Posts Tagged ‘food’
This is fine dining at its finest, and a curry pour deux at Gymkhana – named after the jolly horse event favoured by posh teenage girls called Binky – will set you back about £100. And it’s in Mayfair.
Oh, and this is real curry, by the way, not your bog standard Patak’s korma.
Chef Karam Sekhi is known for his uncompromising Indian cuisine, and he’s refused to tone things down for weak British palettes more used to Findus Crispy Pancakes than fenugreek.
In fact, it’s so good that the restaurant has now been awarded National Restaurant of The Year, which means that the humble curry house has finally been lifted into the stratosphere of haute cuisine.
‘It’s a testament to the quality of Gymkhana as well as the true diversity of the UK’s eating out scene that an Indian restaurant has been named the best place to eat out in the UK,’ said Stefan Chomka, editor of Restaurant magazine. [Shout out to the amazing Mughli in Manchester - Ed.]
Yes, no longer will Indian restaurants be places where you try to competitively eat a table made of naan washed down with a pint of flat Kingfisher. Expect to see lots of overpriced posh Indian restaurants opening in your neighbourhood soon…
Thanks to BOGOF offers and our busy lifestyles – (ie, we’re wage slaves who are too tired to cook for our families from scratch), the UK is binning a million tons of food each year, some of which hasn’t even been opened.
The Government’s waste advisory body, WRAP, are blaming sell-by date confusion, poor cooking skills and the proliferation of buy one get one free offers from supermarkets.
They also say we’ve lost touch with the ‘value of food’ and that it’s part of our culture to leave food on our plates – which is rubbish (Bitterwallet’s mam always made us eat all our food or get smacked with a stick).
Fresh produce like salad and vegetables are the first things to hit the bin, accounting for 30% of all food waste. Unopened bags of salad account for a staggering 260,000 tons, while 46,000 tons of carrots are chucked every year.
But hang on, is it all our fault for being bad cooks and wasteful idiots? Or is it the fact that supermarkets still insist on BOGOFs on fresh stuff you’ll never be able to use in time? (Unless you run a soup kitchen).
And could it be that we’re all so time-poor that we’re too exhausted to think about creative things to do with leftovers at 6pm when the kids need to do their homework and you’ve just put in a 12 hour shift at the call centre?
Let’s face it, when every day is a hard day, it’s easier to ditch the broccoli and get a takeaway, which are available on every street corner and heavily advertised into our eyeballs every waking hour.
But sure, WRAP, just say we’re crap cooks and make us feel guilty – that’ll help.
Normally, we hate it when retailers mislead consumers- after all, you should always know exactly what you’re getting before you part with your cash. But as these adverts show, if they really showed you what you were buying, would anyone ever buy fast food in the first place? More to the point, if they showed you what was actually in the burgers, would anyone ever eat them?
But while we are all used to seeing photoshopped and manipulated images of fashion models, clothing ranges and celebrities, why would we assume that images of food have not been similarly tampered with. Why can we never find an apple as shiny as in the adverts? Because we don’t eat apples that have been hairsprayed.
Yes, it may surprise you to discover that advertisers use all sorts of tricks to make you want to buy food, that in reality you’d never actually eat. Pancakes covered in Castrol GTX anyone? Baked potato filled with a steaming hot tampon (no, we’re not going there)? Cereal and milk is far less photogenic than cereal and glue, apparently.
So next time you look at a juicy burger, and it makes your mouth water, imagine the taste of the brown shoe polish used to make that burger look that bit more burger and the urge might just pass…
The devilishly more-ish Euro spread is called Biscoff and is made from…wait for it…CRUSHED BELGIAN BISCUITS. You know – the caramel flavoured kind you get free with a coffee in a red wrapper, made by Lotus. Except mashed up and in a handy pot, which you can spread on bread to make a double carb sweet/savoury treat.
So fine is this concoction that it’s acquiring cult status and flying off the shelves. Sainsbury’s have reported a 529% upswing in sales and, in Waitrose – that ever reliable barometer of middle class mores – sales have been described as going ‘relentlessly upwards.’ Other supermarkets are now racing to stock it.
In these troubled times, it seems that we’re getting through the day by chomping on secret spoonfuls of liquidised biscuits, and at £2.29, it’s a treat that won’t break the bank. OK, so there’s 2,360 calories per jar, but you won’t really be thinking about that when you’re sitting naked on the kitchen floor in the middle of the night, eating it with your fists.
In a blow to Jamie’s empire not seen since I went to the York branch of Jamie’s Italian and had some disappointing pasta, food inspectors rated the fancy charcuterie ONE out of five, with the comment ‘Major improvement necessary.’
It’s one of only 19 food outlets in London that have won the prestigious ‘A Hazardous’ rating from the Food Standards Agency – and when you add up all the many pestilent branches of Chicken Cottage in the capital, it makes you think, don’t it?
This happened in January, when the shop was forced to close for 24 hours to address the problems. And we’re only just finding out about it after a Freedom of Information request into the extent of the issues.
The Food Standards Agency found that it had dirty fridge handles, not enough washing facilities for staff, bad lighting, manky floor coverings and lots and lots of delicious mouse droppings.
But some of the inspector’s findings were a misunderstanding of Jamie’s food preparation techniques. In the Barbecoa restaurant upstairs, where mouldy beef is onsale for around £100 a pop, the menu boasts that meat is dry-aged for 70 days, and that the hung carcasses develop mould that’s safe to eat. (Mmmmm!)
A spokesperson for Jamie’s Food Corp said:
‘Following the environmental health inspection in January we took the immediate decision to voluntarily close the butchery for several hours in order to urgently address the issues raised. We reopened within 24 hours and officers noted that the improvements had been made.’
Still, mouse shite. Eww.
The hotdog is a singularly successful snack. Why? Because of the bun. The bun contains the sausage and the toppings and condiments and allows you to hold it comfortably in your hand. It is a perfect symbiosis of carbohydrate and protein which can be conveniently eaten on the move, and as such is the favourite snack for busy fatties everywhere.
But now two insufferable sounding advertising execs – one of whom is called ‘Didz’ – have decided to dispense entirely with the bun and just serve up a big wet mash up of sausage and mustard in a cup and call it Potdog.
David ‘Didz’ Parker and his pal Alex King have a stall at Borough Market (where else?). They use gourmet artisan sausages to create such delicacies as the ‘Randy’ which contains a gloopy blob of sausage, fried onions and hash browns. To be frank(furter), it’s a MESS.
Sadly, such is the appetite for street food amongst the young wanker population, that the Potdog could soon be a British food phenomenon. The stall turns over £600 a day, and the owners think that the Potdog is far superior to the hotdog.
‘The fillings always drop out and you end up eating a horrible stale bit of bread,” said ‘Didz’. ‘We wanted to raise the game.’
*beats Didz to death with a stale bun with an iron bar in it*
Mmm, don’t you just love a tasty burger? Well, maybe you won’t any more, if the latest warning from UK food inspectors turns into a reality. They’re concerned that more infected animals could enter the UK food chain thanks to a proposed change in abbatoir inspection processes.
In the last two years, inspectors have successfully thrown out the diseased and infected carcasses of animals with many delicious types of pestilence, including tapeworm, peritonitis, milkspot, tumours, and – everybody’s favourite – FAECES CONTAMINATION.
However, new rules from the EU are diluting inspectors powers and shifting responsibility onto the food companies involved. Unison are concerned that the industry is incapable of policing itself and needs inspectors to act as independent quality controllers. And you only have to look at the horsemeat scandal to see that they have a point.
Pig carcasses have already been affected by the European Commission rules – inspectors would cut into their heads to examine for diseases, but now they are only required to give a visual inspection.
Heather Wakefield from Unison was pretty graphic about the changes, saying:
‘The UK government’s agenda will result in food that repulses us being dished up on our plates. Most people do not know that there are a small group of meat inspectors and vets that keep them safe from harmful and repulsive additions to our sausages, Sunday roasts and beef pies. They work in some of the most awful conditions in blood and animal discharges every day. They are always the first to come under attack, not only from the food business operators, but also from our government.’
Who fancies a kale smoothie?
Ah, BhS. Home of ugly clothes and haunted looking post-menopausal women, sitting alone in the bleak cafe. A place where retail dreams go to die. Yet it keeps going, buoyed by that most buoyant of billionaires, Sir Philip Green, who is probably at this very moment lounging on his yacht playing Solitaire on his iPad and eating quails eggs out of an ivory bucket.
Since last year, Sir Phil has been banging on about introducing a food department into his stores, and now he’s ready to launch BHS Food in two stores in glamorous Staines and Warrington. His plan is to undercut Tesco by 10%, thus leading a budget department store supermarket revolution – or something. If his discounted Bisto gravy granules and fizzy drinks are a hit, BHS Food will be introduced into 140 stores around the UK.
Sir Phil is taking a gamble on this – after all BHS suffered losses of £71million last year and nobody in the industry has any confidence in it. But he seems unperturbed about it in the way that only billionaires can be.
‘On the basis that everyone is going into the high street and convenience maybe it’s an opportunity.’ He shrugged. ‘If you don’t buy a ticket you can’t win the lottery.’
While it’s doubtful that BHS Food will become the new cheaper version of M&S Food, if all goes well, a large supermarket could buy into the deal and take advantage of BHS’s 180 locations. But if it fails, Sir Philip might have to sell the business completely.
The UK has always been good when naming a food crisis. We had ‘Mad Cow Disease’, ‘Salmonella’ and ‘The Horse Meat Scandal’. Our newest one needs work – ‘The Food Adulteration Crisis!’ As ever, we ask you, the reader, to do the heavy lifting and come up with a catchy name for this scandal, which we’ll use in all future coverage.
So what is the Food Adulteration Crisis? Well, according to the president of the Trading Standards Institute, an investigation in Yorkshire showed that a third of goods tested were not what they were claimed to be on their label.
Baroness Crawley said that tests showed a third of food samples showed had been adulterated with other substances.
Speaking in the House of Lords, Crawley said: “Reporting of food fraud has increased by 66% since 2009, while the number of samples taken by local authorities has decreased by 26%. Call me old fashioned but I like my ham to actually be ham not poultry died pink or meat emulsion, whatever that is. I want fruit juice to be just that and not laced with vegetable oil that is used in flame retardants.”
“What is the Government doing about the depletion of trading standards departments across the country whose job it is to track down organised criminal gangs in the food sector?”
So what are they doing? Well, Lord de Mauley who is the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister, said that the government take the threat of food fraud “very seriously”, adding: “Following the horsemeat fraud last year, we have been working with industry and local authorities to improve our intelligence sharing to target sampling and enforcement better.”
“The sample carried out by the West Yorkshire Trading Standards demonstrates the action being taken by local authorities across the United Kingdom to tackle known problem areas.”
So there we have it – cheapo food tends to be filled with all manner of crap, which everyone knew anyway. However, if this is going to take off, it really does need a catchy name. Readers, it is over to you.
Another day, another story about man-eating spiders in bananas. A family have once again been forced out of their home by armies of potentially deadly Brazilian Wandering spiders who hitched a ride on a bunch of bananas.
Arachnophobe and father of two Jamie Roberts bought the bananas from his local shop, and when he was putting them in the fruit bowl he noticed they were covered in white spots.
EXCEPT THEY WEREN’T WHITE SPOTS.
They were bazillions of baby spiders, who then scattered all over the windowsill, contaminating the family home. Pest control ordered the family to evacuate the house for three days while the spiders were smoked to death with toxic fumes.
While pest control have yet to identify the species, if they ARE Brazilian Wandering spiders, then they had a lucky escape. They’re world record holders for being the most venomous spider, and if they inject you with their venom, you can look forward to loss of muscle control, breathing problems and death.
‘It was like something out of a horror film,’ gasped Mr Roberts, clutching his chest.
It’s not the first time that Wandering spiders, also known as Banana Spiders, have terrorised the British public. Last year, 29 year old Consi Taylor from London bought bananas from Sainsbury’s that were also crawling with the deadly critters.
Got a banana in your lunchbox? You might want to double check it.
Dame Sally Davies told a committee of MPs that the government needs to get tough with those who produce food and drink and that she believed “research will find sugar is addictive”, and that “we may need to introduce a sugar tax”.
Dame Davies said: “We have a generation of children who, because they’re overweight and their lack of activity, may well not live as long as my generation. They will be the first generation that live less, and that is of great concern.”
Yeah. Those poor children might not live to see retirement age, which has been pushed back thanks to irritatingly healthy people who live until they’re 103 and crap everywhere. Davies reckons that being overweight had been “normalised” and added: “I worry that we have re-sized a women’s dress size so that a size 14 now was a size 12 when I was student.”
“We have to find a new way – not of ostracising people who are obese and making them feel bad about themselves – but somehow of helping them to understand this is pathological and will cause them harm.”
Of course, ministers have been arguing about food packaging for a while and no-one can really agree to anything. More pertinently, does anyone really care? If manufacturers start sticking warnings on food that is bad for you, surely it’ll only end up being like the red triangle Channel 4 used to put on things that would guarantee you a sex scene? It wouldn’t be a deterrent, but rather, a hallmark for what you want.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “To help the nation to be healthier by eating fewer calories, including sugar, we are working with industry through the Responsibility Deal. This work has already delivered results but we have always been clear that, if food and drink companies fail to act, we will look at other options and are keeping all international evidence under review.”
We’ve already had Jamie and his empire of Italian chain restaurants that charge £15 for an underwhelming bowl of pasta. But who is the next sweaty, corpulent and bad tempered chef to gain UK wide domination?
Step forward Gallic bad boy and uber-wanker Marco Pierre-White, who has put down his beefy stock cube for five minutes and signed a deal to roll out 50 new restaurants in his name across Britain in the next five years.
The deal is with a hotel development company, and will incorporate his two brands – Marco-Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar and Grill and Marco’s New York Italian restaurant. The latest will be in the Indigo Hotel in Manchester, which will open next year. There are already three successful restaurants in Birmingham, Liverpool and Newcastle, and he plans to spread like a culinary PAN-demic around other major cities very soon.
The depressing onslaught of the celebrity chef continues unabated, and their cache means they can charge £60 a head for food that couldn’t give the Berni Inn a run for its money. And the chef with the name above the door (and on the walls, and on the menu) is invariably conspicuously absent.
But will this be different? Well. Jay Rayner, food critic of the Observer, visited White’s Steakhouse in London and said ‘everything we ate was awful in that “someone must be punished” sort of way’.
It’s hard to imagine that it’s just over a year since we first found out that beefburgers weren’t, and trust levels in consumers are still down on those polled before the scandal- an One Poll survey a year ago found that trust in foodstuffs fell from 69% to 35% . A new YouGov survey for the National Farmers’ Union shows the level of trust is now back up to 52% , but apparently trusting British is the way to go.
NFU President Peter Kendall said that the results of the YouGov survey showed that “79 per cent of British people think British supermarkets should sell more food produced on British farms.”
“This survey shows very clearly that consumers want more British food, so I hope they will take this on board and act on it,” he concluded.
The NFU comments come as farmers, particularly in the South, have faced terrible weather conditions and waterlogged land, that will likely impact on their produce and livelihood.Not to mention denting the supply, and presumably, increasing costs. Mr Kendall wants retailers, like the giant supermarket brands, to “commit to stocking more British food” and to “develop committed, fair and beneficial relationships” with farmers.
Of course, it is no surprise that a British farmers’ union would advocate buying British rather than buying cheap foreign muck -“We’re not saying that supermarkets should not stock any foreign produce. But we would urge the retailers to listen to what consumers are saying.” However, do consumers really want British food, or is cost still king? With renewed reports that incomes are not keeping pace with the rising cost of living, and record numbers of families taking in lodgers, would you steadfastly buy British, or would you rather have enough to eat, regardless of where it came from?
They’ll also be making a move into giving everyone the opportunity to make mobile phone payments when they go in to pay £1.09 for a pastie.
The company want to increase sales of products below 400 calories, when maybe, they might see a growth if they make the most unhealthy food imaginable, thereby making it a guilty pleasure and joining in the Britain’s current fetishisation of greasy burgers and the like.
Less health. More junk!
“We’ve got a significant number of products, particularly in the sandwich range, that qualify under that banner and we want to make more of that as part of the sandwich work that we’re doing,” Chief Executive Roger Whiteside told Reuters on Wednesday.
Either way, they’ll have more butties, won’t be stopping the sale of sausage rolls and you’ll be able to pay for stuff with your phone, so there you go. Welcome to the Greggs of the future.