Sainsbury’s Classic Italian Panettone

I know I’ve been a bit quiet just recently on here…kind of been struggling for interesting Christmas stuff to talk about…still, only a week or two until the TV guides come out and I’ve got some things planned for the next couple of weeks too…so keep stopping by, there will be plenty of interest.

On that note, I thought I’d try something I’ve never had before. Panettone.

So, I said to the wife, I’ve bought some Panettone, you know, Italian fruit cake.

“Bread” she said.

“No cake” I said.

“No, it’s bread…with fruit in it.”

“No, it’s cake”.

Well…I was wrong…but it looks like cake…it does!

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So this is a big version…unusually, let’s take a look at the nutritional information:

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I can’t let it go. It’s cake. It says it.

And here it is (no it doesn’t come pre-sliced, I did that myself).

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Now, my initial thought here was disappointment, I’ll be honest. It looks under-baked to me and lacking in fruity bits.

And it does look quite a lot like fruity bread.

What does it taste like? Well, even though it’s very airy and light, it’s very stodgy and, well, like fruity bread. It’s not overly sweet and it’s quite nice all in, but I fail to understand why anyone would have this instead of a proper Christmas cake or even just a proper fruit cake.

All in all, an expensive mistake. This thing cost £5.50, which is a lot of money for a lump of sweet fruit bread.

Ah well…lesson learned!

Love Actually Day

 

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That’s right…5 weeks to Christmas, better known as LOVE ACTUALLY DAY.

No messing now folks…get your movies started, your shopping cracking on…

Oh yeah, it’s Black Friday week too…let the madness commence!

Top 10 Christmas Movies That Are Actually About Christmas

Christmas movies are a category all to themselves. It’s tempting to say Christmas movies are family movies, but that’s not the case. Bad Santa most definitely isn’t a family movie. And then of course, there’s the debate about what actually is a Christmas movie, is it a movie about Christmas or is it a movie set at Christmas.

If we say it’s only movies about Christmas, then Die Hard is out along with one or two others. If we’re saying it’s just movies set at Christmas, then you can even include movies like Jurassic World (yeah, you forgot that I’m betting).

So, for the sake of this argument, this is a top 10 list of movies about Christmas. And this list doesn’t include things like The Snowman…as that’s not a movie (although it is amazing of course). Feel free to debate or destroy this list in the comments!

Here we go then, starting from the tenth position of course:

10. Home Alone

Homealone

A genuine Christmas classic this. Released all the way back in 1990, these parents are 100% going to jail now. But look beyond that, it’s a pure slapstick comedy with a real heart. Macaulay Culkin with a career defining role as Kevin is literally perfect.

Never ever fails to raise a smile.

Click here to buy on Amazon


9. The Nightmare Before Christmas

Nightmare

What’s this? Tim Burton goes full on here with some fantastic stop-motion stuff, and the music by Danny Elfman is just brilliant.

The first sequence where Jack finds Christmas world is one of the best animated sequences of any animated movie ever. This should be remade into a stage music if you ask me too.

Click here to buy on Amazon


8. The Holiday

HolidayA real change of pace now, this is a surprisingly excellent romantic comedy with a really stellar cast. The normally really irritating Cameron Diaz is also great here.

This is relatively controversial given the set at or about Christmas debate, but I figure since the name is about the season, and the continual references, it gets a pass.

Click here to buy on Amazon


7. Love Actually

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Another romantic comedy, this is pure Richard Curtis class. With loads of different stories, all playing out seperately in a way others have tried in the past and not been anywhere close to as effective at (New Years Day I’m looking at you).

The scene with Kiera Knightly and Andrew Lincoln with the cue cards never fails to make the heart melt.

Click here to buy on Amazon


6. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

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I love the Vacation movies. Chevy Chase back in the 80s really did some great work and for my money, this is the best of them. So many quotable scenes, so many funny moments.

The best for me is the bit with the sledging, but from beginning to end it’s a work of genius.

Click here to buy on Amazon


5. Bad Santa

Bad.Santa

Now, here we have the deviation from the family fare. This is a dark comedy, with characters you want to hate but you just want to go along for the ride.

There are lots of versions of this film, I think the Director’s Cut is the best personally, but if you’ve not seen it, you really should. I’ve not seen the sequel yet, that’s on my to-do list.

Click here to buy on Amazon


4. Christmas with the Kranks

Kranks

Now, if you just look at the reviews or if you listen to people who tell you they know all about movies, this is terrible. It’s not, it’s really not.

It’s a movie about thinking of others before yourself. It’s a movie about community and family. And it’s a movie about having fun. I love this, completely. And the scene with the botox is one of those “I can’t breathe I’m laughing too much” type scenes for me.

Click here to buy on Amazon


3. The Santa Clause

SantaClause

Another Tim Allen classic, this film has a real place in my heart as I’ll always remember Christmas Eve about 8 years ago watching this with my daughter, one of the first full length movies we sat and watched together.

As a movie, it’s pure, total saccharine but the comedy of the transformation to Santa Claus is brilliant.

Click here to buy on Amazon


2. A Christmas Story

ChristmasStory

Now, I only watched this for the first time a couple of years ago. Considering it’s almost 40 years old now, it’s pretty bad I only just got around to seeing it.

Well, what have I missed. It’s great, a real throwback to Christmas for kids from before we were all obsessed with smart phones and games consoles.

Click here to buy on Amazon


1. It’s a Wonderful Life

Wonderful Life

A classic. Don’t watch the colourised version either, that’s a genuine mistake. The black and white version is great, it has tragedy, it has heart and yes, it’s dated quite badly in many ways, but take it as a movie of it’s time and you may fall in love with it.

If this doesn’t get watched in our house, Christmas never happened.

Click here to buy on Amazon


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Christmas Adverts 2017 – Part 4

Well, I’ve gone to town on rounding up the Christmas adverts this year…here’s another bundle of ads for you to check out…

First up, it’s Waitrose:

This is actually really quite good, I’m not sure being in black and white quite works, for me when the lights come on at the end if the advert went into full colour then, that would have been a little more dramatic.

A comment on Youtube amused me for once though (never read them, just don’t do it), where the horrified looks at the end are because they’ve gone all cannibal…made me smile anyway.

Boots now…

I have no opinion on this…none at all. Which is weird, utterly unmemorable.

Now TK Max meanwhile, they’ve had a good go here:

I quite enjoyed that, creepy voiceover and everything!

And, now Debenhams, this might say Part 2 but this is the full version, you don’t need Part 1 as that’s already included in this…

Boy oh boy, is this romantic or what! Very very sweet advert this.

Debenhams winning Christmas, alongside Sky Cinema for me!

 

Christmas Adverts 2017 – PART 3

So, here we go then with another round up of Christmas adverts, the over budgeted influencers for 2017…

Let’s kick off with John Lewis…

Transparently trying to play at heart strings…fails miserably. For me anyway.

Next we have House of Fraser:

I’ve met sisters before…getting on this well…naaaaah, not buying it at all!

Next, we have a pair of Morrisons adverts:

I really love the Free From one, just really very sweet. The other one, a bit meh but pleasant enough. Good effort from Morrisons.

Now for Tesco…and I like this a lot:

The bloke at the end “Oh, go on then”…that’s just like me on Christmas evening…

And Talk Talk…nailed it:

Christmas Adverts 2017 – Continued

We already started our roundup of Christmas adverts for this year with this post: https://themincepie.co.uk/2017/11/04/christmas-adverts-2017-its-started/

That one featured Very.co.uk, Argos, Asda and Vodafone…this time, we’re kicking off with one of the biggest hitters, going in two-footed on the rest:

This advert is pretty good, light and fluffy despite it being all about a burglar. My only problem with this advert is the “Oh F**k you little bear” at the end. Pretty sure M&S need to re-edit the sound here, because WOW! I’m not the only one to hear this too, it’s all over the comments. Oh M&S, what did you do!

Next up, it’s Matalan:

I can’t help it, I like it. Maybe the music needed to be something Christmassy, but it’s everything Christmas wrapped up in an advert otherwise.

Not really much of an advertiser normally, here’s Amazon’s distinctly unChristmassy effort:

And for this update I’m going to finish on Sky Cinema…because it’s perfect (I really mean that too, for parents out there everywhere, it 100% nails it)…

REVIEW: Coop All Butter Luxury Mince Pies (2017)

This review is going to refer back to the 2016 version of these pies quite a bit, the review for those is here: https://themincepie.co.uk/2016/10/08/mince-pie-review-coop-irresistible-all-butter-luxury-mince-pies/ and it’s worth a read to remind you how I’ve always been a fan of these pies.

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Packaging
So, this looks just like last year’s box…but let’s do a side by side:

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On the left is 2017 and on the right is 2016. When I bought these, I genuinely thought they were the same. Check out the layout of the pies on the box, it’s almost the same. It’s very clever, but I can’t think really why they’ve done it like this.

Notable differences though on the calories, 2017 are 246 calories and 2016 are 254. The composition is different too, and you’ll note that last year the salt count was orange and this year it’s green. The weight is the same though, so really it just suggests a different recipe. The blurb at the top makes mention cherries too, which it didn’t last year.

Notable too the absence this year of the crimped edges, and the less defined spring of holly on the pastry design.

Pretty much though, my comments from last year still stand. It feels fairly premium as far as these things go, but not very Christmassy.

8/10

Presentation
So, last year, we had some fairly nice things to say about these, being quite pretty to look at. I also noted the bucket of sugar chucked at it too.

Guess what…

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Well, personally, I think these look really quite untidy for a start. They look really quite uneven, not exactly consistently circular. The sprig of holly is no so indistinct, suddenly they really not so pretty. The removal of the crimping around the edges from last year also really takes away from the overall impression.

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Worse though, they’re no longer chucking a bucket of granulated sugar over these. Instead, they’ve poured two buckets of icing sugar all over them. That’s right, they’ve binned off the granulated sugar, replaced with icing sugar. Horses for courses to a degree, but it’s just massively over done.

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So, all in all…a massive fall from grace for these from last year.

3/10

Filling
Now, we’ve had a fall from grace on the presentation front…what next..

This:

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That’s a whole lot of air in there!

So, you can see the mincemeat is quite fruity and chunky, but the very fact that it’s not even half full is a disgrace. No wonder these are less calories!

It’s not an isolated problem either, although this is marginally better:

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Overall, the filling is also quite “wet”, which means it’s a surprise that there is no soggy bottoms here (unlike Aldi).

It really needs to taste good though given the limited quantity of it.

5/10

Taste Test
So, how do these taste then? Well, the answer isn’t totally straightforward.

When you munch in, the pastry is very buttery, but very dry. This results in the pastry immediately applying itself to the roof of your mouth. 100% requires a cup of tea to wash these down. Now, I remember, that is quite similar to last year, but with the lack of filling here, there is less of something to mix with the dry pastry.

For what it’s worth, the taste of the filling is really excellent. It’s fairly fruity and has a good kick of brandy in there, definitely a boozy type of pie.

All in though, you eat these and you feel that you’re having to work hard eating not great pastry with little reward. Really really disappointing.

They’re not awful though, the filling is fine, and if they added a bit more of it they might not be so bad. They could be decent warm with custard, at least that would help with the dryness.

10/20

Overall Score
A real disappointing outcome here after the middle of the road outcome last year. This is a huge fall from grace as a couple of years ago, I swore by these pies as the best around.

26/50