Archive for the 'Food' Category

The Chemistry Of Cookies

Cookies are awesome.  No question.  They look brilliant, taste fantastic, and smell amazing!

But have you ever wondered why?  No?  To be honest I hadn’t either, but that inescapable desire for freshly baked cookies once the smell hits your nose is all to do with science.

You stick cookie dough into an oven, and magically, you get a plate of warm, gooey cookies. Except it’s not magic; it’s science.

Here’s another gem from Ted-Ed educator Stephanie Warren that explains exactly why.

So next time you bake some cookies there’s no need to set the kitchen timer, just wait for your nose let you know when the Maillard reaction has taken place.

Proof that “science can be pretty sweet”.  Happy baking!


The Great Bacon Sarnie Battle

You’d have had to be have been living under rock for the past few months not to have seen any of the EE adverts for 4G featuring Kevin Bacon.  Delivered in his own personal style and, somewhat self-mocking Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon vibes, it is the latest effort in the campaign that really stands out for me.

Combining the American’s natural desire to supersize, with Food Tube’s very own Essex-born Jamie Oliver is brilliant.  It’s hard not to like Jamie, with his genuine enthusiasm for food and cooking as well as the odd influential turn of phrase.

When it comes to pitting the Brits against the Americans for a “pukka” bacon sarnie Jamie is the natural choice.

bacon doesn’t buffer

EE do seem to be wandering down the relatively short path of “how many plays on the word bacon can we get away with”, but right now, and as long as they don’t overdo it, they are on to a TV winner with this.

Fast Food Packaging

It’s Friday.  The end of a long week and traditionally take-away night in many homes.  Admittedly not usually McDonald’s down my way, but this rather innovative re-work of the Golden Arches‘ fast food packaging (also applicable to a number of other fast food burger franchises too) is wonderfully simple.

Fast Food 1

Designed to solve the problems that traditional fast food packaging offers of, broadly speaking, too many packets and not enough hands.

Fast Food 2

Instead of grabbing a a rolled up paper bag in one hand, a drink in the other, and then somehow picking up a straw and napkins on the way out, this solution neatly wraps it all up together.

Your burger, fries and drink are held in a single container with carry handle, leaving you with one free hand to send a tweet about the latest packaging design, high-five your mates, or even open the strangely heavy doors that fast food restaurants often have.

GIF above via Funri.

The Art Of The Hamburger

The hamburger.  One of the finest American exports.  Yet the rest of the world, UK and Europe very much included, are fast becoming culinary powerhouses (just try Ben Mulock‘s Iberico Pork offering at the Opera Tavern if you don’t believe me!) in defining all that is delicious about the humble burger.

Two people pushing the boundaries of what you can do with a burger, and bringing it bang up to date as the fashionable and high-end food of choice, are the French duo of brilliantly crazy designers Thomas and Quentin.

Despite being notoriously elusive they catalogue the creativity of their efforts on the “utterly majestic” Fat & Furious Burger.

Burger - The EndAstro Burger

Burger - BrrrrgeurVampire Burger

Burger - Canicule burgerBurger… ice cream?

Burger - My name is Bun, James Bun007 Burger in gold

Burger - Neil Armstrong BurgerMy favourite, the Neil Armstrong Burger

Burger - Sanglichon burgerHunting Burger

Burger - The BurgivingThanksgiving Burger

Burger - Hawaiian BurgerThe remarkably lifelike Hawaiian Burger

These are just some of my favourites from their ridiculously wonderful and creative masterpieces, many many more over on their blog Fat & Furious Burger.  Go feast your eyes on their feed!

McDonald’s Photoshoot

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the title of this post would offer scantily clad females posing in red and yellow bikinis, or perhaps even some interior shots of McDonald’s “restaurants” re-designed in a particularly creative manner.

But no.  As is such with McDonald’s, this is just about the food.

We’ve all wondered why the ‘perfect’ looking burgers on the menus differ so greatly from what we are given in our take-away cartons, and (somewhat to my surprise) McDonald’s have now revealed exactly why that is.

A burger made “in about a minute or so” and purchased over the counter

A burger “styled” over many hours for a photoshoot

The secret is a painstakingly laborious “food styling” session given to each item on their menu, before being photographed and given a digital touch up (obviously).  The whole process is proudly shown off in the video below.

I’m not really surprised at this (oh come on, we all know it happens), but what I do find mildly amusing is that McDonald’s actually employs the specific role of “Food Stylist” to carefully inject ketchup and taper the melting edges of processed cheese with a hot palette knife!

The difference is quite clear, but is this form of advertising fair on the consumer?

I mean, if you bought a car based on an advert you would expect it to look the same wouldn’t you?  The wing mirrors, doors and everything else would be in the same position and of the same appearance as shown in the advert.  I’m not convinced by their stance on this being a  true and fair representation of the end product (as advertising should be), but then again I need don’t really need any more excuses to avoid fast food restaurants beyond the health aspect.

Submit your own questions to McDonald’s here, you never know – they might just answer it for you!

Altitude 360

Slight off topic to my usual content, but at the weekend I was lucky enough to be taken to “London’s most inspirational venue” at Altitude 360, and it was just too good not to mention.

Set towards the top floor of Milbank Tower, practically on the bank of the Thames, we were greeted to a marbled reception area and escorted by the restaurant director himself in the lift up to the 29th floor.  As the doors opened we were welcomed out to a Bellini and a full-bodied and peppery Bloody Mary, the most sophisticated manner in which to commence Sunday brunch.  After a brief explaination of how service works we were left to admire the views from our table and take in the gentle background music and surroundings on offer.  Elegant floral displays break up the predominantly pure white decor, subtly highlighted with gentle wall-washing lights and tasteful RGB LED lamps to enhance the column decorations.

The restaurant is largely a buffet style affair, though with waiting staff available for table service, additional drinks and specialities are on offer too.

The buffet style means you can peruse all the courses and take in whatever you like and, more importantly, in whatever order you like.  We opened by approaching the “Egg Station” with a cooked to ordered eggs benedict (delicious), followed by a pork roast (well, it was sunday) with all the trimmings.

The laidback style of the restaurant allows you to take your time (though tables are limited to a two hour sitting), and we took a break to collect a fresh juice and coffee and absorb some of the breathtaking views on offer.  Genuine panoramic views across the whole of the capital adorn the 360 windows on all sides of the tower.  The clear weather meant fantastic views spread in front of us from the Gherkin, London Eye and St. Pauls, visible even from sitting at our table, to the likes of The O2, Wembley Stadium, and the currently under construction Shard building which looks set to be truly magnificent in London’s skyline.

We then approached the “Crepe Station” with a choice of french or american style crepes or waffles, and spoilt for choice with toppings from the classic fruits and sauces to more mouth watering butterscotch and candied sugar (popular in USA I’m told).

Turning attention to the off-buffet menu it was choice to order one each of the pasta dishes.  Cooked to order came goats’ cheese and mushroom ravioli and papperdelle with peas and truffle oil.  Both were delicious, though relatively large in portion size, conscious that the “Desert Station” still hadn’t been decided on.

Lemon Tart and beautifully sweet Spiced Plum Crumble were an ideal way to finish eating and we retired to the soft seating around the room for tea and to take in more views and photos of the views over London.

Shortly later we took the opportunity for a ‘tour’ around the room with a very knowledgeable and humorous guide instilling us with knowledge about London from 190m up.

Photos courtesy of Kayleigh May

If you get the opportunity to go to Altitude 360 I would thoroughly recommend it.  It’s more than a delicious buffet-style brunch, ensuring you get your money’s worth, it’s a sensory experience probably not seen before.  Incredible views to match sophisticated dining, it truly is an inspirational venue.

Taste of London Festival

Slightly off topic from my usual design focussed posts, but at the weekend Regents Park hosted the Taste of London festival and it was just too good not to mention.

Before we’d even got through the gate fantastic smells and aromas greeted us, we were immediately drawn to the recommended Taste of Malaysia, and were not disappointed.  Authentic decorations, live cooking demos, dancing and food throughout with more samples and freebies than we knew what to do with.

There was also plenty of more substantial food to buy too, using the festival’s own currency of Crowns.

One of the favourites of the day were these chilli chicken wings

Followed by the duck pancakes and pecan crusted lamb.  Delicious.

And it wasn’t just food either, plentiful alcohol based stands, brazilian dancers and even a live band kept everyone’s spirits high when the sun tucked behind the clouds.

There were famous faces cooking up live demos at Electrolux‘s Taste Theatre too, the likes of Gary Rhodes and Heston Blumenthal both drawing large crowds, and Michel Roux Jr even getting involved on the front line at his stand.

Whilst the slightly less famous guys from High Street Dreams also had their own stand offering their much improved packaged (although still very spicy) sauce.

Now to one of my favourite moments of the afternoon, a beer and cheese tasting.  A mere 4 Crowns (£2) bought us half an hour with the wonderful and entertaining Melissa Cole who introduced us to “one of food and drink’s most natural partnerships”, beer and cheese.  Who knew?

Six perfectly matched beer and cheeses, with a really interesting history of their ingredients and production techniques.

My favourite: the Keto Reporter beer with Italian Gorgonzola.

Some of the more, ahem, expensive Italian beers, largely due to the fact the head of their brewery plays huge horns of varying Italian music “to the beer” during the fermenting process!

Of course I’m never fully ‘off duty’ and my design eye was caught by this fantastic poster.  Interestingly enough, Glorious also had the best soup we tasted at the festival.  Maybe there’s a link between good graphics and good soup, hmm.

With almost everyone of the many, many stands there offering a flyer/business card a good flyer was crucial to set you apart from the rest.  These two weren’t necessarily the best, but Malaysia Kitchen and the Aussie Spirit Company caught my eye with their uniquely shaped flyers.

The covers on this literature for welsh food also deserves a mention.

Thanks to Kayleigh May for letting me use many of her photos on here, more on Flickr, and a few more on my photostream too.

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