Wednesday, 27 July 2011

That's Gardening: LovetheGarden love your spuds!

That's Gardening: LovetheGarden love your spuds!: "LovetheGarden, your online gardening experts, are delighted to announce the second of their popular vegetable garden competitions, after a f..."

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Join the Birmingham Pudding and Desert Club

Despite the current climate of doom and gloom, the people of the Midlands - and further afield, have shown that they are determined to get their just desserts.

The Birmingham Pudding and Dessert Club launched by locally-based event and banqueting caterer Redcliffe has a waiting list for each of its events – held in the Victorian splendour of the City’s renowned Botanical Gardens.

Redcliffe Director Colin Cook said, “The Birmingham Pudding and Dessert Club has been an amazing success. Some might find this enthusiastic reaction surprising – after all we keep being told that we are all cutting back on eating out!

“This is not our experience, however. In times of recession, people need an affordable treat to cheer themselves up – and when things are going well, they want to celebrate. We provide a dazzling array of pure indulgence in the form of our delicious desserts matched by a suitable dessert wine to accompany the dish – and preceded by a tantalising main course.

“The dessert selection is different for each event and really gives our chefs the opportunity to experiment.

“One of the features of the Pudding and Dessert Club is our inimitable master of ceremonies Jason Pritchett who makes everyone feel relaxed and lose any guilt complexes that they may have!

“There is a lot of fun and enjoyment involved - and at the end of the evening, we ask our diners to vote for the best desserts and to suggest new alternatives for the next event.”

The Birmingham Pudding and Dessert Club began in 2009 and has attracted hundreds of diners more than happy to pay £24-95 for a light main course, a selection of up to 10 hand-crafted desserts and accompanying wines. Each event is normally sold out in advance. The next event takes place on Thursday 15th September.

To find out more about the Birmingham Pudding and Dessert Club, call Freephone: 0800 389 8950.

Redcliffe Catering manages events, conferences and catering at selected venues such as Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens and at its Town Hall, the Birmingham Centennial Centre and the Royal Pump Rooms in Leamington Spa. It also has a separate contract catering division with over 35 contracts around the UK. and for more information about the event and catering facilities operated by Redcliffe Catering, go to

140 Years as the King of Pop!

Ben Shaws, the soft drinks manufacturer who brought the distinctive taste of Dandelion and Burdock – amongst others - to the people of the UK, is 140 years old this year.

The company was founded in 1871 by Ben Shaw, in the same year Queen Victoria opened the Royal Albert Hall and Stanley uttered the immortal words, “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” when he found him on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

By the time Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper debuted (1886 and 1885, respectively), Ben Shaws was already a teenager, and when Pepsi (1898) was introduced, Ben Shaws four flavours – Dandelion and Burdock, Cloudy Lemonade, Cream Soda and Bitter Shandy – were already well-established favourites with the British public.

It was Ben Shaw himself who used the family shire horses Bonny, Blossom, Cherry and Dick to deliver his soft drinks via horse and cart. In later years the firm used what became known as the Ben Shaws “pop van” and the drinks came in glass bottles that when returned were an easy way for children to earn some pocket money. And for a shilling an hour, Ben Shaw’s grandchildren would watch the bottles coming off the production line, checking for specks of dirt, making sure every bottle was perfect.

Sundeep Gill of Cott Beverages said: “140 years is a long time to be in business and it’s great to see that the original four flavours are still firm favourites with the nation. It’s a brand that has stood the test of time and is as popular now as it was all those years ago.”

Lots of other landmarks events took place in 1871, including the formation of the British Rugby Union, the birth of the F.A. Cup and the first ever Bank Holiday, Whit Monday; the year when a young Ben Shaw left his job in the textile industry in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire and set up his own business bottling and selling natural mineral water from the nearby Pennine Hills.

The move proved successful and he soon expanded his business introducing traditional soft drinks made with only the finest ingredients, in his purpose-built factory.

Today Ben Shaws’ drinks are more popular than ever; in fact, many celebrities have mentioned their particular fondness for the taste of the good old fashioned flavours, including Sheridan Smith, star of the West End hit “Legally Blonde” who recently tweeted: “Could murder a dandelion & burdock now! As a kid, I even wrote a story called Dandy the lion and bird Doc.”

Part of the brand’s birthday celebrations includes a tour around the country, visiting shows and fairs and encouraging visitors to share their Ben Shaws’ memories.

For more information, visit either the Ben Shaws website or its Facebook page

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Homemade or readymade? 4 million Britons cook up little white lies in the kitchen

Kitchen Confessions, a report published by cooking ingredient specialists Very Lazy, uncovers the truth behind the dishes served up on tables across the nation. One finding the research revealed is that four million Britons are prepared to pass off readymade food as their own. So - next time someone tells you the meal in front of you is made from scratch - take it with a pinch of salt.

Lifting the lid on our cooking habits, this latest report shows that many of us rely on smart shortcuts. Nearly three quarters of us (72 per cent) own up to cutting corners in the kitchen, whether that’s cooking everything in one pan or choosing to throw in pre-chopped garlic or ginger. Almost two million (1.8m) people even admit they only cook food from frozen.

BBC commentator and Professor of Psychology at Manchester University, Geoff Beattie, says: “Cutting corners in the kitchen is one coping mechanism that many people use to help their lives run a little bit smoother. We shouldn’t feel guilty about taking a few shortcuts here as long as we are happy and healthy.”

“If these shortcuts free up a little bit of time for the things that really matter, then this can be a very good thing indeed. In our time pressured lives it is sometimes finding time for the small things that matter – like asking your partner or your children how their day went in a quiet catch-up moment, like sharing your feelings with those you care about, like reading to your children – that make all the difference to quality of life and the strength and nature of the bonds that hold us together. Anything that facilitates these sorts of moments, which should be a core part of everyday life, has to be beneficial, even something like taking shortcuts in the kitchen.”

Surprisingly it’s men who dare to experiment the most in Britain's kitchens – with 88 per cent who like to try ingredients they have never used before and 70 per cent bold enough to abandon the cookbooks.

But are these men adventurous cooks or simply show offs? When asked, 78 per cent believed they had recently impressed someone with their cooking, including their friends, family, partner and even their in-laws. Either way, it seems that men also enjoy the fruits of their efforts, with 96 per cent of the men questioned saying that takeaways don’t taste as good as home cooking.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, women are the most efficient when it comes to food preparation, with over three quarters (76 per cent) writing a shopping list to make sure they buy all the food they need quickly and easily. As for keeping the kitchen tidy, 78 per cent of women clean up as they cook, however the figure is higher for men (84 per cent). For many women though, this does beg the question: “what is a man’s definition of ‘clean’?!”

Chef and Very Lazy's Chief Recipe Maker, Rob Cottam, says: "We all know that men and women generally have different cooking styles but it’s great to get this glimpse into how the kitchens of the UK work! Taking shortcuts is nothing to be ashamed of – good cooking is about eliminating the hassle and having great food at your fingertips."

"What you prepare is still your own, even if you’ve only actually made half of it and there is something really satisfying about giving your partner or family something you’ve cooked yourself!
What we want to encourage is people regaining their confidence in the kitchen. Hopefully we’re realising more and more that using smart shortcuts in the kitchen is a good way to cook great food, fast. We don’t need to slave away for hours to cook - healthy, tasty food is about cooking smarter, not harder.”

The Kitchen Confessions research also revealed the following national and regional statistics:


- Almost a quarter of the UK (24%) cooks a whole meal in one pan
- 84% of men claim to clean up as they cook
- 90,000 women in the UK cook food for less time than they should to save time
- Only 1% of us have recently cooked to impress our boss
- 85% of the UK likes to cook ingredients they have never used before
- 16% of men admit they avoid using too many utensils as it creates too much washing up
- Only a quarter of us remember recipes from memory
- Only one in ten men when asked said they have recently cooked to impress their in-laws
- Over three quarters of the UK (77%) order a takeaway as a night off from cooking
- Men are twice as likely to have recently impressed a date with their cooking as women

Regional breakdown:

- London: Londoners lead the way when it comes to impressing with their cooking skills - 56% use cooking as a way to impress others and 1 million have recently cooked to impress a date. That’s three times the national average
- Wales: People in Wales are the most honest in the UK – only 3% said they would try and pass off readymade or shop bought food as their own, compared to the national average of 7%
-North East: Men in the North East are the most likely to cook to impress their partners – 63% have recently impressed their partner with their cooking (that’s 20% more than the national average)
-East Midlands: People in the East Midlands work the hardest in the kitchen – only 59% cut corners in the kitchen, compared to the national average of 72%
-Northern Ireland: A staggering 18% of the population of Northern Ireland, that’s nearly 800,000 people, admitted they only cook frozen food
-South East: The South East of England is home to the most organised people in the kitchen with 82% writing a shopping list and 85% cleaning up as they cook
-Yorkshire: People in Yorkshire are the messiest cooks, with over a quarter (26%) admitting they don’t clean up as they cook
-West Midlands: Men in the West Midlands are more experimental in the kitchen with 24% more males than females preferring to throw ingredients in to experiment when cooking
-Scotland: Only 4% of Scots said they order a takeaway because it tastes better than home cooking
-East of England: People in the East of England come out on top when it comes to using cookbooks with almost half (46%) following a recipe from a book when cooking
- North West: 88% of people in the North West like to experiment in the kitchen by trying new ingredients
- South West: 49 % of women in the South West prefer to throw in ingredients when they are cooking – this is the highest in the UK


Very Lazy, cooking ingredients specialists are part of English Provender Company. The Very Lazy brand, launched in the early 1990s, is aimed at people who have busy lives but still demand good quality, homemade food in a matter of minutes. The Very Lazy range includes chopped ingredients and pastes (garlic, chillies and ginger) and eight 20-minute cooking concentrates with popular British classics updated, such as Posh Sausage to more exotic tastes with Caribbean Chicken proving a best seller.

With the strapline, ‘Great Food at your Fingertips’, Very Lazy is available to buy at supermarkets including Asda, Tesco, Co-op, Morrisons and Sainsburys and online at

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Pure, natural beer indulgence with Daas

Daas is a new range of premium, organic & handmade craft beers, lovingly & traditionally brewed in Belgium and strictly follow the same brewing method dating back over 9 centuries.

Daas produce premium & organic beers that strictly follow the Belgian brewing principles & techniques dating back over 900 years. Brewed in Hainaut the Belgian province renowned for fine beer production and part of the agriculturally rich Walloon Region, Daas offer the consumer three very different craft beers. These supreme beverages are organically and ethically made and deliver a unique taste experience to a dense market.

Daas say “Our beers are top Fermented Bottle Conditioned beers’ meaning they undergo a second fermentation in the bottle, similar to Champagne production. Dass continue; “This contributes to the overall quality and flavour of the beer, but also ensures that the liquid remains stable for longer than a pasteurised beer.”

Due to the refined ingredients and brewing process, Daas is being served at the dinner table instead of the usual bottle of wine. Each of the three beers rewards the palette with something special and pair very well with most dishes.

The range consists of:-
Daas Organic Ambre (6.5% ABV)
Daas Ambre is traditional rich and complex Belgian Ambre ale. The deep fragrant aromas with smooth caramel and sweetly mellow malt flavours finish with dry and delicately spiced hops. Great when hooked up with a traditional roast dinner of lamb, chicken or beef.

Daas Organic Blond (6.5% ABV) Daas Blond is an authentic strong Belgium beer, its honey and spice aroma and perfect balance of bittersweet flavours are followed by a classic dry hope finish. Blond is an ideal aperitif and a worthy pairing to spicy foods such as Indian, Vietnamese and Thai.
Daas Organic Witte (5.0% ABV)
Daas Witte is a naturally cloudy Belgian wheat beer. The fruity aroma and refreshing blend of subtle citrus and spice flavors compliment its crisply dry and bitter hop finish. Goes down well with seasonal seafood and sushi.

The three Daas Craft Beers, Witte, Blond and Ambre RRP £2.49

Daas is the only Belgian craft beer to carry the UK Soil Association Organic certification and the Belgian Certisys Organic certification. They grow their own barley in our farms and use locally sourced hops that are grown without pesticides and chemical fertilisers which they believe makes Daas beers ultimately more appetising.

The beers are suitable for vegetarian and vegan drinkers and both Blond and Ambre will soon be gluten free. Daas will continue to develop its links with organic and ethical traders with the aim of eventually becoming a carbon neutral beer; it is delivery by road to the UK that allows Daas to wear the Zero Air Miles badge with pride.

Daas guarantee “Each brew is hand crafted by a solo master brewer with two dedicated assistants and we fully intend to keep it that way.” Craft beer is about creating a flavourful, high-quality beer, which in most cases is very different from the mass-produced beer. Like all artisanal craft breweries their approach towards creativity, exploration and sustainability remains second to non.

Since their recent launch Daas has won numerous awards, supporting that both trade and consumer not only appreciate the taste but also the brands ethical standards and the attention paid when making the beers. Their marketing slogan of “The Pure Indulgence” backs up their use of the finest ingredients and the brand’s conscientious ideals.

Daas finish by saying “For many people it is not a question of drowning a few cold beers as possible, it is more a question of finding the right taste, the right beer for the right occasion.”

Daas is available throughout the UK from specialist, luxury and organic retailers. The beers are also on the shelf at selected stores of Waitrose, Able & Cole and can be purchased online at &

For enquiries outside the UK visit

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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Stratford to be treasure trove of good food during Food Festival

Shakespeare's birthplace will be transformed into a delicious treasure trove of good things to eat and drink as the town hosts the fifth Stratford Food Festival on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th September 2011.

As well as lining the banks of the River Avon, this year the festival also hits the streets by joining with three great food markets across the town, offering a fun-filled and tasty day out for all the family.

The event brings together a fantastic selection of great local producers and some from further afield, who are passionate about putting the very best on the table. So whether you want to stock your pantry, equip your kitchen, feed your mind or simply slate your thirst, you're bound to find something that more than fits the bill from the exciting festival programme this year.

Make a day of it, or make a weekend of it, find the town's beautiful riverside gardens bustling with stands as deliciously diverse as organic meat and veg, locally brewed real ales, beers and ciders, artisan cheeses and award-winning ice creams. There will be a British Farmers' market in the heart of the town as well as a French Market on Bridge Street and an Italian Market on Henley Street, plus live music and entertainment all weekend.

Work up an appetite and try some organic beef from Brown Cow, succulent hog roast from Castlemoor or a juicy burger from Happy Herefords. Turn the heat up with David's Chilli Oil or Anila's Authentic Sauces and enjoy some tasty nibbles from The Big Yum. Why not follow with a sweet treat from the Crumbly Cupcake Company, some beautifully handmade cakes and biscuits from Truly Scrumptious, or chocolate goodies from the Cacao Bean Konditorei & Café.

Or if you prefer savoury, why not savour a plate of fine cheese from Lymn Bank Farm or sample Alan Coxon`s unique multi award winning historic "Ale-Gar" Roman and Ancient Greek vinaigres?

Wine lovers will find plenty to savour too, with superb wines from Kiwi Cuisine and Pure Spain, as well as something stronger like English Gin from Foxdenton Estate and exciting liqueur and party drinks from the Perfect Tipple.

You can even pull up a stool at the bar and enjoy a perfectly pulled pint of UBU from Warwickshire's own Purity Brewing Company, at Stratford's favourite local, The One Elm, who will be out in force at the festival, as will the Royal Shakespeare Company's Rooftop Restaurant and Bar and The Lazy Cow, Warwick.

Learn how honey is made with the Stratford Beekeeping Association, growing your own and sustainable living, buy gadgets for your kitchen from Lakeland and sit back and watch a cookery demonstration, glass in hand. The proceedings will be overseen by chef, author and TV presenter Alan Coxon, who is the festival's ambassador this year.

Tickets, costing £5 for adults, will be available online from or by calling the ticket hotline which will also be available, soon. Children under the age of 16 have free entry.

Optional extras include the Taste Trail, an exciting trail of stalls at the festival and participating eateries in the town, and VIP tickets giving you the best seats in the house and guaranteed entrance to demonstrations.

Join them on Saturday 24th or Sunday 25th September and tuck into a tasty day out in a fabulous riverside setting. The festival is open from 10am to 11pm on day one, and from 10am to 6pm on day two on the banks of the river Avon, opposite the newly-refurbished Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and throughout the town.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Free Avocado recipe book

We are offering a free 24 page Summer Avocado recipe booklet. Recipes include various guacamoles, perfect picnic recipes, simple salads and even beauty treatments.

Readers of That's Food and Drink can email: or send a postcard to:

Summer Avocado Recipe Booklet
26 Fitzroy Square

Monday, 11 July 2011

The Stone Bake Oven Company Dish Up FREE Wood Fired Food Recipes

As the wood fired cooking trend gathers momentum in the UK, some wonder if it’s a trend that is set to stay. The growing interest in wood fired cooking has seen The Stone Bake Oven Company, manufacturers of wood fired pizza ovens, dish out all the guidance you could need to make an informed decision when deciding whether or not to purchase your own wood fired oven.

Once being a ‘specialist’ method of cooking, reserved for Italian families and pizzeria restaurants, the wood fired oven industry experienced the ‘celeb effect’, with many celebrities purchasing wood fired ovens for themselves. This was mostly due to the authentic cooking flavours only a wood fired oven could achieve, and partially related to the excessive price-tag and prestige associated with such ovens, making them a ‘must have’ in the celebrity realms.

What subsequently followed was a new found interest in these wood burning products by the public, and so as the demand grew, the Stone Bake Oven Company catered to it with a range of high quality yet affordable wood fired ovens for the home and garden.

So is this new market trend a fad on its way through the market? Or is it set to stay?

Unlike other craze products to have come to market, which seem like a great idea at the time (cue yogurt makers, for example?) and ends up gathering dust in your home or kitchen, or cobwebs in the garden, a wood fired oven revives the oldest and most traditional method of cooking there could ever be, cooking on an open fire.

After all, cooking in this way dates right back to beginning of civilisation! So I suppose wood fired cooking isn’t a fad at all, it just seems to have been revitalised with some good TV promotion and some guidance and re-invention by companies such as the Stone Bake Oven Company.

If you’ve ever tried authentic wood fired food yourself, it seems you’ll know what the fuss is about, with the ability to roast, grill, bake and sear a wood fired oven can cook virtually anything, as well as original Neapolitan pizza in less than 90 seconds.

For everything you need to know about wood fired cooking, including some tasty FREE recipes, The Stone Bake oven Company have taken wood fired ovens from a ‘must have’ to a CAN have, with a range of affordable indoor and outdoor pizza ovens.

For more details visit

BBC Food Show Winter NEC, Birmingham, 23 – 27 November

The biggest foodie event of the year is back and after the success of the BBC Good Food Show Summer, seeing a sell out Saturday, organisers are urging visitors to book in advance to avoid disappointment on the door.

Rachel Poletti-Gadd – Divisional Director, BBC Haymarket Exhibitions says: “With some of the country’s top chefs on the Supertheare sponsored by Sainsburys, the nation’s favourite TV programmes bought to life in the MasterChef Experience and Saturday Kitchen Live stage this is the date in the foodie calendar. After the huge success of the Summer Show we want to make visitors aware that tickets may not always be available on the day plus your tickets are cheaper if you book in advance.”

The NEC is once again set to play host to some of the leading names in the foodie world, including John Torode, Gregg Wallace, Rick Stein, James Martin, Glynn Purnell and Michael Caines in a 2000-seater Supertheatre.

They are expecting over 400 exhibitors and some highlights confirmed so far are:

Foxes Spices
Flavours of Spain – importing a fantastic range of artisan Spanish produce
Demijohn – The Liquid Deli
Luponde Tea
Eat Paella
American Food Direct – importers of American food
Marks and Spencer
English Provender – purveyors of some of the countries finest condiments, chutneys and dressings
Nairns Oatcakes
Burts Chips
Curry Sauce Company
Plus a whole range of professional chefs knives – including Kin, Global and I.O.SHEN

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Sunday, 10 July 2011

Drop Peardrop Flavour Pop. Even better than it says!

Everyone loves peardrops, those iconic and quintessentially British sweets. They have been a firm favourite with generations of adults and children, too.

But now someone has gone one better. Mount Valley, under the direction of founder Mohammed Ali, has developed and launched a sure-fire winner, Drop Peardrops flavour pop!

But this is where it gets interesting. Forget the mealy-mouthed 'health' drinks of late! With their: “water with a hint of carbonation”! Because Mount Valley Drop Peardrops flavour pop is bursting with bubbly goodness, just like the pops you remember as a child!

Then we come to the fascinating thing about Mount Valley Drop Peardrop flavour pop. Make certain it is well chilled, because this drink needs to be treated with the ultimate respect! Then, either pour it into a glass (over ice, if you like) or sip it from the can and the first thing you notice is that there's a wonderful summery taste of very sweet and very juicy ripe English pears.

That lasts for several seconds when it is sublimated by the taste of peardrops! Remarkable though this may seem, it happened with every sip of this most excellent product. And it is extremely refreshing, too!

It is called Drop (as in Peardrop, of course!) and if you want to be at the forefront of the next poptastic (sorry!) taste sensation, then you'd better look to either drinking it or stocking it in your shop, pub, or restaurant. Just visit to find out where to buy it retail or wholesale.

Mount Valley plan to bring out 12 other different, yet equally tasty and refreshing pop drinks, with one every three months or so.

So remember where you heard about it first!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Free ice cream on Fridays from Domino's

Make Fridays a cool experience with the latest deal from Domino’s Pizza. The pizza delivery expert’s new Free Ice-cream Fridays are a real treat.

Just spend over £20 online with Domino’s on a Friday and receive a 500ml tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream for free.

With four favourite Ben & Jerry’s flavours included in the deal, they’re a perfect end to your pizza feast. Choose from Caramel Chew Chew, moreish Chocolate Fudge Brownie, delicious Cookie Dough and Phish Food.

Simon Wallis, sales and marketing director at Domino’s, said: “We’re delighted to create another reason for pizza lovers to celebrate the end of the week with Free Ice-cream Fridays. After a piping hot Pepperoni Passion, there’s nothing better than tucking into a tub of ice-cream and this great deal is guaranteed to make Fridays fantastic from now on!”

To grab a slice of the action with Domino’s and Free Ice-cream Fridays, order online at