Olive Magazine - Christmas 2017
A boring and predictable magazine that had no festive cake recipes. Can you believe it ? A Christmas edition with no cakes! In fact, little of inspiration or gratification. Even the photos, which often make up for the lack of information, were dull and lifeless. Take a look at the cover here, and judge for yourself. Laura Rowe's editorial seemed to promise so much - reminiscing on her childhood Christmas memories. It's a pity she cannot deliver a magazine that inspires the Christmas treats of the past, relying on some superficial dishes that you can find in any recipe book, like Stuffed Turkey Breast. As for the 'Cover Star' - the Chocolate and Hazelnut Profiterole Stack, isn't that an Iceland dessert? It marks the start of Olive's opening section on 'Christmas Supermarket Awards 2017'. (Every food mag has them, how many awards can you have in one Christmas?). Do we really want to see seven pages of supermarket food, chosen by 'the Olive team and based on extensive research', when the magazine is full of adverts anyway? I'd love to know what the 'extensive research' entailed. Blind tasting, it seems, but no other information is offered.
'Christmas Crackers' claims to provide a showstopping main and a boozy dessert - namely turkey, duck a l'orange or Lobster and Cheese, while the only sweet is a pavlova. As for the vegetarian dish - it's another vegetable loaf! When are Christmas food magazine going to take vegetarians seriously and serve up a sensational festive dish? It's always some kind of 'loaf''.
With the hype given to Edd Kimber by editor Laura in her preamble, I was expecting something special from Olive's favourite baker, but it turned our to be an egg custard, a pear trifle and a few chocolate chip cookies. Admittedly the trifle had the addition of a gingerbread Christmas trees and the the egg custard had some pastry star decoration, so I suppose it made these ordinary desserts look Christmasy. But don't bother next time, Edd!
Olive's 'Christmas Day Timeline' was crammed on to one uninspiring monochrome page, with little detail to help the novice cook. While 'Party Tartines' opposite, looked as if someone had created open sandwiches in a rush and called them canapes - hardly finger-food by the look of them - large plates all round please! Talking of bread, Max Halley of Max's Sandwich Shop in London (around the corner from the Olive office, no doubt), offers a 'Bread Winner' (above) - a Boxing Day sandwich that resembled a Big Mac or a festive treat from Gregg's. A Paxo Croquette was an invention worth considering.
The usual everyday ideas pack many Olive pages - cheese and pickle toasties, steak salad, stuffed mushrooms and the like - nothing inspiring, so why waste your money. 'Cooking for a Crowd' offers some inspiration, I must admit, and I liked the look of the Aubergine Bake and the Meatball Lasagne, but again, very little for the vegetarian guests - I suppose they could have the veg dishes of Shredded Sprout Salad or Crunchy Sesame Veg. As for the 'Let's Do Brunch' section - the subject is a good one and Olive delivers a nice range of alternatives to the 'Fry-Up' and it gave me some ideas when the family gets-together over the festive period (below). That's one 'well done' to the Olive team.
The latter part of this Christmas edition is devoted to eating out and about. Sadly, as is usual with Olive, the restaurants and the chefs featured operate out of London, in the main, though Cornwall and Harrogate do get a look-in. London is Olive's 'Weekender' feature too! Surprisingly, Australian chefs and Aussie food gets lots of plugs this month, though the dishes look boring and bland. Isn't it a little cold for a barbeque at Christmas? And where can you get a Wallaby Tail, these days? I haven't seen any in Waitrose lately! Equally, I wont be venturing to Rajasthan anytime soon. What a strange place for the 'On the Road' feature. I wonder if Lucy Gillmore actually went there or just wrote the words? The yuppie fare is only £3,450 per person for 13 nights.
It goes without saying, I was truly disappointed with Olive's Christmas edition and could not recommend it as an essential Christmas buy. If I could have opened and perused it in the store (it was in a sealed plastic cover), I would have spent my £4.35 on an advent calendar instead.