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Have A Break, Have A Sweetcorn Kit Kat

 

I'm usually quite a fan of when your average chocolate bar undergoes a makeover for a limited period. More often than not the addition of peanut butter sends me rushing to the corner shop to stock up my desk drawer on the latest chocolate-makers marketing ploy. Sometimes the flavour overhaul is so good and popular that it sticks around for a while, sometimes the limited edition variety is deemed unworthy of the supermarket shelves and it disappears only to return in years to come when people desperately wonder why on earth would Kit Kat remove the Peanut Butter Chunky for Caramel flavour? Seriously, why would you do that!

 

However, it seems that our gain of a Caramel flavoured Kit Kat wasn't the worst thing that could befall us, we can indeed count ourselves lucky that Sweetcorn, Toasted Soy Flour, Apple Vinegar and Potato varieties are only available in Japan. A list of 35 different Kit Kat varieties makes for interesting reading and it isn't all bad, for instance, I'm sure Cookies and Cream, Honeycomb and Strawberry Kit Kats would be perfectly pleasant. Also, if anyone knows where i could get a fix of the Cookie Dough variety, please let me know!

 



Schedule me for an 11 o’clock in the garden

City Garden in Baltimore. Pic from The Baltimore Sun

I liked this story on the New York Times website about company gardens. I'm not sure I'd be happy putting a window box on our office window sill as it's usually frequented by large pigeons but I do like the thought of using extra space for growing vegetables.



I’d Lava Eat Local

Amid the travel chaos caused by the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, it seems that there could be a knock on effect when it comes to stocking our supermarket shelves. With the effects of the harsh British winter still fresh in our heads, our own crops of fruit and vegetables are a little behind this year so our supermarkets have been relying on more stock from the warmer climes of Africa and South America to keep us going.

Whilst the supermarkets are yet to report empty shelves, if the restrictions on air travel continue, we may have to look at alternative ways or getting our vitamins. High profile campaigns by Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall have already made many of us more aware of buying local and getting to know the provenance of where our food comes from and I'm sure they will be rubbing their hands that many more of us may be forced to buy local.



I’ve never eaten…

It seems that Radio 5 presenter Richard Bacon has rocked our nation to the very core by admitting that he's never tried a Donner Kebab. I personally don't think it's that startling, i'm sure there are many sensible souls out there who have never shovelled down a kebab at two in the morning. His admission however, has got us all wondering here at 5pm towers, what have I never eaten?

Tripe, spam and oysters are high on my list. Tripe, well because I have a feeling the texture just wouldn't be for me. Spam, never had it growing up and it's not really the kind of thing i think I'll start to enjoy now. Oysters I would try, despite having a feeling that I wouldn't necessarily like them. I've just not had the chance to eat them yet.

A quick ask round the office has brought up some interesting and frankly baffling answers. Find below our list of I have never eaten's...

Jen - "Mince and Tatties, I know I had it as a small child and didn't like
it so refused to eat it forever more, but I don't remember and it's never
crossed my path since. I imagine it's just like tiny stew?"

Suzanne - "Probably a million things I haven't had before but that's due to allergies. Up until last night I'd never tried a pickled walnut - wish I had still never tried one! Never had spam or corned beef! Not sure why anyone would ever eat that!"

Michelle - "have never tried jellied eels, and have absolutely no desire to! I have a slight phobia of eels, jellyfish and squid and don't want to be near or touch one, nevermind eat one! That being said, I was amazingly brave last month and tried deep-fried calamari... I ate it all, but had to concentrate on something else and used liberal amounts of the dip it came with!"

Allison - "The only thing I can think of that I've never tried and never will is seafood - sushi, lobster, oysters etc, I don't like anything fishy and never have done. (Tuna excluded!)"

Allison's food dislikes are reversed by Stevie, who has never eaten Tuna. Ronnie has also admitted to never having tried hot coffee. Finally, Alan, had never heard of stovies before attending my wedding, he is still happy to inform me that despite trying them, he's still not exactly sure what they are!

Let us know what you have never eaten?



Anyone for Chocolate Haggis?

A slightly less refined piece of haggis confectionery!

We mentioned this story about an Edinburgh chocolate maker on our facebook page yesterday and it got a mixed response. Having garnered the opinions of my colleagues at 5pm towers, we are also split down the middle!

Spices in chocolate is not uncommon, and actually quite nice, but the texture of the oatmeal may be a little close to the real thing for me!

Has anyone tried it yet?



Cooking The Books

In the last couple of years the rise of the 'celebrity' chef has been huge. Cooking has become much more popular than it used to be and you can't seem to walk past a bookshop now without being confronted by a massive poster advertising Jamie Oliver's most recent anthology of recipes. However, according to this article in the Guardian today we are now seeing a rise in restaurant cookbooks. Whilst the famous Heston Blumenthal 'Fat Duck Cookbook' may be a little to complex for the home cook, the Hummingbird Bakery and Ottolenghi cookbooks have been road-tested at 5pm towers and we're pleased to report that they are much more manageable for the amateur cook!

Moving even further into the digital age, 5pm member Gandolfi Fish have posted some videos of owner Seumas MacInnes taking you through some of his favourite dishes. The hebridean boulangerie potatoes look brilliant!

Whilst we may not be seeing the McDonalds guide to home-cooking being released very soon, which restaurants' food would you like to be able to re-create at home?



Culinary Tourist Capital of The World?

It seems that Scotland, normally recognised worldwide for it's unhealthy diet and creations such as the battered mars bar and deep fried pizza, is actually a world leader in food and drink. According to this Scotland On Sunday article the ICTA (International Culinary Tourism Association) have praised Scotland's local produce and chef's and allowed us the right to promote our nation as a "unique, memorable and interesting" location for a gourmet holiday.

Nine locations were reviewed in this latest study including Peru, Singapore, South Africa, New Zealand and Louisiana with Scotland trumping the afore mentioned American state by 9 points. Locations were marked on the number of food organisations and events and the attraction of the country to 'culinary tourists'.

Do you agree that we have the best food on our doorstep? Where is your ideal food location?



‘A demitasse of scallop Sancerre soup’ at 38,000ft

Having recently travelled around 12,000 miles by air I thought I would give a 5pm view of airline food. As written by Stevie in the catchily named 'Cheesyjet' post, it seems that celebrity chefs are now getting in on the act when it comes to food that flies. I flew with Continental and it seems on closer inspection that they have a 'Congress of Chef's and Sommeliers' who meet to evaluate the dining options on board.

A trans-atlantic flight is never the most comfortable trip but on our recent flight to New York, we were lucky enough to get the honeymoon treatment and were upgraded to business class where we were immediately greeted with a menu for a five course meal! I was intrigued at how a five course feast would be prepared in the confines of a 747, but the flight attendant who donned a striped apron did an admirable job although I couldn't help thinking the apron was more for show than actual necessity. It seems that, according to this article, meals are carefully constructed to be partially cooked and then 'finished with a flourish' at 38,000 feet.

To begin our feast, we had grilled chicken kebabs and scallop soup which was then followed up with a rather sweet pineapple and candied walnut salad. The main event for me was the New York Style Steak which was well cooked but slightly too tough whilst my wife had the shrimp risotto which got the thumbs up. A cheese course was then paraded around the cabin but with a glance at my watch noticing that Glasgow time was still only 11am and bearing in mind the amount I'd already packed away, we passed. We did however manage to leave room for the homemade vanilla ice cream. All in all it was a very pleasant dining experience, certainly not Michelin star standard food but considering where it was being prepared and presented, a lot better than food in some restaurants I'd eaten in and the presentation on the plate was excellent.

Also, whilst in America, we took a couple of internal flights with the same carrier but this time in economy class. The microwaved cheeseburger in a cellophane bag and lasagne in a plastic tub didn't quite compare!



Smitten with Strawberries

As a keen home-cook, I am constantly looking at cook books or watching TV chefs and saying to myself, "I could do that, easy!". However, more often than not, the idea goes out of my head and I never end up doing it, preferring to just throw things together and concocting something of my own.

strawberriesThat was until recently. After a discussion in the office, the possible challenge of an office cook-off (watch this space!) and the discovery of the fab home cooking blog smittenkitchen, I finally decided I would try to recreate another's handiwork. Inspired by the 'heatwave' and Wimbledon tradition, I plumped for the Strawberries and Dumplings recipe.

I find that the pictures on the website usually tempt me and then the actual recipe then puts me off, however this sounded relatively easy. Not straying too far from the recipe (only adding a little extra sugar for my sweet-tooth), I embarked on my mission for a quick summer pud. Managing not to trash my kitchen too much and with my trusty KP giving a helping hand,  it was ready within half an hour.

in the pot

I have to say I was slightly sceptical of the thought of dumplings with strawberries but it worked perfectly and the dumplings balanced out the tartness of the strawberries nicely. Unfortunately the only thing missing was a glass of Pimms.

on the plate



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