Thursday, 19 May 2016

Tesco - Woodside Farm - Land Of Make Believe - Pork Sausage

We have reviewed Tesco sausages before. We even liked some of them. But, more often than not the quality of their bangers is woeful (and that's being polite). This time however we are NOT reviewing Tesco sausages. Oh no! No way. These are from Woodside Farms, which sounds to me like an idyllic leafy smallholding, possibly in the Cotswolds? Or maybe the Scottish borders?

Where To Find Them:
I hope the best place to find Woodside Farms sausages would be Woodside Farm or their stall at a farmers' market? But, obviously, it doesn't exist. The true location of Woodside Farm is in the collective, deceptive imagination of the team of marketing charlatans employed by Tesco to fool the British public into thinking their terrible products are more authentic and of better provenance than they truly are.

Now, we were recently invited by boss Jane Tomlinson, in charge of Redhill Farm Free Range Pork to visit their farm and have a lovely guided tour. And we fully intend to take her up on such a kind offer. To give Woodside Farm a bit of a chance to impress I asked Tesco if we could visit Woodside Farm - what a shock, absolutely no response. And that's because it is completely fabricated.

Woodside Farm is one of the mainstays of the Tesco "Fake Farms" marketing campaign. It has pretty much replaced their Everyday Value branding for many product lines. Now I believe there is a place for budget products, but not when they've been disguised as something better than they are.  Bring back Everyday Value and consign the Fake Farms to advertising purgatory.

The flavour is that of mushed-up paper sprinkled with salt. It's not good, and disappointing even at this price point. Think of the worst cafe sausage you have ever eaten and you're in the right area. The ingredients list claims 52% pork - but in my opinion there's very little decent meat included in that figure. Almost tasteless, unless you enjoy chewing salty newspaper. Potentially less meat here than in a vegan's bogies.

The notes just say "Mushy. Squishy. Spongey. Unpleasant. Nothing to bite into." And that is an accurate description of the, basically, plop that is inside these artificial tubes of abhorrence. No resistance to the fork, no discernible niblets of meat, gristle, fat, anything at all. You could probably "eat" these with a straw. There was a ridiculous amount of liquid in the pan after cooking, and some of them split their sides.

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 57 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 47 grams
Meat Content = 52 %

Value For Money:
£0.66 for 8 sausages weighing 459 grams. This works out as £1.44 per kg and 8p per banger. EIGHT PENCE. Even at this ridiculously low price we rate this as no kind of value for money. If you buy these you have wasted 66p. Avoid at all costs.

Junior Sidekick's Three Word Verdict:
Sam was sensibly at school when these were reviewed. Even though it was a Sunday. Hmmmm. Who's a clever boy then?

The "Aah, Bisto" Factor:
Desperately trying to find positives for these items. What was the aroma like during cooking? Well, there wasn't any. A nice sausage-y, spicy whiff would have been a counterbalance to the awful lack of flavour and texture but there was.....nothing. Less smelly than an Obsessive Compulsive Cleaner's toilet bowl.

The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
Didn't want to re-visit these vile things again. Leftovers went straight in the bin.

And Finally, Esther:
Woodside Farms is a fictitious producer, invented by a multinational uber-shop to fool people into thinking the product is better than it is. On no account should anybody buy this product, ever. Please put your 66p into a charity collection box instead.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Oslinc - Horncastle - Ostrich & Tomato Sausage

We have written many, many reviews of pork sausages. Sausages made of pig. This one is something entirely new and challenging for us. The bangers are full of bird. And the bird in question is ostrich.

According to the World Ostrich Association (WOA) "Ostrich meat is a "red meat" similar in colour and taste to beef. The meat from an Ostrich comes from the leg, thigh, and back. An Ostrich has NO breast meat like the chicken and turkey.

Even though Ostrich meat tastes like beef, the Ostrich does not have fat marbling in the meat like beef. Ostriches have fat, but it collects outside the muscles and is easily removed during processing. Therefore, the cuts of meat are very lean with very low fat content."

So there you have it, straight from the horse's mouth. Or ostrich's beak.

Where To Find Them:
Oslinc live at White House Farm on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, just outside the pretty market town of Horncastle. I've never been there but it looks like an idyllic place to work. If you want to visit and buy food from them there is a small but bijou farm shop on site which is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. If you're using Sausnav use the postcode PE22 7PL. Their website is charming - Oslinc website

Alternatively look out for the Oslinc stall at many farmers' markets around the local area - for a full list click on this Farmers Markets We found them at the Sleaford market, just in front of the war memorial near St Denys church.

Finally, you can order for delivery by courier for a reasonable £4.95.

Very chatty and helpful Stans behind the stall. We were briefly tempted to buy an ostrich egg for the next morning's breakfast, but were put off by the cooking time and need to buy a pan roughly seven metres in diameter!

There's a much darker and deeper flavour than your average pork sausage. It's closer to venison but with beefy influences. The flavour is very powerful but tasty, and would possibly dominate other flavours in many meals. The meat itself is an enjoyable taste and there's a decent kick of pepper at the back of your mouth. These are labelled as "ostrich and tomato sausages" but I couldn't really get the tomato, which is a slight pity.

Very firm. Quite resistant when you cut in to them but lovely and juicy inside. The filling is medium chopped which suits the meat, and gives a firmly bound together texture that is difficult to push apart with the fork. Not the greatest ever texture we've found, but definitely hovering around the play-off places. The sausages were very solid in the pan. All started off exactly the same size and shape but took on their own differing dimensions during cooking - nice to see.

The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
We lined these sausages up with three very different dips - Norfolk Knobbly chutney by Candi's Chutney, horseradish by Calon Lan and French's yellow mustard.
Norfolk Knobbly - Decent mix. The chutney is sweet and tangy and goes well with the cold ostrich meat.
Horseradish - This was the best combination, as the sausages have more than a hint of beef about them. A nice combination, and good quality horseradish.
Mustard - Not terrible but third place in this company.

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 67 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 53 grams
Meat Content = Ummm. Yet again I have failed to note the meat content. Sorry. Again.

Value For Money:
£5.99 for 6 sausages weighing 402grams. This works out as £14.90 per kg and £1.00p per banger. Note that the tray that these sausages are provided in weighs 28 grams, which is included in the unit cost.

We rate this as good value for money - on the steep side but a very good, unusual product.

And Finally, Esther:
An interesting departure from our usual territory. Give them a try for yourself. Healthy and tasty!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Redhill Farm Free Range Pork - Gainsborough - Pork & Leek Sausage

We have reviewed Redhill Farm Free Range Pork sausages before. And we liked them. Read what we said here - Redhill Farm Lincolnshire Sausage

That was four years ago. Has anything changed? I stumbled on their stall at Sleaford farmers' market and just had to re-visit their previously lovely sausages. We had a great reaction and cooperation from Jane at Redhill last time, and wondered if standards had been maintained. It was also interesting to tie in a previously well-reviewed maker with our personal fave variety - pork and leek. on....

Where To Find Them:
There are a variety of ways for you to find these good producers. 

If you want to visit their very own farm shop using SausNav then use the postcode DN21 3EL. If you use your own intelligence to find places then "We are 3 miles north of Gainsborough, between the villages of Morton and Laughton. From Gainsborough follow red highlighted road as shown on our map. At turn off from Morton towards Laughton we are 2 miles along Laughton Lane. Follow 'Redhill Farm' logo signs on this road'."

Or you can order online here Redhill Online for a delivery fee of £9.95 for orders up to 25kg in weight.

Probably the most fun way is to find a Redhill Farm Free Range Pork stall at a farmers' market. And Redhill Farm can be found at many markets. As of "right now" their website lists the following venues, but maybe give them a call to check:

Brigg – 4th Saturday of the month
Doncaster - 1st Saturday of the Month from May 2016
Gainsborough – 2nd Saturday of the month
Grimsby – 3rd Friday of the month
Humber Bridge – 1st Sunday of the Month
Horncastle – 2nd Thursday of the month
Lincoln City Square – 1st Friday of the month
Lincoln Castle Square – 3rd Saturday of the month
Lincoln High Street – 2nd Wednesday of the month
Lincoln North Hykeham – 4th Friday of the month
Louth – 2nd Friday and 4th Wednesday of the month
Newark - 1st Wednesday of the month
Retford – 3rd Saturday of the month
Sleaford – 1st Saturday of the month

Felt a bit sorry for the poor stans stood behind the counter, they looked bloody freezing! Soon be summer....

Simply delicious. Pork and leek is, admittedly, the best way to find a place in our heart, and Redhill Farm Free Range Pork do it beautifully. The pork is light and sweet and high, high quality. The farm rear their own Duroc/Landrace pigs, which are allowed to roam free and behave like, well, pigs. This breeding is reflected in the flavour. Simply no contest with the factory pork of the supermarket. From end to end of these sausages you will find a slightly different flavour with each slice, which is how it should be - no robo-mixer employed. These sausages go PERFECTLY with a lightly fried egg or two.

Almost perfect. Crumbly, knobbly, lovely sized "bits" of ingredients. Just tumbles through the fork if you push down on a slice. The pork is coarsely chopped, the leek also rustically prepared, and this texture continues into the mouth. Beautiful mouth-feel (thanks Boyle) and the texture continues to impress as you can taste individual elements as you eat. Take a look at our direct comparison with a recently tested Tesco sausage - which one would you choose? Great work from Redhill. When you put these links in the pan they all cook in their own way, leaving you with a lovely variety of shapes and sizes of cooked sausages - a blatant signpost that these are handmade and individual.

 Vital Statistics:

Average Weight Uncooked = 58 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 42 grams
Meat Content = 85 %
Leek Content = 8% fabulous leekage!

Compared to our review of four years ago these sausages are about 60% of the previous size. And again they did lose quite a lot during the cooking process.

Value For Money:
£2.98 for 6 sausages weighing 346 grams. This works out as £8.61 per kg and 50p per banger. The online shop must offer a different batch of bangers as it lists "6 weighing 500g, for £4.89". It also says "good flecks of Leek throughout" which is completely under-selling them. These sausages ARE well worth the money.

We rate this as very good value for money.

The "Aah, Bisto" Factor:
We noted "Mmmmmmm, fresh and green smell!!! Loved these in the pan til they spat in my face." So.....the aroma is lovely but don't get too close for a sniff.

And Finally, Esther:
Really, really nice sausages. I will definitely be buying some more next time we cross paths at a farmers' market. Suggest you give them a try. Lovely. Thanks Redhill Farm Free Range Pork!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Beers Of The Americas vs Sausages - Part 4 of 4

Remind yourself of our crazy scoring system here - Points System


Number 7 - Peru

Flavour - Not a lot. Not enough to keep you interested. Needs more ooomph. 5.75

Head - Awful. 0.5

Alcohol By Volume - 5.0

Looks - Label looks "shrug", just average. The bottle however is nicely embossed with some kind of ancient runes. But the label is as weak as the head. 3.5

Value For Money - 3.62

It's Personal - Plus 2 for having the best bottle.

Beer/Sausage/Combo/Factor - Good sausage spoiled by the beer. 1.0

Gas - 0.75

Total - 22.12


Number 8 - Canada

Flavour - Not bad but couldn't get the honey. 5.0

Head - Pretty good compared to some of the others. 3.0

Alcohol By Volume - 5.2

Looks - Plain. Clear. Embossed. Good! The bottle is kind of shaped like a UK stout bottle. 3.75

Value For Money - 2.39

It's Personal - No award.

Beer/Sausage/Combo/Factor - At the end of a long test the tastebuds were tired. 1.75

Gas - 0.5

Website - Sleeman

Total - 21.59


Final Score

We are happy to announce that the best beer from north/central/south America to drink while you're eating sausages is from the Brooklyn Brewery and is their Insulated Dark Lager. Well done chaps!

1 - USA - 29.55
2 - Cuba - 26.01
3 - Mexico - 24.52
4 - Peru - 22.12
5 - Canada - 21.59
6 - Barbados - 18.22
7 - Argentina - 15.80
8 - Brazil - 15.04

Congratulations to all our competitiors, and thanks for the beers! CHEERS!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Beers Of The Americas vs Sausages - Part 3 of 4

For a review of the scoring system, have a look here - Over-complicated Scoring System


Number 5 - Cuba

Flavour - Smells and tastes darker than it looks. Lots of depth. "Licorice tone" she said wisely. More quaffable than the Brooklyn. 8.25

Head - Starts strong, ends crap. 3

Alcohol By Volume - 5.4 We googled "fuerte" and it means "strong".

Looks - A striking front, picture of a pirate? Are pirates big in Cuba? 2.5

Value For Money - 4.61

It's Personal - No points awarded or deducted.

Beer/Sausage/Combo/Factor - 2.25

Gas - 0

Total - 26.01


Number 6 - Brazil

Flavour - Like a typical "standard" English lager along the lines of Fosters. Sweet. Wishy-washy. Not unpleasant but not enough going on. 4.5

Head - Negligible. 1.5

Alcohol By Volume - 4.3

Looks - The first clear bottle of the test. Bottle top is a red and white version of Brazil's flag. 1

Value For Money - 3.49

It's Personal - No points.

Beer/Sausage/Combo/Factor - Too sweet. 0.5

Gas - -0.5

Website - Brahma Beer

Total - 15.04



1 - USA - 29.55
2 - Cuba - 26.01
3 - Mexico - 24.52
4 - Barbados - 18.22
5 - Argentina - 15.80
6 - Brazil - 15.04

Exciting stuff with just two beers left to try - can Brooklyn Brewery hold on to top spot? I know they're keeping tabs on this saga....