7: Luxury on a budget
Today, (actually yesterday), we went to Lidl. Because why not? My access to big unit retail is kind of limited, because I don't drive, and we don't have that many options tucked away down here in Folkestone, not that I can reach on foot anyway. And as I hinted yesterday, due to advanced scheduling and routing mathematics, my re-up was fairly limited to something I could fit into my existing appointments and travel. And Lidl was that something.
I don't really have anything against Lidl, actually every time I go into one I'm usually surprised by the variety and the quality of the produce. OK, occasionally amused by the not quite brand graphics on some things that verge on knock-offs, and often entertained by the generally weird middle aisle home and wear grab bag section. I always tell myself I should come back here more often and then forget to. In honesty, I don't really spend that much time in supermarkets anyway. It's not all positive in there. The slight disorderly untidiness to the stock arrangements, the ultra-harsh lighting, and the weird tills and 1980s European trolleys and baskets are a bit unnerving, I can be sensitive about that kind of thing.
Still, it services the mission just fine. I decided as I am shopping in the low-end I'd try and opt for the high-end option, and here's what I ended up with "Deluxe" brand? "All butter mince pies". £1.75 for a box of six which is pretty damn competitive in 2022, I can tell you, even for the non-luxury range.
So as a purchase, I was pretty pleased. They look nice enough in the box, we have a pastry star there, the all-too-common now verging on standardised pointless powdered sugar mess. Coming out of the box, a note of warning - the lid seems oddly proud of the base. As I bite into it I realise, yup, here again, we have a pie that's really overloading on the pastry. What we have here, seemed to be a generously proportioned mince pie, but really there's an element of the fake out at play here, unless you're really only here for the pastry, in which case, good news, if you're tired of eating miniature pies to get your pastry kick, I think I've found your brand, get yourself down to Lidl, stat.
Another surprise, I was expecting butter grease notes overload like from our friends at Costa, given that they've flagged that so hard on the packaging, but actually it wasn't particularly discernible here. I count that as a positive, although it's safe to assume that we're still firmly in Not Vegan At All territory. C'mon folks, Greggs can do it, so can you. I count the missing butter flavours as largely a positive anyway.
Filling, again a surprise in a more pleasant direction. There's a hint of booze, for the first time in this series, not unwelcome hit of fairly synthetic brandy flavour. Really rich fruit taste, and they've gone right in there with the winter allspice, and the cloves and the nutmeg, that's pretty good. Low on citrus, but making up for it in all the other areas. If they'd only supplied a bit more filling, or a bit less crust I'd be scoring this one quite high I think. As it stands though, it's fine, I don't mind it, I enjoyed the misdirection, and it went down very nicely with a cup of tea; deep and crisp and even.