One of the main British brand-names in the market (I almost started with “the epitomy of..”, but realized there was Waitrose, Harrods, and many more which my ignorant self probably won’t be able to name), Marks and Spencer, or more affectionately known as M&S, doesn’t offer much of a cereal range. Pretty much the same cereals are available here in the UK as those I recall from my early teens, visiting an M&S in Singapore. Those of you in the know will have had the all-too-familar Marks & Spencer’s Triple Chocolate Crunch, Summer Berries Flakes, and their range of instant porridges.
Today we’ve got Summer Berries Granola, sold in a bag form. I actually like the Artwork on this. It’s got impressions of plants – leaves, ferns, corn crops, etc., with an avant-garde font to boot. Clearly aimed at adults here: I think the font itself needs some deciphering given its medieval hue, as I hope you can see from the picture.
I was surprised when I opened this open-and-reseal-ziplock bag. A fresh, lingering aroma of raisins and cranberries met the nose; and the sight of HUGE, plump raisins caught my eye. Smatterings of cranberries were there as well. Wow.
I retracted that “wow” soon enough. That’s too much fruit. Look at this. How much oat have we got? How many oat crumbles do you count?
More of a muesli than a granola then, since we’ve got more oat crumbs then huge granola chunks (which we all know we love and adore for that hefty bite). Furthermore, on a closer inspection, I’d realized that the initial impression of “too much fruit” was aided by the small crumb size. The large raisins and cranberries had settled at the top: the little oat crumbs gone to the bottom. That meant that some shaking had to be done.
Let’s get down to it.
As expected, the texture was gritty, with a chew of a dense, voluptuous raisin in EVERY bite. I actually liked that. Most wouldn’t like so many raisins in their granola or muesli; but note that these are LARGE, JUMBO raisins we’re talking about, so the chew fills your mouth with a burst of jelly and flavour. The cranberries weren’t so amazing though.
Then, a surprise. Some seeds; some grit, some distinct sour-berries. Ah! Dehydrated strawberry pieces. So small that they were mere red specks next to the rest of the fruits. These were impressive – sharp, clear, piercing.
(I can’t help but descend into a discussion on taste now; the texture of this cereal melds so well with the fruity bursts)
Yes, I couldn’t help thinking “strawberries & cream” when the bursts of strawberry came through the milk. With the oat chunks imparting a “flapjack” aroma (without the butter-taste; just sweet oats) to this, it was like having a strawberries & cream tart.
A pity there weren’t that many strawberry bits. I guess we could go the same way to say that we had a “Raisin cream explosion”, but that just isn’t the same.
The fruitiness of this granola got to me. Summer Berries indeed.
The oat crumble was bad on the textural note: minor chunks barely matching my thumbnail, with small crumbs making most of the bag. The saving grace is that the aromas of oat were fresh: each oat grain had a flavour on its own that was not dependent on some lame-duck sugar syrup, but (wheaty?) goodness which lingered in the mouth to round off a wholesome, breakfast finish.
I was impressed with the nutritionals, initially. At 370kcal/100g it’s much less calorific than your typical granolas. However on further research / inspection, I realized that could be attributed to the high fruit content: 33% fruit, hence almost akin to a typical high-fruit muesli. (Compare Alpen’s no-sugar muesli, and Dorset Cereal’s high-fruit varieties). Not much protein at 9g /100g, as expected. It’s fruit, after all.
This one’s a winner, in my book. Even though the oat crumbles failed size-wise, we have a truly “mature” breakfast granola here. The fruit flavours come through nicely – distinct, crisp strawberry and dense, deep raisins: and these match the flat-ish oat depth as a canvas.
Oh; did I mention that it goes well with milk too?
-The Exercising Male