Archive for the ‘Food news’ Category

Seasonal eating for March

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

In like a lion and out like a lamb – and at the moment we’re somewhere in the middle! The beginning of March can still feel like the worst of winter but by the end of the month we will hopefully be seeing the first signs of spring.

And it’s time to introduce some new flavours and cheer up the warming but by now somewhat routine fare that we’ve been eating all winter. So, while root vegetables and brassicas will no doubt still feature, we can now aspire to some slightly more exotic flavours.

So what seasonal foods are on offer in March? This BBC Food article on the subject suggests keeping an eye out for early rhubarb. And its delicious sweet-yet-sharp flavour shouldn’t just be making an appearance in desserts. You can use it to flavour soups, hotpots and roasts as well.

If you’re crying out for some fresh green stuff on your plate then now’s the time to shop for flatleaf parsley which is a great ingredient in stir-fries and sautés. On the root veg front there’s plenty of carrots, leeks and beetroot about and purple sprouting broccoli is a wonderful seasonal treat.

Check out some recipes by following the links here – and if you’ve got some sure-fire March food secrets then be sure to leave a comment and share!

Get ready for Fairtrade fortnight

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

It’s not long until the start of Fairtrade Fortnight – a wonderful chance for all you foodies to widen your horizons with some fantastic, ethically-produced ingredients from around the world.

This year’s event takes place between February 25 and March 9 and, if you’re looking to get involved, your first stop is the Fairtrade Foundation website.

There you can learn a little bit more about the movement and find out about any events happening in your area. Since these tend to include meals, tasting sessions and markets, there’s bound to be something to whet your palate for Fairtrade produce.

Anyone who’s within hailing distance of London can visit the Fairtrade Funfair which will be open at Gabriel’s Wharf South Bank on Sunday February 24 and will include a Fairtrade tea cup ride, a helter skelter, a Fairtrade coconut shy, candyfloss made with Fairtrade sugar and a fortune teller.

Organised by the Fairtrade Foundation and backed by organisations, charities and businesses that support or sell Fairtrade products, the day is billed as giving visitors the opportunity to sample some of the 3,000 Fairtrade items now certified and to learn more about Trade Justice.

A series of talks by Fairtrade producers from countries around the world will give visitors a chance to meet the farmers and workers behind the products, and learn first-hand the difference that Fairtrade is making to their communities. Read more here…

School cookery 'to be compulsory'

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Here’s a great story from BBC Online – remember those days of messing about in the school cookery classroom? And learning useful stuff despite yourself?

It looks like the youth of today is set not to be deprived of the same fun:

Cookery classes to be compulsory

Cookery lessons are to be compulsory in England’s secondary schools for children aged 11 to 14.

Pupils will learn to cook for an hour a week for one term. Poorer pupils’ ingredients will be subsidised.

Cookery is a ministerial “expectation” but, as an optional part of the design and technology curriculum, is not currently taught in all schools.

The move is part of the strategy to tackle obesity, as experts believe 1m children will be obese in a decade. Read full story here…

Are fish and chips becoming too expensive a delicacy?

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

A fascinating glimpse this morning of what Americans make of one of our national dishes – and our national obsession with it.

This article in the New York Times asks whether Europe’s appetite for seafood – including the British craving for white fish – is fuelling an illegal trade in the commodity as well as causing an environmental disaster:

Empty seas: Europe’s appetite for seafood propels illegal trade

If cost is an indication, fish are poised to become Europe’s most precious contraband. Prices have doubled and tripled in response to surging demand, scarcity and recent fishing quotas imposed by the European Union in a desperate effort to save native species. In London, a kilogram of lowly cod, the traditional ingredient of fish and chips, now costs up to £30, or close to $60, up from £6 four years ago.

‘Fish and chips used to be a poor man’s treat, but with the prices, it’s becoming a delicacy,’ said Mark Morris, a fishmonger for 20 years in London’s enormous Billingsgate market.

On a wintry day at 5 a.m. in Billingsgate last month, as wholesalers unpacked fresh fish from all over the world, the vast international trade that feeds Europe’s appetite was readily apparent, even if the origins of each fillet and steak were not.

Less than 24 hours before, some of these fish were passing through Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, a port with five inspectors to evaluate 360,000 tons of perishable fish that must move rapidly through each year. The Canaries, a Spanish archipelago off the coast of Morocco, have become the favored landing point of illegal fish as well as people. Read full article here…

What do you think about this issue? If you’ve an opinion on it, then leave a comment and start a discussion.

Are we getting enough veg? Can we get enough veg?

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Here’s a very interesting story from today’s Independent about the problems in some areas of the UK in actually getting hold of enough fresh fruit and veg.

An academic has been researching the problem, and has come up with some alarming results:

‘Food deserts’ depriving towns of fresh fruit and vegetables

Dr Shaw began his research in 2000, plotting the location of residential areas and shops on 500sq m grids. Since then he has checked around 6,000sq km, covering the whole of Birmingham, much of Hampshire, Somerset, Shrewsbury and parts of north London and Stevenage. In each area, he has visited shops to see if they sold 10 or more items of fresh produce.

He found that around 20 per cent of rural areas and 25 per cent of urban areas were “food deserts” where people have to walk more than 500 metres to reach a shop selling a good amount of fruit and vegetables.

In 1997, Tessa Jowell, then a health minister, defined a food desert as an area “where people do not have easy access to healthy, fresh foods particularly if they are poor and have limited mobility” and said, ideally, there would be a supply of fresh food within 500 metres of every home. Read full story here…

Of course, there’s always the veg box option (here’s the one we use and one we’ve used successfully in the past) – if you can access such a service and feel happy doing so. Otherwise it could be a pretty bleak outlook.

Supermarkets admit milking customers of £270m

Friday, December 7th, 2007

Here’s a fascinating story from BBC Online about supermarkets and the price of dairy products:

Supermarkets admit milk price fix

Supermarket firms Sainsbury’s and Asda have admitted that they were part of a dairy price-fixing group that earned about £270m extra from shoppers.

The supermarkets, along with a number of dairy firms, have agreed to pay fines totalling some £116m after an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) probe. Cases against Tesco and Morrisons will continue after no deal was struck.

The OFT said that in-store prices went up after the collusion, but the amount received by farmers did not increase. However, the firms insist that the farm gate price paid for milk did rise and that they were not ripping off customers. Read full story here…

Many people now have concerns about the sourcing and distribution of their food. More and more are seeking alternatives to the major supermarkets, such as co-operatives, farmers’ markets or local distribution networks.

Findings like this one from the OFT can only serve to crystallise these concerns…

We’d love to hear what you think – why not leave a comment?

A taste of life at La Gavroche

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

Can you imagine what it would be like to be let loose in the kitchen of La Gavroche, the exclusive Michelin-starred Mayfair restaurant where Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White learned their trade under the watchful eyes of the Roux brothers?

Worse, how would you fare if you had little aptitude for cooking in the first place? And even less grasp of French?

Well, Gerry McLaughlin, presenter of the Manchester-based Channel M food show Cookin’ Impossible found out.

Here’s an excerpt from his Manchester Evening News write-up on the subject:

You know you’re working in a top restaurant when instead of peeling spuds, you’re scrubbing a bucketful of truffles worth six grand. Under the guidance of sous chefs Adam and Rachel, I got pretty darn good at scrubbing those truffles.

The kitchen was not what television reality shows have led me to believe. No frantic rushing and shouting, just clearly relayed orders from chef Roux as the lunchtime orders came flying in at the pass.


Despite being a truly top class restaurant, the atmosphere, both front and back of house, is incredibly relaxed.

This, I suspect, is due to the stewardship and exceedingly sociable nature of Michel Roux (I’m pretty sure he chatted to every table by the end of service). Read the full article here…

Calling all cooks: Delia's back

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

All those that regretted the passing of the Queen of Cookery from television, never fear. As is so often the case it has turned out to be not as final as it sounded at the time.

Delia Smith is reportedly poised to make a return to the small screen with a new show for the BBC. This from The Independent:

Delia Smith returns with new cookery show

In a new series to be screened in the first half of next year, the doyenne of television cookery programmes will show viewers how to cut corners without compromising on quality, in an update of her first cookery book, How To Cheat At Cooking, published in 1971. The series will also show, for the first time, Smith’s personal life, including her passion for football and her strong faith.

At the end of the third series of How To Cook in 2002, Smith said she was retiring from the small screen, complaining that a new breed of cookery shows served only to entertain rather than teaching the basics of cookery. “I’m quite old now – I want to quit while the going is good,” she said at the time, adding: “Now people want to be entertained, whereas I was trying to teach how to cook, that’s where it’s different.”

A BBC spokeswoman said: “It’s going to be something we’ve not done before with Delia, showing how to cut corners, but not cut corners on quality or taste. We’re also going to show her life beyond the kitchen. It’s great that she’s coming back and it’s showing more of her life than ever before,” the spokeswoman added. Read the full story here…