Sprout pizza? Ho-ho-NO! We try the ghastliest festive grub so you don’t have to (including Christmas tree flavoured crisps and pigs-in-blanket tea)
- Supermarkets are vying for their share of Britain’s £22.5 billion Christmas groceries market
- Some of the most stomach-churning offerings over the years have included Christmas dinner popcorn
- This year, supermarkets have gone further than ever in their ‘twists’ on traditional dishes
The shops have been overflowing with festive foods since September, as supermarkets vie for their share of Britain’s £22.5 billion Christmas groceries market.
In their bids to fill festive coffers, retailers routinely bring out weird and wonderful food and drink, designed to grab shoppers’ attention and, with any luck, drop into their trolleys.
Some of the most stomach-churning offerings over the years have included Christmas dinner popcorn (thanks, Selfridges), a chocolate-cherry sandwich at Tesco and a green smoothie made from Brussels sprouts courtesy of M&S.
This year, supermarkets have gone further than ever in their ‘twists’ on traditional dishes.
From pigs-in-blankets tea to pine tree-flavoured crisps, SARAH RAINEY tried the ghastliest festive foods on offer, so you don’t have to. Some were a pleasant surprise — while others are guaranteed to give you nightmares before Christmas . . .
CHRISTMAS TREE CRISPS
£1 for 180g, iceland.co.uk
The ‘tree’ flavour is pine oil, made by distilling tree stumps, needles and twigs
WHAT THEY SAY: Some bright spark was clearly feted by Iceland for coming up with the novelty of putting the essence of pine needles into a bag of crisps.
The packet, billed as ‘pine salt flavour hand-cooked potato crisps’ features an unappetising picture of a pine cone and some needles.
The ‘tree’ flavour is pine oil, made by distilling tree stumps, needles and twigs in a steam bath, and is commonly used in household cleaning products!
TASTE TEST: Generally, taste testers have been far from impressed. ‘I have never had any desire to eat my Christmas tree,’ wrote one critic on Twitter.
Mother offered sexual favours to takeaway staff in return…
You can teach a bold dog a new trick! Police pooch balances…
Share this article
Neither have I. They may look like ordinary salted crisps, but the smell — eau de toilet cleaner — and the taste, like licking a forest floor, are anything but.
There is nothing moreish, appealing or even palatable about them. A sixth of a pack contains nearly 9g fat, 12 per cent of your recommended daily intake — so they’re very unhealthy, too.
REPULSIVE RATING: 5/5
BRUSSELS SPROUTS PIZZA
£5.25, Co-op stores
If you ignore the fact that it’s topped with all the bits of Christmas dinner nobody likes, this isn’t a bad option
WHAT THEY SAY: For those who think eating Christmas dinner off a plate is passe, why not eat it off a pizza base instead? This pizza (pictured above) is made with hand-stretched Italian sourdough and ‘delicious, festive-inspired flavours’.
What this boils down to is shredded Brussels sprouts, chestnut puree and cranberry and port chutney, as well as mozzarella, pancetta and tomato sauce.
The limited-edition ‘pizza natale’ (Christmas pizza) from the Co-op’s premium Irresistible range serves two and packs a hefty 513 calories per portion.
TASTE TEST: If you ignore the fact that it’s topped with all the bits of Christmas dinner nobody likes, this isn’t a bad option.
The sprouts have been roasted and shredded so finely that even sprout-haters like me would struggle to identify them, while the chestnuts and ham are a nice balance of sweet and salty. The base crisps up well — and cooks in only 12 minutes.
REPULSIVE RATING: 2/5
£1 for 20 teabags, sainsburys.co.uk
WHAT THEY SAY: There’s very little information on this bizarre product other than that it can make a lovely stocking filler.
But who on earth wants a steaming, sausage-flavoured cuppa? Not me.
Mercifully, at least there’s no pork — or any meat — in the tea itself. Instead, it’s a blend of lapsang souchong, apple pieces, sage and rosemary.
The aroma is like week-old roast dinner, wafting out of my mug in meaty waves
TASTE TEST: I love pigs in blankets. And tea. But putting them together in one product is not a winning combination.
The aroma is like week-old roast dinner, wafting out of my mug in meaty waves, while the taste is what I imagine to be the flavour of smelly feet.
CHRISTMAS PUDDING CHEESE
£2.50 for 200g, tesco.com
It’s incredibly sweet — there’s a generous portion of raisins, ginger and peel — but perhaps too much ‘pudding’ and not enough ‘cheese’, as I can barely taste the Stilton
WHAT THEY SAY: This truckle of white stilton, shaped like a Christmas pudding with wax ‘icing’, contains raisins, crystallised ginger, candied orange peel and rum.
It’s a nice idea but badly executed: they seem to have taken a black-waxed Stilton, added a layer of white wax — and adorned it with a crude sticker of some holly. A six-year-old could’ve done it better. Dark rum goes well with hard crystalline cheeses, such as gouda, but mixing it with crumbly stilton is a peculiar first.
TASTE TEST: The stench of alcohol hits me the moment I cut the truckle (pictured right) and that’s pretty much all I can taste. It’s incredibly sweet — there’s a generous portion of raisins, ginger and peel — but perhaps too much ‘pudding’ and not enough ‘cheese’, as I can barely taste the Stilton.
REPULSIVE RATING: 3/5
MINCE PIE MARTINI
£10 for 35cl, Marks & Spencer stores
WHAT THEY SAY: M&S have been bringing out unusually flavoured Christmas spirits for years, some more successfully than others.
The mince pie martini, designed to be shaken and served over ice, is infused with all the flavours of a festive pastry.
It’s essentially mulled wine — but, at 20 per cent alcohol by volume, twice as potent.
The ingredients list doesn’t contain gin (the usual boozy component in a martini), but simply ‘alcohol’, diluted with ‘demineralised water’.
TASTE TEST: Distilling buttery pastry and juicy mincemeat into a glass is no mean feat, and I’m rather sceptical.
What pours out of the opaque bottle is a caramel-coloured liquid. The first sip is overwhelmingly alcoholic but it goes down easily (far too easily, actually), and I’m left with a lovely aftertaste of Christmas spices.
A hit if you’ve got a sweet tooth.
REPULSIVE RATING: 0/5
£1.50 for 400g, iceland.co.uk
As a devout sprout-sceptic and lifelong Marmite-hater, these are a double whammy of disgustingness
WHAT THEY SAY: These frozen sprouts, intended to push the much-maligned veg to a younger generation, come with pellets of Marmite-flavoured butter.
They can be pan-fried in 12 minutes and supposedly have a ‘unique flavour profile that is a combination of umami, salt and yeast.’
Food technologists at the supermarket say this boosts the taste by making the sprouts sweet and suppressing their bitterness.
TASTE TEST: As a devout sprout-sceptic and lifelong Marmite-hater, these are a double whammy of disgustingness.
The pros — the sprouts are easy to cook, stay firm and keep their vibrant green — are vastly outweighed by the cons, including the unpleasant salty taste, the bitter aroma that fills my kitchen, and the soggy puddle of brown butter that congeals around the pan.
REPULSIVE RATING: 4/5
GINGERBREAD STUFFING BALLS
£3.30 for 12, Co-op stores
The chunks of apricot are too big and the ginger flavour so pungent that my eyes water
WHAT THEY SAY: I had high hopes for these gingerbread and apricot stuffing balls, which come from the same ‘Irresistible’ range as the Brussels Sprouts Pizza.
They’re made from outdoor-bred Hampshire pork (which makes up a not-too-shabby 69 per cent of each ball), mixed with ginger puree and dried apricot, as well as sage, parsley and cinnamon.
TASTE TEST: The first bite is pleasant enough — succulent and packed full of herby flavour — but it quickly gives way to an unexpected sweetness.
The chunks of apricot are too big and the ginger flavour so pungent that my eyes water. These would be more at home on a dessert platter.
Repulsive rating: 4/5
FESTIVE YORKSHIRE PUDDING WRAP
£7.99 for 800g, lidl.co.uk
WHAT THEY SAY: This is the Frankenstein’s monster of festive food, comprising an entire Christmas dinner — turkey, sausage, gammon and pork, sage and onion stuffing — sandwiched inside a rather stodgy Yorkshire pudding.
The box suggests it serves six, but it’s tempting to pick it up in your hands like a giant burrito and scoff the lot.
TASTE TEST: Despite two hours, 15 minutes in the oven, the Yorkshire pud is soggy and sodden with oil. The sausages are an unappetising grey colour and I can’t tell the many different meats apart. The nutritional information is the stuff of nightmares: each serving contains a third of your recommended daily intake of salt.
GIN AND ORANGE CHEESE
£13 for 1kg, Waitrose deli
WHAT THEY SAY: This huge slab of Yorkshire Wensleydale is a proper indulgence, weighing half as much as my turkey.
It’s creamy, crumbly and studded with caramelised orange, as well as being infused with dry gin from an award-winning family distillery.
TASTE TEST: Perfect if you’ve got cheese-loving guests coming over. It’s worth keeping an eye on the best-before date, though: mine expires on December 21.
It tastes smooth, mellow and nicely tangy, thanks to the orange peel. The gin is unnecessary, though; I’d rather have booze with my cheese than in it.
REPULSIVE RATING: 2/5
GLITTERY GINGERBREAD GIN LIQUEUR
£12.00 for 50cl, asda.com
Looks more like a perfume bottle than a spirit, and the glitter tends to settle at the bottom until it’s shaken through the gin
WHAT THEY SAY: Sparkling with pearlescent edible glitter, this over-the-top liqueur is made by combining premium gin with ginger and cinnamon.
Asda hopes it will become a staple at festive parties, with serving recommendations including drinking it straight (hic) or adding it to a glass of fizz.
TASTE TEST: Looks more like a perfume bottle than a spirit, and the glitter tends to settle at the bottom until it’s shaken through the gin. It’s perhaps a little tacky, but it can’t be faulted for lack of sparkle.
The smell does everything it says on the tin, but the flavour is pretty insipid.
REPULSIVE RATING: 2/5
CARAMEL AND COCOA TORTILLAS
£1.90 for 190g, tesco.com
WHAT THEY SAY: Tesco’s new festive nibbles finally catch up with the sweet-and-savoury trend of five years ago.
They’re made from maize flour tortillas, rolled up and dotted with dark chocolate nibs, then dusted with salted caramel seasoning.
TASTE TEST: Neither sweet nor savoury, nor particularly crisp, nor even that interesting, these are no match for crisps and dips.
I can’t work out whether they’re supposed to be eaten before a meal or after — and the caramel ‘seasoning’ gives them the distinct whiff of stale cinema popcorn.
SALTED CARAMEL CHEESE
£1 for 90g, asda.com
WHAT THEY SAY: Competing for the crown of ‘most ridiculous Christmas cheese’ is Asda’s Wensleydale with salted caramel and white chocolate.
Both Waitrose and Morrisons have flavoured Wensleydale with salted caramel before, but this takes it one saccharine step further, with fudge pieces and white chocolate chips.
TASTE TEST: This is the smallest wheel of cheese I’ve ever seen, and once you take the wax off there’s even less to go around. This is no bad thing — one small bite is enough for me, and I can’t find any other takers.
The taste is just as strange, syrupy and downright disgusting as I expected. When, or why, anyone would ever want to eat this is beyond me.
Source: Read Full Article