For People with an APPETITE for LIFE!

Welcome to THE MAIN INGREDIENT a place where Food News, Food Politics, Food Culture, Food Fashion & Food Humour meet. Each week you can preview topical foodie matter from my 'Gourmet Lifestyle' radio show called (wait for it) THE MAIN INGREDIENT. Food for the belly & the brain, I hope you'll enjoy the journey with me. Regards Kel

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Happy Meal Takes On A Whole New Meaning

McDonalds seem to have more to worry about than trans fats at the moment. A 17-year-old fast-food employee in Ottawa is facing drug charges after allegedly hiding marijuana in a Happy Meal that ended up with a young child. The happy meal was ordered thru the drive through by the 8 year old girls father. When she opened up her ‘Happy Meal Box’ she found a lighter, a pipe and a bag of marijuana and of course dad went straight to the cops. McDonalds have cooperated with police and the employee, Brandon Scott of Ottawa, has been arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Meanwhile McDonald's UK has launched a campaign to change the definition of the word 'McJob' in the Oxford English Dictionary. A term popularised by Canadian author Douglas Coupland in his book Generation X, where he defines the word as "a low pay, low prestige, low dignity, low benefit, no future job in the service sector". (Perhaps Brandon Scott of Ottawa was on to something) McDonald's says that in its staff survey, 90 per cent of respondents say that as part of their job they are given valuable training that will benefit them for the rest of their working lives, while 82 per cent say that they would recommend the job to a friend. Customers will now be able to sign petition books in McDonald's restaurants or sign online at a website entitled Change the Definition. David Fairhurst, chief people officer at McDonald's says "The McJob dictionary definition is out of date, out of touch with reality and most importantly is insulting to those talented, committed, hard-working people who serve the public every day in the UK."

Ramsey's at it AGAIN

His Gordoness just can’t seem to stay out of the public eye these days. (Ten points to his massive publicity dept). Not only has he been named the British man that most men respect by ‘Esquire’ magazine, but he’s also in the press today for taking bluefin tuna off the menu at two of his London restaurants (after criticism from conservationists). Just weeks ago he was in deep doo-doo as animal rights activists dumped a load of horse manure at the entrance to his ‘Claridge’s restaurant in protest against his promotion of horse meat as a healthy and nutritious alternative. There was also a bit of a run in with the Beckhams recently when he asked to be able to keep some lambs on the Beckhams country estate. After making sure that Gordon’s lambs were frolicking happily on their lawns, the Beckhams were horrified to discover that their guests were to take part in Ramseys series ‘The F Word’. (Wouldn’t you think it would have been obvious that they were ultimately destined for Gordon’s dinner table?) However this latest bit of news really brings home the old saying “It doesn’t matter what they say, as long as they keep talking about ya”. Despite slagging off McDonalds and Burger King just last month, Gordon has now confessed that he visits fast food drive thru’s INCOGNITO! He says no one ever knows it’s him as he has black car windows and always calls ahead. Apparently he’s in and out in just ten seconds (I won’t go there, though I’d LOVE to) Gordon thinks there’s something very sexy about the way they flame grill a whopper. All of that said, the new series of HELLS KITCHEN hits our screens next month......LUV IT!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Chef Goes Up In Flames

This little story has brought back some LEGENDERY memories of boozy nights for me. Celeb chef Marco Pierre White is recovering after a flaming sambuca went down the wrong way at the ‘Spotted Pig in Manhattan’. He tried to drink the shot, which he had set alight (as you do) but instead, spilt the flaming drink down the front of his shirt. Chef Marco then made things worse when he tried to put out the flames with wine (hope it was someone elses, what a waste) the glass broke and he stabbed himself in the hand. I remember when flaming sambuca’s were all the rage in Australia in the 80´s. You could always spot the sambuca drinkers on a Saturday morning walking around with a huge red burn mark (suspiciously in the shape of a shot glass) around their lips. I was running a club at the time and I used to watch EVERY Friday night as punters ceremoniously lit their sambuca’s and then had a bit of a chat with their mates at the bar and then remembered their flaming drink and downed it in one manly shot. Problem was the glass would be red hot, and sort of suction itself onto their lips. We used to actually place bets behind the bar …… Here comes another flaming idiot!!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

New Skoda Advertisement Takes the Cake!

Now I’m not really interested in cars (apart from what colour they are) however many of our European readers will have already watched the new ‘Skoda Fabio’ advertisement on TV. If you’re a foodie I’m sure you’ll have been considering the sheer magnitude of the project as a team of bakers, model makers and home economists set about creating a life size EDIBLE version of the latest Skoda. A kind of giant orange cake-car!
Eimer O’Hagan takes a look at the logistics of the impressive advertisement in the Daily Mail today, a project that has set Skoda back a cool £500,000. 180 eggs, 100kg of flour and 100kg of caster sugar. A huge vat of chocolate sauce, 30kg of almonds and 65kg of dried fruit make the 'crispy cake' mix for the car's bodywork. Then a hefty 448 Madeira 'brick cakes' were baked to form the foundation of the car's chassis. The Cake bricks are then layered with buttercream icing to build the cars body, even the spark plugs are made from cake with the perfect engine lubricant being a 300g tin of golden syrup. 180 grams of orange sugar paste went into the fondant icing paint work and yards of liquorice was used to create the fanbelt, windscreen wipers and aerial. The windows took another 90 kg of brown sugar paste, again turned into fondant icing. 12.5kg of jam was piped onto Battenburg cakes, which were then stuck together to form the cars interior decor. The radiators took 60 chocolate blocks, the headlights are boiled sweets and the fog lights are meringue. Finally the tyres are made from chocolate icing and of course the ‘Skoda’ logo is the icing on the cake! This monumental bake off and cake decorating show is all edited down to a 60 second commercial backed by Julie Andrews singing ‘My Favorite Things’ and tagged with the punch line 'The new Fabia..... Full of lovely stuff!’ Definitely worth a look on Youtube if you haven’t already caught it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Boozy Top Tens

It looks pretty much like the Corporate giants continue to dictate what the rest of the world drinks. The globes top ten alcohol brands have hit the press with 4 out of the honorary ten being owned by multinational corporation ‘Diageo’

1. Smirnoff
2. Bacardi
3. Johnnie Walker
4. Martini
5. Stolichnaya
6. Hennessy
7. Absolut
8. Jack Daniels
9. Chivas Regal
10. Baileys

Interestingly no wine brands made the top ten despite a huge increase in wine sales in many countries. What we DO have for wine lovers though is the recently released list of the top ten countries for those who think they’ve got the time and the money for a leisurely holiday amongst the grape vines:

Tunisia & The Mediterranean
South Africa
New Zealand
Mendoza, Argentina
Alentejo, Portugal
Napa & Sonoma, USA
Piedmont, Italy
Tokai, Hungary
Burgundy, France

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Only the Best for Kanye West

Ever visited a foreign country and enjoyed a meal so amazing that you wish you could do it over again, at home?

Most of us don’t have the budget to courier in our food from afar, but there are a select few for whom money is no object. Grammy award winning record producer and rapper ‘Kanye West’ is one such person. He recently enjoyed one of his favourite meals from a restaurant in Cardiff in Wales with seven invited guests in New York.

The meal of onion bhajees, chapati breads, biryanis, pappadums, and a specially prepared fish dish was accompanied on the plane by a chef and delivered to West’s NY soiree for a mere $3,900. Not a bad little mark-up for an Indian meal, especially when you realise that a regular dish at the original restaurant in Wales would have cost him under $20.00.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Vegetarians Beware

Vegetarians have been making a HUGE noise recently as the makers of some of the UK’s favourite chocolate bars announced to the press that their products will no longer be free from animal products. A little recipe change to Masterfoods chocolates means that the products will now include 'whey' containing animal rennet (an enzyme taken from the stomachs of newborn calves). This means popular chocolate bars including Mars, Bounty, Snickers, Twix and Milky Way, as well as Maltesers and Minstrels will now be off limits for strict vegetarians. However a little look by the 'Guardian' this week at some other well known and loved products shows that animal additives are lurking in some of the most unlikely places. Kellogs Frosted Wheat’s are beefed up with a little ingredient known as beef gelatine. If you fancy a nice glass of tangy orange Tango, I hope you don’t mind some fish with that. Tango contains fish gelatine. Good old Guiness contains a form of collagen called ‘Isinglass´that originates from the swim-bladders of fish. Not really an ingredient in the actual Guiness, but it is used during the brewing process so it makes Guinness ‘technically’ non-vegetarian. Believe it or not that old staple Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce has been strictly off limits for vege’s since way back in 1837. Although anchovies are not native to Worcestershire they ARE in the original Lea and Perrins famous sauce recipe that is still used today. And shock horror…..There is no such thing as vegetarian Parmesan Cheese! Parmesan also contains animal rennet which I guess means ready made Pesto Sauce is off the vegetarian menu as well.
Update May 21st: Masterfoods have now apologised to the UK's 3 million vegetarians and have made an abrupt U-turn on their decision.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Food or Science?

Most of us would make a chocolate cake by melting chocolate and butter together, stirring in egg yolks, sugar and flour, and adding beaten egg whites. Of course there are thousands of variations on the standard chocolate cake recipe but Chef ‘Will Goldfarb’ from Manhattans trendy ‘Room 4 Dessert’ can take the humble chocolate cake to a whole new level. First, bring 100ml of milk to a boil with sugar. Infuse roasted cocoa seeds and coffee beans, then strain, and purée 100ml infusion with methylcellulose following instructions for hydration. Bring to 80-90C then rapidly chill to 4C. Warm remaining 300ml milk to dissolve gelatine and reserve at 35C. Begin whipping methylcellulose base in mixer, slowly adding gelatin base and making a stable mousse. Freeze in moulds, unmould, and warm as needed in a salamander. Will bravely opened New York’s very first ‘Dessert Only’ restaurant creating a new dining trend that has now been cloned in many major cities. He’s also a devotee of Spain’s ‘Ferran Adria’ with a kitchen that looks more like a science laboratory and a grocery list that ALWAYS includes liquid nitrogen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hair of the Dog!

Here ya go girls…. If you dont trust the old man when he says he’s at the gym and you have a hunch he's spending his time down at his local with the boys. Trimega Laboratories have come up with a foolproof solution with their latest product 'Hair Alcohol Testing'. The company has developed the ability to determine how much alcohol a person has consumed over the past few months or years by analyzing one's hair. The test is based on fatty acid derivatives that are absorbed in hair as alcohol is broken down. Although With a cost of $692 per test, perhaps only justified in rather LARGE divorce cases.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Best Bar in Spain

Incase you haven’t heard 'Aloria Berri' was recently named the best bar in Spain by the prominent guidebook Gourmetour. Its just a short walk from San Sebastian’s Old Quarter, in the emerging neighborhood of Gros. Once the province of working families and car-repair shops, Gros has become a draw for locals looking for an alternative to the city’s popular tapas bars. Owner Elizondo says “everyone knows the best tapa is in Gros,” in fact his own somewhat architectural concoction of mackerel, vegetables and foie gras took first prize in the National Tapas Competition last year.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Restaurant of the Week

Positivity-preaching millionaires Matthew and Terces Engelhart are the owners of this weeks ‘Restaurant of the Week’. Their ‘Café Gratitude’ concept now boasts 4 locations in San Francisco and they plan to expand further to an ever increasing ‘live’ food clientelle. At Café Gratitude you are invited to step inside and enjoy being someone who chooses loving your life, adoring yourself, accepting the world, being generous and grateful everyday and where every menu request is a self-affirmation. Order something of the menu such as ‘I am Lucious’ a smoothie made with hazelnut milk, figs, dates, vanilla and raw cacao, and your server will deliver both the smoothie and an empowering "You are luscious!" complete with direct eye contact. Raw Foodists can choose from a multitude of positively motivating menu items such as the "I Am Bountiful" crustini, toasts made from seeds and nuts topped with avocado and Himalayan salt. The "I Am Happy" an almond-sesame hummus, and for those wishing to be more perceptive there’s the "I Am Insightful" spinach-wrapped samosas with cauliflower and macadamia potatoes. Continue on down the long menu and there truly is something for everyone "I Am Open", "I Am Beautiful", "I Am Powerful", "I Am Giving", "I Am Festive", "I Am Prosperous", "I Am Fabulous" and even "Yo Soy Mucho" a Mexican combination. Now if you’re worried that the "I Was Sensational" pizza with its base made from pressed buckwheat and sunflower-seed sourdough might have the consistency of a dogs chew toy RELAX. It comes topped with a zippy pesto of basil and hemp seeds, cashew "ricotta", ripe cherry tomatoes doused in excellent olive oil and a crumbling of Brazil-nut "Parmesan", and is wholly satisfying. At least it was for restaurant critic ‘Christine Muhlke’. Besides it comes on a plate bearing the message ‘You are Grateful’.

Ferran Takes On Disney

Don’t know about you but I CANT WAIT for the release of Disney’s new movie ‘Ratatouille’ set to hit cinemas this June 29th. What could be better than the unthinkable combination of a rat and a 5 star gourmet restaurant coming together? ‘Remy’ the Rat dreams of becoming a great chef despite his families objections and the obvious problem of being a rat in a decidedly rodent-phobic profession. When fate places Remy in the city of Paris, he finds himself ideally situated beneath a restaurant made famous by his culinary hero ‘Auguste Gusteau’. Despite the apparent dangers of being an unwanted visitor in the kitchen of one of Paris’ most exclusive restaurants, Remy forms an unlikely partnership with ‘Linguini’ the garbage boy and strikes a deal that ultimately sets in motion a chain of events that turn the culinary world of Paris upside down. Interestingly, If you are living here in Spain our very own gastronomic guru 'Ferran Adria' can be heard in the Spanish version of the movie. Ferran has taken time out from being one of the worlds most talked about chefs to lend his voice to one of the posh restaurant clients. He says he definitely approves of enticing young minds towards the kitchen "Today millions of children want to be chefs - something unthinkable ten years ago."
You can watch a 9 minute preview of the English version of RATATOUILLE at

Heston on the Payroll at Haagen-Dazs

Who better than mad food scientist and three-star chef Heston Blumenthal to team up with Haagen-Dazs to stretch the limits of commercial ice-cream flavours?
Heston is of course already renowned for daring to serve ‘Egg Bacon & Mustard’ ice-cream at his Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, Berkshire and admits he has an enormous fascination with creamy frozen substances. Over the next year Heston will create 4 new flavours for the ice-cream giants. Exciting stuff when you think about the endless possibilities Heston will already undoubtedly be playing with. Let’s hope he doesn’t look to the Japanese for inspiration though. Brian over at kitschnzinc has news this week of some astounding ice-cream flavour combinations that are apparently huge sellers in the land of the cherry blossom. In fact there IS one made from cherry blossom! Others are less romantic, including ‘Sesame, Soybean and Dried Kelp’, ‘Retasu Poteto Aisu’ Lettuce and Potato and my personal favourite ‘Basashi Aisu’ Raw Horseflesh Ice-Cream, complete with chunky horsey bits. Here’s his post if you’d like it straight from the horses mouth so to speak.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Chuck Us Another Tinny Mate!

Lots of good news for beer drinkers this week, enabling them to justify a couple of extra pints as we head on into another sizzling summer here in Europe. Aussie beer giant ‘Fosters’ have come up with an excellent way to use up their leftovers AND help save the planet. The world’s first ‘Beer Battery’ will not only produce electricity, but also clean water from their brewery waste water. After the innovation is patented it is hoped that the waste-recycling venture could be used across a number of food, beverage and manufacturing industries. Also some great news for beer lovers with sneezing problems, beer, specifically Japans ‘Sapporo’ beer, may help alleviate allergies. After researchers gave 20 study participants Sapporo beer, 60% reported less sneezing, and 55% reported fewer runny noses. Now even though it was a very small study, what better excuse do you need? More beer news as a Brazilian court orders a brewery to pay almost £30,000 in compensation to an alcoholic beer taster. Although a dream job for most of the Aussie males I know, 'Brewery Ambev' was sued by the man who claimed the company did not provide health measures that would have stopped him developing a drink problem. The unidentified employee downed an average of 3.2 pints a day while at work.

Asparagus ASAP!

I see many of our British neighbours are already lamenting their pitifully short asparagus season and making the most of it while they can. Now is the time for adding asparagus to omelletes, pasta dishes, risotto’s, salads and anything else you think might be a good companion, although I must admit I prefer to just simply blanch them for a few minutes and sprinkle them in olive oil before grilling them on the barbi. Then all that’s left to do is add a sprinkle of balsamic, fresh parmesan and ground black pepper, with perhaps a spattering of grated lemon rind and dig in with your fingers. While we're at it now seems as good a time as any to clear up a few asparagus myths. Asparagus is a member of the lily family, which also includes onions, leeks and garlic. The delectable stalks have been prized as an epicurean delight and for their medicinal properties for almost 2000 years. All asparagus comes from the same mother variety, it is where it is grown and the way it is grown that creates the variations of colour, flavour and texture. Green Asparagus is the one you see almost everywhere, grown in the open air and green in colour because of its exposure to the suns rays. White Asparagus will only stay white if the asparagus spear is protected from the sun. This means the growers must constantly cover the tip of the spear with soil to ensure constant darkness and justify the extra price tag. Here in Spain in the region around Granada, the white asparagus season lasts from February until June. Purple Asparagus is just white asparagus whose tips have been allowed to break thru the soil and be exposed ever so slightly to the sun light, developing a violet hue.

Return of the YoYo

I can never remember whether good old James Bond preferred his Martini’s shaken or stirred but whichever method he favoured, I’m sure he’d be amused by the very latest in mixology technology. Keep your eyes out about town for the absolute LATEST in cocktail shaker designs - the ‘Tanaka’ Yo-Yo Shaker. Thanks to French designer Clem Eloy your blended tipple of choice can now be rolled, flipped and spun and promises endless amounts of fun (& probably some initial spillage) for bar staff and their customers. Also a great way to give an irreverent client a quick sharp smack in the chops! Enquiries to

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Fake Footballers Fancy Fine Wine

Why would conmen posing as Arsenal stars Thierry Henry and William Gallas have got away with swindling luxury hotels in France out of more than £1million pounds worth of fine wines? (What the hell do Footballers know about fine wines?) Based in London the conmen used credit cards to book rooms and then just happened to ask about the hotel wine list, asking if it would be possible to order quality wines that they claimed were not available in England. Faxes on bank-headed notepaper and emails supposedly from the footballers were then forwarded to the hotels making everything appear to be hunky dory. (Except if it were me on that reservations desk I’d STILL be asking the question: What do Footballers know about fine wine?) So far 15 five-star hotels in Paris, Bordeaux, Nice and the Champagne region have called the cops. French police say it is a classic sting. Sacre Bleu!