Pink Patch ‘irresponsible’

Come on, you didn’t really believe you’d lose weight wearing a pink coloured sticky patch did you?
The internet advert for a slimming patch which claimed users could lose a stone (6.35kg) in two weeks has been banned, according to the BBC.
The ad for the Pink Patch, which seemed to be on every social networking site not so long ago, was branded “irresponsible” by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which said it promoted “bad medical practice”.
The ASA said there was no evidence that the herbal ingredients in the patch caused any loss of weight. Read the full adjudication here.

A grilling on BBQs

If you’re planning a BBQ, it’s probably this weekend according to a survey of 1,000 people undertaken by cooking appliance brand Stoves.
Those asked, decided Saturday, August 2 would be the day most likely to incinerate those sausages or poison their friends.
The survey also revealed the following;
78% of us have had a barbeque rained off in the last year.
Guess what stops us eating outdoors? 78% say it’s the weather. (Wow, insightful stuff so far!)
More than two-thirds (67%) of men claimed they take the head chef role
Nearly a quarter women (23%) admitted they don’t enjoying cooking outdoors. (Possibly something to do with the finding above?)
Burgers topped the poll of the nation’s favourite BBQ food taking a third (33%) of the votes.
Steak came a close second (23%)
Prawns lagged behind with only 5% of people citing them as their favourite BBQ dish
What all that adds to the sum knowledge of humankind I’m not sure but, if you are having a BBQ at the weekend, enjoy your wet burger menfolk.
You might want to add a picture of the occasion onto the BBQ Band of brothers…….and sisters! picture group where I found the wet, burnt, truthful picture above.

Friday fun: The world’s best biscuit

The search is on for the world’s best biscuit. One of my colleagues in the south this week launched a blog search to find, not just Britain’s favourite dunker, but the world’s.
At Mmmm!, Bracknell’s best biscuit blog, the intrepid Mike Pyle took a look at the poll being run on the topic by TV presenter and MEN columist Martin Lewis on
Mike posts: “Nearly 11,000 people answered the poll and as the votes were being counted it became a two horse race. Bourbons fell by the wayside. Custard creams couldn’t keep up with the pace. Even the Jaffa Cake (see, they think it’s a biscuit too) was left eating dust.
“When it came to the crunch the two biscuits that the nation loves, with almost 30 per cent of the poll between them, and just 105 votes separating them, were the Hob Nob (chocolate and otherwise) and the Chocolate Digestive (regular digestives languished way down the rankings).”
So what do you think? Join the debate today – after all, it is Friday.

MEN, say no to tofu!

Forget quiche, it’s tofu that’s strictly for the ladies according to this fascinating piece of research from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
Eating just a half serving a day of soy-based foods could be enough to significantly lower a man’s sperm count, according to the U.S. researchers.
A team analyzed the intake of 15 soy-based foods in 99 men who went to a fertility clinic between 2000 and 2006.
They were asked how much and how often in the prior three months they had eaten soy-rich foods including: tofu, tempeh, tofu or soy sausages, bacon, burgers and mince, soy milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream, and other soy products such drinks, powders and energy bars.
The impact was “striking” it is reported.
I’ve yet to meet a male fan of the beancurd, so I’ve a feeling that this is one piece of health advice which will be taken on board without too much controversy.

Everyone loves a sausage!

Everyone in Manchester, it seems, loves a sausage. Now I know I’m putting myself in the firing line for a stream of double entendre jokes with this observation but it has to be noted – the city is full of sausage munchers and it seems the bigger, the better.
This alarming fact struck me as I ventured out of the office into St Ann’s Square at lunchtime. Deciding my habits had become distinctly predictable of late, a quick wander to the latest outdoor event which combines food and jazz . Nice.
Everywhere I looked, people were devouring sausages. It’s not the only food on offer by any means – there’s everything from snickels smoothies. So what is the big attraction? In what way is an outdoor jazz recital made better by the pork presence?

While you ponder that, enjoy a little of the atmosphere of today and of course there’s more pictures on the Life through food Flickr group.
For my part, I tucked into a chick pea, spinach and new potato curry from the Zest stall. It was very large and very spicy – and nothing at all like a sausage.

How restaurant reviews are created

IT’s a question that seems to arise with amazing regularity – how do food writers go about their business? Do the restaurants know they being reviewed and, most importantly, does money change hands?
So in the interests of transparency, I’ve decided to detail how I go about the process, perhaps dispel a few myths and make it harder for the blaggers and bluffers out there.
I’m seeing this as a work in progress so please feel free to add any thoughts through the comments and I’ll update it if other questions spring to mind.
Anatomy of a food review: FAQs
1. Does the restaurant pay?
Normal practice is that the publisher of the material pays for the journalists’ work. Obviously a payment, or payment in kind (free meal, drinks etc), from the restaurant would make it harder for the review to be impartial. All reviews on my blog and those I provide for the print editions are written without any money from the venue being paid.
2. What about launch events or other occasions?
There are times when food is laid on for free as part of an event. I cover these differently, as news events, and so they are not treated as a full review of the food, more an assessment of the style of the venue. It would be unfair to review an establishment on the basis of what is offered at one of these occasions – it may not be typical of the menu generally and the staff will probably be under unusual pressure for the event. In my reviews I attempt to portray the typical experience a diner might expect in order to provide them with information on which to make a decision.
3. Do you tell the restaurant what you are doing?
No, never. All by reviews are done “blind” i.e. as a normal paying customer and yes, I do get strange looks sometimes when I take the pictures. Restaurant owners please note, I have never done the “do you know who I am?” routine! and anyone attempting to blag a free meal is not me.

4. How do you choose a restaurant?

Often it’s got some newsworthy angle to it but sometimes it really is just where I happen to want to go out. Owners often invite me to go along. I keep these invites to one side and weigh them up regularly but I don’t just dash down there on the strength of the request – it has to add up for other reasons.
5. Do you ever go back?
Yes, obviously good venues deserve repeat custom but it’s unlikely they will be featured again unless the place changes hands, has a new chef, complete re-furb or similar. If my original review was done a long time ago and is unlikely to reflect the current situation I would review if a second time in the interests of attempting to provide accurate information. I have also returned to places that I wasn’t impressed with just to double-check it wasn’t a freak incident but ask yourself – how often would you give a place another go? A meal out is as much a one-off performance as the theatre – poor opening night and the audience is unlikely to return.
I believe this is largely the same for all professional journalists but obviously anyone these days can publish a review online or submit it to an advertising platform. So, as in most areas of life, anyone doubting the validity of what they read should make further inquiries. Why not ask the author? I’d be fascintaed to see some of the replies.

Is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall turning veggie?

He may be known for his meaty loving recipes and regular televised trips to the abbatoir, but the television chef is also urging us eat less flesh.
Answering questions on the blog run in conjuction with a stint as guest editor at Yahoo! today, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall provided the following advice to a user’s question:
Q. Given the fact that the production of meat uses a vast amount of the earth’s natural and dwindling resources, plus contributes significantly to global warming – should we be encouraging people to adopt more of a vegetarian diet? – Laiyan Man
Hugh’s answer: “People know that I’m an enthusiastic carnivore. Having said that, I definitely think we need to be eating less meat on this planet, not more. Meat is a precious food which we should never take for granted. We should all aim to use it more wisely and more ‘sustainably’.”
Good advice whatever side of the veggie fence you sit me thinks.
The online activities from this featured event also include a competition for a VIP treatment for two at River Cottage.

101 Talbot in Dublin

The origins of food seem to be an increasing obsession with restaurants and shops – I’m guessing it’s not least because of the proliferation of television programmes raising awareness of how animals are reared.
It was noticeable on my recent trip to Dublin that the provenance information now often forms part of the invitation to dine, with details off egg production, meat and even vegetables appearing in shop windows.
However, I think I sensed a little backlash to this trend at the unusual 101 Talbot . My foodie-dar spotted the non-descript entrance leading to a first floor restaurant in the less party-obsessed north of the city – and it’s never wrong.
Not much to look at maybe, but this amazingly popular galleried dining area was just about packed out the whole time we were there. Generous portions of interesting but homely food with some unusual veggie options such as the split pea dip with coconut served with cruditie which was light yet rich and showed this place’s ambitions to include dishes with a Middle Eastern feel.
I tucked into a duck confit on a fantastically tomatoey bed of puy lentils but was completely over-faced by the sight of the homemade puds. Worth noting that those against the creeping tax of bottled water will be pleased to be greeted with a jug of tap water flavoured with a sprig of mint on arrival. No pushing of expensive bottled liquids here!
Everything about the place is honest and unassuming – even the signs near the till which go to the lengths of telling you where the meat is sourced, killed and even boned but then adds a modest little rider – “if you’re interested”.

Strines Inn @ Bradfield Dale

HEARTY walks, as everyone knows, lead to hearty appetites and Strines Inn is perfectly placed for some whatever-the-weather British exertion in expectation of a rewarding feast.
Being deep into the Peak District, walkers seeing this as a beacon for lunch or dinner would have needed to walk a very long way indeed to take advantage of one of the house specialities – the “mammoth mixed grill” .
“Steak, pork chop, lamb chop, gammon, liver, kidney, sausage with egg, mushroom AND chips.” All for £12.25. Phew! That’s a marathon of a meal however far you’ve strolled.
Not being quite that hale and hearty we made it to this 13th century former manor house in a horseless carriage. Although far removed from the metropolitan centres of both Manchester and Sheffield, this seemingly remote location is less than an hours drive from either and gives the city dweller a chance to escape.
On a bright day, peacocks pecking outside welcome visitors up the winding lane from Snake Pass, eagerly hoping to beg chips from the dinners sitting outside rewarding their travels with the high views over the reservoirs 1,000 ft below.
We settled to look at the menus having failed to work up anything more than the usual greediness in the journey from the car to the door. It’s a pub that’s high on tradition with a selection of grills, sandwiches and giant Yorkshire puds as well as having a daily fish and pie option which caught our eyes.
I went for the whole trout (£9.95) while he plumped for a very meaty steak and ale pie (£8.40). After seeing the other menu items we rightly anticipated large portions. My perfectly pan-fried trout came with real chips. If you remember chips that see off the vinegar into trickling rivulets, refusing to get soggy and retaining their mouth-blowing hotness for extraordinary length of time, this is the pub for you. Made me wonder how exactly those oven cousins have so successfully usurped their country brethren.
Between sampling a glass of Jennings Cocker Hoop ale (after taking an age to decide between that house ale and the guest beers on display) he tucked into the satisfying pie which was far more steak than gravy under a crisp crust of melting pastry.
Having been relatively restrained(sic) with our choice of mains we contemplated the dessert menu while taking note of how many sets of eyes were upon us. The traditional interior of the pub seems to have been decorated following a closing down sale at Manchester Museum and there’s barely a wall or window sill which isn’t displaying stuffed game birds and creatures.
Regardless of their staring opinion, I selected an indulgent treacle sponge (£3.60) with custard much to the consternation of a visiting American drinking in the bar who considered this traditional delicacy an abomination of “molasses”, whatever that is.
He went a bit modern with the chocolate sundae (£3.65) which proved to be an extravagance of chocolate ice-cream, chocolate chucks, a chocolate flake and cream. He was defeated.
Obviously time for a hike to walk all this off. A very, very long one.
Strines Inn is at Bradfield Dale, near Sheffield off the A57. Call on 0114 2851247 or use the postcode S6 6JE for sat nav.