All posts tagged Food

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The broad brush definition of Content Marketing is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. So the formats that immediately spring to mind are blog posts, website updates and email newsletters, right?

In my opinion, the essence of content marketing is far broader than this.  It’s a strategy, not a tactic, and should actually encompass every single communication that your company utters online, including job adverts, one-to-one emails and absolutely anything you write on social media sites and forums.

Content marketing is one of the best ways of engaging with audiences and potential customers online. It is useful for improving search rankings, increasing brand engagement, loyalty and visibility and for facilitating social sharing and interaction. If you are a consumer-facing company, it is imperative that you  are actively embracing content marketing.

People in-the-know have even gone as far as to say that content marketing is the new SEO.  A big claim, but one that makes sense.   Content is the undisputed king in 2013. High quality content targets relevant keywords, boosts social sharing and increases the number of indexed pages on your website, all of which aid your search ranking climb.

Significantly, the focus for content marketing is not on selling, but rather on communicating with customers and prospects.  So it’s really all about improving your communication strategy and making sure you are communicating with your target audience on the right platforms, with relevant information, using a tone of voice that endears you to them.

What I’ve said so far obviously applies to any consumer facing company. But if you’re a food or lifestyle company you’ve got a distinct edge on the content marketing front and I’ll tell you for why (Gavin & Stacey repeats on Gold, anyone?).

Chances are your product is way more aesthetically pleasing than the majority out there.  People love to drool over images of food or beautiful interiors.  There’s a reason TV is flooded with food porn (Masterchef, The Great British Bake Off, Nigella) and house porn (Grand Designs, anything with Sarah Beeney).

They (those in-the-know bods again) say a picture speaks a thousand words. So you are at a distinct advantage in having access to delicious images that your audience will want to see.  Of course, you don’t want to be just firing incessant pictures of your brand at them, but having this content in your locker gives you a natural foundation for your content marketing efforts.

So what are you waiting for?  If you’re not quite sure where or how to start then either give us a call or pop back next week when my blog will give you a step-by-step guide to Content Marketing.

bacon flavoured coffee

Granted, I’m probably not in the most gastronomically objective of moods, given that at 1am today I was rounding off the evening (a quiet night in with a friend, don’t you know?) with a large tumbler of elderflower liqueur. It was one of those ideas that seemed great at the time, but now in the cold light of day, with pounding head and churning tum, was clearly a huge mistake. Not remotely big or clever…especially on a school night.

But even without a hangover, bacon flavoured coffee just seems wrong. I’m all for pushing the boundaries of flavour combinations in pursuit of the next taste sensation (well, maybe not today), but there is a line.  And that has crossed it. Created by gourmet coffee company Boca Java, they claim their Maple Bacon Morning blend is  ‘reminiscent of a hearty Saturday morning breakfast’. Even for a brand whose tagline is ‘redefining the perfect cup’ this has surely got to be a massive stretch?

I mean, I’m all for the nuances bestowed by different coffee blends – spicy, fruity, full-bodied, rich, smooth etc, but to my mind coffee should taste like coffee…and definitely not like bacon.

Now some flavour combinations, that seem plain weird at first, just work. Peanut butter and jelly (sorry, jam), chilli and chocolate are a couple that spring to mind. Discovering new taste sensations is all in a day’s work for the scientists at Foodpairing. They are slaving away to discover new ways to pair old ingredients.  Using a scientific flavour analysis, they pair together foods that share major flavour components, in ways that we couldn’t even dream of.

According to their findings, surprising yet winning combinations include: Heinz Tomato Ketchup and banana, dark chocolate and parmesan and French cheese and almond cookies.  What say you Rumblechatters? Do any of those tickle your fancy, or even your tastebuds?

I’m not keen on the first pairing, but on a better day I could see the appeal of the latter two. For now though, I just need a strong coffee-flavoured coffee…and maybe a little lie down.

Taste.  Now that’s a word with many meanings. Whether it’s the sensation of flavour perceived in the mouth, a small portion, a person’s liking for something, or the ability to discern good quality or high aesthetic standard, the concept of ‘taste’ is something that permeates modern life.

The most obvious association is food, but it extends to many areas of a Rumblechatter’s life.  You can have good taste or bad taste. But I’m assuming that, by virtue of you reading this, you fall firmly into the former camp.

Food-wise, there is a scientific explanation as to our preferences. When food and drink are placed in the mouth, taste cells are activated and we perceive one of five flavours: sweet, salty, savoury, sour, and bitter.

Sweet and salty foods were originally nature’s way of rewarding us for eating something nourishing.  There are natural sugars and salts in fruits and vegetables and all carbohydrates are broken down by our bodies to produce sugars that provide the main fuel for bodily function. Natural salts play a necessary role in regulating the pressure of all bodily fluids. Obviously in this day and age, a packet of Walkers Salt and Vinegar followed by a slab of Dairy Milk don’t really offer the same nutritional value, but still, it’s good to understand the origin of our (my?) comfort food cravings.

The taste of savouriness is derived from the natural protein component of foods like meat, cheese and mushrooms.  The main function of protein in the body is to build and repair cells and tissues – pretty essential, in anyone’s book.

Sour and bitter flavours work in the opposite way. Originally they alerted us to foods that might be toxic or harmful to us. Sour foods tend to only be good for us in small amounts. Take for example, the humble lemon. Whilst it has many beneficial attributes, such as antibacterial, antiseptic and supporting liver function, you couldn’t eat a whole one now could you? Bitter foods are ones that may be toxic, and so our taste buds (and dour, lemon-sucking faces) warn us immediately.

Vegetables, although very healthy, do have a component of bitterness to them. This is thought to be from a cunning kind of bitterness camouflage to delude predators into thinking said plant is toxic . Also, some of these bitter ‘toxins’ may actually be deadly to one animal species but another may have adapted to be able to digest these same ones.

Human beings developed innate taste preferences in prehistoric times.  In constant danger of starving, humans developed instincts to shun the plentiful but bland vegetables in favour of the extremely rare, overly sweet, high-fat treats such as honey, grubs, or bone marrow fat, which would sustain them in a famine. Our love of The Great British Bake Off shows that we really haven’t evolved that much

When it comes to aesthetic taste, well that’s a whole different ball game, and one grounded in sociology, not science. Sociologically speaking, taste is an individual’s personal and cultural patterns of choice and preference. Taste is about drawing distinctions between things such as styles, manners, consumer goods, works of art etc. and relating to these.

Aesthetic preferences are predominantly influenced by education and social origin. Different socioeconomic groups are likely to have different tastes. Social class is one of the prominent factors structuring taste. This theory suggests our parents and childhood experiences have a profound influence over our mature aesthetic taste.

I can confess I’ve just bought a green Egg chair that has definite echoes of an orange one my parents had in the seventies. But that’s as far as the shared taste goes.  For me the influence seems to have been more about driving me to create something different.  I’m pretty sure my abhorrence of all things matchy-matchy (in fashion, soft furnishings, décor…in fact, in anything) stem from my mum’s obsessive love of the very same thing?

The other pertinent thing about taste is that everyone thinks they’ve got it.  Just as no-one holds their hands up to being a bad driver, so no-one confesses to having appalling taste.  Which is probably a good time for a confession…I’m actually a terrible driver.

I may be a bit behind the times here (it wouldn’t be the first time), but I’ve just discovered the Suspended Coffee Campaign.  Born of an Italian tradition, the ‘caffe sospreso’ is a cup of coffee paid for in advance as an anonymous act of charity. The tradition began a century ago, in the working class cafes of Naples, where someone who had experienced good luck would order a sospeso, paying the price of two coffees but consuming only one. The remaining coffee would remain suspended for a poor person to claim later.

This heart-warming practice has been championed successfully on social media, igniting social consciences globally and subsequently being adopted by communities around the world. Suspended coffees represent an affirmation of the old English adage ‘Charity begins at home’ – supporting the ‘down on their luck’ people within your local community.

So far, about 150 British cafes have signed up to what has become a formal scheme, with coffee giant Starbucks recently signing up for the initiative. Ian Cranna, vice-president of marketing at Starbucks UK told Marketing Magazine the campaign “will provide warmth and comfort for those looking for food or a hot cup of coffee.”

The only problem I can foresee is that of the target audience (vulnerable people) feeling ashamed to pop in and ask for the off-chance of charity.  Some cafes across the UK have pre-empted this barrier, adopting the initiative in different forms, with some donating cash equivalents to local homeless shelters or providing tokens to be discreetly donated to those in need.

On a (frivolously) political note, if this is an example of what the EU brings us, who can knock it?

food app image

Following on from last week’s vociferous scourge on the new food app for lardy gamers, I felt it only right that I should offer up the worthier side of food related apps.  As Apple have drummed into our subconscious, whatever your [dietary] requirements, ‘there’s an app for that.  The plethora of sustenance related apps is astounding; there’s definitely no ‘one-size-fits-all’ ethos going on here.  Here’s a selection of the several million (I exaggerate…but only slightly) that I stumbled upon in the name of research.

 

Best for Foodies in training: Foodgawker

A veritable feast of food porn. The mobile counterpart to foodgawker.com, which collects recipes from various food bloggers, and presents them in a mouthwatering photo gallery format. Whether you want to make good food, or just drool over it, foodgawker is an excellent resource. It’s also a great way to discover your next favourite food blog.

 

Best for meal planning: FoodPlanner

Make it easy to swerve the crisp aisle next time you hit the supermarket. FoodPlanner organises your daily meals and allows you to upload your own recipes and download meal ideas from top recommended sites. This clever little app then compiles your shopping list of ingredients from the recipes you’ve chosen. FoodPlanner can store multiple lists and recipes to add variety into your healthy eating habits. Handy eh?

 

Best for wannabe Flintstones: Primal Paleo

It seems like every other person I meet is Paleo eating these days.  Maybe it’s the Game of Thrones effect, but this caveman diet is taking over the world! Billed as ‘the only nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic’ the ideology is more appealing than the reality (no coffee or cake). For those keen to give it a try, Primal Paleo offers the perfect pocket guide to succeed.

The app includes key information about the core principles of Paleo living, along with recipe ideas and a searchable list of Paleo foods. Find out which foods are in season and choose from a selection of exercises to complement the diet.Connect to the rest of the Primal community through the app to share your meal ideas, lifestyle tips and find words of wisdom from other users.

 

Best for eating out: Mint Nutrition

We all love to eat out, but it can be a sure-fire way of piling on the pounds. Mint Nutrition keeps track of your calorie chomping whenever you’re out for dinner and guides you to more healthy options. Search for foods at your favourite restaurants and also create your own virtual plate, detailing your most popular menu choices. So you can work out how much time on the treadmill you need to offset that sticky toffee pudding.

Best for vegetarians: Go Veggie!

This app is ideal for veggies wanting to keep their diet balanced and varied. Users can browse over 100 recipes ranging from basic to elaborate. Each dish is accompanied by a step-by-step guide. Additional features include an ingredient and recipe finder, recipe index and the ability to create individual shopping lists. Go Veggie! also explains how to transform protein-rich foods such as tofu, seitan and tempeh into tasty and nutritious dishes.

  

Best for staying hydrated: Carbodroid

Everyone knows that we should drink eight glasses of water a day, but if you’re anything like me, this is an abstract, rarely achieved target. You can set your daily goal for water intake and tap the cup or bottle icon to track your sipping habits. You’ll receive reminders to drink water at regular intervals and if you drink enough, the cute animated droid shares in your happiness. It’s a simple concept, but a brilliant one that motivates you to keep drinking water in a fun and accessible way.

 

Best for Healthy Living: Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by My Fitness Pal 

Tap in your age, gender, ­lifestyle ­details and weight-loss goal and you’re away. It’ll set a daily ­calorie limit and help you track your food and ­exercise throughout the day. A ­potentially ­effective weight-loss tool, if you’re prepared to be ­brutally honest.

 

Best for garnering food safety knowledge: NutritionTips
Did you know that cut melon must be thrown out after two hours? Or that the leanest beef cuts include round steaks and roasts? Or that oysters contain protein, calcium, phosphorus and iron? This colorful app has fun factoids a-plenty to steer you towards a safe and healthy diet. Each tip is written on a sleek Post-it look-alike. Most visually pleasing.  Simply swipe the page or shake your device for a new tidbit.

 

So it seems Apple aren’t exaggerating.  Whatever your need or desire, there’s an app to match.  So, Rumblechatters, what’s your favourite food app?

 

Pizza hut app pic

Pizza Hut and Microsoft have teamed up to create a Pizza Hut App for Xbox, which allows video game players to order pizza via Xbox Live.  This means you can order dinner without having to abandon your beloved games console for a single second.

On a technological level this is a big achievement – it’s the first time an entertainment app has allowed for the purchase and delivery of goods. The app even connects to your Facebook account, allowing you to post details of your dinner order for your family and friends to see.

But Rumblechatters, the question I want to bellow at the top of my lungs is….WHY?  Is it possible to get so disconnected from reality that you think this is a good thing?  And don’t worry that this defines you as a total loser?  It’s a slippery slope after all – if cooking your own tea, or even picking up the phone to order it in, become too much bother, surely showering and the benefits of fresh air become completely obsolete?

Reassuringly this collaboration is only available in America at present.  But where the mighty US of A lead, Britain invariably skuttles behind. As UK couch potatoes rejoice, I can’t help but worry that this is taking slothdom to a new and disturbing level.

I’m having flashbacks to David Fincher’s Se7en.  Kevin Spacey’s nefarious John Doe character would have a (justifiable?) field day with this app.  He’d have to dream up a whole new world of pain to punish these slothful gluttons (2 deadly sins in one sitting).

Cue another media flashback, this time from the small screen. (I know I’m in danger of jeopardising my whole argument, given my points of reference reveal my eyes to be on the square-ish side, but bear with me please).  Do any of you remember a kids program called Why Don’t You?  It ran from the late 70s to the early 90s and ignited the careers of such celebs as Ant McPartlin, Pauline Quirk and Andy Crane (of Broom Cupboard fame….no? #showingmyageagain).

Its full title was Why Don’t You Just Switch off The Television Set And Go Out And Do Something Less Boring Instead? Clearly they weren’t inciting you to turn your telly off until the end of the show (when, handily, the kids programming stopped), but the ideology was sound.   We could learn a lot from the #goodolddays.

The sun is shining (for the moment) and the birds are singing….picnic anyone?

cupcakes

As a nation, last year we bought 110 million cupcakes. That’s nearly 2 each for every single member of the population.  And that stat doesn’t include all the cupcakes we whipped up at home – probably considerably more than that, given that 58% of us tried baking in 2012, a 27% increase from 2011.

I’ve just done a Google search for ‘cupcakes UK’ – it turned up over 46 million results.  So what exactly is this national obsession all about?

Cupcakes have become a symbol of hope amidst a backdrop of economic misery.  Where once hemlines were an indicator of financial prosperity (or otherwise), the humble cupcake flies the flag for affordable luxury. This bite-sized confection provides a comfort-food distraction from the economic rollercoaster (quadruple dip, anyone?)

Cupcakes are also emblematic of the rise of the small food producer. Start-up cake-making businesses have doubled in a year and sales of bakeware and ingredients have also shot up. Baking is becoming synonymous with the ‘make, do and mend’ psyche of a frugal modern Britain.

TV execs aided the cupcake’s rise to iconic status.  The launch of The Great British Bake Off in August 2010 fuelled our national obsession. A whopping 7 million viewers tuned in to watch the amateur bake-off at its peak. To contextualise it, that’s more than Eastenders gets these days.

It’s not just our taste-buds cupcakes are tickling. Their uplifting visual effects are being felt outside the food arena.  You can buy cupcake wallpaper, duvet covers, cushions and notepads, but to name a few.  The humble cupcake has its own range of licensed product – surely the ultimate sign of celebrity?

cupcake duvet cover

This morning I was privy to a conversation in Tesco Express that got me thinking. An older generation lady (for the purposes of this blog, let’s call her Elsie; she looked like an Elsie…or maybe a Hilda) was ranting (entirely good-naturedly) to the slightly bewildered cashier, about what the world was coming to, after said cashier informed her that they didn’t sell raisins, sultanas and dried fruit peel.
No prizes for guessing what Elsie’s making. Other customers gazed in bewilderment at this rare sighting of an actual real-life hot-cross- bun-maker. So, Rumblechatters, where do you sit in the make-your-own versus buy-them-in debate? And are you well informed as to the origin of this yummy food tradition?

I’d always blithely assumed that the origin of the hot cross bun was fairly clear cut – a Christian tradition celebrating the end of lent, utilising lots of tasty, forbidden by lent ingredients to make a yummy cake/bread cross-breed, stamped with the cross of crucifixion. In my head this was going to be a quick one – bit of history, bit of religion…job done. But no my friends, it appears that there is far more to the humble hot cross bun than meets the eye.

Did you know, for example, that way before the Christians staked their claim to the HCB, Pagans were merrily worshipping their goddess Eostre (after whom Easter was named), by serving up tiny, fruity, cakes, often decorated with a cross at their annual spring festivals.

The English word ‘bun’ evolved from the Greek ‘boun’, which was used to describe a ceremonial cake of circular or crescent shape, made of flour and honey and offered as a periodical thank you to the gods.

Superstitions regarding bread baked on Good Friday date back to pre-christian times, when people believed that bread baked on this day could be hardened in the oven and kept all year to protect houses from fires, sailors from shipwrecks and crops from perishing

So, given that the humble HCB is not actually that humble, imbibed as it is in a steep tradition of religion, history and culture, should more of us take a leaf out of Elsie’s book and get Good-Friday-Baking…or is this just another example of a time-consuming tradition best circumnavigated the modern way – by buying one and getting one free in a supermarket?

Don’t even get me started on the Easter Bunny!

hong_yi_03v2

For the whole month of March, Malaysian artist Hong Yi, known simply as ‘Red’ will be uploading a piece of food art onto instagram.

So far, the artist has uploaded a sushi replica of Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave’ and a banana headed Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’. We love it! Click here for the story so far, and keep a look out on Design Boom for the rest of the month’s offerings. Then if you fancy playing with your food yourself, please tweet us your creations!

This week we thought we would concentrate on sourcing some amazing recipes for the special lady in your life – your mum! It is of course Mother’s Day this Sunday, so why not celebrate by cooking up a storm in the kitchen!

Breakfast

egg-in-a-nest

Of course a great way to show mummy just how much you love her is with breakfast in bed. Our favourite is Egg in a Nest. You simply get a biscuit cutter (a heart or flower shaped one will work well for this occasion) and cut the middle out of a piece of bread. Then you melt a knob of butter into a hot frying pan and place the bread in, frying it slightly. Then crack an egg inside and fry to your mum’s liking. There you have it: Egg in a Nest. Otherwise known as Egg in a Saddle, Egyptian Egg, One Eye or Bird in a Nest!

Lunch

brandonrostsmokedsal

This classic combo of beetroot, salmon and horseradish creme fraiche makes a delicious starter, but works just as well as a Mother’s Day lunch as well. This recipe is great!

Dinner

lamb

A classic Mother’s Day dinner would have to be roast lamb. It’s perfectly spring like and such a treat. This recipe that we have found gives lots of great tips on how to cook the best roast lamb from chef Marcus Wareing.