Today is publication day. It’s been a few years since I published a book, and today, I’m please to say, I have a new book out. It’s a book all about the Lough Neagh Eel, the story and recipes. All to start my journey to record 2016 – Northern Irelands Year of Food and Drink.
I’ve been asked to compere a fight, not a vicious one; one with flowers between Mary Berry and Gordon Ramsay.
Dr Thomas and I ventured out of our beloved Peckham (the posh part) on Sunday to attend the AGA Conference for AGA owners in Kensington. As an AGA owner, Dr Thomas was some what intrigued to what other AGA owners are like, so much so, he fell in love with a dog. Gerard the dog to be precise.
Belfast is fast becoming a food capital of the world, Northern Ireland with it’s spring of artisan food products are winning a host of awards for quality and innovation. And, 2 Michelin stars have come back to Belfast after a 4 year lapse.
When a mummy and daddy love each other very much…. or so the old adage used to go. I assure you Angus the AGA City60 was not found in a cabbage patch as we don’t have those in Peckham (the posh part), nor was he delivered by a stalk. I will have you know he was delivered by AGA London. So when asked about the birth of my bundle of joy, I’m booming with pride to tell people the real story. And, it’s on TV tonight.
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.