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.