Marmite V squeezy version – no differences detected during blind tasting say its makers.

Picture: Green Dinosaur.

Regular readers of this blog will know this is an issue that’s been rumbling on for yeas. Five years, eight months to be exact and is the longest running conversation held here at

And it’s not just been idle gossip, over the years I’ve been in contact with various representatives of makers Unilever and their PR bods – each time I’ve requested some more information but little has been forthcoming.

This time though – they agreed!

But there were limitations – I wasn’t granted a telephone or face-to-face interview but instead could submit some email questions. The answers are below.

Thanks to the ‘William’ whose comments are mentioned below for getting back to me. I should explain that he is called The Marmarati and appears to be a rather odd character created to deal with the promotion of the latest Marmite incarnation. I can only assume the style of language and communication is used to create a mysterious air around the new product. Aaaah, marketeers……..*sigh*


Dearest Sarah,

I have interrogated the entire Inner Sanctum for you (The Master Blender, assorted food technicians and those who wield the Brand) and they have shared the following answers with me:

1. What was the reason for introducing the squeezy Marmite?

Squeezy Marmite was introduced to answer customer feedback raised by using the standard jar. It’s aim is to aid our customers by delivering the same condiment we know and love by a more ‘friendly’ method (squeezing directly onto your food of choice) as many Marmite fans prefer this to the action of spreading. As such, it is also perceived as being less messy and thus being more portable for those who like to take Marmite wherever they go.

2. What changes were made to the original recipe to make it ‘squeezy’?

The answer to this also helps answer point 3 – we’ve made no changes whatsoever to the recipe, the ingredients or the proportions of the ingredients. The only change is that the product is evaporated for slightly less time to give it a runnier consistency.

3. Many readers of my blog believe it to be sweeter, less salty and less flavoursome – can you tell us how the proportions of ingredients has been changed?

As mentioned above, the proportion of ingredients has not changed at all. Internally we undertook a taste test not so long ago with Squeezy vs. standard and nobody could tell the difference – perhaps you could to challenge the readers of your blog to do the same? We’d be interested to see if the results continue to differ!

4. What happened to sales of Marmite after the introduction of squeezy ie. did they rise, fall or stay roughly the same? A month-by-month breakdown of total UK sales in a digital format such as a spreadsheet would be appreciated.

Ah. I did ask the Inner Sanctum this question but they cannot – for a vast variety of reasons – share sales figures outside the gates of Unilever, makers of Marmite. I do hope you understand – William.

5. Can you comment on the criticism that the launch of the XO range actually simply a return to the original recipe with a price rise to boot?

Marmite XO is an entirely different spread to your standard Marmite. It is created with four specially selected yeast sources and matured for four times longer than our standard spread to create stronger, more full-bodied taste for the most devoted of Marmite lovers. Indeed, as it was created with these very people in mind we activated the Marmarati to track down some of the most passionate Marmite fans in the country and invited them to a tasting event in London, where they chose the paste that is now better known as XO from a selection of 3 blends. As such the taste itself was selected those who care about it most, the Marmarati, purveyors of fine taste indeed! You can see how this unfolded at:

And so there we are – I do hope you have found these answers satisfactory and I look forward to you sharing them with your readers if you see fit. I remain at your disposal should you have any further queries.

Yours, as ever,



World Curry Festival, cooking apps and cupcakes – food news to start the week


– Bradford’s been playing host to the World Curry Festival over weekend. It’s a massive three day event across multiple venues in the city which the organisers said has been running for the past three years: “The World Curry Festival was created in 2010, in celebration of 200 years since the first curry house was originally established in the UK. The event, now in its third year, attracts curry-lovers in their thousands, who come to experience an authentic curry and to revel in the party atmosphere.” The Telegraph and Argus has this video report from the start of the event.

– How many apps do you need? I have to thank @GirlLondon on Twiter for sharing this – an incredible 50 apps to get cooking from The Next Web.

– If you’ve spotted the new Pet Lamb cake shop in Newcastle’s Grainger Market over the past week and wondered who’s behind it…turns out it’s food blogger Katie Cakes’ latest venture. But not content with the new shop (and that gorgeous looking recipe for a chessboard cake) she’s also managed to fit in writing a book. She posts on her blog:

“For the last few month I’ve been the busiest I have ever been in my whole life.  I opened a cake shop named Pet Lamb in the heart of Newcastle with my best friend and partner in crime, this would be enough to keep any normal person occupied but not me.  While pouring all of my heart and soul into my fledgling business I have also been spending every second I had away from the shop writing my book.”

– and talking of Newcastle, don’t forget…..
Urban Night Feast


Guides to the good stuff or old-fashioned advertising?

When is a ‘guide’ an impartial publication to help a diner find the best place and when is it merely a vehicle for paid listings?

Can recommendations be trusted if money has passed from venue to publisher? Can readers rely on the professionalism of editors, who are often removed from the commercial functions of a publishing business, to act with integrity?

It was interesting to see this issue aired, not by the publishers or journalists I generally hear from, but by one of those who get written about in these publications – by a venue asked for cash for its inclusion for the first time.

The Northern Snippet blog explains the dilemma and wonders if a decision against payment could change a venue’s standing:

“Last year,for the first time in its 28 year history,the guide introduced a charge for featured pubs. At the time we hummed and hahed over whether we should stay in the guide,then a twitter friend commented that  if we thought it was good PR for the pub we should just stump up the cash and stay in.

So we did.This year we didn’t really give it much thought,the invitation to be included arrived  and we sent off the payment.”

The blog then goes on to describe the way a previous County Dining pub of the year has fared under the new scheme.

The discussion has already prompted some heated debate but what do you think? If you’ve an opinion on the topic of paid insertions, the Northern Snippet would love to hear from you.

I’m left wondering whether the old-style guide can ever hold its own in a digital age – doesn’t the prevalence of food blogs, review sites and social media makes for a more rounded and reliable recommendation system anyway?

Food news and moves across the north to start the week

Plenty going on across the north this week – here’s my pick:

* Alnwick Food Festival has organised an Evening with Novelli. Organisers say: “Jean-Christophe will be demonstrating some dishes (some great ones for all you fish lovers out there) and he will be interacting with the audience as well as sharing some unique skills with you.” Tickets £30 per person.

* Sheffield’s food festival, which continues today, seems to be going well with a report in The Star declaring it ‘inspirational’.  The paper reports that Jack Baker, head chef at the city’s Relish on Ecclesall Road, dished out seafood chowder at the Brew Kitchen stall. He said: “The festival is definitely exciting for Sheffield.” Read the full report here.

* A love of home cooking has led to a new Lancashire business venture for a Hungarian woman from Whittle-le-Woods a tasty. A Little Taste of Hungary was set up by Katalin Halmosi Clews along with fellow Hungarian Andrea Balogh. Find out more here.

* The Parkfield Inn in Whitefield has re-launched after an extensive refurbishment with Award Winning Chef Paulo Atalainha. After three months of closure for renovation, new owners; Andy Morris, Paulo Atalainha and Ben Davis have come up with an extensive menu featuring both pub grub and modern, al a Carte dishes One of Paulo’s signature dishes is a braised shin of beef with horseradish mashed potato, peppered green beans with welsh rarebit and a red wine sauce. The Parkfield Inn serves lunch every day from 12pm until 2pm Monday to Friday, 12pm until 3pm Saturday, 12pm until 8pm Sundays and dinner Monday to Saturday from 5pm until 9pm. For enquiries call 0161 766 3923 or email website:

* and finally……don’t forget, the inaugural Urban Night Feast takes place in Newcastle between September 27 and 29 and will run from 6pm to midnight each night.The street food market will feature up to a dozen stalls and a host of top chefs, indoors at the Robert Stephenson Centre off Forth Street, Newcastle, behind Central Station. Food writer Maunika Gowardhan explains more here.



The Patels launch a veggie cookbook

prashadBradford’s Patel family have have branched out and today publish a vegetarian cookery book with recipes from their high-profile restaurant.

The Patels, who run Prasha in the city, were the surprise stars of the popular TV show Ramsay’s Best Restaurant in 2010 and many of the recipes have been developed by Kaushy Patel who learned to cook as a child on her grandmother’s farm in northern India.

Bobby Patel, operations director at Prashad said: “Prashad means blessed food, and Kaushy has a clear belief that her feelings and love are very much part of the food.

“The Prashad team is determined to show that vegetarian cuisine can be interesting, exciting, and innovative and, above all, taste great!

“We are delighted that we are now able to share our favourite recipes and encourage more and more people to enjoy the flavours and tastes.

“Kaushy challenges even the most committed carnivore to tell her, and mean it, that they missed the meat.”

Published by Saltyard Bookson today, the hardback book will include over 100 Indian vegetarian recipes from simple pickles, dips and street-food to sumptuous family feasts.

Prashad is the only restaurant in Bradford with an AA Rosetter and played a key role in the team that secured the title of Curry Capital of the UK for Bradford.

The book will be available at all Waterstones stores (£25) across Yorkshire and will be the Book of the Month in October. It will also be available from Amazon and other download retailers as an e-book – buy it here Prashad Cookbook: Indian Vegetarian Cooking

Diary date: Durham City Food Festival next month

I see the Durham City Food Festival is returning in October with Michelin-starred chef, Jean-Christophe Novelli getting involved.

Organisers of the event which runs on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 say the grand marquee will feature 75 quality producers from the North of England and Borders of Scotland including craft bakers, speciality meats, homemade pies, fruit preserves, cupcakes and beers.

There will also be a quality arts and crafts section within the Marquee featuring unusual gift ideas from local makers and designers as well as the Masterclass Demonstrations by some of the region’s finest chefs.

Celebrity book-signings and cooking demonstrations in partnership with Durham Book Festival on Saturday 27 October by Paul A Young – ‘Adventures With Chocolate’ and Signe Johansen – ‘Scandilicious Baking’; and on Sunday 28 October by Andrew Webb – ‘Food Britannia’.

More details, including tickets etc. available at the official website

France, a land of sauces, Sandra and seafood

“What is that I enquired” pointing at the unfamiliar words on the menu. Pointy language being somewhat a speciality I’ve developed over the years having less than a schoolgirl grasp on French.

“It’s pike” the restraunteur helpfully translated “a freshwater fish, pike – you know it?”

Ah, pike. In that instant a whole world of assumptions flooded into my head. Pike – a vicious  predator which seeks out other smaller fish for snacks; a huge, dirty great river monster – maybe they even have teeth, like sharks? I’m really not sure about that but, when we used to live afloat on the UK’s canals and rivers, they were often spoken about it in feared terms.

I couldn’t quite reconcile my preconceptions  with the French word for the same thing ‘sandre’, like Sandra, a name that doesn’t conjure up anything more ominous than a middle aged lollipop lady or someone who might help out at a day centre or make a nice cup of tea.


So I had to give it a try. The picture above is what arrived at the table. A fairly innocuous looking while fleshed fillet simply grilled. See, no teeth.

The texture was not dissimilar to seabass but the flesh was white like a sea fish. As far as flavour goes, not at all strong and certainly no sign of anything remotely muddy going on. It was delicate and pleasant served with a pretty strong, creamy vanilla sauce.

Ah……. the sauces. Last week in Brittany was our first visit to the region for more than 20 years and sauces is something that will remain with us. In fact they remain with the dining experience rather too fully.

Maybe it was  because we were in very rural locations rather than refined city eateries, but just about everywhere we went, the food was lavishly, richly sauced. From the  oven-baked gratins to roasted meats – everything accompanied with rich creamy sauces. It made me realise how used to low, or at least lower, fat menu styles we’re now accustomed to in Britain.

I know I’m risking the wrath of one the great culinary nations here, but it did seem somewhat overkill. With such fantastic produce the general tone of many of our meals could have been lighter. IMHO 😉


Still, you can’t beat the variety and care shown in even the humblest cafe….the freshness of the produce and the attention to detail on absolutely everything served from pizza to simple salads.

With seafood and fresh air aplenty, there was certainly nothing to complain about.

Brittany remains a region of feasting and relaxation, a true holiday and discussions about the finer points of sauce-making will, I’m certain, seem a long way off with my next visit to whichever train station fayre I encounter now I’m back at work.