Thursday, November 13, 2008

Insider's Report marks 25 years of revolutionary food

Two very important events in my life occurred in 1983: I got my driver’s license and the first President's Choice Insider’s Report was published. Both were revolutionary.

My driver’s license gave me my personal freedom, but the Insider’s Report rocked the world of the staid (or quite frankly boring) grocery industry with much greater impact. Marketing genius Dave Nichol turned “no name” private label products into innovative, must-try grocery items. He and his team travelled the world to find new tastes and sold them to Canadians by telling stories about their travels and explaining why they were must-try products.

I can only assume in the early days there were a few dissenters from corporate accounting, making snide remarks about Nichol and his band of foodies as they racked up Air Miles at their expense. Maybe they didn’t believe that good stories sell product. Nobody doubts now the power of the much-copied Insider’s Report.

The 25th Anniversary Insider’s Report was launched November 11th in Toronto. Martin Jamieson, Executive Vice President, Loblaws Brands, introduced the Report and 145 products were showcased.

We sampled the delectable wild Pacific salmon wellingtons made with Alaskan Pacific salmon certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. The salmon was tasty but the proportion of salmon to flaky pastry was a little off in my opinion.

The Insider's Report has introduced 18 lasagnas over the years but now they think they have perfected the dish with the PC Our Best Ever Meat Lasagna. Chock-a-block with a combination of beef and spicy sausage, a béchamel and then a garlic rapini layer I thought it sounded pretty standard, except for the unusual rapini. But the thing that brought it up to amazing, was the super thin sheets of pasta.

I don't have an aversion to carbs, but in some of the past President's Choice (and other) lasagnas, the sheets of pasta were so thick you needed a steak knife to cut them. With this one, that was not the case. And when product developer Sita Kacker waxed poetically about her lasagna, I was convinced it must contain an entire day’s worth of calories, but not so. At 440 calories, it is not outrageous and worth it.

If you are a fan of the PC Dulce de Leche in the jar, you're in luck: just for the holidays you can get it on top of a cheesecake. PC took their creamy New York-style cheesecake topped it off with tantalizing Dulce de Leche caramel crème sauce. I love the Dulce de Leche on other things but cheesecake just isn’t my bag. It was good and everyone was raving so if you like cheesecake, stock up before it is gone.

We also tasted the Veneto Pumpkin Triangoli that was served with brown butter and sage on a stick for easy eating. The sweet pumpkin filling is combined with crushed ameretti cookies which really cranks up the sweetness but when combined with a savoury sauce they are a knock out. Buy and try, your guests will love them.

And finally, if you take one thing from this years Insider’s Report and run with it, hands down, it has to be the Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels with Sea Salt.

They have Dave Nichol’s stamp all over them. Here's the Insider story: “We happened into a sweet shop or confetteria last December (ok, so I am so there already with them…) and we were surprised to find salted chocolates were the “in” gift.”

And now they will be your “in” gift one year later thanks to the Insider’s Report - that is, if you can stop yourself from eating these dangerously delicious caramels yourself. I am warning you, they are that good and at $5.99, a small indulgence that you can only get at stores that carry President’s Choice products.

Chalk up one more revolutionary year for the Insider's Report. As for me? I still have my driver's license, but 25 years later I've got wrinkles to boot!


Chantal said...

25 years eh. Funny I was only 11 when it came out but I remember it. I remember the commercials. Funny what sticks in your brain. And I have to say, i still love the PC brand. I have tried other store brands with varying success but I always go back to PC.

Beck said...

My husband brought me home a box of the sea salt caramels after a particularily grim day last week! They were DELICIOUS.