Monday, 18 April 2016

Eridanous Vanilla Creme Swirl

Lidl fans, I know, I know, I've been neglecting you. It's mainly because I've got into a nice routine of buying the same things each week from Lidl, so haven't actually had that much new to review. Alas my wine drinking isn't prodigious enough for me to get reviews of their wines in before they go out of stock.The good news is, my local Lidl has now started stocking fresh rosemary, so I may never shop at Tesco again.

Anyway, I was in my Lidl last week and the woman in front of me was basically buying one of everything in their Greek range they had on that week. The woman in front of her commented on this, and the woman replied that she was Greek herself and missed Greek food, pointing out what was particularly good (the Mousaka was highly rated). So, next time I went, I stocked up myself. Reviews incoming, First up these gorgeous little things. 

Not the best photo, I know....

Price: £1.49 (for four)

Score (out of five): 4 1/2

Review: when these come out of the oven, they actually look better than they do on the "serving suggestion" on the packet. 

Now, I've never been to Greece, or had a Greek Vanilla Creme Swirl, so I can't compare these to anything else. But comparing them to nothing, they're bloody gorgeous. Light, crispy pastry that cracks almost as if you're eating crackling, which gives away to a wonderful custard. The custard isn't overwhelming either.

The only reason they've lost a half-mark is because they take 40 minutes in an oven at 200 degrees to get to this state of utter deliciousness. I was going to have one the other day, but when I looked at how long they took to cook, they went back in the freezer. I was imaging something small and dainty that would take 10 minutes to cook. These, on the other hand, are big and tasty. If you're willing to wait, I'd strongly recommend them. 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Confiserie Firenze Appel Strudel

Price: 89p(!!!)

Score (out of 5): 3 1/2

Review: ahh that German staple of Apfel Strudel. We've traveled quite a bit in Germany and Austria, which probably explains most of my devotion to Lidl. I've also tried a lot of (quite variable) apple strudel. 

As such a Germanic tradition, if Lidl couldn't manage a decent apple strudel, you'd be concerned. This falls squarely into the "Lidl frozen food that isn't amazing, but is quite good and you'd happily serve it to friends." As the Germans might say "Alles in Ordnung" when it comes to Lidl Apfel Strudel. 

It's not too sweet, has a load of apple and sultana filling, a nice little bit of cinnamon spice and crispy light pastry. I was cooking it while watching Strictly so I was a little bit worried about leaving it in the oven while a dance was being performed and accidentally burning it. Therefore I think ours was slightly undercooked, so the pastry still had a buttery flavour to it. I think if I'd left it in for five minutes more (vierzig minuten, not fünf und drießig minuten, the upper range of the instructions) then it would have been cooked to perfection. 

A sprinkle of icing sugar over it afterwards made it look wonderful.

And if you're wondering if I speak German after the post, I had to check with my partner what 30 and 40 were and I'm sorted if I ever go to a fancy dress party in Germany dressed as a rabbit as I can also say "Ich bin ein Kaninchen". Other than that, I know nothing.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Formil Biological Washing Liquid 3L

Price: free (for viewers in Scotland, for a limited period)

Score (out of five): 4

Recently in Scotland, Lidl have been running a promotion where customers get a wee bonus for shopping there, some money off when you spend £x amount or a free item. One week it was this product.

We’ve been a washing powder family for many years, Persil bio usually. I’m naturally clumsy so there is usually a trail of powder from the massive vat of it under the sink to the machine, and in all of the wrong parts of the dispensing drawer. Lidl bestowed on us a huge bottle of this washing liquid, which we lumbered home with, having decided to nip in for a few bits whilst out with our toddler in his pram but leaving with a week’s worth of deli meats, fourteen plant pots and an electric blanket. [editor's note: a similar tale resulted in a similar acquisition of 3L of Formil Biological Washing Liquid.]

After resting up to recover from the carrying back of the beast, I was most taken aback to discover that you don’t have to put the liquid into a ball like in the 1990s and in fact it goes straight into the machine dispenser once you flip a flippy thing. (This might just be our washing machine.) It cleans your clothes and for clumsy feckers like me it is easier to transition gloop compared to powder from washing substance container to machine. So this may be more of a Lidl changed my life, or at least my washing habits, kind of review.

It’s a lurid green colour but if used with the “summer breeze” Lenor fabric conditioner that is currently making an appearance on Lidl’s washing products shelves you get a delightful lemon and lime effect in your dispenser, which is enough to brighten anyone’s day.

I’d be willing to buy it in future.

[Editor's note: we were forced to use this for a Saturday's worth of washing after we ran out of Ariel Excel Gel. I loved it. It smells exactly like you'd imagine clean linen to smell if something was called "clean linen". However, this strong, homely, heart-warming smell is exactly why we won't be buying it in future - alas the smell is too strong for my partner].

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

The blind tasting - Kania Tomato Ketchup

So, I'm branching out in my style of blog reviews and having a go at a blind tasting. My long suffering partner who's been subject to all sorts because of this blog (horrible hummus, mockery for buying a blender, force fed marzipan chocolate bars, etc.) came home to dinner one night to be faced with a blind taste - two ramekins of tomato ketchup to taste. I did my absolute utmost to now sway the results. I'm a policy analyst, I know how to run an RCT (and, no, pendants, I'm not willing to double-blind them!).

I've been accused of being sponsored by Lidl because so many of the reviews on here are positive, but I swear this is the god's honest truth as to what happened. Honest. Believe me.

Yes, my partner thought that the Kania ketchup was Heinz tomato ketchup. Specifically because it had a thicker texture and a richer red colour and he preferred the flavour, initially. I actually preferred it to the Heinz myself. Alas, brand loyalty has won on this one, so I've been forced back to buying Heinz, but I keep a look out for it sold cheaper in Lidl, so I don't have to spend half-an-hour being confused by the pricing in Tesco to try and get the best deal. 

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Jam doughnuts

There was a doughnut here for a few minutes
Price: 19p

Score (out of five): 5

Review: as I've blogged about before, the bakery section in Lidl is generally ok, but not necessarily brilliant. Their croissants have improved a lot lately. I'll review their mini pizzas soon. 

But, I have a problem reviewing their jam doughnuts. Getting a photo is a bit tricky as they don't seem to last long enough - as you'll see.

Now, Scotland has a bit of a reputation when it comes to doughnuts. And it's not an enviable one. But I think people should be queuing up outside Lidl to buy these doughnuts. Imagine biting into a light fluffy pillow, covered with sugar with a jam that actually tastes of fruit. That's basically a Lidl doughnut. 

Eat them. Eat all of them. Apart from the ones I eat before you get there. 

Sourdough white bloomer

Price: 99p

Score (out of five): 3

Review: like most middle class people I whooped with joy when my local Lidl installed an in-store bakery. In fact it was when I started shopping there regularly.

The baked products however have been a bit hit-and-miss. This bread is definitely this. Positive points are: really nice crusty crust and it has a really nice nutty flavour coming through from the sourdough mix. However, like a lot of the baked products from my local Lidl it's a bit doughy and undercooked. Our only local supermarket used to be a big Coop (Scotmid) and it was really bad for undercooked bread. This isn't literally dough in the middle, but it does look like it could do with a bit longer in the oven.

If you toast it, and put butter and jam on it, then it is very nice indeed. I'd be disappointed if I took it on a middle class picnic though.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Silver Crest Hand Blender Set

Price: £14.99

Score (out of five): 4 now 5

Review: we had a very good quality Moulinex version of this. We used the small food processor bit quite a lot as it was easier to clean than the large food processor we have. But alas the plastic clip at the top of the blades that plugs into the lid to make it spin broke, so that had to be disposed of.

And then one Thursday our Lidl Random Crap Aisle™ was stocked with these. Alas, I didn't have enough arms/bags to buy one so I sent my partner off to get one, which is a whole other story to be published soon. 

So, it works. Not much more to add really. Slightly disappointing the whisk attachment only has one whisk, and the plastic feels a bit brittle and plasticy. But, it blends. It dealt find with some quite tough lamb. When I blitzed a very nice beetroot and dill soup with it you could really feel the power of the motor pulling it down to the bottom of the pan. It's dishwasher safe with the wonderful W5 Dishwasher Tablets. The key thing, I suppose, will be how long it lasts and whether it can do things like mince cooked meat. I shall let you know. 

Update a month later: I've not used this a bit more and it's actually brilliant. The brittle plasticky feel is because it's actually really strong plastic and also it locks together really securely and satisfyingly. It has absolutely no problems cutting really tough cooked beef and actually found it easier than our large Kenwood mixer. Another win from Lidl.