Tackling North East food poverty with innovation

ediblegivingIt’s often said that hardship provides the spark for innovation so maybe that’s why these two food developments have come about in the North East just now.

During tough times, taking a fresh approach to people getting fed is something that has become as necessary as it is shameful for the UK in 2015.

I came across these two initiatives at an event held in County Durham to showcase local social entrepreneurs and they both attempt to answer that very real need in their local communities.

The first is EdibleGiving.org. The idea is to map all the places that those of us fortunate to have enough food can go to donate some of it for people who haven’t.

Developer Gregory Marler explains his thinking on the site.

I know a few local charities, but if I’m away from home where do I give the food, and what if local details change? I wanted to solve this by creating a UK-wide or international map, and I wanted different organisations to be able to use their own systems to keep the shared map updated.

It’s up and running and people are invited to help add more locations.

Logo-transparent1-e1428586248839Second is The Magic Hat Cafe, a series of pop-up eateries with a difference – the difference being that all the food served up would otherwise have been destined for the rubbish dump.

As well as helping cut down on food waste, the resulting food has to be an ever-changing menu to be able to cope with the available produce and the cafe leaves it up to the diner to decide how much to pay for the meal.

You can find out where Newcastle’s Magic Hat Cafe will be popping up next in the city at the events section of its website here.

Mapped: Welcome to The Crispy Crouton

crispycroutonIt’s time to give a warm welcome to The Crispy Crouton which becomes the latest northern food blog to join my ongoing map.

The Crispy Crouton is the creation of Helen Brass in Northumberland and is a hands-on set of recipes and observations.

It’s been running since February and started when Helen found she had some time on her hands between jobs. What better way is there to spend free time than eating and blogging?

She explains her foodie activity:

It’s fair to say that I’ve had a few cooking disasters over the years and I’ve discovered that sometimes it’s the only way to learn. We cook from scratch just about every night but I don’t want to spend too much time in my kitchen, which is why most of the recipes and ideas on my blog are really quick and straightforward – even if sometimes they look like they’re not!

Although I enjoy food a lot I don’t profess to be a food expert or indeed an expert on anything else but I know what I like and I like what I know!

Welcome!

* If you belong on the Northern Food Bloggers map, please let me know via the comments below or twitter @foodiesarah or email foodiesarahATme.com.

Here’s hoping Newcastle Eats gets its mojo back

newcastleeatsIt looks like I’m welcoming the Newcastle Eats blog to the northern food bloggers map precisely at a time when its authors might be suffering that regular affliction among us bloggers – loss of mojo.

The latest blog post which starts ‘I’ve been a bad blogger’ includes criticism of those journalists with no passion for food who get paid to write reviews and wonders where what they call the whole ‘armchair journalism’ practice is going.

“It’s a bit of disillusion all round really. Maybe it’s working in digital marketing and using it every day, but I’ve grown tired of Twitter, and lost the inspiration to do much blogging recently. Twitter has lost it’s charm for me, with, oh so much arse-kissing, @reply-please-RTing and general marketing spiel, though yes, this is governed by the people you follow. And see recent posts/rants here and here, that summarise my feelings on recent local blogging pretty well. ”Please invite me to your press launch so I can get some free bait”…”I need 7 more followers to hit 1200!”…”My blog had 42 hits today.”

Yes, yes, yes! I seriously hope the bloggers, Jeff and Kate, can find their way back to the dinner table. The reviews are thoughtful and put the experience into context well, the pictures are clear and informative and I particularly liked their use of map links to venues and the inclusion of food hygiene ratings in the reviews.

Please, can we have some more?

* If you belong on the map – drop me a line in the comments or by email to foodiesarahATme.com and tell me a little about your blog. A link back to the map would be appreciated as well.

A trip to a north east foodbank

TasteoftheNorth blog went along to Bay Foodbank in north Tyneside, one of the many foodbanks springing up across the UK to find out more about food poverty.

What gripped me as I was walking around the shelving in their new warehouse (their old warehouse in Blyth was unsafe), is the realisation that I take my kitchen and fresh ingredients for granted because not everyone has a hob or oven, something which Jackie and the volunteers thinks about when sorting the food for parcels. It makes me angry that this is happening in GREAT Britain in 2013. On our doorstep. It also makes me realise that any donation of food would make a difference to someone’s life and wellbeing.

Read more about the visit in this thought-provoking post here. There’s also a form for people to donate here.
bay1-e1376427319487

Welcome Patchy Growth and Taste of the North to the bloggers map

Two new additions to the map of northern food blogs this weekend – both from the north east.

First up it’s Lee with his blog of allotment-related affairs which also covers restaurants reviews and recipes at http://patchygrowth.blogspot.co.uk. Not just cooking but growing the stuff as well.

Second is Paul with the does what it say title of tasteofthenorth. He describes his site:

Northern England has a wonderful larder and with a sweeping coastline, we have great access to fresh fish from various harbours. We also have a great variety of butchers, bakers, grocers and brewers that make it a mecca for foodies. I want to promote what the North has to offer whether it be Eateries, Watering Holes, Producers or Shops.

Taste Of The North includes recipes, reviews, food writing and photography.

I’m looking forward to following them both.

If you belong on the map, please let me know via the comments below or twitter or email foodiesarahATme.com.

North east business to deliver More More More food at home

More More More is making a move into the online home delivery market with range of homemade style everyday dishes.

Earlier this week the entrepreneurial owners of Newcastle’s Assembly Rooms invited some of us food bloggers over to show us their ambitious new venture and give us a taste of what’s on offer.

To get a proper feel for what’s cooking,we went into the kitchen to see the chefs cooking up a starter – lime leaf chicken with sweet chili sauce .

Then it was time to sample the mains – a shepherd’s pie and a lasagne and compare to some similar products from Waitrose.

The idea is to provide a different experience to the supermarket ready meal. The dishes are made fresh to order by the chef in the kitchens and sent out in simple packaging in portions of four so the helpings can be eaten or frozen.

It puts the north east company into a national market with surprisingly few competitors – the most well known being Forman and Field (which we’ve blogged about before here) – and taps into the same home dining trend all the supermarkets seem to be targeting with their starter-main-desert eat-in offers.

So how does it compare?

Price: At first glance, the prices might look steep but don’t forget the price given is for four portions. At £3.94 per person, the generous size chicken starter for example sounds more sensible.

cheesecake
Fantastic cheesecake

Appearance: The containers looked very familiar – and they are. The quality kilner jars and trays are from the same supplier as Forman and Field and both more pleasant to use and more attractive than the plastic and film supermarket versions.

Taste: Of the dishes we sampled, the chicken starter had great fresh, summery taste, the shepherd’s pie was nothing special but the standout star of the evening had to be the dessert of blueberry and mascarpone cheesecake bursting with fruit and perfectly balanced.

Verdict: Looking through the selection online there’s some great dishes on show. Personally, I don’t think I’d ever order up a shepherd’s pie – it just seems a bit too everyday and easy to bother with. But some of the other dishes and products offer something a bit different and more exciting and I wouldn’t overlook the dessert based on this week’s experience.

Having the added advantage of seeing where the food’s produced, ordering up something that’s more homemade than assembly line could be a handy backstop for a busy week.

shepherd
One I made earlier – sort of

Four more blogs join the northern food bloggers map

A warm to welcome to four new entries on the Northern Food bloggers map. Does all this activity represent something of a resurgence in food blogging for the north? I don’t know but wouldn’t that be a welcome move 🙂

First up we have Food and Frets from Hebburn. (And yes, that is a real place and not just a television producer’s fantasy.) Up there in south Tyneside, Steve, a former butcher, cook and teacher, is busy serving up recipes and reviews around Newcastle.

He’s even tackled that masculine no-man’s land of quiche! 

Then we have a trio of Leeds foodies added to the map:
 
Breadsticklers.blogspot.co.uk has been running since 2011 and Claire aims it at resturant reviews mostly in the city but occasionally further afield.

ReallyNicefood.com is about a search for just that from blogger Rebecca who believes that food can bring people together. “I have learnt this from my Mum, who can whip up a dinner for four in under 30 minutes.”

– And Diane is also looking at Leeds although with ataleoftwosittings.wordpress.com she does reveiw stuff further afield when travelling in the UK or abroad.

Welcome all. If you belong on the map, drop me a line wither in the comments, on Twitter @foodiesarah or by email foodiesarahATme.com and tell me a bit about your blog and I’ll include them in the next update.