Quorn Vegan BBQ Strips

Maker:S,Date:2017-1-29,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

Contains: Wheat

Free from: Nuts, Soya, Palm Oil

Venturing outside our world of patties, hotdogs and sausages – I’m trying Quorn BBQ Strips… What is a  strip, you say? Get me enough drink and I’ll show you haaaaaa… (but seriously, I don’t know). Anyway… Quorn have been coming out with vegan things left, right and centre in the past year and this just sounded like something I had to try. You can squeeze out two meals from a single £2.50 bag so it’s not horrendously priced but are you willing to fork that much out for “mystery strips”? Well, you fuckin’ should.

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First off – what’s with every Quorn product looking like it came out of a Play-Doh fun factory? They don’t look great out the pack and I didn’t have high hopes at first… but then, once the pan had heated up a bit, the smell hit. Think McDonald’s BBQ sauce. Now imagine just the smell of that dominating EVERYTHING but in the best kind of way, like Ronald McD’s own brand cologne. They come out actually looking edible and less like Colgate’s newest and least welcome flavoured toothpaste and still smelling 10/10. If at this point you’re worrying they’ve overdone the flavouring, don’t because they haven’t. Even though it smells like heaven-on-fucking-high, the taste isn’t as overpowering. It’s not one of those where you have to spice it before hand or where you wish you were eating cardboard instead, no, it’s just damn spot on. A good mix of BBQ, a good mix of… Quorn flavour? Shit, I don’t even know what Quorn’s made of but that taste.

Maker:S,Date:2017-1-29,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

So what’s wrong with it? Is there anything wrong with it? Is this really God’s gift to man? Well, no. The only thing I have wrong with this product (probably linked to my severe lack of knowledge as to what Quorn actually is) is that the texture is like if Spongebob and talcum powder somehow had the most disfigured and mangled child (has science gone too far?). It just crumbles, falls apart and then mushes a bit in your mouth whilst somehow also sucking all the moisture out of it at once. I know that sounds like the worst thing in the world, but I wouldn’t discount these bad boys just yet. I’m convinced that it’s nothing a little sauce couldn’t fix because the taste is all there, Quorn just need to do something about their weird, compressed ‘shroom… stuff.

I really, really want to be able to answer the omnivore question but I don’t know what the fuck an omni strip is… Chicken? Well… this is definitely not fucking chicken unless it’s that pink goop they use to make nuggets. Steak? We were closer with pink goop. So for my actual rating? I’d give it a solid 4. Real good shit. Omnivore score? It actually has to be a 0 (but honestly it tastes good enough just feed it to them anyway).

  • My Rating: 4/5
  • Omnivore Score: 0/5
  • Overall: 5/5

Find this product at: Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s, Ocado and ASDA.

 

Tesco’s Peanut & Avocado Burgers

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Contains: Wheat, Soya, Nuts

Free from: Palm Oil

Fucking love peanuts. Pretty damn fond of avocado. Mix them together and what do you get? Literally the most inedible thing on this whole planet of Earth. Tesco’s patties have always been underwhelming if I’m honest (WHY do I keep doing this to myself) but I figured 1. I’d risk it for the blog and 2. One of our resident omnivores suggested it (fucking omnivores. What do they know, am I right?).

Do me a favour and look at that patty. Is that something you’d want in your burger? Hell, it’s not even something I’d want by itself. It’s a 2/10 for presentation and to be honest, the texture matches it. It’s dry, mealy and somewhat mashable – sort of like a badly made flapjack. The outside looks crunchy but it’s more like dehydrated mud. All of Tesco’s patties that I’ve had so far in my life have this cakey texture which, if you’ve ever ordered a fucking burger (or you know, if you just have taste buds), you know is not a quality you want in a patty. After drowning it in veganaise and throwing it in a wrap, it’s just about edible but if you eat this thing solo you may as well have just had grit. Not grits like the fun veggies but grit.

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I know having a “vegetable” patty compared to one that looks like meat is sometimes controversial and polarising but I personally like it. I like seeing what veggies are in my burger and you CAN see some avocado in here. Doesn’t mean you can taste it for shit though. Similarly, the peanuts? They literally add nothing to it. The flavours are more or less the same as any other Tesco burger (i.e. bland.) but now with added anaphylaxis for those who are anti-nut. That is to say, there’s nothing really offensive about the taste because it’s non-fuckin’-existent. There’s just nothing there. If cardboard and cornmeal was a taste – Tesco have nailed it… Also, just as a side note to add a turd to a turd mountain, it cooks in 27 minutes. TWENTY SEVEN. WHAT IS THIS, THE GREAT FAMINE?! WHY DOES MY SHIT FOOD TAKE SO LONG TO COOK.

So, now that I feel I’ve made a calm, well though-out and eloquent discussion without any bias to one side or the other, let’s score it. Well, as you can see from the frozen hockey pucks above, it doesn’t resemble any burger I’ve fucking seen. Taste? Bland. Texture? Sahara Desert.

  • My Rating: 1/5
  • Omnivore Score: 0/5
  • Overall: 0.5/5

Find this product at: Tesco’s

 

Wicked Kitchen Hoi Sin Mushroom Wrap

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Contains: Wheat, Soya, Palm Oil

Free from: Nuts

Every single vegan has been here and don’t tell me you haven’t but first, let me set the scene. You’re out and about, maybe headed to somewhere special, maybe not, I dunno it doesn’t matter. You’re kinda hungry and you’re looking for a bite to eat but you’ll be damned if you stop off in some snobby art café that’s gonna charge you £73,000 for bio-organic, locally sourced, reinforced smart water before you’ve even had a look at the food; all you want is a something cheap, quick and easy (don’t we all). All you have to choose from at the Tesco’s aisle is ‘Falafel and Coriander’ or ‘Carrot and Hummus’… WELL HOLD ON because their Wicked selection is stocked! The only problem is it costs 3 .fucking. pounds. when all other sandwiches cost half that. My socialist bones scream (EQUALITY FOR ALL FOODS). [Pro-Tip, going in at like 7pm means they’ll usually still be mostly in stock and reduced to 1.75.]

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Finally a sandwich that won’t taste of dirt, right? Well… almost. Despite the fact I got SHAFTED on the filling (see the bottom wrap), I was so excited to finally try something a little different in the grab&go department. I’m not entirely sure what I expected, maybe something akin to a fucking hoi sin duck wrap but no. It’s that familiar crunch and of someone who’s pushed a carrot through a grater and not bothered to do anything with it. Unseasoned veggies, unappreciated leafy greens and all sorts of crimes against veganity were committed in this wrap. The mushroom taste was only sometimes there (which to all you shroom haters out there is probably a damn blessing) but all I can really taste is dry carrot which also takes over the entire texture of the thing. Crunch Crunch Crunch. Where is the richness, WHERE IS THE FUCKING HOI SIN?!

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Answer? Well… The first wrap I ate was almost bone dry and not a single hint of sauce. I actually nearly stopped halfway because I was already pretty mad. FUCK Wicked for robbing me of this goodness. However in true JFP fashion, I reckoned I had to give the other side an equal shot and guess what? Found the Hoi Sin… I found all of it. Literally smothered in it and if you’ve ever tried this sauce before, you’ll know that too much of it renders something inedible… AGH I had such high hopes for this and I couldn’t even finish it. Not to say that the taste is necessarily bad or offensive, it just doesn’t do what it says on the tin. No smoothness, no richness in taste. Just mushrooms and carrots in one end and a plum mudslide in the other.

Scoring time. As you can probably tell, I’m vexed. Price? If I were King of Bhutan, I still wouldn’t want to waste my money on this. The texture in all fairness wasn’t awful but it wasn’t appealing. I wouldn’t want to make a meal like that for myself. The omnivore score, if I’m to compare this to an actual peking duck wrap is a straight 0.

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

Find this product at: Tescos

 

Gosh! Sweetcorn & Quinoa Bites

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Contains:

Free from: Nuts, Soya, Palm Oil, Wheat

Gosh! I honestly don’t quite know where to start with these ones. I’m also strangely uncomfortable with anything named “bites”… Bites of what? Sausage? Potato? Heroin? There’s just no telling really. For the purposes of reviews the only food I could think to compare it to is falafel but trust me when I say, it’s definitely fucking different. It’s also £2.50 for around 14 little balls which is pretty damn expensive for some almost falafel. One of the big draws I found with Gosh! though is that they’re “junk food” in a sense but their products are also made of healthy things like lentils, beans and peas (as well as guaranteed nut, soya and wheat free) so there’s definitely a place for them in the fridge if you’re weight watching but still want to eat (and we fucking do love to eat).

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To Gosh’s credit, they don’t beat around the bush. The front of the packaging said “sweetcorn and quinoa bites with harissa and paprika”. What did I taste? Harissa, paprika and fuck all else. I mean, it’s great that they go together and actual flavour-wise it’s all works for that “Moroccan spiced” feel but it’s way too overpowering – like licking the floor of a Marrakech spice vendor. I tried them solo, I tried them in wraps and other foods but it honestly committed mass murder on the rest of my palate. Harissa and damn paprika with every bite, taking the joy out of literally every ingredient I threw at it to tone it down. It could probably work in a salad or something where you can space them out more ‘cause if any dish has more than three of these bastards bites (I definitely didn’t use the whole pack…) then just flush it. These little turds are as unforgiving as they are full of some great nutrition. Like I said earlier, a big plus for Gosh! is they do use some damn fine ingredients that actually do make me feel less shit about sticking a burger in the oven than say, reconstituted mushroom and mystery *cough* Quorn *cough*.

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Texture is where this whole falafel comparison falls down. It’s got the right flavours and the inside doesn’t look so different but my god. They’re flaccid. They’re soft, they’re mushy and if you play with it enough it falls apart. I could probably get over the overpowering tastes to be honest (because it really isn’t that bad…) but the way its textured too makes it hard to have with a dish or by itself. You can’t try and pass them off as meatballs in a Bolognese because you’d suddenly be having a spaghetti and quinoa mash. Sandwich? You’re suddenly eating a strongly spiced pate on bread. Alone? Well… I can’t comment. I’m not that fucking crazy.

Where does that leave scores? Price? Eh, it could be cheaper but I guess if I’m going to be eating junk and knowing there’s some healthy stuff in there means I lay down an extra 50p every now and then, I’m not fussed. Omnivore score? Considering I can’t actually begin to compare it to something in the omni word, that’s not looking good. Would I buy it again? No. I’d still buy from Gosh! without a doubt but that specific product? Pass.

  • My Rating: 3/5
  • Omnivore Score: 0/5
  • Overall: 1.5/5

Find this product at: Tescos, Ocado and Morrisons.

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Fry’s Poloney Slicing Sausage

Contains: Wheat, Soya

Free from: Palm Oil, Nuts

It’s been YEARS since I’ve had any “cold cuts” and they’re rare to see on supermarket shelves but trust in Fry’s family to be the saving grace. Their thick and meaty slicing sausage is an a-fucking grade meat replacement. It’s also pretty expensive for £3.99 but it’s also probably not a good idea to be eating this on the regs. (Note: I got too excited and sliced through half of it before I took a photo, it does come as a full sausage)

This is not quite the bologna you knew before. It comes in the same BDSM-inspired plastic packaging with the clamps at each end and has the same weight and feel as your everyday slicing sausage but underneath the texture is a little bit off. It’s definitely not bad and it’s the same “compacted meat” feel of meat but it’s a little spongier? Cakier? Not the kind of words I’d want associated with my meat. That said, it’s still pretty close to the real thing and being able to eat cold cuts again means I’m not all that fussed about a little stodginess. There’s the chunky bite to it, the way it feels in your mouth – all baloney.

Fry’s have nailed the taste on this. Crucified it. It’s pretty much what I remember bologna tasting like, though a little dry it’s still rich. It’s real salty (what sausage isn’t) but real peppery at the same time and it’s also got that weird salami-like after taste to it as well. I would honestly put this at a solid 8/10 for closeness the real deal.

Using this as a replacement? Yes. All sorts of yes. The texture is a little weird but if you were to use it for just about anything other than those fancy bourgeoisie charcuterie boards, you could slip this in unnoticed. The other slight thing that makes it slightly more distinguishable is, as I said, it’s real salty. For essentially £4, I would say it’s a good one-off buy but the fact it IS hard to find but is still the best cold cut alternative I’ve come across yet.

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

Find this product at: Holland and Barrett and Ocado.