Saturday, 27 December 2008
Thursday, 25 December 2008
- Superquinn Superior Quality Mince Pies (8.8) - Expensive but worth every penny of thigh fattening lard. I would be seriously obese if these were available all year round
- Dunnes Stores Simply Better (6.7) - Give you flashbacks to the time you tried poitín when cold. When warm not completely unbearable.
- Lidl Rowan Hill (6.5) - Id had a feed of rum the night I had these so my results may be slightly inaccurate. The cheapest in the survey by about 50% and not a bad choice for a party.
- Mr. Kiplings (6.3) - The most widely available and not all that bad although they could do with a bit of brandy and less odd ingredients
- Superquinn Puff Pastry Mince Pies (6.3) - The biggest least traditional pie I tasted. Not my favourite because Im a bit of a traditionalist. My Dad swears by them though.
The other results:
- a layer of lard that would keep me warm if I was to try swimming in the sea over Christmas...
- ... in Alaska
- recommendations from everyone on which pies to not eat (my Dad says he would need to be paid to eat another Tesco mince pie and then said I might get sued for writing something like that)
- a dislike of store bought mince pies, mainly after tasting the fantastic mince my brothers girlfriend made
Next year I think Ill spend some of my mince pie eating time making them.
Happy Christmas everyone, I hope you all enjoy your last few weeks of mince pie eating before they are gone from the shops.
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
Sunday, 21 December 2008
I currently have a very black tongue and expect to hyper for a good bit of the way into 2009. Thank you Internet Secret Santa.
You may still be able to order one of these boxes. Its the first time I have seen a wham bar and black jacks in a long time (and yep, they are still as good).
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
I finished reading Kitchen Confidential only a few days before going to New York and as a result had Les Halles as one of the things I had to see when I got there. See being the operative word in that sentence as I wouldnt be the biggest fan of steak and having once bought the Les Halles Cookbook didnt expect there would be too much for me to eat there. So much like passing the NYSE and praying for my shares to rise in value, the WTC site and Macys, Les Halles was on my list to see.
On my first morning in New York I woke really early and as the morning looked clear I went off to downtown Manhattan and took the ferry over to Staten Island to take some photos. Afterwards I had a bit of a wander around popping into churches and taking photos of tall buildings.
Theres something weird about visiting places you read about in books and see in movies and New York was like that for me. Every corner I turned around I felt like I was being secretly filmed for a tv show. So when I turned a corner and bumped into a tv crew filming Ugly Betty I felt like I had seen everything I needed to see in New York. I also felt exhausted and starved so finding out I was around the corner from Les Halles just felt magical.
Look at that chicken sandwich and chips - nom. All I could think of was the big vat of sourdough starter he writes about in his first book and all the effort that they put into getting the perfect chips. I almost licked my plate.
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Indeed so far in my survey there has been no better mince pie. I sneakily had a few of these a few weeks ago before I started my reviews and every other pie has been held up against this one since.
Monday, 15 December 2008
Ginger has such an odd earthy taste to it, sweet and hot and not at all to the likings of my very junior tastebuds at the time, but something that I use quite a lot in cooking asian food now. It was only recently chewing on an aerlingus cookie on the way to New York that I realised I had never used it in baking.
This recipe is a slightly modified version of the Oatmeal and Raisin cookies in Rachel Allens book Bake (a book I would definitely recommend if you have even the slightest of sweet teeth).
Oatmeal Ginger Christmas Cookies
- 4oz soft butter
- 4oz caster sugar
- 4oz soft light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 heaped teaspoon ginger
- 9oz porridge oats
- 4oz self-raising flour
- 1tsp salt
- 1oz finely chopped crystalised stem ginger
- 3oz dried cranberries (I bought a mix of cranberries and macadamias so it was about 1oz macadamia, 2 oz cranberries)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4
- Cream the butter until soft, if you have a mixer use it, otherwise you will end up with guns of steel (like me - Santa is bringing me a mixer this year I hope)
- Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy
- Add the egg and water and continue beating
- Mix in the flour, salt, ginger, oats, cranberries and stem ginger and mix well until a dough is formed
- Using a small ice-cream scoop or your hands, make little balls on 2 baking trays (should make about 30 cookies)
- Bake for about 15 minutes until light golden brown and slightly soft in the middle
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Value(3): €2.49 for 12, at half the price of the Dunnes ones this is seriously impressive and its a large enough number to fill a crowd or one very hungry mince pie eater.
Filling(.5): The filling was a bit disappointing. It was terribly sweet but not very fruity. At the stage of night when I had this mince pie I had consumed quite a few very sweet Caipirinhas and Mojitos so I can imagine these would feel like they were rotting your teeth something terrible if you were eating them on their own. No sign of suet or booze taste. At this price though you probably wouldnt want them to taste of booze.
Pastry(2.5): The pastry worked well on this one, it was nice and buttery and held up to a microwave blasting (which is rare enough in some of the pies I have tasted). I didnt get to examine the box so cant tell you how high butter content it was but it tasted fairly buttery. Downside again here was that the pastry was a tad sweet. Im about as unlikely to complain of something being too sweet as it being too sunny outside (never in this country) so heed these words.
Packaging and design(.5): Bit of a bland box from what I googled but the mince pie had a lovely little sprig of holly design on it (along with the cream and mint from my good friend Hoggie). The mince pies themselves werent massive so it will lose a mark there. Then again they are such good value you could just have 2 (or 12).
Total: 6.5. I didnt get to taste these cold and didnt have a full review of the packaging so my mark may be slightly off but overall a good result for Lidl. Now if they could just be a wee bit nicer to their staff.
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
But theres too much to review in one post so Im going to do a few, starting with the most important meal of the day.
Now I figured, it being the city that never sleeps and as my sleeping was so terrrible that breakfast wouldnt be the handiest thing to get in New York but I was very wrong. It wasnt just all coffee either, there were plenty of breakfast options. I stayed fairly local every morning though as jetlag left me famished and in no mood for a trek.
Ess a Bagel was my favourite place for breakfast and was just around the corner from my hotel (clean & tiny rooms which is very central). The bagels here were literally to die for (or from due to size). There was far too much choice on the bagel list for morning time (asking me to chose between 20 cream cheeses and 14 bagels is far too much at any time mind you) and more with cakes, muffins and cookies. The guy in front of me in the queue asked could they hold a chocolate muffin for him every day as the days he didnt have one something bad always happened. New York is known for bagels and you would never find this place unless you accidentally saw someone going in (as I did) but once you have a bagel here you will never have one anywhere else (compare the left picture to the right one below). They also make the bagels fresh which I had never seen before - did you know they boil them before baking them?
Next door to Ess a bagel and all over town were Pax (picture on right) which are all over Manhattan. As you can see the Bagels werent quite as impressive, nor did they have the massive choice of cream cheeses. Grand for a cheapish cup of coffee but if you want a chain you may as well go to Starbucks right?
One thing that Pax did do as well as quite a few other places I passed is porridge. Im quite picky about my porridge and always find it a bit surprising that you cant get porridge easily in Ireland for breakfast and I have never seen it as take away. Then again maybe thats because we are all so picky about porridge.
Most of the places I saw in New York had 2 or 3 porridges bubbling away (with milk, skimmed milk or water) and a selection of toppings you could add. Yay for healthy food as my porridge with strawberries was definitely healthier than the bagels I was eating.
Breakfast over there was plenty of walking to be done.
Monday, 8 December 2008
It was some week - did you miss me?
For any foodies going to New York over the next while here are my top list of things to eat, do and see:
- Walk across the Brooklyn bridge - I passed Hulk Hogan on the way, you might pass someone far more interesting!
- Staten Island ferry for pictures of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty
- Stay somewhere nice and central - I stayed here
- Take the subway, I dont know why people say its scary as its not
- Take a foodie tour, I did the Grenwich village one and spent 3 hours eating foods with a lovely group of people (and was the only non North American there!)
- Go to Chelsea Market and eat until you drop - I recommend Elenis cupcakes, Hale and Hearty Soup and Amys bread. I would recommend more but theres only so much you can eat in the morning
- Go star spotting - I saw Ugly Betty being filmed on the street!
- When I had lunch in Les Halles I figured I could pretty much go home as even on the first day it was such a highlight- the chips and sandwich poulet were amazing. No sign of Bourdain unfortunately.
- Get to the Empire State about an hour before sunset and take some amazing pictures
- Go to Times Square and get yourself cheap tickets to a show. I saw Hairspray