I was very excited to hear that Sainsburys were going to have a fresh gluten free bread on the shelves this summer. It has taken a little while to percolate through the system to the shelves of our local store, but after several un-rewarded visits I was excited to find 3 loaves on the shelf before the weekend.
I know I am inclined to over-analyse packaging and products, it is an undesirable trait but a necessary part of my job, so here goes! I love the feel of the packaging. The loaf is flow-wrapped in a film with a paper-feel bottom and a clear top that you can see the loaf through. This looks and feels good and the lay out is clear and uncluttered like all Mrs Crimble's products. It is always nice to see gluten free foods packed in something other than yellow and purple packaging, you almost feel normal picking this up off the shelf.
The loaf feels quite heavy but you know from the first squeeze that it is not dense in that long shelf life "only-ok-if-you-toast-it" way that most freefrom breads are. The top of the loaf is dusted in flour which gave the 3 loaves I saw quite a murky smudgey look. Oddly 2 of the 3 loaves were dented at one end (I wish I had taken photos) which suggested that the air circulation in the oven or maybe the temperature at the centre of the oven, wasn't quite right.
So deftly avoiding the dented loaves I reached to the back and grabbed the last loaf, smooth and rounded from front to back.
My basket at the check out raised a comment from the operator, "if only there had been bread like that when my little boy was growing up". I heartily agreed though did say that I was yet to to try this particular loaf.
I didn't try the bread the moment I arrived home. I put it in the bread bin, its' packaging intact, next to the burgen and long life white sliced (urrgh) then just watched it ... and felt quite normal for a change!
Saturday morning arrived and as the clouds gave way to sunshine we decided to dash over to the airshow at Eastbourne for the afternoon's flying display. I glanced round the kitchen looking for my normal lunchbox ingredients of cooked brown rice, nori seaweed, pickled veg and smoked salmon- but we had managed to eat all last night's rice without putting any aside. My eyes followed F's hand as he replaced the loaf from his own sandwich making and fell upon the Mrs Crimble's loaf sitting there. Perfect.
I reached it down and clumsily tore the wrapper off (note to self, cut the end off if you want to re use the wrapper). With a fine toothed bread knife I sawed the crust off the end of the loaf and looked inside. The bread is quite close textured but sliced fine. Either end of the loaf produced small slices perhaps just 7 or 8 cm high but the middle of the loaf would be 3-4 cm higher.
I knocked up a couple of rounds with pepper salami and smoked salmon (not in the same sandwich) and shoved them in my bag whilst running out for the train. I think that was my mistake (not the running for the train bit, we made the train no problem!) but the sandwiches didn't arrive in quite such style. Maybe the slices were a bit small, or a bit thin or maybe my lettuce leaf filling was too thick for the bread, what ever it was the bread had crumbled in the sandwich bag and behaved in the same way as most more traditional long life loaves. I stuck the bread pieces back together and, whilst ducking the wasps on the beach and gazing skywards at the flying display overhead, munched my sandwich.
I so wanted to eulogise about the quality of the bread, I had high hopes and great faith in the Mrs Crimble's brand, sadly though, I am not blown away by this bread. It is fine. It is moist, tastes good (far better than the long life versions), but it doesn't quite hit the high standards that have been recently set elsewhere. I think that maybe I was asking too much of it to cope with a journey in the bottom of my bag without the usual protection of a lunch box to hold it together.
Perhaps I am suddenly too spoilt discovering 2 new breads on the market within a couple of months after years of drought. But the other contender can cope with an afternoon in my bag and still envelope my sandwich fillings without collapse. Even though Mrs Crimble's delivers a moist tasty loaf and makes a great fresh sandwich, somehow, I was expecting a little bit more.
By the way, and in case I forget to mention it again, the air show was great. I love this type of flying, the louder the better and I adore the derring-do flying of the red arrows. We found a great spot on the beach for the first half of the show, moved up onto the hill as the time for the red arrows approached and experienced the amazing site of all the red arrows flying down Wilmington Square directly towards us. Politics apart, it was a great spectacle - and we even managed to get back to the station before the crowds too.
I'm dreaming of eating ... err, it is a bit too hot to be hungry right now!