Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: M&S Classic

M&S! As Cat Stevens wrote (probably), the first bite is the weakest.

There's so much sugar on these pies that the top is all crunchy, and I'm not a fan of crunchy. The good news is that the rest of the pastry is firm but crumbly, and much better than the top.

The filling lacks any particular strong flavours -- there's no booze or citrussy kick here -- but does have a pleasant and moreish fruitiness.

These are nothing special, but are perfectly decent pies that are only let down by that dodgy top. 3.5 out of 5.

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2022

Monday, November 28, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Waitrose Unessentials

Look, yesterday was (mostly) a joke and I don't have it in for Waitrose. I say this because of what's to follow, and I don't want people thinking it's some vendetta against the poshos or something.

Eat the rich, they say, well go ahead, but don't eat their mince pies. For reasons beyond my working class comprehension, these are even worse than the cheap and not-so-cheerful pies from yesterday. The pastry is dreadful; crunchy, and with a thick coat of chunky granulated sugar, the texture is like eating glass. Or so I'd imagine.

The filling is fruity but has a dull, musty flavour with no citrus or alcohol to give it a bit of interest. It sort of tastes purple-grey, like a depressed grandma.

These are dreadful mince pies. 1.5 out of 5.

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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Waitrose Essentials

These are part of Waitrose's probably reluctant admission that there are people who are not upper middle class, and may need access to cheaper food. Let us see what our betters have provided for us.

The pastry is so soft the whole pie threatens to disintegrate as it's held, but once it's in the mouth it resolves into a dry, dusty mess that could easily choke the unwary. What little flavour there is, is bitter and salty, evoking the contempt the average Waitrose shopper has for any household with a second hand car or fewer than four bedrooms.

There is a filling, but I couldn't tell you what it tastes like because it tastes of nothing, but that's probably good enough for the likes of us, as we scrabble for scraps and dream of revolution.

2 out of 5.

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Mince Pie Fest 2022: Waitrose Bakery

I nipped into Waitrose for this one and escaped before security noticed my social status. Alas, my reward for my act of class warfare was blandness.

The pastry is soft, with a hint of pleasant chewiness, but no strong flavour. No problem, though, because the filling will make up for it, right? Bueller?

Ah. No. The filling is there, but I can't say much more than that. There's a brief stab of alcohol in there, but otherwise it's just a layer of generic fruity, jammy "stuff".

It's fine. Not fine but fine. 3 out of 5.

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Thursday, November 24, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Asda Extra Special Giant Mince Pie

While the Americans get ready for their traditional Thanksgiving treats of Gasoline Pie, Cowboy Grits, and Lincoln Logs, here the Mince Pie Fest continues with this absolute unit.

These have apparently been selling out and have been difficult to find, but thanks to a keen-eyed reader, I am in possession of the Holy Grail. And also this pie.

In theory, this should just be a bigger version of yesterday's pies, but we will see.

What this has in common with yesterday's entry is that rich, boozy filling, but if anything this is even richer and more boozy than those. I did not think it possible, but they seem to have poured an entire minibar into this and I think I might be drunk.

I don't really like alcohol -- I might have a cider once a year, maybe -- but this is amazing, but maybe that's the drink talking. But but but.

But I must be professional and I should report that maybe the booze overpowers the other flavours; there is a lovely fruity, saucy filling in there, but it's almost swept aside by the Power of Firewater. And if you don't like boozy flavours then this is no good for you, but that's okay because if you do buy it by mistake you can send it to me. Thanks.

(I think I'm sobering up now.)

The pastry is better than that of the pie's smaller cousins. It's still firm, but less crunchy, and has a pleasant sweet taste, understated but just enough of a contrast to that powerful, punchy filling.

This is a difficult one to score. The things I like about it are going to be deal breakers for others, plus it's not really a traditional mince pie. Let's give it 4.5 out of 5, but with an asterisk.

Asterix&Obelix Brussels-cropped1

Maybe I am still drunk.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Asda Extra Indulgent

"Extra Indulgent" seems a bit redundant, like "more unique".

These are very chunky minceys! I'm not sure the pictures convey how deep these pies are. I imagine they are probably expensive, but I was gifted them so I don't know.

The pastry is chunky and somewhat crispy, which is not my favourite texture, but there's a nice sweet taste at least.

The filling is rich and fruity and saucy, and then there's a BIG hit of booze that made my eyes water and would probably bar me from driving. If I could drive.

These are big, confident pies full of big, confident flavour, with only the crunchy pastry (and maybe the price?) letting them down. 4 out of 5.

#MincePieFest2022 #MincePieADay #mincetagram

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Lidl Deluxe

We've seen what Aldi has to offer, now let's see what their Teutonic rivals can bring to the Chrimble table!

The pastry looks anaemic, and tastes undercooked and a tad stodgy. The filling starts off a bit bland but then there's a sudden rush of rich juicy flavour and a late hint of boozosity.

A very confusing pie, this. Seems awful at first, but turns out okay. 3 out of 5.

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Mince Pie Fest 2022: Aldi Purewick?

The pastry on this unusual pie is very tough and I was unable to bite through it. The filling has a nice festive aroma, but the texture is all wrong and it is unpleasant to eat.

Basically inedible. 1 out of 5.

#MincePieFest2022 #MincePieADay #mincetagram

Monday, November 21, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Iceland Luxury

"Luxury" doesn't mean what it used to.

The pastry has a good texture, soft with a bit of bite, and has a nice sweet taste, but is also a bit sickly. The fruity flavoursome filling -- ™ Stan Lee -- is tangy, but alas tips over into bitter, and an aftertaste that I can only describe as nasty.

This is a mince pie full of strong flavours, the problem being that they are all the wrong ones! 2 out of 5.

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Sunday, November 20, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Iceland

Get ready, as we enter the Twilight Zone!

The pastry is firm, almost biscuity, with an aftertaste akin to shortbread. In general I'm not a fan of shortbread, but this isn't unpleasant. The filling is surprisingly rich and tasty for a "basic" pie, and borders on savoury.

This mince pie is weird. It's nothing like the sort of mince pie I prefer but even so I quite like it. I give it a surprising and self-questioning 3.5 out of 5.

#MincePieFest2022 #MincePieADay #mincetagram

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Holly Lane (Aldi in Disguise)

The pastry has a nice texture but is a bit dry, chalky even, and there is a lot of sugar on top. "A light dusting" my foot! The filling is not unpleasant, but lacks a strong and distinctive flavour and fails to overcome the sweetness of all that sugar.

These remind me of the Tesco pies from day one. Not bad, not great, perfect for an office party or a festive funeral.

These pies are 66p cheaper than their "special" cousins, and a whole 0.5 better. You do the maths. (I don't know what that means.)

3 out of 5.

#MincePieFest2022 #MincePieADay #mincetagram

Friday, November 18, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Aldi Specially Selected

These mince pies are the second-best, according to this nonsense article at The Grauniad. We will see about that.

The pastry is a touch too firm, bordering on tough, and while it has a pleasant sweet taste, it is a bit sickly.

The filling alas, is weak, with none of the brandy, cider, and port promised on the box, and almost no flavour at all.

The Guardian is wrong. Again. 2.5 out of 5.

#MincePieFest2022 #MincePieADay #mincetagram

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Greggs

Ah, Greggs, the titan of the British high street! I don't tend to review "fresh" mince pies, but I was in the area anyway so...

The pastry has little taste, and what there is, is of cardboard, but it does have a pleasant firm texture with a bit of crumble.

Unlike many pies, there's no hint of alcohol to this one -- insert joke about the working classes and alcohol dependency here, if you're a bastard -- but it's still very tasty; it's rich and tangy and full of fruity flavour, and to be honest, you don't miss the booze.

Shame about the pastry though. 3.5 out of 5.

#MincePieFest2022 #MincePieADay #mincetagram

Monday, November 14, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: COOP

These have a sweet pastry, not unlike that of their fancier cousins, but far softer, to the point that they tend to disintegrate in your hand as you bite. The filling is a little bland, but has a nice tangy aftertaste. As far as “cheap” pies go, these are pretty decent.

3.5 out of 5.

#MincePieFest2022 #MincePieADay #mincetagram

Sunday, November 13, 2022

(Turn) Limit Break

Stuart and I played another game of Stargrave Notromunda this week at the Dice Saloon; our rival crews entered an abandoned high-tech factory -- loot rolls after the skirmish indicated that the place only produced pistols, much to our disappointment -- and things got very ugly indeed!

Stuart's crew escaped with two bits of loot -- pistols, obviously -- while Fateweaver Duu'ey and his inscrutable space elves only managed to get one crate... of pistols. On the other hand, the aliens only took two casualties while Stuart's band of pirates and mutants lost seven (!) members. Duu'ey himself was reduced to only two hit points and was lucky to survive, not least because the factory's half-functional security robot was stomping around nearby, making an I-have-a-machine-gun-ho-ho-ho nuisance of itself.

We are both very much enjoying Stargrave Notromunda but we have yet to complete a full game, always with at least two turns to go when a member of the Dice Saloon team politely suggests we stop so they can close up and go home. I'm not sure what's taking us so long as it's a simple enough game, and crews are limited to about ten models, but we are only managing about three or four turns in three hours and we haven't achieved either of the game end conditions -- all loot recovered, or only one crew left on the table -- so far. I don't remember us having this problem in Mordheim Frostgrave.

I assume we're doing something wrong, because the game's author Joseph A. McCullough hasn't included any way of resolving a "time out" situation, which suggests it never occurred during playtesting.

Here's one potential resolution. I'll put it to Stuart next time we play:

If a game runs out of time, then a crew scores any loot that was extracted, as normal, plus any loot that is held or controlled by a crew member that is not in combat. Any loot that is "loose" or contested by a rival within 1", or is held by a crew member in combat, is lost. Any loot that has not been unlocked is also lost.

This is more or less what we decided after the game anyway, but I feel better having it written down. Er, typed out.

Is anyone else out there playing Stargrave Notromunda? Have you had the same problem? How have you solved it?

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: COOP Irresistible

2021’s champions return, but recipes and tastes change (and so must I), so will they be as good in 2022? Let’s find out!

The pastry is sweet and light and perfectly balanced between firm and soft. Inside, there’s a hearty, fruity filling, with warm waves of spicy booze. These pies feel like they warm you up even if they haven’t been heated. Sorcery!

Maybe the filling is a tad too chewy, possibly, a bit, but to be honest, I’m picking for nits at this stage. These are great mince pies.

4.5 out of 5.

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Friday, November 11, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Tesco Finest

These pies have a gorgeous soft, crumbly, sweet pastry. I adore it. It's the very definition of "scrumptious." Probably.

On the other hand, the filling is a bit bland at first, but then there’s a secondary wave of tangy, rich, almost umami, flavour that comes in and saves the day.

These are good, strong pies. In fact, I’d say they are mighty fine(st)!

4 out of 5.

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Thursday, November 10, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Sainsbury's Taste the Difference

Will the fancy-pants versions of yesterday's pies be any better?

Once you manage to crack through the excessive packaging (Sainsbury’s, why?) you get a nice waft of fruitiness. Then you get dry, crispy pastry with a sicky – not sickly, no, I mean the actual taste of vomit – flavour (Sainsbury’s, why?), and a filling that is all bitterness with nothing to balance it.

These pies were great in 2021 but the 2022 recipe is genuinely horrible (Sainsbury’s, why?).

1 out of 5.

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