9 Mar 2013

Review: Fuizion freeze dried food

I thought I'd give my impression on the Fuizion freeze dried meals that I bought for the winter hike I did. I'm going to rate these meals as I would food that I'd get at home as it's what I'm most familiar with.

Why Fuizion?
I decided to give Fuizion a go as I'd seen good reviews and read that they have been used by a number of expeditions and sailing teams. My logic was that people who go sailing have tons of money and must like to eat well when away from home :) They meals are quite expensive at around £6.50 to £6.99 for main meals and £5.80 for the desserts I tried but they are produced in the UK by a British company which helps justify the expense.

I ordered 6 meals and 6 deserts in total which came to just shy of £90 including shipping to the Czech Republic. I had a few problems ordering on my iPad as there seemed to be some formatting problems with buttons and quantity entry boxes but when I moved to my laptop all was well and the transaction went smoothly paying with google wallet.

There was a slight hiccup however, when the delivery arrived one of the main meals were missing, I contacted Fuizion, I got an apology and the missing meal sent with no fuss which was very good.

The main meals involved adding approx. 300ml of hot water to the bag and letting it stand for about 12 mins. I put mine in a DIY cozy to keep it hotter during rehydration.
The deserts required 150ml each and and 8-10 minute rehydration time.

The meals themselves
From now on I'll describe each meal individually in the order that I tried them.

Lamb stew with pearl barley:
This was my favourite meal of the trip, considering the size of the pieces of lamb it rehydrated very well however there was still the odd crunchy bit now and again. You got a real taste of lamb that had a nice consistency considering it was freeze dried, the sauce was good too, not too thick or thin and the pearl barley fully hydrated and thickened the sauce. I'm not a big guy or a massive eater and this really satisfied me, I had a desert after too, the balance if you are having a meal and desert together was just about right for me. The meal was 575kcal.
Rating: ****

Rice pudding with fruit.
This desert stayed in rather large chunks if you just added water and stirred, I'd recommend smashing it up a bit beforehand to increase the surface area for water to rehydrate it. Apart from the lumps the rest made a nice creamy sauce with good amounts of real fruit in there. The crunchy lumps actually made a nice texture difference from the rest though. The overall taste was fantastic, it is probably the best desert I've had outdoors, it was very sweet though so may not be to everyone's taste. Together with the main meal it filled me up perfectly. This desert was 843kcal. Rating: *****

Chicken and bacon pasta in a cream and white wine sauce:
This meal was probably my least favourite of the trip, it rehydrated fine but even with the correct amount of water in it was rather watery. There wasn't really much depth of flavour considering the description and was a lot like a chicken soup, it wasn't bad but I just felt like it needed something more to add a little more interest. Due to the wetter consistency I felt that it didn't fill me up as much as the lamb the day before. This one was 571kcal.
Rating: **

Chocolate and orange rice pudding:
The preparation for this one was very much the same as fruit rice pudding in that it suffered from the odd lumps that didn't completely rehydrate. It was very much the same flavour as chocolate reddy brek I had as a kid with added body from rice and the lumps, I didn't get much more than a faint suggestion of orange though, a bit more would have been nice. I used the recommended amount of water but I felt this one could have done with a drop more as it stuck to the roof of my mouth a little. The deser certainly filled my up like the rice pudding the night before and left me feeling content after a main meal too. This one was 874kcal.
Rating: ***

Chilli con carne:
Chilli is a difficult meal to get right, it's quite simple but it's very easy to end up with a slightly bland chilli, unfortunately this was one of those chillis. I like my chilli with a nice and rich with a thick sauce, this one however was a little watery despite using the correct amount of water, the flavour was OK but lacking a bit of punch in terms of spice and richness. Don't get me wrong it was an OK chilli but just not up to a home made chilli that I like. Calories in this one 511kcal.
Rating: ***

Overall I was reasonably impressed with Fuizion meals, it would be easy to knock them for not being as good as home cooked meals but all dehydrated meals are always going to struggle in that regard. They're much better than the dehydrated meals I've had in the past those being raven meals. However I have to admit that I haven't tried mountain house or some of the other higher quality dehydrated meals which is why I compared them to home cooked meals, it may not have been fair but at least it gave a baseline to measure them against.
The calories may seem a little high but if you're out walking for a few days it's nice to have a nice hot meal that will replenish your stores for the next day especially in winter.

Would I buy again?
I'd definitely get the fruit pudding and lamb again, the fruit pudding in particular I'd be happy to eat that at home, the others I'd probably not bother and would like to try some of their other offerings instead, the all day breakfast, lamb tagine, Thai green curry, beef and ale stew and chicken tikka masala sound like worthy candidates.

27 May 2012

A walk in Kokořínsko

Last weekend I made a trip to Kokořínsko which is a national park in the centre of the Czech Republic. I went with a couple colleagues from work, there were meant to be more but some last minute rearrangements meant an early start and many people backed out. This turned out to be a bonus as with fewer of us we stopped less and managed a good distance.

Our start point was Nádraží Holešovice bus station in Prague, from there we got a bus to Chudolazy. Once at our destination we walked directly east along the blue trail until we too the green trail north. We wanted to see the old castle carved into the sandstone rocks so took the yellow trail, at the viewpoint we had lunch sitting ont he edge of the cliff overlooking the valley below. You can find a map of the national park here

We then made our way towards the old castle, it was used in the 1400s and is quite impressive and you can scramble up to a couple rooms carved down into the rocks.

After checking out the Castle we then made our way towards the village of Nedvězí following the yellow trail, it takes you over the hill which at 458m is the highest point for quite a few miles around and provides good views. As it was quite warm this really took it out of me, in cooler weather I would have been fine but my head was thumping at the top and I had to take a couple minutes to regain my composure at the top.

We followed the yellow trail east through Nedvězí past a religious shrine, a lime tree (the Czech national tree) and a swing on the lime. We then headed on to Dobřen which is a town that has beautiful houses with whitewashed and walls and stained beams. We then headed north to another trail that winds itself along the foot of sandstone cliffs that have worn into interesting shapes.

From there we headed south to Ráj and then onto Mšeno where we ended our day at approximately 30k done. From there we took the train from Mšeno to Mělník and then a short bus ride back to Prague.

On this trip I wore a new pair of shoes that I had got for walking in summer as my boots would have been overkill for the trails, hotter and more tiring moving their weight with each step.

After checking the models stocked at my local outdoor store I went online, did some research and narrowed them down to a few pairs that suited my needs. I went to the store and tried the shortlisted shoes on extensively, walking around the store and ended up with a pair of Salewa Fire Tails. Some shoes when new feel different, not bad but you can feel them on your feet, these felt like I was wearing nothing which is a very good thing.

This was their first trip out and they were great, I wore a pair of Alpkit hiking socks and even without any breaking in and doing 30km they gave me no blisters at all. At the end of the day I had a slight hot spot on the ball of my left foot but that only came on later in the day when I was tired and makybe not planting my foot quite properly. The sole is Vibram and grip it gives is phoenomenal at least on dry surfaces, I'll have to see how they cope in wet conditions at a later date.

27 Feb 2012

The journey begins...

This is my first blog and what better subject matter than my favourite hobby, the great outdoors. 

Currently my aim is to create an English language blog of my adventures in the Czech Republic, where I go, how I get there, what I took and what I saw all interspersed with comment on news and maybe a review or two of my current kit and any new items. Essentially a blog like all the rest :)

I am a self confessed gear head and feel that I spend more time reading reviews about and lusting over the latest and greatest shiny things. I need to just get out and enjoy the outdoors more, after all equipment is just something that allows us to get out and not the reason for getting out! Or that's what I try to tell myself.

Things may start off a bit messy as I find my feet and play around with layouts and fonts, however I do promise you original content and hopefully an insight to the great outdoors of an often overlooked country in central Europe with a lot to offer.