Observer Food Monthly photo competition open to all

teaonthetrainThe newly-launched Guardian Witness website is running a food photography contest. The assignment says:

This year the OFM Awards have a category for best food photography – which you could win. So if you’re into snapping street food or beautiful produce, home-cooked meals or fantastic creations in local restaurants – we’d like to see your images. The best will be published on the Guardian site and the winning picture will be printed in the magazine

So far there’s a wide mixture of pictures – everything from a plate of chips to a fruit market in Spain – like most food bloggers I’ve, not unsurprisingly, got heaps of food snaps which might fit the bill but in the end I decided to restrict myself and submitted my favourite picture from last week’s TeaonTheTrain event.

The Beast & The Swine: A pop up restaurant with presence

At a place to be revealed with a menu from a never seen before restaurant…….that was the unlikely offer which scores of adventurous diners signed up for with this weekend’s pop up restaurant in Leeds. Destination unknown.

But when The Beast & The Swine opened its doors to the public, they were unlikely to be disappointed.


What a dramatic place setting. Inside Holy Trinity Church, just yards away from the hubbabaloo of Boar Lane (one of Leeds’ busiest streets for a Saturday night) to find yourself sitting in the tranquility of the parish church was faintly surreal.

Under a cat’s cradle of a sculpture spanning the cavernous roof space and surrounded by leaves from books hung on strings all around – the theatre of the event had an immediate wow factor.

Seven courses and a menu of local produce which included Bolito Misto of Yorkshire Wolds chicken and picked carrots.

Keepsake menu

The were moments of brilliance – in particular, the fish course of Bridlington crab, shoots and a grapefruit dressing was a triumph.

Regular offerings of excellent rosemary focaccia arrived. Starters arrived on sharing platters with a selection of ham, a dense and satisfying rabbit rillettes and heritage vegetables.

The meat course, with it’s pink veal tongue rudely sticking out, was a challenge but the crowd pleasing Wensleydale cheese course introduced a stunning onion and golden sultana chutney with whole spices . If that’s for sale anywhere, can someone drop me a line with details.
The final show of a giant croque-en-bouche completed the spectacle of the evening and for those who had any room to spare. I didn’t.

It all got a bit Alice in Wonderland here. Being presented with a baby’s bottle full of Gin Iced Tea on arrival and seeing people wandering around suckling on them set the tone for an unorthodox approach. There’s no wine list, no choice of bar drinks or over priced water selection. The choice for the evening – red or white.
The wine came served in teapots. We drank it from assorted cups and mugs. Who knows what it was?  At a guess, probably a fairly ‘plonky’ cabernet.

If you’re into your wine, this wouldn’t be the best approach to the liquid part of a dining experience  so the novelty factor had to distract diners from their usual choices and I think they got away with it.

20130413_221817Overall experience
I went along on this second night and it was clear the team of four -two chefs, two front of house who call themselves We Are the Animals – had got into its stride. The welcome was warm and, although the low staffing numbers meant service could be a little slow, I don’t think anyone cared because the atmosphere was one of an magical adventure.

Having everyone  seated alongside the other guests led to a  great sense of conviviality than a standard restaurant setting and that openness, together with the stunning venue, made it a night to remember.
They’re looking for new venues, so if the Swine and The Beast – or whatever the We Are the Animals team magics up next – does pops up somewhere near you don’t hesitate –  take a pew, pour from the teapot and tuck in.

* A big thank you to the New Ellington Hotel for making us so welcome at the refurbished hotel. With its stylish interior and be-seen-in gin bar, it was the perfect place to escape the madding crowd and settle down for the night.

For announcements about any other pop-ups from the We The Animals tea, follow them on Twitter @_we_the_animals or on Facebook at

Video: From Pixel to Print: Making the transition from blogger to published author

Moroccan lunchBlogNorth 4 - the biscuit edition!Edible event name badges - geniusConcentrating on the food photo walkBompas and Parr interview about the Whisky TornadoEnjoying the Whisky Tornado

BlogNorth4, a set on Flickr.

Whether it’s accidental good fortune or a planned route, for some food bloggers the online passion project they started out with ends up as an enterprise in print. The BlogNorth4 event in Leeds yesterday heard from two such people who started with blogs and ended up being published authors.

Their stories are very different.
Lynn Hill who started the Clandestine Cake Club was approached by a publishing agent looking for a book but them had to go out and demonstrate that she was both ‘famous’ enough and could command enough of a following before getting into print. Television shows, radio appearences and more ensued to the point that Lynn told us her only regret is that she no longer gets time to see her friends. You can order her beautiful book here.The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook

For Leigh Linley, after initially approaching major publishers cold about his Good Stuff blog and the idea for a book, he found success with a regional publisher who spotted the opportunity for a book which was very focussed on Yorkshire and presenting beer in a modern way to people interested in brewing and, of course, drinking.

His book, Great Yorkshire Beer, is available here.
Great Yorkshire Beer: Good Beer. Good Food. Good People

BlogNorth4 Gallery: A day of cake, fun and sharing in pictures

This gallery of some of the people – and the cake – which made up yesterday’s BlogNorth4 event for food bloggers has been drawn from the twit pics and instagram pictures shared by the participants using the hashtag.

Mouse over the images to see who created them and what’s being said. The gallery was produced using the n0tice app Hash Gordon which I am involved in developing.

If you’d like to embed this picture gallery on your own blog or website, simply go to the Hash Gordon front page and search for #blognorth4. All the pictures will then appear with the embed code underneath which can be copied and pasted out into a blogpost or editorial CMS.

If you’d rather restrict the number of pictures displayed, or limit it to a particular user, you’ll see there’s tools on the left-hand side of the page to customise how it appears.

btw. the code won’t work within blogs – along with many other embeds, WordPress require that you have the self-hosted version to run it.

In order to curate this picture gallery I set up a noticeboard which captured a much broader selection of content including text only tweets and Flcikr images so if you want to remind yourself of everything that went on over at the event you can check it out here: The feeds used have now been halted.

As I mentioned yesterday, the n0tice toolkit is open to all so if you want something like this for your own event, blog, brand or organisation there’s instructions here: or feel free to contact me for more information.

Delve, a new magazine for Yorkshire launched at #blognorth4


The big news from #blognorth4 is this – the launch of a new glossy magazine from a team which includes CultureVultures bloggers Emma (Bearman) and Phil(Kirby) plus Fran (Graham).

Called Delve it’s described as a bi-annual appetiser for the discerning and adventurous. It contains articles and pictures of some of the things that are best about Yorkshire.

In this first edition there’s articles about cheese, there’s a personal account about a Pakistanin breakfast dish and there’s design – this is not a listings or recommendations site.

At launch during the lunch break Emma explained why she’s got into print after becoming so well known for blogging and tweeting.

“There are a lot of people out there who don’t exist on twitter or blog. When you talk to people who don’t engage in social media about the amount of things going on, they are amazed at the sort of stuff they are missing out on.

” For me it’s also been about taking a but of time out, maybe I have gone down a worm hole of excessive Twitter use. So much stuff is throw away and disposable. Delve is almost the flip of ultra- on culture. I was early into blogging but maybe it’s time that I’m putting some limit’s on that.”

Earlier at #blognorth4:

We heard from professional food photographer, Paul Winch Furness who offered some tips on getting the best shots and took a small group of us out on a photo walk around Kirkgate market.

“Think of the persuasiveness of the photo, what do I want to achieve with this. Do they illustrate the text or do they have to stand up with them for themselves?

“There’s no such thing as the best camera to do food photography, the best phone is the one in your pocket or handbag.I find that if you use Instagram, there’s something more authentic and people seem to believe the picture more than with a studio shot.”

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All set for #blognorth4 Food Glorious Food

It’s nearly time for the fourth Blog North event – Food Glorious Food is being organised by the fabulous CultureVultures blog and on in Leeds all day tomorrow.

There’ll be cake, there’ll be cooking talk, of course, but more than that there’ll be all manner of food related workshops from photography to branding.

I shall be going along for the day – blogging, tweeting, snapping and eating.

I’m hoping to meet some new northern food bloggers – sure there’s some that should be added to my map – sit back and enjoy the workshops.

In readiness I’ve briefed my little n0tice reporter robot assistant, foodiebot, who will be capturing all the action on this dedicated noticeboard.

She’ll be capturing all the social content from the event as follows:
– tweets with the hashtag #blognorth4
– instagram pictures tagged #blognorth4
– Flickr pictures filed under Creative Commons sharing settings tagged #blognorth4
– youTube videos tagged and in the vicinity (none there yet but hey, never say never, video’s the new black don’t you know!).

The foodiebot’s work will mean I’ll have heaps of content stored to enjoy later, I won’t miss anything and I can curate shareable content for everybody from the event such as embeddable picture galleries.If you’d rather not be included in this, please do let me know.

I’ll be blogging here aplenty so, even if you can’t make it to Leeds, check back here for all the action over the weekend.

btw. If you’d like tools like this for your event, blog, brand or company please give me a shout as these are just some of the suite of tools available.