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M&S and Waitrose beat budget rivals in Good Housekeeping’s annual Christmas taste test

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ms and waitrose beat budget rivals in good housekeepings annual christmas taste test

M&S and Waitrose & Partners beat rival supermarkets and scooped first place in three categories in a blind taste test of seasonal treats – with M&S bagging best turkey, best gravy and best Christmas pudding.

Good Housekeeping Institute tested 423 products from 52 carefully selected retailers who are offering festive food and drink both online and in store. 

Having run blind taste tests for 21 years, the GH product reviewers divided the winners into various categories, with a new category for Festive Liqueurs.    

M&S and Waitrose were joint overall champions this year, with the former bagging the top spot in the Christmas Pudding, Gravy and Frozen Turkey and Crowns categories. 

Waitrose came out on top for its Christmas Cake, Champagne and Yule Log – while the best mince pie award went to high street coffee chain Costa.

Good Housekeeping Institute has revealed the winners of its 21st annual Christmas taste test. Pictured: The winning turkey, M&S' British Stuffed Oakham Turkey Crown (£28 for 2kg)

Good Housekeeping Institute has revealed the winners of its 21st annual Christmas taste test. Pictured: The winning turkey, M&S’ British Stuffed Oakham Turkey Crown (£28 for 2kg)

Farmison & Co's Luxury Chestnut, Sage & Apricot Pigs in Blankets (pictured) impressed the testers thanks to their crispy salty bacon with hints of sweet apricot and sage

Farmison & Co’s Luxury Chestnut, Sage & Apricot Pigs in Blankets (pictured) impressed the testers thanks to their crispy salty bacon with hints of sweet apricot and sage

Testers said turkey isn't complete without M&S Cook with Onion Gravy (pictured), which has softened slices of onions in a rich and meaty stock

Testers said turkey isn’t complete without M&S Cook with Onion Gravy (pictured), which has softened slices of onions in a rich and meaty stock

Coming in first place for the second year running, M&S’ British Stuffed Oakham Turkey Crown (£28 for 2kg) scored a whopping 92/100, with testers gushing about the smoky bacon-wrapped turkey crown and its sweet onion and sage stuffing. 

Completing the meaty dish, M&S Cook with Onion Gravy (£2 for 350g) came out on top with a score of 81/100. The softened slices of onions in a rich and meaty stock proved popular with testers. 

Budget chain Aldi came second in the turkey category, while Aah! Bisto Onion Gravy Granules came in behind the offering from M&S.

Christmas dinners may be more luxurious this year, judging by the results of the test. 

In the other categories, testers were impressed by Costa Coffee’s mince pies, which beat all of the supermarkets with both their traditional and gluten free festive treats for a second year running.

The brand’s All Butter Mince Pies (£2 for one mince pie) achieved an impressive score of 90/100, winning praise for their crispy, golden pastry and zesty citrus filling with a mixed spice flavour.  

Costa Coffee's mince pies (pictured) beat competitors for a second year running in both the traditional and gluten free categories

Costa Coffee’s mince pies (pictured) beat competitors for a second year running in both the traditional and gluten free categories 

A close second in this category with a score of 87/100 were Iceland’s Luxury 6 Mince Pies which are £1.89 for a pack of six. Costa also topped the Gluten Free Mince Pie category for the second year in a row, scoring 73/100.

Testers loved the melt-in-the-mouth pastry, and as an added bonus, the mince pies are also vegan-friendly.

In the Mince Pies with a Twist category, PAUL’s Mince Pie Croissant (£2.65 for one) proved to be the testers’ favourite, scoring an impressive 92/100. The flaky, buttery pastry from the croissant was dubbed utterly delicious, combined with the apple-y, fruity mincemeat filling. 

Budget supermarkets Lidl, Tesco and Morrisons also performed well in the taste test this year.

Sainsbury's' Taste The Difference Pork, Chestnut & Bacon Stuffing Parcels (pictured) were voted as this year's best meat stuffing

Sainsbury’s’ Taste The Difference Pork, Chestnut & Bacon Stuffing Parcels (pictured) were voted as this year’s best meat stuffing

For those seeking a Meat-Free Main this Christmas, testers were impressed by the variety of vegan and vegetarian options on offer.  

Lidl’s Caramelised Onion & Goat’s Cheese Tartlets (£1.69 for 2x120g) won the overall meat free category, scoring 82/100 thanks to their winning combo of flaky, buttery puff pastry, creamy goat’s cheese and sticky, caramelised red onion.

An honourable mention was given to Waitrose’s Vegan Festive Swirls (£6.99 for 480g) which was the top choice for vegans, scoring 79/100 thanks to their flavoursome mix of caramelised tomatoes, red peppers, spinach and plenty of herbs wrapped inside a crisp, golden filo pastry case. 

Pigs in blankets are a traditional family favourite, and this year’s must-have is Farmison & Co’s Luxury Chestnut, Sage & Apricot Pigs in Blankets (£7.95 for 300g). 

Scoring 86/100, testers were enamoured by the flavour of the tender pork sausages wrapped in crispy salty bacon with hints of sweet apricot and sage. 

Taste testers voted Waitrose's Christmas Chocolate Yule Log (pictured) as this year's must have treat

Taste testers voted Waitrose’s Christmas Chocolate Yule Log (pictured) as this year’s must have treat 

The most impressive Traditional Christmas Pudding was awarded to the M&S Vintage Christmas Pudding (pictured)

Morrisons The Best Chocolate Orange Pudding (pictured) was chosen as the best dessert centrepiece

Winners: Pictured left: M&S Vintage Christmas Pudding, pictured right: Morrisons The Best Chocolate Orange Pudding

Waitrose & Partners' No.1 Richly Fruited Christmas Cake (pictured) was selected as this year's most impressive Christmas cake

Waitrose & Partners’ No.1 Richly Fruited Christmas Cake (pictured) was selected as this year’s most impressive Christmas cake 

Those with a sweet tooth will be glad to hear the most impressive Traditional Christmas Pudding was awarded to the M&S Vintage Christmas Pudding (£15 for 800g) with a remarkable score of 92/100. 

Testers loved the deeply rich pudding packed full of juicy vine fruits, Christmas spices and booze-soaked nuts. 

Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s secured the number one spot in the Christmas Puddings with a Twist category thanks to its Taste the Difference Salted Maple & Pecan Christmas Pudding (£6 for 400g), which combines an irresistibly nutty salted caramel-like sauce with sweet yet tart vine fruits, scoring 86/100.

Best champagne went to Waitrose & Partners Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Brut NV Champagne (pictured)

Graham's LBV 2015 port - Bicentenary Edition (pictured) won best vintage port

Winner:s Pictured left: Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Brut NV Champagne; Pictured right: Graham’s LBV 2015 port – Bicentenary Edition

Testers said Primo Aperitivo Negroni (pictured) is the best pre-mixed cocktail for this festive season

Testers said Primo Aperitivo Negroni (pictured) is the best pre-mixed cocktail for this festive season 

Ocado's Abbazia Fiorino Prosecco d.o.c. (pictured) is this year's best supermarket own-label Prosecco

Adnams Finest Reserve Port (pictured) is the best ruby and crusted port

Winners: Pictured left: Ocado’s Abbazia Fiorino Prosecco d.o.c., Pictured right: Adnams Finest Reserve Port

For something less traditional and more on the indulgent side, the winner in the Dessert Centrepiece category was Morrisons’ The Best Chocolate Orange Pudding (£6 for 500g). 

It scored 86/100 for its moist and light sponge, gooey chocolate centre and fresh orange flavour.

Completing Christmas celebrations, testers quaffed 11 supermarket own-label Champagnes, with Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Brut NV Champagne (£23.99 for 75cl) impressing the most for its smooth bubbles and beautifully balanced, rich and fruity flavour; it scored 84/100.

In the supermarket own-label Prosecco category however, it was Ocado’s Abbazia Fiorino Prosecco d.o.c. (£9.99 for 75cl) that blew the panel away with an impressive 90/100. This easy drinking fizz has a juicy pear and baked apple flavour with fine, lively bubbles and a smooth finish.

Tesco's Finest Gingerbread Latte Irish Cream Liquor (pictured) was selected as this year's best festive liqueur

Tesco’s Finest Gingerbread Latte Irish Cream Liquor (pictured) was selected as this year’s best festive liqueur 

New alcoholic drink categories for 2020 included the Festive Liqueurs and Pre-Mixed Negroni categories. 

Tesco’s Finest Gingerbread Latte Irish Cream Liquor (£10 for 70cl), was awarded the top spot in the former, scoring 90/100 thanks to its warming, festive ginger spice and creamy richness, while the bitter citrus flavours and moreish herbal notes of Primo Aperitivo Negroni (£27 per 50cl) meant it secured the top spot in the latter with a score of 83/100.

Alexandra Hale, Food & Drink Specialist for Good Housekeeping said: ‘We all know that this Christmas is going to be very different to last year – and that’s why we think the public deserve to know where to spend their hard-earned money to ensure they have the best tasting food and drink possible this Christmas. 

‘We’ve tested more products than ever before and hope that consumers feel as informed as ever as the festive season approaches.’

So what’s worth buying this Christmas?  

FROZEN TURKEYS AND CROWNS (11 TESTED)

Winner: M&S British Stuffed Oakham Turkey Crown, £28 for 2kg. 92/100

Runner-Up: Aldi Specially Selected Stuffed Turkey Crown, £17.99 for 1.8-2.3kg. 88/100

GRAVY (11 TESTED)

Winner: M&S Onion Gravy, £2 for 350g. 81/100

Runner-Up: Aah! Bisto Onion Gravy Granules, £1.50 for 170g. 77/100

MEAT STUFFING (14 TESTED)

Joint Winners: Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference 6 Pork, Chestnut & Bacon Stuffing Parcels, £7 for 252g. 82/100

Farmison & Co Free Range Pork, Plum Pudding & Apple Brandy Stuffing, £6.95 for 450g. 82/100

Runner-Up: Pipers Farm Sage and Onion Stuffing, £11.90 for 500g. 80/100

Bleiker's Smokehouse, Yorkshire Peat Smoked Salmon (pictured) is the best traditional smoked salmon

Bleiker’s Smokehouse, Yorkshire Peat Smoked Salmon (pictured) is the best traditional smoked salmon 

PIGS IN BLANKETS (15 TESTED)

Winner: Farmison & Co Luxury Chestnut, Sage and Apricot Pigs In Blankets, £7.95 for 300g. 86/100

Runner-Up: M&S British Outdoor Bred Pork 12 Pigs in Blankets wrapped in Oak Smoked Bacon, £3.50 for 282g. 84/100

TRADITIONAL SMOKED SALMON (15 TESTED)

Winner: Bleiker’s Smokehouse, Yorkshire Peat Smoked Salmon, £3 for 100g. 87/100

Runner-Up: ASDA Mild & Delicate Smoked Salmon, £4 for 120g. 84/100

FLAVOURED SMOKED SALMON (11 TESTED)

Winner: Booths Gravadlax Smoked Salmon, £6 for 100g. 95/100

Runner-Up: Bleiker’s Scotch Whisky Smoked Salmon, £3 for 100g. 82/100

MEAT FREE MAINS (12 tested)

Winner: Lidl 2 Caramelised Onion & Goat’s Cheese Tartlets, £1.69 for 240g. 82/100

Runner-Up: Waitrose & Partners Vegan Festive Swirls, £6.99 for 481g. 79/100

MINCE PIES (15 TESTED)

Winner: Costa Coffee All Butter Mince Pie, £2 for one mince pie. 90/100

Runner-Up: Iceland Luxury 6 Mince Pies, £1.89 for pack of six. 87/100

GLUTEN-FREE MINCE PIES (11 TESTED)

Winner: Costa Coffee Gluten Free Mince Pie, £2 for one mince pie. 73/100

Runner-Up: M&S Made Without Gluten Free 4 Mince Pies, £2.50 for 205g. 72/100

MINCE PIES WITH A TWIST (12 TESTED)

Winner: PAUL Mince Pie Croissant, £2.65 for 116g. 92/100

Runner-Up: Waitrose & Partners 9 Mini Mince Pies Selection, £3 for 240g. 86/100

CHRISTMAS PUDDINGS (13 TESTED)

Winner: M&S Vintage Christmas Pudding, £15 for 800g. 92/100

Runners-Up: Daylesford Organic Traditional Christmas Pudding, £20 for 900g. 87/100

CHRISTMAS PUDDINGS WITH A TWIST (8 TESTED)

Winner: Sainsburys Taste the Difference Salted Maple & Pecan Christmas Pudding, £6 for 400g. 86/100

Runners-Up: M&S Collection Chocolate & Orange Pudding, £12 for 700g. 84/100

CHRISTMAS CAKE (15 TESTED)

Winner: Waitrose & Partners No.1 Richly Fruited Christmas Cake, £16 for 1.3kg. 82/100

Runner-Up: M&S Christmas Collection Christmas Cake, £10 for 907g. 75/100

YULE LOG (11 TESTED)

Winner: Waitrose & Partners Christmas Chocolate Yule Log, £5 for 825g. 81/100

Runner-Up: M&S Woodland Yule Log, £20 for 1.05kg. 80/100

DESSERT CENTREPIECE (13 TESTED)

Winner: Morrisons The Best Chocolate Orange Pudding, £6 for 500g. 86/100

Joint Runner-Up: Aldi Specially Selected Golden Twist Sticky Toffee Pudding, £5.99 for 700g. 82/100

Joint Runner-Up: 82/100 Co-op Truly Irresistible Fully Loaded Billionaires Dessert, £6.00 for 600g

CHAMPAGNE (11 TESTED)

Winner: Waitrose & Partners Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Brut NV Champagne, £23.99 for 75cl. 84/100

Runner-Up: Aldi Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut, £12.69 for 75cl. 81/100

PROSECCO (11 TESTED)

Winner: Ocado Abbazia Fiorino Prosecco d.o.c., £9.99 for 75cl. 90/100

Runner-Up: Aldi Organic Prosecco, £7.99 for 75cl. 87/100

FESTIVE LIQUORS (14 TESTED)

Winner: Tesco Finest Gingerbread latte Irish Cream Liquor, £10 for 70cl. 90/100

Runner-Up: M&S Luxurious Chocolate Salted Caramel Brownie Cream, £12 for 70cl. 84/100

PRE MIXED NEGRONI (8 TESTED)

Winner: Primo Aperitivo, Primo Aperitivo Negroni, £27 for 50cl. 83/100

Runner-Up: Master of Malt Sacred Negroni, £29.95 for 70cl. 81/100

VINTAGE PORT (8 TESTED)

Winner: Graham’s LBV 2015 – Bicentenary Edition, £13.99 for 70cl. 85/100

Runner-Up: Cálem LBV 2015, £20.29 for 70cl. 79/100

RUBY AND CRUSTED PORT (11 TESTED)

Winner: Adnams Finest Reserve Port, £13.99 for 70cl. 85/100

Runner-Up: Rozes Port Ruby, £12.99 for 70cl. 81/100

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This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Woolworths reopening posts from fake Twitter account says Very Group

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woolworths reopening posts from fake twitter account says very group

Very Group today denied claims Woolworths will return to the UK high street after a hoax Twitter account said three shops will open next year.  

A Twitter account claiming to be from the retailer said the trial stores were set to open in late 2021 – prompting excitement on social media. 

However, Very Group – which now owns the Woolworths name – told MailOnline it had not heard of any plans to open stores, scotching the rumours to the dismay of Woolies fans. 

A spokesman said: ‘We own the Woolworths trademark in the UK. The Twitter account UKWoolworths is not connected to The Very Group.’ 

The chain, famous for its pick 'n' mix sweets and homewear range, went into administration in 2008 and closed all its branches in January the following year

The chain, famous for its pick ‘n’ mix sweets and homewear range, went into administration in 2008 and closed all its branches in January the following year

In 2018, Tony Page, a former Woolies director, tried to revive the brand by purchasing the name – even selling his family home to boost funds – but his bid of £10million was beaten by Very. 

Woolworths opened its first UK store in Liverpool in 1909 and became a much-loved fixture in high streets across Britain. 

The chain, famous for its pick ‘n’ mix sweets and homewear range, went into administration in 2008 and closed all its branches in January the following year.   

In the 1980s Woolies focused on entertainment, confectionery and children’s toys and clothing and – at one stage – was Britain’s largest pop music retailer.

Woolworths UK subsidiary was bought in 1982 by Paternoster, the group that is now known as Kingfisher. 

It demerged Woolworths Group in 2001, floating it on the London Stock Exchange.

The company’s financial problems were exacerbated by the credit crunch, which forced shoppers to rein in their spending. 

A Twitter account claiming to be from the retailer said three trial stores were set to open in late 2021. However, Very Group - which now owns the Woolworths name - told MailOnline it had not heard of any plans to open stores, scotching the short-lived rumours

A Twitter account claiming to be from the retailer said three trial stores were set to open in late 2021. However, Very Group – which now owns the Woolworths name – told MailOnline it had not heard of any plans to open stores, scotching the short-lived rumours

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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School scandal as 600k pupils are sent home due to coronavirus

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school scandal as 600k pupils are sent home due to coronavirus

Almost 600,000 secondary school pupils were forced to isolate at home for Covid-related reasons last week.

The alarming figures from the Department for Education show nearly a fifth of children were off on October 22.

But the majority of those sent home had not contracted Covid and simply had potential contact with someone infected.

Only a minuscule number, or around 10,000, have actually tested positive, the figures showed. 

Almost 600,000 secondary school pupils were forced to isolate at home for Covid-related reasons last week. Pictured: File photo

Almost 600,000 secondary school pupils were forced to isolate at home for Covid-related reasons last week. Pictured: File photo 

Parents’ group Us For Them said state schools were struggling with DfE guidance which has left swathes of children being unnecessarily out of school.

Co-founder Molly Kingsley said: ‘We know some schools are being sensible but we also know others are sending whole bubbles or year groups home. 

JOBS CRISIS HITS YOUTH HARDEST  

Youth unemployment is set to hit the highest level in four decades after the furlough scheme ends this weekend, a report has warned.

Analysis by the Resolution Foundation reveals young people and those from ethnic minorities are bearing the brunt of the jobs crisis.

It found that one in five 18 to 24-year-olds who have been furloughed have since been thrown out of work – the worst jobs crisis for young people since the early 1980s.

A similar proportion of people from ethnic minorities have lost jobs after being on the Government’s furlough scheme.

The report estimated the overall unemployment rate has risen from 4.5 per cent over the summer to 7 per cent last month. 

But it said the jobless rate for 18-24 year olds has almost doubled since the crisis started to 20 per cent.

Kathleen Henehan, of the Resolution Foundation, said: ‘Worryingly, fewer than half of those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic have been able to find work since.’

 

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‘It means we have healthy children who have already missed a lot of schools being sent home again.

‘I think it just goes to show that the rules themselves need urgent review. We ought to move to a system where only sick children are sent home. 

‘Nordic countries are leading the way on this.’

Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield has also previously spoken of the ‘chaos’ in some schools.

She said last week: ‘Some are sending entire year groups home for a fortnight because a single pupil tests positive for Covid, something that is actually against Government guidance and should stop.’

The figures, which exclude schools on half term, also show secondary schools continue to be disrupted to a far greater extent than primaries.

It will pile further pressure on the Government’s plans to steam ahead with exams next summer.

More than 55 per cent of secondary schools had at least one child self-isolating at home, compared to 20 per cent of primaries. 

Between 16 and 18 per cent of schools have needed to send 30 or more children home. 

Overall, school attendance dropped from 89 per cent a week earlier to 86 per cent on October 22.

The figures prompted fresh criticism of Gavin Williamson from teaching unions.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, called the figures ‘shocking’ and accused the Education Secretary of having his head in the sand.

She said: ‘The challenge is not going away, so Gavin Williamson must take steps to expand school space, increase staff numbers and help us maintain social distancing.

‘Instead he is ostrich-like, producing increasingly bizarre responses to attendance statistics that insist black is white and all is well. This is plainly not true.’

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, added: ‘This analysis paints a grim picture of the increasingly challenging situation facing schools with attendance falling amidst rising Covid infection rates.’

Separate figures for October 15 showed the North West and Yorkshire and Humber were the regions with lowest attendances in their secondary schools, at 81 per cent. 

The South West had the highest at 90 per cent.

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘As we would expect, some pupils are self-isolating in line with public health advice, but the average size of those groups is relatively small compared to the total number of pupils on roll.’

The alarming figures from the Department for Education show nearly a fifth of children were off on October 22. Pictured: File photo

The alarming figures from the Department for Education show nearly a fifth of children were off on October 22. Pictured: File photo 

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Coronavirus UK: Lockdowns’ full costs must be given, says Tory MP

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coronavirus uk lockdowns full costs must be given says tory mp
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers, said that figures for excess deaths and lost jobs should be shown alongside Covid-19 statistics

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers, said that figures for excess deaths and lost jobs should be shown alongside Covid-19 statistics

A senior Tory MP has called for the full cost of lockdowns to be disclosed as he highlighted their ‘extraordinary toll’ on mental health, the NHS and the economy.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers, said that figures for excess deaths and lost jobs should be shown alongside Covid-19 statistics.

The influential Tory MP represents a northern constituency, Altrincham and Sale West, which is among those now under the harshest Tier Three restrictions.

In a warning to the Prime Minister, he said that the current lockdown strategy let ‘people fall through the cracks’ and in some cases cost them their lives.

The measures were taking an ‘extraordinary toll’ on peoples’ lives and were having ‘severe’ effects on the economy without continued Treasury support, he added.

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In a warning to the Prime Minister, Sir Graham said that the current lockdown strategy let ¿people fall through the cracks¿ and in some cases cost them their lives. (Above, file image of an intensive care unit at the Royal Papworth Hospital)

In a warning to the Prime Minister, Sir Graham said that the current lockdown strategy let ‘people fall through the cracks’ and in some cases cost them their lives. (Above, file image of an intensive care unit at the Royal Papworth Hospital)

Writing on the Conservative Home website, he warned: ‘Suicide rates are up. People are missing out on life-saving operations and essential care.’

‘Millions are struggling with their mental health as restrictions cut them off from friends, family, and other support. 

‘Domestic violence is on the rise as women are trapped at home with violent partners.

‘Young people, amongst those least at risk from Covid-19, are paying a huge price. School has been disrupted, formative moments and milestones missed, and now many are confined to their dormitories at university. 

‘Does anyone honestly think this is sustainable for a year, or more?’

He added: ‘As we brace for what might be a long-haul fight against the pandemic, the Government must start accounting properly for the real costs of Covid-19.

‘The Department of Health should compile and publish the statistics for excess deaths arising from reduced access to care. 

‘The Treasury should do the same for shuttered businesses and lost jobs.

‘The Government is rightly committed to trying to save as many people as possible. 

‘A strategy which fixates on Covid patients at the expense of letting other people fall between the cracks does not do this.’  

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