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Review: Christmas Hamper from Viking

Just so that you know, this is a review of a product of which I was sent a free sample. The opinions in the post are, as ever, mine, and the review is honest. Please note my Patrick Stewart-worthy sentence arrangement in the first line there.

I’ve never had a hamper before, though I’ve often looked at them admiringly – I like a wicker basket, I cannot lie. So, when someone representing Viking got in touch with me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I’d like to try one of their Christmas gift packages, I was delighted to say yes. Soon after, this arrived:

Hamper 001

Wow, right? Well, what if I told you it also had a second layer?

Hamper 014

I know. Mindblowing. Like the best ever box of chocolates.

I had associated Viking with office supplies, until now, and in fairness that is what they do – but it’s not all. In amongst the printer paper and office tea and coffee making supplies, there are gift cards, and gift hampers like this one. Have a closer look at the contents of this one – which is called the Christmas Cracker, and is currently selling for £43.99 – usually £54.99.

The delivery took three working days, and everything was packed extremely safely, and securely. That meant that there were no breakages, bashings or other traumas as it made its way to me. I haven’t tried everything – hopefully I’ll have enough self control to keep some for a few weeks and eat it at Christmas time – but I couldn’t resist breaking into the Yorkshire crisps, and the chocolate chip cookies. Both were delicious.

You have up until December 9th to order in time for Christmas – though the sooner the better, really. Take a look at all the available hampers here at Viking – they start at £22.39 at time of writing (usually £27.99). Thank you to Viking, and to Jonathan for thinking of me!

Lunch at Siempre

This is another one of those reviews, of sorts. The fine people at Siempre don’t know I’ve written it, and didn’t ask me to. We went in as regular (I was going to say normal, but, you know…), paying customers, and walked out as fans.


You may, like me, have walked past Siempre, if you live in Glasgow. It’s next to Kelvinhall underground station, and it has lots of bikes in the window. In fact, it’s full title is Siempre Bicycle Cafe. I’m not a big bike connoisseur – or even a small one – and I’d always assumed that the main function of the cafe was bikes and related things, with food and drink on the side.

Then, as we were walking past, we noticed menus on the tables outside. We were looking for somewhere to get a bite to eat, so we stopped for a look. The menu is great! Everything sounds really appetising – there is breakfast, brunch and lunch, plus sharing platters, smoothies, other hot and cold drinks and chocolate truffles. Take a look for yourself.

We ordered a couple of ice cream smoothies to get us started – banana mocha and peanut butter and jelly. That’s right, a PB & J smoothie. I feel like more people should know of its existence, even though I can’t stand it myself. I’m big-hearted that way.


Thirst catered for and quenched, I ordered the crayfish po’boy. Truth: this was partly because I wanted to say po’boy. It was massive and contained at least an ocean’s worth of crayfish. It was also delicious, spicy and garlicky, and so filling.



The G man ordered the smoked salmon sandwich, which was a lot more delicate than my lunch but still packed to an appropriate level with salmon and cream cheese.


To be honest I barely gave it a second glance, captivated as I was with my own lunch, but he assures me it was excellent.

There was no room for dessert, or even a homemade truffle. I felt like I might be turning into a crayfish in some kind of unlikely, Kafkaesque way, so off we went. It didn’t happen, but if it had I wouldn’t have wanted to disturb the other patrons.

The menu at Siempre is great, with more sandwiches than you could shake a stick at. As someone who considers sandwiches a good group in their own right, this appeals to me. The staff are friendly, the prices reasonable and the food is, literally, something to write home about. Plus, if you’re into cycling, you can pick up some new gear and flip through some bike magazines while you’re there.

Being into cycling isn’t a prerequisite, though. They don’t make you sit a test before you order lunch.

Review: Silver and Green


Just so that you know, this is a review of a product of which I was sent a free sample. The opinions in the post are, as ever, mine, and the review is honest. Please note my Patrick Stewart-worthy sentence arrangement in the first line there.


When Rachel sent me a tweet asking if I’d like a sample box of delights from Silver and Green, you can bet I was all over it like a cheap suit. Silver and Green are a Cumbrian company specialising in antipasti, meze, tapas and olive oils. Can you see why I was excited about this? When my parcel arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes – there was so much packed in there! Thank you, Silver and Green, for your generosity, it really was above and beyond.

Here’s what I got:



Kalamata olives


Sweet African peppers with cheese


Anchovy fillets


Kalamata olives marinated in garlic and chili


Garlic stuffed green olives


Pickled Sicilian garlic


I told you it was a generous parcel! I waited until I had a night of leisure ahead and cracked everything open to have a try. The quality of the products is superb. I didn’t eat the garlic straight out of the tub, but I’ve since used it in cooking and it lends a great deal of flavour where normal garlic really is a bit one dimensional. Sorry, normal garlic. Two products in particular took me by surprise, as I had expected to like them the least and, in fact, they were my favourites. First, the olives stuffed with garlic. While I have been coming round to olives for some time, I still struggle with green olives. The flavour is so strong that I have littered many a table with the remains of green olives that I’ve tried and not enjoyed. Much to the chagrin of the people who owned the tables, I might add. I tried these with understandable trepidation, but I needn’t have worried. Yes, the olive has a strong flavour of its own, but married with the crunchy garlic in the middle it’s a delight. Both the flavour and texture of these stuffed olives made them a winner for me. This is why you have to keep trying foods, even if you think you might not like them. Nothing bad will happen if you don’t, but something wonderful could happen if you do.

The second item I have to rave about is the jar of anchovy fillets. I have had anchovies before and found them too salty, or been put off by the little bones in them. I know they’re only soft, but I don’t like the feeling on them between my teeth. I am not a bone crunching Roald Dahl giant, and eating round the bone is fine for a pork chop but trying to do so with an anchovy leads to mess, despair and funny looks. Believe me. These anchovies looked nothing like any I’ve tried before. They are huge, compared to those skinny ones you get in jars, and not a bone in sight. The flavour, though, is the main thing. They are pickled, and the sharpness of the vinegar against the wonderful, rich, oily fish is the perfect balance. They are like mini sardines, I had to check and double check that I wasn’t getting my fish mixed up.

I loved the anchovies so much that I made up little skewers with them, the olives and some other bits I had in the fridge. These were inspired by a recipe in the rather beautiful cookbook, Movida Rustica, with the exotic name Banderillos. My version combined anchovy fillets, kalamata olives, soy-pickled chili rings, cheddar cheese and cornichons. Alright, perhaps not exactly the culinary orchestra you might expect, but haven’t you ever heard of fusion food?



You can see the photo of the original in the background there – they look kind of like a little face. Quite a surprised face, at that. Mine were a great little snack, and I felt quite the lady making them all for myself. Food on sticks – it’s hard to beat, you know.


I must thank Silver and Green, and Rachel, once again for their kindness, and I can recommend that, if you see these products, you go ahead and buy them. They have the Rock Salt seal of approval.


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