Thursday, December 13, 2012
2012 President's Choice Holiday Insider's Report: Part 4
This is the final instalment of the Mega PC Holiday Box of Treats reviews. So exciting! This time they sent a ton of PC Black Label products, my favourite! I saved the best (and some of the worst) products for last.
Fig Cabernet Wine Jelly
The first product is the Black Label Fig Cabernet Wine Jelly. Sorry no link, I can't find it on their site.
You know when you go to those crafting shows and there is that booth that has all these fabulous jellies and jams to sample and you want to take them all home because they are so good?
Well this one is that good! In fact, I dare say, it might be better. There is just enough Cabernet Sauvignon to make it mysterious and using figs just unusual enough to impress me and I usually prefer more traditional flavour combinations. I am a real strawberry-rhubarb kind of foodie but this? This is delicious and unique. I love it.
This particular product is not in the Insider's Report but if it is $6.99 like their Cherry Shiraz Wine Jelly (also not on the site), that is a little steep. This is only a 170 mL bottle which is quite small. Although personally, if I got this I would consider it a wonderful gift. Not something I could afford on a regular basis but on a special occasion? Yes, I would buy it.
I give this product four out of five wooden spoons. If the price is the same as the Cherry Shiraz it prevents me from giving it five out of five.
Ontario Montmorency Sour Cherry Fruit Spread
The Ontario Montmorency Sour Cherry Fruit Spread comes in a larger 370 mL bottle and is $5.99. I must admit, I love that they make the region that is was grown in part of the brand. Makes it so special and so... Canadian.
It is a beautiful spread that, as the Insider's Report says, could easily be a fancy substitute for cranberry sauce this holiday. I might actually do that this year.
It is so fabulously tart yet also sweet and those cherries have wonderful texture. They are so lovely too, almost candied and yet still pack a punch to the tastebuds.
Another beautiful Black Label product that impresses the hell out of me. I give this product four and a half out of five wooden spoons.
Foodie Note: I automatically used the little Brie packages with this photo for the photo shoot. Afterwards when I was "cleaning up" (AKA snacking) I discovered that I absolutely despised cheese and fruit together. I did more taste testing of the product on its own and they are awesome but wow, I hate cheese and fruit together. This is not just a silly rant. It will become clear why this is actually pertinent information.
Blood Orange Sparkling Beverage
Blood Orange Sparkling Beverage is the first Black Label product I have seen advertised on TV. Slick, dark, moody and funky... I was so happy! I really do believe in this brand and that advertisement gave me hope they are sticking around for a while. Although it would be really nice if you brought my truffle aioli back to my store!!!
A product of France in a bottle that actually "pops" when you open it like a bottle of champagne (which made me scream, I so wasn't expecting it)... this is not what I would call pop. Or juice. Which is why they named it "beverage" which is a little generic.
It is not as sweet as most "beverages" (although still 100 calories per cup) which thrilled me. I am not a pop drinker. No, this actually has a bit of an edge to it and is naturally flavoured. Although it was disappointing to see that there is more sugar than "natural flavour" that it is made with concentrated orange juice and lycopene for colour. I see nothing in the list of ingredients that suggests there are any blood oranges in it at all. Which is a big no-no in my foodie world.
Nothing pisses me off more than false advertising. Perhaps the concentrated juice comes from blood oranges but nothing on the list of ingredients suggests that. How can I rate this? Yes, I liked it but maybe it is lying to me?! The colour of blood oranges is quite dark and they use lycopene for colouring so that really suggests to me there are no blood oranges used at all. No regular rating but when it comes to clarity of message and product, this gets a FAIL.
Spiced Apple Cocktail
The Limited Time Only Spiced Apple Cocktail does taste a bit like Christmas. It is not highly spiced but just enough that if you want to use it as a cider replacement, you can. You can also make it easily your own with additional flavourings. I love that you can keep it in your pantry and not in your refrigerator until that holiday party comes up, unlike fresh apple cider.
I can see why it is being marketing as PC's "Merry Christmas" cocktail. You could could simple add some booze to it for a unique holiday libation. At only $2.49, why not?
It is nice but I personally prefer my crockpot apple cranberry cider. Has way more personality but probably not a good mixer.
I give this Spiced Apple Cocktail three and a half out of five wooden spoons. Just a little too simple for me but if you are looking for a light basic apple cider, this could be the product for you.
Shortbread Cookie Mix
Shortbread Cookie Mix is marketed as "shortbread for cheaters". I guess they mean for people who don't want to go out and buy flour, icing sugar, corn starch, sugar, salt and canola oil on their own because that is all that is in this product.
If you are not a regular baker, you probably will not have those ingredients so that is a kind of cheat because it saves you a shopping trip. But you will still need to buy...
... lots and lots of butter! 1 1/4 cups of unsalted butter to be precise. Which is not cheap!
For me, the real test was following the instructions. I followed them the way I would have when I was a new baker. I got out what I considered a large bowl and "using electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy".
The bowl was not big enough so use a really large bowl, trust me. I used the egg beater attachment on my electric mixer (why not, Paula Deen does this) and beat it until it looked light and fluffy.
Then I added the cookie mix and beat on low for 30 seconds until "just combined" and everything went everywhere. Then I beat on medium for 2 minutes until the mixture "came together".
Well, it never did. It stayed crumbly. So I just followed the directions and pressed into the parchment-prepared pants and smoothed the top with the back of a spoon. Which was a great idea! I am going to remember that one. Then I used a fork to prick the dough.
The shortbread is delicious but because my dough never came together, it was very crumbly! Still a little moist which I loved but Reg said isn't the Scottish way and wasn't "tough enough". His idea of shortbread is that you have to dunk them into hot tea to be able to bite through them.
The directions drove me crazy, especially since my dough was clearly "wrong" but the shortbread was still delicious, I must admit. I still think $2.99 for a box mix is a little ridiculous but I am glad that even the newest bakers will probably come out of their kitchen with a holiday treat they were excited to "make themselves".
As a result, I will be kinder than usual and give this product three and a half out of five wooden spoons.
Fruit and Cheese Phyllo Pastry Hors D'oeuvre Collection
Sometimes the hardest part of doing these reviews is going into the store and finding the "must try!" products. I wanted to "splurge" my wonder gift card (thanks PC!) on their Easy-Carve Turkey Breast Roast with Cranberry Stuffing and Gravy. Last year I was so sick, making a Christmas dinner was impossible. That would have saved my butt and I know a lot of people do not feel comfortable making this sort of thing on their own. Sadly, they were either all gone or I just could not find them.
Instead I picked up their Fruit and Cheese Phyllo Pastry Hors D'oeuvre Collection for $9.99 which for me is splurging when it comes to an appetizer.
Especially an appetizer that only had 18 pieces to it. And remember, I did not know when I picked this up that I despise cheese and fruit together.
We invited our friend Jen over for an evening of taste testing and all three of us were disappointed. The only one Jen and Reg liked was the apple cheddar, they found the rest unpleasant and I found them all unbearable. Especially the cranberry brie which is the little round ones. But the mango goat cheese was almost as bad. I could not eat either of them but managed to finish the apple cheddar.
I am glad it was not just me that was disappointed because I feel now I can give a fairer review. Almost $10 to be that disappointed when I could have spent just $3 more and gotten a Christmas dinner...
Personally, I give these a zero, I hated them! But to be fair since I happened to choose something I naturally dislike and taking what Reg and Jen experienced... I officially give them a two out of five unless the combinations are ones you already like, then maybe you will enjoy them.
It has been quite the foodie whirlwind thanks to the general giant box of goodies I received! Overall, I think the products did very well and there were only a few that let me down which is excellent. I hope my reviews have helped you make your decision as to where you are going to indulge a little this holiday season.