Tuesday, 25 November 2014

W5 All In 1 Dishwasher Tablets

Price: £3.99 for 40 tablets

Score (out of five): 4 1/2

Review: I'm comparing these to Finish Powerball Tabs which we used to use. I bought those from Lidl regularly as well, as they were often on a special offer that was just cheap, not a special offer. 

My Lidl has a permanent few billboard spaces in the car park behind it, and I bought my first pack of W5 dishwasher tablets after these got a Good Housekeeping award and this was on a billboard. Being a sucker I thought I'd give them a whirl.

On their first outing I was a little bit disappointed. I'd put a greasy roasting tray in that I'd used for roast potatoes and everything came out with a slight sheen of grease on it. I was a bit worried that this would be one of the accidental Lidl buys - something that's actually a bit crap and you've got loads to get through. I think if I'd used Finish the grease would've been washed off, but that's probably because Finish contains chemicals I'd rather not use. I've now learnt to wash off any excess grease before I use these and they're now my standard dishwasher tablet and are excellent value for money. What's more, because they're gentler they're not running our cheap crystal glasses from TK-Maxx like Finish was.

In this Guardian article where a woman "downsizes" from Ocado to Lidl she is very disappointed with the dishwasher tablets. I can only think she went for the absolute cheapest, not these. I would definitely recommend these. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Green Grocer's Frozen Petit Pois

Yes, that is a Lidl frozen lobster peeking out underneath...
Price: 99p

Score (out of five): 5

Review: frozen things are something Lidl do really well. I think this is because in continental Europe frozen food isn't seen as naff as it is in the UK. It's recognised that freezing is a great way to preserve and then serve great food. I remember listening to a Food Programme on Radio 4 a while back about the poshest supermarket chain in France that is essentially what we'd call Iceland.

Lidl's frozen petit pois really are excellent. They're such a bright shade of green it's vaguely worrying. They're frozen quickly so don't come as a solid block. I'd say they're better than Bird's Eye, and way better than the Tesco's own brand petit pois. What's more, you don't pay over the odds for wanting your peas a bit smaller and with a posh French name. 

Last Christmas I made a pea and ham soup and had forgotten to soak split peas, so I made it with most of the bag of these and it was delicious - such a sweet and vivid flavour. Like a cool summer evening in a bowl

They even have the greengrocer's apostrophe in the right place on Green Grocer's. A definite must-buy for the middle class freezer.

Friday, 21 November 2014


Price: 82p

Score (out of five): 2

Review: my partner likes his hummus. He is the world's supermarket hummus aficionado. Our supermarket hummus hierachy is: Waitrose, Sainbury's, Tesco, M&S, ASDA, and the coop. Back in 2008 there was a UK-wide shortage because the one factory that supplies hummus to all supermarkets had a salmonella scare. It was a grim couple of weeks in our household. We were also gobsmacked by the variation in hummus from one factory.

He'd tried Lidl hummus a few years back and was not impressed, so I'd always stuck with Tesco own-brand which is on permanent special offer (buy two for £1.80, and one always goes off before it's eaten). I noticed a big label recently in Lidl that they had a new hummus so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

And it was good Lidl - not amazing, definitely not the best, but not revolting. It would get a higher score, but the most recent time we bought it it was pretty poor - grainy, with a bit of a funny taste to it. Most of it ended up going into the food waste bin. Another attempt at trying it and the same again - bland and with a funny texture. Has anyone else had similar hummus quality consistency problems? Should we try again? Hummus is possibly the greatest middle class culinary signifier there is. I do hope Lidl can get this right.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Milton Gate Selection - British 6 Smoked Dry Cure Back Bacon Rashers

Price: £1.99

Score (out of five): 1

Review: we're actually not snobs when it comes to bacon. We make a easy pasta dish with smoked bacon and in our experience bog-standard supermarket smoked bacon is the best as it has a strong flavour.

Alas with this bacon Lidl didn't meet expectations. Even if it were in a bacon roll rather than a pasta dish, it still would!d have been disappointing. It was basically like pinkish pork chops. It really didn't taste like it had been cured at all. It was neither salty nor smokey. Just ridiculously bland. We'll be going back to Tesco in future.

To be fair on Lidl, they did have other smoked back bacon, which could have met our taste requirements, but the smallest pack I could buy was 28 rashers (two packs of 14) which was just far too much, even though we do have a freezer.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Montedos wholefoods fruit, nut and pine nut topper

Price: £1.29

Score (out of five): 4

Review: well, linked to my previous yoghurt review, I put this fruit, nut and pine nut topper on my whey-protein yoghurt to add a bit of texture.

It might not be much, but it is an excellent product. The golden raisins are coloured and preserved with sulphur dioxide but they are very plump and sweet. The dried blueberries add a really nice, firmer, sharp sweetness. Peanuts and pecan nuts are finely chopped to make a really nice crunchy and the pine nuts, are, well nutty. A very unpretentious product, but the sort of thing Lidl does excellently. And it also represents their fantastic "healthy checkouts" (M&S take note). I bought them initially as an impulse buy as I was waiting to be served, and now they're a permanent fixture on my shopping list. Bit pricey, so they've lost a star.

First post - Milbona Turkish style yoghurt

So, this is my first review!

Price: £1.49

Score (out of five): 4

Review: alas, I have to start my first review with a slight qualifier here. I do sports training quite a bit, so I mainly eat my yoghurt with a spoon of banana-flavoured whey protein mixed into it, which is obviously not going to be to everyone's taste.

Allowing for that, the Milbona Turkish Style yoghurt is very good indeed. It's about the same price as a half of the amount in Tescos. It's lovely and thick (10% fat) and and has an excellent flavour and texture. 

I'm sure if I were Turkish or Greek then I would have tried better - it is Turkish "style" after all. But the nearest I have tried to it is Tesco Finest Greek yoghurt which is £1.60 for 500g and that comes from Macedonia. I'd happily serve this as a light dessert at a middle class lunch party with some yoghurt and toasted almonds stirred through it. 

I also regularly buy the Milbona low fat Greek yoghurt and normal Greek yoghurt. Reviews of them will be forthcoming.