Video viewers twice as likely to visit fast food restaurant after seeing an ad

If you ever wondered whether advertising actually had an impact on the things people choose to eat then this piece of research might give you a surprise.

Research from Videology found that video viewers are twice as likely than the average respondent to visit a fast food restaurant or quick service restaurant (QSR) after seeing an advert or promotion.

Perhaps less surprising, the survey of 1,259 people in the UK suggested that the lead-up to lunch was the ‘best time’ (if you’re an advertiser) to target these video viewers, as the group is 75 per cent more likely to get lunch from a QSR than non-video viewers.

See the full findings in this infographic at The Drum here.

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In praise of the American diner


Sip and Bite, Baltimore

The all-American diner. A place were sustenance, company, warmth and companionship are available 24/7.

Or so the legend goes. The diner – complete with its booth seating and stark lighting – is an icon of movies and literature alike.

In fact fans of the American version of House of Cards might spot something familiar about this one – although this is Baltimore Inner Harbour, for the Netflix series, it was made out to be in nearby centre of power, Washington we were told by our AirBnB host in the city.

It’s easy to see why the television bosses chose Sip & Bite. It’s perfect. From the impressive external appearance to the strangely contradictory internal experience of cosiness within mirrors, tiles and that particular shade of lighting which gives everyone the pallor of the early hours at whatever time of day. Yes this IS the American diner.

What about the food?

Sip & Bite menu

Alongside the inevitable burgers, chicken, steak and the ever-present crabcakes, this diner offers a lot of Greek options with huge salads vying for your interest alongside the fried and grilled options. Sadly we had a limited experience of this immense menu having simply popped in for a snack after work.

Oh how I would have loved to sample the ‘eggs over-easy with famous fries’, or smother some homemade buttermilk pancakes or even the DDD Combination platter. What a mixture!

We ended up with a Greek salad and something with fries and the cooking was nothing out of the ordinary, but the whole atmosphere and experience made up for it.

Greek salad

Greek salad

Unlike so many places in the UK, the staff aren’t surly teens starting out in the jobs market, the staff here are proper grown ups with rents and lives to pay for. And I know this because in the short time we were there, sitting under a Star Spangled Banner (another Maryland creation), I learned more about the waitresses love lives and domestic arrangements than I know about most friends.

This commenter on TripAdvisor sums up the experience of eating there at all times of day and night:

The Sip & Bite is a Baltimore tradition. I remember eating here with my parents as a kid, going there late nights as a college student and now taking my family there for a good meal. In fact, in all the times I have dined at the Sip & Bite, I have never had a bad meal. The staff is friendly and the service is always good. Everyone in our party very much enjoyed their meal. I got the seafood club special which was a three layer club sandwich with a crab cake and seafood salad on it. Wow, was it good. I strongly recommend the Sip & Bite for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

After our hurried meal, we intended to try to repeat the experience for that other great US dining experience of a leisurely Sunday, brunch.

No chance. The queue along the building said it all.

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Recipe: Rabbit in mustard sauce

rabbitI thought I’d do something a bit different for Easter this year so – what about the bunny? Rabbit’s not that widely eaten in the UK which is a bit of a shame with it being reasonably cheap, lean and easy to come by.

So perhaps this take on the traditional French dish (but made a little bit easier) might tempt your taste buds.

Click here to see the recipe and step-by-step instructions at Farmer’s Choice who also have a good supply of wild rabbit.

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Two recipes for a Mother’s Day lunch

salmonmousseIf you’re thinking about what to do next weekend and fancy giving your mum a home-cooked treat, I’ve done a coupl eof recipes which are very simple and use pretty ordinary ingredients but that cook up a treat.

For a fresh and luxurious starter, there’s a salmon mousse and then for the main the traditional favourite Homity Pie.

The recipes really are as simple as child’s play.

Please do let me know how you get on – tweet me a snap! – and you can see my other recipes for Farmer’s Choice here.


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Not just bringing home the bacon but …….making it?

baconSeriously, have you ever thought about making your own bacon? I can’t say I have, but apparently this level of home-made food production is gaining popularity.

According to Manchester journalist and food blogger at the wonderful Lone Gourmet, Louise Bolotin, it’s becoming something of a trend.

Writing at the new(ish) plaform for freelance journalists Contributoria, where I am editor, she says:

“Most people, when they fancy a full English, pick up their pack of bacon at the supermarket or from a local butcher if they have a good one nearby. But an increasing number of people are making their own, as well as more complex foods like pancetta and salami. Some are making kitchen table cheeses for their family too, and not from a commercial kit.”

Louise has already won backing from the members of Contributoria to investigate the topic more fully and will be starting work on it soon.

The way the site works means that other people can help with the article – if you’ve any knowledge of this type of produce, or perhaps you make similar things yourself – you are invited to get in touch there.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what she comes up with and, once the article is complete, it will be issued under a non-commercial licence so I’ll share it with you here.

Of course I’m biased on this, but I think the Contributoria platform could be a good way to fund more food writing. There’s already been an article on a local food producer in Glasgow and there’s also currently a writer looking for backing to investigate local versus global food networks for next month.

If that story sounds like something you’d be interested in, you can back the writer by joining the site (membership is currently free) and you’ll be issued with 150 points to spend. Points are translated into real pounds and pence which is paid to the writers.

And if you’ve a food-based story you’d like to be paid to produce, pitch-in, we’re always recruiting! Sign up here.


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Welcome to the Yorkshire Food Otter

copy-yfo-banner-check1The latest food blog to join our map of Northern Food Blogs is the Yorkshire Food Otter.

A relatively new blog, it’s all about the search for great ingredients as author Emma explains:

This blog is my search for quality ingredients produced or stocked by passionate individuals who want to encourage their customers to eat seasonally so as to taste the ingredients at their best and with confidence that their provenance can be traced. A natural path to follow on from these ideas is recommending places I have been to such as street stalls, pubs, restaurants, cafés or coffee houses, for example, that serve up glorious fare whilst also being advocates of eating and drinking knowledgeably.

* If you belong on the Northern Food Bloggers map, please let me know via the comments below or twitter @foodiesarah or email

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A vegan lamb

This picture appeared from my Twitter stream this week. I’m afraid no attribution has come along with it – if it’s yours, please let me know and I’ll add a credit. Brilliant!

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Recipe: Japanese-style chicken stew

Japanese style chicken stew

Japanese style chicken stew

I came up with this simple one-pot recipe that’s inspired by the clean tastes of Japanese cookery and uses surprisingly few ingredients for such a big flavour. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Japanese or Chinese food store then there are broth products available although I used an well-known basic consume powder from a major supermarket which worked just fine and gave the dish the slightly glutinous texture you’d expect.

It’s an easy and complete meal with no need for accompaniments – check out the ingredients and step-by-step instructions on my page at Farmer’s Choice here.

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Honours, fish and chips and investigations – hello 2014

A very Happy New Year to all!

Getting 2014 started here at the food blog with heartfelt congratulations to Manchester’s amazing Tse sisters, Lisa and Helen.

The twins, who operate the Sweet Mandarin restaurant, were each awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list.

While they are probably best known to many for the Dragon’s Den appearance below, I shall personally remain in Lisa’s debt for teaching me some wok moves all those years ago when the pair of us tweeting our cookery lesson became a first for a UK restaurant. Wow, how times have moved on.

Cheers to you both for your well-deserved recognition.

A haddock fillet with light and non-soggy batter, mahogany edges protruding from the soft embrace of a scantly buttered bap. Fried in dripping, not sunflower oil. Always with scraps, those delectable leftover fragments, the pain perdu of the fryer.

This, what I can only call an ‘ode to fish and chips’ was published earlier this week on my latest project, – a community-funded writing platform. It was written by Kate Feld, the writer behind the enduring Manchizzle blog and is a delicious piece of food writing. If you fancy doing something similar for a future issue, the site is now open to writers to propose submissions for commission and membership is currently free. Further details on that here.

Finally, I happened to catch, briefly, some trashy TV programme over the break about how the food and health industries make us unhealthy. Before I switched over, a startling claim was made – that industrially produced bread is padded out with chicken feathers. Now whether this is true or not I haven’t had time to properly investigate – I’m guessing there’ll be many a complaint from the food lobby to Ofcom if it’s not – but it struck me that many edible products now seem to contain what can only be described as byproducts from other parts of the food industry.

I’m hoping to look at this more at some point this year and would very much like to hear from anyone who has first-hand knowledge about any such activity. Please feel free to contact me in confidence

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Recipe: Turkey a la king

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Whatever to do with that leftover turkey? This recipe is something tried and tested and is ideal with plain boiled brown rice if you’ve over-indulged. Although I can’t claim any medicinal basis for my observation, I believe it’s a help for what the French call ‘crisis of the liver’ which seems to be widespread at this time of year (aka. hangover!) and can give you a lift of you’re feeling a bit under the weather.

Get the recipe at Farmer’s choice here.

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