Twinings Raspberry Strawberry and Loganberry Teabags Twinings Tea

Given the chance, I would drink nothing but tea all day, with coffee coming a close second. To make sure that I drink as much water as I can, I always make sure that I have a good supply of caffeine-free teabags on my desk at work to prevent me from going out and buying coffee or tea (I could make my own, but someone always pinches the milk). I’ve tried a variety of flavours; I particularly like peppermint and berry flavoured teas. The latest box that I have bought is raspberry, strawberry and loganberry – mainly because my local Sainsbury’s doesn’t have a great deal of choice, but also because I like the sharp taste of raspberries.

The manufacturer

Twinings is a registered trademark of R Twining and Company Ltd. The company’s history began back in 1706, when Thomas Twining, who worked for the East India Company, bought a coffee-house just off the Strand in London and began to sell the wares that he had discovered during his time with the East India Company. It took time to take off, but Twining’s marketing skills were good and eventually he found a niche market with the wealthy. Over the years, tea became more available to all and is now the popular beverage that it is today.


The teabags come in boxes of 20 (some UK supermarkets may have boxes of 40, but I have never seen one). The box is red in colour with a picture of a strawberry, raspberry and loganberry on the front (surprise surprise). 

How to make

This couldn’t be simpler. Just boil a kettle, pour on the teabag, and leave it in. If you prefer a weaker flavour, the teabag can always be taken out, but I’m happy with it to sit there giving out more flavour as I let it cool. It also works fine with not quite boiled water. We have a water machine at work that provides hot water, but it never quite reaches boiling. When water is first added, the colour tends to be quite a strange dirty purple colour, but this later blends into a pleasant fruit-flavoured cordial colour. The instructions also mention that it can be drunk cold, by making first with hot water and allowing to cool. Neither hot or cold milk should not be added.

The smell

I think it actually smells better than it tastes. People are forever walking into my office and asking what the smell is. There is a definite hint of strawberry and raspberry – possibly loganberry too, but as all I know about loganberries is from the picture on the front of the packaging, I wouldn’t know.

The taste

Although the smell is probably stronger, there is a definite taste of strawberry and raspberry. I like this combination, because the raspberry is quite sharp and dulls the sweetness of the strawberries. The loganberries may or may not add something – I have no idea what it tastes like, so again, can’t comment.


Most of the ingredients sound healthy and natural: hibiscus, rosehips, orange peel, strawberry flavouring, liquorice root, raspberry flavouring, loganberry flavouring, strawberry, raspberry and loganberry pieces. I’m not too sure about the flavourings though. And the fruit pieces only make up 1% of the ingredients each. Certainly looking at the teabags, it looks like bits of plant inside, so I imagine that the hibiscus, rosehips and orange peel make up most of the ingredients.

Nutritional information

This is the good news – just 2 calories per 100ml of brewed infusion and just .3g of fat.

ConclusionI find this tea very thirst-quenching and the fruity flavour makes you forget that you are drinking something that has no caffeine and is made up of mainly water. The fact that it also doubles as an air freshener is an added bonus! This and other caffeine-free teas have definitely helped wean me off drinking too much tea and coffee – I still drink ‘proper’ tea at home in the morning and when I get home, but as I tend to drink most when at work (would rather make a cup of tea than get on with my work!), I must have cut down on a fair amount of caffeine. Unfortunately, there is no caffeine-buzz, which tends to mean by mid-afternoon I’m flagging, and sometimes have to go and buy a coffee just to keep myself going!

On the whole, though, this is a refreshing alternative to tea and coffee and can be drunk in the winter or summer, hot or cold. Although more expensive than ordinary teabags, 95p for 20 (and it can probably be found cheaper elsewhere – I buy from a central London Sainsburys), it doesn’t exactly break the bank. Twinings is the only manufacturer of a fruit tea of exactly this blend, but many other manufacturers make similar concoctions – I personally think that Twinings is the tastiest. Recommended.

1. Twinings Infusion Raspberry, Strawberry and Loganberry Tea / 20 …
2. Diuretics Still Work for Blood Pressure
3. : Twinings – Cranberry & Raspberry – 40g : Herbal …

Image Credit

Tips on how to Create a Coffee Shop Menu

Creating a coffee shop menu isn’t as complicated as it may sound. There are many options to choose from when it comes to layout and design, and there are even software programs that can do it all for you. It can also be quite simple to do it yourself from scratch. Whatever path you choose, there are several elements, such as layout, colors, logo and image selection, that need to seperate your establishment from the rest.

Your menu, whether you are designing for in house only or carryout, is a reflection of who you are and what your establishment is about. It should have a theme, and flow well with the atmosphere of your location. Just like when you were planning your menu items, you must keep your ideal demographic in mind.

To keep it simple, your menu colors and images need to coordinate well with the colors and images inside your business. The design needs to flow. For example, if your dining area has brown walls and your artwork features birds, you wouldn’t create a white menu with pictures of swimming fish, right? It’s very easy to design the right menu if you have a solid business theme already established. Keep in mind that your take out menu is one of the biggest tools of advertisement, and go into the design process accordingly.

There are many programs that can assist you with designing your menu such as Microsoft Publisher and Adobe InDesign, both of which utilize the ability to use pre-made templates or begin from scratch. Both are relatively inexpensive, and both are widely used, so help with functions and features can be found online or at your local library, so you don’t have to be an expert to design a beautiful, efficient menu.

As far as the production of the finished product, you have several choices. You can choose to design and print yourself if you have a suitable printer. This is usually the cheaper option, but can be more time consuming. There are also do it yourself printing places like Kinkos, where you can print for a fee, but you have assistance if needed. Your third option is to contact a local commercial printing company and get a quote. This may be the more expensive option, but building a business to business relationship may be more beneficial to you because they can usually assist in putting final touches on your menu, and also keep a digital copy of your menu on file for future orders and in case of emergency changes, which will come in handy if you add or discontinue items.

However you choose to design and produce your menu, keep in mind that in addition to your slogan, dining room atmosphere and recipes, your menu is also another way to give that “Wow” factor to your customers. Whether it’s fun and quirky, or elegant and sophisticated, your menu should leave a lasting impression on your customers, letting them know what you are all about and keep them coming back for more.

1. 5 Essential Tips for New Coffee Shop Owners | Serious Eats
2. 5 Reasons to Ditch Dairy
3. 1000+ ideas about Coffee Shop Menu on Pinterest | Hawaiian …

Image Credit

Traditional Scottish and Welsh Food

In assessing the culinary qualities of these two Celtic nations it is necessary to distinguish between stereotypes and reality. Both Scottish and Welsh cuisine sometimes come in for a hard time (mainly from their English neighbours!) with the Scots being characterised as a nation who will deep fry anything (including Mars bars) and the Welsh as a nation who live on leeks and cheese toasties. These cheap stereotypes are rather unfair, however, as both nations have some unique delicacies that the traveler to these wonderful countries would be well advised to sample.

Scottish cuisine:

For traditional Scottish food, I’m going to take you through an entire day’s worth of fine eating.

Breakfast: Porridge and milk:

Scotland, as most people will know, can be a fairly cold country, and I imagine that those Highland winters must have been particularly chill-inducing back in the days of the Scottish clans, long before the invention of central heating. What was needed for breakfast, then, was a meal to put some warmth into the body and porridge does the trick perfectly.

Scottish porridge must be made with proper oats. I’m not going to go into detail on how it is made but those who are interested can find detail on the website. The same website reveals a couple of beautifully quirky stories relating to the making and eating of porridge. It states that there used to be a superstition that porridge must only be stirred in a clockwise direction, lest the Devil get the cook’s soul! Additionally, there was a tradition of eating porridge standing up, with one of the suppositions being that this was an aid to digestion.

Lunch: Scotch Broth:

Scotch Broth is a thick filling soup that is similar to Irish Stew. Indeed, probably the main difference from its Irish cousin is the fact that Scotch broth doesn’t tend to have potatoes as an ingredient. What it does have is lamb or mutton, plus a range of vegetables that typically includes barley, carrots, leeks, and turnips or swedes.

As well as being delicious and filling, it is just the thing to warm you up on a cold wet day, especially if you have been out walking amongst Scotland’s mountains and lochs. It is best served with an accompaniment of wheaten bread and butter.

Dinner: Haggis, neeps, and tatties:

Mention Scottish food anywhere around the world and the chances are that the word “haggis” will be mentioned. By the way, don’t be fooled by the notion that the haggis is an actual creature that runs around the Scottish Highlands “with one set of legs longer than the other”. This is just a tall tale that Scots like to tell to gullible tourists!

Haggis is actually a dish comprised of sheep’s heart, lungs, and liver which are minced and mixed with a number of other ingredients including onion, oatmeal, and spices. This lovely mixture is then further mixed with stock and simmered either inside a sheep’s stomach (traditional) or an artificial casing (more common these days).

Whilst haggis (perhaps understandably) may be perceived as unappealing, it actually tastes nicer than it sounds, with a savoury aromatic flavour. A vegetarian haggis alternative has sprung up in recent years, which may appeal more to those who remain doubtful.

Alongside haggis, it is traditional to eat neeps and tatties. “Neeps” is the Scottish term for turnip (or swede), whilst “tatties” is the term for potatoes. This most Scottish of Scottish dishes is celebrated annually, on the 25th of January, as part of Rabbie Burns’ night meals. Burns immortalised the haggis in his 1787 poem “Address to a haggis” which starts with the lines “Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race!” which translates into modern English as “Nice seeing your honest, chubby face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!”

Pudding: Cranachan:

There can only be one winner, in my book, when it comes to choosing a Scottish dessert and that is the wonderfully named Cranachan. It takes one of Scotland’s most famous delicacies (whisky) and combines it with generous quantities of whipped cream, honey, and raspberries, and this fine concoction is topped by some roasted oatmeal. Like haggis, neeps, and tatties, cranachan is often found on the menu on Burns Night suppers, and is also a favourite at Scottish weddings. Cranachan is often served in tall glasses, a bit like the ones that are used for Knickerbocker Glories. 

Drink: Whisky (alcoholic choice) or Irn-Bru (non alcoholic choice):

Scotland is famous for its whisky and there are endless varieties of malts for the whisky connoisseur to savour. One interesting point to note is that the Scots spelling is “whisky” whilst the Irish spelling is “whiskey”.

For those who prefer a non alcoholic beverage (or who have to drive), the other iconic Scottish drink is Irn-Bru. A famous advertising slogan, from the 1980s, stated that it was “Made in Scotland from girders” and its popularity in Scotland has been so enduring that for many years Scotland was one of the few countries where Coca Cola couldn’t establish a stranglehold as the number one drink in the fizzy sodas segment.

Other notable mentions:

Freshly caught trout or salmon, from Scotland’s rivers and lochs, make for a delicious meal. Staying on the theme of fish, Scotland is of course part of the island of Britain and its coastal waters bring a veritable feast of sumptuous seafood delicacies. One particular option that is worth looking out is a dish called “Arbroath Smokies”. Arbroath is a little fishing town on the east coast of Scotland, just north of Dundee. The locals take freshly caught haddock and salt them, and then leave them to dry overnight. At that point, they are then hung to smoke for an hour. The process that is used to make them is very specific to Arbroath and its surrounding area and they are considered the perfect accompaniment for chips, as part of a fish supper (which of course is a consummately British dish).

I could go on about other Scottish dishes but I think it’s time to turn our attention to Welsh food.

Welsh Cuisine:

Wales is a land renowned for its valleys, male voice choirs, rugby, and a huge abundance of sheep. It’s not surprising, therefore, that lamb features heavily when one considers Welsh food. Leeks, too, are synonymous with Wales and they also feature. However, as we’ll see, Welsh food isn’t just about sheep and leeks!

Welsh rarebit:

Rarebit is a derivation of the word “rabbit” but animal lovers will be glad to hear that no rabbits are killed in the making of Welsh rarebit. I guess, in that respect, it’s similar to the English dish “Toad in the hole” which contains no toads.

What Welsh rarebit does have is cheese and it is the “culprit” for the stereotype that the Welsh live on cheese toasties. Going back in time to Welsh rarebit’s origins, legend has it that the Welsh peasants weren’t allowed to eat rabbits caught on the estates of the nobility. Denied of rabbit, the ingenuous Welsh decided that melted cheese would be a good substitute.

Cheddar cheese is normally used to make Welsh rarebit and various other ingredients may be added to provide flavour. These include ale, mustard, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.


Laverbread sounds like it should be an Elven dish from Lord of the Rings but is actually a Welsh dish made from seaweed. Seaweed, of course, is a readily available resource and laverbread has been consumed in Wales from the 17th century, being particularly closely associated with the Welsh mining industry.

The seaweed is collected by hand and is washed and then boiled until soft, a process that typically takes several hours. The resultant laverbread is described as “a dark-coloured, almost black, purée” which is “soft-textured, sticky, tastes of the sea and has a high mineral content.”

Laverbread is typically eaten as a breakfast dish, when it is fried with bacon and cockles. With its unmistakable taste of the sea, it is also often combined with other ocean delicacies such as monkfish and crab. And, it can also be incorporated into lamb dishes or turned into soup. All in all, quite a versatile dish and one that has been described as a Welshman’s caviar!

Bara brith:

For our final Welsh speciality, I’ve selected Bara brith, which is a traditional Welsh fruitcake/bread. The North Wales Tourism website explains that bara brith translates to “speckled bread” and explains how it came about. One day a week used to be reserved as the baking day and the Welsh women (men didn’t bake in those days) would make the required quantity of bread. At the end of the day, when the stove’s heat was beginning to fade, currants would be added to the last of the bread dough. The resultant speckled bread was also honey-glazed to result in a real treat for the family.

Bara brith is best eaten with butter, and some like to add cheddar cheese. The fact that it can be eaten with cheese reflects the fact that it is as much a bread as a cake. Tourists wishing to try bara brith can buy it from shops but probably the best thing to do is to find a tea-room and enjoy it along with a nice cuppa.


1. Welsh cuisine
2. Kraft Dinner
3. Food in United Kingdom – British, Scottish, and Welsh Food, British …

Image Credit

Traditional Foods for Passover

Traditional Foods for Passover

Passover, a traditional holiday that is celebrated by Jews, and some Christians. It is one of the three pilgrim festivals in which the entire Jewish population made a historic journey to the temple in Jerusalem. Passover celebrates the freedom from the slavery, held by an Egyptian pharaoh, over the Jews, also called the Exodus. In the year 2012, Passover will be celebrated beginning at sunset of April sixth and ending on the nightfall of April’s thirteenth and fourteenth day.

It is said that their God, to convince the Pharaoh of his power, sent ten plagues to Egypt. The slaughter of the first born, was the last plague performed by their God. The God commanded that his followers, the Israelites, to paint the blood of a spring lamb upon their door. The blood would ensure the spirit of their Lord, would pass over them, and their children would be unharmed. In result, the Pharaoh would set the Jews free. This is the purpose of Passover.

In nearly all Jewish families, it is traditional to gather on the first night of Passover for Seder. The nicest plates, glassware, flatware and table dressings are set. In accordance with the Torah; most families save their best meal ware for use during Passover. This reflects just how important this meal is. During the Passover Seder, a special text called the Haggadah is used for the retelling of the Exodus. The meal is a religious service unto itself, and its order of service is divided into 15 parts, which explained in Wikipedia, in their Passover article, represents the 15 steps of the Temple of Jerusalem. This is where Levites stood during services. The 15 Psalms memorializes this.

Within this procedure, many traditional foods are served. Each food, when, how it is served and eaten is for a reason, defined by tradition and through the Torah.


Maror, refers to the passage from Exodus 12:8: “with bitter herbs they shall eat it.” The herb which could be endive, horseradish, romaine lettuce, green onions, or even parsley, symbolizes the bitterness which is slavery. The maror is first blessed, then dipped into charoset, which symbolizes the mortar that the Israelites used for building. After the excess charoset is shaken off, it is eaten. There is a prescribed minimum of the herb that must be eaten, as well as the amount of time that it takes for it to be consumed.


There is a requirement that four cups of wine must be drunk during Seder, for both men and women. It is said that “even the poorest man in Israel has an obligation to drink.”

*The Kiddush is recited, and the first cup of wine is had. This is beginning of fifteen step Seder meal.
*The Passover story is told, the “Four Questions” are asked, and the second cup of wine is consumed. This is step number five.
*step thirteen includes an after-meal blessing includes and the third cup of wine.
*Finally, step fourteen. The Hallel is recited, and the drinking of the fourth cup of wine commences.


During the eight days of Passover, the house must be free of everything that is leavened as well as any leavening products. This non-exclusive list includes: yeast, baking soda, and baking powder. The exclusion of leavening during Passover symbolizes the haste in which the Hebrews left Egypt. They left in such a hurry, that there was not any time to let their bread rise before they took it with them.

The traditional bread eaten during passover is Matzo, sometimes called Lechem Oni or poor man’s bread. It is an unleavened bread. Matzo is made from only flour and water. It is mixed throughout its baking process, which keeps the bread from rising. Most Matzo is made by machine now. Matzo is what you would typically find in your local supermarket, and is used throughout the Seder as well as the days that follow within the festival’s span.

In Orthodox Jewish communities, they choose to use shmura matzo, or guarded matzo. Guarded matzo is traditionally made by the men. They gather in groups and bake the bread used during Seder. It is called guarded matzo because the wheat that it is made from is guarded from contamination by chametz (leavening) from the time of its harvest to the time that it is baked into the matzos. This can be from between five to ten months after the harvest.

During the eight days of the Passover festival, different foods are consumed. Some of these include:

*matzah brei – a softened matzo fried with egg and fat. It can be served either sweet or savory.
*matzo kugel – a kugel made with matzo instead of noodles.
*Gefilte fish – poached fish patties or balls. This is made from a mixture of deboned fish, usually carp, and sometimes pike.
*matzah ball soup – A basic chicken soup with dumplings made from ground matzo, called matzo meal. You may also find carrot rounds within the soup.

For more a more complete list of traditional foods, as well as information regarding Passover, I refer you to the website. They also have recipes if you would like to try them in your own home.

1. Passover Seder Plate
2. The Cookie Diet Review
3. Passover Recipes – Kosher Recipes & Cooking –

Image Credit

Tips for Throwing a Party

Parties can be satisfying yet nerve wracking and stressful. Last year I had a housewarming/anniversary party that was a great success and didn’t cost me an arm and a leg.

I started by getting inexpensive invitations to send out to friends and family. I sent them out far enough in advance so that people could make plans to be there. I sent each invitation out a month in advance and including an RSVP at the bottom so I would know how many to plan for. I also called most of the individuals before I sent the invitation to make sure that the date I had planned, which was flexible, was acceptable for everyone. One thing to keep in mind is a reminder. You can do this by a phone call to your guests. There’s a catch-22 to sending out invitations. If you send them out too early, people forget. Send them too late, people have other plans.

Make sure you are prepared for the early guests. We had errands to do that day and since the party wasn’t till 7 pm, I was sure I’d have enough time to prepare my food. Imagine my surprise when I had guests call and see if they could come at 6:00 pm instead. I had to scramble to get things done for those special guests. However, I’d never tell them it wasn’t possible to show up early, I just made different accommodations.

The food was actually fun to shop for. I made sure I had the usual that you would find at any party but I wanted to have things that were fun to eat and a little different. I used my most of my own serving dishes since I have some unique items. I bought a few things to add to my collection as well, such as charger plates. Ironically, after this party I received a chocolate fountain for Christmas so you can be I’ll be using that for our next party next year.

I shopped at Sam’s Club and got lots of food items. We bought plenty of vegetables and dip, meatballs which we made with sweet and sour sauce and barbeque sauce, mini quiches, party crackers (we got a sweet deal on fancy crackers that included about 5 different styles, blue tortilla chips and salsa (we make our own salsa from scratch so that was a nice addition), a lovely chocolate cake, spiral rolls, mini egg rolls and duck sauce, crab dip, strawberries and chocolate dipping sauce, spinach dip, and stuffed rolls with broccoli and cheese. All of this was less than $200 and we had plenty left over.

We made this a casual affair so I put in a concert DVD that would appeal to most everyone. We chose the Eagles Live Tour and I set the volume at a comfortable level so people could still talk and enjoy the music as well.

Gifts weren’t something we had really planned on but every person who arrived brought a gift for us so we set up an area to place all of the gifts. We also took pictures of these gifts and since they were in one area, it was easy to do. We also bought a picture frame that guests could write a special note on and sign. We included a wedding picture in the frame and made sure all guests signed it. Now not only do we have pictures, we have this special picture frame to remind us of our party and guests.

I sent out thank you notes about 3 days after the party. I have to say that this was my first real party and it turned out to be a huge success. One thing I might do differently in the future is to get some trays from Publix since their prices are very affordable and offers a variety of options. I’ll still get food from Sam’s Club since part of the fun was making the food and displaying it.

1. How to Throw a Party (with Pictures) – wikiHow
2. Gallbladder Diet
3. 10 Easy Techniques for Throwing an Awesome House Party …

Image Credit

Tips for Improving Restaurant Service

If you want to improve service in a restaurant, the answer is simple… keep the employees happy. I am writing from experience.. I have been a server for the past two years. Waiting on tables is sometimes a very thankless job. Sometimes the tips are crappy and sometimes you get tables that like to run you for every little thing. These things can wear on a server, and lead to poor service.

The thing is, if employers would take better care of their employees they would in turn be better to the restaurant’s guests. It’s a trickle down theory. I know on days that my boss orders us food.. or brings in treats.. I see a difference in our wait staff. For example, last night the air conditioner in our store was broke, and it was sweltering hot in there. One of the servers said we should get something to cool us down. The next thing I know there are fudge bars, Popsicles and ice cream sandwiches. Let me tell you, it really helped. Before the treats mostly everyone was a little crabby because of the heat. Afterward, I noticed more people smiling, even though it was still hot as hell in there. It doesn’t take much to let your employees know you care. In this case less than 20 bucks made everyone working feel better.

Every restaurant has some guidelines for how your supposed to “greet” a table. Often times it is a rehearsed speech. All servers have them.. “Hello welcome to ____ my name is ____ I’ll be the one taking care of you.” I’m guilty of it too. They make servers do it because we are supposed to sell you things when you sit down at a table. This is all part of the restaurant game. The key is to make it sound natural, like you’re saying it for the very first time. Eye contact is essential along with a genuine smile. When you smile it disarms people.. they feel at ease. When people are at ease they tend to have a better time no matter what environment they are in.

This goes back to keeping your employees happy. Happy employees smile, smiling makes guests feel good, and things in the restaurant run a little smoother.

1. 10 Things Restaurant Owners and Managers Can Do to Improve …
2. NutriSystem Meals
3. How to improve the speed of service | Restaurant Business

Image Credit

Tips for Bagging your Groceries

Bagging up groceries is always a problem especially if the supermarket is busy. One can be pressurised into rushing and food items can be squashed and battered by the time one reaches home.

How can one bag groceries so they come to no harm during transit from the supermarket to the home?

First if you buying frozen goods during the summer months it might be a good idea to either carry a cool box in the car or buy a cool bag. Cool bags are sold in almost all supermarkets these days and are not terribly dear to buy.

So one has a cool box or cool bag handy and your in the process of pushing the trolley around the store. It might be a good idea to place all the tinned items at one end of the trolley, followed by bottles and frozen goods. Next fruits that cannot be squashed easily like apples, melons and oranges etc.  Lighter goods like bread, cheeses and yogurts should be placed behind these. Last to go in the trolley is soft goods like some breads, tomatoes and especially eggs.

If one has the trolley loaded correctly when you reach the check out you can place the good on the conveyor belt in order that they might be packed. Tinned items can go in one or two bags without damage. The important thing is not to overweight the bag. Bottles can be carried back to the car lose in the trolley or again packed in a couple of bags.

The frozen goods can go straight into the cool bag or carried lose in the trolley to be placed directly into a cool box in the car. Next pack the heaviest items like cheese and fruit into a bag. If there is space at the top of the bag you might consider filling it with a light item like a loaf of bread. Vegetables like tomatoes will need to be packed with other light items.

Always put bleaches, washing powders and the like in their own bag away from food in case of leakage.

If you have purchased eggs make sure you know which bag they are in so it can be handled gently back to the car.  Lastly when you return to the car, remember if you have a cool box, to plug it to the cigar lighter socket. This is in order to keep your frozen items in good condition until you reach home.

1. Top 10 Tips for Bagging Groceries –
2. Calories in Almonds
3. Grocery Store Jobs 101: How To Properly Bag Groceries | WorkPulse

Image Credit

The taste of coffee

I have never particularly liked coffee. I know this is a contrary opinion. Coffee has ascended to near nectar-of-the-gods status in certain quarters, its cost reflecting that reputation, not to mention the enormous diversity of choice currently available. Somehow, the eminence of this delicacy escapes me. Coffee for me is an abomination. It goes through my system like some infernal drain cleaner, flushing me quite thoroughly.

When I was a boy, coffee drinking was strictly for adults. In order to imbibe, one had to attain the ripe age of fourteen before being permitted to taste the proscribed elixir. One thing, coffee always fascinated me, probably due to its illicit nature, forbidden fruit and all that. Moreover, it had a wonderfully savory aroma brewing in the mornings. What with bacon in the skillet and coffee on the boil, breakfast was one of the highlights of culinary experience in my house.

I would come to my abhorrence of coffee a bit later in life. When I went to sea, coffee was a time-honored ritual. With lots of time to spend between watches, seamen have a natural affinity for the restorative qualities of a good hot cup of coffee. Shipboard coffee runs the gamut of quality, reputedly made quite well on a number of voyages on which I participated. That said, the quality was lost on me, as it typically tasted quite foul.

My mum’s coffee reportedly was not half bad. I remember clatches at our house in which the guests were exceedingly complimentary and given the tenor of their remarks, this was not some idle prattle but genuine appreciation. Whatever my mother’s gastronomic shortcomings as an Irish-American, she didn’t exactly have a long tradition of culinary excellence from which to draw, she could at least make a good cup-of-Joe.

Tea, for me, has always served as a reliable stand-in. I enjoy many kinds of tea but I have a particular preference for Earl Grey tea. I do not countenance brewed beverages that simulate tea. Tea should be made from leaves of the tea plant and I mean the leaves not twigs (e.g., Koukicha, for all its so-called medicinal attributes, it still tastes like its name i.e., twig tea). Although the choice of tea over coffee may not address the caffeine issue, it still is highly preferable in my world. I know I am sure to hear opinions to the contrary on this matter.

I digress; let us return to our story. On the morning of my fourteenth birthday, I awoke to the familiar fragrance of breakfast. Knowing what awaited me I hurriedly dressed and sat at the table assured of my entry to the world of adults. The coffee was poured; the scent rose to my nostrils; the die was cast. I sipped and blech was my immediate reaction. Surely, this foul tasting muck couldn’t be the long-awaited panacea of my dreams. I was not prepared for this ill-tasting nostrum.

Coffee had let me down. Not unlike many of the so-called rites of passage that would come later in life, the proof was not in the pudding; disappointment ruled the day. To this day, whenever a server comes around with a round of coffee and orange juice (I have a similar aversion to OJ, preferring apple juice), I defer and think of that fateful morning.

1. Coffee cupping
2. Sacred Heart Diet for Losing Weight
3. CoffeeGeek – Taste and Process

Image Credit

The best Tunasalad is a Salad Nicoise

The best tunasalad is a salad nicoise , a real french salad that is rich in garlic anchovies and lovely green beans. For the best result use fresh tuna stakes if you can get them . But if you can not use tinned tuna .

You will need.

3 tomatoes

225g/8oz green beans

200g/7oz tuna

 ½ a red onion

1 little gem lettuce

6 anchovies

2 eggs

8 black olives

1tbsp white wine vinegar

3tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove

Fresh parsley and chives

salt and pepper  

There is a lot to do for this salad so start by getting some hot water on the stove. Then cook you beans . As soon as they are cooked get them in to cold water to stop them from cooking and so they stay nice and green.Then take you eggs and place then in a pan of boiling water and boil them . You want them hard boiled but not to hard boiled . For a real authentic look you want the very centre to have a little under cooked look. once they are cool cut them length ways.  

Now take your tomatoes and quarter then. slice your onions as thin as you can and break up you lettuce. Add your olives and anchovies to the bowl. Dice your anchovies up a little before you add then to the bowl or some one will get all the anchovies and some one will not get any.  

 Now to make the dressing crush the garlic very finely and add the olive oil and vinegar to the mix. season with salt and fresh ground black pepper and then add the finely chopped parsley and chives. Whisk them all together and then add them to the bowl with the tomatoes onions and lettuce.Take your beans and dry them off and get them in to the bowl.  

Now it is up to you haw you wish to have your tuna . If it is fresh you could have it just char-grilled in the very top of the salad . Or you could have it precooked and chilled and just mix it in . Or if you have to just take it out of the tin and add it to the salad.   Toss together all the things in the bowl and then arrange them in a large salad bowl. Make sure that you have a good mix of all the components of the salad all threw the bowl and finally finish with the hard boiled eggs on the top.   

On a warm summers day this is a real taste of the south of France on a plate. 

1. Salad Nicoise with Seared Tuna Recipe : Tyler Florence : Food …
2. Grilled Salmon Kebabs: Heart Healthy Recipe
3. Classic Tuna Nicoise Salad Recipe : Emeril Lagasse : Food Network

Image Credit

The Wines of Burgundy France

France is well-known for its wines. Many of the world’s best known high quality wines come from France. It is no wonder that French wines are very popular as this country has a long history of making wine. French winemakers have been constantly perfecting their craft since ancient times. They still continue to do so. And the wines of the Burgundy region are amongst the finest in the whole world.

Brief history

The region of Burgundy has a tradition of winemaking dating back to ancient times. The oldest known documents mentioning the local wine date as far back as 312 AD. However, it is probable that vineyards could be found here even further into the past.

Of course, the production of wine did not cease after that, though the next known documents come from later medieval times. At those times, the wine mentioned in documents was mostly made by monks. However, it is almost certain that many other landowners grew grapes as well. Vineyards of Burgundy were indeed very important as king Charles VI enacted an edict specifying boundaries of the region as a wine producing area in 1416. The production continued since then and Burgundy still remains one of the most famous and important wine producing regions in France.

Vineyards and production

Vineyards cover a huge area of the Burgundy region. In fact, the official website devoted to local wines states that vineyards cover an area of nearly 29 500 hectares. This is indeed a lot. The size of production is equally as high. The region produces about 200 million bottles of wine a year.

There are several varieties of grapes being grown on local vineyards. Some of them are more important than others. For example, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay and Aligote are the most significant varieties. On the other hand, Tressot and Cesar varieties are not as widely used.

Variety of wines

There are 112 wine businesses in the Burgundy region producing many different types of wine, though the number of individual vine growers is several times higher than that. Search on the official website revealed close to 1000 different vine growers.

Official website

An interesting fact is that there is an official website devoted to wines of the Burgundy region. There you can find a lot of information about the history of vine growing in the region, grape varieties, process of making wine, different types of wine, local vine growers and their wines. Checking out the website is a must for every fan of the wine.

To conclude, wine has been produced in Burgundy since ancient times. Local vineyards produce huge amounts of high quality wines every year. There is even an official website devoted to this region’s wines. This website provides a lot of interesting and useful information.


1. Burgundy wine
2. Heart-Healthy Eating Plan
3. A Simple Guide to Burgundy Wine (with Maps) | Wine Folly

Image Credit