Freeze! You don’t have to panic over your Xmas party food requirements. Iceland have the answers
No, don’t laugh we are indeed talking about Iceland the High Street shop.
Just as Lidl, and to an extend Aldi, have overcome their original stigma of being somewhere the middle classes would not even want to be seen dead in, let alone shop in, so Iceland have been busy working on their brand.
Today many of their stores have already had a design revamp to make them look far more 2018 and not last century.
Freezer food is still their main sell, but there is a range of day to day frozen and ambient foods and a wine choice too.
We set out to the Poggenpohl showroom in Wigmore street, where the kitchen on display was being offered at the knock-down price of just £55,000 to meet their development chefs and eat a load of freshly cooked or should we say cooked from frozen food.
First off, a drink and Iceland have some beer to try. It is of course a craft beer, what isn’t these days, but it has an interesting backstory as Robin Langton, Iceland Senior Buyer, Beers Wines and Spirits, explains.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It’s called Bread Board and is a Pale Ale made from excess bread that comes back from Iceland stores by brewers Tiny Rebel Brewing in Wales,Ã¢â‚¬Â he says Ã¢â‚¬Å“The bread replaces some of the malt in the process, providing the sugar for the yeast to work on. The beer is flavoured with Cascade, Jester and Mosai hops for a nice citrussy edge.Ã¢â‚¬Â
It’s a very decent beer, and well-priced at £1.80 a bottle. 10p of each sale also goes to the charity Surfers Against Sewage
Iceland also are getting into wine, Colossal Reserva Red is exactly what it says on the label. It’s a big wine, deep coloured and with massive taste.
It’s won 10 Gold Medals and is one of Spectators Top 60 Wines. It costs just £8, but as Robin says, swirling a glass, it’s worth a lot more.
It’s one of eight wines to look out for in Iceland stores near you, or to have delivered from Iceland’s online shop to make life even easierThe 10p towards charity on the beer is not Iceland’s only good deed.
Downstairs in the kitchen, Neil Nugent their head chef tells me that the company is very committed to sustainability and environmental issues.Ã¢â‚¬Å“This year Palm Oil has been removed totally from all our own-label Christmas range,Ã¢â‚¬Â he says. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Palm Oil production is destroying rainforests. All the food were serving today is free from Palm OilÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Iceland are also taking big steps to deal with plastic, too. They intend to remove all plastic from their own label range by 2023 and they already use paper-based packaging on many of their own brand meal ranges and hope to make that 45% by Christmas.
Neal is serving food. From the canapes selection, the Tandoori Prawn Lollipops with Raita Dip are rather tasty as are the Mini Corn Dogs with American Style Mustard Dip. Also good are Luxury Jumbo Coated Wild Red Shrimp Selection. Some have a panko coating and some are tempura battered.
They’re big lads, easy to eat with fingers and bound to be a party favourite.
Veggies aren’t forgotten, fluffy Veggie Soufflettes are in the new plastic-free packaging and come as Barbers Vintage Cheddar, Beetroot & Goats Cheese and Pesto & Mascarpone.
Piggy Back Lobster is impressive, a rock lobster de-shelled and then baked on top of its shell then covered in a cheesy sauce and baked, A good looking starter. |
There is turkey of course, Neal serves it with Marmite Sprouts, and the umami works There’s also beef too.
Veggies can have a whole Cauliflower Cheese ready to carve as well as a Caramelised Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin and a Parsnip & Portobello Open Tart.
The mince pies and the cheese boards are also good value and there really is a bit of a feast going on.
Of course we all have every intention of doing a Nigella this Xmas and creating wonderful home-made marvels for our good-looking, incredibly interesting, friends.
Back in the real world, many of us will feel very grateful to Iceland.
We can’t find those perfect friends, but we can warm to the new range of frozen food.