The First Bite is With the Eyes

Presentation is everything, and while it is easy to spend your time looking for the very best ingredients and the ultimate preparation of those ingredients, how much thought have you given to how your food first appears to the diner?

Less Is More

First thing’s first: don’t overload your plates. It is easy to fear empty space on a plate but fight the temptation to fill the entire dish with sauce, salad or gigantic portions. Leaving space on the plate showcases the food and allows space for flavours to be gently mixed rather than overlapping to create one single flavour. Overly large portions are a contributing factor to food waste, it is estimated that over 1/3 of food is thrown away. Encourage diners to ask for seconds rather than presenting them with huge dishes of food that you will end up throwing away.

Contrast

How colourful is your dish? A platter of beige food is not going to appeal to anyone. Spiralled carrots, bright cherry tomatoes and vivid fresh herbs can provide contrast at all stages of a dish. With regards to regularly used vegetables, look for heirloom or ‘rainbow’ varieties for a wider range of colours. Purple Peruvian potatoes look stunning paired against a chicken breast or nestled amongst a warm salad. Sauces can also be a good way to add to the overall look of the dish, squeezable sauce bottles are a great way to make controlled lines, shapes or pools with sauces.

Plate ware

What are you serving your food on? Large white plates are favoured by many restaurants but by no means are those your only options. Get creative with your dish ware and don’t shy away from colourful or patterned plates. Look for connections between the designs and the cuisine you are serving or research traditional ways observing dishes. Cedar planks, for example, can be a beautiful way to serve whole fish, either family style or as a centrepiece to a served buffet and also honour traditional methods of preparation. A note of caution however, don’t take inventive flatware too far or you may just find yourself featured on sites like We Want Plates; no one needs a fry up served on a picture frame or bread in a flat cap.

Garnish

Complete your dish with an accent on the plate. Delicate lines of sauce, as mentioned above, can make a delightful first impression. Similarly to plate ware, take inspiration from the dish itself, with a sprinkling of spices or herbs that feature in the dish on the rim of the plate. Don’t shy away from contrasting or unusual flavours when it comes to garnishes; edible flowers and fresh fruit can be a good palate cleanser and allow diners to enjoy the different flavours of the dish.

Set the scene

Now that you have crafted a beautifully presented dish, don’t just slap it down on a bare table. Encourage your diners to linger and take time over your creation by giving them an inviting environment to enjoy their meal. Fresh flowers, instead of fake ones, are a good place to start! Services like Bloom Magic allow you to search by colour and/or variety if you want coordinate table decor such as napkins and tablecloths.

Taking the time to consider what finishing touches you will add to a dish turns a meal into a savoury experience for the diner.

The Negative Impacts of Not Eating the Right Food

We are all well aware that the better we eat, the healthier our bodies. “You are what you eat” is a phrase which is branded around a lot and for the most part, it generally is true. If you eat a lot of fatty foods, the fat reserves in your body are going to grow, along with your belly. Not eating right can drastically cut the life expectancy of a person, and we are not just talking about overeating, under eating can also have a profound and, at times, fatal consequence on our bodies. This article highlights the negative impact a poor diet has on our bodies.

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Fruits With The Most Sugar

We all know fruits are sweet because of the fruit sugars they contain, but what fruits have the highest concentrations? In this blog we look at the sweetest fruits and how much sugar they contain.

Mangoes

Mangoes have been cultivated in South Asia for thousands of years and reached Southeast Asia around 400 BC. By the 10th century they were being grown in Africa, and in modern times are grown in most tropical regions. It’s yellow/orange flesh surrounds a large seed and they have skins which range from yellow through green to a reddish purple. Less sweet mangoes are used for chutneys while the ripe fruits are eaten on their own, used in deserts or made into drinks like a mango lassi when mixed with buttermilk, yoghurt and sugar. Their sweetness come from a sugar content of up to 13.7%.

Pomegranates

Originally from modern day Iran, the Pomegranate is now a global crop cultivated on most continents. Their juice is widely enjoyed round the world, especially by the health conscious, for its high antioxidant content. Grenadine, a sweet syrup used in cocktails, was formerly made from pomegranates for its natural sweetness. With a sugar content of around 13.7% you can see why.

Lychee

Lychee cultivation has a history dating back to 2000BC in China. The inedible red rind on the outside of the fruit is removed to reveal its white flesh, surrounding one edible seed. Lychees are usually eaten raw on their own, as part of a fruit salad or used in desert recipes. With a sugar content of up to 15.2% they are one of the sweetest of the asian fruits.

Grapes

Since its domestication 8000 years ago in the near east, the grape has been used in wine and in its dried form as well as being enjoyed fresh. Grapes are also used for making juice, brandy and vinegar. Their high sugar content of 16.3% makes it perfect for turning into alcohol.

Figs

The fig brings horrified looks to people of a certain age with memories of the thick, gloopy syrup they used to have when they were growing up to stave off scurvy and rickets. There’s more to the fig than just that though; the mainstay of Christmas pudding and the fig roll biscuit is gram for gram the fruit with the most sugar, with up to 16.3% of the stuff. They are typically grown in the middle east and Mediterranean.

Unusual Foods From Round The World

As human beings we all have foods we turn our noses up at because of our culinary culture. What is weird for someone is the west might be a favourite for people in the rest of the world. In this blog we look at some of the most unusual foods from around the planet.

Shirako – Japan

This delicacy is made from Cod milt, which is more accurately described as the fish’s sperm sac. Cooked with a blowtorch, steamed or pan or deep fried, it is said to have a light fine texture similar to egg custard with a delicate slightly oceanic hint.

Balut – The Philippines

Known informally as “the egg with legs” Balut is a favourite snack in The Philippines. It consists of a fertilised duck egg, matured for 15 days in sand to keep it warm and then boiled and steamed. The contents are eaten directly from the egg with a chilli, garlic and vinegar dip or with salt.

Rocky Mountain Oysters – USA

This American delicacy isn’t made from oysters at all, but instead made from bull, sheep or pig testicles. The organs are peeled, coated in flour and deep fried. Sometimes they are pounded flat before frying. The dish’s roots are said to go back to the days of the cowboys and they are regularly served at festivals and sporting events.

Haggis – Scotland

This Scottish delicacy isn’t a tiny furry beast caught in the hills and eaten whole, it is in fact made from lamb. What part you ask? Well, pretty much every part! It consists of lamb heart, liver and lungs minced and mixed with suet, oatmeal onions and spices. Recipes can vary and include more parts of the lamb including eyeballs and testicles as well as some beef offal.

Guinea Pig – Peru

The popular pet has been a staple food in South America for centuries. These are usually roasted and eaten whole, cooked into casserole or deep fried. The meat is very high in protein and low in fat and has been likened to rabbit meat or the dark meat from chicken.

Tong Zi Dan – China

For this dish urine is collected from local boys and eggs are placed in it and soaked. It is then heated over a stove until the egg shells are cracked. The urine is then replaced with fresh urine and the process repeated again. When finished the eggs have a yellow hue and the yolks turn green. Yum!

Try Some Different Seafood

Seafood is a strange one, some people love it whilst others don’t want to stray very far from what hey know. Most people are happy enough with a fish supper and the occasional bit of tuna, but if you want to look around there are loads of types of delicious fish available. Fish is a good source of high quality protein and it contains lots of vitamins and minerals. Whitefish is low in fat and oily fish is full of essential fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6.

Dover Sole

Dover Sole is a flatfish famed for its mild, sweet flavour, flaky texture fine flavour. They are commonly regarded as the finest of the sole family. They can grow up to 3 feet in length and usually weight around 0.5-1 kg when they are landed and have a distinct oval body shape. Dover sole is best cooked as simply as possible and can be fried, baked, grilled or poached. Combine it with a flavoured butter or a simple sauce for a classic fish dish. Pair Dover sole white a light, elegant Chablis, or a Chardonnay for a classic taste combination.

Hot Smoked Salmon

Almost everyone will have seen or tasted the bright orange smoked salmon somewhere, but what is far more rare is hot-smoked salmon. The bright orange stuff everyone is used to is cold smoked and is delicious in itself, but when people try hot-smoked salmon it is a game changer. The difference between them is obvious, with the smoking of normal smoked salmon taking place at a temperature around or below 25C whereas hot smoked salmon is smoked at temperatures of 70-80C and sometimes even higher. The difference in smoking temperature creates a completely different texture and taste, with a deeper smokier flavour and a firmer texture, similar to fully cooked fish. This delicious dish is definitely one to try if you haven’t already. Try it with a sparkling white or a Chardonnay.

Lobster

Formerly the reserve of prisoners and newly arrived colonists to the USA, it was once so unpopular that prisoners weren’t allowed to eat it more than 3 times a week and if your children had lobster sandwiches it was seen as an embarrassment. All that changed in when railroads started to appear in the USA and lobster could be sent inshore, where people didn’t know it was regarded as a bottom feeding food of the poor. Apart from the shell, stomach and intestines every part of a lobster can be eaten and with it’s meat that is even leaner than chicken, it’s an unique delicacy. It is normally eaten with butter, a squeeze of lemon or made into a dish with pasta or into a bisque. Pair lobster with a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. You can even make use of a Marks and Spencer voucher code for sensational discounts on wine.

Crab

The strange looking, sideways walking crustacean is often overlooked by most people as a source of food because hey don’t know what to do with it. The brown crab, most popular in the UK, is a flavoursome treaty with the delicate white meat from its claw and the soft and rich brown meat from its body. Hugely versatile it can be eaten on its own, in salads or used in classic dishes like crab cakes, crab bisque or in curries and pasta sauces. Pair this with a Chardonnay or a Pino Gris.

Foods With Health Benefits

We all know the phrase you are what you eat, and as it turns out, this is true! Fuelling your body with healthy foods has shown some evidence of maintaining healthy DNA, so it’s worth choosing your food wisely. In this blog we’re going to look at some of the best foods for helping maintain your health and the specific health benefits of them.

Kale

Kale is not only a classic leaf used in soups salads or as a side dish, it’s only really good for you too. Very rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate and manganese and a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin E, panthothenic acid as well as hosting the dietary minerals iron, calcium, potassium and phosphorus, it’s among the best vegetables you can eat for nutrition.

Spinach

Popeye’s favourite is a classic vegetable used in curries or more traditionally creamed. It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese and folate. It is also a good source of riboflavin and vitamin B6, vitamin E, and potassium. It has been linked to health benefits including blood glucose control, lowering the risk of cancer, improving bone health and helps in reducing blood pressure.

Carrots

Famed for helping you see in the dark (which actually turns out to be an urban myth) carrots are a favourite staple food. It is a rich source of vitamin A, beta-carotene, lutein and vitamin K and dietary fibre. They help to prevent heart disease, reduce risk of cancer and strokes, boost the immune system and help maintain good digestive health.

Beetroot

Beetroot is a well loved root, normally coming in a deep red colour, but also grown in white and golden varieties. The main ingredient of of soups and commonly found boiled and pickled it is a rich source of folate and manganese and has been linked to a host of health benefits. Research has shown that beetroot can help lower blood pressure, fight inflammation, has anti-cancer properties and an help support detoxification.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms have a reputation for being magic, but we’re not talking about those type here! Mushrooms are rich in vitamin D (one of the only foods that this is a source of) riboflavin, niacin, copper and selenium, making them a great food for nutrition. They help to boost the immune system, can help prevent cancer and can protect the heart. Not bad for a fungus!

5 Luxury Food Items

Luxury food is something that we all would love to try. Here are some of the rarest foods on earth, with a price that almost costs it!

Yubari King Melon

Coming in at a whopping £10000 per melon at auction, the Yubari King Melon is amongst the world’s most luxurious foods. Produced in the tiny Japanese town of Yubari in greenhouses, the smooth rinded melons is famed for its sweetness and orange flesh. Melons are prized for their round shape and smooth skins. Only top melons sell for thousands, and you can pick up a cheaper one for about £40-£100.

Ass Cheese

This expensive food item is made from donkey milk in Serbia and is known as “ass cheese” or “pule.” Donkey’s milk has been used for its supposed medicinal properties, with Cleopatra bathing in it in Ancient Egypt and Roman Emperor Nero’s wife Poppaea Sabina used it for washing her face. With a flavour described as part feta, part Manchego, part Wensleydale and with a hint of salty parmesan, it’s one of the world’s rarest and strangest foods.At over £1000 a kilo, it is an expensive bit of cheese, but when you consider that only a dozen or so of the herd of 130 donkeys can produce milk at any one time it makes a bit more sense, only producing enough milk for a maximum of 100kgs of cheese a year.

White Truffles

These underground growing fungi are among the rarest and most expensive foods on earth. Mainly found growing in northern Italy and tiny pockets of France, Croatia and Slovenia, they are symbionts with trees and can only be found during the autumn. Their pale cream flesh is marbled with white and they cost roughly £14500 a kilogram. They are hunted with hogs or dogs and with a shelf life of about a week from being hunted, they don’t keep for very long. Costing up to £330000 for a single one kilo truffle they are hugely expensive. Usually thinly sliced and served with pasta or over an egg they truly are a rare and luxury item.

Saffron

Coming from the stigma of the crocus flower, Saffron is one of the world’s rarest spices. With its hay like taste and bold yellow colour, it is a favourite in dishes including paella, risotto and the biryani. Taking a 40 hour week to hand-pick enough stamen to produce a kilo of saffron -this covers roughly the area of two football pitches – making it a hugely labour-intensive crop. With a kilo costing around £10000, a jar containing 0.4g will set you back about a fiver.

Beluga Caviar

Caviar is the salt cured roe of fish, with the most rare and expensive type coming from the Beluga sturgeon from the Caspian Sea. It’s famed for its pea sized eggs and it’s grey to black colour, the most prized and expensive is the roe that is lightest in colour. Caviar is usually eaten on its own or spread on toast with a dollop of crème fraiche. It takes up to 35 years for a Beluga Sturgeon to reach maturity, so it isn’t a readily available commodity. Expensive types of the Beluga caviar include the Iranian Almas caviar, coming in at a huge £20000 per kilo, with lower cost types typically costing £75-150 for 50g.