Violife Mediterranean Style Cheese

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Contains: 

Free from: Nuts, Palm Oil, Wheat, Soya

What does cheese say when it looks in the mirror? Hallou-mi. HA, kill me now. Finally we’re trying the vegan alternative to what goes in to so damn many vegetarian dishes but quick disclaimer: it does not taste like halloumi. It’s not bad but we’ll come to that in a minute, first THE PRICE. It’s like £2.50 for two bread-slice sized sheets (or maybe bricks… they’re real sturdy slices of cheese) seems a bit steep but it’s not really something you would want to use in too many meals and to be honest, it’s not that much more expensive than the straight-from-the-cow stuff.

Before we discuss taste, I LOVE halloumi. If anyone’s familiar with its taste and texture, it’s me. This, Violife, is why I’m displeased with your cheese. I mean – 1. it came AS A BRICK 2. Look at it after grilling… now compare that to the real deal. WHAT are you trying to pull here Violife? It also smells a bit lardy when cooking (because who doesn’t love smelling like sizzling fat) but they’ve clearly gone for the squidgy and rubbery texture as it squeeks around your pan like the end of a pencil. Saying that, it doesn’t really translate to mouthfeel. It’s not at all the same as that greek goodness and is more like… congealed cheddar? Some soft, clumpy, gloopy, processed cheese? It’s not necessarily a bad texture but it’s definitely not fucking halloumi.

It also doesn’t taste right. Again, think of a stick of rich, mature (think OAP) cheddar that’s all coagulated and congealy – that’s exactly what you’ve bought. It’s not got that mouth-puckering saltiness to it either. So all in all, it sounds like Violife have done pretty feckin’ bad… except, they haven’t. It’s not necessarily an authentic mirror image of what it claims to be, it might not even be a good replacement in any dish that would require halloumi because it’s just that off but fuck me if it isn’t really moreish.

So, verdict?… Um. Maybe buy if you’re fancying a one-off to throw in a wrap but be warned that it probably would not work in a halloumi dish. Interesting to try but I doubt I’d ever buy again.

  • My Rating: 2/5
  • Omnivore Score: 1/5
  • Overall: 1.5/5

Find this product at: Sainsbury’s, Whole Foods, Ocado and other health stores

 

Wicked Kitchen Nana’s Mushroom Bolognese

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Contains: wheat

Free From: nuts, soy, palm oil

Wicked Kitchen is making big waves in the vegansphere and for good reason – It’s a fucking blessing to have so much choice suddenly dropped into our laps. To find a vegan spagbol boxed up and ready to go makes me almost *almost* drop the resting bitch face and crack a smile right there in the ready meal aisle. For context, the last time I did that in Tesco a 55 year old man tried to chat me up, so this is no small thing.

It doesn’t look as impressive as their Muay Thai Curry but it smells incredible fresh out the microwave (just like Nana intended). It’s got a great texture, which I thought was impressive considering mushroom mince has always sounded like something that was destined to be a disappointment.

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Work with me here and ignore the pathetic foliage smushed on top… The sauce is actually fucking awesome. It’s rich and flavoursome, and everything fits together perfectly to be a proper good hearty meal, which is way more than I thought I’d ever say in favour of a ready meal. Sad leaves aside, it ticks all the boxes for a classic bolognese that would only slightly insult everything an Italian grandmother stands for.

As I was tucking in (read: shovelling pasta into my mouth like a crazed woman) I had the shock of my fucking life when suddenly there were CARROT NOODLES IN MY MOUTH. CARROT. NOODLES. COODLES (?).

What. The. Fuck.

Okay I totally did not read the packaging properly… when it said “carrot” I thought it meant ittybitty chunks in the sauce not STEALTH COODLES LURKING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BOX.

I feel personally attacked. Mostly because the coodles (I’m officially making this a thing) were basically raw. Raw veg is not my jam. We are the junkfood punks for a reason. Coodles are not that reason. On the other hand, the spinach was actually a nice addition. Possibly because it was fully cooked and completely expected. Fuck you, stealth veg.

Let’s wrap this up before the coodle rant gets out of hand (yes, this is me being restrained). Overall, this was filling and tasty and totally passable as an actual meal. Feed it to an omni and there will be minimal bitching, but the mushroom mince is by no means identical to meat mince so they will just have to accept the fact that an actual vegetable has entered their body. (The SHOCK, the HORROR!)

  • My Rating – 4/5
  • Omnivore Score – 4/5
  • Overall – 4/5

Find this product at: Selected Tesco Stores

Wheaty Chorizo slices

Elephant2Contains: Wheat, Soya

Free from: Nuts, Palm Oil

MORE cold cuts! Chorizo slices this week because 1- I’ve never seen these on the shelves before and 2- apparently seitan is some kinda mega protein and actually real good for vegans. If you were gonna choose this chorizo for your seitanic needs though, just don’t. The fact it’s £2.50 for like 5 THIN bitch slices of what is, at best, a sandwich filler already puts it fairly low down my list.

Every time I’ve tried seitan, it’s always the same damn thing. I don’t know if I’m doing it wrong or if seitan is just not for me but I’ve always found it’s… soggy. It’s wet, it’s floppy and usually a bit chunky kinda like what damp bread feels like. This is essentially what Wheaty are offering. The slices are a little leathery (think like thin steak slice, not grandma’s purse) which does add a fair bit of texture, but other than that they’re kind of oily and very sloppy to handle… Which isn’t that far off from real chorizo I guess. It doesn’t suffer from feeling plastic like some other companies but it’s very clearly reconstituted bits and closer to dirt cheap abattoir salami than chorizo.

The main thing with chorizo is obviously the spice. It’s got a lil heat, a lil chilli oil a lil flavour, it’s pretty on point. Other than that though, there’s not really much there for flavour. Just a few drops of tobasco on a cheap wheat gluten discs, not worth the money and definitely not worth that “greasy mouth” aftertaste you get from a bad Chinese. 2/10, would not recommend.

Would I buy this again? Um, probably not. The price is one thing, the mouthful of nasty chip fat after is another and then the fact that there’s just not anything special about it all means it’s a no. And to answer the qualifying question, does this pass for real chorizo? Feck no.

  • My Rating: 1.5/5
  • Omnivore Score: 1/5
  • Overall: 2/5

Find this product at: Planet Organic, Whole Foods, Ocado and other health stores

 

Wicked Kitchen Muay Thai Curry Ready Meal

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Contains: wheat

Free From: nuts, palm oil, soya

Let me just start by saying this: Holy shit, Tesco, you absolute babe.

Who would’ve thought we’d be kicking off 2018 with a tsunami of vegan ready meals and on-the-go foods flooding our supermarkets? I sure as shit didn’t, and when I heard about the 20 piece range from Wicked Kitchen that was being introduced in 600 Tesco stores across the nation, I had a teeny tiny orgasm.

Which means before I even tried any of their food, Wicked Kitchen was already doing way better than some previous gentlemen callers.

ANYWAY.

Muay Thai wasn’t the first ready meal I tried from Wicked Kitchen but I figured we should kick things off with hands down the best ready meal I have ever eaten.

I am not even mildly exaggerating. This thing was fucking incredible.

I’m not really a ready meal kinda gal, mostly because I love to cook and my mum always instilled in me the mentality of ready meals being greasy shit masquerading as actual food (I am paraphrasing, my mum is nowhere near as foul-mouthed as I am).

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The first thing you’ll notice with the Muay Thai is that it smells AMAZING. It totally hits you with that lemongrass and lime as soon as you take it out of the microwave. And it tastes just as good as it smells. It is beautifully spiced – mild enough to enjoy buy spicy enough to make a weak-ass white girl like me go “oh my god, this is spicy, get me water, my nose is running”. It’s coconutty, fragrant, filling, and just an all-round beautifully balanced fucking fantastic easy meal.

The fact that it’s vegan wouldn’t even cross the mind of a meat-eater once they took a bite of this glorious feat of quick culinary genius. It doesn’t need meat. It doesn’t need ANYTHING else. It is completely and utterly perfect as it is. If they whinge about a lack of something dead in their little plastic tub it’s because they’re complaining for the sake of complaining and they were brought up to think a meal isn’t complete without a carcass. Fuck off, Dave, and eat your curry quietly, you absolute weapon.

Seriously, feed me this shit forever and I will die happy… Just don’t make me pay for it because £4 a pop hurts my very soul (but if you can afford it, it is SO worth it).

  • My Rating – 5/5
  • Omnivore Score – 5/5
  • Overall – 5/5

Find this product at: select Tesco stores

 

 

Primal Strips Hickory Smoked Vegan Jerky

Contains: Wheat, Soya

Free from: Nuts, Palm Oil

I’m going to throw a spanner in our Christmas line-up because it’s happened. The holy grail of veganism: BEEF FECKIN’ JERKY! (With somewhat less emphasis on the beef). Not that it’s exactly a daily go to for meat eaters, but it’s one of the few things I never expected to see on shelves. You know what stirs my loins even more? They have a selection of flavours. Jack Link’s ain’t got shit on us. There’s a fair few from Teriyaki to Mesquite Lime but I went with Hickory Smoked ‘cause if I’m gonna do this, you bet I’m doing this right (that and I don’t actually know what a mesquite is). It’s also crazy expensive. Not in a “wow, that’s a lot of money in one go” way, but in a “THIS IS AFFORDABLE… but where are they hiding the rest?” way. For one. measly. miserable. strip of jerky, you’re looking at £1.75. That’s right, that’s all you get. Daylight fucking robbery.

First thing I notice taking the jerky out of its sleeve is it’s… wet? Jerky I expect to be a little sticky like honey or thick molasses but this was almost like it was freshly basted and needed to be wiped down before eating and before you ask, I am a solid 80% sure it didn’t need cooking before hand. But the texture? Oh good god the texture. Merry Christmas indeed, Santa, you tricky bastard. It was more or less everything I was looking for. Tough and chewy like leather of an old woman’s handbag – it IS jerky. It was thick and has substance to it that you have to bite and rip like it’s the pin of a hand grenade, what more could you honestly want? Well, maybe it’s not quite as chewy as the real deal but it’s pretty damn close.

It was pretty bang on with taste too. It was s-s-s-mokey with a capital S, a little sweet and v sticky. You know what I mean, that good ol’ combo of honey smoke and bbq that just gets me frothing at the mouth. There’s not exactly much to it, it’s not more-ish or rich – just the bare essentials: hard compacted soy coated in a marinade. It literally could not go wrong.

VERDICT: Meh. It scores pretty damn high for authenticity, it’s just like the real thing (if a bit damp, but I’ve never complained about moisture) and considering jerky/biltong and other preserved meats aren’t exactly strong in flavour, it’s pretty spot on there too. That said, even by those standards it lacks in flavour a little bit and the fact that you get ONE. DAMN. STICK. really brings it down for me.

  • My Rating: 3/5
  • Omnivore Score: 5/5
  • Overall: 4/5

Find this product at: Planet Organic, Whole Foods and other health stores

 

Freedom Vanilla Marshmallows

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Free from: wheat, soy, nuts, palm oil

Let’s not fuck around – one of the only selling points of living in a country where the air physically hurts your face is the fact that you can come indoors, put the kettle on, and make the most diabetes-inducing hot beverage and no one will question you.

You want a drink that’s chocolaty, milky, piled up with whipped cream and covered in sprinkles? You do that shit. But you would be a damn fool to exclude these marshmallows from your winter warmer.

They melt beautifully, so shove a whole fistful into your hot chocolate and you will get a gooey vanillary (?) topper that takes your drink to the next level of sugar-coma comfort.

If hot chocolate isn’t your thing and you’re one of those rogues that just pops marshmallows into your mouth like a MONSTER then these are perfect for that too (though seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you? Who raised you? Wolves??? Why did the wolves let you do that?!?!).

They have a sugary outside and are less fluffy than non-vegan marshmallows, but they literally melt in your mouth and before you know it you have eaten through a whole pack in one sitting (totally not speaking from experience here…).

These ‘mallows are perfect, with my only criticism being that they’re a bit small. So while they will definitely do the job as a hot chocolate topper they’re not quite right for shoving in a s’more (sorry, Americans).

  • My Rating – 4/5
  • Omnivore Score – 4/5
  • Overall – 4/5

Find this product at: alternative food stores, online, and some Sainsbury’s.

 

Tesco’s Festive Nut Roast

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Contains: Wheat, Soya, Nuts

Free from: Palm Oil

Even MORE festive foods for you guys because we eat a roast every week so you don’t have to. I’ve never had a nut roast because, to be honest, it sounds dry. It sounds like the driest, mealiest thing you could possibly put in your mouth. HOWEVER, it was £3.50, part of Tesco’s freshly released festive range and I figured it’s Christmas, I’ll go into this with an open mind.

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Forgetting the fact that I already think nut roasts are shit, look at the unhealthily pale puck above. Like your throat after you’ve had a night out and smoked too much. Even the vegetables in it look depressing. Trying to scrape it off the tray just causes it to break and skidmark across and the way it mushes around really isn’t appealing. But when it comes to actually eating it? Everything changed. The texture was soft and moist on the inside, a little crusty on the outside. It was almost a little cakey but also filled with nutty chunks and bits of soft vegetable. I don’t think I’ve ever been so wrong about something from the get go (and I am wrong a lot). 10/10 points for festive wholesomeness in texture.

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It just tastes homey. It tastes warm and welcoming, even to my cold Grinch heart. It’s stupid to say, yes, but it is nutty. It’s like eating a handful of warm nuts with a few spices in there, which is still really pleasant but not on say, Linda’s level. You can also definitely taste the cranberry though and the soft carrot bits. It just adds a different layer to the texture as well so you’re not sat with a mouthful of nuts all the time.

Is it good? So f*king good I went for seconds. Is it something I’d want at Christmas? No. It’s not really visually appealing and to be honest, there are so many other festive options out there that blow this out the fucking water. It can taste as nice as it wants but I’d rather have nothing but sprouts than look at that on my plate on Christmas day.

  • My Rating: 4/5
  • Omnivore Score: 1/5
  • Overall: 2.5/5

Find this product at: Tesco’s