Arcimboldo’s Summer

Arcimboldo’s Summer
Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593) was the master of these pre-surrealist paintings of figures formed of grouped objects (not always food).

Friday, 21 March 2014

Primadonna Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I was in the budget supermarket Lidl last night buying tomatoes to make my favourite pizza sauce this weekend. The tomatoes are £1.19 a kilo since you asked, fairly unbeatable and though variable in flavour and quality, often deliciously sweet. As I ran through the recipe in my head I realised I'd run out of olive oil.

Well, I hadn't actually run out. I had plenty of bottles of tasty, classy and high end oils of various kinds. But I'd run out of my standard 'house' oil I use for cooking — Sainsbury's organic unfiltered, a strongly flavoured, peppery and yummy olive oil which I also use for everything else. But it's my 'cheap' oil and in a recipe like this that requires lots, it's the one to use rather the high end oils.

Since I wasn't going to be at Sainsbury's in the next few days I considered gambling on trying some olive oil from Lidl. What the hell, I was already here... and when I saw the price of their oil I was sorely tempted. I noticed a guy wearing headphones picking up a bottle and I asked him what it was like. He politely removed his headphones and said he used it all the time and it was great. So, not without trepidation, I bought a bottle...

Just now, again not without trepidation, I tried it. And was relieved to discover it's very good. Just fine in fact. Good clean, buttery taste. Rather like a Spanish oil in character. I'm going to start using it regularly. At this price, how can I resist?

The price: £2.39 for a 750cl bottle. Or, just under £3.20 a litre. In fact, you can buy litre bottles of it — though not at my branch of Lidl — for £2.99. This makes it less than half the price of the Sainsbury's organic unfiltered. So now the Primadonna is going to become my house oil. And the Sainsbury's organic unfiltered gets promoted to a place among the high end oils

So everybody's happy.

(Image credits: The main picture is from The Eurofood website, which looks interesting but is all Greek to me. The litre bottle is from Lidl's own site.)

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Chaource versus Chaource

I can't remember where I first tasted Chaource. Possibly it was an expensive purchase from Waitrose's high end cheese selection. But I remember that I loved it — meltingly soft, with a slightly mushroomy flavour and a yummy rind — and I have a dynamite recipe for it which I will post soon.

Recently I was delighted to discover that this traditional French village cheese (it's named after the village of origin) has become more widely available. It turned up, quite reasonably priced, at both Tesco and Sainsbury's. So this is my comparison of the two.

The Sainsbury's one (£3.30) was, ahem, simply divine. The Tesco example (£3) was, initially, disappointing. 

More sour than Sainsbury's and with a less appetising texture. But, in fairness, the Sainsbury's Chaource was vastly riper — to be honest, I forgot it was in the fridge and only discovered it weeks later, after the blur that was Christmas.

And as the Tesco Chaource grew more ripe and runny, its flavour improved dramatically.

I will have to get two more samples, and age them for exactly the same length of time, eat them both and report back with the results.

It will be hell, but I'm willing to make the sacrifice for you.

Update: I've now had another sample of the Tesco Chaource (thanks, Chuck) and it was simply delicious. 

(Mind you, it's time I tried all the other ones again, too. It's such a hard life. Sigh.)

(Image credits: the Tesco's pack shot is from All About You. The Sainsbury's one is from My Supermarket.)