Ferret Food Monthly: October 2016 Wednesday, Oct 12 2016 

Reviving Ferret Food Monthly after a loooooooooooong hiatus…

Connected cup brings drinks

A little alcohol-based news for you now! Malibu has invented a cup that will enable you to order more drinks without ever leaving the dancefloor. Say bye-bye to the bar queue and twist the base of the cup to have your drink brought straight to you. An industry first, the Malibu Coco-nect cup (shaped, predictably, like a coconut) uses wifi and RFID technology to send drinks orders to the bar and pinpoint your location. Once the order has been accepted, a light at the bottom of the vessel changes colour, and when your drink is ready, the base of the cup flashes to let the server know where you are once they are in the vicinity. Ten prototype cups were trialled this summer with the system set to be rolled out further in 2017 – meaning that you’ll never have to miss a moment of the fun. To watch a video of the cup in action, click here.

cacao-picSweet like chocolate

In other news, chocolate actually burns fat now. Yes, really. We’ve known for a while now that high-cacao chocolate is good for you (at least 70% cocoa solids) and this just adds one more benefit to the list. According to Callum Melly of BodyIn8.com, cacao is rich in flavanols and polyphenols, which can prevent cardiovascular disease, reduce the risk of stroke, improve circulation, reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol and prevent hardening of the arteries. Drinking hot cacao before a meal helps us to consume fewer calories during the day and leads to a natural calorie deficit and weight loss. Furthermore, cacao contains MAO inhibitors which can suppress your appetite. To get the maximum benefits, try cacao nibs or even 100% cacao chocolate. If nothing else, cacao is rich in anandamide (for a sense of euphoria), phenethylamine (endorphin trigger and aphrodisiac), and magnesium (to protect against osteoporosis and diabetes as well as lowering blood pressure), and can even boost serotonin levels (for stress relief). So by all accounts – come, fill the cup!


Ferret Food Monthly (January 2013) Thursday, Jan 31 2013 

A juicy start

We’re all told about how good fruit juice is for us, and how it can count as one of our five a day. Now you can widen the circle of varieties you’ve tried thanks to Neal’s Yard’s latest venture, the Wild Juicery. Offering nutrient-rich smoothies and snacks (for example, the High Energy Trail Mix contains mulberries, cacao nibs, pau d’arco, and Incan berries, to name just a few ingredients) alongside fresh juices, it sounds like a one-stop shop for Londoners’ health, with guidance on foraging, nutrition, and superfoods also available. The juices available are definitely more creative than any you’ll find in your local supermarket, and include Electrified (which contains, among other things, apple, lime, and aloe vera), and various teas and tinctures are also available (such as rosehip, nettle, hawthorn and honey). While not cheap, with juices starting at £3.20, more valuable is arguably the opportunities this presents to get people off on their own juicing journey and eventually a healthier lifestyle overall. Its location at 16a Neal’s Yard (postcode WC2H 9DP) also means I’ll definitely be visiting soon – it’s just a stone’s throw away from the London hotel that I’ll be staying at in both March and April.

All you need is Love Hearts

Swizzels Matlow are already well-known for their impressive and affordable seasonal collections, and they’ve been equally quick to jump on the Valentine’s bandwagon with their Love Hearts packages. The company has produced 100,000 vintage-style collectable tins that are stuffed to the brim with Love Hearts, at a price of £2.49 for 100g. Giant 108g tubes of the classic sweet are also available for £1, with a bumper pack of 30 standard size tubes on sale for £3. This is just the tip of the iceberg – and those purchasing from http://www.lovehearts.com can claim an additional 15% discount by entering the code LOVE15 at the checkout. I already know who I’ll be sending some to…

Provence (2)On the road again

Here at FFW we’re already planning our year’s holidays, and it looks to us like BestWineRoutes’ mobile phone app could really help us in fine-tuning the details. Covering wineries worldwide, it also integrates directly with the iPhone’s mapping system to take you straight to your chosen vineyard. With information about over 20,000 wineries, there’s bound to be something for every wine lover, with reviews, pictures and videos really helping you to decide which one(s) to visit. It’s also easy to share your visit with friends thanks to integration with your favourite social networks, and all of this comes for a mere £2.49 – which seems like a bargain to me.

Sleep, don’t weep

In spite of our enjoyment of (nearly) all things alcoholic here at FFW, we all know that alcohol makes us tired and emotional when consumed in excess, but it appears that it can also affect our sleep. Even if a cheeky nightcap helps you to drift off more quickly, it can disturb your slumber later in the night according to the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research journal. Alcohol reduces rapid eye movement sleep, which is important for concentration, memory and motor skills. The loss of REM sleep also results in you waking during the second half of the night, meaning you get a poorer night’s sleep overall. However, it’s also worth checking into other aspects of your sleep environment, such as the room temperature, the presence of technology and pets, noise levels, bedding quality, and your regular nightly routine (such as what time you go to bed). Look at these things again, and hopefully those who suffer with trying to sleep could be well on the way to wellbeing.

Would you Adam and Eve it?

Treat your loved one (all year round…not just on Valentine’s Day!) with tea at Fortnum and Mason’s in their Diamond Jubilee Tea room with their latest tea, the Adam and Eve Afternoon Tea. As you’d expect, it’s replete with luxury, from the rosé champagne and black forest fondant to the oysters and goat’s cheese cone. However, it also isn’t cheap at £60 per person: but for the right person, and a very special occasion, who knows?

bcHave a break, have a biscuit (cushion)

We all love biscuits, but we don’t all love the calories involved. A biscuit cushion by FunkyHoney.co.uk could go some way to giving us the best of both worlds thanks to their stuffed replicas of popular favourites, such as Jammy Dodgers and Custard Creams. My fave is the Party Ring for its most realistic likeness to the real thing. Priced at £17 each, they make a great gift for any biscuit lover, and a sweet treat for yourself. I’m also eyeing up the purse shaped like a Bourbon, and other craftier readers may also enjoy the biscuit-shaped tape-measures. Warning: not suitable for dunking purposes.

Fabulous food in February

Foodies should be looking to hot-foot it to Westfield (London and Stratford City branches) this February to celebrate Food Explorer Month, where lucky shoppers will be treated to demonstrations, competitions, food safaris and special offers. Upload a photo of you enjoying a meal at one of the centres to Instagram, tagging it #FoodExplorer followed by either #WestfieldLondon or #WestfieldStratfordCity. You could win a complimentary meal for two for your next visit. Wahaca is also running an even bigger competition: all visitors to Thomasina Miers’ restaurant could win a culinary trip for two to Mexico! There’s also Kids In The Kitchen workshops for families, and Gennaro Contaldo will be holding demonstrations at Jamie’s Italian at Westfield London. Cocktail masterclasses will be taking place every Wednesday evening at 6.30pm too, proving that there’s really something for everyone. I’d be there if I could 🙂

Ferret Food Monthly (August 2012) Friday, Aug 31 2012 

We’re all going on a foodie holiday

While I sit here totally pogged out from a birthday meal at Les 4 Vents, it almost seems hard to think about yet more food! And yet with the various temptations on offer in Wales, it’s almost difficult not to as well. Carmarthenshire, for instance, has a whole website dedicated to its food trails, which feature its very best farm shops, pie shops, tea shops, pubs and bars to name just a few. It also promises to put you on to Prince Charles’ favourite cheese and cake (you need to go to Carmarthen’s Indoor Market for both), smoked trout, squirrel on sale in Carmarthen Market, and the newly acclaimed ‘best restaurant in Wales’, Y Polyn, hiding in the sleepy village of Capel Dewi. The trails make it easy to avoid the big supermarkets and eat locally – and a visit to fisherman Big Bill, who cooks up his catch every weekend and serves it in his Llansteffan living room, also seems strangely appealing.

Also a candidate for a late ‘staycation’ in the first half of September is a trip to the Abergavenny Food Festival. Make sure you don’t miss The Chocktail Party on the Friday night – a choice combo of spirits and chocolates with luxury chocolatier Marc Demarquette and James Chase of Chase Distillery, plus sleight-of-hand from Harvey Nicols’ bar manager/mixologist Dom Jacobs too. The festival itself includes a pop-up Indian restaurant, pastry sessions from expert chef Richard Bertinet, the chance to meet the founders of the Ottolenghi restaurants, and much more besides. Unfortuantely, come the 15th and 16th of September I’ll be in the thick of managing a pit of hormonal 16-year-olds who keep changing their minds about their IGCSE options. I’ll be there with you in spirit though…promise!

Variety is the spice of life

To keep me from despair during the stress of September and October, I’m already thinking of ordering a batch of new cookbooks in to help me let off steam (Hairy Dieters, anyone?). But I’m thinking that HalfWine‘s new collection may help me too: they’ve just unveiled a new range of wines for chilli and spice lovers like me. The half-bottle wine merchant is highlighting several wines from Alsace to go with my home-made curries – and I like the sound of the recommendations made so far by HalfWine’s founder. Riesling is suggested for Thai green curries and other chilli-based dishes, with Gewurztraminer flagged up for cream-based ones, such as Tandoori chicken. Half-bottles are great for my household too: being part French, we never get through a whole bottle between us in one sitting, so half-bottles help us to reduce wastage and to try new varieties in a more cost-effective way, as well as choose quality over quantity and moderate the amount that we drink. Now – anyone know any good Indian cookery books?

Slimming for summer?

You’d never think that the pre-holiday diet was dead, but according to a recent survey conducted by Directline Holidays, it is as good as. Only 5% of over 500 surveyed admitted crash dieting before a holiday and fewer than 2% are worried about how they look in a bikini. This can mean only one of two things: either Brits have let themselves go completely, or they’re opting for more sensible long-term programmes of weight-loss and weight maintenance. Let’s hope it’s the latter! As for me, I’m not so much thinking of next summer’s bikini as I am of Christmas: for me, shedding pounds between September and December is a matter of damage limitation, given that Christmas food is possibly my most favourite food on the entire planet. Now, where’s my Weight Watchers stuff?!

Tea, glorious tea

Part of my weight-loss programme normally involves an accelerated consumption of liquids to counteract the decreased amounts of food that I’m inevitably taking in. Liquids I tend to rely on during this time are coffee, Diet Coke, water, cup-a-soup, and tea. Tea is a particularly good one due to the sheer number of varieties available, and now I have another company’s teas to add to my ‘to try’ list: Lishi Teas source direct from China, where tea has long been respected for its medicinal properties. I particularly like the look of its chrysanthemum tea, which I’ve never heard of or tried. Designed to be mixed with green tea, they come from Anhui Province and are traditionally also mixed with goji berries and sugar. It’s also said to help with various ailments, including sore throats, fever, and acne – so if Lishi Tea can add more unusual and medicinal teas like this into their repertoire, chances are they’ll find me on their list of customers in the near future.

Fight illness with food

We’ve all heard of chicken soup for the soul – but now prestigious London restaurant Redhook is trying to fight illness with food. Hoping to raise funds to help those with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, on September 12th the restaurant will be holding an auction, with items to bid for including a boxing glove signed by Dizzee Rascal, and a Star Trek comic book signed by Sir Patrick Stewart. Tickets for the evening include cocktails on arrival, gourmet canapés, unique entertainment, automatic entry into a raffle for a fabulous weekend for two in Wales, and the opportunity to bid in the auction in support of Action Duchenne. Additionally, guests can purchase a bespoke three-course meal, designed for the evening by head chef Jeff Roxas-Green. Tickets for Auction Duchenne, which are £50 for the evening, and £80 to include the additional three course meal, are available from the Action Duchenne website: http://www.actionduchenne.org/auctionduchenne

Flying the flag for Red Tractor quality

Have you ever seen that red tractor logo on your food packaging and wondered what it meant? Look no further – Red Tractor Week, which runs from September 24 to September 30, should tell you everything you need to know. In short, though, you can take it as a hallmark of quality, a guarantee of origin, and a promise of environmental protection and animal welfare. The campaign is backed by stars of Coronation Street and Bad Girls, who aim to show how easy is it to buy, cook and eat Red Tractor foods. Red Tractor Week 2012 will involve a number of activities designed to educate shoppers on the availability and accessibility of Red Tractor products and the values behind the logo, including cook-along videos, an exclusive look ‘Behind the Logo’, a nationwide cookery competition and a regional schools initiative. To take part and find out more, visit www.redtractor.org.uk/RTW2012, where you can enter the Red Tractor cooking competition, and find out how to follow activities via Twitter and Facebook. You’ll find me there downloading their week-long meal plan!

Take your tractor to the Cake and Bake Show

Once you’re done embracing one of Britain’s most iconic logos, you can get on with embracing one of its biggest trends – baking – at the Cake and Bake Show (although actually, as it’s being held at Earls Court in London, you may have difficulty arriving by tractor!). Also taking place in September, the show stars Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood, along with Richard Bertinet, renowned chocolatier Paul A Young, and many more. Don’t miss Mary Berry’s cake demonstrations, or the food market selling cakes, bread, pies and the latest baking equipment. And, for tiny bakers, there’ll be a children’s area headed up by Annabel Karmel – so prepare for stickiness (which, to be honest, with it being back to school time, you’re probably ready for anyway). Happy baking!

Ferret Food Monthly (July 2012) Tuesday, Jul 31 2012 

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.


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 🙂

Ferret Food Monthly: Sept/Oct 2011 Sunday, Oct 30 2011 

Special Christmas foods now hitting shelves

Christmas seems to get earlier and earlier every year (not that I’m complaining!) and food retailers are no exception to this, rolling out new products in the hope of making life easier for the Christmas cook and making a quick buck along the way. The Secret Kitchen, for instance, counts a white wine and porcini finishing sauce (to garnish chicken, pork and white fish), a chocolate peppermint sauce (for hot chocolate and desserts) and a mochaccino cookie mix among its newest innovations. Vimto is also launching a new drink to celebrate the festive season: its Hot Mulled Berry Punch blends the original Vimto flavour with spices for a brand new drink which can be drank hot or cold, alone or as a mixer for a hot winter cocktail (and all for £1.89/725ml at Tesco from November 21!). In addition, celebrity chef James Martin has launched an exclusive range of his own brand products with Highland Fayre, creating luxury gift hampers, boxes and baskets that include signed gift cards and James Martin cookbooks. Containing fine wines, relishes, cakes, preserves, handmade chocolates and more, the hampers are suitable for all occasions and budgets. The ultimate gift, though, perhaps comes in the form of a collaboration between The Antique Wine Company and British design house Linley: its rosewood, ebony and satinwood box is being made in a limited edition run of 50, housing five of the finest bottles of Bordeaux. Containing a bottle each of Château Lafite Rothschild 2003, Château Latour 1982, Château Mouton Rothschild 1986, Château Margaux 2000 and Château Haut Brion 1989, you’ll need money to burn: this classic coffret will set you back £12,800.

Calorie counting

I can’t be the only one to feel that one method of preparation for Christmas is to overcompensate in the months before by increasing the proportions of diet and exercise. It would appear that others do feel the same way, as now more than 1000 McDonalds restaurants in Britain have begun displaying the calories in each item on their menus, following trends in New York City. Other chains that have signed up to the British calorie display programme include KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks.

But there are also other ways and means to drop some weight should you feel so inclined: David Kirsch’s Thermo Bubbles are the latest Hollywood trend in the form of a supplement that you add to your drinks to help you maintain your fitness and wellness goals. Tasting of pink lemonade, the supplement contains two blends of vitamins, herbs and minerals to boost energy levels and metabolism, curb appetite, and promote lean muscle mass. Said to be 100% natural, the supplement contains no artificial colours or flavours and can be added directly to water. It’s available at Space NK for £37.

Hypno-Aromacology Programming also allegedly makes it possible to naturally shed pounds – this time by tricking your brain into eating the right foods. Philip Winston, an Oxford-based clinical hypnotherapist, creates a “virtual gastric band” that is food-specific. Following an individual client consultation, Winston uses hypnotherapy and aromacology to “rewire” the client’s tastes and desires.

There’s an app for that

It’s also unsurprising that most smartphones also now have apps to help to keep you on the straight and narrow – and more new diet-related ones are out this month. Those with coeliac disease – as well as those with other food allergies or intolerances – can use the FoodWiz to help them make ‘safe’ food selections when out shopping. The constant vigilance that’s often required for those with food allergies and intolerances can often be time-consuming, boring, difficult and frustrating – and it’s something FoodWiz aims to help with. The app has the full cooperation of the major supermarkets, who have shared their food databases for the first time with a third party: the FoodWiz team. By simply inputting ingredients they wish to avoid, and scanning barcodes in store, shoppers can safely choose appropriate foods.

The NutraCheck app also scans barcodes to help shoppers keep track of their diets. Once a barcode has been scanned, it is added to a food diary which tots up daily calorie intake and helps dieters on the road to successful weight loss. Its UK food database contains over 100,000 foods and weights and measures are also tailored to UK users. The app  also shows how many calories you have left for the day on the home screen icon, without the need to open it, and gives access to the Nutracheck online slimming community for instant support and advice. Weight loss progress is also shown in a graph for immediate updates and motivation.

And to undo it all…

…there are naturally plenty of cookery courses available in the run-up to the holiday season. Ashburton Cookery School is on hand to help you cook the perfect Christmas dinner in just one day thanks to its time-saving tips and advice, as well as inspiring recipes and key organisational skills that can come in handy from canapés to Christmas pudding. Six one-day courses, each priced at £149, are available throughout December. For the oenophiles among you, a Food and Wine Matching Masterclass at the AWC Wine Academy with Saturday Kitchen star and wine writer Susy Atkins could be right up your alley. Taking place on December 7th from 11.00-13.00, the £95 course promises to show you how to match eight fine wines with traditional festive dishes (which will be served in canapé form). Wines will include classic reds from Bordeaux and Rioja, Champagne, Riesling from Germany/Australia, a white Burgundy, and a tawny port.

You could of course always do one better and fly out to Carcassonne in France to prepare yourself for yuletide. Owing to last-minute cancellations on the French House Party Carcassonne’s flagship cookery course, the Gourmet Explorer has spaces available at the unbelievable price of £950 – usual cost £1400 for single travellers. The all-inclusive course includes cookery tuition from not one, but two master-chefs who run their own multi-star restaurants in the Carcassonne region.  Transfers from Toulouse or Carcassonne airports are also included, as well as two meals out at restaurants and various other outings.

Public health: meat-eating and alcohol

As a lapsed vegetarian (crossed over to the dark side for 1-2 years before realising I would be moving to France, where resistance would clearly be futile), I would still call myself a veggie sympathiser: even today, I don’t eat meat/fish every day and see no need to. I was therefore pleased to see the distribution of a paper to all MPs recommending a plant-based diet as a way to ease the strain on public health systems. “Plant-Based Diets: a solution to our public health crisis” shows leading physicians revealing their belief that such a switch would reduce the incidence and cost of various menacing maladies, such as cancer, obesity and heart disease. With over 60% of the population being overweight or obese, the release of the paper is very timely indeed. But vegetarianism or veganism are still not magic bullets: plenty of people who already follow these diets still sadly succumb to these diseases. However, we may as well give ourselves a good chance to begin with. Even if we just go meat-free a few days a week, that, in my view, is better than consuming meat and fish every day.

John Dalli, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, also addressed the 9th plenary meeting of the European Alcohol and Health Forum in Brussels. Commissioner Dalli appealed to industry, civil society and the public health community to strengthen efforts to protect young people from alcohol-related harm. According to the most recent European surveys, half of school children aged 15 to16 years have drunk alcohol in the past month – despite the minimum drinking age being 18 in most EU countries. The Commissioner will stress the need to step up action, especially when it concerns young people. His speech is available here, and more information can also be found on the Alcohol and Health Forum. But I think it is important, too, to avoid being reactionary: in my experience, safe introduction of small amounts of alcohol within a child’s home can help to demystify alcohol and minimise the appeal of binge drinking.


But since we all need to have fun sometimes, I think that Bristol-based chocolate company Feeding Your Imagination’s recent four Gold stars from the Great Taste Awards for their Fairtrade chocolate bars is worth celebrating. The bars weigh 100g and have irreverent names such as Sensual, Sexy and Seductive. The hand-made chocolates also go beyond deliciousness by using natural essential oils and herbs to bring therapeutic properties to the eating experience. The Sexy bar brings chilli to the mix, while Sensual uses orange oil and nutmeg alongside a hint of chilli. While these bars won a star each, Seductive won two stars for its combination of ginger, jasmine green tea, and goji berries. With the essential oils helping to create a “massage from within”, and fifteen bars in the range to choose from, this would certainly be a unique gift for any chocoholic.

Counting down to Christmas in chocolate form is also hardly new, but FotoInsight hopes to combine the traditional chocolate advent calendar with happy family memories in its special Advent calendars with your own picture and 24 chocolate balls in festive wrapping as an alternative to mass produced advent calendars. Out now, each calendar costs £9.99.

A hug for the tummy from across the miles

If you can’t be with friends and family – at any time of year – it’s always great to be able to let them know you’re thinking of them. Whether it’s care packages for students at uni from worried parents, or birthday gifts being sent from afar, Muffin Heaven believes it has the answer with its cake delivery service. Its indulgent and supersized £12 Muffin Hugs are hand made in Devon from all natural ingredients and do not contain any preservatives. They are individually decorated and wrapped, and adorned with a personal message. For an extra £1 muffins can be accessorised with a sparkler or candle. Choose from four mouth-watering and irresistible flavours: Carrot, Orange and Cinnamon, Rocky Road, Double Chocolate Hug and Strawberries and Cream. Or, for Christmas, select a limited-edition flavour: White Chocolate & Cranberry, Chocolate Cherry Brandy, Rum and Raisin, or Christmas Spices.

Ferret Food Monthly: January 2011 Saturday, Jan 15 2011 

Yes, I’m aware that this blog has been on extreme hiatus for some time. I’m sorry 😦

Domino’s voted top pizza company in customer experience league table
It’s a good start to 2011 for Domino’s, who at the end of 2010 have topped a poll by Nunwood of 5500 consumers. When asked to rate over 170 brands, customers deemed Domino’s their favourite pizza company. While Domino’s couldn’t quite beat Amazon – the UK public’s favourite brand overall – and had to share some of the glory with the result of a Valued Opinions survey (which revealed Chinese food to be Britain’s favourite takeaway) the chief executive of Domino’s was still delighted. “We’re delighted to have been voted the top pizza brand in this customer experience survey,” said Chris Moore. “We pride ourselves on not just delivering great tasting, piping hot pizza but fantastic customer service too. We’ve made considerable investment in both our ordering process, with new innovations such as our online pizza tracker and iPhone app, and customer service programme this year so to score well in this survey is the icing on the cake – or the pepperoni on our pizza!”

First weight-loss clinic opens in Northern Ireland
And for all you Northern Irish pizza eaters who don’t fancy losing weight the traditional way, Northern Ireland’s first weight-loss clinic has just opened. Gravitas has six other clinics across the UK, and it is they who have opened the doors to Northern Irish people (who have traditionally had to travel to mainland Britain or continental Europe for weight loss surgery). Having a facility closer to home is important on several levels, says Andrew Kennedy, an experienced weightloss surgery consultant. “The secret of good long-term weight loss rests on the strength of the partnership between the patient and the bariatric team. All too often patients who travel overseas for cut-price surgery do not get the vital aftercare and support needed for a safe, successful outcome” he added. “At Gravitas, we provide consultant-led follow-up locally with 24-hour emergency access. By working closely with our colleagues in primary care, we ensure excellent outcomes, significantly better than those generally reported in most European centres.” In the face of spiralling obesity statistics in the country, it’s always great to know that whatever their medical concerns, people have a place to go to address them. In the meantime, don’t munch on too much Domino’s (we know it’s good, though).

National food award for Brighton restaurant
Independent vegetarian café iydea has won the Best Approved Eating Out award from The Vegetarian Society. Described as an “express vegetarian canteen that offers fresh, healthy, world food available to eat in or take away, with fresh menus and new ideas every day” by owner Steve Billam, it sounds like a pretty good antidote to all that pepperoni alluded to in the past two paragraphs. And it isn’t just a place for the PETA brigade either – 90% of iydea’s customers are non-vegetarians.

Wild venison now available from new online shop
That 10% of vegetarian iydea customers may want to look away now, though – venison can now be ordered all year round at the click of a mouse thanks to Deliciously Wild’s new online shop, recently launched at http://www.deliciouslywild.co.uk. Additive-free and gluten-free sausages and burgers are also available, and all products are delivered in specially insulated boxes so that the meat stays in peak condition. The website gives recipes and cookery information for a meat that could help us detox after the horrifying indulgence at Christmas – venison has less fat than skinless chicken, is high in Omega-3, and is a good source of zinc, potassium, phosphorous and riboflavin. So what are you waiting for?

So what the fudge should I eat?
Sadly, the answer isn’t usually fudge. Or venison. Or pizza. Or you may not fancy the vegetarian cuisine advocated above (though I can’t see why – as a vegetarian, I was slimmer, more energetic and financially better off than as a meat-eater). The book entitled “So What The **** Should I Eat?” by nutritionist and food lover Fiona Kirk therefore perhaps hopes to bridge this gap between celebrity-endorsed fads and long-term healthy-eating regimes of sainthood. Promising to put you in charge of your shape without the feelings of deprivation and denial, it could be what plenty of us need this January – especially following the news that British women are the world’s worst dieters (according to the SPA Future Thinking survey, which interviewed 1500 respondents from around the world). Fiona explains, “Diets are no fun and leave most of us feeling depressed, deprived and dreaming of pizza and pastries. There are a great many books dedicated to helping people achieve optimum health and permanent fat loss and make fascinating and inspirational reading but many are heavy-going and demand total dedication and an iron will. So What the F*** Should I Eat? is more geared to those of us who struggle with the word “no”, find radical change difficult and want to shout from the rooftops that life without a few of our favourites just isn’t living! But, with a little knowledge and a few strategic changes we can cut through the confusion and fat goals can be achieved. And, no we are not staring premature death in the eye unless we ditch the burgers for ever, no matter what the food police tell us!”

Heart-shaped biscuits from Loseley for Valentine’s Day
By Valentine’s Day, however, we should all hopefully be feeling a bit more comfortable in our own skins and ready to hit the biscuits again (not me, though, thanks to my wedding dress fitting in February and subsequent wedding in April). The makers of Summer Meadow Butter, Loseley, bring you this recipe to tempt the one you love: mix 125g butter with 170g sugar until soft, beat in one egg, and then stir in 230g sifted plain flour and 30g of sifted self-raising flour along with 5tbsp desiccated coconut. Cut the mix into heart shapes and bake in a preheated oven of 160°C for 30 minutes. For the icing, mix an egg white with 120g icing sugar before adding another 120g icing sugar and 2tbsp flour, and enough lemon juice (up to 2tsp) to make a spreadable icing, which can be tinted with food colouring before being spread on the cooled biscuits. Present to your loved one to say je t’aime this February.

More Valentine’s treats
The world’s first chocolate-themed hotel has a special Valentine’s package on the menu. The Chocolate Boutique Hotel in Bournemouth has a Valentine’s Day special for £200, involving a night in a chocolate-themed room (complete with chocolate fountain), and two chocolate cocktails in the Chocolate Bar, as well as breakfast the following morning (where I suppose you could drink hot chocolate and indulge in a chocolate muffin or three). On the Saturday, there’s also a Belgian chocolate waffle making workshop (sadly not included in the package deal) at the hotel.

If your budget is a little lower, don’t hesitate to head for Millie’s Cookies, where you can purchase half a dozen red rose cookies or a massive heart-shaped cookie to bestow on your better half. You can also bring home Chip, the cuddly Millie’s Cookies bear, for £9.99, so that you can still enjoy the sweetness of Millie’s even after you’ve eaten all the cookies.

And for gifts for the foodie in your life…
Whether for Valentine’s, birthdays, or any other occasion, nothing says “have a good one” to your resident foodie quite like a gift from Giles and Posner. I already spoke about their innovative Mini Cupcake Maker in October, but the company also plays host to the Hard Candy Candyfloss Maker, which makes candyfloss from hard boiled sweets as well as traditional sugars, and the £29.99 Hotdog Rotisserie. For something more upmarket, you could also try the £60 Stonebake Pizza Oven or the £30 Hot Stone Grill. With popcorn makers and cocktail makers to complete the collection, there truly is something for everyone – you need never be stuck for gift ideas again.

Giles and Posner are not the only ones offering gastronomic gifts, though – others to consider include OXO’s new baking spatula, which at £5 is appropriately supple and rigid to cut and serve all newly-baked treats with ease, as well as being dishwasher-safe.

The world’s first vegetarian TV channel
After years of waiting for technology to catch up, VeggieVision TV founder Karin Ridgers has finally launched the new web TV station in partnership with Life On Show TV. “There are no programmes that cater especially for the estimated 3 to 4 million vegetarians and vegans in the UK and VeggieVision TV would like to be the answer to this – and more.” Karin says. According to the Office of National Statistics 18.3 million households in the UK (70 per cent) had Internet access in 2009. With around 5% of the population vegetarian and an increasing trend of meat reducers VeggieVision TV aims to cater for these people in particular. Karin continues: “We have a fantastic American comedian to share with the viewers as well as cookery clips and celebrity interviews. The Vegetarian society in Japan have been in touch and would like to film for us too. We have a Hollywood actor who is based in Thailand who has made a super clip for our viewers and we can’t wait to show even more content too.” VeggieVision TV channels currently include Cookery, Information, Entertainment World Vision and You TV. Karin is speaking to several schools that are interested in working with VeggieVision and is also keen to develop a music channel too. Now working with Life on Show TV Karin is working flat out to make VeggieVision (www.veggievision.tv) a sustainable business success and a portal that people will enjoy watching no matter what their dietary habits.

Spice up more than just the meal this Valentine’s with a Chantra Thai Curry Kit
Even the veggies can enjoy this one. Skip the queues at restaurants with overpriced Valentine’s Day menus and instead use Chantra Thai Curry kits (see http://www.thaicurrycompany.com) to create a genuine Thai atmosphere at home. The boxes are packed with ingredients carefully sourced from Thailand, such as libido-enhancing lemongrass and chilli, to bring the evening to a seductive conclusion.

Drink your way to good health
We can’t dine on curry all the time and expect to stay svelte, however (sadly). But some drinks companies think they can help to put us on the road to good health with their liquid innovations. The Biocera Alkaline Antioxidant Jug Filter uses bioceramic materials developed from natural minerals to bring alkaline ionised water into the financial reach of everyone. Some traditional filter jugs can leave the water acidic, which is not always good for your health, while the alkaline jugs short-circuit this. Distributed by http://www.water-for-health.co.uk, the Biocera Alkaline Antioxidant Jug Filter has led to whispers on the wind of clients feeling more energised following its use, as well as overweight purchasers losing weight, diabetic consumers getting better blood sugar control (and thus being able to reduce their medication) and cancer sufferers coming through treatments better. At £47.75, it perhaps is a little more expensive than other filters on the market, but maybe good health through your drinking water is worth more than that.

ALIBI Pretox drinks, however, won’t set you back nearly £50 for an initial outlay. Blending 17 essential vitamins, herbal extracts and amino acids, the drinks should certainly help you through the day by giving that extra little lift. Preparing the body in advance for whatever stress you throw at it, ALIBI Pretox drinks are available in Original Citrus or Pomegranate flavours, and are stocked in 48 locations across the UK (mainly Waitrose and WHSmith).

Another “super drink” comes in the form of Chocolatea (which maybe the Chocolate Boutique Hotel should consider stocking if it does not carry it already!). TeaForLife.co.uk combines its already bestselling green tea Simply Sencha with raw organic cacao nibs for a new health sensation that tastes great. Loaded with antioxidants, flavanoids and magnesium, it’s a low-calorie way to simultaneously satisfy your chocolate cravings and leave you feeling fit.

An Eggshellent Charity Breakfast
UK charity Feed The Children (http://feedthechildren.org.uk) is encouraging people to “go to work on an egg” and help to feed children around the world during their Breakfast2Live campaign, which will take place between February 20 and February 26. Workplaces and schools are called to stage charity breakfast events to raise money to help hungry children in the UK and overseas, while restaurants and cafés might like to donate a proportion of their profits to the campaign, to help us all think of the less fortunate.

Much-loved chef moves on
The memorably-named Paul Da-Costa-Greaves is moving on after thirteen years at the Galley Restaurant in Topsham to concentrate on his fine food range, Feeding Your Imagination (http://www.feeding-your-imagination.co.uk/). Paul acknowledges that “as [his] new organic chocolate, seaweed sauces and Christmas puddings have taken off, [he] can no longer give The Galley Restaurant the attention that it deserves.” The self-styled ‘chocolate therapist’, despite his thirteen years at The Galley being over, surely has many more exciting adventures around the corner.

Vitamin what?
We’ve all heard a lot about Vitamin C and Omega-3, but what about Vitamin K2? Two major studies of over 21,000 people have proven this vitamin’s efficacy in helping you to have a healthy heart, and two patents have also just been awarded to this effect. Currently marketed under the name MenaQ7, it’s sold at http://www.nutricentre.com (as well as at other independent retailers) at £18.95 for 60 tablets, and I’m sure that in 2011 Vitamin K2 is going to be the next big thing.

Top 10 Food Trends for 2011
Vitamin K2 is not the only thing to watch out for this year. MySecretKitchen.co.uk’s top trends are as follows:
1 – It’s all about reduction – sodium, sugar and the “undesirables” ie the ingredients that are not understood by the masses. If it’s not in the pantry it’s going to be kicked out.

2 – Citrus Twists – Not just orange and lemon but Yuzu, Pomelo, Tangerine, Bergamot (the flavour that gives Earl Grey tea that unique taste) will be seen more often as people want familiarity but with a little twist.

3 – Hedgerows – As people continue to look inside the UK and around them, so the local produce will continue to flourish. More flavours to come in 2011 for Rose, Blackberry, Elderflower, Rosehip, Elderberry and Sloe.

4 – Smoking toasting and roasting – The trend for increased authenticity in the food that people eat along with an increased willingness to experiment will mean people looking at roasted and toasted spices and smoked oils to add the extra flavour to the occasion.

5 – Good tasting functional foods – It’s all well and good adding the likes of Acaii to a beverage because it’s good for you but it’s got to taste good too. Look out for ingredients that are healthy and good for you in 2011 that also taste great.

6 – Eat in and entertain – More cooking shows, especially when they are focussed on entertaining at home will mean a rise in the dinner party experience. This will also mean more “one-upmanship”; more complicated recipes, more extreme foods, as Mrs Smith becomes even more determined to outdo Mr Jones’s last dinner party efforts.

7 – Extreme BBQs – People are no longer interested in putting the Chinese glazed spare ribs onto the Barbie. Other countries will come through to put more authenticity into the event – Brazilian, Korean, Mongolian as well as the extreme opposite where people will focus solely on traditional local produce from the butcher round the corner with locally produced sauces and marinades from the farmers markets and local delis.

8 –Respect – Continued research in what people are eating along with education in the food chain will mean a surge in fair-trade and free range, although not necessarily organic

9 – Where else can we discover? – What will be the new country that will explode into our everyday cooking lives? Mexican and Thai will continue to rise and are here to stay, North African continues it’s path upwards, but what’s the next big country? Difficult to predict as this trend tends to follow people’s holiday destinations and we all know this has reduced over the last couple of years. If we were to stick our necks out we’d go South American – Brazilian, Argentinean and Peruvian.

10 – Chocolate and … – Chocolate has had quite a lot of good publicity recently with regards to its health properties and it’s becoming quite trendy to know a lot about it. It’s all about provenance, cocoa solids levels, natural processing and the like. Chilli and chocolate combination has become almost the norm with the Walkers launch last year. More flavours will be combining with chocolate next year – lime, raspberry, cherry and for the more daring will bacon and chocolate become seen as it is the States? Somehow we think we have a few years ahead of us before that happens in the UK….

Heavenly Cakes announces gluten- and wheat-free cake range
Stevenage-based Heavenly Cakes have just launched a range of gluten-free, wheat-free and additive-free cakes to their always delicious handmade confections, which are also available online at http://www.heavenlycakes.co.uk as well as in store. With more than 25 variants in stock it could be the largest “free-from” range in the country. Maeve Green, who creates all Heavenly Cakes products, was determined to launch only when she had a very large range to offer. “We could have introduced 3 or 4 cakes, but we wanted to make a bold statement to this vibrant but hitherto short-changed sector of the market. The feedback from our customers, both business & consumer led us to pursue our plans on a much grander scale- and I think the hard work was worth while!”

Beat the January blues
January 24th – widely known to be the most depressing day of the year – has been labelled by Collier’s Welsh Cheddar as UK National Welsh Rarebit Day, following its recent reception of the accolade of the UK’s Best Mature Cheddar at 2010’s National Cheese Awards. Combining Cheddar with ale, mustard and Worcestershire sauce, it takes only a few minutes but takes cheese on toast to a whole new level in doing so.

And for a bit more magic..
In January, where the weather is cold and the post-Christmas blues are still lingering, we can all do with a bit of magic, which is what Guoman Hotels hope to inject with their Wizard of Oz afternoon tea. To celebrate the launch of the Wizard of Oz musical in February, The Royal Horseguards Hotel in London’s Whitehall has designed an exclusive wizardy afternoon tea menu. Whimsical treats on the menu include the Emerald City Lime Jelly, Dorothy’s Ruby Slipper Candies, and Over The Rainbow macaroons. To finish, at an additional cost, pick a cocktail to see you through 2011 – Brains, Heart, Home, or Courage.