Category Archives: Christmas 2018

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From bread sauce to pigs in blankets, we taste Christmas trimmings from the high street for your table

WHILE the turkey is the centrepiece of Christmas dinner, the best bit is always the trimmings.
Whether it’s crispy pigs in ­blankets or creamy bread sauce, these added extras elevate the meal from a humble roast to a full-on festive feast.
Giulia tasted over 60 different trimmings so you can decide what’s best to buyOlivia West – The Sun

So where should you go to source your top-notch trimmings? The Sun’s GIULIA CROUCH has tested all the major supermarket offerings to find the best of the bunch.
She tasted pigs in blankets, stuffing, turkey gravy, cranberry sauce, bread sauce, mince pies, brandy butter and Christmas pud from the big stores and picked a winner, or two, in each category.
Pigs in blankets
Entertain the whole family this Christmas with tasty pigs in blankets

M&S 16 Pigs In Blankets, £5 – buy now: Juicy fat sausages wrapped in salty savoury bacon. A strong start from M&S but not cheap.
Aldi 10 Pigs In Blankets, £2.49 – buy now: If you like thick cut bacon these are the ones for you. It’s also cured in treacle which adds a delicious hint of sweetness.
Lidl 10 Cocktail Sausages Wrapped in Smoked Dry Cured Bacon, £2.29 – buy now: Not bad but nothing special. The sausages lacked flavour but you wouldn’t notice if covered in gravy.
WINNER Asda 12 Pigs in Blankets, £2.50 – buy now Very strong from Asda. Not stingy on the smoked streaky bacon and some nice subtle spices in the meat. Yummy!
Tesco 12 Pigs in Blankets, £2 – buy now: Decent pigs in blankets. These crisp up well in the oven.
Iceland 12 Sausage and Bacon Rolls, £2  – buy now: It’s pretty hard to go wrong with something as ubiquitously popular as pigs in blankets but these are very wrong. The sausage is grainy and slimy and the pathetic bacon falls off while cooking. Rank.
Sainsbury’s 10 Taste The Difference Pigs in Blankets, £3 – buy now: Can I taste the difference? Not particularly. Save yourself 50p and go for Asda.
Morrisons 12 Butcher’s Style Pigs In Blankets, £2 – buy now: Very nice pigs in blankets. Salty, moreish and festive.

Cranberry sauce
Get the turkey ready with these tantalising treats

­WINNER Morrisons Cranberry Sauce, 300g, £1.50 – buy now: Tangy, sweet and aromatic from a hint of cinnamon. A really lovely condiment.
Iceland Cranberry Sauce with Port, 205g, £1.29 – buy now: A bit sweeter than the others so great if you’ve got a sweet tooth. Jam-like consistency.
Aldi Rich and Tangy Cranberry Sauce with Sloe Gin, 300g £1.29 – buy now: A boozy hit comes from the sloe gin which adds a really delicious element.
M&S Cranberry and Port Sauce, 400g, £3.20 – buy now: A good balance of tart and sweet with an aroma of spices and port but not significantly better to justice spending more.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Wild Cranberry Sauce, 220g, £1.80 – buy now: Fragrant and sweet with a fresh smell and jammy consistency.
Tesco Finest, Traditionally Made Cranberry Sauce, £1.30 – buy now: Smoother and more like a puree. Okay but not as flavoursome as the rest.
Lidl Cranberry and Port Sauce, 200g, 99p  – buy now: Nothing to complain about here. A very nice cranberry sauce for an absolute bargain.
Asda Cranberry Sauce, 200g, 75p – buy now Tart cranberries make up this glossy sauce. Nice if you like more sour flavours and it’s the cheapest of them all!

Brandy butter
Get some brandy butter deals

M&S Brandy Butter, 200g, £3.70 – buy now: Caramel-like and generous on the brandy but again not really worth the extra money.
WINNER Lidl Brandy Butter with Courvoisier vs Cognac, 200ml, £1.49 – buy now: Smooth, creamy and wonderfully buttery with a welcome hit of booze. Perfect consistency. Spreadable but melts in the mouth.
Iceland Brandy Cream, 250ml, £1.79 – buy now: If you prefer cream with your mince pie this is a solid choice. Light but boozy.
Sainsbury’s Brandy Butter, 200g, £2.15 – buy now: Firm and great for spreading. Warming but not overpowering from the brandy.
Morrisons Extra Thick Brandy Cream, 250ml, £2.50 – buy now: Super-delicious. For those who prefer the taste of cream but like a consistency closer to butter.
Waitrose Brandy Butter, 200g, £2 – buy now: A subtle sweetness but a good hit of Brandy at the end.
Aldi Brandy Butter, 200g, £1.49 – buy now: Luxurious with a whipped creamy texture. A bit strong though.
Asda Brandy Butter, 200g, £1.75 – buy now: Mellow with hints of vanilla and buttercream. Icing sugar is added to make it silky.

Bread sauce
We share the best range of bread sauce

M&S Bread Sauce, 400g, £3.20 – buy now: Lacking in seasoning and sloppy.
Asda Extra Special Bread Sauce, 200g, £1.50 – buy now: Pleasant and creamy with a peppery finish.
WINNER Aldi Bread Sauce, 300g, £1.29 – buy now: Rich with double cream and warming from nutmeg. Really delicious and indulgent.
Waitrose Christmas Bread Sauce, 300g, £2.19 – buy now: Wet, thin and boring. Bread sauce should have more character than this.
Morrisons Bread Sauce, 300g, £1.50 – buy now: Nicely seasoned and with a bit of bite from the use of ciabatta instead of sliced white.
Tesco Bread Sauce, 300g, £1.50 – buy now: A bread sauce made with gluten free breadcrumbs – weird.
Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Bread Sauce, 300g, £1.70 – buy now: Good thickness and strong flavours of onion and clove.
Lidl Bread Sauce, 300g, £1.29 – buy now: Delicately flavoured but the texture is lumpy.

Turkey gravy
Why not try out a new gravy mix for your turkey?

M&S Posh Turkey Gravy, 500g, £4.25 – buy now: An average gravy but an increased price. Not special.
Aldi Turkey Gravy, white wine and butter, 500g, £1.49 – buy now: Made with white wine and butter this is a flavoursome gravy that would compliment turkey beautifully.
Asda Rich and Herby Turkey Gravy 425g, £2.50 – buy now: A very acceptable gravy from Asda here with notes of rosemary, sage and garlic.
WINNER Waitrose Christmas Turkey Gravy, 450g, £2.99  – buy now: This is truly special. Made with turkey stock, onion, Maderia wine, Port and sage there’s a whole orchestra of flavours here. The consistency is rich, glossy and coating.
Lidl British Turkey Gravy, 500g, £1.49 – buy now: A cheaper riff on the Waitrose one. Also flavoured with Maderia and sage this is a good budget option.
Tesco Finest Turkey Gravy, 350ml, £1.50 – buy now: Smooth and sumptuous this gravy is flavoured with Sauvignon Blanc and red onion.
Morrisons, Turkey Gravy, marsala wine, herbs and seasoning, 500g, £2 – buy now: Does what it says on the tin. This gravy taste the most of turkey out of all of them and it’s no surprise since they’ve used turkey thigh, breast and skin in the stock. Rich and flavoursome.

Stuffing
We test a selection of stuffing on the high street for Christmas

Iceland 12 Pork, Sage and Onion Stuffing Balls, £1.50 – buy now Packed full of sage these stuffing balls taste like Christmas. Excellent.
JOINT ­WINNER Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Pork, Roast Chestnut and Thyme Stuffing, £3 – buy now : A big wadge of salty, herby goodness. The roast chestnut makes it really special.
JOINT ­WINNER Tesco Finest 6 Pork, Bramley Apple and Cranberry Stuffing Stars, £2.50 – buy now– Star-shaped stuffing? What’s not to love. The apple and a touch of honey bring a sticky sweetness that balances out the rich pork and we love the jewel-like cranberry on top. Also the star shape means more crispy edges.
Morrisons 12 British Pork, Sage and Onion Stuffing Balls, £3 – buy now: Traditional flavours and a good meaty texture.
SPECIAL COMMENDATION: Aldi 6 Pork Stuffing Balls with Caramelised Onion, £2.49 – buy now: It’s Christmas so why not wrap everything in bacon? Aldi have done just that with these stuffing ‘baubles’ and we thank them for it.
Lidl Pork Sage and Onion Stuffing, 350g, £2.39 – buy now: Another traditional stuffing for those who don’t like Christmas dinner to be messed with.
M&S Pork, Chestnut, Bacon and Thyme Stuffing, 340g, £3.70 – buy now: If you don’t like sage this would be a good choice. Sweet, salty, herby.
Asda 12 British Pork Sage and Onion Stuffing Balls, £2.50 – buy now: Heavy on the sage which immediately screams Christmas dinner. A good price too.

Mince pies
Finish your dinner off in style with these mince pies

Asda Extra Special, baked in store, 4 Mince Pies, £1.65 – buy now: You can taste that these are freshly baked. Crumbly and buttery pastry and generous filling.
Aldi All Butter 6 Mince Pies, £1.25 – buy now: An underwhelming pastry – too crumbly and lacking in flavour but the filling is pleasant and sweet.
Morrisons 6 Mince Pies, £1 – buy now: A classic mince pie and a great price. Can’t complain.
Tesco 6 Finest Mince Pies, £2.50 – buy now: Juicy and fruity with a delicate thin pastry. The addition of walnuts brings good flavour and crunch.
Iceland 6 Mince Pies, £1.89 – buy now: Too sweet and syrupy for me but the pastry goes nicely crisp and golden when in the oven.
WINNER M&S 6 mince pies, £2.50 – buy now: By far the best. The pastry is rich with butter and has a delightful chew. The star on top looks really pretty and inside there’s a medley of festive flavours – plump, spiced fruit, apple puree, glace cherries and lemon and orange zest.
Waitrose All Butter 6 Mince Pies, apricot, glace cherries, £2.50 – buy now: Really delicious hot as the buttery pastry mingles with the sweet, sticky apricot, glacé cherries and almonds filling.
Sainsbury’s 6 Deep Filled Mince Pies, 90p – buy now: Quite disappointing. The pastry tastes of very little and the filling is too acidic.

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Christmas pudding
Plus, here’s some tasty Christmas puddings on offer

Lidl Luxury 9 Month Matured Christmas Pudding, 454g, £3.49 – buy now: A great balance of sweetness and booze but the texture is a little too firm.
Morrisons, 9 Month Matured Christmas Pudding, 454g, £5 – buy now: The texture is a bit cloying and flavours generally unexciting. A let down.
M&S 12 Month Matured Intensely Fruity Christmas Pudding, 454g, £6 – buy now: Incredibly moist this pud is packed full of soft, brandy soaked fruit. I especially like the orange flavour running through it.
Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference 18 Month Matured Christmas Pudding, 450g, £5.50 – buy now: A ­classic Christmas pud with a whole host of festive spices and a nice touch of orange oil.

Tesco Finest 12 Month Matured Christmas Pudding, 907g, £8 – buy now: Soft, sticky and gooey on the inside with tons of tasty pecans but a little dry on the outside.
Asda, Christmas Pudding, 454g, £1.99 – buy now: Gorgeously fruity but light on the booze and could do with more spices.
WINNER Iceland Classic Christmas Pudding, cider, sherry, rum, 6 month matured 454g, £2.25 – buy now: Dark in colour this pudding looks decadent and inviting. It’s sticky and rich with vibrant cherries and laced with lashings of cider, sherry and rum with just the right balance of sweetness. Very impressive.
Aldi 6 month mat Xmas pudding grace cherries, juicy vine fruits, 454g, £1.89  – buy now: Juicy vine fruits and glace cherries make this pleasantly sweet but it’s underwhelming compared to the rest.


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He’s green, mean and Orlando’s new star — the Grinch who stole the show at Christmas

WHEN it comes to choosing Grinches, nothing can beat the Jim Carrey variety. Well, nothing but him in person that is.
I’m at Universal Studios Orlando and the Christmas-hating green man is letting out a throat-rumbling belch that I can’t believe isn’t from the gut of the Hollywood star himself.
Kids just love humbug Grinch of the Grinchmas show at Universal Studios©2011 Universal Orlando. All rights reserved.
In fact, the entire Grinchmas show cast are uncannily similar to their on-screen originals.
The musical, which mirrors the 18-year-old classic with a few extra songs thrown in, is a highlight of Universal’s epic annual Christmas makeover.
Within seconds of entering the park that morning I’d been assaulted by an avalanche of Christmas cheer.
A Pitch Perfect band was belting out carols by a giant Christmas tree, while yuletide characters hung around every street corner, from a Nutcracker and the jolly fat man himself.
Universal Orlando has had an epic annual Christmas makeover and cheer is in the air2017 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved
I wasted no time strapping into the thrill rides for some yuletide fear, starting with Revenge of the Mummy, the reliably thrilling Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and on to Jurassic Park River Adventure — which begins as a scenic water cruise, before shocking you with an 85ft drop through the pitch black.
When I wasn’t flying through the air, I was gorging myself silly on festive food at the Three Broomsticks in Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade village.
Stepping off the Hogwarts Express into the snowy streets of the wintery town was bewitching.
Miles of tinsel, fairy lights and garlands make it extra special in winter.
The Hogwarts Castle lights up while the choir is belting out Harry Potter tunes
With Hogwarts Castle looming over me in the near distance, I instantly felt like I was on the real set.
Despite the balmy weather, a nightly artificial snowfall helps to convince you that you’re anywhere but Florida.
The live street entertainment has been given an upgrade for the season too, with the Hogwarts Frog Choir performing recognisable tunes from the franchise, including Hedwig’s Theme, and The Quidditch World Cup.
But the magic really kicks into high gear with the stunning light and sound show projected on to Hogwarts Castle.
Clutching a hot Butterbeer, the seven-minute extravaganza dazzles the crowd with imagery from the franchise.

GO: ORLANDO

GETTING/STAYING THERE: Return flights with Norwegian are from £275pp. See norwegian.com/uk or call 0330 828 0854.
A week room-only at Universal’s Aventura Hotel is from £414 per adult, £404 per child, based on two adults, two children (age 3-9) sharing a standard 2-queen room.
Includes 14 days unlimited access to Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay and early admission. See attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk.

Wizards fly around the castle, magical fairies come to life against backdrops from the films, including the Yule Ball, before a fireworks finale.
From here, it was just a short taxi boat home to Universal’s Aventura Hotel, a brand new property within walking distance of all of the parks and Universal CityWalk.
The chic, modern rooms feature iPads to control everything in the room, from the heating and lights, to the TV, where you can connect to your own Spotify, Netflix or Amazon Prime.
On my final day, I got to experience the jaw-dropping floats from the Macy’s parade, including a giant balloon Donkey from Shrek, 15 new floats and light displays with characters from Minions and Madagascar.
Finally, after racing around the rest of the theme park’s thrill rides, I visited Universal’s CityWalk for the scariest attraction of all.

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Rising Star! is a karaoke bar on steroids, with backing singers and an entire band who play live on stage with you.
Next morning, a little green around the gills, I listened back to my full rendition of Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles.
Suffice to say, I’ll be leaving the Christmas crooning to Mr Grinch next year.

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Morrisons is selling espresso martini cheesecakes and they sound delicious

MORRISONS is releasing a new dessert as part of its festive food range and it’s perfect for espresso martini fans.
The new mini cheesecakes sound delicious, with a digestive biscuit base topped with coffee cheesecake and vodka flavoured cream.
The mini boozy cheesecakes are made from coffee cheesecake and a vodka flavoured creamMorrisons
And for an extra special touch they come decorated with a dusting of cocoa power and gold coated coffee beans.
You’ll be able to find the boozy desserts in the frozen food aisle, where they come in a 2 pack for £1 – at 5op per cheesecake they’re an absolute bargain.
Each mini cheesecake contains 349 calories and 22g of sugar, over 70 per cent of daily recommend intake, so they’re definitely a once in a while treat.
Budget supermarket Aldi is also selling a boozy flavoured espresso martini ice cream. You can also find mince pie & brandy butter or gingerbread latte in the festive range, which costs just £2.49 for a tub.
And if you’re looking for more Christmas party food, Morrisons is also selling cheese churros.
The savoury treats are made from potato, a three-cheese sauce and Gouda cheese, accompanied by a chunky red pepper & tomato dip.

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You’ll have to wait if you want to get your hands on these though, as they only go on sale from December 12.
In the mean time, the supermarket is also selling its All Butter Deep Filled Mince Pies for £2.
These topped BBC Good Food’s blind taste test this year, beating posh rivals such as Marks & Spencer to the top spot.

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