Waitrose 1 – the New Premium Range from Waitrose

This post is a carefully selected sponsored post, sponsored by Waitrose and written by me, based on my experiences. (Read more about sponsored content on Eat Like a Girl)

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Prepared food has come a long way from days of boil in the bag spag bol, my first early teenage forays into what were then called TV dinners. Exciting then, I had never had pasta before in my life (that wasn’t hoop shaped and had not come out of a tin, at least), we can all agree that if we had those now, we would be a lot less impressed. I am an obsessive cook now and have been for a long time, but I do occasionally indulge in pre prepared meals that make life easier on pressurised days, like when I am back from my travels and exhausted or just busy. I look for foods that are prepared as naturally as possible and that are close to home cooked.

Waitrose have launched a new range of premium carefully sourced products, Waitrose 1 . I am already a fan of Waitrose, it is my local supermarket and where I regularly shop. The Waitrose 1 range is aimed at time poor hungry shoppers who want something very good to eat at home. Comprising 520 different items Waitrose 1 has a wide variety on offer from easy meals to sourdough pizza, desserts, chocolates and coffee. Waitrose 1 also caters for the home cook with items like haddock loins slowly smoked over beech for 14 hours and red deer venison haunch.  

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I attended a dinner showcasing a selection of the new products at the Waitrose Cookery School in Kings Cross. Five of us sat at a bright table surrounded by screens, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but what followed was a wonderful smart journey where the food was accompanied by the scenes and sounds from where it originated.

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We started with some Peruvian Alfonso Olives (£2.99), a plump buttery rich olive grown in the Peruvian farmlands of Tacna. Following this, Scottish Langoustine Mousse (£3.99), a small batch rich savoury mousse with Marc de Champagne, cream cheese and whipped cream. Scottish langoustines are terrific and undervalued. Sweet and firm, I put them along side the best lobster in my estimation. They are fiddly, mind, so this mousse is a good choice for seafood lovers who want something quickly and without all of the effort.

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Venison and celeriac gratin (£3.99) with minced venison cooked slowly with beef stock, juniper and whisky topped with celeriac and potato slices was like a venison cottage pie meeting a potato gratin, except there was lovely celeriac there too.

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The seafood bisque (£5) was on of my favourite courses, and I will be buying this to eat at home. Clams, mussels, king prawns and squid in an aromatic broth of lobster stock, cream, tomatoes and a splash of pastis. The seafood is frozen raw and therefore is tender when cooked. The lobster bisque was also very good, and it is not something that I regularly make at home, it being a bit more of a project that requires time, and a few lobsters. The dish is finished with a pat of garlic and herb butter for extra richness.

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Next was another favourite was Pork Belly with Soy & Five Spice Dressing (£7.99). I adore pork belly, and this was very tender, and nicely dressed. The pork belly is chargrilled first to sear the outside, and then it is slow braised until meltingly tender. The dressing was made from rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, five spice and star anise, a lovely deep and slightly sharp sauce which cut through the meat beautifully. The pork was garnished with chilli pineapple. Which worked a treat.

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The Waitrose baker arrived with dough to show us the dough used in the pre prepared pizzas. We tried the Wood-fired Mushroom, Kale & Gorgonzola Sourdough Pizza (£4.79) with a hand-stretched sourdough base baked in a wood-fired oven, with sauce blanche, roasted oyster and portobellini mushroom, kale and gorgonzola. The base reheated very well, and the flavours and textures were good.

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For dessert we had Madagascan vanilla crème patisserie éclairs (£2.50 for 2), topped with white chocolate fondant and a Madagascan vanilla. I love an eclair and enjoyed these, beautifully presented with a selection of edible flowers.

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We finished with one of my favourite cheeses, Roquefort (£2.99). This is my cheese for a rainy day, and on a challenging one, few things soothe like roquefort accompanied by a full bodied rich red wine. Made with raw ewe’s milk and aged in limestone caves, as is traditional for roquefort. It was served with Charcoal & Sesame Wholemeal Biscuits (£2.49) from a family bakery in Dorset. Addictive, I will be adding both items to my basket on a regular basis.

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I expected to be impressed and I was. My eyes were opened to the possibilities at home outside of what I create in my own kitchen. With the help of Waitrose, of course.