Are Dog-Friendly Restaurants Going A Step Too Far?

DogThe Bluebird Restaurant in London has announced that it will be launching a brand new dog-friendly menu as part of it’s ‘VIP Bites and Bones’ event, promising to deliver a whole range of “doggie cocktails, canapés and goodie bags”.

The Bluebird is not the only restaurant seeking to expand its market by catering to the needs of a more hairier clientèle. The Rivington Shoreditch restaurant in east London will be celebrating the Queen’s birthday by rewarding those who show up for lunch with a corgi with a free bottle of prosecco.

George, a members’ club in the capital, held a special party to launch their new dog menu last month. Model, Yasmin Le Bon, and shoe designer, Patrick Cox, brought their pets to be the first to try the canine cuisine, the proceeds from which went to the Dog’s Trust.

These events reflect one of today’s most popular trends, where owners are spending thousands of pounds spoiling and indulging their most-loved pets. But what do diners in Southampton think about the prospect of eating across from a Dalmation sipping on a Long Island Ice Tea?

How do you feel about dining alongside dogs? Tweet your opinions @FongtasticFood

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Cayenne Closes

Celebrity Chef Paul Rankin

Celebrity Chef Paul Rankin

Celebrity chef, Paul Rankin, has announced that he will be closing his flagship Belfast restaurant, Cayenne, after a string of Union flag demonstrations disrupted his business.

Mr. Rankin, who once owned a successful chain of eateries across Ireland, said: “Location is key in the restaurant business, particularly at a time of economic downturn, and our current setting is no longer sustainable. The disturbances around the flag protest, particularly during the Christmas period, also confirmed our decision.

“The lease at our current location has now come to an end and, given the change in the Shaftesbury Square area over the last number of years, it doesn’t make sense to undertake the necessary investment required to continue to operate there at this time.”

The chef added: “The once ‘golden mile’ of Belfast has suffered badly from a lack of regeneration and a general decline in popularity and appearance, even the Ulster Bank with its gable and statues across from us is to close shortly.”

Paul Rankin is one of Northern Ireland’s most renowned cooks. He won the country’s first Michelin star when he opened the fine-dining Roscoff Brasserie in 1989.

At the heigh of the recession, he was forced to sell off his chain of Rankin Cafés, as well as his Rain City restaurant.

The closing of Cayenne will result in the loss of 18 full and part-time jobs, but Mr. Rankin is promising to open another new restaurant as soon as possible.

“We’ve enjoyed a very loyal and supportive relationship with our customers over all these years and hope that they will bear with us while we find the right location to re-establish our restaurant.” Mr. Rankin said.

“Cooking is my ultimate passion and I am committed to establishing a new kitchen inspired by both Cayenne and Roscoff before it. There has already been some high level talks talking place about other exciting business and restaurant opportunities but I am open to identifying as many different options as possible so it really is too early to confirm any details as yet.”

Rankin’s own brand of foods will remain on sale in supermarkets across the UK and Ireland.

Tate & Lyle Unveil Cake Hotel

Hand-Stitched Meringue Rug

A hand-stitched rug made of meringues.

A team of 14 cake-makers has spent almost 3,000 hours baking and decorating over 100 pieces of edible art to fill a three-storey luxury hotel in Central London.

The edible project has been set up to promote a new line of Tate & Lyle Sugars, inspired by regions from around the world. Over 600 kilograms of this sugar was then used to reflect each different region across eight separate rooms.

A pirate room contains a giant treasure chest filled with pearls and gold coins.

A pirate room contains a giant treasure chest filled with edible pearls and gold coins.

The eight tasting rooms include (from press release):

  • A Mediterranean-inspired bedroom, with edible furnishings, a caramel popcorn-filled bathtub, floating meringues and edible pearlescent popcorn bunting, all created using Light Soft Brown sugar.
  • A Pirates of the Caribbean room, with a giant treasure chest full of edible pearls, ginger spiced doubloons and cutlasses, which visitors can spray gold themselves, and rum and raisin chocolate brownies and tea cakes – all made from Taste Experience Caribbean-inspired Light Muscovado sugar.
  • A British-inspired Golden syrup sugar room, with a giant golden-syrup lion, patriotic treacle tarts in the shape of the British Isles and a giant tower of doughnuts.
  • A Mayan-inspired room hidden in the cellar featuring a Mayan fudge temple, complete with floating meringue ‘clouds’, ‘sacrificial’ salted caramel and chocolate hearts, and Mayan-inspired carved gold cookies all made from Taste Experience Mayan-inspired golden caster sugar.
  • A Mississippi-inspired ‘Mardi Gras’ room featuring a five foot long rainbow cake in the traditional colours of green, yellow & purple, gold baby heads and of course King Cakes.
  • A Barbados-inspired library, with edible shells, and beautiful hand-painted cookies, fruit cakes and florentines showcased as museum features inside vintage glass jars, all made from Barbados inspired Dark Muscovado sugar.
  • A Guyanese-inspired room, complete with a sea turtle cake, and cake ‘turtle eggs’ buried in mounds of Demerara sugar.
  • A South Pacific-inspired room with a huge two metre high Easter Island statue, made entirely from chocolate mud cake baked using Golden Granulated sugar.
Giant edible sculptures include a 2-metre long vanilla sponge turtle cake.

Giant edible sculptures include a 2-metre long vanilla sponge turtle cake.

In the Barbados-inspired library, edible shells line the shelves.

In the Barbados-inspired library, edible shells line the shelves.

James Whiteley, Tate & Lyle Sugars Senior Brand Manager said: “We think the cake hotel perfectly captures the excitement, inspiration and expertise behind the creation of our new range of golden and brown cane sugars. The Taste Experience range is about more than just adding sweetness; it’s about subtle flavour differences, texture and appearance. We hope that through the cake hotel we can showcase the versatility of golden and brown cane sugars and inspire people to get creative in the kitchen.”

The Soho-based hotel is open from now until Wednesday, March 27. For bookings, tweet @welovebaking saying why you want to stay over in the first cake hotel, including the hash-tag ‘#TastingHouse‘.

For more information, please contact Mischief PR at Tate&Lyle@MischiefPR.com

Del Monte Charged Less for Rigging Banana Prices

Del MonteDel Monte, one of the world’s leading fruit producers, has won its appeal to reduce their €14.7 million (£12.6m) European Union fine for rigging banana prices.

The EU General Court ruled Del Monte’s fine be cut by  almost  €6m due to the company’s co-operation with regulators.

Although Dole Food denies any wrongdoing, their fine of  €45.6m has been upheld. The company is in the process of launching an appeal in the hope of also being able to reduce their multi-million euro fine.

The European Commission fined the companies in 2008 for price collusion in eight EU countries.

C. Michael Carter, President of Dole Food, stated: “We strongly believe that the European competition laws were not violated and we will appeal this decision to the EU Court of Justice.

“The General Court’s decision treats discussions about general market conditions the same as a price-fixing cartel.”

The companies were found to have been involved in price fixing between 2000 and 2002.

No More Tantrums at the Till

The campaign has named Asda as one of the worst offenders, displaying over thirty different types of sweets at the checkout.

The campaign has named Asda as one of the worst offenders, displaying over thirty different types of sweets at the checkout.

Major supermarkets are being targeted by a new campaign to stop unhealthy foods and drinks from being displayed at the checkout.

The Children’s Food Campaign, coordinated by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming and funded by the British Heart Foundation, has launched Chuck Junk off the Checkouts to provoke Government action and bring an end to the marketing of junk food to children.

Malcolm Clark, the campaign’s coordinator, said: “What we want to see is actual proper regulation and government stepping in so that this isn’t just left to the whim of supermarkets and when we move on to the next issue, the supermarkets just switch back to their old bad habits.”

Although some supermarkets are responding positively towards the campaign, many are choosing to remain silent on the subject. Lidl are now ensuring that at least one in seven of their checkouts is completely junk-free, while Morrisons have released a statement saying they would only be willing to remove unhealthy foods from their checkouts if it was recommended by the Department of Health’s responsibility deal.

The Children’s Food Campaign is relying on the public to support Chuck Junk off the Checkouts, encouraging people from across the country to lobby supermarkets and help put a stop to the promotion of unhealthy food to children.

Catherine Dimmer, mother of two and campaign supporter, said: “I don’t like the way [supermarkets] try to make money out of people at any opportunity whatsoever and it’s the fact that it’s not particularly healthy for the children either is it; the chocolates, it’s going to ruin their teeth [and] make them fat.”

Here are a few ways to get involved and help Chuck Junk off the Checkouts:

  • Action 1: Sign Up – sign up to support the campaign and be kept up-to-date by visiting www.childrensfood.org.uk
  • Action 2: Wall of Shame – take a picture of the checkout at your local supermarket and post it to the campaign’s Facebook wall (www.facebook.com/childrensfood) or tweet @childrensfood.
  • Action 3: Checkout Test – if you are unhappy with the checkouts at your local supermarket, make both a verbal and written complaint.

For more information on Chuck Junk off the Checkouts, please visit: www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/chuck_junk/