Friday, 5 November 2010

Seriously Good Sauces for a Seriously Good Cause : Comic Relief

Whenever a new celebrity-endorsed product hits the shelves, I must admit that I always wonder how much input they actually have in the products they have their faces splashed all over, but Gordon Ramsay does seem to have got properly involved in Seriously Good Sauces. They explain, "Comic Relief has teamed up with Gordon Ramsay to launch a new and exclusive range of Seriously Good cooking sauces, developed in Gordon's kitchens by his team and overseen by the man himself. On shelf now in selected major retailers across the UK, every jar helps Comic Relief – Gordon will not be making a penny. Simple as that." When you know that these sauces were in development for three years, you know you'll be getting some great-tasting products.

I always think that Gordon Ramsay is a brilliant chef but personality-wise, he's very scary and seems to take himself very seriously. I suppose you have to be to maintain the high standards required in a top restaurant but even so, he never comes across as particularly smiley or likeable. I therefore love the labels on the Comic Relief jars, showing a surprisingly light-hearted Gordon with a blob of sauce on his nose ! Yes, I know the red sauce Comic Relief nose was probably just photoshopped in afterwards but even so, it makes him seem more approachable and friendly ! (Oooh I've just had a little message from the people at Seriously Good Sauces to say "Thought you might be interested to know that the sauce wasn’t photoshopped onto Gordon’s nose for the packaging. We actually shot him with sauce on his nose for the authentic look !!" Maybe I've got him all wrong and he's a lovely guy really !)

But enough about the packaging and on to what counts the most - the sauces ! Coming from a top chef, I had high expectations. The concept sounds good : "All the sauces in the Seriously Good range are cooked using a slow authentic cooking process with the vegetables and herbs added toward the end of the process to ensure they keep their flavour. This slower method is much like the traditional methods used in Italian cuisine and allows the natural sweetness to come out of the tomatoes and the sauce to maintain its deep rich red colour." I must admit that my first impression was that these sauces did taste and look more homecooked than the majority of sauces in jars.

The range comprises five sauces : Bolognese & Red Wine; Spicy Red Pepper & Spianata Sausage; Tomato, Black Olive & Mixed Herb; Cherry Tomato & Balsamic; Wild Mushrooms & Mascarpone. Seriously Good describe them as follows :

Spicy Red Pepper & Spianata Sausage - A chunky piquant tomato sauce with spicy cured Italian Spianata Piccante sausage, smoked paprika, red wine and chillies – blended to create a delicious sauce with a touch of fire in its belly. Authentic Italian Spianata Piccante sausage comes from the Calabria region of Italy, while peperoncini (chilli peppers) add texture and a kick to the sauce. Serve with pasta or as a base for chicken, fish or pork. You won’t find anything else quite like it.

Bolognese & Red Wine - An authentically rich tomato Bolognese sauce. Made with balsamic vinegar, red wine, thyme and sundried tomato to enrich the colour and flavour, try Seriously Good Bolognese & Red Wine Sauce with mouth watering spaghetti bolognese or lasagne. Perfection.

Tomato, Black Olive & Mixed Herb - Ripe tomatoes, black olive slices, tangy capers and red wine – this is a sauce bursting with Mediterranean flavours. Perfect to complement roast lamb or fish, or simply tossed with pasta, rice salads or boiled new potatoes. Excellent.

Wild Mushrooms & Mascarpone- A lusciously creamy sauce that blends porcini & chestnut mushrooms with tomato, mascarpone and parmesan. The porcinis add a nutty flavour to the sauce, while the mascarpone adds a creamy rich dimension. Our parmesan comes from the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia & Modena in Lombardy, Italy – and is aged for a minimum of 12 months. A real treat.

Cherry Tomato & Balsamic - Oven roasted cherry tomatoes and a dash of 12 year old balsamic vinegar from Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy make this smooth sauce the perfect blend of intense flavours and natural sweetness. As a finishing touch, throw in a handful of sliced black olives, toasted pine nuts or crispy fried pancetta. You’ll love it.

I love all the little details that show that Gordon has handpicked the highest quality ingredients possible and it does show in the taste. The flavours seems much more rounded and intense than most jar sauces. There is no way you'd ever mistake these for budget supermarket own brand sauces ! If you're in a rush, you can just add a jar to pasta or leftover cooked chicken and rice for an instant meal but if you have the time, you can incorporate them into some really delicious dishes (recipes here). The jars are bigger than most so they're ideal for feeding a hungry family and the great news is, the kids loved them as much as the adults.

And for every jar you buy, you're making a donation of at least 10p to Comic Relief, a charity close to Gordon's heart. He first became involved with Comic Relief in 2002 when he ran the London Marathon in aid of Sport Relief. In the same year he visited Tanzania with Lenny Henry to help raise awareness for the Child Hope Project which helps abandoned and neglected families with no home. He has since shown his commitment through a number of different initiatives including doing the Sport Relief Mile with Prince William in 2004. Moved by the children he met in Tanzania, Gordon made a commitment to work on project which could help raise funds throughout the year, which led to the development of the Seriously Good range.

Gordon Ramsay comments: “This is something I feel very strongly about. The idea behind the sauces is they are something that I could do to help 365 days a year. I’ve seen first hand the difference money raised through Comic Relief can make not just internationally but right across the UK too. For every jar that is removed from those shelves, 10p goes to fund projects doing great work just like Kids Company. If we can make even a small difference then it’s more than worth it”.

Awwww, maybe I've got him all wrong and he is a really nice bloke really ! In any case, his sauces are as Seriously Good as the name suggests so I can think of harder ways to raise money for Comic Relief !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £1.89

Other reviews you may be interested in :
Seriously Good autumn recipes from Gordon Ramsay for a Seriously Good cause, courtesy of Seriously Good SaucesSupport our soldiers this Autumn, with Hovis Seed Sensations
Antony Worrall Thompson's Pudsey Pud recipe for Children in Need 2010
New For One pasta sauces from Loyd Grossman
Sacla Italian Tomato & Olive Stir Through Sauce

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