New performance pack foods in the TORQ Explore Meals and TORQ Explore Desserts ranges tried out on Dartmoor, by Mike Gormley.
I am a little proud to say I was the first ‘journo’ to be given these new TORQ Explore Meal and Dessert pouches to report on. So, in at the start and just a few days later* I am able to report my findings.
TORQ are based in Wales and develop and produce their significant range of products from their Welsh base. They use, where possible, organic and naturally sourced food products to produce their own well researched range of foods and fitness supporting items such as drinks and gels; click here for previous reviews.
I decided to do a full day out on Dartmoor fuelled only by the TORQ products; Breakfast plus Pasta Meal and Dessert for an early evening meal, with snacks to keep me going in between.. This I did because my good lady [aka ‘Nursey’, Ed.] was on a long double shift day at work, so I was off to Dartmoor early doors. It was a grand day and a good choice to do what I had in mind, and it was not that long before I was enjoying my TORQ Explore Breakfast on a hill looking down towards Widecombe in the Moor bathed in the morning sunshine. I know these breakfasts as I have used them for a while now and really do enjoy them.
By the time I got to my breakfast spot I was anticipating what I knew was to come. Some might say I was cheating a bit but, because I could, I had a flask of near boiling water I brought from home. These breakfasts do not need a soak, but I tend to leave mine a while if I can just to let it all cream up a bit. So time for a brew and, in this case, to listen to the distant classic sound of Sunday church bells; a very typical English scene to enjoy my breakfast. This day it was the Banana and Mango option from the TORQ Explore selection. These breakfasts are very fulfilling and so you feel satisfied and set up for the day ahead. You will note in the photo I am using a ‘food flask’, in this case the one from Klean Kanteen as sometimes, if I make an early start and won’t get time to do any prep, I take my TORQ Explore Breakfast ready-made and it stays warm for a while for when I get a chance to eat it.
After my leisurely Sunday breakfast I had to set about burning off some of those calories; in the case of the TORQ breakfasts, over 500. Moving over to the west side of the moor I headed off on foot to explore a few Tors and places not visited for a long time. My drink bottle was water with added TORQ Hydration mixed in; there is a range of these of different flavours. The flavouring of these is quite ‘light’ and not overpowering but enough to give the water a pleasant and very drinkable flavour. Tasty and not sickly sweet, but with some very good ingredients to help you hydrate and absorb the water your body needs when it’s busy. As I was going to be out on the moor for a while, I also took a TORQ Explore Flapjack. Again, there is a good range of these to suit every taste. I love these and they are my go-to snack at home if I need a boost and something ‘fulfilling’. In fact, although quite small one will often be enough to call ‘lunch’ but they make a great booster snack at any time. I have tried many energy type snack bars over the years and without doubt these are my favourites. They have a really pleasant to eat consistency and definitely fill a gap when required.
Following my moorland walk because it was a really nice sunny late afternoon and I was in no rush to get home, it was a case of Sunday Dinner on the moor on a sunny rock with a grand view. What’s not to like? My chosen main meal from the new TORQ selection was an Explore Pasta Meal ‘Supercharged Tomato and Basil’. The packaging tells me this is a 512 calorie meal. Like nearly all TORQ products it is a vegan one to allow them to cover most potential consumers and also help the company to offer their target three year Best Before shelf life. This extended storage life may seem quite long, but if you are planning and stocking up for an expedition and then have to ship it out to the start point a year can soon pass by and these will still have a very useful life even if left as reserves to the end of the exped and perhaps passed on to the next one. So saving waste of product and money.
For afters on this sunny evening, I had Supercharged Apple Crumble. This is a two-pack dessert with a main ingredient which is mixed in with hot water and given a thorough mix to make it creamy and then a sauce added from a squeezy gel pack. It makes a very quick and pleasant dessert, but I have to say on this occasion its title could be a little misleading as it doesn’t really have much ‘crumble’. This said, it tastes good and like the ‘real thing’ which, considering it is a field ration, what can one really expect. Some years ago when on a camping canoe trip in Canada we discovered freeze-dried ice cream! Well, I did have to try it and it clearly was not as it said on the pack, but it did taste like ice cream. I still cannot work out how one goes about freeze-drying ice cream. So perhaps one can read too much into these things but when out in the bush if it tastes good and does the job, does it matter? These two items I had for my Sunday Dinner give you well over 1000 calories to help fuel your activity, whatever that may be and after these two I most certainly felt I had consumed a good and fulfilling meal.
After that day out on Dartmoor I decided I would try a couple of more of these new Explore pouches from TORQ; these, which I prepared in the comfort of home, I have put into bowls. I must say since doing this I now prefer to do it this way; both at home and in the field. Okay, so you get a pot to wash up afterwards but the up side is it is much simpler to mix and therefore rehydrate, if this is required, and much easier to eat. Importantly, it is also easier to get every last bit of these tasty meals without having to dig into the corners of the packet. However thorough you are there always seems to be a dry bit lurking in there somewhere! I am sure most readers will have been there on this one. These meals are dry when opened so it is easy to get them out of the packet and into a container / bowl.
For the main this time it was the Chili Non Carne. As the name suggest this is a meat-free vegan meal. Straight away you get a very appetising aroma to get the juices going. The instructions suggest a 10-minute soak but, as in my experience at least this time is the ‘norm’ for such meals to need a bit more and this holds true for these pouches from TORQ. I ate mine at thirteen minutes and yes, I did time it. I could have given it a couple more minutes which I reckon would have taken the final bit of crunch out of the pasta. This one makes a very tasty and quite tangy main course.
For pud I had the Rhubarb and Custard, which took me right back to long ago at school where we would get semolina for pudding. But in those days, if we were lucky, we would get a spoon of jam on it. This dessert is very different. The powdered contents are rehydrated to a creamy mix to your personal choice. No need to leave this one standing, so good if you are a bit time-limited. Once mixed you then have a tube of gel to stir in to give the rhubarb and custard flavour… and this it does! Once again, the smell tells your expectant system it is pudding time and with a good mix you are ready to go.
Having eaten both main course and pudding I felt very fortified and satisfied I had consumed a decent meal. Recommended.
[images © Mike Gormley]
* Editor’s Footnote: Mike filed this feature last Sunday but as our Deep Recce Strike BCT feature went viral, and as it then looked like it was turning into a very busy week for news, we decided to hold the review over until today (Saturday) because there is usually less news content generated at weekends to bump features down the leaderboard.