Sunday, 27 September 2015

Rafferty's Garden: Spinach, apple, broccoli and pea

Today, I think I've finally stumbled upon the secret to making a top selling baby food.  Simply write down all the fruit and vegetables you can think of on separate pieces of paper, add a couple of grains if you feel fancy, or a few super foods if you feel particularly pretentious. Write 'apple' and 'pear' down on a few more scraps. Put all the pieces of paper in a hat, then draw out three or four. Mix them up in a big blender and put them in tiny little sachets. Wait for the dollars to roll in.

There is little other reason that a lot of these combinations should exist. I've written at length several times about the complete waste of putting traces of wanky foodstuffs such as quinoa and wild rice so minuscule that there is no way they can possibly impact on taste. Yet food manufacturers persist in these strange combinations that have no other business existing. Acai berries in baby purée is pretty much like having a parliament containing a member of a party voted for by 0.075% of the population, just for the sake of the representation of self-important cockatiel-lookalikes who enjoy wearing bow ties, and that we can have a pretty purple seat on the schematic representation of the House of Representatives, despite underneath everything him being nigh-on impossible to distinguish from the opinions of the rest of the centre-right.

Anyway, today's offering was one of these bizarre combinations, and with the grand contribution of 4% spinach, I wasn't holding my breath for a leafy flavour sensation.

Ingredients: Apple (70%), Pea (18%), Broccoli (8%), Spinach (4%)

Here we see the first trick in baby food manufacturing. We all know a true combination of broccoli and spinach would taste revolting, certainly to anyone under the age of 65%, and force feeding would likely be the quickest way to loose the trust of your 4-8month old. But people like the idea of eating healthy, and of giving their offspring what they perceive will be good for them, so these are precisely the ingredients they want to see in their baby's purée. So Rafferty's Garden gives them these vegetables, but in amounts which surely will have no impact on the taste of a food the contains 70% delicious apple. Really, a waste of space.

First impression: This food is really green, and as I'm pretty sure I've stated before, green is seldom a colour you want to be putting in your mouth in a puréed form. Pond weed again? Slimy bird poo? Whatever it is, the spinach, broccoli and peas are certainly making an impression colour wise, if nowhere else. Lowers my expectations,  if nothing else.

Emily's reaction: She actually really likes this one. Not as much as the traditional fruity favourites. Certainly nowhere near as much as Rafferty's Garden's other amazing offering, the Apple, pear and cinnamon. But half the pack is gone reasonably quickly, and even big brother trying to force feed her his lunch can't put her off.

Bouquet: Strong and sweet, this is apples on the nose all the way. Do broccoli and spinach even smell? If they do, I wouldn't want to smell them in a baby food, so the fragrant hints of Royal Gala and Red Delicious were a pleasant surprise on this one. If only it tasted this good...

Taste test: Initially, like the bouquet, the apples predominate as this pleasingly smooth mush rolls back down the tongue. However, as it reaches the back of the palate, the leguminous nature of the pea component lends slight nutty hints, which in her after the food has long disappeared down the oesophagus. This gives the overall impression of a smooth, but not sticky, peanut butter: not truly repulsive, but something that would definitely be an acquired taste. I had predicted the spinach and broccoli wouldn't make much impression past the colour, and it turns out I was right.

Overall: 5.5/10. An unusual combination of ingredients seemingly thrown together in a haphazard fashion give a slightly unexpected taste, which grows on you over time I guess.

Enjoy: as an alternative to mushy peas in your Friday night fish dinner

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Only Organic Pumpkin and wild rice

Lots and lots has happened since I last blogged, and it's only been three days. First an foremost, obviously, #piggate! I really wanted to do a tie in blog, but alas, there is a paucity of pork flavored baby foods, and pretty much every pun about pigs has been made on twitter. So I'm going to give Pork Hameron a break on this one.

Then there's Red Peak, which has featured in a previous blog, which has finally been given leave to be included in the New Zealand flag referendum. Allegedly, prime minister John Key wasn't keen to include it initially as the colours would have clashed horribly with his other pet legacy project, getting pandas to Wellington Zoo. Cos nothing else screams 'classic New Zealand experience' quite like that. The project comes with a cost of at least 10 million dollars, for which price, by my calculation, you could also buy an economy fare to Hong Kong and a ticket to Ocean Park for every New Zealand man, woman and child who is interested in seeing a panda. Thankfully, our masterful leader is trying to talk the price down by offering to trade some Kiwi, after his initial bid of a Lord of the Rings box set, an All Blacks jersey, the latest Troskey album and 65 pregnant sheep was knocked back.

Personally, I'm keen to start a Facebook campaign and petition for the government to consider Red Pandas instead, though I'm not too hopeful that I'll be listened to.

Anyway, with such a booming new cycle, I was full of excitement when I got home tonight to find the remains of a jar of Only Organic Punpkin and wild rice awaiting me. With the surprising palatability of the same company's Kumara, sweet corn and rice (with surprise pumpkin) last week, I was full of hope that this would provide a satisfying end to the day. Hey! It says Good Night on it as well! Can't fail, surely!

Contains: Punpkin (42%), Carrot, Ground rice, Wild rice (1%), antioxidant (vitamin C)

There's an obvious big fat elephant in the room here. The names ingredients only make up for 43 percent of the food! And of that, 42% is pumpkin, admittedly the most flavoursome of the listed components, but really is it necessary to call this a wild rice food when there is a lot more bog standard ground rice? Is it really necessary to include at all? Only Organic are a repeat offender in including pointless superfoods or wanky ingredients for the sake of sucking in gullible middle class hipsters, and I suspect we have another instance here.

Also, WTF is with Antioxidant (vitamin C). Why not just write vitamin C?

First Impression: it's very orange, as you'd probably expect from something containing predominantly pumpkin and carrot (regular, orange carrot I take it, not the wanky purple carrot Only Organic include in other products). There were also a few black specks in the substrate of the food. I suspect this is the token effort to make the wild rice more obvious, but really it's just for show.It's surprisingly watery in texture, however, dribbling off the spoon. I can't say it looks particularly appetizing, but to be fair a lot if pumpkin containing purées have presented this way, and some have turned out to be quite delightful.

Emily's reaction: I missed dinner time again, after a long day at work. I suspect the fact there was  a white bin covered in bright orange stains on the table and pretty much a whole jar of this food left speaks volumes.

Bouquet: when you have four ingredients, two if them are types of rice, and a third is carrot, the food is only ever going to smell of the fourth ingredient. And it did. This food smelt of pumpkin. But it wasn't a strong smell, just a hint of pumpkin wafting up the nostrils.

Taste test: as per the bouquet, there isn't really much to this. The food is dissapointingly watery in the mouth, the fine granules of the supposed wild rice non existant in texture. The taste is also dominated by a watery influence, interestingly for a food that does not list water in its ingredients. A hint if pumpkin comes through, not sweet, not savory, just there to the extent that it registers. Rice really doesn't have a flavour at all, and barely registers. Just as the purée reaches the back of the palate, a slight sweet hint comes through, just for a second, but gives a hint of hope as it slides down the gullet. A hint that is immediately extinguished as soon as the next spoonful enters the mouth.

Overall: 3/10. Not truly offensive, but there is just nothing to this food. It's so pointless, it may as well not exist.

Enjoy with: something with flavour

Sunday, 20 September 2015

12 reasons your baby NEEDS to eat Rafferty's Garden pear and Superberries: number 11 will leave you speechless!

And, as promsised, after a short hiatus, here comes part two of a continuing series on stage one and two baby purées with stupid ingredients. Today: Acai berries! I had little idea what these (apparently small, black) nuggets were prior to picking this out of the cupboard on a trip to dinner with the in laws today. Who eats these things? Do they have the same powers as eating quinoa and doing crossfit, in that they make you insufferable for anyone else to be around? WTF are they doing in my baby daughter's food? I felt some research was in order, so I logged in to the font of all well being knowledge, the Global Healing Centre, and found these amazing super fruits have not one, not two, but TWELVE super benefits!

1. Heart health
Are you worried about the health of your under-one-year-old's heart? Of course you are. But how much red wine should you be giving them to ensure their ticker remains in tip top shape until they're able to legally buy their own? Great news! That need not concern you any more as Acai berries have been proven to be just as beneficial as a glass of Pinot a day!

2. Resistant to harmful organisms
This sounds promising, but we need some more info on what organisms these are.... E. coli? Sharks? 14 year olds with home built clocks? Details, GHC!

3. Aids in weight loss
Very important if your six month old has leg rolls like mine does, with baby swim lessons starting in a few months these berries will help her achieve her ideal rash suit body. Helps maintain a lower weight too, probably cos you're stuck eating tiny little berries and not much else.

4. Promotes skin health
No mention of what skin conditions this treats, but infantile eczema can be a bitch.

5. Helps with digestive upset
A traditional source of dietary fibre, though when mashed into a purée, how much of this fibre remains is debatable. Might be better off with baby oats, but why take the chance, given they're not officially that super?

6. Reduces irritation
If your baby is grumpy, colicky, or just generally gets on your wick, this could be the ideal answer! I feel calmer for having tried this already!

7. Improved cellular health 
With plentiful antioxidants, general well being at a CELLULAR LEVEL are bound to leave you buzzing, and you know that must be good because it sounds sciency. And it helps get rid of free radicals, which is great cos that Only Get What You Give song really grates after a while. (OK, that's New Radicals, but I'm gonna leave that line in anyway)

8. May help fight cancer
Though if you do have cancer, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are probably going to give you a better fighting chance than eating sachets of baby purée

9. Anti-aging effects
Along with the weight loss benefits, this is likely going to be every baby's major concern once they hit the big 6 month milestone.

10. Energy boost
Every parent's primary concern, that their small child just doesn't have enough energy to continue causing the havoc that is part of their daily routine. However, a cheaper way to provide this adding stimulation may be instant coffee with a few extra spoons of coffee.

11. Better sex
No further questions, M'Lord.

12.  Improves mental function
There are great studies showing some early promise of boosting mental functioning in menopausal women eating Acai berries, and I'm sure the correlation is clear!

Anyway, with all that said and done, we need to make sure that Rafferty's Garden Pear and Superberries. actually tastes the part. The super berries alluded to in the name are not just the Acai (2%), but also blueberries (8%) and black currants (2%) (is a currant actually a berry? I don't know, this could be cheating.) The balance,  a massive 88%, is made up by pear. A thin, purple liquid on the spoon, this looked like something that would be quite pleasing to insert into the mouth. Emily certainly started with relish, but ran out of steam with a hyperactive brother taking precedence over finishing her meal.

On the nose, the blueberries and black currants dominate in a rich, deep and alluring bouquet. I haven't a clue what the famous Acai berries would actually smell like, so whether or not they add to this olfactory symphony is unclear. Certainly, however, high expectations were drawn for the tasting.

A thin liquid gave a slightly disappointing texture on first impression. Small, sinewy cares granules o pear pulp were quite apparent on tasting, and indeed, the overarching taste was of a sweet Winter Nelis varietal. Delicious after-hints of the berry flavours did linger, however, perhaps giving off the false impression of further subspecies- raspberries? Boysenberries? The mind played several devious tricks. Overall, in keeping with Rafferty's Garen's other options, a tasty treat.

Overall: 9/10. Delicious, and who can ignore those 12 key benefits to consumption: though at 2%, one would imagine you would need to consume a few packets to enjoy them.

Enjoy: with life, knowing you are living to the fullest, the fittest, the slimmest, the happiest, and the healthiest that you possibly can.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Only Organic Kumara, Sweetcorn, and Baby rice

Unfortunately sickness has hit our household over the past few days, with child number one (Luke, he of the train nappy) coming down with what's turned out to be a fairly nasty case of the old hand foot and mouth disease. Sleepless nights have been spent being kicked by small, febrile legs, and days at work downing coffee to get through to home time. Baby food has remained untasted, a small collection of mostly-eaten jars piling up in the refrigerator. Still, things could be worse: I'm still in my job, unlike the once Honorable Tony Abbott, immediate past prime minister of the commonwealth of Australia, who lost his last night. A man who liked to remind the press at every opportunity how he had managed to stop the boats, last night Tone was simply powerless in his attempt to stop the votes as they piled up for his opponent, Malcolm Turnbull. As a man with so many public gaffes, who had managed to alienate almost every single loving and dead Australian (as demonstrated by the great John Oliver), undoubtedly  the final nail in the coffin came when Tone bit into a raw onion on a visit to a vegetable processing plant. As a man who's job primarily depends on his kissability to babies, his days were numbered by chosing to chow down on the one vegetable I have yet to find as an ingredient in ANY stage one or two purée or mash. Why not the sweetcorn the kumara, or the baby rice, Mr A (wow, what a segue this is turning in to!) and so, though he tried to cling on to a Prime Ministerial job that is clearly comparable to an onion (layered, and he wasn't willing to let anyone else have a bite), his caucus colleagues declared, 'Tony AbbOut!!!'

Anyway, on to what Tony should've eaten at that factory.

Contains: Vegetables (Sweet potato (20%), Sweetcorn (17%), Pumpkin (unspecified percent)), Water, Ground rice (6%), Brown rice (1%).

Firstly, NO ONION, see Tony? The inclusion of pumpkin, despite it not being in the puree's name is vaguely interesting, in the same way that there's a drummer in U2, but everybody ignores the fact that he's there and he's probably forgotten his own name. And brown rice... This is verging on a superfood, and Only Organic are the company who trumpeted the presence of 1.6% quinoa in their food... Why not put this on huge front of the jar in large neon letters?

Emily's reaction: To be honest Emily had this for tea two nights ago, whilst I was trying to wrangle with a febrile toddler. The fact that there was easily half a small jar left probably means she didn't take too favourably to it though.

First impressions: The packaging comes in standard by now Only organic hues, with a picture of a cob of corn, a sliced kumara, and a little serving of white rice in front of a larger bowl containing the puréed mix of the three. No mention of the brown rice, and I won't be drawing any further parallels here. Nor the pumpkin. Again, like Irish purveyors of faux-political activism whilst pertaining massive wealth-mongers U2, there's a staple ingredient within which the music would be bland and soulless without in this, but they'll be damned if it's going on the album cover (please don't @ me with cover art depicting Larry Mullen Jr now, I don't care to take this analogy any further anyway).

What I will discuss further, is the presence of a 'Good Night' brand, with a little motif containing a moon and two stars in the upper Right hand corner of the label. What does this mean? Is the food good at night? If you want a pleasant evening, should you eat this? Will it send your baby into a sound sleep leaving the night ahead free for 'adult parent time'? (Spoiler alert: no).

The food itself is a congealed yellow mess. It even LOOKS like canned pumpkin soup. Some weird vegetable cleansing is going on here, and I do not care for it one bit.

Bouquet: Straight to the nose wafts strong elements of sweetcorn. Not just sweetcorn, though, sweetcorn and PUMPKIN. I can't detect much in the way of kumara and rice. Rice I can forgive: unless it is Jasmine (hardly likely in a stage one baby purée), rice is hardly the most fragrant of the carbohydrates. Kumara though, as a headlining act in this food, should surely be much less underwhelming?

Taste test: first hint past the lips is of sweetcorn, strong, flavoursome, and yes, sweet. Both the pumpkin and kumara hit you next, travelling over the palate towards the back of the tongue, and lingering strongly. The rice does make itself known: whether brown or standard white is unclear, as it is mashed beyond recognition, but certainly it does give the food a slightly intriguing texture on its journey oesophagus-bound. All round, quite pleasant, and I've been quite happily snacking on the rest of the jar over the course of tonight. 

Overall: 6/10. Not too bad an evening option. Could rebrand as a risotto on the go and sell in a larger quantity. Not sure why Only Organic are so loathe to advertise the pumpkin content though.

Enjoy: When a leadership spill threatens to end your Prime Ministerial term in office. With the advertised promise of a Good Night, there'll be no stopping your vote! Best to take a litre bottle of gin, however, just in case you do lose your job.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Heinz Organic Sweet Baby Vegetables takes on the KFC challenge

Today, a two for one deal, as I start a new quest: to find a babyfood replacement for new Zealand's most popular purée, KFC's potato and gravy. The first challenger is Heinz Organic's sweet baby vegetables, one of the few stage one purées I have found with real potatoes in it, though given the nature of KFC's potato and gravy, I doubt having real potato in it need necessarily be a qualifier for these foods.  But first: the original.

A week after starting this blog, I received a direct message on the the twitter machine from a Dr Andre from New Zealand (@keeweedoc):

  • Hey Chris,
    Loving the reviews.
    After a few recent consultations with almost 4 month olds I have seen a pattern 
    emerging in first food choices. Our good friend the colonel provides a well puréed dish at his widespread children's fattening centres. Potato and gravy. Not sure if I'd give it to Emily but interesting contrast to other options.

Firstly, thanks Andre, glad to hear you are enjoying the blog (or were a while back, I do note readership has dropped a bit since then, come back!)

Secondly, great idea! I did refrain from using Emily as a test subject for this one, on account of not wanting to displease my wife. However, it was not an invitation I could pass up. So I acquired myself a small pot of the Colonel's finest, and tucked in.

Contains: Honestly, who knows. According to KFC, potato and gravy. Also, according to their Facebook account, it's not vegetarian, but no further details. Given Frank Bainimarama threatened to kick KFC out of Fiji unless they told him what the eleven secret herbs and spices were (clue: salt, pepper, and mine others you can't taste), he might be a good person to ask. I've tweeted him, no reply yet, but I'll keep you up to date.

First Impressions: Much the same as when I've eaten this before, I open the little plastic tub and marvel at a) how much this doesn't look like the picture on the menu, and b) how much this doesn't look like potato. A mess of white purée with a greasy brown gelatinous gloop oozing down the sides. The strong bouquet is mostly of  chicken stock, strong and lingering on the nose.

Taste test: According to double-U double-U double-U dot KFC dotcom, this produce 'always hits the spot'. The potato should be 'soft and fluffy', and the gravy 'thick and rich'. Now, I'm not one for strong language, but I'm calling bullshit on this claim. As hinted upon, there a two elements at play here, so I shall review their gustatory merits separately.

Firstly, the potato, or what masquerades to be such. Soft it is, but rather than fluffy, I would draw up one another f-word, flakey. Given, the side serving was not at optimum temperature at the time of my dining, but I felt it more came apart in my mouth rather than ran back down the tongue and onwards in the manner a true cream should. Taste wise, there was very little, but to be fair, the potato is present more as a vehicle of delivery for the 'thick and rich' gravy.

Speaking of which, I was mildly surprised to find that the gelatinous appearance did not translate into such a texture once past the lips. The gravy was, indeed, thick and viscous, but certainly retained a pleasant fluidity within the mouth. Strong salty tones predominated, presumably from a chicken stock heavily influenced by some, but likely not all, of those eleven seasonings known only to Colonel Sanders and perhaps Commodore Bainimarama (still no reply though).

Overall: 5.5/10: whilst not perfect, the true beauty of the Colonel's potato and gravy is it can be used as a makeshift dip for your chips, or as a thick spread for your sweetened dinner roll. It's going to be quite a role to challenge!

Enjoy with: A KFC quarter pack, obvs.

And so, on to the first challenger, Heinz Organic's Sweet baby vegetables. On account of the word sweet in the name, I already had my doubts whether this could be enjoyed alongside two pieces of original recipe, a dinner roll, chips and a regular drink. On top of that, how could something advertised as being so purely organic possibly sit alongside dismembered hunks of presumably battery farmed chicken? Nevertheless, I had a job to do.

Contains: Vegetables(65%) (Sweet potato (21%), Carrots (15%), Potatoes (15%), Sweetcorn (14%)), Water, Vitamin C.

 An ingredient list upon the packaging! Score one over imported American convenience food!  Again, similar to pervious Heinz Organic foods, this comes with asterisks next to all ingredients except water, to put you at ease of mind that they are all organic. No mention as to whether the vegetables themselves are babies, or whether 'baby' in the food's title is just denoting who this product is for. If the latter, then up yours Heinz Organic, I ate some too!

As a side note, we are informed below the ingredients listing that 'water is added for cooking, and to ensure appropriate texture', just in case you were wondering what this non-organic non-vegetable was doing imposing upon your baby's food.

Initial Thoughts: A pale orange colour, with a slight granularity about it, this just looked so much more ALIVE than the mass-produced fast food mash. It wasn't, of course, the vegetables within had been harvested from the life-giving Mother Earth, processed, and mushed beyond all recognition. Bent there was some sort of vitality here which was lacking from the boy-tied military man's food (Sanders not Bainimarama).

Emily's reaction: We'd been back on fruit predominantly for the past few meals, so the shock of something masquerading as savoury was initially quite disconcerting. As an added distraction, Grandpa was visiting, and making funny noises across the room. Still, a solid enough attempt, and ate most of the packet without grizzling or gagging.

Bouquet: I may be smelling too much baby food these days, but honestly, pumpkin was the main hint I got off this one. Very little in the way of sweetcorn, potato or carrot on the nose, but a sweet and alluring scent nonetheless.

Taste test: texture wise, this wasn't a million miles away for the KFC potato and gravy at all, moist, a few firmer small particulars adding a coarseness on the tongue. Additionally, on first taste, I felt this quite bland. Moving towards the back of the tongue, however, got the party started, with strong kumara and sweetcorn hints reaching up and punching me in the uvula. An after taste of carrot lingered, then all was forgotten before the next spoonful. A sweet concoction that wouldn't be fully expected from a combination of four vegetables, had it not clearly stated 'sweet' on the front of the packaging.

Overall: 6/10: Probably not a viable substitute for the dipping of French fries, but not without its own charms.

Can you eat this with fried chicken?: You could, but I don't think it's the best match. Maybe as a puréed compote next to a medium-rare scotch fillet would be more fitting.

Friday, 11 September 2015

How to change a nappy on a train: a cautionary tale

In a desperate attempt to keep this blog sort of fresh (unlike most of the food I'm trying, am I right?), I  thought I'd branch out a bit and try give some general parenting advice/ramble on about crap. So, today, a cautionary tale about changing a nappy on a long distance train.

Travelling with a toddler can be a great experience, opening their little minds to new ideas and places. More commonly, however, it's treading a fine line between a tolerable experience, or absolute disaster. Last year, before Emily had reached the age of being a viable foetus, we decided to take one and a half year old Luke, who was just developing an enviable vocabulary, to visit his Aunty Lizzie in Canberra. After negotiating the trans-Tasman flight without too much difficulty, we thought a 3 hour train ride would be of little challenge. Little did Dad know.

We were seated in a reasonably packed carriage in the middle of the train, with entrances and bathrooms at both ends. After a few stops, a self-important looking gentleman took a seat across the aisle from us, probably off for a weekend with his piece on the side out of town, or to the kangaroo markets, or whatever Australians do for fun.

About twenty minutes on, a slightly pungent smell touched on the nostrils. My first hope was that possibly Mr Haughty Playaway opposite us had let one rip. But sure enough, not twenty seconds later, young Luke piped up confidently and loudly with 'Daddy, I've done big poo! Need new nappy!'

We weren't getting out of it. I got up, picked up my malodorous son, and headed for the end of the carriage nearest the engine, where I assumed I would find at least a toilet. I did, but the space within which it was enclosed was possibly the size of a modest coffee table. I put the lid down, stood Luke up, and wedged myself in before closing the door. It would have to be a standing nappy change. I managed to take down the offensive undergarment, and realised that Luke was correct, it was big. And loose, on account of the copious amounts of local watermelon he had been sampling over the preceding days. And it had tracked: up the back, down the legs.

Half a packet of wet wipes later, the dirty nappy was in the bin, Luke smelled, if not sweeter then at least bland, and i was feeling pretty happy with my dexterous baby change skills. We headed back to the seat, just as Mr Uppity McScrewaround passed us heading for the door, giving me a long, judgemental look on the way past. Back in the four seater bay, Luke soon fell asleep. I sniffed. Something still was hitting my smell centres in an unpleasant way. I looked down, and saw what had obviously offended our promiscuous travel buddy upon his departure: a pungent, brown stain had reached it's way down my brand new rust coloured Kathmandu hoody, sending off the stench that was still permeating our end of the not unpacked carriage. I wore a raincoat the rest of the journey, the offending garment tightly wrapped in a plastic bag.

Anyway, about half an hour later, Rachel got up to use the toilet. On her return, she informed me there was a large bathroom at the opposite end of the carriage, complete with full baby change facilities. So I suppose the moral is, if you're travelling with a baby or toddler, make sure you know where to change them before the need arises.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Heinz Organic apple, guava and berry porridge

I know, I'd promised no more fruit flavours, but dinner was underway by the time I was home from work today, and frankly I had kinda been looking forward to this one. Heinz Organic is advertised on Wattie's website as being like their premium organic range, but TRICKY... Closer inspection of the jar reveals that, actually, this product is made in Australia from local and important ingredients... So, save the planet by eating organic, but destroy it again with baby FOODMILES! Scandalous!

It's actually been a couple of days since I last ate a puréed food, my last attempt being the frankly disastrous Wattie's green peas and courgette, so I was eager to get back in. This is the first of several foods in the pantry containing cereals or grains. My only grain experience so far being the totally anonymous quinoa offering last week, I was keen to see if a less wanky, preposterous cereal would make more of an impact. Oats have been described previously as having mysterious cholesterol lowering properties, so surely they're pretty super too?

Contains: Fruit (Apples (77%), Pink Guava (6%), Blueberries (2.4%), Blackberries (2.4%), Raspberries (2.4%)), Cooked oats (8%), Oatmeal

I'm going to call it before eating, the guava is not in this for flavour, but similar to the quinoa, is present as a wanky middle-class enticing status ingredient. I'm not sure I've ever seen a guava in my local supermarket, much less eaten one, but I reckon you could get a similar flavour out of this with an extra 6 percent apple. 

Similarly to Only Organic, Heinz Organic put an asterisk next to each of their ingredients sourced organically. In a point of difference, however, every ingredient in this Heinz Organic product has an asterisk next to it, somewhat ironic given the Only Organic name. More ironic than rain on your wedding day.

First impression: This is not a purée, it is labelled as a mash. I think that means it is allowed to have lumps in it. This food is a deep pink in colour. Now, as I said, I'm not a guava expert, and judging by the picture on the jar, this pink MAY JUST be the colour of guava, but I'm sure a similar colour could also have been made using a combination of the apples and raspberries within. Still, a fun looking colour to ingest, and the small lumpy oaty nuggets promised an exciting in-mouth experience was forthcoming.

Emily's reaction: As I write this, Emily is doing her best to loudly wake the fish that lies motionless at the bottom of our fish tank. It is surprising, therefor to know that not half an hour ago, she was lunging hingrily at the spoon from which I was attempting to taste this food. This was by some distance the biggest jar of food we had attempted to feed Emily, by the time I got home from work it was mostly empty. I'm unsure whether the guava was apparent to Emily, however.

Bouquet: Three elements predominate on the nose. First off, not surprising considering the 77 percent content, apple tones delicately dance their way through the turbinates and towards the olfactory nerve head. These are followed by generous hints of both banana and raspberry, pleasant and sweet, and enticing. I don't know what a guava smells like, I assume it's not present though.

Taste test: I had expected the soggy, soft, mushed oat sensation to be unpleasant before tasting, but I was in for a surprise. The nuggets clusters complemented the finally granular texture of the overall food substrate devinely, and proved not offensive at all. It came as something of a shock, considering the heaviness of the bouquet and the content in the ingredients list, that apple was not the predominant taste in this food. Indeed, berry tones took charge upon the buds: black, blue and rasp, with delicate currant flavours pirouetting around the back of the palate. The overall sensation in the mouth was indulgent. Perhaps a slight improvement would be made by adding some morsels of stewed apple or a similar fruit, but it would be too easy to be over critical of this food.

The guava, however, seemed once again absent from the experience. I am beginning to suspect that my belief it is to fruit what quinoa is to grains is confirmed. However, in that case, oats must be to cereals, as the humble apple is to fruit based baby foods. Somewhat ironic. Like finding a thousand knives when all you need is a spoon to eat this delicious offering.

Overall: 8/10. Being a predominantly fruit based mash, this was always going to score highly. Perhaps could have scored higher still had it ditched the guava in favour of more berries.

Enjoy: Spread on buttered fruit toast, with a cup of strong English breakfast tea.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Only Organic Teething Rusks

Something a bit different today.

I woke this morning, and realised there was barely enough milk left in the bottle for my coffee and Luke's cereal. Unfortunately a large volume had been used in the preparation of the previous night's evening meal without realising how little was left over. As I usually consume more than one cup of Joe daily, a trip to the local grocer's shop was called for.  There, where normally countless bottles of the white stuff are on display in the chiller, I was confronted by this:

What a fantastic initiative. Some will say this is a crass attempt at milking (haha!) some extra marketing out of a powerful bandwagon. Not me! What better way to show our support for our boys than drinking our national drink out of a novelty black bottle? I suppose using the said milk as a mixer or chaser for your favourite alcoholic tipple down at the pub at 5am before work, whilst waving your NZRU trademarked silver fern flag would be up there... But the marketing practically writes itself: Man Milk, Richie's White Stuff,  Dan Carter's Cream, Goes down a treat, Come on All Blacks, ... Though on second thoughts the All Black fan club president Mr John Key may have vetoed cream getting the black bottle treatment, given what he's on the record as saying about Gay Red Top. The only question remaining is, once the World Cup is over, will Anchor be able to go back to white bottles?

Anyway, milk procured, I returned to my beverage. Feeling peckish, I looked around for a biscuit or cake, and my eyes settled upon Only Organic Teething Rusks. Emily is at the age that she's chomping through these. And don't the South Africans eat something similar with their hot drinks? Sure, it isn't Chanui Biscuits, New Zealand's favourite biscuits (TM), but could they come close?

Contains: Organic wheat flour (certified organic), Organic skim milk powder (certified organic), Whewt germ, Yeast, Salt, Mineral (iron)

Full marks on describing iron as a mineral, Only Organics. Though the fact I guess there are no carbon molecules attached to this trace element I suppose makes it INORGANIC! I dunno, maybe it's in the form of iron polymaltose, or attached to some other complex sugar, which I guess would suit your company name. But if we're being this scientifically specific about classifications, why not clarify some of your other ingredients, eg Fungus (yeast)?

First Impressions: A rather solid baked log. I tried to break this in half, and it required far more force than expected, but came apart with a satisfying snap. Half to Emily for her teething difficulties, half to Daddy for tasting. And herein lies my second first impression, my first equal impression if you will. Only Organic packs these in little sealed packets of two rusks, ten to the box. Why, when my baby, who is perfectly normal, can only manage half a rusk per sitting at most? Why not just ten loose rusks in a box? It's not like they're going to go off or anything? They're essentially crackers!

Emily's reaction: She loves these things, and will happily chew away whilst the rusk dissolves into a sticky mush and distributes itself over her clothing, into her hair, over her face, and usually over whichever parent is nearest. Today the half rusk lasted around half an hour.

Bouquet: not a particularly distinctive nose on this one, perhaps as expected for a baked product with no added flavouring or sugar. Strong flour notes predominate, perhaps with an afterhint of yeast.

Taste test: A sturdy biscuit we have here, in its raw form requiring quite a bite to break through. Use the premolars: I feel an incisor would likely be exposed to too much strain if you tried to snap a piece off this. A floury, slightly savory flavour predominates on the palate, but once dunked heartily in coffee, the baked taste of the ruck stands aside to allow the full benefit of java to be experience. The dipping in fluid does require a committed submersion, as I feel the toughness of this rusk would feature fairly highly on the Moh scale.

Overall: 7/10. Whilst not as flavoursome as Chanui's all conquering cookies, not a bad alternative to accompany your morning tea break.

Enjoy: with a hit coffee, with or without the milk of our fifteen finest men.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Wattie's for Baby: Green pea and courgette

Much to Emily's disappointment, I've decided to leave fruit behind for now. There's only so many times I can enthuse about how delicious a slightly different combination of puréed fruit is. I will return to the fruity flavours: there's still at least one product from Rafferty's Farm containing Acai berries that will require careful scrutiny.

I've often wondered what this blog would be like if it were a flag referendum. I think the comparison is apt: both are vanity projects, perhaps have their own small followings, but in the end are devoid of point, and met with widespread apathy. That said, I think of all the foods I have reviewed, I think Rafferty's Garden's Apple, Pear and Cinnamon would be Laser Kiwi: widely loved, but a little bit too anti-establishment for the hierarchy to want to take seriously. Only Organic Cauliflower, Broccoli and Cheddar, on the other hand, would be aiming a bit too hard to please, but end up bland, and forced down our throats like a Kyle Lockwood design. And the other Only Organic flavour, the one with Quinoa, would end up as Red Peak, widely loved and shared on social media, but in the end a bit of pompous hot air with a hollow core of nothingness. I guess Wattie's Apple would be the incumbent standard of New Zealand, tried and trusted by generations.Which would leave another Wattie's offering, Green Peas and Courgette, being the flag chosen by Gareth Morgan, a bit of an unoriginal load of unpalatable, self important crap.

Contains: Peas (39%), Courgettes (37%), Water for cooking, Cornflower.

First impressions: Not good. Green is really not a very good colour for a puréed food, especially if you can see sitting water pooling in the surface contours at the top of the jar. I've used a cold sick simile already this week, so I won't use it again. But this looks like something you'd scrape off the wall of your fish tank after neglecting it for a few too many months. Not cool Wattie's.

Emily's reaction: From bad to worse. Unfortunately my camera was not close to hand, or I would have one upped yesterday's photo of a disgruntled face. After three spoons, refusal made it look as though the little girl would go to bed hungry. Thankfully, Mummy remembered some left over pear and banana from lunch, and order was restored.

Bouquet: Suprisingly, not too bad. A bouquet of freshly shelled peas hit a not unwelcoming nose, with the sweet follow up of a hint of courgette. After the initially unpleasant sight of this product, I felt as though I could happily settle down to taste it.

Taste: a most unpleasant sensation in the mouth. Unlike the hitherto smooth concoctions I had tasted, this was more a messy mush. Peas once again dominated on the palate, with only a hint of the zucchini at the back of he tongue. Surprisingly for something added only to assist in the cooking process, the water was actually the second most prominent ingredient. The taste lingered unwelcomed in the mouth, not unlike an overstaying party guest, and only a hearty draught of water would rid of it. As per Wattie's serving suggestions, I gamely decided to try this food warmed up. Even worse: after thirty seconds in the microwave, a warm, sticky green paste presented itself, adhering to the sides of the mouth. Maybe this is an acquired taste and texture: after thirty two years, however, I am no closer to acquiring it.

Overall: 3/10. The fresh green pea taste itself was not unpleasant, but the texture, and over prominence of water made this a disappointing and poorly tolerated dinner.

Enjoy with: Not much. Maybe if you're truly English and in to that sort of thing, a plate of soggy fish and chips.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Only Organic: Cauliflower, Broccoli and Cheddar

Firstly: a week in and I'm still going! The novelty hasn't quite worn off yet, not just for me, but for you, the loyal reader, too! Thanks everyone who's kept on reading my inane blabber, I feel I've only scraped the surface of the underrated world of baby purée so far, and there are many high peaks and probable low troughs to go, so stay tuned! The quinoa post was an early highlight, and I hope to have several more for you over the coming weeks!

Father's Day today seemed like the perfect excuse to take on one of the big challenges I'd been saving for a while: Only Organic stage 2 cauliflower, broccoli and cheddar. So different in formulation was this from almost anything Emily and I had tried so far, I had genuinely no idea how it would come across. It has dairy in it! Not just cheese, but milk too! And cheddar: a family of cheese with such diversity across its spectrum! Would it be a strong, finely aged specimen? A creamier Colby varietal? Or a more delicate mild version? Would the cheddar entice us to gorge ourselves until full? (Geography pun there for all you South-East Englanders!) And how would Emily take the massive change in dietary direction forced upon her?

Contains: Cheese sauce (water, ground rice, whole milk powder, cheese (milk) 3%), Cauliflower (15%), Broccoli (9%), Onion.

Eagle eyes will note that the named ingredients only add up to of  27% of the total content, with presumably water and ground rice making up the balance. Having since tasted it, I can't really say this surprises me.

Actually on second thoughts, eagle eyes probably wouldn't notice that, as they would belong to eagles, which are birds, so can't read. Maybe The Eagles' eyes would, if they were feeding their grandchildren, as I imagine this would be the type of fancy upper class food they would choose in that case.

First impressions: not a huge amount to be honest. It's a pale cream purée in colour, easily the thickest offering so far, with a coarse texture visible to the eye.

The packaging is fairly non descript. A couple of florets of broccoli and cauliflower are scattered next to a red bowl containing some sort of broth-like liquid. A wedge of what appears to be a maturing, crumbly cheddar lies nearby, hinting at a rich, sophisticated taste within. Additional branding assures the consumer that only the finest New Zealand cheddar, mashed with a fork, is included, and that the cheese does not contain something called BPA, I assume from the cheese's rind.

Emily's reaction: I commented yesterday that a picture speaks a thousand words, so without further comment, this was Emily's reaction today.

When presented with an option of the food and a used wet wipe, Emily decided to try her luck eating the wet wipe. There was plenty of food left for me to taste.

Bouquet: Not much of a nose on this one at all. Hints of cauliflower entered the nostrils, but hardly lingered. There was dissapointingly little in the way of a cheesy scent, but sometimes the most delicate of curds have nary a whiff about them.

Taste test: Recall, if you will, the taste of cauliflower, the blandest of vegetables. Now imagine it mushed into a purée, until at the texture of cold vomit (without chunks). Add a hint of onion at the back of the tongue as an afterthought. Served cold. That is what Only Organic cauliflower, broccoli and cheddar offered up here. The cheese flavour was so underwhelming, it would be unsurprising to find the company was in breach of fair trading descriptions to include a picture of the block on the front of the packet. The broccoli was absent in taste, but possibly added to the mildly unpleasant tactile sensation in the mouth. Not truly as offensive as my offspring would have me believe (Luke also passed the left overs up), but hardly the winning taste combination you would expect from the ingredient list.

Overall: 4/10. I'm not angry, just disappointed at the blandness of this meal. Would probably gain from a cheese aged for 24-36 months prior to preparation.

Enjoy with: some actual cheddar, or an aged single malt Scotch, to add some flavour to your evening.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Rafferty's Garden Apple, Pear and Cinnamon

This morning over breakfast, something magical happened. Something that made Emily go like this:

And if that photo isn't clickbait, then nothing will draw more readers to this blog.

Originally, I wasn't going to review Rafferty's Apple, Pear and Cinnamon. It seemed too obvious, given I had reviewed Wattie's stage one Apples yesterday. How could an apple food be that much different? How indeed.

The consumption of this food, however, does raise a thorny issue, that of food miles. Originally,I had only been reviewing foods made by New Zealand companies, the food manufacturing behemoth that is Wattie's, and the smaller, some would say hipper outfit of Only Organics. On the packaging, however, there was no escaping the bold proclamation 'MADE IN AUSTRALIA'. In these less than certain economic times, and with the warming environmental climate, surely we should be buying New Zealand made, and not food that has required the expenditure of who now show much in the way of fossil fuel to arrive on our fair shores? Sure, free trade, and the one would assume inevitable TPPA may mean an influx of cheaper, brighter foreign purées on our shelves, potentially at a cost much lower than our known, previously adored and trusted labels, but should we be trusting this, buying it at the expense of companies owned by Kiwi mums and dads, and further adding to the changing if our weather patterns? Certainly some issues to chew over, or at least swallow over, as chewing isn't really necessary with this offering.

Contains: Apple (60%), Pear (39.9%), Cinnamon (0.1%)
Great maths skills, Rafferty's Garden! No trying to pull wool over our eyes and having your ingredients add up to over 100%, like Wattie's did the other day!

Also, did you know some people will class cinnamon as a superfood? What is it with babyfood manufacturers and superfoods?

First Impression: I noted the apples on the packaging are closer to the eating varieties you would normal associate with a child's lunch, probably a Braeburn or a Royal gala, which gave the expectation of perhaps a sweeter product. The pear pictured appears  (haha, there's a pun for you right there!) to be a Packham, or perhaps a greener Doyenne du Commice, both firmer, juicier varietals which would be good for puréeing into a palatable product. Cinnamon sticks in an artistic bundle complete the packet art.

The purée itself is of a fairly standard texture: not too runny, but smooth in appearance. A pale yellow-brown colour was punctuated with darker flecks of brown, presumably the cinnamon shining through.

Emily's reaction: Well, I think the photo at the head of this column speaks volumes. This was eagerly anticipated, giant lunges onto the spoon removing the food before I had a chance to sequester more than a teaspoon full for myself. Certainly a strong favourite for Emily.

Bouquet: Strong apple flavours on the nose of this one, totally dominating over the submissive pear scent. A hint of spice lingered at the back of the nose. The bouquet was sweet and enticing.

Taste test: Simply delicious! A slightly thicker purée, but without the coarseness or granularity of other pear offerings. Although noticeable at first sight, the flecks of cinnamon simpy do not registrar by feel in the mouth. Again, big apple and pear components hit the palate immediately, landing a first round knock out blow, with a delicate hint of cinnamon capping off a simply devine tasting experience. The taste lingers tantalisingly in the mouth, without overstaying it's welcome.

Overall: 9.5/10. The only fault I can find in Rafferty's Garden's product is the distance it has travelled to be in our pantry. Taste-wise, simply clobbers Wattie's Apple out of the park. Six runs!

Enjoy with: Custard, a glass of a late harvest Muscat, and in front of an open fire with a loved one.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Wattie's for baby: Pumpkin, Kumura and Carrot

Two posts in a day! But first, an apology.

As I perused the packaging for tonight's dinner, it occurred to me that I had erroneously missed the possessive apostrophe in the Wattie's brand name in my previous posts. To be honest, I had assumed that this was a company belonging to a family named Wattie, and therefore multiple Watties were involved in the branding. It had not occurred to me at all that the manufacturer of this fine food belonged to a singular member of the Wattie clan. For this, I am truly sorry.

But anyway, I had low hopes for this offering, to be honest. The pumpkin content had me expecting another sloppy soup-like offering not dissimilar to the pumpkin and sweetcorn tin we had tasted earlier in the week, and I did not hold much in the way of expectations for the kumara or carrot shining through. This prejudice was further enhanced by the fact that none of the foods I had tried so far had managed to escape the sweet categorisation.

As an interesting diversion, I find it noteworthy that my spell checker insists on capatilisimg the 'K' in kumara. Perhaps the West Coast settlement marking the starting point of the Coast to Coast race has achieved more international notoriety than its namesake sweet potato.

Contains: Pumpkin (49%), Kumara(15%), Carrot (5%), Water (for cooking), Apple (6%)

First impression: the viscosity of this purée was much lower than I had predicted: again, my previous pumpkin memories were playing on my mind. Checking the packet, indeed water (for cooking) was amongst the ingredients listed, and perhaps had not quite dissipated during the heating process as had been intended. A paste was a deeper orange, perhaps more influenced by the kumura and carrot (nothing but traditional orange in Wattie' s, no purple carrots to be seen here).

Emily's Reaction: A mixed bag. We had just returned from her grandparents' house prior to the evening meal, and she had fallen asleep in the car prior to being woken for dinner. First attempt at a sitting was a disaster, with a few spoonfuls swallowed heartily, followed by much gnashing of bare gums and howling. An interlude of ten minutes of walking around the house ensued, after which her gusto for eating was restored, and. The majority of the packet consumed in rapid time.

Bouquet: Again, unsurprisingly, very pumpkins. However, this time, the pumpkin was balanced finely with hints of kumara, and perhaps a dash of the unlisted apple present. The carrot was, sadly, again absent on the nose, and perhaps was present in the blend only for colour.

Taste test: On first presentation, not as watery as anticipated. A pleasant soft, fine, puréed sensation the mouth. The almost half of the purée made of pumpkin was balanced finely with the slightly sweet tone ps of kumara, giving a delightful savoury experience. If all you have eaten is is a combination of sweet purées in the past, I can imagine this taste being a slghtly acquired one, but to the adult palate, goes down a treat.

Overall: 7/10. Finally, a savoury treat, and not as bad as I had feared.

Enjoy: Alongside your puréed potatoes and beef, and thickened cask red wine for Sunday lunch during your later years in aged residential care.

Watties for babies: Apple

I had reservations writing about Watties for babies' puréed apple. Although easily the most popular of Watties stage one foods, how much could actually be written about a can which is not only sourced from a single ingredient, but one that is so prevalent in our own daily diet? Then idealised that I didn't really have a choice: Watties Apple may be the Toyota Corolla of the baby food world, as compared to the Audi A4 that is Only Organic Pear, Purple carrot, Blueberry and Quinoa, but just because every New Zealander has driven a Corolla at some point, should its safety and drivability not be put up to the occasional scrutiny?

Early Friday breakfast seemed an ideal time to try this offering. So as Mum slept, and big brother amused himself in a box, Emily and I sat down.

Contains: Apples (100%), Vitamin C
What mathematical jiggery pokery is this Watties? You can't claim one ingredient constitutes 100% of the recipe! then go ahead and add a second ingredient? That's like giving 110% on the rugby field! it looks impressive, but in the end it's a load of self congratulatory BS! Unless you claim the vitamin C is present in the apple, in which case it's not really a separate ingredient, is it Watties?

First impressions: As I scrutinised the famous blue tin, something leapt out: only green Granny Smith apples were pictured. Whilst high in antioxidants, this seemed an unusual choice in sole ingredient due to it's higher acidity, and resulting tartness in taste. Sure, the Granny Smith does mellow with age, but as it ripens will become more yellow in colour than those apples pictured. This all added to the mystery within. With such intrigue, however, the familiar thin yellow-brown paste felt quite reassuring.

Emily's reaction: after a long night with only one feed three hours previously, Emily was ready for some breakfast action. Big brother was hooning around, and the dog provided plenty of additional distraction. As such, there were several pauses in the dining experience, but each was ended by a shrill demand for the shovelling to re-commence, and only by the time the bottom of the can was in sight was she truly satiated.

Bouquet: not entirely unexpectedly, it smelt of apples: sweet, fragrant and enticing me in to the tasting. 

Taste test:  A pleasant smooth, easy texture in the mouth, a relief after the granular texture of my last two tastings. The Granny Smith tartness does indeed come to the fore, but I feel I detect the sweetness of Braeburn, perhaps a Cox Orange. For authenticity, I compared to a Granny Smith in its raw state, and certainly the puréed form hinted at the addition of other varieties. The apples certainly taste as though skinned, so I imagine the fibre content in this product would be lacking. I think Watties could make improvements, possibly with the addition of a Pacific Rose or Pink Lady varietal, however given these are the pricier types of apple, I would probably expect this more in a premium range product.

Overall: A highly commendable 9/10. They say the proof is in the pudding, and in this case the pudding is a tin beautifully puréed apples. Delicious.

Enjoy with: A spitroast pork, if you've managed to forget the apple sauce. I think it would also make a more than passable base for home brewed cider.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Watties for Baby: Banana, mango, courgette, and pea

After last night's quinoa experiment, I think today was always going to be a bit of a let down. So I got home from work, and cracked into a sachet of Watties banana, mango, courgette and pea purée. First things first: this is stage two stuff, things are getting more serious. I wasn't sure what this levelling up of the food would really mean, other than coming in the red pack instead of the blue, possibly a thicker blend? More complex ingredients? Who knows.

Secondly, this was settled on for the ingredients... Four staples I am well familiar with, but never that I would imagine would cohabitate inside a little red pouch. A combination so out there, it's like different having peas in a pod, as well as bananas, mangos, and courgettes. This is the Celebrity Big Brother of baby foods.

So with many questions, chief amongst them WTF?, I dived in.

Ingredients: Banana (42%), Mango (20%), Courgette (14%), Peas (14%), Spinach, Cornflour, Vitamin C

Yesterday I noted Only Organic crammed as many super foods as possible into the name of their product, no matter how insignificant they are to the end product. Well. Of note here, spinach, considered by some to be the ORIGINAL super food, is not even named! Watties are obviously not aiming for the Remuera market with this one.

First impression: It's green. Quite a dark green. And with slightly darker green flecks. Trying to come up with a comparison, unfortunately nothing fits favourably, but the closest I can think of is pond algae. Bottoms up!

Emily's reaction: As is becoming a predictable pattern, now, she loved it. Obviously, being six months of age, she hasn't seen much pond algae in her time, so this didn't really affect her appetite. Half a packet was gone in superquick time, before the long day took effect and she lost interest.

Bouquet: Given the composition, it is unsurprising that banana and mango heavily influenced the nose. I tried hard to catch an influence of courgette or pea, hardly the most fragrant of vegetables at the best of times, but alas to no avail. Given the appearance of algal sludge , I found the strong banana scent slightly disturbing.

Taste test: The texture is certainly thicker than the previous Watties offerings I had tried, but not disimilar to that of the Only Organic purée. Again a fine coarseness announced itself on the tongue, and surprisingly, the small dark green specks were appreciable in the mouth. I managed to isolate  a few of these on the tongue, but alas was unable to elucidate whether they were the peas, the courgettes, or the unannounced spinach.

Taste-wise, this shit is bananas. B. A. N. A. N. A. S. Not even a brief aftertaste of mango at the back of the palate can distract from the terrific flavour of the star of this show. The vegetables may as well have not turned up, such is their degustatory anonymity. The cornflour does, however, lend itself to a pleasant texture in the mouth, and as such is a valuable supporting act.

Overall: 8/10. Like the odd couple comedy film Twins, this may seem like a strange combination, but ends up working well.

Enjoy: As a novel base to a banana milkshake which would have a good chance of bringing all the boys to the yard.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Only Organic Pear, Purple carrot, Blueberry and Quinoa

Mrs L Garbutt of Dunedin writes:

'I'd like to hear.... your professional opinion on WTF the point of 1.6% quinoa is, other than so they can add one more "super-food" to the label (Only Organic Pear Purple Carrot Blueberry and Quinoa - highly rated by my toddler, but possibly because she enjoys watching us gag over the smell of her gross blueberry poops rather than for its quinoa content).'

Great questions, Mrs Garbutt. As I'm sure you're aware, Quinoa is regarded as something of a 'super' grain. It gains this status through its ability to cause consumers to talk exclusively about how much they enjoy eating quinoa and how great it makes them as a person in general. It remains puzzling, therefore, that quinoa would be included in a foodstuff aimed exclusively at those who are yet to gain the neuronal power of speech, and thus are immune to its great benefits.

It's not just the quinoa, however, that warrants note here. I was initially intrigued by the inclusion of purple carrot, instead of the more common orange variety. However, my research has led me to the conclusion that actually, prior to the 17th century, most, if not all carrots were of the purple variety. This lends Only Organics' food extra hipster credential, by the inclusion of carrot in its original form prior to it becoming the popular vegetable it is today. This is carrot from when it was still underground.  

Add in the famed antioxidant properties of blueberries, and some disappointingly boring pear, and I suppose you have the perfect blend for health conscious 4-6 month olds.

Contains: Pear (30%), Water, Purple carrot (8%), Blueberries (2.5%), Quinoa (1.6%), Ground rice, Lemon juice concentrate, Vitamin C, Citric acid

Initial thoughts: The deep red/not quite maroon colour that greeted me at first squirt was not quite as expected, but not an unpleasant looking paste to consider putting in ones mouth.

Emily's reaction: this was second, nay, third offering for this meal. An initial course of home-puréed avocado (brief review: it looked, smelt and tasted like avocado) added to the super-foodiness of dinner, but was swiftly rejected by Emily. A brief interlude for breast-hydration was followed by a second sitting for solids. Emily's enthusiasm for the red purée was easy to see, and several missives to hurry up with the spooning were forthcoming. However, a recently breast-fed tummy can only take so much, and half a packet was left for my tasting purposes.

Bouquet: The most surprising bouquet of the week, insofar as it didn't really smell like any of the ingredients. Rich notes of black Doris plumb were forthcoming, with a delicate hint of summer berries lingering on the nose (mostly raspberry, however I would concede with a smattering of the 2.5% blueberry included)

Taste test: My initial thought was that this was a slightly thicker purée than the more established Watties offerings on the market. A slightly granular texture was evident on the tongue: at first I thought this to be the fabled, much publicised quinoa. On rolling the product around the mouth, I feel the pear to be the more likely culprit here. The initial taste is of the blueberries, strong on the palate, with a hint of pear. On holding in the oral cavity, a hint of carrot is revealed: whether a difference is made between this being of the hip purple variety, or whether a more widely recognised orange root vegetable would have given a similar sensation, I am unable to say. I was disappointed not to detect the nutty tones of the heavily advertised quinoa, but maybe the more refined buds of a resident of the Aro Valley, or other indigenous quinoa consumers would have more luck. Almost as an afterthought, a slightly tart note of lemon juice (from concentrate) lingers. All together, not an unpleasant experience at all.

Overall: 7.5/10. Pleasant, but for the reputation of the ingredients included, I was expecting much greater things. One to conspicuously feed your baby at Parnell Coffee Group.

Enjoy: As part of a healthy spirulina smoothie before heading out for a big session at the CrossFit gym.

Have you got a favourite baby food you would like me to review? Post in the comments, or twitter me at @lukeurmyson!