Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: COOP Irresistible

Irresistible, eh? We'll see about that.

Oh. Okay. Fair play, COOP. 5 out of 5. Everyone go home.

I should probably do an actual review, eh? Well, the pastry is firm, but not crispy, and has just the right, sweet touch. The filling is, um, full of flavour; it thunders in with a big boozy uppercut, like a drunk in the best bar fight ever.

(I have never been in a bar fight.)

These are bold, powerful mince pies, with a lovely texture and great taste. As popular Welsh TV chef Chris Roberts says, these are (finger slap) NEXT LEVEL. It's going to be difficult to top these minceys.

These do have palm oil, but as I discovered, COOP apparently uses sustainable oil.

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

Monday, November 29, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: COOP

You have to admire the stark, utilitarian messaging there.


The pastry has a nice, crumbly texture, but lacks a distinctive flavour. Or any flavour, to be honest. The filling is similarly bland, right up to a HUGE rush of citrusy flavour, almost an aftertaste it comes so late, which rescues the whole endeavour.

Not bad, and not great, but perfectly average, and will do if you're in some sort of mince pie related emergency. 3 out of 5.

There is palm oil on the ingredients list, but I am told -- by the Orangutan Land Trust -- that COOP uses 100% sustainable palm oil..

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: Sainsbury's Taste the Difference

These are my brother's favourites for 2021 (edit: it's the cheaper ones he likes, apparently) but I've found them to be poor in previous years. Mind you, he was right about Tesco last year, so...


These chunky pies are off to an excellent start as the box opens and you're slapped in the face with a strong, alcohol-infused waft. The pastry has a touch of crispiness to it, but not unpleasantly so, and it has a good taste. The filling is full of boozy, juicy flavour and has a nice, almost chewy, bite.

There is a lot going on in this pie, but it's all balanced and nothing overpowers anything else. 4.5 out of 5 and a strong contender for best of 2021. Then again, I haven't tried the famous Waitrose brown butter pies yet...

Alas, there is palm oil, of course, and an excessive, Attenborough-taunting, amount of packaging.

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: The Accursed Kipling

These were bland and dry and "gah" but I had a cold when I had the first two, so my sense of taste was probably wonky.

I feel much better now and these are still bland and dry and "gah". 2 out of 5.

(Palm oil, obviously.)

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

Monday, November 22, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: Plant Pioneers (Sainsbury's in Disguise)

I found these hidden in the corner of a bottom shelf of the bakery section at Sainsbos, almost as if they were ashamed.

It seems that the more specific the dietary requirement, the more Wrong the food tastes; anyone who's had vegan "cheese" knows what I mean. But these are not bad!

I'll go further and say that they are almost very good, but there are a few let-downs. First of all, they are a bit small, but it's not a huge surprise to pay more for less if you're going gluten-free or vegan. Doesn't make it okay, but it's not a shock. The pastry has a nice soft crumble to it, but is a bit bland, which they have tried to cover with about six tons of granulated sugar, so it feels like you're chewing on a mouthful of sweet gravel.

On the plus side, the filling is rich and fruity and full of lovely flavour, with no bitterness or nasty aftertaste, and not too sweet either. It's so good that these would be top-tier pies were it not for the disappointing pastry. 3.5 out of 5.

(These do contain palm oil, so there's an argument that they are not vegan after all, but I'll let the vegans in the audience decide on that.)

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: McDonald's "Festive Pie"

I know, I know, but it is my duty to suffer.

The pastry is awful. I'm not sure it even is pastry. It feels more like some sort of fritter. Fritters are fine. I like fritters, but this is an abysmal example, with the texture of a Kettle Chip and a taste like drinking the fryer at your local chip shop.

(I mean, you've probably developed heart disease just from the picture.)

The custard is unconventional but not a bad addition, although there is far too much in this pie and it overwhelms the mincemeat filling. Which is a shame, because the mincemeat is really quite tasty! It's fruity, rich, and tangy, and better than a lot of the other pies I have tried so far this year.

But the "pastry" ruins everything. 1.5 out of 5.

(Palm oil, obviously, with added tax-dodging.)

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

(If you want to help me fund the testing, you can click below. I've set it to £1, which is what most shop-bought pies cost. Absolutely no pressure, I'm going to buy and eat mince pies anyway, but it's there if you want it.)

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: Tesco Spiced Rum

I quite like rum, so I was looking forward to these.

They look good -- I love that lattice pattern -- and the pastry is nice. Crumbly, soft, and sweet. The filling; my gosh, something has gone wrong there. I was hoping for rich fruit with a nice boozy punch, but what we get instead is a combination of flavours that is best described as "vomit". Ugh. 1.5 out of 5.

(Also, palm oil.)

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

Hellboy likes rum too.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: Costa

I had to run out and do some things this morning, and popped into Costa while I was there, because they do mince pies and mince pies are EVERYTHING.

These are... fine. The pastry is soft and the filling has a good amount of flavour, but the pie overall is far too sweet. Not bad, not great, large(ish), but too expensive, even for the size.

3 out of 5.

(These do contain palm oil, if you're tracking.)

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: M&S Classic

At last. I was beginning to lose hope for 2021.

These pies have a soft but crumbly pastry, and the filling is lovely; fruity, rich, and flavourful, with none of the excessive sourness that has marred some of the other pies this year.

There's probably a little too much sugar on top, but otherwise these are good, and the best of 2021 so far. 4 out of 5. Get your gran to pick some up next time she's in M&S.

(Because only grannies shop at M&S.)

(I score only for taste, but these also get Totally Imaginary Bonus Points™ for the recyclable packaging and no palm oil.)

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

Not So Dirty Dog

The other day I was asked if I had some less... explicit images of the Alien Dog Things from my adventure The Seed. The only reason those monsters look the way they do is because of the tenth rule of the Manifestus Omnivorous, "the adventures cannot have good taste", but even so, I understand why those creatures in particular might be too much for some.

Alas, I went almost straight to a final image with the dogs and no alternate designs existed, so I went away and drew a new Alien Dog Thing.

If you're running the adventure and you want to show your players a picture of the Alien Dog things, but you don't want to show them the Alien Dog Things in the book, then I hope this will serve as a useful alternative.

You can buy The Seed in paper and digital forms.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: Aldi Specially™ Selected

These scruffy pies look like they've been in a fight, but it's taste that counts, and these taste... weird.

The pastry is soft, just how I like it, but also has a nice bite to it. The filling is a bit lacking in overall flavour but there is a touch of booziness that comes through at the end. The weird bit is that the filling is quite chewy, which is an odd sensation, but not an unpleasant one.

They look rough, but I quite like these scrappy little pies. 3.5 out of 5.

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

Friday, November 12, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: Asda Extra Special

Asda again! We've got to the part of the testing where other people shove pies at me to eat.

I'm not complaining.

These big pies are full of flavour, but it's mostly in the pastry, which is sweet to the point of overpowering the filling. All I'm getting is sugar and none of the orange flavour claimed on the box.

These are the sort of things grannies would love, but then they have no teeth to lose. 2 out of 5.

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

(If you want to help me fund the testing, you can click below. I've set it to £1, which is what most shop-bought pies cost. Absolutely no pressure, I'm going to buy and eat mince pies anyway, but it's there if you want it.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: Lidl Deluxe

Guten Tag!

These are big, chunky, confident pies, with a satisfying bite to the pastry. They are a little skimpy on the filling, which has a strong, citrusy tang, but lacks anything to balance or complement it.

I quite like the big boldness of these Teutonic tasties, but I know, deep down, that they aren't great. 3 out of 5.

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: Morrisons (Not the Best)

I picked these up at the same time as the posher ones.

These pies are encrusted with sugar and there's an initial hint of a tasty fruity filling, but both are overpowered by the somewhat soggy crust's sickly aftertaste, which lingers long after the pie is eaten.

These pies are cheap, which should be a good thing, but I think paying a bit more -- if you can -- is worth it. These get 2 out of 5.

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

Thursday, November 04, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: Asda Extra Special "Luxury"

In 2020, Asda produced some solid if unimpressive mid-range pies. This year?

The pastry has more of a bite to it than I like, and is almost crispy. The filling is tangy, touching on bitter, and borders even on unpleasant at times.

These aren't bad pies, but something has gone a bit wrong here. Luxury, they are not. 2.5 out of 5.

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: Tesco Finest*

The best mince pies of last year were from Tesco.


These are not as good as they were last year! The pastry is soft and crumbly, which is good, but then there's a hint of saltiness, which is less good, although I imagine that will please the salted caramel crowd. The filling has lots of zesty flavour, but lacks the boozy hit of 2020's variety, and it's a bit dry.

To my considerable surprise, Tesco Finest* pies get 3.5 out of 5.

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2021

Monday, November 01, 2021

Mince Pie Fest 2021: Morrisons' The Best

And so it begins.

The idea here, if you're new, is to test the mince pies provided by the major UK retailers, plus some classics provided by local Brighton bakers, and then judge which pies are the best.

(Spoiler: It is usually Infinity Foods.)

I didn't manage to get any Morrisons mince pies in 2020 so I grabbed them first this year.

There's a nice spicy whiff before the first bite, then there's a beautiful soft, sweet pastry, then... nothing. The filling is tasty but doesn't quite manage to punch through the sweetness of the crust, and although there is a good tangy aftertaste, it comes a little too late.

I give this pie 3.5 out of 5.

You can also follow the testing of the pies on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Look for the #mincetagram #MincePieADay or #MincePieFest2021 hashtags.