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6 posts from December 2005

22 December 2005

Menu for Hope II (2)

The raffle is set to close in the next couple of hours and quite astoundingly Pim has raised $21,716.32.


As I posted previously, Pim is holding a fund raising raffle (I incorrectly called it an auction in my earlier post).  Funds are going to Unicef to help support vicitms of the earthquake in Northern India and Pakistan.  At the time of writing, she has raised $11,774.00 and I want you to help me help her hit $15,000.00

All you have to do is go to her site, see what you want and then buy your virtual raffle ticket.  It couldn't be easier, but remember, bidding closes on 24 December 12.00 am Pacific Standard Time - in real time i.e. GMT, that is 8.00 pm 24th December.

My offerings are all cookbooks by 3 UK cooks that have influenced my cooking:

The River Cottage Meat Book, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

The Handmade Loaf, Dan Lepard

The Book of Jewish Food, Claudia Roden

However, there are tonnes more goodies in the raffle, including an opportunity to star in video with the Amateur Gourmet; food photography lessons and a sushi starter kit, amongst many many others. 


20 December 2005

Heston does soup

It was always clear that Ferran Adria was an inspiration for Heston Blumenthal.  Adria has pushed out the culinary boat - creating the unexpected is what he's famous for.  Never more so than when he put his name to some crisps.  Where Ferran goes, Heston it seems, follows.  He has signed an agreement to produce branded soups, gravy and stock to be sold in supermarkets.  Interestingly, the company he's partnered with, Conival (under the trading name Portfolio Products), produces similarly branded products for other high-profile chefs, including Vineet Bhatia and Jean-Christophe Novelli.

I'm surprised Heston is following such a commercial route, it doesn't seem to fit with his clinical/scientific approach and he hasn't really become a 'celebrity' chef, à la Ramsay or Oliver.  I would have expected to see a well publicised Fat Duck cookery book, before I saw the Fat Duck Soup Company.

This article in Brand Republic raises the question of whether such moves are commercially worthwhile for chefs.  If the consumer doesn't trust the product, why on earth would they pay a premium for it?  Which raises another question: does product endorsement do more harm than good for the chef?  Such deals are clearly tied into their marketing and PR programme but I wonder whether it is worth it.  Do they become devalued in some way?  With a commercial hat on, I can appreciate this is a sensible business move.  The majority of people buying their branded products are unlikely to ever eat in the chef's restaurant.  But they are attracted by the prospect of getting as close as possible to the restaurant experience or passing off the chef's invention as their own.  The odd one or two may even decide to go to the restaurant on the back of eating the ready meal. From the other perspective, for us food snobs, whether they've got Heston et al beaming at us from their cardboard box, we're unlikely to buy a ready meal but will still happily revel as we eat in his restaurant.  So, answering my own question, I suppose product endorsement does make sense, it just feels a bit tacky.

13 December 2005

Menu for Hope II

Menulogo I'm not one who generally buys into the overt chirpiness of many blogs, or the view that we're all best mates.  I also rarely get involved in memes.  However, Pim is running Menu for Hope II that raises funds for the victims of the earthquake in India and Pakistan.  Having honeymooned in India, I can't think of a more worthy cause to support.  Pim is asking for food bloggers to donate something that she will then auction off.  So after much thought, I'm going to donate three books that I love and have had a massive influence on me and the way I cook.

All three are by British authors, one focuses on meat, the other on bread and the third on kosher food.  Basically the three pillars of my culinary existence. 

The River Cottage Meat Book, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

The Handmade Loaf, Dan Lepard

The Book of Jewish Food, Claudia Roden

If you're interested, go and bid on Pim's site.


I forgot to mention (rather crucially) that all funds raised are going to UNICEF.


06 December 2005

Food Blog Awards 2005

How low can I go?  The answer it would seem is very. 

I need to be regularly told how much I'm loved which is why I religiously check my visitor stats.  And now, there is the opportunity for real love and recognition.  As I previously flagged, Kate at Accidental Hedonist has launched the 2005 Food Blog Awards and being desperate, I nominated myself for best new blog.  I know it's sad, but I'm desperate for coos of admiration and awes of wonder. Of course, given the exceptionally tough competition, all I'll end up with is egg on my face.

Anyone can nominate any food blog, all you need to do is visit Accidental Hedonist (cough, nudge, wink).

05 December 2005

If you're going do it, do it right

I've been thinking about a small redesign of this site because I was feeling my list of blogs (to your left) is getting a bit too long.  It also got me thinking about how often I visit most of the sites I've listed, and concluded that it was not often enough.  There are lots of food blogs that gets lots of attention Chez Pim, and 101 Cookbooks being two good examples.  Many blogs, such as my own, are written by people with too much time on their hands longing to be involved in the food business full time but too scared to actually go and do anything about it.

Those who are in the business, and in particular those who are chefs, are either too busy or not inclined to blog regularly.  Two exceptions to that rule can be found at Knife's Edge and Ideas in Food.  If I see new posts on either of these blogs I get very excited but for different reasons.  Knife's Edge is very witty, with a dry humour that conveys the joys and agonies of owning and running a restaurant.  I particularly enjoyed a recent post about a customer who was furious that he was not allowed to get pizza delivered from the restaurant opposite, for his picky child.

Whereas Ideas in Food is more focused on the food itself, than running the place.  In particular the site appears to be dedicated to serving delicious, interesting and beautifully presented food.  The website is focused on chefs Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot's experiments in their kitchen.  Whereas most of my experiments come out as brown gloop, their's end up looking like this:


If you want to see how real food fanatics cook and live, you can't do much better than with these two blogs.

01 December 2005

Oh do grow-up

Banana_protector_1 Ok this is immature, it's not big, it's not clever.  But it did make me snigger.  I rarely descend into school-boy humour, despite my natural tendencies, so bear with me.

It would seem that the latest way to waste your money is by purchasing a protector for your banana.  My favourite, from several on the market, is the ribbed variety from Banana Bunker - if only because of its unnecessarily smutty connotations.

Check-out Slashfood for a slightly more mature review of the product.