Aldi or Lidl shopping this Christmas?
I've just returned from a Christmas 'shopping recognizance' at Lidl in preparation for our Christmas food shop this weekend. It seems to me that there are lots of good value Christmas foods to be had at this discount shopping outlet. The UK press are reporting this too and discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl are bidding to attract the middle-classes with high-quality food and wine this Christmas at lower prices than competitors such as Waitrose and Sainsbury's. But do the claims stand up to scrutiny?
A number of their products have won blind taste tests and awards at international competitions and I share a selection of Christmas treats worth considering for this year's festive celebrations.
- Snowy Lodge 18 Month Matured Christmas Pudding (907g, £7.99) - winner of the 2014 BBC Good Food taste tests and described as the "standout favourite", beating the Heston from Waitrose Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding which costs £15.
- Valley Spire Mature Blue Stilton (220g, £1.69) - voted best Stilton in the Good Housekeeping Christmas Tried and Tasted this year, scoring 82 out of 100 to beat the £22 Harrods' Blue Stilton and the Cropwell Bishop Creamery Classic Blue Stilton, among others. Judges said it was "smooth and creamy with a tart flavour".
- Whole lobster (350g, £5.99) - desscribed as "fantastic" and rated five out of five by celebrity chef Aldo Zilli in his Daily Mail column."This lobster is crammed with meat and it’s deliciously sweet," Zilli writes. "The shell cracks well when I bend it with my fingers and the flesh comes away easily from the tail, which shows it’s really fresh. If the lobster’s out of the water for too long before it’s killed, the flesh shrinks away". This type of quality normally costs at least £20, Mr Zilli says. Lobster makes an excellent starter for Christmas dinner.
- Chateau Pajzos Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos 2008 (75cl) £18.99 - among a new range of premium wines and spirits sold by Aldi is the Chateau Pajzos Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos 2008, a rare and highly regarded Hungarian dessert wine priced at £18.99. The vineyard's wines have scored 92 out of 100 on average, according to Wine-Searcher, a respected internet database, and typically cost £60 a bottle. The 2008 vintage won gold from the International Wine Challenge, with Aldi claiming it normally retailed for £76 a bottle. By comparison, Fortnum and Mason and Selfridges sold the "inferior" 5 Puttonyos Tokaji for £23.50 and £35.99, respectively, Aldi said.
- Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut £9.99 - Aldi says: "Our multi-award-winning (most recently, a silver at the International Wine and Spirit Awards 2014) and highly acclaimed Champagne has a gorgeous bouquet of ripe apples, floral hints and soft red fruits leading to gentle patisserie notes. On the palate, fresh citrus moves through strawberry and baked apple flavours ending in an extremely long, delicious finish." Victoria Moore, Telegraph wine critic, says: "Very easy to drink, like a Lucozade version of champagne – a no-brainer for parties and for cheering up a kitchen supper."
- Aldi’s Specially Selected 6 Luxury Mince Pies at just £1.69 - these mince pies won the 2013 Which? taste tests, beating Fortnum and Mason's £12.95 version and Harrod's £9.50 effort. Scoring was based on appearance, aroma, texture and taste. The panel of judges included award-winning baker, Dan Lepard, and renowned pastry chef Will Torrent.
Others worth considering:
- Morrisons M Signature Jewelled Fruit Christmas Pudding won first prize in this year's Which? taste tests and costs just £3.99. It scored 85 out of 100 and was described as “simply majestic” and having a “great depth of flavour” by judges.
- Iceland Deluxe Mince Pies, costing £1.50 for six,- ranked first by the Good Housekeeping Institute. They scored 78 out of 100 to equal Bettys Classic Mince Pies which cost £10 for six.
Shop around is my advice, but don't forget to visit Aldi and Lidl this weekend!