Anyone form my native Northern Ireland will know the jingle. “Pick Punjana Tea”. Why? Because it was part of our growing up and heritage. But It’s more than that as I discovered. Many at home would condemn the rain, but as I have learnt recently its one of the main ingredients that makes ‘Our Food So Good’ as Food NI use in their marketing campaigns. You see rain makes the grass grow, that makes the beef so good, the flour so good and that leads to breads and everything else we produce on the farms in Northern Ireland unique and world class. Other brands of drinks need to create an ‘occasion’ for consumption in their marketing like “eleven thirty” , but when nature produces a daily stop in Northern Ireland with the rain, Punjana had a natural marketing campaign. That’s why we all know to “Pick Punjana Tea”.
Lets cut to the chase, I did it. I ate grasshoppers, silk worms and scorpions. In the interest of public sanity, this blog post from Yantai, in Shangdong province in China is NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED.
As the sun went down over Yantai Wine Bay in Shangdong Province the stage was set and the 20th Gourmand World Cookbook Awards took place last night. 205 countries were present with many sending their Ambassador to China to the Awards, some countries sent their Presidents. Corporations, writers, publishers, printers and photographers were all present, and Northern Ireland for the first time ever was listed as a country at the awards as a food writing place. Needless to say, Team NI did hugely well.
I’m in Yantai, in Shangdong province in China. A costal resort with 9 miles of golden beaches overlooking North Korea, equidistant between Shanghai and Beijing. A beautiful place, the wine area of this global Superpower at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. I’ve been to all of the awards since 2008. Sitting on a bus knowing not knowing the destination with the worlds best food writers is my idea of heaven, the fun, the intelligent conversations about food and more importantly the global networking is my idea of work and a holiday. But Chinese food in China, what is it?
It is not every day you see ‘it’ and for that I’m very glad. The first time I ever saw ‘it’ was perhaps too many years back for one to want to remember, but ‘it’, or ‘they’ were piled high in a steel bin in a chicken factory close to my home in Northern Ireland.
What is the word for both happy and sad in equal measures? Do remember this is a happy time, it’s my brothers wedding. Some could say sentimental, but thats a bit wet, emotional covers too many factors that were not relevant. Angus the AGA was not there.
I regularly get invitations to new restaurants opening so I can write about them for my blog, some I go to and some I don’t. It all depends on if I have time or if the theme of the restaurant meets the story of my blog. However, last week being invited to a new restaurant of ‘Lab Grown Meat‘ piqued my interest. I mean, Vegetarian friendly re-newable meat.
Watching the movie ‘The History Boys‘ by Alan Bennett a few things cropped into my mind namely the remarkable history of AGA cookers. Invented by a blind chap in Sweden in 1922. Part one of my little history of the AGA series that will be highlighted over the next few ‘every other’ Wednesdays tells a little of the background of this thoroughly intriguing story of how a blind Swedish man started a global culinary change, defined Britishness and, naturally, it’s a spy story too.