Mapped: Welcoming The Hungry Manc

The latest addition to my map of northern food bloggers is The Hungry Manc who is busy munching around Manchester.

LogoAuthored by The Kitchen Assistant, the blog attempts to capture something of the everyday with photography and reviews:

I will be writing about what I eat (and perhaps drink). Not necessarily by means of any sort of recommendation – jeez, why would, or should you listen – but simply to share my ideas and thoughts on the food we all eat.

Afterall we live for an average of 75 years each and eat 3 times a day – in one lifetime that comes to something in the region of 80,000 meals we all get through. So why not try to enjoy each one? And please share your thoughts here with others.

* Do you belong on the map? Please let me know via the comments below, email or tweet me @foodiesarah and I’ll add you into the next update.

Ready for the first International Food Photography Day? #foodphotoday2012

Snapping that plate of food! Well, we all love doing it don’t we? Well I do, much to occasional embarrassment of family and friends. Whether it’s for the flickr group, blogging, foodpspotting, Instagram or Twitter, almost seems rude not to these days.

So whoever came up with the world’s first International Food Photography Day challenge for tomorrow would seem to be onto a winner – they want everyone to snap a meal and tweet it with the hashtag #FoodPhotoDay2012.

In Leeds there’s even a launch event going on to mark the occasion for invited guests ‘to celebrate food photography in all its tasty and delicious glory’.

The organisers explain:

“We are encouraging everyone to celebrate the art of food photography by taking a snap of their mid morning apple, a sandwich from their lunchbox, a takeaway curry or supper at a friend’s house.

“Everyone who takes part on Twitter using the hashtag #FoodPhotoDay2012 on Wednesday 14 November will automatically be entered into a draw to win the newly launched Canon EOS M. This compact system camera has been designed for people who use photography to share their everyday passions and combines the image quality of a DSLR in a compact and easy to use body.

“We hope you will be inspired to snap your crackle and pop at the breakfast table, get zoomy on your halloumi at lunch or simply shoot a winner at dinner – wherever you are with food on Wednesday 14 November, take a picture and create your own food masterpiece.

“Pictures on phones or cameras, whatever comes to hand, make this a day to remember, for an art form that has been around, astonishingly, for more than 150 years, recording and celebrating all aspects of the earth’s bounty.”

International Food Photography Day is conceived by the organisers of Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2013 – I shall be adding my own tweet for the day and have also set up a little bot to track all of the tweets worldwide so that it’s easy to browse through them here:

Mapped: Northern Food Bloggers

There’s quite a few of us now! In an attempt to keep track of some of the food blog I follow from across the north of England I’ve plotted them on a Google map which you can see here;

If you belong on this map, or any of the details are incorrect, please let me know in the comments field below.

Also, you might be interested in this Northern Food Bloggers group which has started as a sub group of the UK Food Bloggers Association.

Behind the scenes of the F-word

Gordon Ramsay’s hunt for the best UK restaurant has had us couch cooks on the edge of our seats – but what is it really like in the heat of the TV kitchen?I caught up with SweetMandarin‘s Lisa Tse, whose hopes of getting the Manchester Chinese restaurant into the final were dashed this week, to get the insider’s view.

First of all, the question everyone wants to know the answer to, how scary is it being up close with Gordon?

Lisa didn’t seem to find him daunting at all:

“Gordon Ramsay is actually very different in real life to his TV persona. In real life he is friendly, charming, polite (i.e. no swearing) and smiles a lot. I think his swearing is all for the camera – but he’d probably do better without the swearing. I was amazed that he didn’t swear at me ! If he did, I probably wouldn’t have been able to cook!”

But surely when the heat is on, that kitchen must be hell?

“The F word kitchens are very hot because an Aga is constantly on. There are cameras pointing at you in all directions. There was only one sink – which was a bit awkward as both teams needed to use the sink at the same time.”

Lisa has become well-known among Manchester’s digital community, and spread the word of her Northern Quarter restaurant further afield, by utilising Twitter, and she told me that her followers had played a part in the selection of recipes for the programme.

“Gordon requested that for the starters we had to use squid as our ingredient.  So we opted for our bestseller, salt and pepper squid – and one of the Twitterer’s favourites.  For the mains we were allowed to choose anything from our menu – so opted for the house special (our Mum’s dish), the Mabel’s Claypot Chicken.

“I have always loved this home cooked rustic dish with its chunky chicken, lapcheung, bak choy and chinese mushrooms. I was so happy when 42 out of 50 of the F word diners voted to pay for this main course – throughout the series, we scored the highest main course vote.  For the desserts we were instructed by Gordon to cook Banana Fritters.”

The support the restaurant received from the local community, as well as those online fans, has been remarkable – even causing the Sweet Mandarin restaurant website to collapse at one point.

“The level of public/community support has been phenomenal. We’ve had 180,000 hits per minute on the website (which has caused it to crash). The phone has had at its highest level 250 calls a minute. Its been crazy and a brilliant response. “

And although viewers will have seen her knocked out of the running earlier this week, Lisa said she remains open for similar opportunities in the future and is not downhearted.

“”I learnt that our customers are really the best and I will do as much as I can to help them and continue to feed them my good food. I learnt that if you really believe in your offering, and continue to work hard and improve every day, then it will be recognised.

“I think that the scores speak for themselves. We scored 82 out of 100 and came second on the leaderboard, winning the title the Best Local Chinese Restaurant in the UK and I’m really proud of that achievement – its is an accolade of a lifetime and a huge honour which I dedicate to all of Manchester and to all Twitterers, as well as my Mother and Grandmother.”

Sweet Mandarin is at 19 Copperas Street, Manchester, M4 1HS. 0161 832 8848. @sweetmandarin on Twitter. The F-word website is here.

Foodie Twitter list started

A lot of people seem to find their way to this blog via Twitter – the microblogging tool I’ve been a big user of for a couple of years now, and which I find invaluable for introducing me to all sorts of foodies and other great contacts to do with my regular work as a journalist.

The platform has recently rolled out the ability to create lists which looks like an easy way to create a group of share interests which will help me keep up and share all the latest foodie news and views.

It’s called ‘fellow foodies’ and can be seen here.

As you can see, it’s small a perfectly formed at the moment with some of the food tweeters I follow most closely, mostly, but not exclusively, from the north of England.

It’s a work in progress so, if you’re  a foodie who should be included, tweet me and let me know.

#LLF Twitter food review competition

Visitors to this week’s Leeds Loves Food event are being invited to enter a food writing competition with a difference – the review is submitted by tweet.

Organisers believe its the first Twitter competition of its kind and have set up the hashtag #LLF to track the entries.

Stuart Bruce, managing director at Wolfstar, Marketing Leeds’ social media consultancy, is behind the idea and explains: “Usually restaurant reviews only tell you what it used to be like, but the Twitter reviews will be real time so you’ll be able to see where’s really good to eat right now. Because people can text their reviews to Twitter it means even more people can participate.

“As far as I know Marketing Leeds is the first destination marketing organisation to use Twitter  in this way.”

Diners can tweet meal reviews to be in with the chance to win a weekend break to Amsterdam, Paris or Alicante, courtesy of Jet2. The competition is running across almost 30 restaurants and will run on after the Leeds Loves Food festival  until the end of August.

There are instructions on the tables at the participating restaurants (full list below) to teach new Twitter users how to enter and include #LLF  – see the entries as they happen.

I shall also be tweeting from some of the festival @foodiesarah.

* Full list of participating restaurants: Atlas Bar&Pizzeria, Azucar Tapas Bar, Brewery Wharf, Blackhouse Restaurant and Bar, Brasserie Blanc, Bretts Fish Restaurant, Casa Mia Millennium, Casa Mia Grande, Chilli White, Chino Latino, City Inn Hotel, De Vere Oulton Hall Hotel, The Elbow Room, The Fig, Alea, Clarence Dock, Leeds Latitude Wine and Liquor Merchants, Las Iguanas, The Living Room, Oracle, Brewery Wharf, Sam’s Chop House, Sandinista, Strada, Tiger Tiger, Thorpe Park Hotel & Spa, Veuve Bar de Champagne, The Wardrobe, Zizzi.

links for 2009-07-01

Twitter success for Manchester food folk

Manchester’s foodie types are finding online success by using social media platform Twitter to cook up a treat.

There’s been a noticeable bubble of activity on the micro-blogging service from the city’s restaurateurs and chef Simon Rimmer is now the city’s “most followed” person in Manchester.

For those not familiar with the service, Twitter users are “followed” by other users who sign up to see their regular 140 character updates known as “tweets” and engage in online conversations.

No 1 Simon, has amassed more than 7,000 followers in just three months of activity with updates about his Cheshire eaterie Earl and his ready replies to questions from other others.

Earlier this week at @simonrim he reveals information about how he is currently in hospital for an operation to his leg, engages in some foodie banter and posts jokes such as “2 cannibals eating a clown, one says to the other ‘does this taste funny to you’?”

He’s not the only one who hoping tweets will prove tasty. Another of Manchester’s twitterati Lisa Tse of the Northern Quarter’s Sweet Mandarin restaurant agrees.

In the months she has been tweeting, Lisa has amassed more than 5,000 followers and is ranked the city’s 21st.

Lisa provides a very individualised service at @sweetmandarin with her food tips, replies to user questions and even cookery lessons from her trusty Blackberry.

She explains: “A few clients encouraged me to join Twitter. I already was a FACEBOOK myspace and blogger fan so why not! I joined early Feb 2009. I have never looked back since!

“Twitter is fun and has helped me connect with the community and clients. It has helped business in giving Sweet Mandarin a voice to tell people about our events, special offers and cookery school. I am also happy to answer any foodie and cooking questions and love to just natter or Twitter the day away…its like getting an insight into the world of Sweet Mandarin – and has been so amazing when Twitterers visit us!”

Some more of the region’s top chefs are just getting started. The award-winning former Harvey Nichols chef Alison Seagrave is using Twitter to engage with online users following her moves to start a new patisserie which is due to open at the end of the month in Bury.

Although @yourmacaroon only has a few followers at the moment but as she explained: “I have been really busy last couple of weeks finishing at HN (Harvey Nichols)but now 100% focused on Macaroon and tweeting updates more often.”

Here’s a couple of other north west foodie favourites from my follow list;

@ItsaNingThing the Malaysian restaurant is following in the Northern Quarter footsteps with regular tweets. So far it has tended to stick to information about the opening times, events and menu.

@HelsbyArms HelsbyArms’ Carole Currie at the Cheshire pub provides regular updates about life in the kitchen, special offers and menu items as well as wider issues such as the MPs Early Day Motion for Government assistance.

And I’m also around @foodiesarah so do tweet me if you come across any more.

Tesco currently topping my fat sandwich trail

I’m still on the train of the UK’s lardiest shop-bought sarnie. Yesterday’s look under the sellophane revealed a remarkable range in the amounts of fat squeezed between two slices with Tesco’s All Day breakfast wedge currently topping the bill with a whopping 26.3g.
Can you beat that?
Whatever the label says on your lunchtime choice today, please share it with me via the comments below or @foodiesarah on Twitter.
the full results of this survey will be published later.

The world’s gone cupcake crazy!

Sweet and sugary they may be but it seems we’re all going crazy for cupcakes! Earlier this week I started getting reports of queues outside the Chorlton Shop Sweet Tooth Cupcakery .
And since then it seems everyone has gone cupcake crazy – baking them, eating them and tweeting about them. Just look at some of the replies to my innocent inquiry on Twitter today.
The mania has been reported from New Orleans to Beirut and today even Radio 4’s Today programme got in on the act with a report questioning whether the invading American giants of the muffin tin were in danger of squeezing out the traditional British fairy cake. You can listen again here.
(Being inexperienced in such matters, I’m not sure what the technical difference between a fairy and a cup is. If anyone would care to enlighten me – please post below.)
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic
The blog post, Are cupcakes recession proof?, even reports from a scheme in Orange County where people are prepared to pay almost $5 decorate their own.
Is a little bit of sweetness just what the bank manager ordered in these uncertain times?
Big companies seem to think so – Cadbury’s reported an increase in chocolate sales last month and M&S launched a jam butty earlier this week to sate our demand for sugar.
Maybe there is some certainty to be found in the simple consistency that a tray of cakes offers.
So cupcakes it is! If you’re facing job insecurity and can’t afford to eat out – get the baking tray out and invite people round to yours. After all Nigella Lawson even serves them for dinner.
In her Domestic Goddess book (which features a cupcake on the cover) she notes that eating such childish treats prompts a certain amount of nostalgia for people of a certain age:
“….it’s not till you hit 30 that nostalgia is even a remotely comforting option. Since then, I’ve decided that cupcakes and fairy cakes – by which I mean the plain-bottomed prettily iced cupcakes – are the perfect things to make for dinner.”
Thanks to Twitter follower Danny Thompson in Dorset for the charming picture of Maeve choosing her cake.