Wednesday, June 18, 2008

From Nirvana to Purgatory (With A Touch of Hell): Fresh & Easy Fan Blogger Offers A 'Pick' and A 'Pan' on Two F&E Store Brand Products Plus More

Fresh & Easy Buzz was the first publication to report, and remains the only one having done so thus far, that one of the major charges Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market gave to the various public relations firms it interviewed earlier this year, and to the firm it ultimately chose a couple months ago, is to make it's fresh & easy store brand food and grocery products and proprietary wines "famous" through getting stories and articles about the products, hopefully favorable, placed and published in various consumer-oriented newspaper food sections and other consumer media. [Just type in: fresh & easy public relations in the search box at the top of the blog to read our coverage.]

That hasn't happened yet. We've yet to find one story in a mainstream newspaper food section or similar consumer-oriented mass market publication about fresh & easy store brand food, grocery or prepared foods items. We might have missed it, but we do monitor such things rather closely.

However, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood fan blogger Oakmonster goes her own way; it doesn't take a PR firm or press release to get her to write about fresh & easy store brand products.

Recently, Oakmonster offered some reviews in her blog, "The Temple of Fresh & Easy." Two of the reviews are on fresh & easy store brand products--ready-to-drink ice tea and fresh fettuccine pasta. one what we call a "pick" (positive review) and the other a "pan," a critical review.

The other two reviews--one "pick" and one "pan" are on products sold at Fresh & Easy but technically not fresh & easy store brands.

Below is her "pick" (positive review) on fresh & easy ready-to-drink ice tea. We like her rating scale: Nirvana, Earthbound, Purgatory:

Iced Tea Variety
My husband is cutting down on his soda consumption and has done pretty well. We have switched to Vitamin Water for a while to get him off the caffeine and slowly off the sugar. But after a while, both of us found them too sweet.

We're not fans of artificial sweeteners. Out goes anything "diet" or "sugar-free" on this end.

So, we tried a few of F&E bottled iced teas. There are a few more we have to pick up, I believe. But here are the results so far.

Green Iced Tea: Refreshing and definitely not too sweet. It does have a bit of a bitter after taste which I like. Totally something I would grab from the fridge coming in from a hot day. My husband loves this stuff.

Verdict: Nirvana

Raspberry Rooibos Iced Tea: The red delicious is probably the sweetest of the bunch with its raspberry essence and a touch of lime juice. It was a little too syrupy to be sipping in the hot sun straight out of the I did, on the beach, during a heatwave. With a glass of ice, that might work better.

Verdict: Earthbound

Moroccan Style Mint Green Iced Tea: This is my favorite of the bunch so far. A touch of mint refreshes is so refreshing and the sweet just comes right in to complement that. A bit sweeter than the green tea, but I fell in love with that minty effect.

Verdict: Nirvana

Chamomile Iced Tea: This one was a little odd. I guess I didn't quite pair chamomile with a splash of lime juice. (As a matter of fact, it seems all of the teas except for original green has lime juice in it. Interesting...) Definitely not big on this one.

Verdict: Purgatory

Generally crazy about Fresh & Easy, Oakmonster is less than crazy about the fresh & easy store brand fresh fettuccine pasta (and her colleague just doesn't like it at all) at Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market. Below is her "pan" (critical review) on the blog of Fresh & Easy's fresh fettuccine.

Fresh Fettuccine
My colleague and I both found ourselves frustrated over the fresh fettuccine from the refrigerated section.

We dropped the bundle into hot boiling water. Whereas other brand of pre-made pasta noodles would gently unfurl and separate, the F&E noodles did not. Okay, unfurling they did, but they didn't separate. There are a few parts that are stuck together and refused to come apart.

I didn't mind too much as I just violently yank them out of the pot. The texture and taste is just fine. Actually, I find them more spongy than other brand and I kind of like that.

My colleague however was sorely disappointed as she kept finding clumps of broken of stuck-together pieces. While the clumps just frustrated me, she absolutely hates that in her pasta.

Verdict: Purgatory

Lastly, although it doesn't appear to be by technical definition a fresh & easy store brand item, Oakmonster isn't pleased with the fresh garlic being sold at Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market at all, regardless of the brand it carries. Her review on the "Temple of Fresh & Easy Blog" of the fresh garlic:

Fresh Garlic
Just because I am obsessed with the store and many of their products, it doesn't mean that I won't give anything a bad review.

As a matter of fact, I have one.I usually get 3 heads of garlic for $1 at Downtown LA's farmers market. Sitting in my little garlic cellar, those puppies seem to last just about forever. Never once sprouts green on me.

Now, over at F&E, heads of garlic came in a mesh pack of 3. I have to jot down what brand was on the label next time, but it was pre-packaged by some company that is not F&E. A week into the cellar, I popped one open to find the cloves started to sprout. Huh. The other heads soon followed.

The second attempt I didn't even pick any up. There were 2 bags of garlic left and both of them were already sprouting. The third try pretty much yielded the short life span just like the first one.

Where every F&E is getting their garlic from, they've got to fire their purveyor. Unless they're doing this on purpose to push folks to buy the pre-peeled or ready-prepped garlic in the refrigerated section.

Verdict: Hell.

Oakmonster digs the Rib Eye steaks at Fresh & Easy though, which technically aren't a fresh & easy store brand item either since they are bought from a meat packer even though they might have a fresh & easy brand sticker on them. And, we must day, she eats well when her husband is away, which is how it should be. Her review and comments on the Rib Eye and related feast she prepared to go along with the steak:

Single Serving
My husband has been out of town all week. I finally ran out of leftover to eat for dinner yesterday, so I headed out to F&E to pick up stuff for dinner for just little ol' me.

I wanted make this rib eye with fried egg and goat cheese thing and I KNEW that F&E carries single rib eye. Almost a full pound of rib eye which I ambitiously cooked up but could only eat half.

While I was shopping in there, however, I realized how awesome the store is for singles and a two-person household.

A lot of the products are packaged in smaller sizes which is absolutely perfect for two like the bagged salads and the fresh veggies. Many of the refrigerated entrees and desserts are definitely sized for one person. I also noticed the pre-chopped veggies by the vegetarian product corner that would work to cook for two.

The smaller portions for things is one of my husband's favorite things about the store. We tend to eat out more than we do in. (He eats according to what sounds good.) Having the smaller packages of produce, we don't really have any unused portion to waste.

Say, like last night, I could have cooked for the both of us with what I bought with no leftover. We would split the 1-lb. of rib eye and a bag of the spring mix salad.But for the chocolate mousse dessert, there is no way I'd split that. ;-D

That's a "pick," rather than a "pan."

Last month in Las Vegas, a member of the Fresh & Easy Buzz Team reported he bought $45.00 worth of Rib Eye steaks that were marked down 50% (two days away from going out of code but still red and fresh) to about $23.00.

He was with a resident of the Las Vegas, Nevada neighborhood where the Fresh & Easy store was located. She had one of Fresh & Easy's $5 coupons, which is good on any grocery order of $20 or more. With the $5 coupon, the pair got the $45.00 worth of Rib Eye steaks for $18.00 for their grilling pleasure that night.

That's a "pick" too, at least it was for the two of them, his pocketbook, and their dinner guests that night. Fresh & Easy's gross margin on the transaction is another story however.

Click here for "The Temple of Fresh & Easy" blog.

1 comment:

OakMonster said...

As always, F&E Buzz, thanks for the link!

There will soon be some all-F&E recipe (as in using F&E products as major ingredients) reviews up here. I sort of did one tonight and hoping to actually go from start to finish with another tomorrow. Might be double post on my food blog and at the Temple.

Will keep you posted!