For the sake of balance, I wish to start this entry by sharing a little story with you. Once upon a time on a Friday night in October, between work and the bus stop, a
young woman stopped into her local M&S to get a thank you gift for her dinner hosts for that night and some wine for her own selfish and unapologetic consumption. After doing battle with the self check out which, as usual, failed on every other scanned object, she took her newly purchased consumables and made to leave. Only her 10p bag for life decided it didn’t like life at all any more and split open, discarding it’s contents on the cold hard floor. One of two bottles of moderately priced Spanish white joined in the suicide bid and smashed itself open in a cringey final salute to this world. The young woman was heard to swear, but was witnessed by staff who saw the bag was hell bent on self destruction and supplied her with a replacement bottle of wine, free of charge. How sporting of them! Will madam need another bag? Yes please, thank you. That will be 10p. Sorry, what? Large shopping bag, 10p. So, I get free replacement wine that smashed due to your faulty bag, but I have to pay again for a bag? Yes, 10p. REALLY?!?!?!?!?!?!?! The young woman was in a hurry, so she paid and left and swore a bit more. She swore further when said wine bottles proved to be wrongly assembled with lids that just spun and spun and would not open due to having no threads and only yielded up their grapey contents after much brute force and the blunting of some kitchen knives. As wine goes, it wasn’t very nice either. Grand fail, Marks & Spencer, grand fail.
I tout for M&S products a lot and felt a need to add this less than positive review of both their
ridiculous pay for a broken bag policy and products so I don’t appear biased. I am not blinded by St Michaels lights.
Now, for the good news, it was Dine in for £10 this weekend just gone, a regular loss leading promotion from M&S where you can get a main dinner, side dish, dessert item and bottle of wine for a mere £10. If you don’t shop there, trust me, this is an amazing price for M&S food. Of course it’s not universal and the products in the offer are limited but never to a point where one feels a total lack of choice and when the wine typically retails at about £6 a bottle, you really can’t sniff at this offer. And don’t panic haters and naysayers, I know they aren’t a charity and this is indeed a ploy to get you in the store and be so impressed at how little you have spent that you pick up a few full priced items too. Or even come back next week to repurchase those yummy new things you tried in the special offer at full price. I get it. It’s what one might call a win win. I always have a look when the offer is in town, but don’t miss it terribly when it isn’t. M&S is treat food for me, completely non-essential, but this week every single constituent piece of my dinner for two for a tenner was incredible. Incredible. I’m salivating thinking of it again. Here comes the glowing review of stuff I want to eat every day and can’t wait to buy again.
The Main: Ready to Roast Honey Glazed Ham:
I feel not one pang of human emotion for the death of that pig, or the efforts of those bees or anything else involved in this little package other than my own intense enjoyment. Just open it, pour on the sauce, cook for just under an hour with the odd baste. Perfect, beautifully moist ham with the right salt and sweet battle of the flesh and the honey glaze. Succulent and yummy. Serves two to three? Not in my house!
The Side: Fresh Chips.
As I may have asked before, who doesn’t like chips? Crazy people. Good chips, fresh maris piper chips pre prepped to be thrown in the oven. Crispy and fluffy and easy. Perfect.
The Wine: 2011 Bellota Tempranillo.
I would usually go white with pork but The Boy likes his red and I had half a Chardonnay in the fridge that needed finishing so we picked this up. I know a bit about wine but I know a lot more about what I like, and this was intensely likeable. Fruity, light and gloriously tangy, this is Danger Wine. This is the kind of wine that goes down like ribena and makes you wake up the next morning fully clothed in an empty bathtub with a banging headache. Fan. Tastic.
The Dessert: Hot Caramel and Hazlenut blondies.
I’m not a fan of buying cakes. I make cakes, it’s easy and they tend to taste better than something in a supermarket chiller section. But you can’t go wrong with blondies, right? Unless you incorrectly assume, like many, that a blondie is a brownie made with white chocolate instead of dark. Negative. A blondie is a rich, stodgy cake bar containing a lot of brown sugar. These were served in little round trays with a puddle of sticky sweet caramel in the middle and a scattering of hazlenuts throughout. Ten minutes in the oven and ready to go. Beautifully balanced sweet and soft and crunch and sauce, I could have eaten two. Before I ate another one. What made it extra special in a really childishly excitable fashion was the thoughtful inclusion in the box of a little star stencil and some icing sugar so you could affect your own little picture on the top. Yay! It’s dinner and crafts. And if you’re male and not sold on this alone, they apparently also look a bit like boobs. These little beauties will be on the table again in no time and I encourage you to try some, offer or not.
Five stars, M&S, without a doubt. Simple to prepare, gorgeous to consume and easy on the income. You are forgiven for the wine-bag debacle.
Keep an eye on the press or the M&S website for news of the next Dine in for Two for £10 offer.