By now you, my dear readers, must have realised I have a long term relationship with Abel & Cole. Thus far I’ve reviewed their Mixed Organic Fruit & Vegetable Box, Free Range Chicken, Meat Pies and now their Picnic Box.
It is only natural to get suspicious of a blogger’s integrity once they start receiving free stuff from companies far and wide. After all, he doesn’t want to bite the hand that (in this case literally) feeds him by writing a bad review. But if I can’t be honest, what’s the point of reading this blog if it’s all a big charade? After much pondering I’ve decided to write this not-so-glowing review to simply keep things real between you and I…
The box came in Abel & Cole’s standard robust, polystyrene box and the goodies inside were kept cool with icepacks. This system seems to work as long as you remember the food left on your doorstep and refrigerate it in a timely fashion. Personally, I haven’t experienced any disasters so far.
R.W. Garcia’s Thin Organic White Maize Tortilla Chips
Eaten as a snack on its own, these chips’ very subtle taste isn’t up to much. However, since it has been especially chosen to be eaten with dips, it doesn’t mess with the dips’ flavours and it works out beautifully. (Picture above)
Verdict: Best enjoyed with your favourite dip/relish/salsa.
Pollen’s Sweet and Spicy Chilli & Fresh Ginger Salsa
This product is the biggest surprise and best in the box. It is tomato-based, oh-so-sweet, spicy but not too much and overall just pleasant. In my sordid food daydreaming I just want to vigorously douse my beef burger with this sexy sauce.
Verdict: A must-have.
Carol’s Black Olive Houmous
The texture of the hummus was on the grainy side for me and mysteriously lacked “lubrication”/oil to easily slide down my gullet. Since I despise olives, I can’t be unbiased regarding the flavour of this dip but the comments I received were far from positive, e.g. needs more spice. This item fared the worst with our guests and is the biggest disappointment in the box.
Verdict: Avoid. The recipe needs a makeover or the product should simply be replaced by a better one.
A Selection of Italian Cured Meats
The parma ham could not be faulted and the rest of the salami was quickly gobbled up by the crowd.
Verdict: Good but standard stuff.
Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Quiche
To my knowledge I’ve never bought a quiche from the shops and quite simply the quality of a homemade one fresh out of the oven is unbeatable. One fret I had was whether the quiche would heat well in the oven and to my surprise it did! One bite and I was in love with the filling. Unfortunately, its crust was its downfall. By all means it wasn’t unpleasant but the crust was simply too thick for this small tart and halfway through I just scraped the filling off and ditched the rest.
Verdict: Clunky. If only it had a thinner crust it would have been perfect.
Duchy’s Tangy Lemon Tart
The only Duchy product I’ve tried thus far was its Wholegrain Mustard. Its quality I found good enough to buy repeatedly. Immediately it struck me yet again how thick the crust was, and if in doubt, just look at the photo above. Ratio: 50% crust and 50% filling. I shudder at the thought of how large Duchy’s profit margin is. The tart was covered in a glaze that was extremely thick and ended up in a slimy heap on the side of my plate.
Verdict: Avoid. The heavenly filling won’t save the tart from being a daylight robbery.
Trivia: After mispronouncing Duchy several times Neil finally corrected me. The right pronunciation is “dutchy”. Yes, almost like someone who wears clogs. What did I say? Douchey. It must be all that smutty celebrity gossip blogs I read.
Buy the Salsa separately. Wait and hope that Abel & Cole’s quiches’ crusts will get thinner because they have a lot potential. The rest? Mediocre at best.
If you would like to try Abel & Cole for yourself, you can take advantage of this special offer. Simply sign up for a weekly delivery of £15 or more including a fruit and veg box, then after 4 consecutive weekly deliveries Abel & Cole will give you £50 to spend with them. Check that they deliver to your area by inputting your postcode on their homepage, and see the terms and conditions.
Terms & Conditions: To take advantage of this offer, add code BLOGSUB50 in the special offer codes section when you place your first order before 31st December 2009. Choose your fruit & veg box and select “every week” for your order frequency. After 4 consecutive deliveries (each of £15 or more) you will receive a £50 credit on your account. This can be spent on any products of your choice at Abel & Cole within 3 months. No cash alternative. Subject to availability. Prices correct at time of going to press and subject to change without notice. Not valid in conjunction with any other offer, except selected price discounts.