Meat without Feet!

Product Review: Barefoot Chilli Biltong

I’m starting to develop a keen palate for biltong and other meat snacks so it’s only right that I continue my quest to find the perfect on-the-go protein snack.

As I journey deeper into my quest I am realising that the hunger for meat snacks is growing amongst the early adopters; biltong and jerky are replacing hairy pork scratchings in bars in trendy spots up and down the country.

Rating: 7/10

Appeals to: meat snackers and protein junkies!

Packaging

The packaging is great – it’s simple and let’s the product do most of the selling. The labelling is really simple but effective with the right cues contained within the background. I did find the packaging quite tough to get into, which as a 6ft 2′ former rugby player did mean that I lost man points! My only other criticism on the packaging is the branding itself. As a consumer it’s unclear who’s biltong you’re eating and you could be forgiven for thinking the brand was ‘Spiced ‘n’ Sliced’ as it is much bigger than ‘Barefoot Biltong’. This is only a minor point in terms of product delivery but in terms of brand building it’s a bit of a faux pas.

Price

£3.90 – this is what I’d expect to pay for 100g of good quality biltong. It doesn’t come cheap but it’s well worth it!

Delivery

The first thing that hit me when I eventually got through the packaging was the different smell that this biltong carried over other brands – it was very light and floral and not necessarily what you’d expect.

This is another dry biltong, which isn’t my favourite. However, I did learn from their website that you can specify how you want your biltong (from wet to dry) which I think is a great touch. Not only does it enhance the experience and quality elements but it gives the product a personal touch and leaves you thinking that ‘this pack was made just for me’.

Despite this particular pack not being my preference it was a vast improvement on the Raging Bull brand I blogged about which was dry all the way through the eat. This biltong just needed a few chews to release the flavours and the juices. The heat was quite gentle but it was enough to enhance the quality meat.

Verdict – in a word, wetdry! Meat snacking in the UK is still far more infantile than its counterpart on the continent and unfortunately, as a nation, we are allowing Peperami to lead the way in terms of market share. However, if we band together as a merry artisanal army we can resist low quality meat snacks and feast on quality biltong until we can’t chew any more.

Details: http://www.barefootbiltong.co.uk

Northern Munkee.

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This cow’s got a kick!

Product Review: Gloucester Biltong

I’ve reviewed a couple of different meat snacks now and I think I’m developing a keen taste for it, if I do say so myself!

Everywhere I go I see brilliant biltong in different guises whether it be seasoned within an inch of its life or packaged to appeal to the body building masses it’s a trend that’s not going away.

This review was a recommendation from one of my Twitter following. I love Twitter for lead marketing communications. It acts as a brilliant dipstick into the food world. Everyone’s a critic and the Twittersphere isn’t polite or bashful. It says what it likes and likes what it says. So, if you’re a tasty Twitter treat then I’ll take that as a good measure.

northernmunkeebites.glosbiltong

Rating: 9/10

Appeals to: the more discerning meat snacker, a connoisseurs snack

Packaging

Now in my opinion packaging needs to be appropriate for its surroundings. Imagine this product sat proudly on a shelf in a deli, farm shop or fine food hall – it looks perfect. The labelling effectively calls out the products key features and shouts provenance. The silver foil used for the 40g packs is suggestive of how fresh the product is. Another thing the packaging does do is make it look a lot more appealing than its competitors in terms of portion size.

Price

£2.50 – this price point puts the product at a premium versus the high volume competition such as Jack Links and The Jerky Group but it’s a realistic price when appealing to the hardened meat snacker.

Delivery

Original

The smell of well cared for meat hits you as soon as you open the packet and you know you’re £2.50 was money well spent! The slices of biltong are thick but soft so you’re not left chewing for 30 minutes. The seasoning wasn’t overpowering but left a nice peppery aftertaste. Although the beef isn’t fatty you get a smooth velvety texture as you dissect the meat and release the wonderful juices.

Naga Chilli

This portion looks the same in terms of thick slices but it was speckled with golden coriander seeds. It looks inviting and smells incredible. The taste is outstanding. The first flavour you get has fruity notes which makes way for the release of the velvety caramel of the beef and then finally a heat builds to engulf the back of the throat and tongue. It’s not offensively hot but it’s also not one of these products where you’re left wondering what all the fuss was about. This is a brilliant product and in fact I’m still eating the pack as I’m writing these words!

Verdict – in a word, outstanding. I have sampled a lot of biltong and my preference is normally ‘the wetter the better’ but I may have to reassess that assertion. This isn’t a wet snack but it is amazing. £2.50 might seem a lot for 40g worth of snacks but go and spend £1.25 (twice) on a Cruga Biltong and you won’t think twice about spending £2.50!

Details: http://www.gloucesterbiltong.co.uk

Northern Munkee.

Meat Treats…

Product Review: King’s Snacks

Meat snacking in the UK is still in its infancy when compared to what’s on offer in other markets not so far away, however it’s becoming more and more popular. The market is, relatively speaking, wide open with Jack Links and The Jerky Group leading the way but acting quite complacently. In my opinion, this makes the category really exciting as it gives smaller producers a good chance to offer something different to the consumer and, quickly, build traction.

Jerky and biltong are both varieties of popular meat snacks that differ in origin and only slightly in preparation. Jerky originates from America and is smoke-cooked at a very low temperature. It is usually very sweet and can be quite tough (although it doesn’t have to be like the bottom of your shoe). Biltong hails from South Africa and is cured, air-dried meat. Biltong tends to be a little softer and more flavoursome.

The story from the guys at King’s Snacks resonates with me as I got into jerky and biltong when I was taking my rugby seriously. It’s a great, healthy way to get protein into your body and is much more effective than a lot of the meal replacement shakes that you see those fellas who look like they’re carrying carpets drinking in the gym! King’s Snacks is a brand supported by three rugby-playing brothers and backed by Mike Tindall so the nutritional benefits are inherent within this business.

Rating: 9/10

Appeals to: health-conscious snackers, athletes and just about anybody on the move

Packaging

The packaging is very clever. It’s very clean and crisp which reflects the natural product inside. This product’s packaging also demonstrates a departure from the cowboy or South African bull that seems to adorn any other packet of jerky and biltong from other kindred companies. The portion size is small but it’s inline with the marketplace.

Price

£1.99 – this is more expensive than the market leaders but this does two things: sets it apart as a more premium eat and also drives cash back into the snacking category, which is something that it desperately needs.

Delivery

Rib Eye Biltong

This is just heaven! The wetter the better for me! It looks as good as it tastes. It’s so soft and succulent that you could believe it had just been carved. It isn’t too peppery or salty but the seasoning is just right.

Pork Jerky

Now this is a relatively new one on me, I hadn’t had pork jerky before but, based on how good the biltong is, I was willing to give it a go. I wasn’t disappointed. Unlike the biltong this was very sweet but the meat was very tender and fibrous. I wouldn’t eat this all the time as a snack but it’s a great treat option.

Beef Jerky

This is the real acid test – does it stack up against the lower-priced market leaders? It blows the spots off them! Jack Links and The Jerky Group both have a really tough product that would make a cowboy’s eyes water with the strain of chewing; this jerky really doesn’t. It’s not as soft as the biltong so it does require some bite but it’s very recognisably beef.

Verdict –  in a word, superb! This may sound a little ridiculous but not all jerky and biltong products resemble, in flavour or appearance, the meat from which they are produced. There’s no doubt in the King’s Snack product. So if you’re looking for a healthier snacking option or just a tastier snacking option I suggest you give Mike Tindall a call!

Details: http://www.kingselitesnacks.co.uk

Northern Munkee.

Food Adventures in Harrogate…

Foodies Festival: Day 2

So today’s Foodies blog is focussing on beautiful food products that I’ve found on my adventures in North Yorkshire.

As I was searching the colourful aisles of the Festival I turned a corner and the light that filled the room was obscured. I looked up to see what was shrouding the room and it was the imposing figure of a South African, ex-Bull and fellow Food Adventurer; and so my first food find is a carnivore’s dream…Limpopo Biltong! As an ex-rugby player I love meat snacks; they’re a great source of protein, easily accessible and great tasting. However, be warned: not all biltong is good biltong!

The stand looked phenomenal there were cured meats hanging from every possible space and the smell was incredible. Now, as I said, I do like my biltong and I know a little about it having looked after the category as a Retail Buyer. So, armed with a little knowledge and a lot of enthusiasm, I engaged with the man mountain. He boasted a plethora of flavour combinations including garlic, fiery chilli, biltong scotch eggs, biltong cheese and minced biltong. I was loving it. I opted for the Butcher’s Choice variety and ordered a £5 portion. That wasn’t the end of my interaction though as I was asked, ‘How do you like your biltong? The wetter the better?’ Yes, winner! For me biltong should be soft and melt in the mouth like a good carpaccio of beef.

So, did it deliver? Yes it bloody did! Even though I’m not in training any more I will definitely be snacking on Francois Van Der Zee’s biltong.

My other find of the day was a sweet delight from north of the border: a Maple and Pecan Brownie from Wood’s Brownie Co. Again I was drawn in by the engaging purveyor with his Scotch charm and quirky Pork Pie Hat! It was towards the end of the day and he’d clearly done a good trade as the selection was a little more limited than it would have been a few hours earlier; however, I was still in awe. The stand had a real craft kitchen feel and the packaging was perfectly on trend. Boxed and embossed and adding real value to an already great product.

I managed to wait until I got home to devour my brownie so I could enjoy it with a nice medium roast Latin American coffee – it was worth the wait. The brownie was exactly as it should be: crisp on top and moist throughout. The maple syrup added a creamy richness to the indulgent dark chocolate and the snap of the pecans gave a real texture difference on the eat. Brownie brilliance!

Finally, I just need to rate my lunch. Today’s lunch was provided by the guys at the aptly named ‘World Food’. I went for, what I thought was, a basic chicken wrap; how wrong was I! The wrap was a beautiful behemoth of world-food goodness. It was huge. Imagine the scene…one large naan bread, a smearing of hummus, a mountain of grated carrot, a handful of pickled turnip, a dash of sun blushed tomatoes, a pinch of coriander and a sprinkling of mint topped off with a couple of handfuls of shredded chicken and a network of garlic mayonnaise lines – boom! All this for £8 too, winner!

Roll on the final day in Harrogate.

Northern Munkee.