Have you been in Marks & Spencer lately? As usual they are pushing the boundaries of unusual culinary delights to be found on a supermarket shelf, with their Summer of Flavour.
They've put coconut, pineapple, watermelon, chipotle or wasabi on EVERYTHING, and this is the BEST THING EVER. It's like a range invented by me, with all meats pulled, everything fruity & tangy and beautiful.
You know where I do my big shop, but I'm no stranger to M&S either. Their food can be a little more pricey, but it's actually WORTH IT, so you don't mind. We aren't talking stupid prices either, and their Meal for Two for £10 is still one of the best value meals from any supermarket.
We visited the Sprucefield Marks & Spencer, Lisburn, just outside Belfast. It's gigantic. It must have everything from the website and more. Stationary, clothing, food hall, then another massive shop of M&S Home.
Here's what I think must have gone down in the M&S kitchen when they invented this product.
"Okay, chocolate covered... we've had coconut before... pineapple? ....watermelon? too messy I suppose... what other flavours have we included in our Summer of Flavour, Jim?"
"WASABI. WASABI PEAS."
"Oh, Jim. I don't think so"
"MAKE IT SO."
(I'll let you know on Instagram later in the week what I think of them).
They may sound weird, but products like this is exactly why I love M&S.
So what did we pick up to try through out this week?
I'm giving coconut water a second chance. I've tried it plain and thought it tasted too much like sweat. But this carton has a whole juiced watermelon in there too, so it's bound to taste nice. Plus I picked it up on the 3 for £5 offer, so it's a bargain.
If you look closely at the yellow carton you can see the pineapple juice has hints of lemongrass and jalepeno chilli in it! Another curious creation.
The fruit snacks are very summery, the Tropical Paradise tray includes little, yellow, coconut & pineapple flavour jelly shells. Tropical Triumph has mango sauce and a shaker of coconut flakes included.
There's my Wasabi Peas again, and a bound-to-be beautiful, £3 coconut and pineapple cake. If you've never tried M&S's £3 round cakes, you are missing out. They are the moistest, most delicious cakes you can buy from a supermarket. Try the toffee one and it'll change your cake buying habits for life.
If you're a macaron fan there is a special summer version of their mini desserts for £5.50.
The Summer of Flavour range has tonnes of picnic food to choose from, and buy four items and you get a free bottle of wine, or if you're teetotal like me, a non-alcoholic alternative. Rather than use these for a picnic, I chose them for some night when I want to make a 'lazy tea'. A little platter of tasty bits and pieces to share, and with 3 packs for £6 it's a good deal.
The Summer of Flavour has reached the takeaway sandwich aisle too. Marks & Spencer have caught onto the trend of all meat being 'pulled'. It's strange, meat didn't seem to be pulled before 2013, now it's like you can't buy pork without it being yanked first. It's like paninis. Before 2005 they didn't exist in the UK, now they are everywhere. See also pizza pre-1985.
Back to the point though, these soft baps are made from a sweet, brioche type recipe and I love them. The sweet, soft baps are available from the bread & bakery section, called Posh Dog Baps they'll impress the neighbours at your next BBQ.
More from the picnic range, these Firebreads are only £3 each, which seems like a great price to me. These do need cooked before you eat them, so bear that in mind if you are dropping into M&S for something to take to a park to eat 'now'. We are going to try these tonight, so again if you want to know what I think & how they look cooked, see my Instagram later.
We Smyths love a wee multi-pack of dips, and I'm looking forward to testing out this smokey selection.
Another item I've tried before, but simply had to include because it's out of this world, their Wasabi Potato Salad. It's part of their 2 for £3 salad pots which includes a great Crunchy Mango Salad pot and a lovely version of Waldorf Salad.
Another wasabi fuelled Summer of Flavour item I've noticed in the past few weeks included wasabi popcorn. Annoyingly it slipped my mind to look for it when I was there today.
The Grill collection is the BBQ type section of the a Summer Flavour menu, and there's lots to choose from. I went for three items from the 3 for £10 range. These sweet potato wedges would make a gorgeous BBQ accompaniment. Also good for making your own at home, pretend Nandos.
The coconut, lemongrass & lime chicken should be amazing, and again the night we do cook and eat these I'll give my opinion on Instagram.
Finally, way-hey it's the pulled pork! My mouth is watering just looking at the picture on the front of the box. Apple BBQ sauce sounds like the thing dreams are made of.
This shop came in at around £45 and you can really make some good savings by reading up on the offers in store.
Oh, and I tried these cashews earlier in the week, coconut & chilli ones. Don't laugh, but the taste reminded me of sugared Shredded Wheat (descriptions like that is probably why I'm not a full time foodie blogger). They are totally yummy.
Check out the M&S website for recipes using their current ranges.
This post was sponsored by M&S supplying the food for review. Thanks, guys!