee accompanier of choice in cafes throughout the land. It bills itself as the original caramelised biscuit and I suppose it is! I’ve never purchased a packet for home use but, I’ll tell you what, I’m always sad when the allocation of one single biscuit is completed on the odd time I venture to town for a cappuccino. The promise of a full jar of liquid biscuits, to be fair, is absolute dribble fodder.
Nothing could prepare me for my first encounter. I arose, on a Monday morning, dewy eyed and half-empty of beans. I opened the fridge and wearily ambled forth for a reduced crumpet (I’ve reached the age where you keep bread products in the fridge to extend their lifetime, so sue me). When toasting crumpets I opt for the highest setting on the toaster, I don’t know what it is about the sponge-like genetics of the crumpet but you never seem to singe the spores. In a stunted moment of reflection yesterday, I reached for a crumpet days past its best before. I was confused, it looked already toasted, it wasn’t but I looked around the bodywork for signs of age or any warning bells that suggested I shouldn’t eat it. On the surface it looked fine but then I started to suppose that perhaps the crumpet decays more from the inner, I held said crump in my palm and brought it closer to my face. It was at this point that I began to lose myself down one of the crumpet’s wormholes. My vision was spiralling and it felt like if I looked any closer, I would have fallen in, silently screaming for all of eternity, the sponge walls of the well absorbing my final thrashes. It was genuinely a moment. On Monday there was none of this, just those trying minutes waiting for the toaster to pop…what should I do? Have a bath? Do a crossword? Take the dog for a walk? Oh, it’s popped. For some reason I wasn’t even dying that much in anticipation of breaking my biscuit spread duck. I wasn’t predicting it to be weird, nor exceptional even; I just thought it would be a bit of alright. The first thing that hits you on opening a jar is the aroma, my god it’s realistic. Yes, this is what I imagined “the original caramelised biscuit spread” would smell like. I laid the paste on thick, the texture akin to what I imagine grainy cement feels like. I suppose all cement is grainy, it would be artisan of me entertain the thought that cement comes in smooth and crunchy variants. As I lifted the vessel to my goblet, eyes half shut, I simply wasn’t prepared.
My eyes popped out and my bow tie span of its own accordion. This is nuts. This trounces peanut butter AND chocolate spread. I feel like I need to tell everyone about this. I want to fast-forward time ‘til Lady Legend returns from work so I can thrust it in her face. Disappointingly, on Lady’s return, she’s adamant that she doesn’t need any. She does have a certain resolve, or rather a defensive shield that deflects the naughty stuff as a reflex response. Usually she can be talked down from her ivory tower or at least put “at ease, soldier” if you deliver something to her as a surprise, or gift. There are chinks in the armour and we’re all only human after all. This was different though. She’s taken a spoonful under duress and a bite of laden toast but she’s really adopted a strong position. I feel that Lady Ledge fears falling in love with it. She’s tasted a piece of paradise but she can’t commit because she doesn’t know who she might become. She’s put the biscuit monster to bed before he’s even hatched. I almost wish I’d done the same. Almost.
Spoiler alert! Here’s the twist…I love it, I do, but every time I’ve returned to do battle with the Lotus spread I’m not quite falling to my knees. That first crumpet blew my lid off but subsequent gobbings have lacked, each time I go back to it I’m ready to “feel it” but the arc of perfection has never been repeated. I don’t know what gives. I’ve tried it on toast and crumpets, I’ve recreated the test conditions of day one, I’ve had it with a coffee. I don’t want to sully the name too much because it’s still absolutely stonking and it might even be the best (sweet) spread on the market. Put it this way, I was worried about the jar running out too fast on the first day but now six days later I feel accepting…and I’m only half way. I have a cupboard of options but it’s still my number one. I shouldn’t grumble, maybe it’s me?
I should add that it doesn’t coat the roof of the mouth like peanut butter. That’s a positive for me. Dunno what the actual biscuits (65% of the content) are padded out, or liquefied with but I guess it’s the same kinda stuff that other dry states are made spreadable with. I do know actually, I’m looking at the ingredients. Vegetable oils is one of the main ones I’m reading. That’s what they use for Peanut Butter isn’t it? Not actually butter in peanut butter is it? It doesn’t taste as dry in the mouth as peanut butter. I’m saying peanut butter a lot without actually saying if Lotus spread is categorically better than peanut butter. I really like peanut butter but today I’m going to say, yes it is. It is better than peanut butter. It’s maybe better than toast. You can take it with a spoon and it’s probably better than a single biscuit. Is it better than a spoon? Going to have to sit on the fence on that one but it is 110% better than sitting on the fence. Only thing it ain’t better than is the first time, baby. Savour that debut spreading because it’s the only one you’ll ever have.
What does it taste like? Biscuits, mate. I give it 10 biscuits out of 10.
HP SAUSAGE ROLL
Meat pie, sausage roll, come on England, give us a goal! Remember that? Remarkable stuff. Maybe the all-time high watermark for the sausage roll? Or was it faux-Italian Mario from Big Brother with his “Sex, Drugs and Sausage Rolls” t-shirt? High street vendor Greggs claims their sausage roll to be “The Nation’s Favourite”. Not sure about that. Theirs is one that favours length over girth and liquid over solid. It’s a hot lank grease length. Not bad if you’re into that kind of thing but I prefer a higher more concentrated pork percentage, and to be honest I usually take my sausage rolls at room temp. I’m sure we’ve all encountered a sausage roll at one point in our lives. They’re a staple of the low-grade buffet table. You’ll find one in 8 of 10 picnic baskets. You’re never more than 6 feet away from a reduced one these days which happens is where I found mine, Tesco to be precise.
The packaging drew me in, screaming its HP sauce endorsement. You can get a Heinz ketchup variant too but alas it wasn’t reduced. The sausage roll is actually made by Peter’s, a prominent low-grade sausage roll maker on the supermarket scene. The picture on the packet shows the roll split in half with that classic packaging trait of having the product “oozing” the sauce. You know it wouldn’t naturally bleed like that, someone’s given it a bit of a pinch or they’ve photoshopped it to give it more vibrancy. I get it, I do. If you couldn’t see the sauce on the packet illustration, people would be like “where’s the sauce?”. But it doesn’t really gel with me, it gives me a shudder almost. It’s like seeing Jaws with his tongue poking out. Basically, put it away mate, I don’t need to see it. You might argue that I don’t need to buy it if I can’t look reality in the face but by some unexplainable force I am driven to plumb these depths.
I don’t own a microwave so I’m never going to “bake” a shop bought sausage roll in the oven for 20 minutes. Plus, like I said, I prefer these things cold. I’m not against a value bag of a thousand frozen mini-sausage rolls but I’ve seen horror in the past. My good friend Nick was once carrying a large bowl of freshly ovened mini-sausage rolls and lost his balance putting the bowl down on the floor. His head grazed the carpet and he landed with his fist in the heart of the molten sausage rolls. It was akin to “the bad guy” off films getting knocked into a vat of boiling acid. He came out deformed with a larger than life hand blister and a red head but his display wasn’t in vain. I think of that moment if I even as much as smell another hot sausage roll. Back to basics anyway, I know all you’re dying to know the pork percentage of this sausage roll. The answer is a whopping 16%. I don’t know what the hell the deal is with sausage roll percentages, I’m guessing it’s the percentage of the whole mass (including pastry) because otherwise, if it was just the percentage of the sausage itself, that would be well below the legal limit (41% thanks for asking).
It was grim. It was as bland as you might expect. The brown sauce itself lacked that familiar HP zing. It tasted like a lesser knock-off. I suspect that they needed to fiddle with the ingredients of the brown sauce, probably lessening the vinegar content (hence less zing), so that the sauce didn’t perish the sausage roll with its acidic qualities. Just a conspiracy but I feel strongly about it. The sausage meat make-up favoured the cheap sausage roll template of a flat bar of sausage, rather than the traditional cylindrical sausage we’re taught in schools. That was predictable and the illustration prepared us for such. The flatness of the sausage within the roll left room for about another one and a half sausages height-wise. That space, or air pocket, wasn’t (thankfully) bursting with the sauce “topping” but it was still a slightly more generous portion than I would apply myself if working with the ingredients separately. The length of the sausage roll, around 20cm, rendered me bored almost as soon as I’d started. It was that forgettable that I wanted to fast-forward to the end and find out who did it. Sadly, it wasn’t even eventful enough to have a conclusion. It was just kinda there and then it was gone. I won’t miss it, I wouldn’t kiss it. I’m not a sausage roll snob, I’ve experienced the high-end of the market and the denser sausage meat makes for a more filling snack but there’s something about the higher tier that feels wrong. With a rounder, enlarged, more traditional sausage form you’re experiencing something that is more like a pork pie inner in pastry. It’s too thick and real. The price is often pumped up too much as well. The cheap rolls, especially supermarket ones, favour the thicker pastry which is less flaky than say your Greggs’ but, coupled with the thin doormat-style sausage, oft leads to an underwhelming experience. I don’t know what the answer is. It’s certainly not the boiling temperature wet willy of Greggs but neither is it the shop-bought sauce accompanied reduced dweller of Tesco. Frankly, I’d suggest making your own.
It’s a bit of fun.