Best of the Blogs

In Yer Face, Winter!
At least, that’s what GreedyDiva was all about this week.  She’s fed up to the teeth with the gloom, the drizzle, the head colds, the tedium so off she went to the Hotel du Vin & Bistro in Cheltenham.  While it wasn’t a summery experience, it was certainly a delight to the senses and a break from the tedium aspect of life in winter.  Her room (you’ve gotta see the pix) featured an enameled tin bath in the bedroom.  How divine is that?  Her supper in the Bistro, also fully photographically documented, was ‘cosy and romantic’ and while she enjoyed the seafood sharing platter and the tartiflette, it was the classic coq au vin that sent her into raptures.  Then she went a bit orgasmic over the puds.  We particularly enjoyed the pix of the chandelier made of wine glasses and the luxurious outdoor cigar den.  Way to go, GreedyDiva.  Spring is on its way.
Cornish Pasty Official
Leslie Gillilan trumpets the news in the Guardian that the Cornish pasty has achieved protected status under EEC guidelines after years of lobbying from the Cornish Pasty Association, joining Melton Mobray pies, North Yorkshire forced rhubarb and forty other foodstuffs of Protected Geographical Indication status.  The bells are ringing all over Cornwall for now the D-shaped pastry-covered portable meal can only be termed ‘Cornish’ if it is actually made in Cornwall.  The rules are very specific, to wit:

It must have a distinctive “D” shape, crimped on one side (never on top); the filling should be “chunky” (minced or roughly cut chunks of beef – representing no less than 12.5% of the content); add potato, swede (in Cornwall, some of us call it turnip), onion and a light seasoning, packed into a pastry case (“golden in colour, savoury, glazed with milk or egg and robust enough to retain its shape”) and slowly baked.

As per usual form in the Guardian, the comments section gets feisty.  There are arguments over whether or not the new status is worth the candle, since geography has nothing to do with the flavour of the pasty, unlike, say, the effect of terroir on wines, or where exactly the best Cornish pasty can be found.  Gillilan gives a few good pointers on where you can locate the real thing, and we particularly like the sound of the ones sold at the Count House Cafe in Geevor Mine and made by Mrs Anne Burford.  You can eat yours while looking out over the Atlantic.
Take Two Asparagus and Ring Me in the Morning

The Independent takes its life in its hands and has published a piece called Food therapy: Eat well, feel better.  It’s about using food as medicine, and has got reasonable advice about, say, which foods help beat high blood pressure and depression and help prevent cancer and osteoporosis.  Healthful eating is always a good idea because, while we can’t control the stress in our lives or the pollutants that come in through our lungs and skin, we have quite a lot to say about what we put into our mouths.
But nutrition is a science with particular difficulties to overcome and that’s not being critical of nutrition.  Let’s say you get the money together to find out whether or not, say, eating carrots really does help you see in the dark, as our grandmothers told us.  The people who you’d be testing — some eating a certain amount of carrots, some not eating any — also would be eating lots of other things.  They would be using their eyes differently with some reading a lot or spending hours on screen time and some doing less of that.  Some would have had a lifetime of healthful eating while others could be junk food addicts.  How on earth could a nutritionist tease out the effect on night vision of a limited time of eating carrots and correct it for all those differences?  Our hats are off to the nutritionists who try to improve our diets, backed up with scientific evidence, and often without support from the medical profession.  Eat well, eat a variety of foods, eat brightly-coloured things, eat enough, then go exercise, then relax and do it again.  There’s more to it than that, but that’s a start.
Plat du Jour, £15, 576 kcals
If the government has its way, we’ll be seeing quite a lot of that in restaurants in time to come.  Again according to the Independent, this time its Health Editor Jeremy Laurence, a deal is being brokered between Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and members of the Food Network that will lead to calorie labelling and a reduction in salt and trans fats.  The calorie labelling should begin this September.  Lots of places already put nutrition info on a poster or on their websites, but the Secretary wants to see the calorific information included at point of sale.
Okay, we know that we as a nation are becoming ever fatter, and the government has to do something or be seen to do something because obesity causes all kinds of health problems and the NHS hasn’t got infinite resources.  Much as we dislike unnecessary government intervention, in this case we think it may be A Good Thing though it has the ham-fistedness typical of government initiatives.  A couple of the national sandwich chains took to listing calorie values on their sarnies, wraps and soups a while ago and even though we’re pretty savvy about which foods are friends and which are foes when it comes to keeping our BMI in the corral, there were some real surprises and we used the info to make better choices.
But do we want these cruel little numbers in sight when we’re dining out in high style?  It wasn’t a million years ago that only the host’s menu in a fine restaurant would list the prices and the lady’s or guests menus appeared without.  Now all menus have all the numbers in view for everyone and do we want those guilt-inducing calorie counts in front of us when we’re out for a treat?
We have no argument whatsoever about the removal of trans fats from foods by the end of this year, though.  They’re nasty, toxic, unnatural forms of fat and the sooner they’re out of the food chain, the better.  Hoorah.