Get more Greenery into your kitchen in 2017

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It's all about Greenery: Pantone Colour of the Year

I was at the launch of the Pantone Colour of the Year last week, and apparently green is the colour for next year. More precisely, a shade called Greenery.

 

Pantone Colour of the Year Greenery around the home

 

Probably easier to get your head around in the kitchen, than perhaps in your make up bag:

 

Pantone Colour of the Year Greenery in your make up bag

 

But if you want to be ahead of the curve, then here’s a few things I’ve spotted that are in a similar territory.

Chop 2 Pot from JosephJoseph

I think the team at Joseph Joseph have been into this colour for a little while already, as this Chop to Pot is not new. However, these are still an incredibly useful thing to have in the kitchen, regardless of colour.

Kitchen Craft Healthy Manual Juicer

Get ready for the new year, the new colour and inevitable healthy eating resolutions with this Manual Juicer from Kitchen Craft. Makes it sound like you’ll get some exercise at the same time as making your juice, possibly a slightly more peaceful exercise than some mechanised juicers.

 

Asher Tumbler LSA

Update your glassware, whether for water or wine, with this tumbler from LSA International. There is a broad range of colours available but this one is the one if you want to be on the trend.

 

Cow on Grass Milk Jug

 

This milk jug definitely looks like it’s got the right colour going on, or you could say that Greenery was inspired by grass. Whichever way, I think this is a great addition to the breakfast table, produced by Hanne Rysgaard Ceramics.

 

Pea Pod Oven Gloves

 

Freshen up the kitchen with a new pair of oven gloves, like this lovely pair from Thornback & Peel. I love the pea pod pattern, colour is definitely right on trend, and oven gloves always make a great gift, for yourself or anyone else who loves to cook.

 

Basil & Mint Candle from Orla Kiely

I think this Basil and Mint Candle from Orla Kiely ticks the boxes, both in terms of colour, and also the natural world inspiration behind the trend too. Great scent to give a food lover, this will definitely perk up any room.

So, you can get ahead of the crowd and stun them with your colourful kitchen, with a colour that’s inspired by rebirth, energy and positivity. It would be very nice to think that that’s what 2017 has in store for all of us!

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What’s in the box? Great new treats from Flavrbox

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I’ve written before about Flavrbox, about how they really have pulled together products from some of the UK’s most exciting and interesting food producers. I’ve also written about the Tasting Box, as a great idea for yourself, or even someone you like a lot! So I was very thrilled when they offered to send me the latest version.

Oh boy, not disappointed at all. I’m really big on details, so to speak, as it shows imagination, thought and care, which always bode well from a business. And makes that first “Hello” seem very genuine.

 

Hello from Flavrbox - great gift for a food lover

 

Breaking the seal, you get a tantalising glimpse of what lies beneath, and you just want to dive in.

 

Great goodies from Flavrbox - great gift for a food lover

 

The great thing about a gift like this is that you surely won’t get through everything at once. We have some Nim’s Crisps to enjoy, with air dried apples and strawberries. I can sit down to a nice relaxing cup of tea from Attic, and I’m really excited about trying the two Speltottos from Sharpham Park.

 

Nins and more from Flavrbox - a great gift for a food lover

 

You can either buy someone a one off box, or subscribe them or you for longer. I think this truly is a great foodie gift, and starts at just £20 for a one off box, going down to £16 a box if you subscribe for 12 months. Would really put a smile on your face each month, both when you receive it, and then when you work through all the contents. That’s what I call great value for money!

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What I’d like to be taking to China

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Selected by Neals Yard to reflect some of the best in British Cheese

 

I’m off on a trip for the day job to China, which I’m really looking forward to. Love Chinese food and hoping to get some time out to try and get to eat some.

But there does come a point in a trip where I do suddenly crave a taste of home. On a trip to Japan, even though I’d been living on the most amazing sushi most of the week, I had a very memorable meal of chicken pie and chips washed down with half a pint of Guinness. And it was delicious.

So I do always tend to pack some tastes of home. But the one thing that is difficult to carry, but something I always end up wanting, is proper British cheese. I crave a proper piece of a decent Cheddar. If I could have it in a sandwich with some Branston I’d be even happier. Or a piece of Sparkenhoe Red Leicester with some crackers and butter.

I don’t think that the Chinese have a particularly long or big tradition of cheese making, so not sure there’ll be loads of local cheese tempting me. So if you fancy sending me an emergency parcel then let me know! Any of the great boxes from Pong would probably do the trick, thanks! And if you hear news of any unpleasantness at Shanghai airport involving impounding cheese…well, temptation is a strong thing!

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New things making the news across the pond

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Sonoma Syrup - best foodie gift

 

It’s that time of year again when the Fancy Food Show has been on in New York, and the NASFT  Awards are handed out. Last year it was all about blood oranges, which I have seen making appearances in various forms in delis, but not in huge quantities.

And this year? Well, no such clear cut trend, although the blood orange still featured in one Gold winning product: a Blood Orange Sorbetto from G.S. Gelato & Desserts. Some interesting flavours on offer, and a tasty choice for those on dairy or gluten free diets.

A special mention for the team at Fever-Tree, as their Ginger Beer won outstanding cold beverage. Fantastic news, love their products, and love that they doing well in the US. For a place full of corn syrup sweetened sodas, this must come as a refreshing change with a bit of bite. I might need the ginger beer to take away the taste of another winner though: peach balsamic vinegar. Sounds revolting to me, and why does it need messing with? But hey, I’d give it a try, in the name of research.

American chocolate has had a bad name for a long time, and certainly the count bar type stuff is terrible, but the artisan stuff that has been going on has been fantastic. I like the sound of the Sesame Toffee Tiles from Poco Dolce, perfect combinations of sweet and salty: toasted sesame seeds, toffee, plain chocolate and grey sea salt.

Winner of their food gift category was the Extract Gift Set from Sonoma Syrup Co. This is a box of multi-purpose syrups, that you could use in everything from coffees to pouring over ice creams. The gift set contains three bottles, one each of Vanilla, Almond and Lemon. I can’t see a source for them here in the UK, so one to look out for on my next trip to the US.

If you want to check out the full list of winners, to perhaps gain points on the unusual foodstuffs in your cupboard awards, then you can see the list here. Have fun!

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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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Catching up (or what new gifts am I waiting for)

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I’ve been away for a week, which means there’s a whole load of catching up to do, on boring stuff like washing and bills, and interesting stuff like new gifts that would suit different kinds of food lovers. Whilst it might take a while for me to review properly, here’s the things I’m thinking about:

 

 

* A great apron for beer and food loving Dads from Catherine Colebrook at Not On the High Street.

* The Whisky Sampler Box from Fortnum & Mason, attractive looking, good way to get to a taste of the key different styles and tastes.

* The limited edition Sodastream for Harvey Nichols. Ever since Heston turned Blue Nun into Champagne I’ve been wanting to get busy with the fizzy!

* Wondering what will be in the Divertimenti sale, starting Saturday 5 June

* The Beer & Bars gift from Green & Black’s, a Father’s Day foodie treat that doesn’t strike me as naff

* And finally, is Brix chocolate tasty or a gimmick?

So, some good stuff to do some more digging around on, more to follow!

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Derbyshire Food Fair in photos…kind of

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Choices, choices...

 

We had a great time yesterday at the Derbyshire Food & Drink Fair, although slightly relieved we did go yesterday, which was warm enough, as I imagine today will be a real scorcher. Here’s a few thoughts and photos, in case you are wondering either whether to go, or what you missed!

 

Glorious day for a food festival

 

This was about 11, with a reasonably quick queue. It got very hectic!

 

Good food and sunshine...perfection

 

As you can see, perfect summer’s day, perfect location and surrounded by great food and drink. See, you can keep Earl’s Court, this is a food festival. Yes, you’re right, one day I must stop being bitter about not going…!

 

Queue for Brian? Not when I can sit here in the shade, thanks.

 

Every show had them queueing round the grounds. I like Brian Turner, but I like shade on sunny days more.

 

But he still pulled a crowd, and onlookers

 

Not to mention the sensible lot that sat at the back of the tent in the shade!

 

The empty spaces tell their own story!

 

It was fantastic to meet Wendy and her husband from Quirky Cookies, and great to hear what a busy day they were having. There’s a digger missing as that went home with us.

 

The spoils we bore triumphantly home!

 

Loved everything on here, except Yumberry, which wasn’t my taste and I really don’t need a juice packed in China. I loved the ice creams from Yee Kwan, and found Yee really engaging and knowledgeable. My prize for sheer enthusiasm, though, goes to The Chilli Jam Man. Knowledge, passion, enthusiasm and great tasting products, even for a wimp like me on the chilli front. And expect reviews of the Spicentice packs as I work my way through them.

But all good things have to come to an end…

 

What our feet needed to do by the end of the day!

 

Love to know if you went and how you found it. What did you get?

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The Friday Five – Cookbooks for the New Age of Austerity

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Time to tighten our belts! The new age of austerity beckons

 

So, George Osborne is with us, and we have to remember he promised us an age of austerity as he starts with the cuts. Given that everyone has been talking about whether or not that might include putting VAT on food and books, I’m in for a double whammy. So before that happens, here’s 5 books that could help herald the way I’ll be needing to cook within the near future! And in true austerity measures style, I’ll be ordering them secondhand!

1. Good Eating: Suggestions for Wartime Dishes – a great reprint of a book from when austerity was your life, not a lifestyle choice. Whilst these might be old recipes, they seem perfect for the times we’re living in. I bought a copy of this at a National Trust shop, and I would say it was a bit of a national treasure. It’ll cost you a little more than the original 2’/, but you can get a used copy from£1.45.

2. Feeding the Nation by Marguerite Patten – talking about national treasures, if anyone knows how to cook well in times of austerity then it has to be Marguerite Patten. Fabulous for producing comforting, nostalgic food that will take you back in time, and not break the bank. And the recipes produce surprisingly tasty results. Except Stuffed Marrow. I don’t care how austere it gets, I am not eating stuffed marrow!

3. Ministry of Food: Thrifty Wartime Ways to Feed Your Family Today by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall – I’ve written about this book before, and think it’s great that the Imperial War Museum has really caught the food mood of the nation. I guess this is the modern day version of Marguerite’s book, and the illustrations are lovely in this, so it’s a beautiful looking book as well as interesting with good recipes. Whether George would approve of pretty things in austere time, but what the heck! If you look at the posters of the time they have a beauty of their own, so go for it!

4. Frugal Food by Delia Smith – oh yes, another national treasure to help us through austere times. Now, this classic has been updated recently, but the original version is available from only 1p, so it would feel much more appropriate to buy that version! You know what you’re getting with a Delia recipe, so I would think they would all turn out tasty recipes that are not overly complicated, and hopefully not too expensive!

5. The Workhouse Cookbook by Peter Higginbotham – well, I don’t think George has suggested bringing back the workhouse, but who knows? If you want to get a view on what might be in store from a food perspective, then this is the book for you. Plenty of photos to show you it was no holiday camp, but apparently the food was more varied than you might think. If you want a slightly depressing, but interesting, day out, then I can recommend a day at The Workhouse at Southwell. It’ll make you want to boost your savings!

I don’t think we need our ration books yet, but a bit of belt tightening may be in order. Which probably means more people will discover the benefits of local and seasonal cooking! Ration book photo by WolfieWolf over on Flickr.

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Buzzing about National Honey Week

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Save the Bees

I missed this last week by being in Hong Kong, but honey and bees seem to be a very hot topic at the moment. I love that Harry Eastwood was working with the Honey Association on recipes for the week, as I’m a huge fan of hers (as my well thumbed copy of Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache would testify!).

Everyone wants to talk honey and preserving the bees, it’s definitely one of the foodie causes de jour. Want to support the cause or get involved? Here’s a few of the things that have caught my eye:

* For the urban wannabe(e) beekeeper, then they’ll probably be lusting after a Beehaus. From the people who brought us the Eglu, the Beehaus makes some parts of beekeeping modern and cool. Although not the outfits. And they’ll sell you the bees too. Don’t underestimate this service, ours is still a virtual hive as we are bee-less.

*Check out the limited edition from Innocent which is Lemons, Honey & Ginger, noticeable for the hive picture on the front. This is their “buy one get one bee” campaign, which will help to install beehives across the sites of the National Trust and the Federation of Irish Beekeepers. It also comes with a packet of bee friendly seeds for you to make your own garden a bit more bee friendly. Personally, I didn’t like the smoothie, as it mainly tastes of banana and a little honey, and I’d have liked a bit more of a ginger kick. But, hey, the bees are happy!

* If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, then I highly recommend a read of A World Without Bees. The stats are frightening, both in terms of how quickly they have been dieing out, as well as the impact on the environment, agriculture and the economy. Not the happiest read, but interesting.

* Probably the most famous urban beekeepers are those at Fortnum & Mason, where there are famously hives on the roof. You can buy honey from the rooftop of the London store, or the more rural bees of Salisbury Plain. They also have honey from around the UK, from Scotland to Wales, as well as New Zealand and the Pitcairn Islands. I imagine the carbon footprint is quite high on the last two!

* Manuka honey is supposed to have huge health benefits. Whether this applies when you use it in vodka I’ve no idea, but I would imagine I might feel a bit better with a shot of 42 Below’s Manuka Honey Vodka. I’m rather liking the sound of Honey on the Rocks, a bit like a more interesting version of Beechams by the sounds of it!

* Many beekeepers are very small producers, so you are most likely to find their produce in your local shops and at your farmer’s market. Keep a look out for them and do what you can to support them. Remember if you are shopping anywhere else to look for a named country of origin on your honey, as everything just labelled honey can be made from blends of honey from all around the world. Or from cheapest sources available. Honey isn’t cheap, but it’s worth paying that bit more for to support the systems that support great beekeeping practices.

* If you don’t want to go down the whole beekeeping route (I’ve seen the outfits, it’s not for everyone) then you could just do your bit by making whatever space you have for growing things more bee friendly. Most of the seed companies have caught onto this trend and give you some good views on what to buy.  Crocus have Bee Attract Seed Mix, Sarah Raven offers a great option with Garlic Chives (bees love them and you can eat them) and Thompson & Morgan have 61 different bee friendly options.

So, you might be like me and missed National Honey Week, but it’s never too late to get involved and support our beekeepers, and our bees.

Bee campaigner snapped by Kevin Krejci over on Flickr.

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Why I’m not sorry that I’m not going to the Real Food Festival

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Would I lie to you? Where else would a food lover be going?

 

Can you imagine how hellish I would find the Real Food Festival? Running from this Friday (7 May) through to Sunday for us mere mortals, it is billed as the UK’s most exciting food festival. Why on earth would I want to go?

And really, I didn’t want to.

I’m not at all bitter and twisted that I shall spend most of the first day high in the sky, most of the second day wiped out and the third day trying to remember where I am.

And I am also not at all sorry to be missing out on:

* Playing voilà bingo whilst watching Raymond Blanc do a demonstration. Or seeing Thomasina Miers cook anything. Or Richard Bertinet making bread. Dull.

* A whole section devoted to chocolate. Proper chocolate from people like Artisan du Chocolat, William Curley and Paul Wayne Gregory. I’ll be home with a bar of Dairy Milk for sure.

* The chance to eat from the Riverford Organic Field Kitchen. Why do an hour on the train to eat with them at Earls Court when I could drive there in 5 hours, and have to put up with the father in law?

* Finally meeting  Kate from Gower Cottage Brownies face to face.

* Having to work my way through 400 fantastic producers of great food and drink from around the UK. This way I don’t have to choose between them, no one will be offended when I don’t buy and I won’t have to carry it all home again. Or resist the temptation not to eat it on the way home.

* Chuntering away to myself as I read the show catalogue at the number of firms who still have no form of website.

So, if you have nothing better to do, then you could continue to book in advance and make a large saving over what you would have to pay on the door. But really, why would you?

Fabulously appropriate photo by The Wolf on Flickr.

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