Christmas. A time for love, sharing, spending time with the people most important to you… plus food and drink. At least that’s what it is for me.
Whilst we all know of the religious origins of the festive holiday, in the modern day I think it is fair to say that the majority of the focus of this time of year is on meeting up with your nearest and dearest and celebrating that togetherness. There is present giving, music, games, chatter and the obligatory array of delicious goodies that as we all through our diets out the window and indulge ourselves in everything that is oh-so-good but oh-so-bad for us.
So, when East Of England Co-op sent me along a little box of their products to sample I was very excited. Send me anything edible and I will be your friend for life, fact.
Here’s what they sent us:
Pink Brut Sparkling Wine
If you know me, you’ll know I like a glass of wine, and I like a glass of bubbles even more so I was really pleased when I opened the package to find a bottle waiting for us. For some reason, drinking bubbles always feels a little decadent, and for me, when those bubbles are pink, it makes it all the more special.
The first thing that struck me about this was the weight and quality of the bottle. If time and effort has been spent on the bottle then you know that the drink inside will have even more attention to bring it to perfection.
Once poured (we don’t own champagne glasses, so we had to go for plain, boring wine glasses sadly!) we both took a sip and I was instantly won over. As the sharp bubbles popped against my tongue, and being ‘off dryas it hit my palate the fruity flavours came through. The taste was quite soft and it was an easy-drinker, meaning it would be as well suited to summer BBQ’s with friends as it is to cosy nights tucked under a blanket in the winter months. Brewed at Shawsgate Vineyard in Suffolk, it’s nice to have a homegrown UK bottle of fizz as I don’t think I’ve tried one before!
Tinsel Toes Christmas Ale
I’ve said before, I love that Ben gets involved with my blog and he supports it so strongly, so when I opened the package to find a bottle of ale, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for him to get involved in the review process.
Brewed Woodfordes Brewery in Norfolk (who have been brewing beer for over 30 years now) it’s a special Christmas product with an added hint of Christmas pudding in its flavour. I had a taster of this and it was really nice, you couldn’t definitely identify the Christmassy flavours as you rolled it around your mouth, and Ben was a fan, finishing the whole bottle in next to no time.
Legg’s BakeryHandcrafted Short Crust Mince Pies
I’ve never been a fan of mince pies. It’s not that I don’t like them as such, they just don’t do anything for me, so I tend to skip them entirely at this time of year. With this knowledge in mind, Ben was very happy to find we’d been sent a box of 6, as he knew he wouldn’t have to share them!
As you can see, Ben was that excited to eat them, he couldn’t actually wait for me to take a photo before he cracked into them…
Flavour-wise these were actually really nice, they reminded me a lot of the Fig Roll biscuits you can buy in the supermarket which I actually like, so these were much better suited for my palette than the huge mass-produced ones you can buy. Perhaps because they’re hand-crafted in a bakery is what makes the difference, I’m not sure.
For me, the best thing about these was the fact they’re hand-crafted at Legg’s Bakery. They weren’t uniform in their appearance, with the pastry thicker in some place than others, some of the tops a bit wonky, and a general homemade feel to them, but this is a real selling point to me. It makes me feel like somebody actually went to the effort of creating these for us, rather than a variation of robots constructing perfect little pies by way of a computer programme.
Christmas Mallow Whirls
When I saw these I felt absolute joy as they reminded me of Walnut Whips, something I used to love but haven’t been able to eat since I became allergic to nuts. It’s so silly, but knowing I could eat these – a less murderous version of their nutty cousin – was something that made me genuinely happy.
Created by Hadleigh Maid, a Suffolk-based company, they are white chocolate cases with a mallow centre hidden inside and a lovely little Christmas-themed decoration on the top. These are so lovely to look at that I think they’d look great laid out on a plate for people to treat themselves at a Christmas get-together.
Flavour wise, these are lovely. The mallow was a bit harder than I imagined, but I think perhaps my brain was expect the creaminess of the old Walnut Whip centres, which are obviously completely different to these.
I have to admit, this lasted about 3.6 seconds before I had wolfed the whole thing down – it was just so good!
I’m a big advocate of supporting local business so to have the opportunity to try out some homegrown products, all of which were created within the East of England was great. I definitely recommend finding your local East of England Co-op and trying some of their Sourced Locally range. We have so many great producers of food and drink in our area and these four items are proof of that!
Now, who fancies some pink bubbles?
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