Aldi Specially Selected 2018

Another week has passed and it still amazes me how many different Christmas sandwiches are available. There’s so much choice from every food outlet, trying to pick which one to devour next is proving more difficult, and, with only so many days left in December, I’m not going to be able to eat them all. Choosing one sandwich over another deprives you, dear reader, of the a priori knowledge I have to bestow. But one thing was for certain, the next sandwich was going to contain one specific ingredient.

Bread.

I needed bread. A sandwich in the traditional sense was sorely missing from this season and it was time to rectify. I’m all for culinary suffering, they often make for the better reviews, but after two weeks of Yorkshire pudding Christmas sandwiches, I needed something more classic.

I hereby present to you: Aldi’s Specially Selected, butter basted turkey Christmas sandwich, with pigs under blankets, cranberry and port chutney.

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As evident from the title, and from the subsequent packet description, this sandwich contains butter basted cooked turkey breast, cooked pork sausages, smoked cured bacon, cranberries and port chutney. As a person who doesn’t often eat sandwiches, I found it very reassuring that Aldi were able to affirm that the turkey breast and pork sausages were both cooked. I can often find myself mid-mouthful before a sudden feeling of terror rises within me as I realise I’ve not checked to see if the sandwich I’m eating is actually risk free. Thank you Aldi for sparing me this anxiety.

The rear of the packet continues with the additional filling description of: mayonnaise, fried onions, parsley, sage and onion mayonnaise, pork, sage and onion stuffing and finally, sage and onion bread.

After reading the constituents, I really question why there’s so much sage in this sandwich. The medical website WebMD describes sage as a remedy for digestive problems, including: loss of appetite, flatulence, stomach pains, diarrhoea, bloating, and heartburn. I couldn’t help but wonder if Aldi was trying to punish me or save me from a fate yet the come.

It was with trepidation that I took the first bite.

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My thought on this initial consumption was, “Finally! Bread!” It was so nice to eat a sandwich made with bread. Yet, just as soon as the bread thought came, it was lost to the abundance of flavour which hit the senses. This sandwich was engaging and the taste, intense. The sausage and bacon flavours were prominent; with a pleasant taste of stuffing throughout. The cranberries and port chutney were sweet and complimentary to the overall flavour. The subtle piquancy of the fried onions complimented and enhanced the sapidity you should have with this sandwich.

Or maybe I just like the taste of sage.

I have only 2 negative comments to make on this sandwich. Firstly, the bread wasn’t as moist as it could have been. No amount of sage or onion spared it. Secondly, it wasn’t until near the end of the sandwich that I remembered it contained turkey. Due to the strong flavours of the other elements, it was overpowered and easily forgettable.

All in all, I’d be happy to recommend this sandwich and would give it 9 out of 10.

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Pig and Apple 2018

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The completion of another week has come to pass and the reward for such dedication to life has been the gift of another Christmas sandwich. After last week’s foam of displeasure, I was apprehensive about which choice to make. Should I resort to M&S and Pret, the standard epitomes of sandwich excellence, or instead should I endeavour to pursue something a little less ubiquitous?

The unusual options offered by establishments are what draws me to them. A turkey, stuffing and cranberry hoagie is nice, but far from interesting to review. I was still intrigued by the concept of a Yorkshire wrap and couldn’t believe that last week’s attempt made it that easy to make something so horrible. Thus, my quest began to find a Yorkshire pudding Christmas sandwich wrap that might actually be palatable.

It’s surprisingly difficult, in fact, to find a sandwich which replaces the standard bread for pudding, but it so happens that Birmingham has recently welcomed the arrival of the Pig & Apple which does indeed offer this as an option. Cue this week’s review, the Pig and Apple Yorkshire pudding Christmas sandwich wrap.

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Priced at £7, you get a large Yorkshire pudding containing turkey, stuffing, cranberry, apple sauce and gravy. The offering is made to order, fresh on site with the filling being applied very delicately by a Pig and Apple server. This application is so delicate, in fact, that you can see the extra care taken to ensure you get almost no stuffing whatsoever. It’s as though a famine has descended on the land and their stuffing endures to be the last remnants of food on Earth, essential to feed the remaining survivors until their end days. “It should not be distributed frivolously” I can hear the authorities decree. It did, however, come as a surprise that on tasting the final product, the stuffing was flavoursome and seemed strangely adequate.

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The distribution of rest of the filling was fair with a good amount of thick turkey pieces, ample gravy and condiments.

After the construction of the sandwich, the wrap is placed into a toaster-press to seal the pudding and heat the sandwich. It’s advertised as “hot” but is instead served warm. The Yorkshire pudding was chewy to eat but, being much thinner at around 1cm thick, the Yorkshire tasted pleasant and moist. The turkey and stuffing tastes were strong and the gravy provided a nice moisture to what could have been a dry offering. It was nice to see that the establishment offered more gravy if asked. I was lucky enough to not need additional gravy as I was able just mop it up from my shirt and jeans. It can be quite a messy wrap to eat but, in my experience, these can sometimes be the best ones.

Overall, this was a good sandwich. I have, however, been convinced that bread is definitely the better option to pursue when seeking an excellent sandwich and will endeavour to avoid Yorkshire pudding wraps going forward.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

Morrisons Yorkshire Pudding Wrap 2018

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It’s mid November, Halloween has well and truly passed and the signs that Christmas is fast approaching are everywhere. Welcome back avid readers and a big hello to any new review seekers, I’m pleased to announce the Christmas sandwich reviews have returned for another year!

It remains my aim to supply you with the run down of this year’s festive treats and gastronomic disasters. I shall scour the shops and return with sandwiches to review which educate, entertain and enlighten; highlighting those you should indulge and those you should avoid.

With each passing year I try to find Christmas sandwiches that are different. The standard turkey, stuffing and cranberry delight just isn’t enough any more and supermarkets seem to agree. The sheer scale of offerings has become so vast that the varied choices range from the inspired to the ill-advised. It is in this quest for the different, that I have chosen the Morrisons Yorkshire Pudding Wrap to be the first Christmas sandwich review of 2018.

Morrisons Christmas Sandwich

This is the first time I’ve ever seen a supermarket sandwich of any kind presented in a Yorkshire pudding. I was intrigued and endeavoured on a 6 mile round trip to secure this curious creation. On arrival, it seemed a good sign that there remained only one of this type of Christmas sandwich left on the shelves. This sandwich is well presented, looks unusual but in an intriguing way, and comes in festive packaging shaped like a bright red cracker. The wrap contains cooked turkey, smoke flavoured bacon, cranberry chutney, spinach, fried onion, mayonnaise and pork, sage & onion stuffing.

 

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It is with great delight that I unpacked this welcomed variation and took my first bite. I admit, I was actually quite excited to try this sandwich, it’s basically a Christmas dinner in a wrap so what’s not to like?! It is with this first bite that I discovered that Morrisons have outdone themselves and created, what is unfortunately quite literally, the joke in the cracker.

My first impression was that is sandwich is dry. On the first bite I thought I was eating cardboard, but that bland taste was quickly replaced with the flavour of spinach. I thought that maybe I’d just bitten into a part of the sandwich with little filling, so I optimistically took my second bite.

I’m pleased to report that my opinion quickly changed on the second bite. The cardboard taste quickly disappeared and was replaced by the taste of foam. The flavours rotated through a serious of: foam and spinach; foam and cranberry; foam and bacon; foam and foam. It appears that the foam flavour is intrinsic to this creation but I did find one benefit to eating this sandwich. Hydration. An essential accompaniment to this wrap is water. If you chose to partake in this unpleasant experience, you’ll find that any moisture in your mouth will quickly disappear and will need to be replaced post haste.

With regards to the ingredients themselves, the turkey had no flavour, I could find no fried onions and any mild flavours in the remaining contents were overpowered by the bland taste of foam.

I had such high hopes for this Christmas sandwich and do wonder whether it might taste better if heated. Unfortunately, I’ve been too put off to try again. I might go as far as saying this is the worst Christmas sandwich I’ve ever had.

I’d give this sandwich a 1 out of 10 and recommend it to no one.

 

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Leon Vegan Christmas Wrap

If you like your condiments hot, this is the wrap for you.

When it comes to culinary experiences, I’m an avid omnivore and have eaten a large variety of different fruits, meats and vegetables. I have, however, never tried being vegan and have only eaten a handful of vegan meals in my life. Trying Veganuary (eating as a vegan during the month of January) is something I’m seriously considering for 2018 but in all honesty I’m not sure it’s something I’d be able to persist with.

It just so happens that on a recent visit to Leon I stumbled upon their vegan Christmas sandwich and thought, if I’m serious about trying Veganuary, I might as well see how I coped with a vegan Christmas offering.

The Leon Vegan Christmas Wrap is advertised as “a Christmas miracle” containing sweet potato falafel, toasted pine nuts, cranberry sauce, sage & onion mayonnaise and “a sprinkling of crispy onions.” The miracle must relate to how anyone can believe that falafel can be connected to Christmas in any way. Adding cranberry and sage do not a Christmas sandwich make.

This is the first wrap to ever appear in the Christmas sandwich reviews and I was curious to see how it differed to a standard offering.

Presented as a Cuban cigar, this wrap was so tightly rolled that it resembles an unbending, solid log. It would act well as a relay race baton.

This wrap was hot and being insulated with tin foil, it’s best unsheathed at the earliest opportunity.

The first bite has the immediate taste of falafel, as did the second bite and every bite thereafter. Falafel permeates every single bite whether it was in the mouthful or not. The pine nuts, which I can only assume have been added to try and make the wrap sound more festive, add nothing too the taste that I can discern.

If you like your condiments hot, this is the wrap for you. Hot cranberry and hot mayonnaise have the appreciated advantage of burning your mouth in such a way that, for a moment, you can’t taste falafel.

The heat turns the lettuce into something that resembles wilted spinach and the mayonnaise mixed with the squidgy pine nuts resembled something close to hummus. The sprinkling of crispy onions were unnoticeable and, if present, were certainly not crispy.

All in all, it was nice to try something new. Would I order this again? No.

4 out of 10.

Subway Classic Feast

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If I choked to death, I’d only have myself to blame.

So the season isn’t off to the best of starts and finding a good Christmas sandwich is proving more difficult than ever before. Almost every food serving business seems to be getting in on the action and I’m yet to find one to have done a good job with them.

Ok, so I’m purposely avoiding the typically great ones like M&S and Pret, but surely someone else out there is able to put together a favourable sandwich construct?! So, to try and find one that i’d actually recommend I thought it best to take matters into my own hands and become the part creator myself! This way I had artistic control that if I choked to death I had only myself to blame.

Enter: the Subway “Classic Feast.”

I opted for the foot long variety on 9 grain honey oat bread with the standard basic composites for the foundations, i.e. sliced turkey breast, bacon and sausage. What’s worth noting at this stage is the sausages were huge. Two large 6 inch sausages were cut length ways and positioned full spread over the 12 inches of bread. I then added cheese, had the sandwich warmed and toasted, then added lettuce, raw red onion, mayonnaise and cranberry sauce.

It looked good. It tasted better.

This is the first Christmas sandwich of the year I’ve actually enjoyed eating! It really does help being able to tweak the ingredients and getting just the right amount of sauce on the bread. Lots of filling and copious condiments make for a very good Christmas sandwich.

It was moist, flavoursome, but far from cheap. £6.90 to be exact.

As a one off splurge, this is the first sandwich I can recommend! It was thoroughly enjoyable but there’s obviously a catch. The one downside I could mention is my local Subway store. While queuing in line you get to hear the interesting gossip of the locals like the pre-teen boy asking his, I assume older brother, to buy him a hot chocolate, being given the response, “no, use your drug money.” Or, there’s the woman, who looks like she’s off her head on crack cocaine, asking where to find the “fluffy dice” who gets progressively irate and violent when she realises Subway don’t actually sell them.

The unexpected benefits here are that the increased heart rate helps to offset some of the calories gained from the sandwich, although the fear and sweating are not ideal looks for the festive season.

All in, yes. This is a good choice and I’d rate it 8 out of 10. It could be improved with slightly better quality sausages and non-reformed turkey, but they’ve done a good job with what they have.

Aldi Turkey Feast

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The flavours were that indistinguishable that I couldn’t tell what bland taste was coming from what ingredient.

Today’s Christmas sandwich review comes from Aldi, a range i’ve never before reviewed. Now I think there’s a lot to enjoy about Aldi, their Speciality Range is half decent and they have the advantage of being cheap. Their Christmas sandwich certainly fits this ethos with a price tag of only £1.69! That’s right, £1.69! How can you make a sandwich this cheap you ask? Well, I’ll tell you how.

Flavour. That’s how you make it cheap. You take out the flavour.

I have to admit that I thought it was quite amazing to see a sandwich for this low price rammed so full of filling. It contains turkey breast, pork sausage, sage & onion mayo, cranberry chutney, pork, sage & onion stuffing, smoked bacon and fried onions on malted bread. What’s even more amazing is how a sandwich with this many ingredients can be so tasteless. Every mouthful fluctuated between either no flavour at all, to the taste of cheap sausage or cheap stuffing. The flavours were that indistinguishable that I couldn’t tell what bland taste was coming from what ingredient.

Their Turkey Feast “with pigs under blankets” sandwich also left me thinking that part of this cost saving strategy was to forgo any qualified translation service from the Germany head office. That’s right, this sandwich is marketed as “Turkey Feast with pigs under blankets.” Who calls them pigs under blankets?!?

The sandwich did, however, benefit from moisture. It was moist. After learning from the last review’s near death experience, glasses of water are now always nearby. I’m pleased to report that they weren’t needed.

All in all, I’d not buy this sandwich again. It’s worth spending a bit more money and actually feel like your eating something other than a damp sponge.

I’d rate it 3 out of 10.

Greggs Oh What Joy Christmas Sandwich

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This sandwich was so dry I almost choked to death.

Ladies, gentlemen and non-binaries: They’re back. The Christmas sandwich season is upon us! It’s nice to again see so many retailers offering their take on the festive classic and I’m pleased to be able to bring you my roundup of what’s good and what’s dud.

I’m going to try and look further afield this year to bring you the lesser spotted varieties and broaden your knowledge of what treats are available. So, without further ado, I present you with this year’s first offering: The Greggs “Oh What Joy” Christmas Sandwich.

Priced at £3, this sandwich truly is a first in many ways. To start with, it has no ingredients listed. Looking at the package you can have a guess but it’s only after dissecting the contents that you find turkey breast, stuffing, lettuce, bacon and cranberry sauce – all pressed between two slices of granary bread. This sandwich has no butter or mayonnaise.

I’m pretty sure displaying no ingredients on a food item is illegal. If this is not the case, this sandwich really should be illegal. This sandwich is dry. Not just your average “dry” but INCREDIBLY dry. Never in my years of reviews have I had a sandwich so dry I felt Greggs were trying to finish me off. This sandwich was so dry I couldn’t swallow it. This sandwich was so dry I almost choked to death. I literally had to rush to the kitchen to wash it down with water.

It wasn’t a good start.

After a few minutes of deep inhalation and deep exhalation, regaining my composure and dabbing the tears from my eyes, I reluctantly decided to proceed. I took smaller bites and ensured an emergency glass of liquid was close by if needed again.

It was.

On further consumption, I discovered this sandwich is pretty bland. Not tasteless, but far from a concerto of flavours. The cranberry sauce is sweet and permeates through along with the notes from the bacon. The lettuce adds a nice crisp to the bite but the turkey breast, although sliced modestly thick, does little more than enhance the dryness.

Unless Greggs are going for an ironic take on this year’s Christmas sandwich, their “Oh what joy” offering is anything but joyful. I would hesitate to recommend this to anyone, unless of course you wanted a plausible way of dispatching a difficult colleague or associate. In that case this is definitely the sandwich of choice.

I won’t be buying this sandwich again and would have to rate it 2 out of 10.

Purchase at your own risk.