Crab crazy

South Devon’s first ever crab festival kicks off tomorrow (August 1) and from then until August 7 you can enjoy bags of fun, including crab tastings, workshops, cook-ins, competitions and even a crab street party in Dartmouth on the final day of the festival. At Shaldon Water Carnival on the 6th, you can enter the fancy dress competition and watch crab cookery demonstrations on the beach. The South Embankment of the River Dart in Dartmouth will host a McCrab competition and demonstrations by celebrity chefs on the 7th. Canoeing and crabbing trips will also be on all week at Stoke Gabriel. More info on all of this is available at www.visitsouthdevon.co.uk/crab

Mini-tea

Wondering how to entertain your little monkeys for another four weeks of summer holiday? Look no further than Guoman’s The Royal Horseguards Hotel (London’s AA Hotel of the Year) for mini afternoon teas that will delight even the tiniest. Parents can enjoy the full-size classic version of afternoon tea while the littlies see just how much mess they can make with some sparkly fairy cakes and a free colouring book. The mini version of the afternoon tea not only includes the aforementioned fairy cakes but also traffic light fruit kebabs, milk chocolate dinosaurs, alphabet wholewheat shortbread and white chocolate and raspberry puzzle, as well as a rainbow smoothie shot. The mini-tea is available at the four-star hotel until September 4th.

Foodie treats galore at the Southbank Centre

If the thought of kissing goodbye to all of your favourite summer treats this September makes you feel low, then the Southbank Centre is sure to have something to fill the void: the Autumn Cheese and Wine Festival, running from October 14-16, has free entry and promises tastings, demonstrations, and the chance to meet artisan producers, all while celebrating the relationship between cheese and wine. Those with a sweet tooth just need to hold out for a couple of months more – from December 9-11, the centre is running the London Chocolate Festival, which again has free entry. Allowing you to discover fine artisan chocolate and to treat the ones you love (don’t forget yourself!), the festival showcases everything from chocolate cakes to churros, and even those who prefer the savoury side of life needn’t miss out, as you can also be shown how to cook fabulous main courses using chocolate.

Search for best beer writer launched

I’m not much into ale, so couldn’t recommend anyone in particular, but if you know someone who’s mad about mead (and especially writing about it), then there’s a chance they could win the British Guild of Beer Writers’ annual competition for beer writing and net themselves £1000. The competition is open to writers, broadcasters, photographers, poets, illustrators, designers, webmasters and bloggers whose work has broadened the public’s knowledge of beer and pubs. The winner will be announced on December 1st at the British Guild of Beer Writers’ annual awards dinner.

And speaking of beer, Brown’s Hotel on Albemarle Street, London, has recently added a battery of beer and barley treatments to its spa menu, to coincide with the Great British Beer Festival, which starts on August 2nd in Earls Court. Indulge in a blissful barley body wrap, a pale ale pedicure, or a honey and barley facial, all made using Maris Otter barley, which is high in vitamins and minerals. Treatments will also begin with a hot malt drink which is high in fibre and low in GI for even more health benefits.

Virtual baking lessons? Beam me up…

Sadly it’s not in fact Scotty offering the lessons but the Bertinet Kitchen and Bakery, who have just started a programme offering live interactive baking lessons via Skype to primary schools. Classes are currently free and will be offered to one school per month during term time; they also come with Bertinet’s book Dough and the relevant utensils for making bread.

Celebrate Flavour Fortnight

Flavour Fortnight, the region-wide celebration of local food and drink in Dumfries & Galloway, will take place from September 3-18. With more than 80 events to be organised across south-west Scotland, there’s no reason for locals not to get stuck in. Among the confirmed events are an intensive beef butchery course, a multi-location menu devised for touring bikers, a literary celebration of food in a traditional bookshop, and a wild food forage around an art gallery. Updates can be found at www.flavourfortnight.co.uk

Free recipe booklet

For a free 24-page booklet of avocado recipes, send a postcard with your name and address to Summer Avocado Recipe Booklet, 26 Fitzroy Square, London W1T 6BT, or email summeravocados@rt-com.com

Slim chance of Skinny Mousse curbing cravings

Bio-Synergy’s Skinny Mousse, sold by Tesco and said to curb cravings thanks to a micro-nutrient it contains, has been lambasted by All About Weight’s scientific advisor Will Williams for potentially having the opposite effect. He concedes that it being low-calorie makes it a better choice than many full-fat desserts, but believes that chromium, the added micro-nutrient mentioned above, is irrelevant to a consumer unless they are deficient in it (and chromium deficiency is rare). The product, in his view, is therefore being sold on the basis of weak evidence and inconclusive research; he also believes that the ingestion of sugary snacks in general is more likely to increase carbohydrate cravings, and that those wanting to lose weight are best off sticking to a diet rich in protein and low-GI carbs. For those with a sweet tooth, he recommends gradually decreasing the intake of sweet-tasting foods, and getting chromium from other sources, such as nuts and seafood.

All About Weight’s founder, Alison Wetton, also considers that new diet band Up, which is programmed to advise on lifestyle and what to eat, is doomed to let people down. With low self-esteem typically being part of the overweight’s burden, can a gadget really change all of that? “And the problem is that every time someone opts for a quick fix such as this wrist band, and fails again, it makes them feel even worse about themselves, and that leads straight back to comfort eating,” she said.

The Big Veggie Survey

What are the choices and challenges for vegetarians in 2011? The Vegetarian Society wants to find out, calling for the opinions of vegans, vegetarians, ex-veggies and meat-reducers to learn more about the experiences of vegetarians in today’s world. The views of caterers, carers and teachers are also invited for inclusion in the survey, which is open now and runs until September 3rd: www.vegsoc.org/survey

Dr Jon Green, Chief Executive of the Vegetarian Society, said, “The Vegetarian Society has been supporting and representing vegetarians for more than 160 years so it’s tempting to think that we must have all the answers already, but with vegetarians, vegans and others who have an interest in vegetarianism coming from all sorts of different perspectives, it’s vitally important for us to check in every so often and find what people really think.  We also need to look to the future, understanding who the vegetarians of tomorrow will be and what we can do to help them get there.”

Beefing up meals for veggies

An unlikely organisation to have on side, Beefeater restaurants have just had several new dishes accredited by the Vegetarian Society. The new range of meals includes Mediterranean Tomato Risotto, Rocket Pesto Pasta, and Quesadilla Wrap. Available at Beefeater restaurants now, the new dishes mean that vegetarians and their families finally have another choice of venue.

Less lean on the waistline…

How does a 1500-calorie “donut burger” grab you? That’s what’ll be unveiled at the New York State Fair (opening August 25th)  to tempt the adventurous (or stupid) eater in Syracuse. The Big Kahuna Donut Burger costs between $5 and $6, and consists of a quarter-pounder burger in between slices of a grilled, glazed donut. Add cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion and you may just have yourself a belly hangover (in all senses of the word).

Rainforest Foundation auction

Once again in November, the Rainforest Foundation UK will hold its charity auction of mindblowing Christmas gifts, with all products being shipped by December 7th. From November 15-27, the 12 Days Of Christmas auction will have an array of desirable gift items available to bidders, including meals for 2 at Roussillon and Auberge du Lac.

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