Noble Fleming: Acclaimed tea taster passes away

Noble FlemingNobel Fleming (pictured), who has recently died at the age of 92, was an acclaimed tea taster who helped to create the Thomas J Lipton tea company.

Lipton was founded in 1893 by Sir Thomas Lipton as a New Jersey based tea packing firm. The tea was almost an overnight success in America and the country became Lipton’s biggest market. Today, many of us associated Lipton with their iced-tea drink. Noble Fleming was a friend of Sir Thomas Lipton’s parents and he secured the position and the senior tea taster.

Fleming and his team studied the “tone” of the tea leaves by placing them in white bone china cups, pouring an exact amount of skimmed milk and then in a similar fashion to wine tasting, would stir, sniff, sip and gurgle the tea. Fleming would then select the tea leaves he felt should be bought at auction for Liptons.

For further background on how Twinings taste tea take a look at this page.

It is reported that Fleming always attended the tea tasting sessions in a well-tailoried suit and the tasting sessions were conducted as if each were a ritual steeped in custom. Chrome-plated spittoons were used by Fleming and his team to collect the gurgled tea.

Fleming retired to France in 1983 and is survived by a daughter.

Edible cookery book for lasagna recipe

edible cookery book

How’s this for a real cookbook …a lasagna recipe book that’s made from fresh pasta and is ready to cook!

The pasta pages of the book are inscribed with the recipe for classic lasagna and are used as the pasta layers for the dish. Just add the remaining lasagna ingredients and stick in a pre-heated oven and then enjoy with a glass of red! I presume the freshly-made sheets have been rolled in a pasta machine and then the recipe has been letter-pressed into each pasta page.

The edible cookbook was designed as a special project for a large, German publishing house that specialises in culinary and art topics.

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Tesco Mice: Every [Stuart] Little counts

stuart littleWhen it comes to a Tesco Metro store in Covent Garden, London, every [Stuart] Little really does count …in getting the store shut down!

The Tesco store (location map) has been ordered to close by environmental health inspectors because of a ‘serious mouse problem’ according to news reports.

But while the Stuart Little film character (pictured) was a much-loved member of the family, mice can actually pose a serious health risk leaving environmental officials no choice but to act accordingly.

James Armitage, Westminster Council’s food health and safety manager, said: “We treat the big retail companies with exactly the same approach as small High Street traders – where public health is of concern, our action is swift and decisive.”

“We can confirm that a serious mouse infestation and dirty conditions were found at the Tesco Metro in Covent Garden and we have closed the premises down until a thorough clean-up has taken place and proper pest control measures have been taken.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “We insist on the highest standards of hygiene in our stores and are extremely concerned by this incident, which we are confident was isolated. The Covent Garden store is temporarily closed and we are taking urgent steps to deal with the problem.”

More often you’ll read of rats rather than mice being a problem in towns and cities.  Apparently we’re all on average just 15 metres away from rat, though I’ve personally only seen one in my in-laws garden last year and they live close to woodland. While I’ve noticed pest control measures at local shopping centres, including the nearby Cheshire Oaks complex where there are several restaurants, I’ve never actually seen a rat near food outlets.

How about you? What rodents have you seen inside and near food shops? Leave a comment below.

Divisible: Easy-wash whisk

easy wash whisk

It seems the kitchen whisk is capturing the attention of product designers!

Following on from the foldable whisk that we mentioned earlier this month, here’s another take on how to improve upon the traditional design of the balloon whisk. Product designer Kwon Hansol has come up with the Divisible whisk (pictured above), which has a handle that splits into two, unfurling the stainless steel wires so they can be easily washed. The handle halves are locked together by magnets and the wires are bent over forming the balloon-shaped whisk.

whisk easy-cleanHansol also suggests that the unfurled whisk is easier to store in a cutlery drawer and that other utensils are less likely to become entwined in the wires.  Though it should be pointed out that when unfurled the Divisible whisk looks quite long and as such might not fit into every kitchen utensils drawer.

Hansol suggests that a balloon whisk is difficult to clean and the wires can retain thick cake mixtures and batters and that many home cooks just rinse their whisk under a running tap to clean it. I’m not sure that’s the case – I suspect many people do carefully carefully clean them, but she has a point in that they are a bit a of pain to wash.

Divisible is a design concept rather than a production utensil. We do sell traditional balloon whisks in our store.

Panda poo tea: World’s most expensive cuppa

pandaA Chinese farming entrepreneur is selling the world’s most expensive cup of tea …and all because the tea is made using panda poo!

I know, sounds lovely doesn’t it? At around £130 per cup, the tea must be nothing short of sensational! The tea plants are fertilised with panda manure which 41 year old An Yanshi sources from panda breeding centres across China.

Defending the very high price for his tea, Mr Yanshi says he will channel profits from the initial batches into an environmental fund. The quality of the tea is said to be so high because panda manure is full of nutrients.

Apparently pandas, who can eat up to 40lbs of wild bamboo a day, only absorb a small amount of the all the nutrients found in their diet. Perhaps backing this claim up, this article suggests that panda poo would also make for an ideal bio fuel because of the bacteria found in panda waste.

To promote his premium tea, Mr Yanshi helped invited guests to pick tea leaves at his plantation while dressed as …yes, of course, a panda.

Brew anyone?

Great British Bake Off filming location

gbbo mel sue

If like me you’re a fan of the BBC cooking competition The Great British Bake Off you’ve probably admired the building and grounds that you see in the show. So, where is the Great British Bake Off filmed?

Well the amateur bakers cook inside a large marquee in the grounds of Valentines Mansion, a striking 300 year old building that has been a private residence, a home for wartime refugees, a hospital and council offices. After standing empty for a decade or more, Valentines Mansion was restored by Redbridge Council with part-funding from Heritage Lottery funds.

Melissa Brown, from Love Productions, who produce the eight-part series, said, “Valentines Mansion was the perfect place to film the second series as it offered so much. The house is beautiful and the well kept flower beds, surrounding gardens and park helped make a perfect backdrop for the ‘Bake Off’ marquee and filming. The accessibility to good transport links and the Gardener’s Cottage Café that served us unending great coffee to help through the long days was also a real bonus!”

The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) sees twelve amateur bakers test their cake-baking, pastry and bread-making skills. Each week  one contestant has to leave the competition that is judged by  cookery writer Mary Berry and baker Paul Hollywood. The BBC2 series is hosted by Mel Giedroyc (left) and Sue Perkins (right)- pictured above., the challenges are devised by legendary cookery writer Mary Berry and baker Paul Hollywood who are also on hand to

Carters Teapots celebrate Diamond Jubilee

Diamond Jubilee teapotThere was a nice photo in the Daily Telegraph yesterday featuring commemorative teapots from Carters Teapots.

Apparently Tony and Anita Carter, who work from their pottery in the Suffolk village of Debenham, started out making punk pottery. You’ll recall that infamous punk band The Sex Pistols cause widespread outrage with their song God Save The Queen? Well Carters Teapots (website) seem have to put any hint of anarchy to one side and have produced a range of commemorative teapots (like the one pictured – available here) to mark the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee.

According to a blog post by Anita Carter, the firm has had a huge number of enquiries about their Jubilee teapots! Do have a look at their website, if only to see their very quaint pottery and cafe …it looks fab!

iHeart Cutlery

iheart cutlery

We’ve looked at disposable cutlery before and the iHeart products are certainly worthy of a mention.

Made from 100% bio-degradable and 66% less plastic than conventional throwaway cutlery, the colourful iHeart comes in a single heart shape that you break in two. You can use each heart-half as a fork, knife or scoop and when you’ve finished eating you can even take them home and plonk them in the dishwasher. The blog is lovely with some great photos of New York and stories from different contributors about what they “heart”.

They’re available in five vibrant colours and they can ship to the UK.

Inmate tries ‘Shawshank’ escape with plastic cutlery

shawshank redemptionAn inmate at Exeter Prison attempted an audacious escape by copying the prison escape featured in the popular film The Shawshank Redemption.

Simeon Langford, 28, dug through a 5ft thick cell wall using just screws attached to plastic cutlery, replicating what Tim Robbins’s character (pictured alongside fellow actor Morgan Freeman) does in the Hollywood blockbuster. Langford was only found out when prison maintenance staff noticed brick dust on the ground below his cell window. Langford removed the screws from the desk that was inside his cell. The hole in the wall was concealed inside the cell with papier mache presumably made to look like a grey brick.

In handing down a 39 month sentence for the attempted escape and violent conduct toward prison staff, Judge Erik Salomonsen said: “The was an ingenious and inventive [escape] attempt but was doomed to failure.”

Pantone Tarts

pantone tartThese sweet tarts are fantastic!

French food designer Emilie de Griottes created a selection of dessert tarts based around the Pantone colour chart for a special feature in the French foodie magazine fricote.

The edible swatch-style tarts are made from various berries, bananas, carrots, lemons and sweets on a sweet pastry base that is iced in white and has the pantone colour code detailed. This page has pictures of all the tarts – hope your French is better than mine!

I like the shades of blue on the tart that I’ve pictured here and my other favourite is the one with the raspberries (Pantone 1797 C). I wonder if the tarts were eaten once all the photos had been taken?

Take a look at this wikipedia page for a more detailed background to what Pantone is all about.