Staying hydrated this summer

When the sun is out, it’s perhaps not too tricky to stay hydrated as we are more likely to drink more and to consume foods with high water content, such as ice lollies, watermelon and gazpacho. However, as we all know, the sun doesn’t always stay out during the great British summer, so we could all use a bit more help at these time. Kimberly Snyder, author of The Beauty Detox Solution, has some suggestions for helping us to avoid drinks that are full of sugar and chemicals for optimal health and hydration. Try iced redbush mint tea (use one redbush teabag per person with lemon and mint to taste; make with hot water and then chill to perfection), basil lemonade (mix cold water with a quarter of the amount again of fresh lemon juice, and add basil to taste), or even – for a spicier option – coriander and jalapeno limeade! For the latter, mix equal amounts of lime juice and cold water with a quarter of the amount again of fresh coriander leaves. Add jalapeno pepper flesh to taste (try half a pepper per person to start), and then steep in hot water before chilling. I’ll definitely be trying these – rain or shine.

Drink around the world with the Goring hotel

With the Olympics on in London, there’s an international feel in the air, and now guests at the Goring Hotel can choose a further destination during their stay thanks to the hotel’s brand new bathing menu. Until September 15th, they can choose one of the five hotspots on offer (China, Madagascar, Florida, Guinea or Australia) and not only luxuriate in a Molton Brown bubble bath inspired by ingredients from the place, and have a candle of the same scent burning in the background, but also have a bath butler bring you a cocktail that’s been specially-created with the country in mind. Priced affordably at a clever price of £20.12, guests will be able to select from China’s Yuan Zhi fragrance and a lavender and blueberry martini, Florida’s revitalising vitamin bubble bath and the Goring’s signature champagne cocktail, Australia’s eucalyptus scent and a sour apple martini, Guinea’s pink pepperpod bath paired with a classic Cosmopolitan, or Madagascar’s black pepper bathing experience, expertly married with a majestic Manhattan.

Clocking the C-word

Believe it or not, July is the time when many companies begin gearing up for Christmas. So it’s no surprise that the Vegetarian Society is already armed to help those who are scratching their heads over what to feed their vegetarian family members this Crimbo. You can check out www.vegsoc.org/christmas from October for plenty of recipes, as well as hints, tips and gift ideas. Try celeriac and parsnip rosti with Cumberland sauce, or walnut and spiced plum Christmas cob for size! Or try the new Christmas pie recipe, which is packed with veg, chestnuts, hazelnuts and cranberries, and was created by the Vegetarian Society’s cookery school, Cordon Vert. Alex Connell, Principal Tutor at Cordon Vert, also offers a few tips, such as using olive oil rather than animal fat for roasting, trading meat sausages for vegetarian versions, serving nut roast alongside (or even instead of!) the Christmas bird, purchasing vegetarian wines, and even serving vegetarian haggis as another alternative main. So don’t worry, Rudolph – there are plenty of ways to eat veggie rather than venison.

Cran-tastic

The old wives’ tale of eating cranberries or drinking cranberry juice to combat UTIs has recently been confirmed in a review article in leading scientific medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine. Using cranberries to treat UTIs also helps to combat resistance to antibiotics when they really are needed, so all the more reason to hail this mighty berry. Cranberries are also well-known for their level of antioxidants, which can help to fight ageing, boost the immune and cardiovascular systems, and maybe even serve as an anti-cancer agent. But most importantly for a foodie like me – they taste delish. So tuck in 😀

One love, one coffee

Marley is back – on the food scene, that is. And it isn’t exactly Marley, but rather his son, Rohan, who’s burst onto the gourmet scene with his coffee company, Marley Coffee, which has just launched in the UK. Starting with three premium organic blends, Rohan aims to produce ethical coffees inspired by his reggae heritage and beliefs. These first three blends represent something for everyone – the One Love blend promises floral and fruity notes in its medium roast flavour, while the Buffalo Soldier’s dark roast contains undertones of smoke and chocolate. Finally, the Lively Up! blend is an espresso roast offering hints of cocoa, candied fruit and caramel. A proportion of all profits from this organic coffee company will also be given to Kicks for Cause, a foundation that aims to build soccer fields and camps for children of the coffee-producing communities around the world, enriching their lives through sport. Marley Coffee UK is also a supporter of the One Love Foundation, and will be hitting the road to spread the word (and the love) this summer at music festivals, including the Notting Hill Carnival.

Sunny Spain comes to Yorkshire

A Yorkshire businessman who was born in Spain is launching a premium Spanish food business to bring the best of his home country to British shores. Javier De La Hormaza will sell products such as Iberico ham and 100-year-old brandy in the catalogue of the perhaps surprisingly-named Grey’s Fine Foods. Currently delivering to delis, restaurants and private clients within Yorkshire, Javier sees a bright future for Grey’s with plans to begin deliveries in cities such as Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester in the next few years, combined with the launch of new Spanish gastro bar concept.

New summer menus take pride of place

Celebrity chef Angela Hartnett, already excelling in her work at the Whitechapel Gallery Restaurant, has also turned her hand to the lunch menu at the Murano (also in London). At £25 for a two-course menu, dishes include mint gnocchi, langoustine bisque, caramel parfait. Available from Monday to Saturday, it will run alongside a three course £30 lunch option and the weekly changing Market menu.

Luxury boutique hotel brand Malmaison has also given a tantalising teaser of its new summer menu to would-be guests and customers. Dishes include Cajun swordfish and a raspberry Charlotte Royale. The rejuvenation of the menu also extends to Malmaison’s cocktails, where consumers can now choose from various summer delights, including Coconut and Passionfruit Batidas, Brazilian Apple Blossom, and Rising Sun (made with tequila, lime, Tabasco, and Sauvignon Blanc). Perhaps you will even choose to stay at a Malmaison while contemplating your next trip to one of the festivals below?

It’s festival time!

Wannabe bakers will be rubbing their flour-dusted hands with glee at the prospect of The Real Bread Festival, which takes place at London’s Southbank Centre between the 5th and 7th of October. Attendees will be able to taste different concoctions and talk to prestigious bakers, including Richard Bertinet and Rose Prince. As well as covering breads of the world and gluten-free baking, among other topics, the festival will also provide a children’s area to keep even the tiniest of bakers entertained. The annual Cheese & Wine Festival is due to take place just a week later, this time in Southbank Centre Square, from October 12 to October 14. From tartiflette to cheese straws, you can be sure of it being there – and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a few wine legends milling around, such as Jancis Robinson and Oz Clarke.

Would-be chocolatiers will also not want to miss The Chocolate Festival , which takes place December 14-16. Exhibitors at the Southbank Centre will include Paul A Young, Valrhona, L’Artisan Du Chocolat and many more. Visitors will be able to eat and drink (trying such specialities as chocolate beer), shop, chat to chocolatiers, and learn about chocolate’s uses and health benefits through talks, tastings and demonstrations. Over 100,000 visitors are expected, so make sure you get there early!

Many ****s make light work

I’ll let you fill in the blank while you get to grips with Gordon Ramsay’s new range of food preparation appliances. Choose from the Prep ‘n’ Blend (Food Processor and Blender), the Blend Master (a unique Blender with handy Mill attachment), and the Blend ‘n’ Blitz (a multi-function blender) – all designed to inspire you and help prepare delicious food at home, with the affordable starting price point of £45. From making soup to crushing ice, grinding coffee beans to grinding spices, Gordon should be there to help you every step of the way thanks to the included booklet of exclusive recipes…with hopefully not too many ****s.

A meal with a view

In our family, we actively seek out meals with a view when we’re on holiday, without getting ripped off. So far favourites include the mountain-top destination of Font Romeu in France, and breakfast in Chiang Mai in Thailand. And here’s another one for you: Busaba Eathai, a restaurant two minutes’ walk from Olympic Park, offers panoramic views over the brand-new Aquatics Centre and a private dining hall that can seat 36 or offer a stand-up reception for 70. Bespoke menus are also available for that truly golden experience this Olympic summer.

London’s best deli offers picnic hamper for two

Just in case it isn’t raining, there are plenty of hampers being sold by main large retailers for the ultimate summer picnic. One example is being offered by boutique grocery shop Melrose and Morgan.  The hamper for two, which has been created by the kitchen voted London’s Best Deli in Rose Prince’s Good Produce Guide 2011, is priced at £44.95 for two and features food characteristic of Melrose and Morgan’s dedication to championing small-scale artisan producers. Melrose and Morgan’s chicken, leek and ham pie, Chegworth Valley strawberries and Neal’s Yard Dairy cheeses are a few examples of the seasonal British foods included for picnickers to enjoy. The hampers can be collected from Melrose and Morgan shops in Primrose Hill and Hampstead village.

Sweet by Levi Roots will get your mouth watering

If you didn’t make it to Roots’ recent masterclass at the Bertinet Kitchen, make sure you pre-order a copy of his new cookbook, Sweet. Roots’ latest batch of recipes is packed with ideas for irresistible cakes, bakes, biscuits, puddings, cocktails and coolers. Featuring recipes such as lime and ginger pie, cardamom and allspice brownies, and a Jamaican tiramisu, this book is the ultimate bible for anyone with a sweet tooth – and it’s out now 🙂 *adds to Amazon wishlist*

Dashing desserts celebrate Jubilee summer

A national group of country pubs has launched a cake to celebrate Her Majesty’s milestone with the help of Paul Hollywood (of “Great British Bake-off” fame). Chefs for Vintage Inns have created the Vintage Summer Cake, a triple-decker sponge cake with raspberries and blackcurrants, summer fruit syrup, cream and blueberry fruit, to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. The patriotic pudding will feature exclusively on the Vintage Inns menu until the end of August and for every £3.95 slice Vintage Inns will donate 15p to Marie Curie Cancer Care.

But if you’re not really a ‘cake’ person (in which case, I’m not sure we’d get on…), you can always check out the new line of dairy-free desserts that’s recently launched at Tesco and Waitrose. Food Heaven is a brand new range of award-winning indulgent cheesecakes that are free from dairy, lactose, gluten and cholesterol. These come in two flavours – Sicilian Lemon and Summer Fruits – and have already won the Puddings and Desserts category of the 2012 Free From Food Awards. They are made in the UK’s only dedicated factory that is certified free from dairy, gluten, nut, egg, and meat – meaning vegans, those with allergies or just those trying to lead a healthier lifestyle can proceed with confidence.

And speaking of the sweet stuff…

Chocolate events company Chocolate Delight is offering a new two-day course, Fundamentals Of Chocolate, that could be the golden ticket to a dream job for anyone dreaming of a new life as a chocolatier. Or, if you’re just wanting to take your chocolate-making skills to the next level, there’s the one-day Advanced Chocolate course. These courses cover everything from speciality moulding to the legal aspects of selling chocolate you’ve made yourself. Both courses take place at the family-owned Chocolate Boutique Hotel in Bournemouth on midweek dates until April 2013. Complimentary refreshments and lunch are provided, and specially discounted room rates at the hotel are available too for those who wish to stay overnight. Sounds good to me – and as I’ve already treated my husband to a wine-tasting course this year, he may consider this an appropriate gift in return this Christmas *hint hint*…

English wine, eh?

While my husband is perfectly receptive to English wine, he’s still more knowledgeable on the stuff produced in the land of the froggies. So he may be interested in the English wines tasted during English Wine Week this year to pair with South Devon crab. The 2010 Sharpham Estate Selection from South Devon Sharpham Estate was pronounced the winner, with an honourable mention given to Knowle-based Lily Farm’s Brut Sparkling Rosé. The panel taking part in the blind tasting of 16 wines from an assortment of producers across Devon consisted of wine writer Susy Atkins, Master of Wine Xenia Irwin, local wine merchant Nick Borst-Smith, Ben Foster of Newton Wines, James Dart from Dart’s Farm and Jonathan Woollatt from Chris Piper Wines. They tasted wines from a variety of south-west producers including some located in Totnes, Topsham, Bickleigh and St George, to name a few.

[image]Devon is home to some of the UK’s best-renowned and award- winning vineyards which produce some classic wines. “Devon’s wine scene is now exciting, modern, dynamic – as the line-up in this blind tasting showed,” said Susy Atkins.

Visitors will have the opportunity to try the winning wine alongside other drinks when they attend one of the new and extended 2012 crab festival events at Dartmouth, Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth.

Put a zing in your step with ZEO

  • Intro to ZEO

Not everybody likes wine, though, and luckily there are plenty of alternatives out there. Launched for this summer, ZEO is a new drink with a blend of natural essences and extracts from the flora of all continents, designed to chill, warm and tingle. These extracts include trees, virgin flowers, wild berries, fresh green herbs, grains and exotic spices. As a non-alcoholic option, it means that everyone can enjoy the party, and is now available in select premium bars across the UK. It’s perfect served with a citrus twist of your choice, or even as part of an alcoholic cocktail: mix with gin or absinthe, serve as part of a fruit punch, or make a ZEO version of a Dirty Martini. Available now, it should provide a zingingly refreshing twist to the summer of 2012.

Back to earth…and to the scales

With the summer comes the eating of many delicious goodies. And since what goes up must come down, this inevitably means that with the end of the summer comes the dreaded diet. But it need not be awful. Thankfully there are many ways to achieve weight-loss goals, from the wonderful to the wacky. I’ll take you through a few of the latest. Rebecca Kane’s newest book, Turn Your Shine On, emphasises a raw food diet but recognises the difficulties in implementing a 100% raw philosophy into daily life. He[image]r book promises to strengthen people’s relationships with food, enable them to lose weight if needed, and to improve their confidence. Other possible health benefits include the amelioration or even elimination of IBS, migraines and tiredness.
Turn Your Shine On provides healthy eating plans, and encourages users to progress at a pace that’s right for them. The aim is to make raw food seem quick, easy and delicious, rather than just something other people do. For quicker results, you could also try Boot Camp In A Bottle – a zero-calorie drink containing  psyllium seeds and husks, bentonite clay and activated willow charcoal. When mixed with water it expands to 20 times its weight, helping dieters to feel fuller for longer, and allowing energy to be released from stored fat. Fortified with vitamins and minerals, it also ensures you have everything you need for the day. Boot Camp In A Bottle is available through bootcampfoods.com, via telephone on 0800 644 1864, or at a number of independent pharmacies and health food shops. Just make sure when you diet that you stay safe, have a good support network, and consult medical professionals when needed. Have a d-lightful summer 🙂

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