There is nothing to do with wine in this section – it’s just a bit of seasonal fun!
To those of you who think that it’s too early to start celebrating Xmas, you are totally wrong. Xmas should start the day the kids go back to school after the summer holidays… like it used to!
One of the reasons I feel so strongly about this is that I love it when the Xmas sandwiches appear on the shelves. As usual I will be trying them all… but this year I’m going to tell you all what I think (M&S won last year, Pret the year before).
Morrisons festive turkey, bacon and stuffing sandwich (19th December 2014)
I’m a bad person. I don’t usually apologise for it, but this time I will. I asked you to tell me where to go (ahem) and I have just ignored you. You were harsh and led the way to Asda, I chose the other option and turned left to Morrisons (Sainsbury’s have an apostrophe; why don’t Morrisons?). I am not 100% to blame. I have no idea why I thought I would have time to head through the traffic and the scumbags to Asda, when Morrisons is just down the road and right next to the packing supplies place… I needed far more bubble wrap that I anticipated… and no, I didn’t make a suit out of the first batch.
Tomorrow is moving day and so far have filled a skip, packed about a million boxes and been to buy more bubble wrap. As I said, Morrisons is next door; I went in and I bough a Christmas sandwich. Sorry it’s not as advertised. Thinking about it I should have gone to Asda really; not because you lot told me so, but because I needed a longer bloody break!
Anyway, Morrisons it was. I have come to realise that the whole Morrisons Market Street thing is a big con. Well not a con, just not different to anywhere else. Every supermarket has a meat counter, fish counter, deli etc… they just call them “counters”. All Morrisons have done is called them butcher, fishmonger and, uuumm, deli… and then called in Market Street. Southerners don’t get it. If they called it Organic Farmers Market Street then they would flock there and Waitrose would die… that would be a shame. Maybe someone from Morrisons will read this and I will be blamed for the death of Waitrose… or maybe not…
I went for the ”Festive turkey, bacon and stuffing sandwich… there was a “reduced fat” version… I still can’t work out why. I also think I may have actually bought that sandwich; it was just n the wrong packaging.
What it says on the pack:
“A taste of Christmas with turkey, smoked bacon, pork stuffing and cranberry chutney on soft (wait for it…) malted bread”
This sandwich looks beige and tastes beige. It has a nasty pappy texture and tastes of cheap meat paste (remember that??). I had to go back and check the ingredients… it definitely says cranberry chutney… if I look hard enough I can see it… but no matter how hard I taste (is that even possible?) I can taste the cranberry. And this proves how ridiculous it is that some of you don’t have cranberry sauce with your Christmas dinner… what the hell is wrong with you? And pepper. There is a lot of pepper. I like pepper. Just not pepper on bread. A very dull sandwich… I bet Asda’s is better! 3/10
Greggs Christmas Lunch Sandwich (12th December 2014)
I wasn’t going to do a review today because a) I’m running out of options close to work and b) I’m sick of Xmas bloomin’ sarnies!! But they’re serving Xmas dinner in the canteen (they call it a restaurant – it’s not) today and we all know the only true Xmas dinner comes between a couple of slices of (malted) bread.
I tried to find an EAT (catchy name eh… but what if all you want is a drink?) as they seem to be getting a decent Xmas review in other (unofficial) round-ups… but that was a bus ride away… then Frankie (nutter at the desk next door) suggested Greggs…
Now I’m sure you all have an opinion about Greggs… did you know it’s the fastest growing fast food chain in the UK? Well it is. They also call themselves “Greggs the bakers”… but I’m not sure you can actually buy a loaf there (I really should have checked while I was there – but I only had the thought now – nothing on their website to suggest a rustic sliced batch). You can get a bacon buttie and a coffee for £2 from 7AM (I walk past every day at about 6.58 and there is always a queue), they offer a wide variety of pastry treats (the cheese & onion pasty was my single source of protein for 10 years as a vegie – I still have the lithe figure to prove it), and a whole host of cakes, buns, muffins and doughnuts. But I have never had a Greggs sandwich… until now…
What is says on the pack:
It doesn’t actually say anything… Greggs has gone all Pret-posh on us and put the ingredients on a shelf talker! “Turkey – Pork, sage and onion stuffing – Sweetcure bacon – Cranberry and red onion relish – Mayonnaise”
This is a proper blue-collar sandwich; no prissy descriptions, it doesn’t even tell you what type of bread (it might be malted [I still don’t know and don’t care what it means], I’m surprised its not white). There are no green leafy bits – well done Greggs! But my favourite thing of all is the stuffing. Remember turkey roll? It’s like that! It is a slice of deli meat with some stuffing flavourings – it’s wrong but I love it! The weight and fill is good too. I liked the sound of the cranberry and red onion chutney, but the onion is slightly over-powering. But I like it – it’s not the best, but it’s one of the most enjoyable. I hope this doesn’t come across as sexist… but it’s a Christmas man-wich… white bread would be better! 8/10
Starbucks Christmas Club (11th December 2014)
What the heck is this whole coffee culture thing about? Since when did we need to stop for a coffee every 10 metres (I have no idea if the r should come before the e or the other way around); and since when did you need a PHD just to order the bloomin’ thing… a triple shot machiatto-skinny-cow –frappe-knickerbocker glory… and in a bucket please!
I remember when I would sit in the Penguin café of Bangor High Street with a black coffee and a Marlboro Light (I think I’d just read an article in the NME where Bob Mould did the same so I was ultra-cool – I still have my coffee black but gave up the smokes a couple of years ago), having just picked up the latest Ned’s Atomic Dustbin release on cassette from Cobb Records, as I waited for the Old Glan to open…. Come on there are a few of you reading this who remember ALL of that!
And what about the “Mac rule”? You can only sit there for more than an hour if you are writing a sh*t book (or blog… ahem!) on your Macbook… and by the way, if you have an “Air” you are nt in the gang; you don’t know it, but the MacBookPro lot really look down on you.
Anyway, onto this monstrosity of a sandwich:
What it says on the pack (I hope there isn’t a word limit here):
Turkey breast with pork, sage & onion stuffing and black pepper mayonnaise, festively fruity cranberry sauce, dry cure smoked ham, mature Cheddar cheese & mixed salad leaves on malted wheatgrain (??) bread
Flippin’ ‘eck… why not add some prawns and make it a full 3-course dinner?? And also, only a real sandwich geek would pick this up (unlike those impostors I’ve seen with their 1-page summaries), the pack open from left to right – all of the others so far have been right to left (impressed??).
I don’t really like it. I like parts of it, but together it’s pretty shocking. The cheese and ham are a classic combo… by themselves. Why replace the bacon with ham? Why not just do a cheese and ham version and then a Christmas one. With bacon. And there’s too much salad. I like the stuffing, I like the cranberry, I can’t even taste the turkey. If I was scoring this as 2 sandwiches, the cheese and ham one would get a 7 and the Christmas one might get a 6. Together, it gets 3/10… sometimes less is more (and I really am a glutton)
Sainsbury’s Turkey Feast (8th December 2014)
Me and Sainsbury’s have had a few issues in the festive sandwich hunt; I have been unimpressed with their refusal to sell me a sandwich midway through December or early in the morning. This is a shame as I am a Sainsbury’s customer.
I would go so far as to say they are my first choice supermarket. When I say first choice I don’t include Waitrose or M&S. They would be first and second choices (in that order I think) if money were no object. Sainsbury’s are my third choice then. You see Sainsbury’s is for wannabe poshos. Not as good as the aforementioned wallet-drainers, a step above the Ant & Dec-athon of Morrisons, not as dull and disheartening as Tesco or, worse than that, Asda (I may lower myself and try an Asda sandwich – it hurts just typing it).
Plus it got a whole lot better when they stopped using Jamie Wally-ver; everything started tasting fresher, drier and less worthy. And I like their Taste The Difference wine a lot too (you may have spotted that in “the wine thing I do”). Unfortunately there isn’t a TTD Xmas sandwich in a swanky paper bag (well not on Earl’s Court Road anyway) so I went for the “Turkey Feast on malted bread”. (NB: I still have no idea what malted bread is)
What it says on the pack:
Nothing. There is no description and I gave up reading the instructions after the 24th line.
It looks like they’ve packed a whole lot between those bits of malted bread… but wait… what is that green stuff? It’s not spinach (which has been pretty ubiquitous this year)… it’s bloody iceberg lettuce! This is wrong on so many levels… unfortunately the woes don’t end there. The turkey appears to have been grated (no, really), mixed with a hint of cheap stuffing and far too much mayo. I can’t taste the bacon; even when I try it by itself. And the cranberry sauce (cranberry and apple and about 20 more ingredients actually) is sooooo sweet. I am very disappointed. This is pretty low. In fact, this is how I would expect an Asda sandwich to taste (ouch); enough said. 2/10
Tesco Finest* Turkey Feast (2nd December 2014)
There’s a whole lot of nonsense it today’s review, starting with a kinda apology type thing. It was really, really cold today and I really couldn’t be ars*d going further than next door… so I went back to Tesco. There were another couple of practical reasons behind this decision also (totally back-filling the strategy as usual):
- I still hadn’t tried the Finest sandwich
- I needed to get a £5 Secret Santa gift
Let’s start with the gift. You can’t get anything decent for a fiver these days can you? You have to put a bit of thought into it, and as were only talking about work colleagues that was too much effort. I thought to myself “Ant, what would you like for £5?” So I bought 5 novelty chocolate tubes… except they’re not tubes anymore are they?? They’re flippin’ SQUBES (I think I just invested that)!! Nestle chocolate may taste dreadful but at least they still put Smarties and Milky Bar Buttons in a proper flippin’ tube! Is nothing sacred anymore???
So onto the main event… the Tesco Finest* Turkey Feast (I have now found out what the * is for… all will be revealed…)
What it says on the pack:
“Turkey Feast with British pork stuffing smoked bacon, Lincolnshire sausage & tangy cranberry sauce on malted bread” (extra points for no mayo!)
My first impression is “cop-out”. I chomp down on their Chicken, bacon and sausage sandwich a few times a week (it’s really rather good; I may have mentioned that before) and I thought they had simply replaced the chicken with turkey and the mayo with cranberry… but no… the sausages are a different size and are cut differently…. Look – I take this gig very seriously. It is also smaller; the bread is smaller; the chicken version sits snuggly inside the posh plastic try; I can get this one out of the try too easily. But it’s pretty darn good. You can taste all of the ingredients; the stuffing packs a punch and has a bit of crunch, you can taste the smoke on the bacon. But the cranberry is a touch sweet it is different enough to chicken one, but perhaps just falls a bit short. Not bad at all though; a very respectable 8/10
I promised to let you know what the * in Finest is for… well it’s an acknowledgment that although it tastes fine, it’s just not as fine as M&S.
The co-operative “Loved by us” Turkey & the Trimmings (28th November 2014)
It’s been a morning of Christmas sandwich frustration yet again. For a change I thought I’d put a bit of planning into my day (you will get the irony if you know what I do for a living) and buy my Xmas sandwich on the way to work… but this is obviously a stupid idea. Or so my local Sainsbury’s and Morrisons Locals (??) would have you believe. No sandwiches in the chiller at 8AM…. GRRRRRRR!!!
So I decided to go proper (well almost proper) local and head for the Co-op. I’ve got a soft spot for the Co-op (I’m not sure if that should be a capital C or not – they don’t go for it but I think they deserve it). They always there for you. They’re good with food. They’re here for you for life. Ahem. My favourite story about the Co-op is when Zoe was sent on an emergency mission to buy a bottle of fizz on someone’s leaving day, only to be told “oh you don’t want that love, it’s too expensive” when she tried to purchase a bottle of Moet! Quite sweet really, but off topic… to the sandwich aisle we go!
Like many supermarkets at convenience operators (whatever), the Co-op offer a meal deal. £3.25 for a “main” a “drink” and a “snack”. I got a bit confused; nowhere did they tell me what a snack was. Sometimes I have a sandwich for a snack, but I didn’t think they’d go for that, so I selected a bag of salt & vinegar Squares and hoped. My choice was accepted by the checkout machine (and by me – haven’t had a pack in years).
What is says on the pack:
“Turkey breast, pork, sage and onion stuffing, cranberry chutney, mayonnaise and bacon on malted bread”
They usually put the biggest amount of ingredients first don’t they? I am immediately concerned there will be more mayonnaise than bacon. It also doesn’t look particularly appetising if I’m being totally honest. I’m worried. I’m hungry and worried… with no reason as it happens! This is a pretty bloody good Xmas sandwich. It’s one for the stuffing lovers (heh heh!) amongst you… and there is plenty of bacon too and very little sign of the evil mayo. The cranberry chutney is spicy and a little bit warming; it’s all really rather good. Loved by them, and loved (or liked very much at least) by me! 8/10
Waitrose Christmas sandwich (26th November 2014)
I do love Waitrose; it’s the one supermarket I actually enjoy having a trundle around (context is everything, “enjoy” meaning it’s a similar experience to sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, compared to Asda, which I would compare to gouging out my eyes with broken lightbulbs). The biggest problem with Waitrose is you nip in for a pint of milk (how middle class!) and before you know it you have £50 of delicious looking and sounding food in your basket… and that’s before you get to the wine section! I’m not sure I’ve ever had a sandwich from Waitrose before, but lets see what their Xmas offering tastes like…
What is says on the pack:
“A sandwich (thank the lord!) made with turkey and pork, chestnut and thyme stuffing, spinach and smoked bacon with mayonnaise and cranberry, port and orange chutney in sliced (phew again!) malted bread.”
They should maybe take a look at their grammar, however this is a very well put together sandwich, with the most succulent and tasty turkey I’ve come across this year. There is a sharp, tart tang to the cranberry sauce (I can actually taste the port and orange!) and the whole thing comes together very nicely – it really does taste like Xmas dinner. There was a big clump of spinach (spinach is one of the green things I don’t have an issue with) that could’ve been better distributed but that’s being picky (which is my Xmas job I suppose). I would happily eat this one again. Good job Waitrose. 8.5/10
Tesco limited edition Christmas pasty (24th November 2014)
I was going to be really good and have a day off the Xmas-fare today… but I made the mistake of heading to Tesco (so obviously I wasn’t planning on anything Xmas based on recent events) with John, a work colleague, who pointed out the limited edition ”handcrimped turkey, sausage and cranberry pasty”. Well come on, what choice did I have??
I can’t lay the blame 100% at John’s door, for Matt S also posted a picture of a Christmas sausage roll (i.e. they added a bit of cranberry sauce) from Sainsbury’s but a few days ago. Thanks Matt. And thanks John. Now can you both please apologise to my wife for making me undertake and expand this ridiculous project; Zoe is going to seriously kick my ass for this tonight!
What it says on the pack:
Tender pieces of turkey breast and winter vegetables (swede, onion, leek, carrot – well at least that’s 4 of my 5 a day) with sage and onion stuffing and juice cranberries (5 out of 5 – back of the net!) in a creamy béchamel sauce, wrapped up by hand in our famous (really??) flaky pastry.
Well the first bite has me wondering whether this is a main or dessert (could it be a clanger? Look it up!); there is so much cranberry in here that it may even be worth 2 portions! But after that it gets surprisingly good! The turkey and stuffing is well seasoned, the veg is pretty good (yes I did write that) and the “famous” pastry is pretty damn good. If the cranberry sauce had better distribution it would get an extra mark, but it’s 7/10, the same as their Xmas sandwich.
The did also buy a bunch of grapes to show I really was forced into this awful trap… honestly wifey!
Boots “Delicious” Turkey, Bacon, Stuffing & Cranberry (21st November 2014)
Let’s begin with a note regarding the leniency of this sandwich crusader (I really should get a cape); I got drenched to bring you this diatribe and after what felt like hours of internal (and a bit of external) monologue, I have decided not to dock any points from Boots. But I really wanted to.
Boots. Home to pharmacy, health & beauty, optician… and sandwiches. Well would you buy a dishwasher from Staples? For the office perhaps, I suppose, but look we’re digressing. In fairness to Boots, they did make the Meal Deal famous – you used to be able to get any chocolate as your “snack”, even the big bags of Maltseres; you can’t any more (I checked today) so sorry for getting your hopes up. Enough drivel, it’s the sandwich we’re all here to learn about… and whether I will allow them to use “Delicious” as a descriptor for the rest of the season:
What it says on the pack:
“Cooked turkey breast (phew…imagine the salmonella outcry if it was raw!) with sweetcured bacon, cranberry sauce, pork, sage & onion stuffing and mayonnaise with spinach on malted bread.”
First up, the sandwich looks pretty good; plenty of filling, almost appetising. But it tastes bland – there is no seasoning whatsoever. Come on, let’s be serious, we don’t eat turkey because we like the taste, we eat because its just what we do at Christmas. This sandwich tastes of turkey… but little else. There is hardly and cranberry sauce (turkey neeeeeeeds cranberry) and although the bacon is tasty, there just isn’t enough of it. And there is supposed to be stuffing in here? I can’t even find it when I open it up. Altogether really rather dull. 5/10
I will be writing to Boots with my verdict and asking them to change the word “Delicious” to “Pedestrian”.
Pret’s Christmas Lunch – the weight of expectation (19th November 2014)
I’ve been looking forward to this one with equal measure of excitement and fear. Those of you who know me obviously realise how really dead posh I am (for those of you who don’t, I really am not) and I really do like Pret a lot (side-thought – when did they drop the “a-Manger bit”?) and their Xmas sandwich is always good… so what if it doesn’t measure up… what if I am disappointed?? I have very high expectations of Pret… and that makes me a very harsh critic.
What it says on the pack:
This is Pret… it doesn’t say anything on the pack! But this is what is says on the shelf label:
Free-range turkey, Pret’s crumbly pork stuffing, crispy onions, spinach, cranberry port sauce, mayo, seasoning
It’s a big bugger – so it really does come with weight expectations! The texture is great – I love the crumbly stuffing and there is a crunch from the crispy onions for sure… but it tastes a bit bland. I tried all of the ingredients individually and they all taste pretty good, but somehow they seem to cancel each other out when consumed as a whole.
Look, if this was from one of the supermarkets I’d be really happy. But it’s not. It,s from Pret. And I expect more from you. Maybe it’s a settling in period… I will try this one again. 7.5/10
Note: they also do a veggie version which has stuff that isn’t turkey or pork stuffing between a couple of bits of bread
I’m very grumpy today – thank you Tesco! (17th November 2014)
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, Tesco. I thought I’s give you another chance today. Actually, I’ll be honest; it was pi**ing down with rain and I had no other option, but why let the truth get in the way of a good rant? I decided to give you another go and try your Finest* turkey offering… IF THERE WAS ONE!!
But wait, first of all I have something else to get off my chest. What the hell is the asterisk all about?? On the (not Xmas) sandwich I had, the only other * had the following type written after it: “of the reference intake* typical values per 100g”. I’m not sure that is a particularly strong selling point!
So there. Tesco finest (apparently it’s a lower case “f” now too – probably because of their shoddy attitude to Xmas sandwiches) still aren’t playing ball and giving us the turkey sandwich we all crave. You know where they can shove their smoked salmon and cream cheese offering without any suggestions from me…
M&S Turkey and Pigs in Blankets (14th November 2014)
Oh how lucky are posh people having M&S on their doorstep. They just get it don’t they? Their BBQ range over the summer was pretty special (posh dogs anyone? Marvellous!) and they seem to have hit the nail on the head again for Christmas.
II have to thank Sarah J for posting a pic of the display at M&S Clapham Junction this morning… I just hoped the exhibition would be on show in dirty-Watford. And it bloody well was! And what a choice! Turkey Feast, Brie & Cranberry, Brie & Grape, Chestnut Stuffing, Aberdeen Angus & Spiced Chutney plus the ubiquitous Christmas triple. But the one that really caught my eye was Turkey and Pigs in Blankets…
What it says on the pack:
British pork sausages and British bacon, British roast butter basted turkey, cranberry chutney, spiced mayonnaise (why??) and spinach on sage and onion bread.
Has that got your tastebubs tingling like it did mine? And best of all, the flavour lives up to the billing. It’s bloomin delicious. The sausage is the king in here; its got a lovely herby not going on and leads the way, then the bacon and turkey are delicate but still apparent in their support role. The cranberry chutney is deliciously well balanced, I may even like just a touch more, but that is being picky. The sage bread is great too – really carries the herbiness all the way through from start to finish; even the spinach gives a nice crunch (and counts as one of my 5 a day – the rest will come from wine). This is gonna be hard to beat. And 5% of the sale goes to Shelter. 9/10
The other problem I have is that I want to try lots of the other M&S sandwiches… but I also want to eat this one every day!
A day of disappointment (13th November 2014)
There is no Xmas sandwich update today… and for that you can thank both Morrisons and Sainsburys.
Also Morrisons Local and Sainsburys Local is a misnomer; it is only Local if you live nearby. I walked 15 minutes each way only to be left disappointed. Let’s get the worst out of the way. Sometimes I think it is only me and Sarah Baglu Drosodd Julie Day Laura Fisher Laura Fryer (thanks for the support, team!) who are celebrating Xmas in November. Not a hint of festivity in the Morrisons sandwich chiller, not a sausage (or chipolata – see what I did there?)
So on I went to Sainsbury’s… and I faced the same issue as yesterday! Brie & Cranberry or the Christmas Triple. On the first of those, I was a vegetarian for 10 years, but you’ll be pleased to hear I am now fully recovered and I want turkey on my Christmas sandwich. Secondly, I don’t want a bloody triple! One with turkey (so it is available this year!), one with cheese and another with prawns; even I’m not that greedy (see Lynne Dickie )! However, it better news, you can have the taste The Difference sandwiches in the Sainsbury’s £3 Meal Deal (take note Tesco); this is balanced by a negative though, the TTD Lemon & Herb Chicken Salad tasted of nothing.
Let’s hope tomorrow brings better luck and a bit of Xmas cheer.
Tesco “Turkey & Trimmings” (12th November 2014)
I’m not happy. I buy a lot of (too many) sandwiches from Tesco because I work next door to one; generally I like their range, especially the posh Finest ones (Chicken, Bacon & Sausage in a single sandwich has to be a good thing). Their Finest Xmas range appeared on the shelf today and I got a bit giddy at first… then I got angry. The Xmas range consisted of “Applewood Smoked Bacon & White Stilton”, “Cheddar with Apple & Ale Chutney” and “Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese”. Where’s the turkey one?? And to make things worse they’ve also taken away the “Chicken, Bacon & Sausage option!
But they did have a “Turkey & Trimmings” sandwich in the standard (chavy) range. So I went for that; but I’ve deducted a point already for this inconvenience.
What is says on the pack:
“Malted brown bread, sliced turkey breast, mayonnaise, pork sausage, cranberry sauce, sage & onion stuffing and cooked diced bacon.”
Another point docked for the mayo. The first thing that hits you is the very sweet cranberry sauce; makes me wince a bit. But then all of the meaty flavours come through one by one. I like the fact I can taste all of the individual ingredients, and better still, if I hadn’t read the ingredients I would have no idea there was mayo in there. The finish is very good and the sage in the stuffing really comes through.
After a bad start, this ain’t a bad sandwich at all. Nice balance and ingredients you can actually taste. I want to take a point away but I think just venting my frustration will cause Tesco to take a good long look at themselves. 7/10