Category Archives: Green
Splendid’s been at it again; this time Splendid people Rax, Chris and Jenny invited me along to a dinner party celebrating GOOD Oil. This is a relatively new concept in cooking oils, being made from hemp seed. As if that wasn’t interesting enough, the creators of GOOD Oil and the off-shoot products of GOOD Seed and GOOD Dressings are none other than Glynis Murray and Henry Braham, probably better known for their combined film credits, including The Golden Compass (Braham was Director of Photography for this Philip Pullman fantasy), Nanny McPhee and Waking Ned (on which they both worked) and many more.
Needless to say, the crew of foodie bloggers, including myself, Chris from the Londonist, Niamh from Trusted Places and Eat Like a Girl, the enviably slim Lizzie of the aptly-named Hollow Legs blog, Mel of Fake Plastic Noodles and Helen of Food Stories were all intrigued to be invited along to a traditional London dinner party at Murray and Braham’s West London home to see GOOD Oil in action.
Tikichris, Eatlikeagirl, Food Stories and Hollow Legs
Prior to arrival I did my research, courtesy of Splendid’s staff and trusty Google. Hemp seed and the resulting oil is incredibly GOOD for you, apparently, containing half the saturated fats of olive oil (of which I’m already a huge fan), and zero trans fats. I was interested to note that a mere 10 ml of GOOD Oil contains the same GLA (Gamma Linolic Acid) dosage of 6 Evening Primrose Oil capsules, therefore enhancing one’s Omega 6 intake with physical effects such as improved skin, hair and nails, and reduced symptoms of PMT. Omegas 3 and 9 are also present, and the overall health benefits can aid arthritis and eczema sufferers, reduce cholesterol and the oil has even been used positively by the RSPCA in helping rescue animals regain condition. The GOOD Oil profile is also beneficial for the maintenance of a healthy heart.
Chef Ben and Splendid Chris
At the Braham and Murray home I was greeted by their right hand Frenchman, Aymeric, and three lovable dogs. Passing through their warm, red-walled drawing room, I was led down the stairs to a buzzy eat-in kitchen, where Glynis greeted me like an old friend as she tossed salad, and her son, Ben, our chef for the evening, stood guard over the Aga. Once the round of greetings and introductions had been made it felt as if I were visiting pals for a reunion dinner party, as opposed to meeting film world icons and revered foodies. Then when Chris and Niamh arrived, they called out ”hey! third time in a week!”, as was certainly the case as our events calendars are quite full right now.
We all enjoyed some bubbly (as you do) and conversation flowed before sitting down to sample Ben’s examples of how GOOD Oil works in daily cooking. Rax and Henry chatted about New York, Mel talked about how nervous she’d been giving her presentation at the London Bloggers Meetup a couple of nights before and the dogs rolled over for tummy tickles. Then the first GOOD Oil taster was passed around – pea and pecorino crostini. Heaped green upon the crusty bread rounds, the pea and pecorino, blended with GOOD Oil, was simultaneously smooth and chunky (in a guacamole-ish way), not to mention tasty with a certain nutty tang. That was the oil at work. GOOD Oil, which I’ve had a chance to play with myself, has an earthy and nutty flavour; given how good it is for you (see the King’s report on the GOOD Oil website, link below) I was certainly keen to try more.
GOOD Prawn Cakes
At the table, the menu (courtesy of Ben) consisted of a much lauded Venison and Cranberry Casserole, and (as I’m not a big carnivore) specially conceived Prawn Cakes for me and anyone else who cared to try them out. The accompaniments were good, old-fashioned mash, tasting slightly nutty and extra earthy thanks to the oil, and broccoli florets. The conversation was vibrant as we discussed the taste of the oil (different and perceptible without being overpowering), the fantastic atmosphere, Glynis’s and Henry’s film experiences and tried out Splendid Rax’s photographic memory party trick.
Following the main we tried GOOD Oil on salad with cheese and slices of rustic bread, served the French way before pudding, and then ploughed through bowls of ice cream and GOOD Oil biscotti, the ice cream being drizzled with GOOD Oil. I know it sounds strange, but it worked surprisingly well and, if that’s the way you want to get your 10ml of cold and beneficial GOOD Oil per day, then it’s to be recommended.
Bad photo of GOOD ice cream
Henry Braham offered an extra helping of pudding to the person who first guessed when balsamic vinegar was first invented. Different eras of the past four centuries were offered before Henry told us that 1976 was the answer, making me think of tiramisu, which was only invented in the 1960s, in spite of being such a firm fixture on traditional Italian menus that it’s easy to understand why people might think it’s generations older. However, in reference to balsamic vinegar, the date of 1976 didn’t feel right. Otherwise, why would Modena sell bottles of its best balsamic aged fifty years, well predating 1976? I’ll come back to you with the answer for that one in another post… It’s not entirely straightforward, yet it’s a fascinating tale.
Glynis, the girls and a dog
Elizabeth David also came to mind as she’d famously first praised the cooking potential of olive oil in the UK, when it was something you bought from the pharmacist to help with certain ailments but would never have dreamed of cooking with, let alone eating. Lard and butter were the preferred fats of David’s time. Hemp oil has had a similar medicinal history and when attempts were made to launch it as a kitchen ingredient in the past, its strong, untempered taste precluded it from becoming a success. No more. Henry Braham and Glynis Murray have spent more than a decade researching, creating and launching GOOD Oil, based at their Devon hemp farm, and this has included a few wasted visits from the local constabulary who thought they might be growing a different sort of hemp for recreational purposes as opposed to culinary. They’ve worked hard to ensure that the taste is palatable and GOOD for consumers and they’re rightfully proud of introducing something new to the cooking and health-food world. It hasn’t been easy for them; a menagerie of kids, dogs, horses, a donkey, not to mention the demands of ongoing film projects, all combine to mean that one night out from their hectic schedules to educate food writers about their hemp oil passion tells us one thing: they BELIEVE in their product.
Henry and canine companion
GOOD Oil already has fans like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver to back up its credentials. At the weekend I tried a Hugh F-W trick of garlic toast with a drizzle of GOOD. It was delicious and alternative research tells me that an old-world method of ‘cleansing the blood’ suggested this very recipe only using oils other than hemp, or a spread of butter. Back in my own kitchen I’ve also been working on adjusting various recipes to try GOOD Oil in all guises. You see, following the magical, ever-replenishing postprandial port (which could easily have featured in The Golden Compass), Henry and Glynis suggested I replace olive oil in my cooking with GOOD Oil for 30 days, in order to see its physical benefits for myself. Never one to turn down a challenge, I accepted. I’m onto day three now and you’ll just have to watch this space to see how it all turns out; hopefully at the end of the month I’ll be a Glowing Goddess of GOOD. It’ll be interesting to see if the predictions are correct. I don’t know about the Goddess bit but I’d certainly settle for Glowing and I also know someone whose premature arthritis might just benefit from a daily dose of all things GOOD. It’s certainly worth a try.
- To check out the GOOD Oil website for further information, please click here.
- To go to the GOOD Oil Facebook page, where you can download screensavers and recipes and request free samples, please click here.
- The King’s Report
- Glynis Murray and Henry Braham
- Splendid Communications
- Tiki Chris
- Trusted Places
- Eat Like a Girl
- Hollow Legs
- Fake Plastic Noodles
- Food Stories
- Elizabeth David
- Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
- Jamie Oliver
If you live outside of the UK and you would like further information on the GOOD hemp seed products, please let me know in the comments box and I will try to find out how you might be able to purchase GOOD Oil from abroad. Can’t promise, but I’ll do what I can.
Epic and GOOD dog
I have a big thing for little cars. I don’t know what that says about me, but wherever I go in the world, there always seems to be one that takes my fancy. There I am, in a foreign country, dreaming about taking the little car on an Epic adventure. No itineraries. No Monsieur. Just me and the little car, bumping over country roads, breaking down occasionally, meeting up with owners of other little cars, just like mine, and writing about all the craziness afterwards. Maybe one day I’ll find the right little car and disappear on a Thelma and Louise type of trip, only without Louise, and without any dramatics involving a cliff and an active accelerator at the end.
Here is a little car I fell for in Melaka, as seen in my post Malaysia Part 12: In search of bound feet shoes:
And here is a little orange car that appears in the window of Arancina in Notting Hill Gate:
Here’s what it looks like inside the shop:
There’s one other little car that I met when we were in Florence last year. Once again it’s a bright yellow colour, has room for one person only (and maybe a small canine companion), and is made by a company called Pasquali, who provide the Poste Italiane with these smurf-sized cars. When I first laid eyes on this golden wonder, parked fashionably by the Arno, the Tuscan Hills beckoned loudly. Oh, the dream of jumping into the little yellow one-girl vehicle to bumble off into the countryside was vivid in my mind. At that point I didn’t realise that the Pasquali Riscio is electric and therefore would require recharging at some point… perhaps not so practical in the midst of Chiantishire.
I didn’t think I’d see my little yellow sweetheart again, but when we were in the piazza by Santa Croce there it was again, this time in action as it squeezed down an impossibly narrow alleyway with ease. The reason behind its diminutive size suddenly became clear. How else to navigate medieval Italian towns with teeny streets?
Just as I was mulling the urban practicality of such Lilliputian cars, an Ape went past. These are teeny little three-wheeled delivery vehicles that pop up all over Italy. Once again, their practicality (in ancient towns that nature never intended to admit the bulk of an SUV) makes them very popular for tradesmen and merchants alike.
Then there’s the SMART car which can squeeze into all sorts of improbable spaces. In France, they call it “une SMART”. I love the fact that in Romance languages, cars are girls. It goes part way to explaining why a (usually) sensible man I know has a photo of his BMW convertible as his mobile phone screensaver instead of his wife and kids. Need I say more?
As everything in life becomes greener and more environmentally aware, if not friendly, there is an interesting site in the UK called ‘Freecycle’. Its aim is to link people who want to get rid of unwanted items to find people who need them, and vice versa, with the result that less rubbish ends up in landfill. The only catch: no money is to change hands. You give and you receive, but you do not pay or receive payment.
As Freecycle’s community is split up into areas, I belong to the one nearest my home. A digest is sent through to my personal e-mail and there I can see at a glance if anyone needs something from my Bin Department, or if I might have a use for something in theirs. The digests make for interesting reading, especially as it’s quite astonishing how many people can be so specific in their requests:
“WANTED: A copy of Marriage Inside Out by Clulow and Mattinson”
“WANTED: John Handy live at the Monterey Jazz Festival – CD”
There’s no harm in asking, I suppose, but how many people do you think will have these exact items lurking in a drawer somewhere? Hmm. Not convinced.
Then there are people who really push the boat out. One subscriber asked for “Booze and baking stuff”. The reason? She couldn’t afford to celebrate her birthday without donations of flour and baking soda and other store cupboard items (presumably to bake a cake?) and was happy with donations of half-bottles of alcohol left over from Christmas. Honestly. I don’t know about anyone else, but if I can’t afford to celebrate my birthday, I don’t.
Some people ask for the strangest of things: “a fertility monitor – any brand is fine, as long as it works.” Given that measuring fertility usually involves peeing on a stick, I do wonder at the wisdom of taking one second hand, even if the sticks do end up in the bin.
It’s also surprising how many people ask for cars “in good running condition” or plasma screen TVs. Remember, everything is free here. Epicurus would lecture such folk on the flaws of acquiring happiness through acquisition. Cheeky acquisition, at that. Still, if it works, there seems to be no harm in asking.
The people offering items can be incredibly generous: I’ve recently seen two pianos up for grabs, and lots of baby items are handed down to new parents through the network. However, the offers can also be a bit unusual. A cement mixer? I guess if you’re working on a new patio, it could come in handy. A very large, thick cardboard box? The odd thing about this is that the person making the offer is living with said item until they can find a willing person to remove it from their lives. An envelope, C4 size? This has been re-offered on a number of occasions and perhaps the offer-er isn’t getting the fact that it’s not worth anyone’s time to travel across London to collect a single envelope just to keep it out of the bin.
Occasionally, there will be an entry which makes me stop and smile. “Terrapin, age 7, looking for loving, long-term home and friend,” or “WANTED: Inspiration, imagination, compassion” – this was a concerned citizen looking for practical help for a local homeless man.
But my favourite all-time entry is the following:
“I have for offer…My Mum!!!!!!!!! First come first serve, collection
A 1949 model, comes with own teeth and slippers.
very fast with a zimmer frame and won’t cause you a problem.
we have decided to up grade to a more slender model and with more
we will also throw in the dad too, he is an older model a 1947, very
fit, may need a MOT, as I don’t think he would pass…for no extra
charge I may be able to service him ready for pick up.
Go on give a home to those past the sexual age of errrrrr My Mum & Dad
don’t do that any more.”
I wonder if the parents ever found a new place to park the zimmer frame?