How to write about food

I love food and I love to write, but at times I find the latter can be a little disheartening. In today’s world of web analytics and social media, it’s easy to judge your own skill on how others perceive it. ‘Likes’ on an Instagram photo, RTs on Twitter and shares on Facebook present us all with an immediate gauge of success.

With such a cacophony of opinion and news sources, it is increasingly difficult for new writers to make a name for themselves. To get paid for what you write is another game entirely. So what advice do industry experts have for those at the bottom of the ladder?

Source: Twitter.
Source: Twitter.
Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter

Barney Desmazery, Food Editor of BBC Good Food, offers a slightly more in-depth plan for writers that are new to food:

Barney Desmazery. Source: Twitter
Barney Desmazery. Source: Twitter

“Try to get your work published”

In principle, this is a fairly simple idea. Unfortunately in some cases it is a longer, more expensive process than you might think. There are, however, a number of books that provide an in-depth guide to formulating, pitching and selling your ideas. My three favourites are written by Catherine Quinn, Andrew Crofts and Peter Bowerman.

“Try not to be too clever and write for an audience and not for your ego.”

Treat yourself as a business, and as such adopt a ‘house style’ that you abide by when you write. Structure every sentence with an audience in mind, and develop ideas to suit their interests and hobbies. Finally, do not fixate your efforts on one idea or angle. It is often the case that extensive research can change the direction of a story or feature.

“Start a food blog, but remember; food blogs tend to be adventures in the land of food that are all about the author, but actually the most interesting blogs are something that has provided a solution to something. Just because it’s an adventure to you, there are a whole world of experienced cooks out there that have done it before you and won’t be that excited by it.”

Blogs like Deliciously Ella and The Skint Foodie are a perfect example of stories being told through recipes and prose in a new and exciting way. Consider what you’re writing. Is it new or has it been done before? What is your USP and why?

If you’re blogger trying to make your mark, or a writer wishing to offer some advice, please get in touch via Twitter.

(NB this is a basic guide for beginners to food writing based on information I have gathered from third parties.)

New video on Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube

This week I was lucky enough to spend a morning with the lovely Danny McCubbin from Jamie’s Food Tube, teaching him how to make sourdough bread. After studying this versatile and complex dough for the last few years, I knew it would be difficult to summarise it’s process in a short video.

I hope I have illustrated the fundamentals and most importantly shown how simple, fun and delicious basic sourdough can be. If you decide to bake the recipe, please tweet me your pictures!

Hx

Sandows grows out of London

Cold brew coffee. Source: Sandows London.
Cold brew coffee. Source: Sandows London.

As of this week (22/04) the iconic British cold brew, Sandows London, will be available to purchase outside of the capital.

Three locations across the country will stock the drink; Water Lane Coffeehouse in Canterbury, The Pear Cafe in Bristol and Hoxton North in Harrogate. Nationwide distribution is available through Turners Fine Foods, also. Australian-born Hugh Duffie is one half of the increasingly popular London brand. “It’s going to be awesome to finally be available outside of London,” he said, “After a successful year last year, it feels great to kind of grow out of it [London].”

Sandows cold brew at Water Lane Coffee, Canterbury. Source: DWD.
Sandows cold brew at Water Lane Coffeehouse, Canterbury. Source: DWD.

Admittedly, the word ‘successful’ is a modest representation of the last 12 months that Hugh and his business partner, Luke Suddards, have had. In February they launched an equity-based crowd funding campaign via Crowdcube, reaching 124% of their target £100,000 in just 53 hours. Hugh explained that in just 48 hours they had sent out over 100 copies of their business plan: “It was a crazy couple of days, and a bit of a strain on our internet! What was most surreal was that some people were investing without even seeing our business plan, I mean that’s just awesome.”

Most recently Luke & Hugh launched a tasty collaboration with Fourpure Brewery. The coffee pale ale, Morning Moon, was premiered at Fourpure Brewery HQ last Saturday (18/04), selling over 50 litres in just four hours. Their exploration into the boundaries of cold brew will continue at this years London Coffee Festival, where they will be serving both the nitrogenated version of their cold brew (currently available on draught at White Lyan, Hoxton Road) as well as cold brew G&Ts.

The Sandows bar. Source: Sandows London.
The Sandows bar. Source: Sandows London.

To see a full Sandows stocklist, click here. For tickets to this years London Coffee Festival, click here.

Sandows London Twitter feed.

Sandows London Instagram feed.

Rooibos, lemon & mint iced tea

Rooibos iced tea. Source: DWD.
Rooibos iced tea. Source: DWD.

Recent warm weather (as well as plans to fly across the pond) have had me dreaming of all things light, cool and refreshing. Following on from my recent southern food obsession, I decided to try my hand at brewing iced tea.

Here rooibos tea not only provides a beautiful smoky flavour and ruby red aesthetic, but it’s naturally caffeine free.

It’s important to steep the tea for around 12 hours, and once brewed it will keep in the fridge for at least 4 days.

Serves 4

100g granulated sugar

1.2kg water

2 lemons, sliced

1 bunch of mint, roughly chopped, plus 4 small sprigs to serve

60g loose leaf rooibos tea, or 3 rooibos tea bags

Method: In a large container or bowl, add the rooibos tea and 1kg (1l) of the water. Allow to brew for at least 12 hours, covered, in the fridge.

Add the sugar, 1 lemon, mint and the 200g of remaining water into a small saucepan. Over a medium heat, stir continuously until the sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved, bring the syrup to a rolling boil and simmer for 10 minutes, until it reaches the consistency of olive oil.

Pass the syrup through a sieve into a sterilised, sealable bottle, using the back of a wooden spoon to push all of the liquid from the lemon and mint leaves (which will be quite mushy) through. This will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.

To serve, use a ratio of 1:4 syrup to brewed tea. Add the syrup over crushed ice and stir. Add the iced tea and top up with ice if required. Serve with half a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint.

Pulled pork: from (Boston) butt to bun

Pulled pork. Source: BS' In the Kitchen
Pulled pork. Source: BS’ In the Kitchen

My relationship with pulled pork has not always been one of love and desire. My first encounter with the American taste sensation unfortunately came just hours before a week-long bout of sickness. For days I was confined to my bed, cursing and blindly laying the blame at the trotters of barbecued pork.

Two years on, and what had started as a food trend has now established firm foundations in Britain’s food culture, we even voted it our favourite flavour. But why? There are dozens of dishes loved by Americans that never even make it across the Atlantic, so why pulled pork?

I set out to investigate.

Coffee & walnut cake

Coffee & walnut cake. Source: DWD
Coffee & walnut cake. Source: DWD

This heavenly coffee and walnut cake recipe is a delicious teatime treat. The method couldn’t be simpler and there is very little equipment required. If you haven’t baked a cake before, this is a great introductory recipe, but always remember two things: don’t open the oven door while the cake is baking, and be gentle when folding in the walnuts, so as to retain as much air as possible in the cake mixture.

Serves 8-10

500g self-raising flour

400g caster sugar

220g softened butter, plus extra for greasing

3 medium eggs

1 x double shot of espresso

120g walnuts, roughly chopped

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

a pinch of salt

250g whole milk

For the buttercream

60g butter, softened

150g icing sugar

1 x single shot of espresso

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180c/160 fan/gas mark 4. Line and grease a medium-sized cake tin.
  2. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl of a large food processor. Add all of the other ingredients and blend until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Keep and eye on the cake mixture as it is blending and turn the food processor off as soon as it comes together.
  3. Gently fold in 100g of the walnuts into the mixture and tip into the lined cake tin. Bake for 1 hour. Once baked, set aside on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before removing the tin.
  4. To make the buttercream, add the softened butter and sugar to a medium bowl and beat together using an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the espresso and mix again until combined.
  5. Once the cake has cooled completely, remove from the tin and, with a palette knife or silicone spatula, evenly spread the buttercream on top. Scatter over the remaining walnuts.

Busaba Eathai opens new Shoreditch branch

On 18 February Busaba Eathai will celebrate their 15th birthday by opening their new flagship store in the heart of Shoreditch, London. The modern Thai eatery’s twelfth branch will open its doors on Bethnal Green Road for service at midday, boasting a ‘creative and regularly changing’ menu from Executive Chef Jude Sangsida.

New Busaba Shoreditch location. Source: Sauce Communications.
New Busaba Shoreditch location. Source: Sauce Communications.

Busaba regulars needn’t fear, as classics including Thai calamari and sen chan pad thai will remain on the menu alongside newer dishes, like Thai roti wraps and chilli beef rice.

Dishes at Busaba. Source: Sauce Communications.
Dishes at Busaba. Source: Sauce Communications.

The new location, spread across two floors and accommodating up to 164 covers, represents the group’s evolution, said Busaba CEO Jason Myers. “This launch marks a pivotal moment in the Busaba Eathai story. Our new site here in Shoreditch brings together all of the magic of its predecessors as well as representing our evolution as we celebrate our 15th birthday.”

A unique feature to the Busaba Shoreditch branch will be the new Thai Kinnaree Bar (pron. Khin-NAH-rah). During the week the bar will host diners for lunch, with a number of new Thai-inspired cocktail offerings. On Friday and Saturday nights visitors can expect to hear music from the resident Hoxton Radio DJs.

Thai inspired cocktail at Busaba. Source; Sauce Communications.
Thai inspired cocktail at Busaba. Source: Sauce Communications.

As part of their fifteenth birthday, Busaba Eathai will be hosting 6-weeks of free Sookjai (‘happy heart’) events. Yoga sessions, meditation classes and wellbeing talks will all be included.

For more information, or to make a booking, visit: www.busaba.com.

This article was featured in TMRW Magazine. Read the online version here.