Monthly Archives: August 2009

The fizzy cola bottle is Britain’s favourite sweet, says M&S

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imagesAccording to a survey conducted by M&S, the fizzy cola bottle is the UK’s favourite sweet, beating plain cola bottles at number 2 and rhubarbs and custards at number 3.  

While the overall number 1 was the fizzy cola bottle, men actually voted wine gums as their favourite, cola bottles as 2nd and fizzy colas as their 3rd favourite.

The research, conducted on 4,000 people, also found that women preferred chocolate sweets to men.  

The good news is that M&S is launching a new range of confectionery, which is deemed to be the first ever Pick & Mix to be completely free of artificial colours and flavours to hit UK stores.

Top 20 sweets:
1.      Fizzy cola bottles

2.      Cola bottles

3.      Rhubarbs and custards

4.      Wine gums

5.      Black Jacks

6.      Jelly babies

7.      Bon Bons

8.      Chocolate raisins

9.      Chocolate eclairs

10.     Turkish delight

11.     Sherbet lemons

12.     Flying saucers

13.     Aniseed balls

14.     Pear Drops

15.     Fruit salads

16.     Chocolate limes

17.     Chocolate coins

18.     Percy Pigs

19.     Liquorice Allsorts

20.     Apple and custards

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Haribo branded worst on eco-index while Unilever is awarded green crown

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Haribo has just come bottom in a new eco index that looks at the impact british grocery brands have on the environment – so it’s going straight off my shopping list – and is promptly being replaced by masses of Quality Street.

Researchers at environmental consultancy EnvirUP and Nottingham University worked together to evaluate 100 products looking at packaging, airmiles, energy used in production, fairtrade ingredients etc.  

Unilever products were awarded the eco crown with Persil and PG Tips coming first and second.  Muller Light and Haribo Jellies, shame on you for coming 99 and 100th respectively.

Full list is below:

Top 10 
1. Persil Laundry
2. PG Tips 
3. Finish 
4. Volvic 
5. Kellogg’s Special K 
6. Surf 
7. Ribena 
8. Quality Street 
9. Ariel 
10. Evian

Bottom 10 
91. Red Bull
92. Clover Spreads
93. Richmond Sausages
94. John West Canned Fish
95. Warburtons
96. Young’s Chilled Fish
97. Cathedral City
98. Muller Corner
99. Muller Light 
100. Haribo Gums & Jellies

Only the Italians: Food and wine as collateral for bank loans

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You’ve gotta love the Italians, haven’t you – only they could ever come up with such a solution.  Apparently,  Italian bank vaults may soon accept cured ham and fine wine from struggling producers as collateral for loans – the idea is not new either, as in the past Italian banks have stored huge blocks of maturing parmesan for the same reason.

The Guardian’s Tom Kington, covers the story in full.  

Personally, I think why the hell not –  it’s a fantastic idea, I certainly know the worth of Italian produce, having spent a fortune buying delicious wine and endless slices of cured ham when I was living in Rome.  If this idea means producers can keep making the stuff and exporting it to the UK then, I’m all for it – Imagine if the Italians couldn’t afford to export food and wine to England, that would be a travesty!

As stated by Luca Zaia, the Italian agriculture minister; “Apart from meeting the need of companies for liquidity, this proposal also recognises that our true gold reserves are the excellent products we make in Italy.’

Zizzi’s offer: 2 meals for a £10

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1274As there is a Zizzi at the end of my street, I have been taking full advantage of this offer: two main dishes for £10.  The offer includes pizzas, pastas, salads, or risottos.  It did also include the daily specials when we went there, but best to check as it slightly varies from branch to branch.

Download the voucher on their website and present it when paying the bill:

http://zizzispecialoffers.co.uk/

Why soy sauce really does keep me awake at night

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I have known for ages that if I eat soy sauce in the evening, I will have problems sleeping, but I wasn’t really sure why.  

I had thought that it might have been the high salt content, so I bought a low sodium version.  I used a miniscule amount of it last night, no sleep…so I did a little research which revealed that foods containing tyramine, like soy sauce, can keep you awake at night.  Tyramine causes the release of norepinephrine, which is a brain stimulant.

The worst news for me is that tyramine is in loads of foods, and all of the good ones too – bacon,  ham, aubergines, pepperoni, raspberries, avocado, nuts, and worst of all cheese and red wine!  Boo hoo 😦 I have to admit though, I did already know that red wine kept me awake at night but that doesn’t exactly stop me from drinking it – as they say, ‘everything in moderation’…

My new found love of British cheeses

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Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am completely addicted to cheese – anything smelly, gooey and running off a plate.

My real favorites have always been alpine cheeses like Vacherin Mont d’or, Raclette, Abondance, Reblechon or any cheese with a really strong flavour like a Munster, Epoisses or more recently an English Vintage Cheddar or Stinking Bishop.  

This weekend however, I stayed in the Cotswolds in a beautiful village called Oddington. I have always had masses of respect for british cheese making, but didn’t really think there was much competition to the French farms. Well, how wrong was I?  And how ignorant do I feel, seeing as I always thought I knew a fair amount about cheese…

So this weekend, I was introduced to some cheese from a farm in nearby Kingham, which interestingly belongs to Blur’s Alex James. That in itself warrants a taste!  I have to say I was gobsmacked and completely blown away by his cheese, especially his Stow Soft, which looks like a large goats cheese with its classic white rind exterior.  

Before eating the cheese, I  was instructed to slice the top off and then take a spoon and dig into the cheese…oh wow!  As I dragged the spoon out of the cheese, it dripped over the cheese board and I slurped it onto the side of my plate. Forget the biscuit, this was a time for indulgence so I dipped my finger into the cheese, which was walking itself off my plate, wrapped as much as I could around my finger and in it went – Such a complex and intense flavour, and just so gooey, that’s it, I have found my new favourite.  It may be the morning, but I am salivating just thinking about it – God I love cheese!  Then if that wasn’t good enough, I tried the Kingham Green, also from the same farm…where can I get some more of this?!

Forget French cheeses for the moment, I am on a mission to taste more of these British cheeses, and how happy am I to find that I can buy Alex’s Kingham cheese in London – and strangely enough I passed the very shop on Friday walking through Pimlico and thought I should get around to writing something about it.  Daylesford Organic http://www.daylesfordorganic.com/icat/cheese.  As well as Pimlico, there is also a store on Westbourne Grove.

If you are a fan of good organic food, this is the shop for you.  It just smells fantastic, you walk into the open-plan black and white crisp hall, and the food is just calling out for you to try some and take it home..okay so you need a new mortgage once you come out – but its soooo worth it!

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Yo Sushi extends its summer offer: 40% off food bill

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logoYo Sushi – It may not be the most amazing sushi on earth, but I love it, its a good fun place to eat and its very cheap – especially since it has extended its Summer sizzler offer until September 23rd.

The offer gives you 40% off your food bill (not including a miso soup) on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s until Wednesday 23rd September.  Click on the link, download the form and present it when paying the bill.  http://www.yosushi.com/summer_passport.php

Black & Blue, Notting Hill Gate

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brandingBlack and Blue, Notting Hill Gate

If you are as keen on burgers as I am, then this is the place for you. The atmosphere is relaxed and easy, the food is always delicious and the bills are always low – although that does also depend on how much you drink…

B&B is a great place to go for a mid-week outing.  You are not able to book, but I have never waited more than 5 minutes for a table.

This time, there were three of us, two opted for the legendary B&B bacon and cheeseburger (rare, of course) and the other (my husband), must have been particularly hungry, and ordered the cote de boeuf – all to himself, but it is more of a sharing meal.

The burgers come with chips and salad, but as I usually can’t finish everything, I often ask for no chips and extra salad.  If you are not ravenous, the cote de boeuf is ample for two, especially as it comes with chips, salad and a range of dips.  A particular favorite of ours is to ask for a pot of guacamole to go with the beef.  Whilst it might initially seem like a strange accompaniment, you really should try it first – amazing!

I eat at B&B regularly, and so far have had no complaints at all, the waitresses are always helpful and cheery, the burgers always juicy and tasty, and clearly good enough quality to eat rare.   The cote de beouf, is always cooked to perfection, charred on the outside but rare in the middle.  I guess the only grumble is that the tortilla chips we once ordered for a starter, didn’t come with cheese 😦 But I will let you into a little secret; if you ask the waitress nicely, she will bring a plate of melted burger cheese to pour on top…mmmmmmmmmnnnnnn

The menu is simple but has plenty of choice for everyone, even the particularly extravagant of eaters, who can opt for the foie gras burger!

Good wine selection, great atmosphere, great food and great prices!

http://www.blackandbluerestaurants.com/menu/index.html

Hello world! Here’s my first post – a look at the GM food debate

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Well, hello world! – Welcome to my blog, and my first post.  

So, what should I focus my first post on?  Should it be around my love of seafood and smelly cheeses, perhaps my passion for helping Britain to eat healthily, or the fact that I went to pick my own strawberries in Wiltshire this weekend or maybe, I should just start with a delicious recipe?  

Then I thought perhaps I should write about something that is in the news at the moment, and I feel that the great debate around GM foods is both a pertinent one and a subject that is crucial to the future of the food industry.  As it is such a vast subject matter, can I really give it the due diligence it deserves in my first post? No, but I can certainly look into it.

So what do we think?  Will agricultural biotechnology save us from starvation or will it end in a global disaster, as Prince Charles is suggesting?  Maybe we have played around enough with nature, and if we continue, it will just come back to bite us!

Firstly, it seems to me there are huge benefits of being able to genetically modify foods, but also serious pitfalls.  Secondly, it appears there are three principle issues to look at: what effect GM foods will have on human health; how will it impact the environment; and whether the benefits far outweigh the risks to society?

Whilst I am no specialist on the subject, I don’t believe we have the definitive answers to any of these issues, so until we have this insight – can we go any further? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits the GM companies promise us.

They are considered to be more convenient to grow, pest resistant, ripen quicker, less affected by adverse weather conditions.  We will be able to develop foods containing cures to diseases, vitamin supplements, coffee with less caffeine etc etc – wow – this all sounds amazing – and on top of this, GM foods are slated to save the world’s food shortage!  So, what’s everyone complaining about?

There are major costs involved with growing GM foods, meaning that many of Britain’s smaller farms must adopt new techniques, pay for training courses, spend more money on GM seeds than standard farming seeds.  UK farmers are having a hard time as it is, will they be able to survive these costs before they witness the benefits of the improved productivity?

The most important issue though is – what happens if we toy with nature?  If crops become pest resistant, will the pests mutate and develop into even more dangerous pests…do new drugs, mean new bugs?  For the sake of redder tomatoes, is it really worth it?

Maybe I am sitting on the fence here by not spelling out a definitive point of view, but until we have proof that GM modification is safe, we should tread very slowly indeed…