So this marketing company sent me some free juice and all they got was this lousy blog post

There are lots of different kinds of food blogs, and space for them all, so I really don’t think there’s much point attempting to judge across genres within food bloggery. For instance, there are some blogs which frequently have competitions, or run events or that type of caper and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. Those blogs are no less a labour of love than this one or any other food blog.

That said, I have found it a bit confronting sometimes when following a newish (to me) blog to all of a sudden find a cheery product review for a jar of sauce or somesuch plonked in the middle of say, reviews of molecular gastronomy restaurants. (A real example, but not an Australian blog.) There are so many blogs out there that the appearance of a discordant review tends to make me hit delete – or at least ignore the mounting posts – in the feedreader.

Because most food bloggers aren’t comped things frequently, I think it’s good practice to say when something is free. If I’m reading reviews in a newspaper culinary insert or magazine I assume samples of all the products have been provided by eager marketeers, but I don’t make the same assumption with food blogs.

If I use something that I adore, I will bang on about it endlessly anyway. And all of the things that I proselytise – Choku Bai Jo, Mountain Creek Farm pork and beef, and (new!) Patrice Newell’s garlic – I have paid for.

And because no one reads just one food blog, it’s not half bloody obvious when a dozen blogs all review/have giveaways of the same product within a couple of weeks, as Duncan from Syrup and Tang pointed out when the gauche marketers for shiraz chocolates offered a prize for the “best review” of their product.

Anyway, so for some reason the Zing! PR people have popped me on a list and send me free things from time to time. These things have ranged from the sublime (Ecostore dishwashing liquid; no more Palmolive here) to the truly ridiculous (Dove; only purchase if you wish to smell like one of those little tree shaped “air deodorisers” that uptight people hang off their rear vision mirrors).

I like being sent free things, and want to encourage the practice but I really could not see my way to posting about how stupid and offensive all Dove products are, or to having anything to say about our new dishwashing liquid beyond what I’ve just said. I was afraid that if I never said anything, they would stop the free stuff, but fortunately for me the latest item is the best targeted by far, POM Wonderful pomegranate juice.

I had promised to be home for the delivery which was to come the day before we left on our Christmas holidays. Unfortunately it didn’t arrive, which I put down to pre-Christmas postie mayhem. A kindly neighbour rushed out and signed for it, but it sat inside its cooler bag on the kitchen table for ten days before we got home; the Zingers who offered to send more when I explained the situation.

Now POM is made in the USA from concentrate and “flash pasteurised”. I thought that meant it need not be refrigerated until it was opened – the cache of this apparently defunct Oz Grenade site seems to confirm my thinking, but I am happy to be corrected on this by someone more knowledgeable than a dead web page.

If I’m wrong, and it’s not just a marketing move to have shops display POM with the fresh fruit and veg, the juice would have to be shipped cold to Australia from the US, which is a pretty carbon intensive way to get your throat wet – as Purple Goddess puts it, POM has a “carbon footrpint the size of Uzbekistan”. In any event, neither I nor my super-taster partner Owen could detect any difference in the juice that arrived still coolish.

I’m curious about whether it’s a marketing move, because their marketing is outstandingly thorough. There’s the blog, a family of sites in the UK, the US and Australia, the gazillion food, healthy eating/weight loss and running bloggers comped, the “cooking with POM” blog recipe competition with a prize of $5000 bucks (won by this couple and their duck recipe) and the constant harping on claimed health benefits. You can read the book “Rubies in the Orchard” by billionaire POM owner Lynda Resnick if you want the skinny on all that.

The thrust of all the marketing hoo-ha is the outstanding anti-oxidant benefits of pomegranate juice. Hmm. I’m sympathetic to the view of blogger and nutritionist Kathryn Elliot that you should piss off “superfoods” and just eat fruits and vegetables. She links to this recent article by nutritionist Catherine Saxelby who doesn’t have much good to say about pomegranate juice.

The Pom Wonderful company (“wonderful” is apparently the variety of pomegranate, and I think we can all work out who named it) bases its claims on the research that cost them $31 million – research that has thrown up such interesting factoids as POM will make your dick hard (should you happen to have one – and if you only follow one link in this post, make it that one, and tell me what you think of the imagery they’re using.) They’ve also spent quite a bit on lawsuits pissing around their 100% pomegranate juice territory.

So anyway, I had a quantity of pomegranate juice and a vague sense of obligation to make something, it being largely undrinkable on its own. We did drink some cordial-fashion with soda water, which was very pleasant. Purple Goddess reduced hers down and used it to glaze a cheesecake, but I already have a bottle of pomegranate concentrate in the cupboard. (You’ll find it next to the pomegranate molasses in a middle eastern grocery store, for about the same price as a 473 ml bottle of POM. It will last you for about three years, if you use it a lot.) Everyone else seemed to go down the booze or sweeties route, as you’ll see in posts by Helen at Grab Your Fork, Christie at Fig & Cherry, Lisa at spicy icecream, Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella, Jennifer at jenius, Sarah at Sarah Cooks, chocolatesuze and so on.

Eventually I hit upon the perfect summer POM concoction – a trifle. I decided to go a bit lush on it, as trifle’s such an infrequent treat around here, so used the following layers:

  • brioche from Infinity sourdough bakers (bought from the EPIC farmers’ market), the gaps filled with crumbled savoiardi biscuits and the lot sprinkled with a De Bortoli botrytised Semillon (see I wasn’t kidding about the lush part);
  • plumegranate jelly, made with 200 ml of cooked and strained plum puree, 250 ml POM juice and gelatine leaves. And bugger me, it really was delicious.
  • spectacular blackberries (from the Borenore berry farm, again from EPIC);
  • thick custard with a few drops of orange flower water;
  • all that times two;
  • topp’d with a whip’t lime syllabub (which I adapted from Gordon Fucking Ramsay’s recipe) and very finely chopped lime rind.

I had planned to use some pistachios too, but the ones I had were tired and went to the chooks instead.

It was hard work keeping it in the fridge for long enough to let the flavours mingle without eager paws sneaking in to debase it, but it was worth waiting for. Superb, best trifle ever, etc. We had some of the leftover jelly before the trifle was ready and the kids went wild for that too. And in case you look at that photo and think trifle always look like a dog in pictures, there’s a roasted pear and pomegranate trifle recipe on their site which shows they have a very clever food stylist.

34 comments ↓

#1 Kirsty on 14.02.09 at 11:45 pm

Well, I’m impressed that everyone went to the trouble of making exotic fare out of the juice. (My, that jelly sounds good). I would’ve just had it straight up, maybe over ice.

Meanwhile, the whole ‘grown in a unique location (California)’ made me go ‘Wha–!?’

#2 stickyfingers on 15.02.09 at 12:36 am

Sounds delicious – I used to hate trifle until one of my great-aunts in Horsham made one with lashings of Port and port wine jelly, mmm …. heaven. Sadly she took the recipe to the grave with her, may she rest in peace.

I have been receiving a number of offers of freebies, but have decided that I won’t promote items that come in the form of unsolicited offers.

I’m in the spin business by trade and know that to advertise on popular websites costs thousands of bucks, so marketers now have the opinion that Bloggers are naieve suckers who offer them huge scope in the form of free advertising. Frankly I think they should pay up for the promotional space.

#3 Penthe on 15.02.09 at 7:57 am

Clearly I don’t read enough food blogs, because I’ve never noticed a product trend.

Excellent, new territory to explore (but not necessarily refreshed by pomegranate juice).

#4 Emily on 15.02.09 at 9:03 am

Weird, weird, weird.
Why would I want to drink blood? (zoe, I followed your instruction to consider the imagery). And if I’m reading a blog for people who like to eat, why would $25mil worth of medical research make a difference? Does it taste nice? Does it add to my kitchen. that’s the point.

On a related point, your comment about picking up pomegranate molasses at middle easter groceries made me v.v. happy. I only discovered this essential condiment living in a Turkish/ arab area of London. The thought of life without it back in Oz was enough to make me reconsider repatriating.

also, beautiful trifle. A triumph no less.

#5 Pavlov's Cat on 15.02.09 at 9:30 am

Yeah, see, I never think trifle looks bad. Especially not that one. *Drools*

I’m planning on striking back at capitalism’s attempts to colonise the blogosphere when I go to Hardly Normal tomorrow to complain bitterly about the big white lemon they have sold me. If they will not strike a reasonable deal I will mildly point out to them the awesome power of blogging, particularly when one is pissed off about something.

#6 Zoe on 15.02.09 at 2:38 pm

Kirsty, it really isn’t that tasty as a beverage unless you dilute it – too thick and intense. And the Zing PR people were keen to see it used in recipes, suggesting it might be “a fun ingredient”.

stickyfingers, I have a bit of form on slagging off freebies ;) I might do something like this again, but I hope I conveyed in the post my ambivalence about it and my opposition to it being done without acknowledgement. It might feel exciting to get a big parcel in the post, but we shouldn’t forget that they’re not sending us stuff for any other reason than to serve their clients’ interests.

Penthe, if you’re exploring some food blogs don’t miss these two:

thusbakeszarathustra
fattymcbeanpole

And for those who didn’t have Emily’s curiosity, here’s the picture:

Noice.

Go well in your fight, Pav. I thought you didn’t approve of jelly in trifle, but this one was pretty great – perfectly balanced (if I do say so myself ;)

#7 Kate on 15.02.09 at 3:53 pm

Now I am wondering if my Dove deoderant makes me smell like a pine-tree-shaped car air freshener… hmmn.

I’m chiming in to say the trifle looks delicious – I’ve never been a fan of trifle having been subjected to the version involving green areoplane jelly every Christmas for nigh on 30 years, but this may make me reconsider.

But if I do make it, I will be using pomegranate concentrate from Kakulous Brothers in Perth instead.

#8 Zoe on 15.02.09 at 4:08 pm

Well, I can’t say, Kate, but maybe ask your bloke?

And as for pomegranate juice – any kind of citrus press/juicer/reamer will very satisfactorily juice a pomegranate when they’re in season and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

#9 anthony on 15.02.09 at 6:27 pm

Join the ranks of mags and then you get…surprisingly not that much actually. Most of the comp-savvy marketers are Eastern States-based and I have to reply to the inevitable follow-up call that while I did indeed find their beverages/products satisfying/delicious/a big personal fave, our strict editorial policy meant we couldn’t actually include them but that it was nice that they kept us in the loop.
Actually the more I think about POM, the more I’m convinced it’s an elaborate viral campaign made up by the producers of Lost

#10 ampersand duck on 15.02.09 at 7:03 pm

I will eat any trifle, anywhere. I have even been known to buy the tubs of trifle from my local Woollies. I blame boarding school. Yours, Z, looked awesomely awesome.

#11 Zoe on 15.02.09 at 7:24 pm

anthony is too polite to link to his excellent magazine, so I will. I’d noticed that disclaimer, and think it’s good to publicise that policy. One of the reasons I stopped regularly getting Gourmet Traveller was the excessive number of reports of PR launch dinners.

Duck, shall I make a trifle for our Christmas in July pudding-off, in case three Christmas puddings aren’t enough? I was very pleased that it tasted too groggy for the kids to like, even though there really wasn’t that much grog in it, so there’ll be plenty.

#12 Francis Xavier Holden on 15.02.09 at 11:39 pm

I’m no Ben Goldacre but this Pommy Juice seems like a smidgin of science and a great dollop of spin.

A lot of the scientific papers aren’t linked to, and I’m not sure which, if any, are peer reviewed.

$31m in research buys a lot more research than those few papers anyway. You could set up a 5 year chair/professorship at most unis plus research and still have change left over for a block of Surfers Condos.

The paper I did look at in Cardio Journal was a bit dense on chemistry to make too much of it. However I did notice it only compared the brand to a placebo. I couldn’t find what the placebo was. If it was another pommy juice or something that tastes like pommy juice. I couldn’t see a do nothing control group.

Off the top of my head, it seemed like drinking, a presumably expensive, glass of this juice everyday for 3 years, seemed to have less anti oxidant effect than drinking a glass of red everyday.

Winged gentlemen and frigid gentlewomen of the jury …I ask you…..what would you do in my circumstances…. import pommy juice or gargle perfectly good Gondwana shiraz – cleanskin of course in these straightened times…

#13 worldpeace and a speedboat on 15.02.09 at 11:51 pm

oh Zoe, I think your trifle looks so beautiful! I’d eat it in a trice, although I’d be wondering how to politely feed the custard to someone else without anyone noticing ;-)

Product Placement shits me – why wouldn’t you tell your audience that you scored a freebie?

super foods shit me off too. my food habits seem to be: what’s in season? can I eat it with the skin on? do I like it? and apart from that, I do try and eat as much intensely coloured food as I can, because as far as I know, the darker it is, the more of all the good stuff there is in it. except I really don’t like that dark red lettuce. so bitter, blech.

thanks for another fab post Zoe – I’ll be reading all those links for days and days. they make me think hard, it’s like getting homework! but don’t worry, I like the subject :-)

#14 Fyodor on 16.02.09 at 7:49 am

Outstanding. One might get barred up just looking at that trifle. If one were inclined that way.

#15 Mindy on 16.02.09 at 10:07 am

I’m having a Homer Simpson experience “arrhhhhghghghhg trifle” *drools*

#16 ThirdCat on 16.02.09 at 6:18 pm

just adding to the trifle lust…

#17 Dr Sister Outlaw on 16.02.09 at 6:31 pm

oh, I agree, but do you have to endure the marketing campaign to get there?

#18 Penthe on 16.02.09 at 7:05 pm

Thanks for the blog tips. One day I’ll stop dreaming about trifle. But not today.

#19 Zoe on 16.02.09 at 7:43 pm

I had no idea there was such trifle love out there.

#20 Pavlov's Cat on 17.02.09 at 5:10 pm

Re jelly: no no, I do not disapprove of jelly per se, it was more a matter of falling in love with a version of trifle that happened not to have any. I am sure one could write a problem in Logic 101 about this — ‘This trifle is yum; this trifle does not have jelly; therefore any trifle with jelly is not yum, true or false’, you know the kind of thing. No, it’s really only hospital jelly that I object to.

That lime syllabub looks lovely. (I’m reading a book with a character in it who says ‘Gordon Ramsay!’ instead of ‘F*ck!’)

#21 Zoe on 17.02.09 at 6:22 pm

The syllabub was a dream, Pav. Sweet and soft and intense but with that sharp limeiness cutting through (any suggestions on how to write that gratefully accepted).

#22 Pavlov's Cat on 17.02.09 at 9:07 pm

Limitude?

#23 Crit on 18.02.09 at 9:14 pm

Joining with the trifle love here…

I love pomegranate juice in general (the ‘found’ one is great,a s is their mulberry juice) but haven’t had the POM one. Sounds OK though.

#24 k8 on 18.02.09 at 9:45 pm

Trifle’s mad, really. I’m not so keen on jelly, or sponge cake, or custard. But put them all together, especially in Zo’s very adult concoction…yum.

#25 k8 on 18.02.09 at 9:46 pm

by the way, if you want the “antioxidants”, eat a bloody pomegranate, i say… (no pun intended)

#26 Fyodor on 19.02.09 at 6:26 am

Zoe, I’m sure you’ll be delighted to know that “POM” advertising posters have started to sprout around Sydney on bus shelters and telephone stands. Clearly, the bodacious blogger-bribery hasn’t blown their budget yet.

#27 Zoe on 19.02.09 at 11:36 am

k8y Veronica, I have to call you on the not so keen on sponge cake. In one of those uncanny moments where life imitates lolcats, I remember you tucking into a slice of a Victoria sponge at that little bakery in Bowral and saying “I’m allowed, it’s my birthday!” with cream on your chops. ;)

But yes, not hugely keen on the individual elements of trifle myself.

#28 steev on 19.02.09 at 2:55 pm

All this P<3M talk reminded of the raunchy Song of Songs:

Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate.

My memory had altered this to ‘your breasts are like pomegranates’ (instead of a pair of gazelles), so my search for the verse turned up:
http://www.cookingwiththebible.com/reader/Default.aspx/GR3410-1925/recipe/

#29 Toasty on 22.02.09 at 1:29 pm

Wow… Cooking with the Bible. Just… wow.

#30 ampersand duck on 24.02.09 at 8:17 am

I repeat: any trifle, anytime, even Auntie Ann’s trifle (brought to our attention by Penthe

#31 Fyodor on 04.03.09 at 7:36 am

POM update: poster seen covering the whole side of a bus, featuring a large bottle of POM with a hangman’s noose around its neck with two words alongside: “CHEAT DEATH”.

I think they might be over-selling the benefits of the snake oil fruit juice.

#32 Fitzroyalty on 31.08.09 at 4:35 pm

I tried this pom juice and it’s very bland! For me good pomegranate juice in made in Turkey and bought from a shop on Sydney Rd in Brunswick Melbourne – intense flavour, tangy, not loaded with sugar.

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#34 Spencer on 23.05.13 at 9:47 pm

I love trifle and would love to try your concoction!

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