British Columbia

We tried a bunch of Christmas-themed food and drink so you don't have to

Should you buy those turkey stuffing potato chips? What about that ham-free Christmas ham?

The festive season is upon us — and so are the Christmas novelty foods!

We tried all of these in the name of public service. (CBC)

The U.K. has already grabbed the 2021 gold medal for Christmas novelty abomina-- I mean, food, with its Seriously Good Terry's Chocolate Orange Mayonnaise — billed as a "world-first festive mash-up you didn't know you needed" — and Christmas Dinner Big Soup which, according to The Guardian, "tastes like punishment."

But Christmas-themed foodstuffs abound in B.C., too. So, we thought we'd taste-test a few in the name of public service.

Our quest? To answer the following: 

Just because they are seasonal, should you try them? 

Are they ho-ho-ho? Or just ho-ho-horrible?

First course: beer. Because beer!

Three cheers for Christmas beers! (CBC)

Whistler Winter Dunkel

Whoa — who stuffed the Terry's Chocolate Orange in the bottle?! This is not a beer for someone who doesn't like flavoured beer. But if you do, there's heavy cocoa on first taste and you get a heavy whiff of chocolate at the top of every glass. It is apparently a gold-medal winner, chocolates and beer all wrapped into one. Throw in a slice of bacon and it's nearly all the sins in one bottle.

Bridge Brewing Santa's Sac Strong Golden Ale

'Twas the night before Christmas and children did fear
That Santa would forget them with a taste of this beer.
The 10 per cent alcohol might lead him to ruin
As with every new sip he thought, "Now what was I doin'?"

Enough poetic waxing. Step aside cookies and milk, this is the winter warmer designed to take the edge off Santa's day, though given the alcohol content he should definitely stay away from the sleigh's steering wheel. Brewed in North Vancouver, it's a rich golden ale with a healthy dose of clove. A possible explanation for Rudolph's red nose!

Deep Cove Ginger Snap

Another North Vancouver-brewed beer, this was surprisingly tasty. I'm not a guy who loves flavoured beers but the ginger snap comes at the end of a refreshing British-style brown ale. The flavour was not overwhelming; a little spicy, but not tongue shrivelling. The perfect accompaniment to a chip…?

Appetizer

Frank Feels Stuffed Turkey Stuffing Chips

These taste exactly like classic roast turkey stuffing — if one accidentally spilled a cup of sugar into the turkey cavity. Still, after about 10 chips I acclimatized to the sweetness and, well, let's just say Santa is now SOL for a turkey stuffing chip snack when he comes down the chimney.

Even the dog didn't mind the turkey stuffing potato chips. (CBC)

Western Family Turkey Stuffing Kettle Chips 

It's not often Shakespeare applies directly to potato chips, but there's a bit of "A rose by any other name would smell as swell' vibe going on with these bad boys. Like, in another place and another time, they might pass for "Roast Chicken Delight" … "Roast Beef with all the Fixins'" … or even plain old "Salt and Pepper." Not to say you won't eat the whole pack because, at the end of the day, they're still chips, right?

Main course

Tofurky Plant-Based Ham Style Roast 

Tofu masquerading as turkey masquerading as pig seems one too many degrees of meat substitute separation, and the eerie orange glow and squeaky mouthfeel did not conjure up warm memories of Christmas dinners past. However, flavour-wise, this was surprisingly hammy for a hamless ham. Best use might be to cube and sprinkle on KD.

Despite its eerie orange glow, the hamless ham was surprisingly hammy. (CBC)

Gardein Stuffed Meat Free Turk'y with Gravy

If you can't enjoy the season's eatings without something at least approximating turkey, this meatless dish is a great option. You'll likely miss the "e" in Gardein's patented Turk'y product more than you'll miss the bird itself. The faux fowl is spiced, breaded and wrapped around a stuffing centre. The gravy I could do without. Something about the smell. And the taste. But I enjoyed my Turk'y roll without. And in the end, it kind of all comes down to stuffing. Is a theme developing? Is someone working on stuffing-flavoured beer?

Two thumbs up for the nogs. (CBC)

Nogs

Earth's Own Oat Nog

Of all the milks, oat milk is easily our least favourite, with its wrung-out dishtowel water taste. But add super sugary eggnog flavouring and, like a Christmas miracle, the ghastliness disappears. We served ours with rum. Excellent source of holiday cheer, indeed! 

So Delicious Dairy Free Coconog

What stunned me with this product was how little it tasted like coconut. Call it the power of suggestion, but I went into this dairy-free drink thinking it would taste like a Christmas pina colada. But it tasted like … eggnog. In other words, sugar and nutmeg. It leaves a little bit of a coat on the tongue, but that's not that much different from a lot of mass-produced milk-based eggnogs. Add some rum or brandy and you won't notice the difference. Blend it together with meat-free Turk'y and stuffing and the sky's the limit.

Some people like Christmas pudding. Others don't. (CBC)

Dessert

Matthew Walker Classic Christmas Pudding

Moist, dense, rich and so sweet it makes your cavities ache. This single-serving pudding is perfect for a lone holiday celebrator or a family with really, really small appetites. Pro fruitcake people would probably enjoy this but Karin wouldn't touch it with a 39 and half-foot pole. Unless there's a pothole that needs filling. Jason, on the other hand, never met a Christmas pudding or fruitcake he didn't love — this one included.

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