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

 

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.

 

 

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 Family Soy and Quinoa Country Roast

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Contains: soy, wheat

Free from: nuts, palm oil

If I’ve gotta slave over the oven and an actual meal to prove to you fuckers that this roast is the god damn best thing to grace the Christmas vegan scene THEN I FUCKING WILL.

I know that Ryan and I are absolute Linda McCartney sluts, but hear me out: Fry’s Family Food are knocking it out of the park AND they are completely vegan so there’s no risk of picking up one of their products, shovelling it into your mouth, and then later finding out it contains milk/cheese/honey/general non-vegan sadness.

frys family soy roast

I even made roast potatoes to prove my fucking point. This. Shit. Is. DELICIOUS.

It’s not supposed to be a mock meat, but the closest thing you can liken it to would be meatloaf. OKAY, OKAY, I KNOW, BUT BEAR WITH  ME HERE.

It is super moist and doesn’t have any weird chewiness or questionable texture, and is very flavoursome on its own which is impressive for what is essentially a brick-sized slab of soy.

It is meaty enough to throw back to the omni days of roast dinners (if you had them) but not too meaty as to be so questionable that it’s off putting. It also goes super fucking well with cranberry sauce and gravy, and rest assured I smothered that shit all over my meal because there is no dignity in how to properly consume a roast dinner. Pile it high, gravy it the fuck up, and eat like it’s your last meal. It is the only way.

The roast costs about £5 and serves three normal humans or two greedy bastards (a.k.a 2 of me) which is pretty fuckin ace considering other vegan roasts such as Tofurky are way more pricey, and the quality alone is a massive payoff.

Would I feed it to my omni pals? I mean, I could. It quite clearly is not meat but it’s nowhere near the realm of being branded as “weird vegan shit”. It’s the kinda thing you could serve them if you’ve gone to effort of cooking them an entire meal and they literally have zero right to be an obnoxious pain in the ass. Eat the roast and shut up, Alan, you fucking prick. (I don’t know an Alan, but I feel like if I did he’d be one of those “where-do-vegans-get-their-protein” assholes)

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

Find this product at: Holland and Barrett, Ocado

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.

 

Linda McCartney’s Vegetarian Beef Roast with Red Wine & Shallot Glaze

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Contains: Wheat, Soya

Free from: Palm Oil, Nuts

Now THAT title is a mouthful. With Halloween just gone, it’s that Christmas time of year (and I’ll join our fellow punks, Marxists, socialists and anti-capitalists in groaning in distaste) which means one thing: roast dinner. No matter if you celebrate it or not, winter is a perfect time to be sat inside for a cosy roast, with maple roasted parsnips, garlic butter brussel sprouts and cranberry jelly but it’s always a cause for stress. For £3.50, Linda’s got you covered.

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I won’t lie, I didn’t expect my roast to come in a foil pastry tray. It’s not a problem (hell, there’s very few things that would get in the way of my food, foil is not one of them) but it was surely unexpected. It doesn’t really look appealing either, just a flat “meatloafy” log that someone’s slapped into a dish, hardly the rustic and mouth-watering meal you’re going for but don’t let that put you off. All in all, not off to a good start. Then I stopped all my moaning and shut up. Straight out of the oven it smells like glazed shallots and looks much much richer than the frozen TV dinner I was first greeted with. I figured I’d try some of it dry and some with gravy but you know what? I didn’t even need any. Its bottom is soaked in a hot, sticky, smoky red wine glaze and it retains so much moisture it’s like digging in to a drowned pigeon. The meat itself has the same crumbly texture of stuffing but it’s not as dry and isn’t going to suck all the water out of you. Instead it sits perfectly well in your belly with mouthfuls of syrupy sauce and hunks of “meat”.

Taste? Well, it doesn’t taste of meat or roast dinner and I’d be pretty damn horrified if it did. No, this is beyond that. It’s pretty non-offensive and doesn’t opt for strong flavours in itself but definitely bulks out your lonely collection of brussel sprouts, peas and carrots. It’s not there to add crazy flavour to your dish, just to soak up the gravy and add a little juice of its own (everyone loves a little of their own juice, right?)

I wouldn’t recommend trying this out for everyone at the dinner table. It’s no pork belly or turkey, but it’s damn good all the same. It doesn’t try to be identical to your meat and doesn’t go the other extreme of tasting like your uncle’s “famous nutroast”. All in all, Linda never disappoints and I’m shocked you even read this far before figuring it out Hail Linda, hail.

  • My Rating: 4/5
  • Omnivore Score: 3/5
  • Overall: 3.5/5

Find this product at: Tesco’s, Ocado, Saisnbury’s and Iceland.

 

Clearspot Organic Tofu & Bean Burgers

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Contains: Wheat, Soya 

Free from: Palm Oil, Nuts

I’ve been vegan for long enough now that I know going off the big brands is a gamble. In this case, I put some money into a poker game only to realise I should’ve been playing blackjack. What I mean is, this burger? Shit burger. However it’s not actually too bad if you judge it as a falafel. After the recommended cooking time of 25 minutes (an eternity in JFP time, I write this now as an incontinent, decrepit old man) I got what might as well have been a dry and crumbly falafel. At £2.29 for two patties, it’s actually not too bad (but not worth it, recommend: do not buy).

Texture is dry. It looks like a Martian landscape, it feels like a Martian landscape and quite frankly it’s the ugly step-sister of any burger I’ve tried before. As soon as you bite into it, it’s dry – the moisture just ripped from your mouth and replaced with sand. It’s mealy and grainy. I realised though that since it is actually quite similar to badly made falafel, throwing this into a pitta with some hummus and spinach? Deal maker. The outer crustiness (in the good way, not the “Hey doc, does this look crusty to you?” way) and crunchiness definitely needs something like a spread or a sauce to even it out, otherwise it’s all trash.

One thing I didn’t expect this to hold up well in (and it didn’t, you absolute disappointment to food) was taste. Everyone who’s had tofu will tell you that if you don’t treat your tofu right, it’s going to taste of nothing. This is exactly what’s happened here. Essentially you’re given a puck of tofu and beans (not a bad place to start) but that’s it. Just the taste of tofu and beans – essentially nothing. With no discernible meat taste and the shittest texture in the world of junk food, this burger is a low scorer.

Without wanting to subject our in-house omnivore experts, let me tell you now that this is bottom of the pile scum. There’s no place for this in any vegan, vegetarian, omni, fruitarian, pescetarian, or other x-tarian cookbooks.

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

Find this product at: Holland & Barrett, Morrison’s and other health food stores.