Northern Munkee’s Top 10 Foodie Gifts for 2017

So, although you might not be ready for it and you might not want to admit it Christmas is nearly here. That time of year when people over-complicate, over-think, over-spend and over-eat; I love it! It’s a time when we forget what food fad is en vogue this week and we just think about what’s the best way to treat ourselves and delight all of our senses.

However, I’m a Yorkshireman so I must have something to moan about and for me there is one part of Christmas that can cause unnecessary strain, stress and disappointment: the Gift. Now, thankfully, Mrs Munkee knows how to keep me quiet and always does really  well with presents but I can’t say that about every gift I get. So if you’re stuck for what to get that hard-to-buy-for person then you’re in luck because I’ve created my Top 10 Gifts for Foodies in 2017. This guide is compiled with some incredible brands and some fabulous ideas for Christmas (or any other gifting occasion) this year.

So, without any further ado, drum roll please, in no particular order…

Northern Munkee’s Top 10 Foodie Gifts for 2017

  1. A Chocolate Safari in Bruges from Coeur de Xocolat

northernmunkeebites.chocolatesafariHow Much Will It Cost Me?: £500 (for two people, with discounts for larger groups)

Where Can I Buy It?: www.coeurdexocolat.co.uk

What Is It?: Food tours and safaris are becoming an increasingly popular way to spend our free time and it’s an incredible way to enhance a short, city break. On this trip you will not only explore the chocolate in its spiritual home but you will be accompanied by David Greenwood-Haigh, Master Chocolatier, who will teach you how to taste properly, share the food’s vibrant history and potentially throw in a food pairing session for good measure. The safari is two nights with one full day in Bruges with ferry, food and accommodation included.

Why’s It On The List?: It’s pretty obvious isn’t it? Bruges is an incredible city in itself but what could be better than a flaneur’s jaunt through its magical streets guided by a Chocolate Mastermind? And possibly a cheeky Belgian beer or two because…when in Rome!

  1. A Cheese Toastie Subscription from Cheese Posties

How Much Will It Cost Me?: £4.59 per postie (if you’re just going for one a week, I darenorthernmunkeebites.cheesepostie you to try just one a week!)

Where Can I Buy It?: www.cheeseposties.com

What Is It?: It’s amazing melted cheesiness that’s what! This is the most beautifully simple, expertly branded and great tasting thing that will ever come through your letter box. The variety of food subscriptions you can get your hands on now is growing day by day and surely this is evidence that this is only a good thing!

Why’s It On The List?: Have you seen one of the greatest non-food related shows on TV, Taskmaster? Well, the prince of all subscription boxes was introduced to me by none other than Noel Fielding (not personally but allow me to have my moment) on an epic episode of that show; so how can it not be on the list?

  1. Small Batch Premium Gin Gift Pack from Daffy’s

northernmunkeebites.daffysHow Much Will It Cost Me?: £49.99

Where Can I Buy It?: www.daffysgin.com

What Is It?: If you haven’t seen the gin revolution then the rock you’ve been living under must be cosy! This is an absolute must for gin-lovers and a real premium offer. An award-winning 70cl bottle of Daffy’s gin between to incredible Spanish crystal gin glasses.

Why’s It On The List?: Just imagine the scene…the Queen’s speech has just subsided along with the last goose-fat enrobed roast spud and you crack out these bad boys to enjoy an incredible Scottish gin. Winner! Need I say more?

  1. Gin Selection and Salted Selection Sliders from Fudge Kitchen

How Much Will It Cost Me?: £16.00

Where Can I Buy It?: http://www.fudgekitchen.co.uknorthernmunkeebites.fudgekitchenchristmas2

What Is It?: These fantastically packaged fudge slider collections are perfect for when those dark nights draw in and you need a naughty sugar fix. The indulgently creamy squares are off-set delicately by micro-distilled gins and Skye Sea Salts which delivers a phenomenal flavour northernmunkeebites.fudgekitchenchristmas1juxtaposition.

Why’s It On The List?: These treats are just excellent. Great on their own or with a nice dark roast coffee or smooth whisky or…almost anything!

  1. Trio of Nut Spreads from The Nut Kitchen

How Much Will It Cost Me?: £17.85

Where Can I Buy It?: www.thenutkitchen.com

What Is It?: This is perfect for anyone who enjoys a nutty indulgence. The pack containsnorthernmunkeebites.thenutkitchen a 200g jar of Gianduia Spread, Hazelnut Spread and Almond Spread. You’ll find that these fantastically creamy spreads can go with just about anything: toast, porridge, pancakes, smoothies, ice cream, cakes etc. etc.

Why’s It On The List?: It’s absolutely no secret that I am a nut butter nutter so it’s no surprise that one of my favourite foods has made it onto the list. If you’re not much of a connoisseur you may not fully appreciate that no two nut butters are the same and they certainly weren’t all created equal. These guys have just upped the game!

  1. Dashfire Bitters from Artisan Spirits Company

How Much Will It Cost Me?: £14.90 (100ml bottle)

northernmunkeebites.dashfirebittersWhere Can I Buy It?: http://www.hedonism.co.uk

What Is It?: Quality bourbon or a neutral grain spirit paired with selected spices to give a vividly vintage bitter with a smooth and spicy finish. These beauties are barrel-aged to deliver a distinctive finish.

Why’s It On The List?: Here in the UK we’re more than used to coping with the cold weather but I’ll always appreciate something to just take the edge off it. These characteristic bitters are an awesome flavour-enhancer to add to your festive repertoire and are the perfect gift for that inquisitive foodie!

  1. 70cl Durham Gin from The Durham Distillery

How Much Will It Cost Me?: £27.50

Where Can I Buy It?: www.durhamdistillery.co.uk

What Is It?: This is a small batch gin produced in copper pots with three very distinctivenorthernmunkeebites.durhamgin notes: spicy, savoury and sweet that are all induced by its careful and considered production process. This gin offers the traditional expectations of the drink coupled with the influences of the beautiful Cathedral City of Durham.

Why’s It On The List?: It’s the second appearance for gin on the list so it’s got to be good right? And different to the other one? Well, in that case, I’m two for two! For the gin connoisseur this is a real treat with some subtle nuances in the layered flavour notes. Forget the Fever Tree and go solo on this one!

  1. Peppermill Pizzazz & Sweet Delight from Spice Sanctuary

How Much Will It Cost Me?: £11.98

Where Can I Buy It?: www.spicesanctuary.com

northernmunkeebites.spicesanctuary2What Is It?: Peppermill Pizzazz is a fantastic, Great Taste award-winning, gourmet finishing pepper designed to enhance any savoury food. The Sweet Delight, conversely, is a staple for any baker and will soon become that secret ingredient for your baking.

Why’s It On The List?: Scratch cooking and baking has seen a real resurgencenorthernmunkeebites.spicesanctuary1 over the last few years but I’m a big believer in those little secrets that can help enhance your repertoire that no-one needs to know about. These fantastic spices will help you get the edge over any other competitive cooks or bakers in your family or friendship group!

  1. Stollen Gift Tin from Elizabeth D Bakes

How Much Will It Cost Me?: £16.50

Where Can I Buy It?: www.elizabethdbakes.co.uk

What Is It?: This is a dual layered gift box of stolleny goodness! If you haven’t crossednorthernmunkeebites.elizabethdbakes the bridge and taken the leap with stolen I must say you’re missing out! Big time! There are 16 pieces of the sweet sweet stollen in this pack but I really don’t recommend sharing!

Why’s It On The List?: My first ever proper job was as an Area Manager for a big German Discounter (no prizes for guessing which one), this was my first introduction to stollen… and I haven’t looked back since! Stollen had to feature on my Top 10 Foodie Gifts for 2017 and if I’m going to recommend anything then it needs to be top quality so it could only be Elizabeth D Bakes!

  1. Chilli Jam Gift Box from Single Variety Co.

northernmunkeebites.lemondropchillijamHow Much Will It Cost Me?: £17.00

Where Can I Buy It?: www.singlevariety.co.uk

What Is It?: This is a fabulous collection of three chilli jams made from three different varietals: Jalapeno, Lemon Drop andnorthernmunkeebites.jalapenojam Anaheim. Chilli jams aren’t anything new but they’re becoming ever more trendy and multifarious in their uses. The entire range produced by Single Variety Co is phenomenal and brilliant quality so you won’t be disappointed if you gift these this year.

Why’s It On The List?: We all know that one chilli fiend don’t we? northernmunkeebites.anaheimchillijamWell now you don’t need to worry about what gift to get for them…or…if there’s a risk of your Christmas Day meal being a little pedestrian why not melt some of the Lemon Drop Chilli Jam into your Nan’s gravy? Just a thought!

I’d love to hear about your favourite gifts for Foodies in 2017…pop a comment below!

Northern Munkee.

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Foodies in The Den (15:3)

I love Dragons’ Den. There, I said it. I know some business folk are a dismissive of the show because it can glamourise the investment process and potentially mislead around the rigor involved in securing funding – but I just love it! You can also accuse the show of sensationalising some of the issues which could literally make or break a young business but we’re all adults here so surely we know what we’re letting ourselves in for?

There are many reasons to love The Den and if it is used correctly it can be the perfect platform to propel a small business to the next level which is a fantastic gift to the small business world. However, I love it for one reason: the business lessons. It’s a marvellous microcosm for the business world and emphasises some of the amazing abilities and frustrating failings of the entrepreneurial world.

I have watched the show all the way through but this series I decided not to be a passive observer and get stuck in to offer my thoughts on any foodie that makes their way passed Evan’s lair in the basement and through those ominous sliding elevator doors. So this series I’m going to pull out some of the business lessons gleaned from any brave foodie to enter The Den. I’d also like to point out that what follows is not a criticism but a critique; even if it goes badly wrong, anyone that demonstrates the stones to go on TV to bare all has my respect!

northernmunkeebites.dragonsdenspicedbyrayeesaSeason 15: episode 3

Entrepreneur(s): Rayeesa Ashgar-Sandy

Company: Spiced by Rayeesa

Elevator Pitch: fresh-frozen curry sauce with low calorie and gluten free curry bases.

Asking For: £75k in exchange for 12% equity

What Went Well?

Family Business: the positive noise in this pitch was down to the individual who came across very well and the family element of the business added a great slice of personality. Passion, persistence and drive are fundamental to demonstrating entrepreneurial spirit.

Health: this is a fundamental trend in this product area and this focus will drive growth. Assuming the product tastes as good as Deborah Meaden asserted then this USP will help to differentiate the product against some of the more established brands in the category.

What Could Have Gone Better?

The Approach: it may sound impressive and it’s something you should be proud of but being approached by Sainsbury’s and Ocado is not something you can bank. I do appreciate that it will give some confidence but I’m afraid it’s just literature.

Lack of Market Understanding: ‘we don’t have competition’ is a terrible thing to say in the food industry and very unlikely to be true. There are very few brands and products that are inexchangeable. Most products bought are bought in favour of something else because the shopper doesn’t have an endless pit of money. In this example the competition is vast and Rayeesa’s product is easily substitutable for an ambient or chilled option.

Retailer Challenge: for me this single point killed the pitch. If retailers don’t get it, it will never sell. They’re absolutely right in that most shoppers in the frozen aisle are not looking to cook, they’re looking for a convenient, full solution which is why there are so few ingredients in freezers. Unfortunately Rayeesa’s vision that retailers would be willing to put a freezer in the ambient fixture is so far detached from reality. This type of initiative would not be completely impossible to secure but I would wager that it would warrant funding into the £millions plus the cost of hardware. Even in what Jenny coined ‘second tier retailers’ I can’t see it becoming a reality and, although COOK have made some headway, it’s a pipe dream.

What Other Lessons Can We Learn?

Know Your Strengths: for me this pitch is a great example of an entrepreneur that has the right behaviours and drivers to be successful. However, it also highlights Rayeesa’s need to seek market specific support and gain experience and insight externally. This is not a criticism. A lot of entrepreneurs become successful because they surround themselves by the right people.

Outcome: No investment today.

Would Munkee invest? No, I’m afraid I’m too risk averse for this one. The market is challenging and I don’t think the product offering is right. However there are a lot of positive aspects of this pitch so with a few tweaks I’m sure they’ll find success.

Northern Munkee.

 

Foodies in The Den (15:2)

I love Dragons’ Den. There, I said it. I know some business folk are a dismissive of the show because it can glamourise the investment process and potentially mislead around the rigor involved in securing funding – but I just love it! You can also accuse the show of sensationalising some of the issues which could literally make or break a young business but we’re all adults here so surely we know what we’re letting ourselves in for?

There are many reasons to love The Den and if it is used correctly it can be the perfect platform to propel a small business to the next level which is a fantastic gift to the small business world. However, I love it for one reason: the business lessons. It’s a marvellous microcosm for the business world and emphasises some of the amazing abilities and frustrating failings of the entrepreneurial world.

I have watched the show all the way through but this series I decided not to be a passive observer and get stuck in to offer my thoughts on any foodie that makes their way passed Evan’s lair in the basement and through those ominous sliding elevator doors. So this series I’m going to pull out some of the business lessons gleaned from any brave foodie to enter The Den. I’d also like to point out that what follows is not a criticism but a critique; even if it goes badly wrong, anyone that demonstrates the stones to go on TV to bare all has my respect!

northernmunkeebites.dragonsdennaturalnutrientsSeason 15: episode 2

Entrepreneur(s): Liam Sheriff and Craig Newbigin

Company: Natural Nutrients UK

Elevator Pitch: high quality supplement brand that offers 100% transparency and doesn’t contain artificial nasties.

Asking For: £100k in exchange for 10% equity

What Went Well?

The Products: not only are the products on trend and relevant but the duo have proliferated sensibly and developed beyond the functional category. This may present some practical issues when working with retailers whose individual buyers may only look after part of their portfolio. However, having a range that differs in volume and margin is a powerful position when managing margin mix.

Reasons to Believe: having Holland & Barrett on board for a business like Natural Nutrients is a massive coup and absolutely the right retailer at this stage. This will have been a fantastic selling point.

Peter Jones’ Empathy: this isn’t something that you can prepare for but this was fundamental to the success of the pitch. The pair were subjected to harsh loan terms to secure previous investment and not many businesses get offered the opportunity to have a business leader support them in improving that situation. How’s that for belief.

What Could Have Gone Better?

The Numbers: margin is an issue that you can’t escape from and this company was walking a tight rope at a really early stage in the business. The retail price point is high and the margin they make is low; it’s a slippery slope from here but not unmanageable.

What Other Lessons Can We Learn?

Maintain Control: Liam Sheriff did a great job in negotiating a way to secure the investment but have an option to maintain more than a 51% share in the business. This will be important to the business going forward and ensures that there is a clear head driving direction. The inability to make a quick decision can be crippling for some small businesses.

Outcome: Success! 40% equity given to Peter Jones and Tej Lalvani with a 5% optional buy back if the business hits 2018 targets.

Would Munkee invest? No, I’m afraid I’m too risk averse for this one. The market is very clustered and dominated by brands backed by huge companies. I’d also have more concern over the terms of the loan and what was agreed in the past, for me that questioned the credibility of the business. However all Dragon’s made an offer so it looks like Munkee may be wrong!

Northern Munkee.

 

Make Healthy Chocolate Your Friend!

To say I’m a chocolate fiend is an understatement. Chocolate is my friend.  No really she is – she’s been there for me throughout all the key moments in my life.  Comforted me in sadness, celebrated with me in happiness, calmed me down in anger and prepped me up with energy when I’ve needed it.  Like for millions of others, chocolate is a warm comforting blanket.

When my health issues cropped up I actually had to abandon chocolate for a while as she became a toxic friend for me. So I did go chocolate-free for quite a while.  And when I decided to let her back in my life our relationship had changed.

Now she had to be a high quality friend. She couldn’t just satisfy a primary urge of a sugar fix but had to offer my body and health something more.  She also had to cater to my dietary requirements of being dairy free but she couldn’t compromise on taste.   As I started my journey for new friends, I was surprised to see how much the chocolate market had changed.  In fact there was so much choice that I was like a kid in a sweet shop!  The need for a ‘healthy’ chocolate friend didn’t appear to be just a unique thing for me but was in demand by a growing population who wanted what I did.  Furthermore, it doesn’t appear that this market will slow down anytime soon as there’s a whole host of new healthy chocolate desperate to be our friends. And I’m all too willing to make new friends….

northernmunkeebites.ombar1Ombar Chocolate 72% Raw Cacao

Rating: 8 out of 10

Appeals to: free-from lovers, healthy-conscious eaters and lovers of high quality chocolate

Packaging

Now I’m not too sure that I was first attracted by the packaging. It didn’t scream out to me from all the different varieties on the shelves.  A slightly muted brown paper packaging with a pop of colour is how it differentiates itself.  However upon a second and tertiary glance, it actually looks quite classy with a high quality wrapping and upon opening a golden inlay.  It feels smooth to hold and starts to cry out high quality.  What I particularly liked was the rather clean/clear writing and not too much information on the front – just key words that I needed for my requirements e.g. % of raw cacao, dairy free.  Looking on the back provides me with the full information that I do need and in an easy to read manner.

Price

£1.99 – I have purchased this from a few health shops including Planet Organic and Holland & Barret.  When I first purchased it I thought the price was pretty steep for what looks like a small bar (35g).  However having tasted it against other brands it is quite reasonable and there are often discounts available on it in the health stores I mentioned.  It also helps me manage my consumption as because it is quite a price tag I don’t gobble it all in one go but actually have started to have it over two or three days which then makes me think it’s worthwhile as well as making sure I don’t over indulge and spreading the cost!

Delivery

This chocolate delivers. There are other varieties of the brand that I haven’t tried because I enjoy this version so much.  For me, dark chocolate is now my preference over milk and white.  This bar provides that small chocolate fix without being overly rich.  It’s slightly bitter but there’s creaminess to it which takes the edge of it.  I find that if you take one slab of it and let it melt slowly in your mouth, it gives you that feeling of eating a full chocolate bar.  To me that screams quality and ticks off all my boxes.  The product states it contains natural antioxidants and live cultures and I don’t know whether that adds to the flavour or not; but either way this is a tasty chocolate and one that is becoming a firm friend.

Verdict – in a word, creamy! Whilst the price can initially cause you to pause to purchase, after tasting it you can see that it’s actually a fairly reasonable price.  The 6 bar chocolate is enough to keep you satisfied for a couple of days providing you with that chocolate fix in an allergy free manner.  Plus if it states it’s good for your gut, I’m not one to say no to chocolate!

Details: https://www.ombar.co.uk/

I would love to hear your thoughts if you have tried this product – feel free to leave comments below.

Guest Blogger: Mrs M.

About Me

As a person with a recently diagnosed sensitive digestive system, I’m now on a path to make sure I eat well whilst still enjoying myself. Having been fearful of food, I now love finding new products, going to new restaurants to try new twists on dishes and am constantly looking for quirky items to consume.  I’m a huge supporter of simple food that is made tasty with the right combination of ingredients and more importantly enjoying your food and diet in a balanced way.  That means I always have room for my favourite item – chocolate!

 

#MeatFreeMonday

I’m not ashamed to say it: I am a 6ft 2″, 20stone (plus), flexitarian!

Now, clearly I like my meat, you only have to see me to know that, but I’m not wed to it. I’m also very aware that the term ‘flexitarian’ feels very faddy but, just in case you’re not au fait with it, let me assure you the concept is quite simple: I just don’t eat meat all the time.

I have joined the thousands of others in the UK that aren’t necessarily card carrying vegetarians but occasionally partake in things like #meatfreemonday. So what’s driving this growth amongst the meat-loving populous?

Well it’s quite simple really: health and a huge improvement in the availability of convenient, good quality meat free food; in that order. It is now understood that eating a lot of meat, especially red meat, isn’t necessarily a route to a healthy lifestyle. This new demand has presented an opportunity for a number of companies to flourish and produce fantastic fresh and frozen vegetarian foods.

OK, that’s all well and good but you should know by now that I like to add a commercial ‘so what’ into the mix…

Well, The Independent called out flexitarianism as a key food trend for 2017 in an article published at the end of last year meaning retailers that ignore the needs of its shopper base will come unstuck. The marketplace has really heated up with foodies flourishing in lots of different categories. COOK has managed to redefine what is meant by frozen food and our freezers are now filling up with a cornucopia of fantastic free-from frozen goodies.

So when my friends over at Goodlife asked if I wanted to try out some of their products I jumped at the chance; and here’s what I thought…

Goodlife Foods

Rating: 9/10

Appeals to: vegitarians, flexitarians, free-from followers, food lovers and just about any body

Packaging

The charm of this brand really shines through from the packaging. It’s simple but certainly stands out against the wallpaper that adorns most freezers. The branding and packaging conjures up imagery of the self-sufficient good old days when everyone tended to an allotment and shared out this year’s bumper crop of runner beans. The food descriptions on pack are also very powerful in terms of setting expectations about the goodness inside; you’re really not expecting a free-from taste experience.

Price

£1.89 – £2.49 (based on Ocado’s pricing) – I was actually pleasantly surprised when I checked Ocado’s pricing. You could be forgiven for thinking that they would be more in line with COOK’s prices, which are significantly steeper. The freezer is a very value driven area of the store so price is a key driver of purchase, however these products are targeted at a discerning consumer so Goodlife have to find the delicate balance between value for money and a great tasting product.

Delivery

Green Bean, Spinach and Wensleydale Sausages

Now we’re all adventurous foodies here, right? So please don’t allow appearance to cloud your judgement with these beauties. They may not look much but they taste phenomenal and certainly deliver against the description. These sausages are bright, fresh and flavoursome and the sausage skin provides a snap as you break through it. The creamy cheese and onion notes linger on the palate long after the swallow. These are brilliant!

Tomato and Olive Grill

Goodlife’s grills give a very different eating experience to the light sausages with a rich intense flavour buffeted by a wholesome tomato base with a delicate, dancing olive across the top notes.

Mushroom and Spinach Kiev

Finally, the kiev. Now this is special. The light, herby crumb offers a fantastic juxtaposition to the creamy, delicate interior. The cheese sauce runs throughout the eat and far exceeds the point of swallow.

Verdict – in a word, flexy! As I said at the top of this post I am a flexitarian and I fully see the value in meat free days from a health perspective. However, this choice has only been made possible by fantastic tasting meat free options. I’m a food lover so taste is always king but thanks to people like Goodlife I don’t have to compromise just because I want to go meat free. Why not join me next #meatfreemonday?

Details: http://www.goodlife.co.uk

Any comments, thoughts or questions? Or are you a meat free warrior yourself and you want to offer me some tips? Leave a little comment below because sharing is caring!

Northern Munkee.

Food Review of Christmas 2016

Well, the decorations should now be stuffed back into the loft, the ‘good’ cutlery should have returned to hibernation and the last scraps of turkey should have been consumed. Christmas 2016 is done.

So I want to take this opportunity to look back at my personal Christmas and some of the brilliant food discoveries I made…

Preparation is Everything 

northernmunkeebites.roastpots.JPG

If you speak to Mrs Munkee, she’ll tell you that I can get quite stressed in the kitchen. If there’s ever a moment when I run out of workspace it’s just not worth being in the vicinity for fear of a passive aggressive torrent of abuse. So, this year, as a pre-emptive strike, I sought advice from Master Chef DGH on how to reduce the work on the big day.

I already do the majority of the vegetable preparations the day before but the gem I will keep with me for life is freezing roast potatoes. As well as being a god-send for timing on the day these were the best spuds I’ve ever tasted; a brilliant sweet, crispy and fluffy tatty!

Here’s DGH’s recipe.

Your Turkey Needs Good Friends 

If you’re like me you’ll see the benefit of investing in a quality bird however if you’re going to surround it with sub-standard accompaniments then you might as well pluck and roast a sparrow.

I would always recommend making as much as you can manage from scratch however, we all know that a little help in December is welcomed. So here are a couple of fantastic products that did my meal proud:

Mr Crumb Stuffing

northernmunkeebites.mrcrumb.JPG

I can understand if you’re offended by the idea of buying in stuffing, I get it; but you’d be wrong.

This stuffing is superb. It is light, multi-textured, fresh and, best of all, very easy to do. Having this on my Christmas table offered a great sweet, spicy juxtaposition to juicy turkey.

Heck Festive Baubles

northernmunkeebites.heckchick.JPG

I first came across this company on an Alex Polizzi (check spelling) documentary and, it I’m honest, the show didn’t put them in the best light. If you take that as you’re only interaction with Heck then I feel sorry for you because their meat is phenomenal.

Heck produced a fresh meat selection just for Christmas called Baubles. These are little meatballs of high quality, high meat, high flavour greatness! One of my favourite elements of the Christmas meal are the pigs in blankets but I didn’t need them this year!

Merry Twixmas 

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t look forward to Twixmas, that joyous period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve when the world is still sleepy and we believe that we’re obliged to eat ALL the food in the house!

The question is, though, how do we make that Twixmas period extra special without completing the unthinkable task of leaving the house? This is what I did…

Just the Jelly 

northernmunkeebites-justthejelly

I love these little pots and I’ll tell you for why: their versatility. If you haven’t experienced this concept before they’re a rich jelly infusion with fantastically concentrated flavours. This year I used them as a meat accompaniment, a cheese accompaniment, a soup enhancer and a gravy enhancer!

Casa de Mont 

northernmunkeebites.cdm.JPG

I can’t tell you the amount of time I’ve salivated over these beauties and done nothing about it; but I decided this year I was going all out!

Not only is this ham incredibly tasty and last forever (slight exaggeration) but it also makes an impressive centre piece. I think I’ve started a new Twixmas tradition!

So, that’s enough turkey and tinsel reminiscing for one year. I love hearing from you all so leave me a comment below and let me know your fantastic festive food finds!

Northern Munkee.

Revolutionary Cold Pressed Drinks…

Focus on SIAL: Coldpress Drinks

Over the next week I will be focussing my attentions on Paris and SIAL: the world’s largest food innovation exhibition.

Innovation is the lifeblood of food retail as it drives new shoppers, new interests, new sales and new opportunities. There has been a plethora of game changing innovations over the last few years that have redefined food retailing in one way or another: bottled water, the shelf check-out, home delivery, micro-meals, vaping…the list is endless.

So, in the spirit of SIAL, I’m going to give my view of the world of retail and food innovation before I adjust my focus to an exhibitor at the conference in Paris.

Sustainability

This has been a hot topic in the food industry for a long time and probably always will be. Sustainability can mean different things to different people but in its simplest form it’s a means to ensuring that we have longevity in supply of food. That can be achieved through fair wages and working conditions, exploring renewable energies or protecting the environment that produces the food. I wrote on this subject in a previous blog and in particular about how manufacturers are turning away from organisations, like the Fairtrade Foundation, in search of a more effective way of creating a sustainable supply chain.

In commercial terms, sustainability is still important to shoppers which can be evidenced from campaigns like The Grocer’s Waste Not Want Not. Suppliers should be mindful of their sustainability stance and can use it for commercial gain such as the multiple retailers’ adoption of ‘wonky veg’ to win hearts and minds.

Food Waste

I touched on this point briefly above but, as odd as this may sound, the management of food waste is becoming more and more trendy. This is partly driven by social awareness and hardship programs like Fair Share and also a socio-economic drive to stop throwing money down the drain through negligence and ignorance.

This trend has seen brands such as Toast Ale, beer made from surplus bread, to emerge. Now, I’m not claiming this is a new trend, far from it; the practice has existed for hundreds of years since fruit manufacturers wanted to preserve their wares in sugar to make jam or potato farmers wanted an outlet for surplus potatoes in a snacking format. What I am saying is that this concept and story is now becoming a commercial opportunity.

Dot Com

Online food shopping is something that has been growing steadily year after year in the UK but there has to be a significant leap forward in the near future that will be a game changer. If I was a betting man I’d say that is more than likely going to come from Jeff Bezos et al over at Amazon where drones are already lining up laden with groceries. Amazon will steal a march on the grocery sector, it’s just a matter of time.

For now, companies like Deliveroo will continue to innovate and do things differently and better than before but surely no one can beat the Amazonian beast to the online food retailing crown?

Flavour Trends

Flavour trends are really difficult to predict and if I could tell you the difference between a flash in the pan and a sticky trend I’d be a very rich man!

Flavour and food trends tend to be driven by social elements like which holiday destinations are popular at the time and therefore it changes frequently, almost on a yearly basis. One trend that is definitely here to stay in the UK is provenance. We are still obsessed by where our food comes from to keep a check on traceability and quality.

Health is still prominent on the trend agenda in the UK and the movement over the last 18 months has seen protein come into the limelight. Is this trend a sticky one? I think not but only time will tell.

Now that my soap box is well worn, I’ll introduce my SIAL 2016 exhibitor focus for today…

Coldpress

Who are they?

Coldpress is the product of Andrew and Bradley’s desire to bring the food industry into the 21st Century by improving production methods to produce a tastier, healthier and more sustainable foods. The business’ ethos is literally about taking the heat out of the production process

Why are they innovative?

This is easy. Two things: process and packaging. I’m a big believer in brands finding ways to ‘pop’ off the shelf and I think the iconic hexagonal bottles achieve that. The process is Coldpress’ raison d’etre and gives the product life. The packaging allows the drink to speak for itself and is the main selling space.

Why should you love them?

Again, this is easy. The taste. The product delivery is just fantastic. Whether you buy into their mission to revolutionise the drinks manufacturing process you’ll definitely buy into their flavours – in fact I’m drinking one right now as I write this if you must know! So, do yourself a favour: put down the concentrate and pick up the Coldpress.

Details: www.cold-press.com

SIAL Location: JK 042 National Pavilions and Regions of the World

So all that leaves me to ask is what are your food or retail trends for 2017 that you want to highlight? Come on people, sharing is caring.

Northern Munkee.