Does anyone else remember when the President’s Choice brand was (sort of) literally chosen by their president and Dave Nichol’s face was on every Insider’s Report ? Well, I do so for nostalgic reasons it was a pleasure to be invited to tasting this week at the Loblaw Companies test kitchen of the products that will be featured in the upcoming Holiday Insider’s Report.
There are some updated-for-your-convenience grocery store products that really get under my skin. Too often they needlessly complete easy steps for an out-sized premium added to the price. The PC Easy Carve Ham is a product I can live with, though. A whole ham is one of the most difficult pieces of meat to carve so it makes sense that they’ve partially de-boned and left just the shank bone for presentation and a good hand-hold while carving. Naturally hardwood-smoked and with a very low added water to meat ratio this product stands head and shoulders above the tumbled half footballs that dominate the refrigerated cases during the designated holiday seasons.
Between you and me, the CFIA-mandated cook to temperature for this product is overkill. You’ll be perfectly safe and enjoy the results much more if you take it to an internal temperature of 150°F and hold it there for ten minutes.
The PC Fouée Pocket Flatbreads look like mini pitas but have a softer, risen yeast-bread texture. I think the best way to eat these will be to look to their historical inspiration (traditionally French bakers would use small rounds of bread to test that their wood-fired oven was up to temperature) and toast them lightly so that the outside crisps up.
Food on sticks is a continuing obsession and there are both savory and sweet items that I think will do well. The PC Jalapeno Beef Lollipop fit into that category of frozen prepared items that must sell like crazy during holiday party season. More to the point: they’re wrapped in bacon. The featured spot on the cover of the Insider’s Report went to the PC Salted Toffee Cheesecake Lollipops that are an interesting take on the cake-pop idea that also check the currently popular salty-and-sweet-dessert box. These frozen desserts also come in a triple chocolate version and both need a few minutes out of the freezer before serving to be at their best.
The Black label line–upscale products with premium prices that seem to be geared towards capturing the market served by competitors like Pusateri’s–has grown to over 200 SKUs and is still a focus for Loblaw’s. I liked the black label Sangria Cocktail Mixer, but of course, you’ll have to stiffen it yourself. It’s probably the addition of premium, all-cream and egg yolk ice cream (priced at $4.99 for a pint) that will draw the most attention. The first flavour in the lineup naturally is Salted Caramel.