Category Archives: SNACKFOOD

TESCO 7 CHEESE SELECTION PACK

7-cheese

 

Guest blog by Dan Simpson

 

A cheeseboard at Christmas is de rigueur these days, and the supermarkets want to make it easy for you by offering a convenient cheese selection pack. Why spend two minutes choosing your own cheeses from the same shelves for a lovingly custom-made cheeseboard when you can just buy this and be done with it? I’ve eaten three of these atrocities over the holidays, and I’ll tell you why.

I have attempted to write individual reviews of the seven cheeses on offer in this selection: a difficult task, given that were you to spear a bit of any of these cheeses at random, you would not be able to distinguish one from another. The box says to “Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving to allow flavours to develop” – though you needn’t bother, since the flavours develop like a poorly-taken low-light night-time photograph: you wonder why you even bothered in the first place.

Brie

Brie is a bad karaoke version of cheese: the coward’s Camembert. And Camembert is itself a spineless cop out in the face of Vacherin. To choose Brie is to say: I don’t know what I’m doing, and I despise taste. But we have not chosen Brie: it has been chosen for us in this box of cheese-approximations. Which is appropriate, given your decision to buy this selection in the first place.

Cheddar

Some will say that cheddar – the most popular and, yes, often blandest of British cheeses – deserves no place on a civilised cheeseboard. Those people are snobs, and wrong: an aged cheddar, full of flavoursome bite and crunchy tyrosine crystals, is a strong part of the line-up, holding its own against the blues and soft Frenches. This cheddar is not that. This is a disgrace: not just to cheddar, but to all cheese.

Red Leicester

Indistinguishable from the cheddar, aside from the highlighter-pen-neon orange.

Edam

When chewing on this theoretically hard cheese, all rubber texture and polybutadiene taste, you may be forgiven for thinking that you forgot to remove the plastic that each of these cheeses comes vacuum-sealed in. Looking down to check and realising that no, this is it, this is the experience of this cheese, it may cross your mind to fish the packaging out of the bin and eat that instead.

Stilton

This is acceptable, in the way that Stilton often is. It tastes like a blue cheese: no more, no less. Your cheese selection is in trouble if this is the best thing on offer.

Austrian smoke flavoured processed cheese

This cheese doesn’t even have a proper name, merely a description of what it is. It’s an obvious joke told by an observational comic – with a bad Austrian accent designed to cover the deficiency of thought behind it. Adding ‘Austrian’ to the name to give it some continental gravitas is a superficial marketing trick no one is fooled by. And, given what Tesco have already done to Edam and Brie here, I can’t blame the EU for wanting nothing more to do with us.

Wensleydale with Cranberries

Grow up and buy some chutneys, and allow people to decide what fruit-flavours they want with their cheese – instead of foisting dried-up bits of cranberries into our mouths, which have the consistency and appeal of dead flies.

Summary

The word ‘selection’ in this product is a lie – it implies that thought and care has gone into the choosing of these cheeses. This is a magnificent smorgasbord of sub-mediocrity, adding up to much less than the sum of their parts. A cheeseboard can be a glorious showstopper: a bountiful overflowing of colours and shapes, textures and taste. Thoughtlessly bunging out this greyed-out selection box wastes that potential, and makes a mockery of indulgence at Christmas. Am I saying that this cheese selection has the power to singlehandedly ruin Christmas? Bitter experience says: yes.

TESCO 7 CHEESE SELECTION PACK: 7/10*

*It’s still cheese, and cheese is always welcome

FERRERO ROCHER

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Reader, I know full well what you want me to write in this blog.

You want me to go straight in on The Ambassador, don’t you.

You want me to put down on this niche blog what you’ve always wanted to express, namely this: fuck you, The Ambassador. Fuck your impeccable taste in mediocre sweetmeats, your mediocre moneyed guests with shit accents and over-enthusiasm for your mediocre sweetmeats.

Fuck everything you stand for, The Ambassador, you utter besuited prick. Fuck the diplomatic codes of politeness, clandestine soft intelligence gathering, sweetmeats arranged like ancient tombs.

But I can’t express any of that with honesty, no matter how much you might want it. Average Food Blog cannot be the crowd-pleaser you so eagerly crave.

Because Ferrero Rocher, if you look beyond all the abject wankery of Ferrero’s marketing department, are pretty decent.

Sure, it’s hardly the world’s best chocolate or premium nuts involved in the mix, but the combination of flavours and textures is somewhat compelling, especially within the context of finding yourself lolling in the sort of advanced state of passivity that only major Christian festivals can bring.

They are not the best of their food genre but nonetheless are indelibly linked to serial eating, much in the same way that Pringles are not a leading crisp but have the same effect.

Of course, there is some possibility that mind-altering chemicals have been injected into each and every bobbly, spherical melting pot of doom to make me feel this way. That ultimately I’m being duped, that the powers that be have got their claws into AFB in a way that strongly suggests the direct or at very least implied involvement of yes, you’ve guessed it, The Ambassador.

OK OK, fuck The Ambassador. You happy now?

Season’s Greetings to all on the internet.

FERRERO ROCHER: 7/10

QUICHE

quiche

just say no

Do you want to hear the most depressing joke in the world? Here goes: what do you get if you cross a really shit pie with an undercooked, anaemic cheese omelette?

A quiche, that’s what.

If you are an elderly woman looking for an inexpensive yet vaguely ‘sophisticated’ item of food to take to the vicar’s coffee morning down the village hall, then you just about might have an excuse for indulging in this soggy, tasteless abomination.

Or perhaps you actually enjoy the texture of mashed-up jellied eyeball encased in reconstituted sawdust.

If neither of the above applies to you, then what in God’s name are you doing? Put that bloody thing back on the shelf and get some proper food.

Be on the lookout: as the festive season approaches, it is probable that you will find yourself in a situation where kids are doing quiche. You may think it looks big and clever, but it isn’t. If you want pastry, have a pastry. If you want cheese then have some cheese. If you want some bacon then have some bacon.

Quiche? You’re better than that..

1/10

CARROT-FLAVOURED BREAD STICKS

breadcarrot

And never the twain shall…oh.

Bread sticks. Carrots. Average foods, both. I have often thought that the two should be combined.

Wait, did I write ‘often’? I meant ‘never’.

Greece has, though, long decided to bring the two together in mastication matrimony. And fair play to it, because as things have transpired, it’s proved a worthwhile endeavour.

Bread sticks are of reliable quality and frequency in Greece, so if anyone was going to pull this stunt off, it would be here. And it’s a stunt worthy of a beige, bready Evel Knievel.

The eating sensation goes something like this: bread stick, bread stick, no this is just a bread stick, wait a minute, here it comes, yes!

It’s a little sweet, mildly aromatic. Overall it’s not as bland as a bread stick, not as healthy as a carrot stick. The bread stick is the winner here, and the carrot can rightly feel a little exploited.

7/10

GREEK MAC

greek-mac

Readers, you get the Average Food Blog you deserve.

When it was suggested, via social media, that perhaps my first bit of Greece-based reportage covered a food that might be considered a little ‘high-end’ in its market, I was forced to make it abundantly clear that our philosophy to muse upon and review the average was still intact.

People of the internet, here is your average.

I lie to you not; there exists beneath the golden arches of the Hellenic state the ‘Greek Mac’. It is decidedly mediocre. It is served inside a cardboard wallet. 

Conversely, while abandoning the ‘Big’ of Macs found around the world in favour of an unimaginative nationalistic branding, it may in fact be bigger than a Big Mac. But this does not lead to an elongation of any tangible sort of pleasure. It tastes loads of yoghurt and little of anything else.

The pitta, standing in half-heartedly for a bun, was soft and a bit floury. Its shape was highly uniform. The lettuce, tomato and onion was haphazard and bland.

While unsurprisingly going in for those big 100% beef claims that McDonald’s is so fond of touting, the meat probably tastes marginally worse than that which can be found at Athens’ range of two Euro souvlaki joints.

That’s right – I am hereby claiming that 50% pig trotter 50% unknown ‘meat’ is superior in flavour to McDonald’s’ 100% beef. I cannot really compute what has gone wrong here, in part because I’m terribly hungover, following the kind of binge drinking which leads to the eating of a Greek Mac. In this context, it sort of did a job as a vaguely flavoured soaking device.

I ate this corporate national symbol in the early hours of the Greek 28th October public holiday. My show of sympathetic nationalism was met with slight bemusement, but mostly apathy. All the Greeks around me ordered Big Macs.

5/10

TSAKIRIS TRIPATO CRISPS

trypato

There has been a bubbling revolutionary fervour in Greece* for the last few years.

This leads to the obvious question: how has this affected the nation’s domestic crisp market?

Significantly.

The world has seen the flat crisp. The world has seen crinkle cut crisp. Tsakiris Tripato brings….get this…the lattice.

Much in the way that fourth generation astroturf proved to be a qualitative game-changer, this ‘third-gen’ crisp has done the same in its own market.

I can’t stress this enough: THERE ARE HOLES IN THIS CRISP. UNIFORM, DELIBERATE HOLES.

With enough structural joints to entertain a 9/11 conspiracist for hours, this is the crunch to end all crunches – perhaps appropriate for a country so acutely feeling the effects of global financial folly. The flavour of my pack, ‘Smokey BBQ’, was brought to the peak of its powers in this innovative crisp format.

Ironically, though, it is this crunch that I fully believe, in the right hands, could bring Greece out of its current dip. This product is what the world wants. It’s just a shame that it won’t do that – Tsakiris being wholly owned by the Coca Cola Company.

Best stick to the traditional revolution idea then, I suppose.

9/10

*perhaps influenced by cuisine innovations seen in a 2015 trip, I am currently residing in Greece. Expect more Hellenic nonsense where this came from.

NO PRET SANDWICH

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the absence of any Pret sandwich, yesterday

Lord knows, there’s a lot for the professional cynic such as me to dislike about Prêt sandwiches. The smug way they relentlessly proclaim their own virtue on their packaging; the fact that they are allegedly ‘handmade’ yet look and taste exactly the same in every branch from Little Twiddlington to Wankbridge (who makes these things? Robots?); the fact that their pickle is made out of mashed-up kittens.* But however annoying and inadequate Prêt can be, not having Prêt can be even worse.

Let me explain.

Many a morning I get a Prêt sandwich on my way to work, if you can call what I do ‘work’. The identikit nature of the sandwiches is indeed not conducive to gustatory excitement, but there is a sense in which this very fact suits the monotonous nature of the daily commute: you know where you are with a Prêt sandwich, just like you know where you are with a stultifying office job.* I would even venture to say that I have come to enjoy this aspect of my day: go into Prêt, pick up a sandwich, tell them that no, I don’t want coffee but that, yes, I do want a bag, attempt to use the cardreader to the left when I should be using the one to the right, ask for extra tissues and BAM! Get the hell outta there.

Eating my Prêt sandwich on the Hammersmith and City Line is one of life’s (very, very, very) small pleasures, in the same bracket, I would say, as picking out a medium-sized lump of earwax.*** Imagine, then, my veritable horror at discovering, this morning, that I had left my salmon sandwich in Prêt, after having purchased it! I found myself on the tube, with that taste you get in your mouth when you have cleaned your teeth but not yet eaten anything, sans sandwich and also sans the £3.50 I piddled away on it.

It is difficult to describe this kind of disappointment. Obviously it is not requiring of wailing or garment-rending, but nor is it the kind of thing you can just shrug off lightly. It eats away at you like a little mosquito bite****. There was nothing for it but to read my Metro. And sob.

A great philosopher once said that ‘you don’t know what you got til it’s gone’. Going into a Prêt and buying a sandwich is a fairly mundane experience, but going into a Prêt, buying a sandwich and not eating that sandwich is worse. Thus, it can be deduced that, once a Prêt sandwich is purchased, it is better to eat it than not to eat it. This is a fairly minimal standard for any comestible to reach, but by God Prêt reaches it, unlike, say, most Tesco sandwiches, which you would probably have to pay me to eat. But that, my humble readers, is a topic for another thesis.

*not true.

** I do not have an office job, but I will not let that get in the way of an apt analogy. Ooh, can you feel the aptness? That, my friend, is damn apt.

*** fuck me, that’s apt.

**** apt.