Part of me wishes I hadn’t started this taste testing. Mince pies I was once more than satisfied with do not hold up so well under analysis. I thought I had almost ruined the Sainsbury’s deep fill for myself this week, so thought maybe Tesco could do better.
So this week Sainsbury’s 6 deep fill (£0.82-£1) vs Tesco 6 deep fill (a staggering £1.72, but expect this to be on promotion throughout the season).
Sainsbury’s were once my go to mince pie, but careful taste consideration had branded them too cinnamony- that tipping point where warm cinnamon has a cooling effect. Special mention does go to both mince pies for sprucing themselves up with something extra on top- holly from Sainsbury’s and a star from Tesco. Shame Tesco’s quality control were asleep and all the tops were put on wonky. . . Sainsbury’s does edge out on top- it’s practically full to the top and the pastry sweet and crumbly. For ‘edges out on top’, read annihilates the Tesco pie on taste. While I can now taste slight heavy handedness with the cinnamon in Sainsbury’s, Tesco takes out your taste buds with a bottle of brandy. I was glad their pie casing was half empty.
WINNER- Sainsburys 15.5 points
LOSER- Tesco 10.5 points
Tesco Deep Fill- Thank goodness it was half empty
NB I have removed the 5 points for size of pie since it seems all pies measure the same. Giving M&S 15.5 and Waitrose 12.5 points from last week.
I cannot describe the glee the first mince pie of the season brings me. I remember my best friend surprising me with one when I somehow missed that they had arrived in shops- I squealed and clapped my hands in joy. Partly because the first mince pie means Christmas countdown has begun, and also because I love the spiced taste of juicy sultanas that evoke so many happy Christmas memories.But when my housemate bought us some Heston’s for Waitrose mince pies, we were left wanting.
Which got me thinking, with so much choice at varied price points on the market, how can I avoid such a disappointing experience in the future. There is of course only one way- taste them all. It is not enough to settle for a mediocre mince pie for the next 3 months- if it requires a separate trip to the supermarket you don’t usually shop at, then so be it. I have also since discovered that one mince pie can account for 11% of your daily fat intake- so do not waste that 11% on something lacklustre!
So I have made up a scoring system and set about tasting. Scores are marks out of 5 (total 25) for the following categories- Value for Money, Size, Fill (how much mincemeat), Pastry and Filling.
Week 1 is M&S 6 All Butter Mince Pies (£1.79) vs Waitrose 6 Shortcrust Mince Pies (£1.49). As you’d expects these two retailers are priced well above the other supermarket retailers, but for the sake of 50p, are they worth it.
Waitrose get special commendation for their packaging- rather than a photograph of some pies on a table, it’s cross stitch Scandi style. I like this a lot, and shows attention to trend as well as taste. Although this is a taste competition. M&S get full marks (5/5) for pie fill- i.e. the pastry was stuffed to the very top, so much so the top was domed. Waitrose by contrast offer pehaps a more perfect flat top, but with an air gap below it on top of the mincemeat, I will take substance over style. M&S has perfectly crisp, not too sweet pastry, filled with spicy, cinammon flavoured filling. Waitrose’ filling by contrast was more tangy, but I was left with cloying pastry and not enough mincemeat to cut through it.
WINNER- M&S 20.5 points
LOSER- Waitrose 17.5 points.
Style over substance from Waitrose
I have had my first (and second) mince pies of the season. Its therefore officially Christmas time.
I love Christmas with a passion. I can’t give a particular reason why. I love the chill in the air, it seems to be the one reason old friends make an effort to get together in the year (other than weddings!), I love mince pies obviously, and finding the perfect gift gives me a thrill everytime.
This year I got what I deem to be the perfect job- buying Christmas products for a retailer. I get to attend tradeshows, visit factory showrooms and get covered in glitter putting together ranges- I am working on Christmas 2013 already! Anything I find exciting on my travels (which will be most things, I am very excitable) I will of course be sharing with you.
I cannot wait to immerse myself in Christmas crafts either (Pinterest is only a recent discovery, but I have lost daaayyys to it, and there is a new Hobbycraft in town- a happy coincidence). I now have varied xmas cookie cutters. And CrossStitcher magazine has an amazing Scandi style cushion on the front… Yes I will be changing my cushions to Christmas cushions. . . There is nothing wrong with that! (?) I should add here I really do only have my decorations up for the month of December to 6th of Jan!
This post won’t be for everyone (I am borderline obsessive about Christmas- even for some of my closest friends I’m sure it can be intolerable!), but I hope those of you who do find this blog will enjoy my musings as much as I am going to love writing them!