REVIEW: A Selection of M&S Christmas Alternatives

I think I have mentioned before that I live between two high streets. Well today I had to nip over to a post office, and I went to the high street where the post office has a convenient self-service machine that confuses the befuddled old farts that tend to hang around the post office. So while they are queuing up to take 15 minutes each to buy a stamp, I jump on that, scan, stick, post and done. Why am I telling you this? Because I have exhausted all of the sandwiches on that high street.

Desperate, I tried a newsagents that had sandwiches advertised outside. Unable to find them, the man behind the counter asked me what I’m looking for. I’m not really sure what happened next. For some reason, I panicked and asked for videogame magazine Edge, which I know full well he doesn’t have because I’ve been there before. And that is why I asked for it, so I wouldn’t have to buy anything. Why didn’t I ask for sandwiches? Why was I flustered like a teenager buying a porno mag? I guess we’ll never know but I suspect an impending full mental breakdown is the answer. I left. I also tried an off-licence and the International Supermarket where I was eyed up very suspiciously for wandering in, buying nothing and walking straight out.

Earlier this week, I remembered there is a Starbucks on the other high street – possibly the last vestige of a local pre-package Christmas sandwiches. I checked to see how long the bus was, but it was far too long and would make this too much of an epic journey for a sodding sandwich. So I went to M&S and bought a load of their other Christmas crap. HAPPY NOW?

Christmas Turkey Wrap – £3.00

Roast Turkey Breast, Brussels sprout slaw, parsnip mayonnaise, pork, sage and onion stuffing, cranberry chutney, spinach, smoked British bacon and fried onions on a barmarked tortilla wheatflour wrap.

What the fuck is a ‘barmakred’ wrap? Does it mean that it has been on a grill for a bit? And can we ban the word ‘slaw’? Although the sprouts and parsnip mayonnaise do make this (at least they didn’t say mayo, I guess). This would be a contender if this was the Christmas Wrap Review blog. But it ain’t though. Go out and try it tomorrow regardless.

Turkey, Pork and Cranberry Runny Scotch Egg – £2.00

Great combination of flavours but cold and runny just ain’t right.

Turkey, Bacon & Cranberry Sausage Roll – £1.75

I was recently quite drunk in Hackney and I recall a small Turkish man with a fez and pointy shoes telling me I should review this. “It’s not a sandwich tho bruv, is it tho?” I replied. Little did I know his mystical prophecy would come to pass. Tastes like a slightly sweet sausage roll. Which is good.

 

REVIEW: Waitrose Christmas Turkey, Stuffing & Bacon by Waitrose

img_8498£3.20 – Turkey breast, pork and chestnut stuffing with cranberry, port and orange chutney, mayonnaise, spinach and bacon in sliced malted bread.

The readers of this blog who comment on Facebook are becoming increasingly demanding, telling me where to go next and what to review. Tugging on the chain in my nose to make me entertain them through a lunch break. I am not your dancing bear!  But yesterday the Waitrose sandwich was described in the comments as ‘perfect’. Well, I had to put that to the test.

My nearest Waitrose is just that little too far to walk there and back and write a review on a lunch break, so I got up early this morning and trudged down there before work. And it rained on the way back. And I didn’t really like the last Christmas sandwich that I had from Waitrose. So this has got everything going against it.

So how is the perfect sandwich? Is it better than their 2013 spinach-fest? Well the first bite is pretty average to be honest. Why would you say it’s perfect? But with the second bite, I got hit of port and orange chutney, and it was good. Then the next bite some cranberry, then the next chestnut stuffing, which is very good. And not once a mouthful that was just spinach! Somehow it is tasting different with every mouthful, and it’s really good. Especially that port and orange chutney, another hit of that really boosted this sandwich. While it certainly wasn’t love at first bite (thank you), this sandwich is a grower and you should seek it out. I wouldn’t call it perfection, but it’s one of the best this year.

 

REVIEW: Turkey Dinner by Asda

£2.17 – Malted bread with turkey breast, Cumberland pork sausage in beef casing, pork, sage and onion stuffing and port sauce, seasoned mayonnaise and smoke flavour bacon.

Or to give the sandwich it’s full name “Have a Classic Christmas Turkey Dinner” (well that’s how it reads to me on the box).

In the last review, I mentioned that I was running out of sandwich places. Well today’s sandwich was purchased at the Burgh Heath Asda on Saturday and carefully transported back to East London, just so you people can have another mildly amusing lunch time distraction to keep you going. How far will I travel for tomorrow’s sandwich? Stay tuned.

Go over the ingredients again. Why is the pork sausage in beef casing? Why is the bacon smoke flavoured and not just smoked? Why did they start their list with the bread first? So many questions Asda. I want a sandwich, not a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside malted bread. And should it be called Turkey Dinner if I’m having it for my lunch? Yeah that’s right, we use the proper meal terms on this blog. Deal with it.

But what does the two day old but still in date well traveled pre-packaged sandwich taste like?

Pretty average. There is nothing wrong with it, but nothing to get excited about either. It’s pretty well balanced, the bacon and the port sauce coming through nicely, but there’s just nothing to make it extraordinary. If you have only an Asda near you, or you only have £2.20 in your pocket, and you really fancy a Christmas sandwich, then it’s great. But when you’ve been eating a Christmas sandwich every day for two weeks, it’s nothing special compared to some of the other options out there.

REVIEW: Turkey & Trimmings by Co-op

£2.80 – Turkey, cranberry sauce, smoked bacon, stuffing, mayo, malted bread.

I live in between two high streets and having exhausted one of their Christmas sandwiches, my never ending quest has sent me to the other high street.And what a let down! The Tesco Express has no Christmas sandwiches at all. I tried Percy Ingle and they don’t even have sandwiches so I ended up going to almost the very end of the high street and the Co-op. It might be the end of the line for the blog unless I do something drastic next week, like get a tube one stop to the big Tescos or two stops to Asdas.

Co-op had two sandwiches I had to decide between – Turkey & Trimmings or the Boxing Day Lunch. Solid naming in the Co-op sandwich department! But it always had to be the Turkey & Trimmings. And I got this one in a meal deal with a couple of cheeky pies.

So, the plastic bags in the Co-op are clear and see-through. Why is this worth mentioning? Well because just before my sandwich patrol I had been to the gym for an insanely sweaty but not very successful workout due the amount of red wine I had drunk the night before. And on my very long walk home I bumped into the owner of the gym, who had just witnessed the pathetic fat mess in his establishment, and there in my hand for all to see is a Christmas sandwich and two pies. Easy money for him I guess!

Now I am a bit hungover and have just been to the gym which may affect this review, as my hunger levels are all over the place. The first thing I noticed when I opened it was that it smells great. The first bite smacks you in the face with just how smoky that bacon is. Smokier than a punch from a kangaroo called Smokin’ Joe Frazier. Good mayo as well (trendy wankers, it’s mayonnaise to me, and it’s coleslaw, not slaw, grow up). The cranberry sauce is a bit lost in there, but some of you strange people who don’t mix sweet and savoury might like that. In fact this is great, right up there with the best. If there’s a Co-op near you, go try one. Co-op you little beauty!

Oh and if you want to know what the pies were like, please visit the ALL NEW CHRISTMAS PIE REVIEW VIDEO BLOG.

 

REVIEW: Festive Full Works Bloomer by EAT

img_8455Turkey Breast, Pork Stuffing, Smoked Ham, Cranberry Mix, Spinach, Reduced Fat Mayonnaise, Multi-seed Bloomer Bread.

Welcome back to the second ‘chains that are near every office in London but not my house’ edition of Christmas sandwich reviews. Now I must confess, EAT gave me a bit of a dilemma today. They had a sandwich called Turkey and Cranberry which looked more like a traditional shop bought sandwich, all triangular and in a box, the standard sort of sandwich for this blog. I stood there for almost 1 minute in a state of indecision trying to figure out which one should make the blog. After reading the ingredients of both sandwiches at least 3 times, I realised what the Turkey and Cranberry sandwich was missing – stuffing! The fools. So here we are. Do you see what I go through for this blog? Forced to make the hard decisions. Forced to stand and think in a sandwich shop in London where people will tut at me. But this is why you keep coming back, you know I’m here for you. Daddy’s got you.

Look at the sandwich (zero marks for presentation BTW*). What is the difference between bloomer bread and normal bread? Is it a triangle vs rectangle thing? Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist puppet Patsy May (Christmas sandwich bloggers mix in high circles) told me via Whatsapp that shops are doing more rectangular sandwiches nowadays to make it feel like a homemade sandwich. Well what if I cut my sandwiches into triangles at home? You didn’t think of that did you? You stupid idiots.

So you may have noticed the man wearing a Christmas cracker hat on my blog. That is not me, but my good friend and sexy train driver Steve. He insists that this is the best sandwich out there in the year of our Lord 2016, so let’s see just how right the maths obsessed ginger prince is…

I have to say – this is very good. It’s very much like a sandwich I would make home (the puppet was right!), with an extra slice of ham in there to make it more meaty. It’s got all the right flavours, like Pret the spinach compliments rather than overpowers, even the seeded crusts are good. I am even willing to overlook the reduced-fat mayonnaise, which I usually consider blasphemous. In fact that smoked ham is really makes this one – it’s going to be hard to beat.

*BTW = by the way

REVIEW: Pret’s Christmas Lunch by Pret

img_8440Free-Range Turkey,  Pret’s Crumbly Pork Stuffing, Crispy Onions, Spinach, Cranberry & Port Sauce, Mayo, Seasoning.

I’m on a rare trip to the office, so I will be eating two sandwiches that people keep asking for (seriously!) that I can’t get where I live. Yes I am about to eat two sandwiches, such is my dedication to you, dear readers (that is a ridiculously 90s Beano/games journalist way of ending a sentence – Ed.). But you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the other one. I’m stretching this shit out.

So today we start with Pret. And the list of ingredients immediately sets off alarm bells as that crumbly stuffing and crispy onion ruined my keyboard 3 years ago. I had to change jobs! They have gone for a Christmas jumper feel with the packaging. Remember the other year when ‘Aztec’ patterns on jumpers were in? But it just looked like people were still wearing Christmas jumpers in January so it quickly died off. It looks a bit like that. Pret are also giving 50p per sandwich to help the homeless, pissing all over M&S and their 16p. Take that! BUT WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?

It’s happened again! The sandwich just fell apart in my very hands! But I was ready and had the box underneath to catch everything. I have learned and grown. Now this is a good sandwich, I like the crispy onions, they stop it from being a load of mush because as usual Pret is heavy on the mayo and cranberry sauce. Flavour wise it’s very good. Even though there is a lot of bloody spinach, it doesn’t overpower everything like it normally does, instead it compliments the sweet sauce and the great savoury hit of that stuffing and seasoning. And I didn’t even realise there is no bacon until I rechecked the ingredient list. Very well balanced, a strong contender from Pret this year.

 

REVIEW: Christmas Lunch Toastie by Greggs

£3 – Sage & onion flavoured pulled turkey, sweetcure bacon, cranberry relish, edam cheese, Mature Cheddar cheese, Bechamel sauce in white bread.

It’s not called turkey feast! Repeat it’s not called turkey feast! Can you believe it? In fact Greggs have gone down a very different path from everyone else this year. White bread instead of malted brown? Toasted? Pulled turkey? That’s almost hipster, except pulled meat is old hat now. It became old hat the day Subway started doing pulled pork that was in a block that you could slice like a loaf. Or when my mum ordered it as an extra on a burger. Old news. But at least it isn’t the same sandwich as everywhere else.

Also, I was very impressed with the level of service in Greggs earlier. By the time I got there, the shelves had pretty much been stripped bare by the hungry masses. When I asked if I could get a Christmas lunch toastie, the nice lady went out the back to see what she could do and lo and behold she knocked up the fabled sandwich for me. She must’ve recognised me as the guy writes a Christmas sandwich review blog on the years he can be bothered that is read by around 10 people. Fame has it’s benefits!

Now it is quite a cliché to say that fast food never looks like the photograph, but I think this sandwich does deserve a comparison with the publicity shot.

I don’t remember dropping the sandwich on my way home, stepping on it, slipping over with the sandwich flying into the road and getting run over by a bus before being tossed around by a hungry dog, but perhaps I knocked my head on the way down to the ground. The picture below is how the sandwich looked when I got it home. Greggs’ Christmas lunch toastie is definitely using it’s best photo from a few years ago as a Tinder photo. Maybe it has a great personality or a cracking arse that makes up for it. Let’s find out…

Being a toasty that was in a bag for it while in the cold December air, it is a bit greasy. But I can look past that! The cranberry relish is pretty overpowering, perhaps almost too much, but the various gooey cheeses and crispiness of the toast definitely add something to this. As a toastie, this is very good and has given me some ideas for post-Christmas lunch experiments, but I just don’t know if it’s a good Christmas sandwich. No proper stuffing, melted cheese, it’s just not quite right. Worth trying though.