Sitting here, surrounded by the wonderful smell of brisket, simmering in an amazingly tasty and aromatic stock, it seems churlish to grouch but, hey, what the hell? I feel like shit so I might as well vent!
I mentioned on Twitter, earlier today (for those that don’t yet know, on Twitter I’m @rantsfromron, as @ronsrants was already taken), that my local Sainsbury’s – Upton, Wirral – really, really, sucks. There’s a reason for that – quite simply, it’s badly run,** I don’t know what the overnight restocking team does, but it’s not restocking, and it almost never has the items that Sainsbury’s website says it should have which, as it’s designated a superstore, which I find infuriating.
** I once overheard two oiks arguing with a guy who was clearly their line manager, about whose turn it was to bring in the bread delivery. Sorry, no way – if you’re told to do it, it’s your turn, even if it’s not. If you don’t like it, bugger off and work somewhere else. Employees are there to do what they’re delegated to do as long as it falls within their job description (and sometimes even if it doesn’t), not bloody argue about it. Me, I’d have given them both a choice – fetch the bread in or hit the bricks. (Yep, I know I’ve told that before, but not everybody reads every post.)
I’ve also griped, several times previously, about the rash of empty shelves on a Sunday morning (what do the shelf-filling crew do all sodding night?), so I made a supreme effort today (not hyperbole, I take my first meds at 06.00, and they take an hour or two to kick in), got up shortly after 06.00 and was there by 06.50. And I still couldn’t buy what I wanted (and yes, some shelves were bare, but that could just be the time of year; or it could be the usual crap). but advertised products – too many of them – simply weren’t there.
As I mentioned in my last post I wanted, among other things, a dry-cured gammon joint, a rare beast among cured meats as it didn’t have a sizeable addition of water for which I would have been charged £12/kg. I have no doubt I could have got one online, as Sainsbury’s deliveries to my area ignore their local superstore and, instead, are serviced by their Ellesmere Port store, with the result that I usually get what I want. Unlike at Upton, where I usually don’t.
Bacon and gammon joints, instead of being in their normal location, were scattered throughout the chilled sections, so I might have missed some, but I don’t think so – there were, quite simply, no dry-cure gammon joints to be had. I wound up with beef. The beef has the usual immoveable label on the top of the pack (the type which you just know will only come off in tiny, torn bits – or will tear the bag and leak blood everywhere!). Which is unfortunate, as Sainsbury’s, pillocks that they are, have chosen to put storage information on the back of the label – not too helpful you dozy buggers! The cooking information is on the back too, but that’s OK as, of course, you have to remove the pack to cook it, so you can wash off the blood and read how you should have stored it!
Well, OK, if I didn’t know how to store a beef joint it’d be a pretty poor show but, hey, a lot of people really have no idea how to store food. As Charlie’s mother said, in Two and a half Men** “I was a young wife – how did I know you didn’t keep fish in a drawer?” Apropos of her first husband expiring from food poisoning, and while you’d really have to be bloody stupid to think that, it’s a valid point – instructions which concern safety should be clearly accessible.
**And I know Charlie Sheen was a tosser, but dear god, Ashton Kutcher is a total waste of space. Watch some of the old episodes, realise just how good Sheen was, then watch Kutcher and weep at the death of a once-great show.
In addition, they – Sainsbury’s, not Two and a Half Men – advertised a pork, chilli and coriander sausage, spiked with paprika so, naturally enough – and not being at my best at that hour or, indeed, at all, as it’s turned out – I just looked for a pink/red sausage (the paprika), grabbed a pack, added a couple more varieties** – hell, they were on offer, 3 packs for £6 – and moved on. Got home, and the red sausage turned out to be beef and cracked black pepper!
**Outdoor-reared organic pork sausages, and ditto Cumberland. And Sainsbury’s sausages have greatly improved of late – still not as good as mine, though 😉
Yes, OK, I should have read the label, but it was early, and I was on foot, a double challenge I could have well done without, as my meds hadn’t yet kicked in. But here’s the thing – they aren’t a deep, raw beef, red at all, they’re a shade which screams of added paprika or – possibly – roadkill. Not dead cow. So I have two things I like least, beef sausages** (sausages should be pig-based), and cracked black pepper – why would I want spicy gravel?
**Beef simply doesn’t have enough fat to make a succulent sausage (a meagre 7.4%), so I suspect, since I don’t have a dog, they’ll be going into a sausage and bean casserole sometime in the new year, in which they should absorb enough liquid to compensate for their egregious fat deficiency. And at least the sausages I didn’t get have given me an idea for homemade ones. This is what’s in the Sainsbury’s version:-
Pork (82%), Water, Breadcrumb (Wheat Flour, Yeast, Salt), Salt, Ginger Purée, Fresh Coriander, Black Pepper, Paprika, Fresh Garlic, Red Chilli, Fresh Marjoram, Preservative: Sodium Metabisulphite; Chilli Flakes, Cumin, Fresh Sage, Dried Red Pepper, Fennel, Antioxidant: Ascorbic Acid; Chilli Powder, Cayenne Pepper. Filled into natural pork casings.
That mix of ingredients is absurd – red chilli, chilli flakes, chilli powder, Cayenne pepper – sorry, but that really is chilli overkill. And paprika plus dried red pepper – why?
Mine will have fresh chillies, sweet paprika, ground coriander – possibly ginger too with white pepper and sea salt (I prefer white pepper in sausages, and it’s traditional). And that’s plenty – you really don’t need 14 flavourings (including the pork but excluding the salt and pepper), four of them variations on the theme of chilli (possibly 5 as they don’t specify sweet paprika, so it might well be hot), all battling each other for attention. And that sage is just going to dominate.
But that’s the problem with Sainsbury’s – they take a really good concept, a spicy pork sausage, then they throw a compost heap in the mix! Keep it simple guys – it really will taste better.
I think I’ll make those once Christmas is out of the way, and the normal range of meat is back in stock – I want a Basics Boned Pork Shoulder which, oddly enough, is better quality than the standard, and more expensive version, though it usually hasn’t been as neatly boned.** I usually add pork belly (in the form of Streaky Rashers – pork belly skinned and cut into thick slices), but last time I bought that it was horribly wet, so I’ll be content with whatever fat is in the shoulder.
**Whoever preps Sainsbury’s meat has the knife skills of a blind plumber.
If anyone is wondering, by the way, what’s going to happen to my veggie sausages with all this talk of meat well, they’ll get eaten, is what. They’re way too good to waste!
And while I’m at it, I might as well take a swipe at Tesco. I don’t celebrate Christmas in any noticeable way. I’m an atheist, so it has no religious significance, and I have no family, but I do like to treat myself to food I wouldn’t normally buy, and is spoonie-friendly, needing minimum work (hence the abortive quest for the gammon joint, above), and from Tesco, whose failure to deliver both sausages and a Wiltshire ham joint meant I had to go to sodding Sainsbury’s today.
Anyway, I got myself some Orkney Crab Terrine (this has a “decorative glaze” which is unusually thick and, as yesterday with the meat, seems to be just another way of adding water to the product, as it tastes of nothing but salt). It would be fair to say, I think, that the terrine (for which read fish paste with delusions of grandeur), was a massive disappointment, and in a blind tasting alongside, say, Shippam’s Crab Paste, would probably come a long way second. It contains a mere 48% of crab too.
To be honest, if it hadn’t been for the pack label, I’d never have guessed it was crab at all. Some of you who are, let’s say, of a certain age, doubtless remember a vivid pink “salmon” paste that used to be sold, loose, by grocers about 30-40 years ago (I loved the stuff). Well anyway, apart from the fact that it’s yellow (which part of the sodding crab is yellow anyway – crab meat comes in white or brown?), and liberally littered with what feels like finely ground shell fragments, it’s very like that stuff – but without the quality!
, and more expensive, version