Monthly Archives: April 2015

Blog 18 April 2015 – Food Festivals This Weekend UK

Food Festivals This Weekend UK

The Taster Magazine Daily Update

Food Festivals This Weekend UK
Shrewsbury Food Festival last summer

The sun is just up and the birds launching into their assault of a dawn chorus. It’s time to dig out the wellies and find somewhere with a food tent . . . if you feel the same, we hope the below is of service. Click on the red titles like this for relevant websites.


Saturday & Sunday
This weekend sees the beginning of Alde Valley Spring Festival down in Suffolk: a four-week celebration of food, farms, landscape & the arts which continues till 17 May.

Saturday and Sunday feature Bishop Auckland Food Festival in its marketplace and castle; and all-day ents & food marquees in the Colchester Town & Country Show. Colwyn Bay, in North Wales, has an unusual and highly intriguing Forties Festival which includes taste-testing of wartime recipes

Something for the foragers in the Towy Valley, South Wales:  Spring Forage and Wild Garlic Bake

Sunday & Monday
London’s Royal Victoria Dock hosts the Natural & Organic Products Show – trade show only, see Natural Food Show for all details.

Next week:
Monday will see the start of the Farm Shop & Deli Show in Birmingham’s NEC centre, continuing until Wednesday.

Still having fun finding favourite foodie vids for our YouTube channel. Here’s another funny advert; the only thing is, now we can’t get the tune out of our heads. Try this and see if you can identify the One That Begins With A ‘C’:

Have a great weekend,

The Taster

(The Man From S.E.O., he say Food Festivals This Weekend UK!

(PPS. We think it’s caipirinha)

Blog 17 April 2015 – Spice History Book

Hooray! Friday!

The Taster Magazine Daily Update: Spice History Book

IT IS an astonishing achievement for a collection of twigs, bits of bark, seeds, kernels and miscellaneous other vegetal flotsam, that if the natural world had not rendered up certain spices to tickle our palates, human experience would not be what it is today.  Here’s an excellent book:

Spice History Book
Available from Reaktion Books. They have a wide range of other food history titles, including Pie, Puddings and Pancakes (that’s just under “P”). If you know someone who is a chocoholic, mad about doughnuts or incapable of passing by a Pie Shop, there’s a good chance of finding their perfect birthday present here. (The Taster is hoping against hope for a copy of the Cheese history.)

In Spices, the author, Fred Czarra, mentions several myths about spices — some of which might have been encouraged, or even deliberately created, by spice merchants, to make their wares seem even more rich and strange. Cinnamon was supposedly collected by Arabian birds to form their nests; cloves were grown in a single secret valley and could only be obtained by haggling with genies. On a less fanciful note, Czarra writes easily and clearly about the spice trade, its impact on the people who produced spices and those who transported and consumed them. Did you know that, as well as the Silk Route, there was a Clove Route? Or that people wrote poetry to pepper? Which, we were interested to learn, grows as berries on a vine, like grapes. (The Taster is not quite sure how he reached his present position in life without knowing this. But he didn’t.)

History can be approached from many angles. Art lovers, for example, could hardly understand its history without picking up an awful lot of sociopolitical knowledge on the way. But of all foods, spices may well have the best claim to shed light on our past history and present placement. Alcohol and sugar are contenders, and maybe GM food will be in future — but Spices are still the only foodstuffs to have had an entire collection of Islands named after them.

Still having fun finding favourite foodie vids for our YouTube channel. Try this:

Mmmm, honey.

With carrots and cumin. Roasted. Might make some tomorrow, then reheat on Sunday. Roasted carrots are one of those dishes that are all the better for being left in the fridge overnight.

Have a great Friday,

The Taster

(The Man From S.E.O. wants us to write this: Spice History Book. Spice History Book. Spice History Book. When shall we ever be set free???)

Blog 15 April 2015 – Free Range Eggs Anti Certificate

Yes, it’s …
Nearly-Friday Day!

The Taster Magazine Daily Update

Quite pleased to find ourselves tweeting to Joanna Blythman (the food author) and her co-tweeters the other day. During which, someone came up with the excellent notion that, instead of decent restaurants having to cover their doors in certificates and stickers saying Homemade, Organic, Great Taste winner etc, HOW ABOUT calling for less ethical restaurants to display notices making clear they serve Non-organic, Tinned Stuff, Factory-Farmed and so on?

Our highly-trained food artist immediately designed this prototype for establishments failing to serve free-range eggs. We’re sure you’ll agree it’s a work of art that any eatery would be proud to display:
Free Range Eggs Anti Certificate

Still having fun finding favourite foodie vids for our YouTube channel. Rather than another funny one, here is a proper choon, which also happens to feature a video of the best food fight since the custard pie scene in Bugsy Malone. Enjoy:


Last night’s skewers went down lovely, by the way.

Have a great Nearly-Friday,

The Taster

Free Range Eggs Anti Certificate
(Don’t worry about this. Apparently we have to put these words here. Otherwise The Man From S.E.O. starts polishing his revolver up and muttering in Code again)

Blog 15 April 2015 – Show Me The Taster magazine

Wine Wednesday!

The Taster Magazine Daily Update

Still having fun finding favourite foodie vids for our YouTube channel. Not necessarily songs – just anything funny, to do with food (on our Funny playlist). If you haven’t yet seen this advert, do enjoy:


For tonight, we will be grilling pork and beef skewers, ready-made by an independent butcher’s. Trying to be healthy (ish) so will have boiled rice with a little cumin, turmeric and fennel seeds mixed in for fragrance – normally would fry it, but this is the healthy bit – plus halved cherry tomatoes and purple sprouting broccoli. Gonna throw the broccoli in with the rice for the last few minutes so that, again, there is only one pan to wash up.

And seeing as it’s Wednesday, we’ll have a glass of lovely, health-giving red wine.

Have a great Wednesday,

The Taster

Blog 14 April 2015 – Swedish Chef Popcorn

Happy Tuesday!

The Taster Magazine Daily Update

Since we recently started recommending our favourite foodie vids in the printed magazine, The Taster spent part of yesterday setting up a YouTube channel. The vid that made us laugh most is this version of the hit choon, Popcorn (originally by Hot Butter) – now the Swedish Chef Popcorn song.

Hope that made you smile as well. Maybe it’s the Swedish Chef’s insouciant attitude getting to us, but we’ve decided that today, we’re not going to stress about food too much. For dinner we’re planning chicken sandwiches; the chicken scattered with a dried Italian Herbs mix, lightly beaten with a rolling pin (beat those herbs into the flesh) then pan-fried in olive oil & butter. Serve with a little mayo, lettuce and a twist or two of Parmesan on stoneground granary, and perhaps some tomatoes & salt on the side. Cut into triangles. Perfect; and only one pan to wash up. If you too aren’t in the mood for a four-courser, we hope that helps.

As before, we’re still running our special issue offer on CHOCOLATE till the end of April (subscribe this month and get a free back issue, all about chocolate). If you’re chocolated-out, click on COOK for other seasonal cooking ideas, or on our CALENDAR for foodie events in April.

Have a great, stress-free Tuesday,

The Taster

Blog 13 April 2015

Happy Monday!

The Taster Magazine Daily Update

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter hols. In a burst of spring cleaning, we’re thinking of adding BOOKS and HORRORSCOPES to our website. (These do appear in various places but perhaps it’d be nice for them to have a shelf of their own.)

Just to summarise what else we’re up to: we’re still running our special issue offer on CHOCOLATE till the end of April (subscribe this month and get a free back issue, all about chocolate). If you’re chocolated-out, click on COOK for other seasonal cooking ideas, or on our CALENDAR for foodie events in April.

It’s almost time for the star charts to reshuffle – check back on Sunday if you’re Taurus as we’re adding Taureans to our horrible foodie horrororscopes (so far we have ARIES, AQUARIUS and PISCES).

Have a great start to the week.

The Philosopher’s Cookbook

CLICK TO BUY: The Philosopher’s Cookbook by Martin Versfeld.

Versfeld, a South African writer, melds cooking and living philosophies in this dreamlike, wandering book of thoughts and foods. The Taster liked it so much, we published an excerpt from his chapter on the sea, and seafood, in our Spring 2014 issue. Try this description of seafood: “Perhaps you have got up, just before daybreak — for fish bite best in the twilight — and tramped barefoot between the water’s edge and the great mounds of uprooted kelp hopping with sandfleas, past the wreckage cast up by the sea: oaken boards, fish baskets, the glassy globes of floats, cordage, tangles of nylon fishing line, sharks’ eggs and jellyfish, the jetsam your subconscious casts up in your dreams.” Come on, that’s practically poetry.

Plus he then gives an intriguing recipe for prawns in mussel sauce.

Further chapters cover, among other things, kitchen utensils, meat, potatoes, food mythology, feasting, curry, herbs & spices, and the excellently-titled A Short Disquisition on Spinach.

Philosophers Cookbook

As in the kitchen, so in life: read this book to achieve a little bit of inner calm, and a new appreciation of soup.

The publisher, Oldcastle Books, has this to say: “Versfeld’s recipes have more of the poet about them than the instructor, they celebrate the complex relationship between humanity and food. The Philosopher’s Cookbook is about the art of slow cooking and thinking about what you are cooking and thinking while you are cooking. The art of preparing and eating food is inextricably intertwined with the meaning of life. There is nothing better than preparing, talking about, philosophising over and finally partaking of slow food and for Versfeld making time for something is an expression of love.
You will feel compelled to share this book with those around you. It will make you hungry; it will make you want to sniff the dirt on fresh vegetables.”

For more by the same publisher, click OldCastle Books

Bank Holiday Monday food ideas

Happy Bank Holiday!

This blog appeared just after Easter 2015, which explains the preoccupation with chocolate (ie stuffing down Easter eggs).

Bank holiday Monday food ideas: Today is a day for intending to be healthy but actually finishing off yesterday’s chocolate haul. Rather than scoffing it whole, click HERE to incorporate it into dishes including mole (a savoury sauce), sweet sauce for puddings, chocolate tart or even soufflé. On the subject of which, if you’re in the mood for a little relaxing food porn, try the below by Debra and Rod Smith (link to the full recipe HERE). We think it’s too fabulous for words (as, clearly, do they):

As a nod to healthy living, click on WATERCRESS for a few ways of cooking what is  arguably the most nutritious green leaf of them all.

On other topics, try our CALENDAR for foodie events in April; or if your star sign is ARIES then find out here how others see you in the kitchen.

Front Cover for website smallIn honour of Easter Sunday yesterday, if you subscribe to The Taster this April we’ll send you a free copy of our special Chocolate issue from last Easter, free of charge, along with your first issue. It contains chocolate tasting notes, a chocolatier’s tale, and a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Délice donated by Chef Molteni of award-winning restaurant, TOZI. Offer ends 30 April 2015.

Have a lovely relaxing hols!

Pigeon recipes

Pigeon recipes

Wood pigeons (ring doves) make the best eating. Rock doves (the ones flocking round Trafalgar Square) are equally edible yet somehow not as mouthwatering. Pigeon is a great ethical choice since most birds live wild. Health risks associated with antibiotics, pesticides etc are minimal and, with over 5 million breeding pairs, sustainability is not an issue. If you swallow a lead shot, don’t panic: lead is an accumulative toxin, so one pellet is unlikely to do any damage. Try not to crack your teeth on one, though.

Pigeon likes strong earthy flavours: garlic, sage, mushrooms, red wine, black olives, chestnuts, onion, mustard, and its own liver. Simon Hopkinson (Roast Chicken and Other Stories; Ebury Press) has a delicious-sounding suggestion of roast pigeon with braised lettuce, peas & bacon; there’s a rather amusing blog about this HERE

1. Brown the birds first, in butter and/or oil and seasoning. (Recent research suggested that ‘sealing in the juices’ doesn’t actually work, but The Taster doesn’t believe it for a minute.)
2. Stuff it with any of the ingredients listed above, to your own taste.
3. Layer prosciutto or bacon over the breasts
4. Roast in a hot oven (Gas 4 or 180C) for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how pink you like your pigeon. Remove the ham for the last 7 minutes to obtain the all-important crispy skin.

Pigeons are hardly worth jointing. Instead, split them down the backbone, flatten them, and grill them topped with your preferred herbs, fruit and oil. You can see what colour the flesh is turning, so just grill until you like the look of it.

Simmered in orange juice 
As it says on the tin – brown in butter and oil as for roasting; put in a small pan, cover with orange juice and simmer very gently. This can take up to 50 minutes, if you’re doing it right. This is a very old recipe; it cries out to be partnered with watercress.

Pigeon pie
A wartime favourite. For maximum authenticity, click on Dorothy Hartley’s Pigeon Pie with Dumpling Crust (and scroll up a bit); alternatively, try this Really Nice Recipe

pigeon recipes
Our wine buff, Richard J Smith of the Wine School of Cheshire says: With pigeon pie, a young but full-bodied Claret works a treat; many from France’s largest wine region won’t break the bank. For a New World alternative, try a Chilean Carignan. Look for ‘old vines’ on the label for a more fruit-forward, great quality drink.

* Pigeons were first devoured, and are still very popular, in Egypt.
* Roast pigeon is healthy food, containing slightly less fat and a little more protein  than beef, plus lots of iron and B Vitamins.
* Young pigeons are called squabs.

The Taster hopes this quick guide has given you a few ideas. We often add stuff as we go along, so do look us up again. Happy eating!

Spinach recipes

Spinach recipes

Spinach is relatively good at throwing off pesticidal residues so if you’re trying to economise, keep the pennies for more susceptible items such as tomatoes or carrots.

Eat baby spinach leaves raw in salads, on pizzas or with Eggs Benedict (toasted muffin; soft-poached eggs; warm Hollandaise sauce, and wilted spinach leaves).

Try hot pasta mixed with bacon, sundried tomato and pine nuts, served on a bed of raw spinach leaves (they quickly wilt beneath the hot pasta).

Top toast with cream cheese, wilted spinach and a poached egg.

For a side dish, boil spinach lightly, squeeze out excess water, fry gently in olive oil and scatter with pine nuts.

Make frittata or pancakes with spinach, eggs, fine-chopped shallot and Gruyère cheese.

For pudding, all the way from Medieval times, you might try something like this Tarte d’Épinards au sucre (note: you need to translate this page)

Of Persian origin, spinach is good with nutmeg, eggs, pastry and pasta (it’s the colouring in green pasta). In 1870, a Dr E von Wolf misplaced a decimal point and multiplied the amount of iron in spinach by 10. By the time the mistake was corrected, years later, the cartoon Popeye had rendered the reputation of spinach unassailable. However, it is still a rich source of nutrients including iron. Serve with olive oil and tomatoes to maximise their effects.

The Taster hopes this page has given you a few ideas. We often add stuff as we go along, so do look us up again. Happy eating!