You’re going to uni. Now what? A foodie perspective

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A’level results are out and so a whole new batch of students will be heading off into the world, ready to fend for themselves and cook their own dinners. So, what kind of foodie student are you dispatching to uni and what do they need to see them on their way? Depends on where they already are on their food journey. Here’s a few suggestions:

The non cooking student

Oh dear, they’ve got through at least 18 years with no cooking skill at all. Maybe best put them into halls of residence that provide everything. Otherwise suggest either you need to give them a very rapid crash course in basic cooking at home, or a copy of Delia’s How to Cook. And get down to IKEA and buy them one of those kitchen starter sets.

The novice student

So, they’ve done a bit of cooking and know how to turn the cooker on. They may have cooked you dinner. They may know one type of pasta from another. They at least know what pasta is. They could be very popular though, as being able to cook could make them a lot of friends on their floor! Here’s a few thoughts for them:

* Provide them with their favourite recipes from home. You could cook them with them a few times, write them out, put them in a Word document on their laptop, make videos and post on YouTube…any way you can think of to give them a taste of home.

* If you’ve got recipes that need specific mixes of herbs or spices then you could package them up for them, as herbs and spices might not be top of their spending list. Craving for mum’s cooking is what set the idea for Spicentice in motion. Or add a few of the Spicentice packs into their packing.

* They’ll need some kitchen stuff. I would suggest they will need a large saucepan (one that you could get a steamer in as well) for doing pasta, which they may do a lot of, and you could give them a non-stick frying pan for fry ups, omelettes, even stir frys. A small non stick pan for scrambled eggs or beans. And then I would add a decent casserole dish in. I’ve had a Le Creuset one for over 20 years, and it’s truly the best for one pot cooking. Throw in a chopping board, a few decent knives and something like the Joseph Joseph stacking set, and they can cook up a huge variety of dishes.

* Give them a great store cupboard to start off with. Let’s face it, with this lot, there are a great combo of meals that they could produce. I would pack them off with: several kinds of pasta, including fettucine or pappardelle and fusilli or penne; two olive oils, one extra virgin, one ordinary and a more bland oil like groundnut; pesto, tomato puree, olive paste, anything to add extra flavour to just about anything else, likewise soy sauce and a reasonable balsamic; tinned standbys like chickpeas, tuna, salmon, tomatoes; rice for risotto and biryanas, bulgar wheat for pilaf  and cous cous. That should keep them going until their first trip home!

* Freezer bags or boxes, so that nothing goes to waste.

The Gourmand Student

Oh, this one you’re going to have to frisk before they leave!

* Check out what bits of your kit they’ve been using regularly in your kitchen, and buy them their own. Face into it, if you’ve got decent knives, good pans or exciting kit, then they’ll be off before you can wave them goodbye.

* Stock them with the goodies they might have got used to like Frescobaldi Laudemio Extra Virgin Olive Oil or a chunk of black truffle. You could also just give them the same products I listed for the Novice Student but at the best available level.

* They’ll be the king or queen of seasonal cooking, so perhaps sign them up for an allotment. That way they can have fresh, seasonal fruit and veg, and grow varieties that even Waitrose don’t stock. Try Landshare to see what’s available near the uni, or register for a plot. Sign them up to the Heritage Seed Library or check out Sarah Raven and pack them off with a year’s worth of unusual seeds.

* Give them a list of all the local food markets and farmer’s markets, as they’ll be their natural food hunting ground. Get them a trolley to lug home their precious food treasures in.

My favourite tip is to pack them off with a large cake, or a whole lot of cupcakes. Things perfect for sharing with your new neighbours. Tea and cake, perfect for every kind of student. Unless the novice can’t boil water!

Tomorrow, going to cover alternatives to the student cookbooks that would still set them up to have a great repertoire without going into debt.

Leaving home shot by Leafar on Flickr

 

Off to university

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Going back to school at The Nottingham School of Cookery

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Back to school? Better than home ec lessons at school

 

BFF and I finally got ourselves organised and, a year after getting the vouchers, finally made our way to the Nottingham School of Cookery for the Magic of the Mediterranean day. We had struggled to find the combination of days we were free and courses we were interested in, and this was the best combination.

The day is there to inspire you into how to ” bring ‘sunshine’ into your cooking” with dishes from France, Italy, Spain, Sicily and Morocco on the billing. We also got Turkish meatballs and hummus on the day, and never sure which country lays claim to hummus! Not to mention that all the washing up, weighing up and mise en place was going to be done for us. Finally, I would have an Adam, in the style of Raymond Blanc!

The building isn’t exactly what we were expecting, as it’s in a former car showroom. Of course, it means there is plenty of space, and I am sure it makes it quite ideal for all the filming that goes on there. Claire Tuttey is a clear and engaging course leader, and ably assisted by Ben Mason, who was definitely the Jamie Oliver to her Delia.

I’m going to start with the good, in that BFF and I had a great day out together. And if you’re looking for a generalist course and something to give you some ideas for new supper dishes, then this is probably for you. And I recognise that BFF and I are a tough crowd to play to. But I don’t care how tough the crowd is, some basic spelling mistakes in the recipes are really unforgivable.

I knew that I was going to find it tough when feta, chorizo and felafel were all misspelt on the front page. Don’t even get me onto “stiring”.

As an aside, one of the other course members asking me when the baby was due didn’t really put me in a better frame of mind. I was rather amazed that someone had got to late 50s without knowing that was a question you don’t ask unless you’re on really safe ground!

I spent a very long time boning chicken thighs for a tagine, whereas I would have just thrown them in, and the meat would have fallen off the bone when it was cooked, not to mention added in extra flavour. There were a whole load of dishes going on, and with 6 of us attending you got plenty of coaching if you wanted it. It was great to sit down to lunch and experience all the dishes, although no one ate very much of any one dish as there was so much to go at.

Now, I have no idea of the etiquette or norms of cookery courses. In some ways, it might have been better to have given us nothing to take away, but we ended up with a few odd bits. And as we drove home, we remembered more dishes had been made, that had loads left, and that were still there. The meatballs. The hummus, which we never even got to taste. The Iberian fritters. The two versions of cous cous. My lovely chicken tagine.

But hey, at least someone must have eaten well last night!

The school is well established, so there must be plenty of people who have been and enjoyed these courses. As I said, if you’re looking for a generalist approach then this is a good school for this. But to my mind, if you wanted to learn about Indian, this would be like Delia teaching you Indian, rather than Atul Kochhar.

Now I know, you get what you pay for, and this day was £125. But when I can go for a day at The School of Artisan Food, which is what I really hanker after, for £95 including lunch, then I know where I would go to. And learning bread with Richard Bertinet is only £145.

If you’re thinking about a course for a foodie then do a bit of homework, and think about the kind of level they are already at, and ask questions about the course. And maybe book for them to go with a friend. If I hadn’t gone with BFF it wouldn’t have been half as much fun!

Fabulous photo by Gary Birnie over on Flickr.

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What are the foodie dads getting this Father’s Day?

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Celebrating our food lover dads

 

Nearly time for Father’s Day, which is always one of those events that catches even me by surprise. It needs something else just after it, like the way Mother’s Day works with Easter. And events involving chocolate always have my attention!

So, if I were shopping for a Father’s Day gift for a dad with a strong interest in food and drink, what would I be thinking of? Here’s a few thoughts:

For cheese loving Dads – If there’s not a decent cheese shop nearby, then I would try one of the gift boxes from Pong. The Best Dad in the World gift box includes Oxford Isis, Bath Blue, Swaledale Old Peculiar and Banon, plus great cheese biscuits from Fudges. Neal’s Yard are also offering a great selection, not biased by the inclusion of Colston Bassett Stilton. And for something even more artisanal, then try Sole Bay Cheese, who have about 70 different cheeses on offer at any one time. You can buy a selection, or a voucher to let Dad make his own choice. (UPDATE: sadly Sole Bay Cheese is no longer trading)

For meat loving Dads – how about sending Dad on a course to brush up his knife skills? The School of Artisan Food have a one day course dedicated to making carving the Sunday roast a breeze. And he gets a roast lunch thrown in too! Big Barn gives you access to all kinds of small producers around the UK, like Heritage Prime and Farrowby Farm. I’ve never tried Donald Russell but plenty of people rave about their beef in particular. And if he’s big into steaks for the BBQ, then how about a branding iron?

For bread loving Dads – surely the bread loving dad already has a Panasonic breadmaker? I would send him to a class at The Bertinet Kitchen, because this is fabulous for moving on your breadmaking skills and is also in the beautiful city of Bath. There are versions from one day to five, and would cover everything from regular bread through to French and Italian varieties. Or if it’s out of budget (3 days is £500, plus your other costs) then you could buy him Richard’s books instead, Crust or Dough.

For gadget loving Dads – so much choice. I love Divertimenti and Heals, but you can’t beat John Lewis for a backup. Or Lakeland. Or, if they don’t have to be too serious, then try Firebox. There’s the Garlic Zoom, the AeroPress Coffee Maker and BeepEgg, the singing egg timer, to name just three.

For sweet toothed Dads – so many possibilities again! I love Chocolate Trading Co for variety and bringing great houses within easy reach, many launching stuff with them first. I’m giving serious thought to the Best of the Best Dark Chocolate Bar gift for someone. Melt is very trendy, and I particularly like the Chef’s Chocolates, and have a certain weakness for the Olive Caramel Bonbon. And there would be William Curley’s sea salt caramel bar and pretty much anything from Artisan du Chocolat. But you know I think even the foodiest of Dads would enjoy a nostalgic moment or two with a box from A Quarter Of. Parma violets, sherbet fountains, cherry lips, gobstoppers…everyone deserves at least one day of sugary nostalgia!

So, what kind of foodie dad is yours? Love to know what you’re buying him. I know men have a reputation of being difficult to buy for, but I think food lovers are easy to buy for, as there are so many possibilities. I haven’t even got started on the travel possibilities! But if you want some food for thought, drop him a ticket to Paris and then check out Meeting  the French (read this entry on He Eats to get an idea on what he could get up to).

Photo by Eash Shamih.mv on Flickr.

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Where do foodies register for their wedding?

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Where would foodies register? What to buy food lovers for their weddings

Being of the nosey/curious type, I love looking at the search terms people have put in to get to the blog. There’ve been all kinds of weird and wonderful ones, not to mention some very err, creative, spellings. But this one seemed an entirely appropriate question, and the sort of thing I would want to know the answer to! So, here’s a few thoughts from me:

1. How about seeing if your favourite local deli or wine shop will run a list for you? In fact, I am surprised not more local specialist stores have got into this lucrative business. Sadly, not even Ocado seem to have a listing facility.

2. Thankfully some of the wine retailers do seem to have caught onto this, so if you’re foodies who love wine, then this might be a good route for you. As one would expect, Berry Bros & Rudd will run a list for you, to which you can add wine, spirits, accessories, wine tastings and even wine courses at their school. For something with more national coverage, then Majestic also offer a wine list service. They have everything from fine wine through to champagne, beers and spirits, so you could really lay down a very interesting, and quaffable cellar.

3. Natoora offers a really wide selection of goodies from Europe, from fresh stuff through to tinned, cheese through to meat and all kinds of veg. They don’t offer a wedding list service but your guests could buy gift certificates that you could have an awful lot of fun spending after the wedding! As an alternative, check out Forman & Field who also do gift vouchers, and there’s a great choice of stuff that you could spend it on.

4. A wedding would seem the perfect opportunity to upgrade your kitchen equipment. I would be really happy to have a list at Divertimenti and would not only load it up with great stuff for the kitchen, but also with classes at the cookery school. If you wanted things for all the house but still really good, not to mention good looking, kitchen stuff, then Heal’s would be another good choice, or you can register a wishlist at Habitat. And, of course, there’s always John Lewis!

 

I'd put it on my list!

 

5. Not on the High Street is one of my favourite sites, and you can register a list with them. There would be fabulous things for the kitchen and dining room, like beautiful cake stands, stylish coffee machines and funky personalised mugs. There are also some interesting food options as well, with everything from an Over Indulgence Hamper (how lovely to come back from honeymoon to this) to organic chocolate, great oils and interesting mustard.

6. I do love my cheese, but yet to find someone with a listing facility. Paxton & Whitfield offer gift vouchers, so I guess you could run your own list and ask for those. You could then spend them as you needed cheese. Or have a look at the Cheese Club from Teddington Cheese (great cheese shop, unlikely location), where you could ask people to buy you one of each theme, which covers selections suitable for St Patrick’s Day, Halloween and Christmas, as well as one for each month of the year. The Fine Cheese Co in Bath also offer something similar, and people could buy you a whole year’s worth of deliveries.

7. You may have also gathered that I have a reasonably big cookbook addiction. Which would have made listing with Amazon a perfect choice for me. It would enable you to explore the far reaches of your food reading and cooking desires. You can explore old and new, rare and not so rare. I guess Amazon is almost like a huge department store now, so you can also list for lots of equipment too. Just don’t forget the books.

So, that’s a few suggestions for a couple who love their food as much as they love each other! Happy listing!

Interesting wedding cupcakes taken by clevercupcakes on Flickr.


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Being organised for less

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Getting ready for Mother's Day

 

Just a quick note to say Buy A Gift have a weekend promotion of 20% off all gifts. This is a great site for gift experiences in particular, for foodies and non foodies. With 20% off it’s even better, and lets not forget Mother’s Day is not that far away (14 March, in case you don’t know).

If it’s for a foodie mum, then my best suggestions are:

* Full day curry cookery course for two – six hours of private tuition for two of you from Curry Club founder Pat Chapman, so you will really get a great insight into a wide range of Indian dishes. A real treat for a spice-loving mum, you get the tuition, lunch and a goody bag at the end of the day. After the discount, this will be £336, not cheap, but it is for two, and will bring you a lot of experience in a very personal environment.

* If she’s a creative kind of mum, then how about a day course in sugarwork, where she can give full rein to her artistic and creative flair in a foodie environment. There’ll be sugar cages, spirals and praline galore by the end of the day, all under the tutelage of chef Nigel Brown. The course is up in North Lincolnshire, and if you order it this weekend it will be £120.

* If she likes a drop of the fizzy stuff, then a day of champagne tasting should do the trick. She’ll get to taste 8 different champagnes, learn about how to distinguish between the houses, and matching champagne to food. Sounds like a good way to spend a day to me! After the discount, for two of you this will be £108.

* If mum doesn’t live near you and you’re not close enough to take her out for lunch or cook her lunch, then there are a whole heap of dining out options, from breakfast to afternoon tea to the chef’s table at Gordon Ramsay at Claridges. You could spend from £24 to just under £1000, there are some interesting options there.

So, if you want to not leave your gift choice for Mother’s Day to the last minute, and these take your fancy, then use code PANDA20 at checkout to qualify for the 20% off. Offer finishes midday on Monday, see site for details.

And if nothing else, as the photo says (kind of), call your mum! Fab photo by soot+chalk on Flickr.

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Expanding our cooking skills

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Learn more skills than you ever knew about

 

 

I got a tweet last week regarding a new website, ooh.com, which looks really interesting if you want to find, or even run, a great cookery course or experience near you. Whilst it doesn’t only cover food and drink, at the moment there are just under 170 courses listed across the UK.

From West Cornwall to the Highlands, there is a huge variety on offer. Always wanted to know how to cook in a wood-fired oven? You can do it in a day in Shaftesbury for £160. Want to learn to smoke your own produce? Yep, you can learn to do that too.

There are courses for designer dinners and intensive courses for wannabe chalet cooks, courses at famous places and courses at someone’s house. And if you fancy teaching, then you could even sign yourself up to run any kind of course, not just cookery. Pass on your knowledge of bee-keeping, or how to build a wind turbine, or even hide working and buckskin course. The sky is only limited by your passion and knowledge.

I think a day course (or longer) makes a great gift for a foodie, particularly those who are a little difficult to please! After all, getting a new skill to brag about has to get extra brownie points! Have a look at the site, and keep an eye on how it develops. Personally, I am hoping to have time to get on the Parisian memoir writing master class!

Fabulous photo of domestic classes past from Cornell University Library.

 

UPDATE: Sadly Ooh didn’t make it for the long term, such a shame as this was a great idea.

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For the lovers of dark and smoky flavours

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We were discussing my slightly obscure taste in fragrance last night, which does tend to often include those that to some smell like an ashtray. I have an absolute passion for Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford, but can be found sniffing the original Dolce & Gabbana for Men with its leather and cigar smoke notes. And then there’s Feuilles de Tabac from Miller Harris…

Anyway, this addiction transfers across to food too (in fact everything except actually smoking, which I am not at all keen on), so this is my list of Valentine’s Day gifts for those foodies with a love of good smoky flavours!

* Starting with something fairly mild on the smoke front, how about a whole smoked chicken from Upton Smokery? Bathed in aromatic smoke and slow cooked, this would make a great meal, hot or cold. Plus wrapping up a whole chicken has got to have some great comedy value.

 

Smoked olive oil from The Organic Smokehouse

 

* Upgrade the extra virgin olive oil experience, with organic smoked olive oil from The Organic Smokehouse. This would make for a whole new flavour experience whether it’s mixed into a salad dressing, or just for dipping great bread into (I would think it would work really well with a good sourdough).

* For a great accompaniment to that olive oil, then how about Smoked Sea Salt from Halen Môn? Infused with smoke from Welsh oak, this has an almost sweet edge to it, like many tobaccos, and will give the foodie hours of pleasure in working out how to best make use of the unique flavour.

* Not really new news, but the tobacco chocolate from Artisan du Chocolat is one of the most creative food uses of the tobacco flavour around. You can order it online, it has to be tried at least once in a lifetime.

* If you want to really push the boat out, then London Fine Foods offer a Smoked Hamper which has everything from smoked salmon and eel through to smoked duck and pigeon. Certainly plenty of smokiness to go at, although not for the vegetarian!

* If this flavour thing is bordering on an obsession, then how about learning how to smoke your own things? With a day course in Cumbria they could learn to smoke cheese, meats and vegetables, looking at both hot and cold smoking, as well as brining. Plenty of hands on experience, not to mention eating and goodies to take home.

 

Benromach Peat Smoke

 

* For a smoke filled finish, then how about Benromach Peat Smoke Batch 2 Whisky? According to the tasting notes, this has a seriously smoky character, being complex, intense and challenging, and yet well balanced (so, that’s where I went wrong with my men, missed the last bit out! ) And if you like a splash of water, this will bring out treacle toffee and creamy notes. Sounds delicious. Now, if only I liked whisky!

There’s a fabulous article on cooking with tobacco in the first edition of Fire and Knives, and a subscription to that should be every foodies gift wish list.

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Valentine’s Day for Meaty Lovers

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Love meat!

 

Those of you who’ve read my blog on more than one occasion will know that I try to not feature the obvious, am not much of a lover of the themed gift, and tend to write about stuff that first and foremost tastes great, rather than looks right for the occasion. I’m not going to divert from that now so, if you’re looking for hearts and flowers, you’re in the wrong place.

Instead I’m going to write a series of these for foodies with different kinds of tastes. Perhaps I should have called this first entry My Bloody Valentine, as I thought I would start with great gifts for those that love their meat.

Of course it’s not a traditional gift (unless it’s in the stalkerish tradition of sending an animl heart in a box to an ex, not recommended) but could be good excuse to indulge in some great meat (no tittering at the back please). Here’s a few suggestions from me:

  •  A little dried sausage, perhaps? A whole saucisson or two could be just the thing . Try a natural countryside rosette of whole smoked saucisson dried in an old fashioned fireplace by Roches Blanches.
  • Where’s the beef? Well, they won’t be asking that if they take delivery of 18kgs of Longhorn beef from Huntsham Farm. Every cut of beef you could want, from sirloin to silverside and plenty of mince in between. Renowned for their rare breed meat, this is going to be a gift of exceptional taste that will create a whole heap of meals for you to share happily together.
  • Want to see a look of confusion followed by delight? Try wrapping up an 8kg Serrano ham on the bone. It’ll look like you’re sending a haunch of something, but once they’ve stopped being concerned/laughing then delicious ham is guaranteed, for weeks!
  • Indulge them in the glory that is a proper pork pie with the only certified organic Melton Mowbray pork pie from Brocklebys. Made with organic Saddleback pork to a traditional 200 year old recipe, this is what a pork pie should really be like.
  • Valentine’s Day is no time to be mean, so be generous and go large. How about a whole traditional rare breed pig, all butchered and ready for great eating? Well Keythorpe Traditional Pork & Lamb can offer you just that. It could be any one of the rare breed pigs that they keep, but all are going to be interesting eating, or curing, depending on your loved one’s level of skill.

 

Salami from the Real Boar Co

  • For a slight tounge in cheek gift, how about salami from The Real Boar Co? Hopefully they won’t take offence and will get slicing these great British salamis. The Bit of Each gives you three tasty salamis and a chorizo, or you can buy the individual salamis. Great looking cutting boards and knives too.

 

Meat serving board

 

  • If they’re into roasts, then how about a meat serving board? I like the one that Jamie Oliver has, for having both style and substance. Looks good, spikes will hold the joint securely and the grooves will capture the juices ready for gravy making. Or just pouring directly back onto the meat!
  • For a bit of inspiration for recipes, then you can’t go wrong with The River Cottage Meat Book for almost the a to z of all meat. But I would guess most meat loving foodies already have that one, so perhaps something like Rotis by Stephane Reynaud or John Torode’s Chicken and Other Birds for something a bit specific.
  • If they would like to take things into their own hands, then there are some really good butchery courses around for the amateur. The School of Artisan Food has an introductory two day course, as well as Lamb & Mutton or Pig in a day, and River Cottage are, of course, past masters in this.

So, choose to indulge their favourite food choice, rather than falling prey to the norms of Valentine’s Day gifting. It will give them something to talk about, as well as something very tasty to get their teeth into.

Fabulous neon sign photo by SqueakyMarmot on Flickr and Saddleback pig photographed by Dave Hamster.

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The Friday Five – a toast to the best of Scotland

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Given that this is the closest Friday Five to Burns Night, today’s cookbooks all have a Scottish slant to them, which has certainly had its own food renaissance. These books will therefore take you way beyond neeps and tatties, haggis and deep-fryed Mars bars.

 

Nick Nairn Cook School Cook Book

 

1. Nick Nairn Cook School – Nick is someone I can watch time and time again, and a few days at his Cook School would be a great present for any foodie. If that is a bit out of reach at the moment (prices seem to start about £150 plus your accommodation) then maybe the book of the school would be a good alternative. Perfect for serious or not so serious foodie, there are sections on technique as well as recipes, so you can brush up on your knifework or if you need to know how to prep a lobster then this is perfect. And it’s not all about fish, although there are great fish recipes. I’d be quite keen to try the Cook School steak with Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar.

2. Maw Broon’s Cookbook: The Broon’s Cookbook for Every Day and Special Days – these characters will be very familiar to the readers of the “Sunday Post” in Scotland, and this is an entertaining read with some good recipes. This would make a good gift for expat Scottish foodies with a nostalgia for home, and tastes of home.

3. Taste Ye Back: Great Scots and the Food That Made Them – part interviews with famous Scots, and part recipes, this will reveal what dishes they loved. We can enjoy foodie reminisces from Sharleen Spiteri, Ewan McGregor and Andy Murray, and then perfect the dishes that they love.

4. The Caledonian Kitchen– I’ve featured this one before when I looked at charity cookbooks, but it’s worth a mention again. With recipes from around Scotland, the sale of this book goes to support Action Duchenne, the UK charity working towards finding a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The recipes come from a mix of celebrities and award winning Scottish chefs, as well as from ordinary people across the country who support the charity.

5. The Three Chimneys: Recipes and Reflections– The Three Chimneys is somewhere I’d love to go. Talk about combining spectacular cooking with amazing scenery! The photography is beautiful, and the recipes cover traditional Scottish fayre, as well as more modern updates. I like the idea of Autumn pudding as a seasonal alternative, and cranachan is always worth making.

So, whether you’re doing a full on Burn’s Night dinner, or just perhaps pouring a wee dram, it’s a great excuse to have a look at just how much great cooking has been coming out of Scotland.

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What will 2010 bring for food & food lovers?

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What trends does your crystal ball show?

 

It’s coming round to that time of year when everyone and his dog has the crystal ball out to look at the year ahead and tries to work out what will be up, down, in or out in the year ahead. I did this last year for food, and can’t believe it’s that time again.

This year though it feels much harder to read the year ahead. Last year the only thing that seemed certain was that it was going to be tough, which would probably drive hunkering down kind of behaviour: making do and mend, doing it ourselves, food for free. And 2010? Less certain, but here goes with my thoughts:

1. More of the same. Not an economist, but it feels like, from an average person’s point of view, that it could continue to get tougher this year. We’ve saved the bankers, but the rest of us might continue to pay and feel the fall out. So I think we’ll continue to rediscover homemade skills, or refined the ones we picked up last year. Homemade jam and chutney will continue to grow, the joy of homemade bread to go along with it could grow. The dream of self sufficiency may be pursued, but many may find how unsustainable that is without a lot of work, and quite a lot of land. But doing a bit is better than doing nothing at all.

2. No economist, and certainly no political commentator, but it feels like a change is likely to come with the election we will have before the end of May. And if we have a shift to the right, maybe there will be a slightly more nationalistic approach to cooking. I think there has already been a resurgence in interest in traditional British cooking across all regions, but perhaps 2010 will see us exploring even more. It may also be a slight nostalgia, and a slight fear, of time passing by ever more quickly, and of things being lost. I loved the Quaking Pudding at the Hinds Head in Bray, and that Sussex Pond Pudding was on the menu too. More of this I think.

3. With Istanbul being European Capital of Culture for 2010, I would expect to see a surge of interest in Turkish food. Really interesting though looking at the official site that food is not immediately obvious as part of the events. How can food not be involved in culture? Some of us would argue that food and eating are at the very heart of culture. Responsible Travel have a great cooking tour of Istanbul, that has you cooking lunch and dinner along with other culinary visits. Sounds like a good starting place, as it’s just 4 days. Want to try it at home first? I could be tempted by The Sultan’s Kitchen as a starting point, but maybe the year will see a plethora of new launches around the subject.

4. In the usual cycle of trends, it’s normally around 20 years till something is trendy again. Which would give us the Nineties. Annoying Budweiser adverts, the advent of the Diet Coke break. Although it did bring the genius of the John West salmon ad. It was the start of the next phase of supermarket domination with the first Tesco Metro opening in Covent Garden in 1992, but also the arrival of Lidl and Aldi. And the rapid rise of pre-packed salads. Not much good. Throw out the trend cycle I say and get sowing your own salad. Kids love this, most of us have room for something, and nothing tastes better than freshly picked leaves. I’ll be working my way through Seeds of Italy’s finest, or go the lazy but effective route and choose the Salad Garden from Rocket Gardens and they’ll deliver little plants already to go.

So four possibilities from my Mystic Meg crystal ball. I am sure other than that that those of us who love food will continue to do so, and continue to explore the best, tastiest, most sustainable, local ways to getting great dishes to the table.

Here’s to the year ahead! Happy eating!

Fabulous photograph by Richard Lamb Photography

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