Come fly with me

Aer Lingus has announced its new premium three course meal choice, ‘Sky Dine’, available to pre-order now for customers travelling in economy class on transatlantic flights between Dublin, Shannon and the USA. The first meals were delivered on board on the 14th February. The meals, created by Aer Lingus Head Chef James Keaveney in close partnership with Sean Cotter from Catering, North America, are each complemented by a choice of red or white wine. The Steak House meal consists of fillet of beef, sautéed potatoes with onion, spinach topped with tomato tartar, mushrooms and served with peppercorn sauce. Dessert consists of cheesecake chocolate mousse. The Cod with Salsa Verde meal option is a fillet of cod topped with salsa verde crust, served with baby potatoes and steamed fresh vegetables. Dessert is a delicious seasonal fruit salad. A third option is chicken stuffed with Irish black pudding, wrapped in bacon, served with colcannon and steamed root vegetables. Chocolate mousse or cheesecake is served for dessert. I really think that luxury meal choices should be available on all flights – even if you have to pay more!

Come fly with me – Twinings style

British Airways and Twinings are promising to transform tea in the air with an innovative new blend of the nation’s favourite drink, specifically designed to work at altitude. The British Airways signature blend tea took to the skies on February 1, 2013 for customers in all cabins. With research to prove that taste can be reduced by up to 30 per cent at 35,000 feet, the airline commissioned Twinings to come up with a teabag that would taste as good in the sky as it does on the ground. Water in an aircraft boils at around 89°C, which is less than the ideal 100°C for black tea. Reduced air pressure and humidity also affect our taste buds – so there’s plenty of mileage in the development of new blends for high fliers. The airline conducted tastings on the ground and in the air with a panel of customers, cabin crew and experts, including Twinings senior buyer Mike Wright, before coming up with the new tea – a blend of Assam, Kenyan and Ceylon tea for body, strength, flavour and colour. In First Class, customers are also being treated to a selection of unique speciality teas from the Twinings Whole Leaf Silky Pyramids range which includes Mint Humbug and Honeycomb Camomile as well as classics such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey. While I’m not sure when I’ll next fly BA, I look forward to trying this new blend – but look forward to hearing about it from you before that.

Come cook with me – Japanese style

SOZAI – meaning both ”household dishes” and “ingredients” in Japanese – is a brand new concept and the first Japanese cooking school in the UK. All classes will be available to book singly, typically running for 90 – 120 minutes, with no need to sign up for a course. SOZAI works with Japanese chefs as well as celebrity guest chefs – many Michelin starred – such as Nuno Mendes of Viajante, Daisuke Hayashi of Crysan and Anton Edelmann. The chefs will show students how to make dishes ranging from sushi and tempura to authentic kaiseki and street food such as ramen and okonomiyaki. The interactive website at www.sozai.co.uk also allows you to post suggestions for classes based on dishes you have enjoyed. These will then be voted on by other viewers by simply pressing a “like” button. The most popular dishes will become the subject of new classes. Classes will be held at two kitchens in central London: SOZAI, 5 Middlesex Street, London E1 7AA (Liverpool Street) and SO Restaurant, 3-4 Warwick Street, London W1B 5LS (Soho). However, here’s hoping the concept will spread across the UK soon.

Come cook with me – Delia style

With the news that Delia Smith is leaving our television screens comes the question of what she’ll be doing next. It’s perhaps unsurprising that she’s moving on to helping the nation to shape up their kitchens, after often becoming frustrated about tin sizes changing or being discontinued right after she’s recommended them in her recipes. This problem should soon be solved thanks to the development of her own line of baking tins and other equipment. Joining forces with Alan Silverwood and Falcon Products, she hopes to provide all budding bakers with kit to last a lifetime. They will also be launched in independent outlets, with a view to encouraging fans to buy British and support the country’s small businesses. Items can be purchased individually or as a whole set, which make it perfect for setting any person or couple up for life in the kitchen. We’ve already started the process here at the Ferret homestead of replacing a few of our pots and pans with top quality products, and we’re sure the new Delia range will help too.

Not before tea

How many of us remember our parents saying “not before tea” or “you’ll spoil your dinner” when asking for sweets as children? Based on this all-too-common response, Nine-year-old Henry Patterson has opened his very own online sweetshop, named Not Before Tea. On the basis that “sweets must be as fun as toys and do stuff”, the brand’s unique selling point is undoubtedly the inclusion of glass-writing pens with each of the jars that holds the sweets ordered. Another innovative addition comes in the form of reward stickers to ensure that tiny teeth get cleaned after sweet consumption. I love the entrepreneuralism involved here, and am sure that Henry will definitely beecome a shining star in the food world as an adult (and perhaps even before then). Now, how many Double Dips should I order?

Gourmet giftsIn my family, gift-giving is all about April: not only does my birthday fall then, but so do those of my two grandmothers, my mother, and my aunt. Easter often comes in April too (although it’s not the case this year, unless you count Easter Monday). So in the run-up to this period of intense gifting, these gifts from Terra Rossa should help me to choose, and maybe even help you too if you’re in a similar boat. The Jordanian sweets seem tempting, presenting sugared almonds, assorted nougat and ‘manna from heaven’ in a traditional gift bag. Equally tantalising is the authentic dipping kit, which, like the sweets, comes in at under £20. The chilli-infused olive oil comes with its own hand-made dipping bowls, and you can also use the accompanying Zaatar herb mix (made from thyme, sesame seeds and sumac) to spice up your evenings. Add your own fresh crusty bread and you have one successful gift that’s perfect for sharing.

Find your food in Yorkshire

The Yorkshire Food Finder is back for 2013, with events including charcuterie and butchery skills classes, the chance to pair food with Yorkshire ciders and ales, and learning more about fresh cheese making. It sounds to me like a great chance to taste seasonal specialities and meet the county’s top chefs. There are more than 30 trails available this year already, with more in development, which also give foodies the opportunities to explore Yorkshire’s coast and moors while experiencing the produce of more than 25 artisans. I can’t be there to enjoy the mouthwatering behind-the-scenes access to farms, creameries, cellars, country estates and quaysides, or to sample the regional products on offer, but I hope you can be. There’s nothing like celebrating a place’s traditions of craft, taste, landscapes and livelihoods, and I hope more areas of the UK will follow the Yorkshire Food Finder’s example.

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