Brought back from China by my boss, Gavin, from a work trip. Tough Job.
It’s not often you get the opportunity to try something as genuinely off the beaten track as jellied Spicy Chicken Claws. So when Gav returned from his sojourn in China with a bag full, I felt duty bound to tuck in. Even wrestling it from the packet is a novel experience. The claw has the texture of a damp slug and it’s difficult not to recoil when trying to tease it from the foil bag. Once it’s out, you are almost instantly hit by the smell. It’s difficult to describe, outside of saying its unpleasant. There’s a hint of burnt popcorn in there and it has the capacity to linger on your fingers, even long after washing. But as the chinese most likely say, ‘The proof of the Spicy Chicken Claw is in the eating’, so let’s cut to the chase. To be honest it doesn’t really taste of anything. It’s about 80% smell and 20% jelly texture. The closest thing I can liken it to is eating cat food with extra crunchy bits, with the crunchy bits being the tiny bones from the feet of chicken. Yum.
(0/5 Probably better off on the chicken. Sorry Gav)
Mexicali, 323 Fulham Road, London (£6 with sour cream and guacamole)
Take a man’s arm.It might be yours, or someone else’s. Not too big, not too small. Just an average man’s arm. Now roll any clothing up past the elbow. Disregarding the hand, take a good look at the forearm. Take a moment to really appreciate how big it is. That’s about the size of a burrito from Mexicali. And it’s very tasty indeed. You should try one.
(5/5 Sleepy time)
The Bluebird Delicatessence, The Kings Road, Chelsea (£1.50).
For those of you not familiar with The Bluebird, discovering a plate of sausage rolls nestling delicately in amongst the stuffed vine leaves and foie gras of its deli won’t sound that amazing. But bare in mind that the Bluebird is the jewel in Terrance Conran’s crown – a small, but very exclusive complex of shops in a famous, old, Art deco building slap bang in the middle of Chelsea – and you start to understand that it’s as unlikely to be there as, well, I am. Nevertheless, there we both are. Managing, between us, to effect the culinary equivalent, of the direct opposite, of discovering a diamond in the rough. If you follow me.
I’m afraid I can’t shead any real light on the origins of the name ‘Old Spot’. Perhaps it was the name of the dog the meat came from? The other thing of note is the slightly disconcerting pinkness of the sausage element. Under most cicumstances i would take both of these things as fairly ill omens, but given its provenance, I feel pretty happy that I’m looking at a reasonably high quailty snack. So how does it taste?
Delicate, flakey pastry. Light, not too greasy. Good firm sausage. Nicely seasoned. All round, very satisfying. And surprisingly good value too. If you’re ever up in Chelsea, I’d recommend it.
(4/5 Nice work Terry)
Sainsbury Direct (67p)
I believe it was Dr Johnson who once said ‘If you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life’. If he wasn’t so patently talking about London, he could well have been talking about the culinary masterpiece that is Heinz Baked Beans and Pork Sausage. As if baked beans weren’t good enough by themselves, the audacity, the nerve of pairing them up with tiny pork sausages, well it’s genius on a level I know the late Doctor would have justly approved of. I’m enjoying this particular tin lavished over a pair of unmelted, mature cheddar on toasts. The tangy hit of the cheddar beautifully offsetting the slight acidity of the bean and tomato goo. As ever, I have left all the sausages to the end, and used them to mop up the last of the sauce. Mmmm, mm. Tin based snaking doesn’t get any better.
(5/5 The caviar of the north)
Waitrose, Kings Road, Chelsea. (£1.79 for 2)
Think of Waitrose and the mind almost instantly settles on the word ‘quality’. It is without a doubt the supermarket of choice for those that love food. And so it’s with not a little excitement that I gently break the seal and prize open the box of their own brand, Cumberland Scotch Eggs. Billed as Whole free range egg encased in fresh Cumberland pork sausagemeat and coated with breadcrumbs, I’m almost drooling on my keyboard as I write the words now. However, it must be said, on releasing the snacks from their plastic nest they don’t look anything but ordinary; standard size, standard golden looking breadcrumbs. The first cut reveals nothing extra of interest and sadly this is as good as it gets. The egg section itself is top quality, very fresh, not too rubbery. But the surrounding pork is a distinct let down, with almost no taste to it what-so-ever, just a sort of crumby chalkiness. And as Confusious said all those years ago “No porky tasty scotch eggy, no really scotch eggy at ally”. Wise words.
(1/5 The taste of disappointment)
The Price Of Wales public house, Battersea Bridge Road, Battersea (£9).
As a longtime champion of all things comfort, I thought life had few surprises left in store for me. So imagine my unadulterated joy at discovering this meaty option on the menu of our new local work boozer; Sausage Platter- A medley of Londoner, Toulouse and venison sausages from our Swiss grill, served with onion relish and toasted ciabatta. That’s right, essentially just a plate full of sausages! I normally don’t condone the use of exclamation marks, but in this context it seemed entirely justified. Sadly the reality couldn’t live up to the dream. It seems that with lunch, as with life, you need the lows to appreciate the highs and the sausage platter just became one long arduous mouthful of pork. From now on, Friday is once again pie day.
(2/5 sometimes it’s better to get what you need than what you want)
Tuesday5 February, 12.13pm (Red Shop, Battersea Bridge Road, £1.59)
Wow! Where to start. Well, the first thing (and Ginsters really should have known better than this) is that it’s not a Scotch Egg Bar at all, but a Party Egg Bar. A Scotch Egg, as any savoury snack aficionado will tell you, requires a full, hard boiled egg. The bar shaped nature of this product makes that an impossibility. Secondly, where’s the advantage in making it a bar? Did punters have problems holding the original Scotch Eggs? Were they not ‘lunchbox friendly’ or something. The whole thing smacks of marketing gone bonkers and again, Ginsters should know better. Thirdly, actually it tastes quite good, but kind of wrong at the same time. On further investigation, perhaps this is down to the fact that a staggering 32% of it (that’s the whole thing mind you, not just the egg bit) is Mayonnaise. I’m certain that must be some sort of record. Well done Ginsters.
(3/5 Any port in a storm)