My parents love to play the Aldi guessing game every Christmas.
"Guess where this ham/lobster/pudding/cake/crab/hammock/laptop/lawnmower/violin is from."
"I don't know. Aldi?"
"Yes! You would never think it though, would you"
"Well, I think I just said…"
"Now, how much do you think it cost? You'll never guess."
The German supermarket chain is a big fan of yuletide specials. "Create the perfect Aussie Christmas with Aldi," says the website. Can you though? I spent three days eating as much as I could from Aldi's Christmas range to find out if any of it was worth putting on the table.
Each item was scored for taste and appearance by an expert panel of me. It's not a comprehensive list - the whole turkey wasn't in shops yet, for instance, and the website lists almost 100 items in the Christmas "Sweets and Treats" section. However, the key items are accounted for and it should stop Dad putting frozen turduckens under my nose. (Although I understand he's now discovered Costco, so maybe not.)
Specially Selected Vintage Christmas Pudding 700g, $13.99
Aged for 12 months and hand-made in the Hunter Valley, this pudding is boozy, rich, fruity and full of spice. A worthy substitute if you forget to put your order in with Newcastle's Pudding Lady.
Specially Selected Golden Champagne Pudding 900g, $9.99
You're doing well to taste any champagne, but whatever. This is all about cherries and nuts and big, fat sultanas. It also comes with edible gold glitter for a kitschy sprinkle.
Specially Selected Luxury Christmas Cake 800g, $10.99
Handsomely decorated with pecans, almonds and cherries, this isn't a bad cake even if it does need more brandy. The perfect emergency gift for when neighbours pay a visit with unexpected presents.
Specially Selected Luxury Hazelnut Encrusted Panettone 750g, $14.99
I dig it. Especially the crunchy hazelnut icing. To hell with using a knife on this Italian Christmas cake. Tear it apart and dip in home-made zabaglione. You could make a cracking bread and butter pudding from it, too.
Frozen Extra Large Tiger Prawns 1.5kg, $39.99
Meaty tiger prawns from Western Australian waters. Thaw the dudes out and they're ready to ride shotgun with a six-pack on Boxing Day.
Salted Caramel Mini Steamed Pudding. Close the blinds and eat straight from the tub. Photo: Supplied
The Cake Stall Salted Caramel Mini Steamed Pudding, two pack, $3.99
Close the blinds, press play on Gilmore Girls, and eat these straight from the tub.
Specially Selected Shortcrust Pastry Mince Pies, 6 pack, $4.99
There's a lot of shortcrust pastry but it's buttery enough so I don't mind. The fruit filling also has the right balance of sweetness and booze.
Premium Triple Smoked Half Leg Ham, $10.99 per kg
Sweet and smoky and slightly nutty. No dominant flavour means this is a beaut ham canvas for for your favourite glaze. (It was also named "best value for money" in the great Good Food ham taste-test).
There's better end games for these crabs than mustard sauce. Photo: Supplied
Frozen Blue Swimmer Crab with Creamy Dijon Mustard Sauce, 800g, $23.99
Aldi suggests you to pick the meat out of these pre-cooked blue swimmers and mix it with the accompanying mustard sauce. Do not do this. If you're going to the trouble of picking crab meat from three perfectly decent crabs, there's better end games than drowning it in sugary mustard muck. Crab toast on Christmas morning, say.
Aldi Turducken: mainly chicken. Photo: Supplied
Turducken 1.5kg, $29.99
The turducken is a questionable concept at the best of times (a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey) so my expectations for Aldi's frozen chimera were low. Turns out that it's fat and juicy and mainly chicken. A cranberry and apple stuffing might be the best part. The box says the turducken will serve 10 people, but I reckon you would be stretched to feed six.
Frozen Lobster Tails with Garlic Butter Glaze 380g, $29.99
A tale of two tails. One sweet with fall-apart flesh, the other stubborn and leathery. These Caribbean-harvested crustaceans wouldn't be out of place at cruise ship buffet. If you're hanging for lobster at Christmas, try and source Australian gear. Pricier, yes, but so much more delicious.
Berg Deli Australian Half Leg Ham, $6.99 per kg
It's a person of great self-control who can pass a fridge in possession of ham and not tax a slice. This half leg's saltiness makes it highly snackable for Boxing Day, which is perhaps how Christmas hams should really be judged.
Good luck getting the tree to stand by itself. Photo: Supplied
DIY Gingerbread House Kit 500g, $6.99
You'll need to make your own icing, but this is a cheap way to keep kids occupied for an hour. Or two hours if you splash out on extra lollies for the gutters. Good luck getting that tree to stand unassisted - it seems even the staffer who made the house for its box picture gave up and leant it against the wall.
Christmas Tree Cookies 200g, $3.99
These cream-filled Chrissie trees taste a lot like those rectangular Shortbread Creams found in Arnott's assorted packs. That is to say better than a Scotch Finger, but not as good as a Kingston.
Aldi's scone-like Stollen. Photo: Supplied
Kuchen Meister Marzipan Christmas Stollen 750g, $5.99
The marzipan centre of this German fruit bread isn't half bad when you get to it. It's a shame the doughy ends taste like a scone that never found its place in life.
Specially Selected Flaked Belgian Truffles - Dark Chocolate, 150 g, $4.99
These are quick to melt meaning you'll be licking chocolate off your fingers like a clammy old bird eating bon bons. "Ohhhh. Scrumptious!" Not really. They taste too much of cocoa powder and not enough of bitter dark chocolate.
The Cake Stall Luxury Mince Pies, 6 pack, $3.29
Nope. Drop an extra dime on the "specially selected" ones. The pastry is almost tasteless and the filling needs a big kick up the bum of brandy.
Specially Selected Marzipan Filled Rounds 210g - Orange, $4.99
I've always suspected chocolate and orange have an abusive relationship and these sickly sweet discs are further evidence to the case.
The Cake Stall Plum Pudding 700g, $3.89
Is it a fruitcake that thinks its a pudding, or a pudding that wants to be a fruitcake? I'm not sure. All I know is that it needs to be swimming in custard to be edible.
Specially Selected Luxury Iced All Over Christmas Cake 1kg, $15.99
Wedding cakes in the '80s had less icing that this. So thick. So sweet. Does anyone actually enjoy eating these things?
Berg Glazed Ham Portion $16.99
Oh dear. Manufactured meat. These rubber duckie hams are available with an orange or maple glaze and both options are gross. You could maybe dice them up and use in fried rice, but in no universe is a "ham portion" a table centrepiece.