Off Topic

I’m still alive…

Unfortunately, a heavy workload has forced the eating out (and blogging!) to take a back seat during the month of January, but I’m slowly surfacing, and no longer will I be forced to order Deliverance to the office at 9pm. I hope, anyway. Constantly eating Deliverance would make for a very boring food blog, indeed.

Here’s to eating out more in February…

(By the way, the picture is borrowed from this site here)

More Than a Meal

An off topic post, but one that I think is really important…

Christmas  is a really stressful time for most people. Work is busy and every night seems to be a different event. Top that with trying to figure out what to buy people and the guilt of how realising how you didn’t do all that charity work you promised yourself you would do in January.  Well, there’s one initiative out there I was sent a bit of information on that is the answer!

Centrepoint, a charity that works with young homeless people, has launched their ‘More than a Gift’ campaign. It’s a great cause. Basically, instead of buying a Christmas present for the person who has everything, you can buy a present for a young homeless young person on behalf of one of your loved ones. A bit about the campaign:

These gifts have been carefully selected to bring hope to those at the end of their tether together with the real possibility of a brighter future and the chance of a normal life.

Simply choose a gift. We’ll send your friends and family a beautiful card, or e-cards, personalised with your message and detailing your gift. Or, if you prefer, we’ll send the cards to you to give in person. Alternatively, buy a gift voucher and let the person you are giving the gift to decide how to spend it.

There are a few gift options to choose from, but one I think we can all get behind is the ‘More Than a Meal’ gift, where £7  buys a young person on the streets the meal of a lifetime.  It’s a meal that tastes of ‘hope, comfort, relief, safety, warmth, friendship and the possibility of a better future. No other food in the world tastes this good.’

You can get involved at their website: Centrepoint Gifts

Vote Tarragons of Virtue in NomNomNom 2010!

A little public service plea here…

Remember how Billy from Cowfish and I entered Nom Nom Nom this year? Of course you do!  Well, bad news is we didn’t win – good news is we have another chance (by the dreaded public vote). So….That means we need your help! Please go to the Nom Nom Nom 2010 finalists voting page and vote for The Tarragons of Virtue.

The Tarragons of Virtue need your help!

While you’re there, please consider donating to the real cause of Nom Nom Nom, Action Against Hunger. For every £10 donation, you get a charity raffle ticket with the choice of some amazing foodie prizes. Definitely worth it.

Thanks! Normal service will resume later this week. In the meantime, I’m campaigning :)

NomNomNom 2010

Well, we all know I’m not much of a cook, but somehow I’ve signed myself up to take part in this year’s NomNomNom food blogger cooking competition this Sunday, 11 July.  I’ve teamed up with the Blaggers’ Banquet partner in crime, Billy from Cowfish. Together we will be ‘The Tarragons of Virtue’.

The dishes we’re cooking are top secret and still going under a very stringent testing period, but rest assured they will be tasty! All of the finalists are cooking a three-course meal for judges like Susan Low, deputy editor of delicious magazineNick Wyke a travel and food writer for The Times; Flori Johnson, Executive Head Chef at Melrose and Morgan; Ros Rathouse , the principal of Cookery School’s (main sponsor and location of the competition; and Claudine Watt, a teacher at Cookery School.

It looks to be a brilliant afternoon with a goodie bag I hear is to die for.  Will update you on progress throughout the day on Twitter. Fingers crossed we win!

Who Gets the Tip?

This is a semi-off-topic post, for me but one I thought was important to share. I heard about it through my friend Alasdair who I believe is doing the PR for it.  The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is backing a campaign called ‘Who Gets the Tip?’  They’re asking diners in the UK to ask where is it, exactly, their tip money goes after it leaves their hands.

In the US, we know that servers are the ones who gets the tips. Quite often they have to tip out the bussers, foodrunners or bartenders, but the money they make is still pretty much theirs.  In the UK, it’s not so clear. You’ll often get a service charge between 10% and 12.5%, but where that money goes after is a bit murky.

Since October 2009, it is illegal for businesses to use tips to make up the National Minimum Wage. They’re also being encouraged to display their policy on how they distribute tips.

If more people ask ‘Who gets the tip?’ then more businesses will be transparent about their tipping policy.

A Code of Best Practice, has been developed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in collaboration with Trade Unions, consumer groups and industry. They are all supportive of businesses being transparent about tipping policies with consumers and workers. The Code states that businesses should:

  • Display information on their tips policy prominently, before the customer leaves a tip
  • Be transparent to customers and workers about how their tips are distributed as well as the level and purpose of any deductions
  • Ensure that workers understand the tips policy and know where to direct customers for additional information

The Code is voluntary, and the Government will be holding an official review towards the end of 2010. Businesses can find out more about the code at Business Link.

The ‘Who gets the tip?’ campaign is backed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and supported by Trade Unions, consumer groups and industry.

I’m all for this.  In the States, I’m a serial 20%-er, but here – like everyone – I just pay the service charge. Do I really have any clue where it goes? Nope. I can’t say that I’ve even thought about it.  But I do know if I were to find out that the 12.5% went mostly in the pocket of the boss, I wouldn’t be happy.

Egg Yolk Ravioli in London?

I just received an e-mail from a dear reader and friend that I have no clue on the answer.  Foodies of London: HELP!

I saw on professional master chef (which by the way is one of my favourite shows) egg – yolk ravioli where they place a raw egg yolk in ravioli (with other fillings) and the yolk should stay runny when you cut open the ravioli- this combines my 2 favourite foods basically – pasta, cheese and runny egg yolks! yum!
do you have any ideas where one could eat this in london???
If you know the answer, please comment or e-mail me. Ta!

om nom’ing in Ann Arbor

ann arbor stuccis ice cream
Ann Arbor is like a little oasis. It’s a tad too far out to be a suburb of Detroit, but being about 45 minutes outside the city and an hour from where I grew up makes it part of the metro-Detroit area.

And I love it. Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved it.

To give Londoners a bit of context, it’s sort of like Angel, but with an American exchange rate. Mainly, it’s a University town with about 250,000 permenent residents. But I can tell you, without equivocation, that those 250,000 residents have damn good taste. I think something like 99% of people didn’t vote for Bush in 2000 or 2004, and 98% voted Obama this past year. They have great restaurants, independent coffee shops galore, a great farmer’s market – oh, but I could go on. The point of all this is just to give you a bit of background on the restaurants I’m going to be talking about for the next few posts. These are all places that are near and dear to my heart – and with the exception of one – have been to more times than I can count.

Urban Spoon

As you’ll notice, I link to Urban Spoon reviews on each of my restaurant reviews.  It’s a brilliant site and has given me quite a few ideas of where I want to eat next.  Obviously they like it when bloggers get the word out about them too, so they started this incentive programme, where if you review a restaurant that no one else has reviewed, you get a voucher.

Cool beans, right?

But – and this is a big ‘but’ – the voucher is for Cinnabon.  Yep. Cinnabon:

I don’t know. Maybe I’m being too snooty, but are any Londoners really going to go for the sloppy 900-calorie dessertbreakfast that only American tourists on Oxford Street probably get?

How about a voucher for a proper restaurant? Even something like Wagamama’s?  I’d be there in a second.

Now who would like a Cinnabon voucher?  I have, like, 5 to give away.