Monthly Archives: March 2010

Super sweet tomato to hit the UK


Scientists have just found a secret mutant gene which means we can now breed much sweeter tomatoes, and even better, a more plentiful yield of them too.

The research, published in Nature Genetics, reveals that by cross breeding around 5000 plants with different genes, the scientists have been able to create tomato plants with a 60% higher yield and a much greater sugar content than what we can currently buy.

The hybrid plant carries a mutation in one of its genes, which produces the flowering hormone florigen.   Florigen, when produced in the right amounts, not only causes the plants to produce more flowers than leaves, hence a higher yield, but it also boosts the sugar and sweetness of individual fruits – genius!


The Sustainable Restaurant Association’s call for action


I remember writing a post back in November on the massive amount of food and drink we waste each year, so I am really thrilled to see the efforts of the newly launched Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA).

Calling for every restaurant and chef to lead by example in promoting healthy and sustainable food choices, the SRA, has already signed up over 100 restaurants since its launch on March 1st 2010.

Founded by Giles Gibbons (Good Business), Mark Sainsbury (Moro and The Zetter Hotel), Henry Dimbleby (Leon) and Simon Heppner (Good Business), the SRA provides a platform not just for restaurants, but also diners, restaurant employees and suppliers and it is calling for everyone to help them get as many restaurants to sign up as possible.

Saving money, motivating employees, attracting new customers and growing your company are just some of the benefits of operating a sustainable restaurant – it’s good for business and its good for the planet, so why are so many restaurants so reluctant to jump on the band wagon? Is it because they think it will be difficult, too expensive, complicated, if so then the SRA makes it all so simple by offering tips and advice, and a community of like minded people to discuss and solve whatever concerns they might have.

Just look at the stats from a recent survey of Toptable users: 93% think that restaurants and chefs should lead by example in promoting healthy and sustainable food choices; 70% would be more likely to eat at a restaurant that was accredited by a reputable sustainability body. If that’s not enough, here are some stats from The Environment Agency that might help sway them:

  • The hotel and restaurant sector fares the worst in terms of environmental awareness
  • Food services and restaurant industries are responsible for a staggering 3 million tonnes of food waste annually
  • Restaurants throw out an incredible 600,000 tonnes of glass bottles a year
  • Restaurants in England and Wales are using 391 million cubic metres of water annually, enough to fill over 104,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools

The issues that need to be addressed are identified on the SRA website under 14 key focus areas, and three sectors: society, sourcing and environment. Being supported by a large number of advisory bodies and partners across the restaurant industry and sustainability spectrum, The SRA really does have the know-how to help both restaurants and diners to be more sustainable.

Among those already signed up are Carluccio’s, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Moro, Due South, The Felan Fach Griffin, Canteen, Gurnard’s Head, Benares, Wahaca, Feng Sushi, Rockfish Grill, Caffe Caldesi and Seahorse Restaurant.

It’s such a good cause, so I am urging you to help them reach their goal of recruiting a further 900 restaurants this year: sign up and pledge your support now – What have you got to lose?

For further information about the Sustainable Restaurant Association please visit


Wine tasting at Le Pont de la Tour


Le Pont de la Tour has just launched a new series of fine wine tastings, beginning this April.

To celebrate the launch of these tastings, a special event, Fine Wine Tasting, Chateau Le Dome, Saint Emilion will be held on Thursday 15th April 2010.  It will be hosted by successful producer of single vineyard wines and owner of Chateau Teyssier, Jonathan Maltus.

Tickets for this exclusive event are £70 and include a tasting of five vintages from Le Dôme St Emilion Grand Cru followed by a glass of Champagne and canapés in the Salon Privé.

To reserve your place, call 020 7907 1840.

Additional tastings include:

Mount Difficulty, Central Otago, New Zealand
Thursday 25th March 2010

Hard cheese, food and wine pairing
Thursday 8th April

Livio Felluga, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Italy
Thursday 6th May 2010

Goats cheese, food and wine pairing
Thursday 13th May 2010

De Wetshof, Robertson, South Africa
Monday 17th May

Marmite XO launches today: best Marmite yet!


Finally, the much-awaited arrival of Marmite XO is here!

The deliciously strong, black and syrupy nectar from Unilever is currently available to buy in Selfridges and Waitrose, and as of Monday 8th March, in Tesco and Morrison’s as well.

As detailed in my previous post, Unilever launched this new Marmite flavour through a select group dubbed ‘The Marmarati’.  An ‘inner circle’ of 40 Marmarati members (me included) helped researchers determine the best recipe for the next launch, and this was it.

Marmite XO is everything I hoped it would be, stronger than the original, but not so different that it forgot who it was.

I love it and I hope that you all do too, so go out and shop, shop, shop!

My rapidly depleting pots of MXO