Friday, May 31, 2013

Leon cookbooks and how I love them #1 Leon Ingredients and Recipes

Look at this. Isn't it lovely ?
I think ( I know) I would have these books just because of the extreme Vintage Style gorgeousness of them . But they are not just gorgeous. oh no. These are some of the friendliest, helpfulest (not a word), healthiest, tastiest cookbooks I have ever snuggled. I mean read. Of course, who would cuddle a book? Pfft.

We don't have Leon in Australia but for those of us who have no idea what a Leon is it is a chain of fast food/cafe/ restaurants which feel like the gorgeous bohemian place the uni students and hipster foodies hang out. One with tasty food made from real seasonal produce and healthy ingredients, where the emphasis is on flavour. Also the spiritual birthplace of these books. There are more but I only bought the ones I wanted (funny that) and the ones I couldn't resist the covers of.

There will have to be two more posts to cover the other two books

Leon:Ingredients and Recipes is written by Allegra McEvedy whose recipes have been seen flitting about the pages of the Guardian and I first encountered when I was watching Supersizers Go with Sue Perkins and (the a bit dishy if slightly wet) Giles Coren. Allegra was the guest chef in one of the episodes.Also Giles Coren (writing for the Times this er..time) said of the book :“Without doubt, the coolest food book I have ever seen.” So there.
The book itself contains a wealth of information about seasonal tasty ingredients, with the first half breaking down into appropriate sections (vegetables, nuts etc) and the rest being devoted to recipes with which to utilise said ingredients which is handy really. I Love the styling but the content is great. I would put this at the top of most useful cookbook list for anyone starting out or those who ( like me have a teeny weeny cookbook collecting problem). Absolute Kitchen essential (in a chopping board sort of way, not a Thermomix/very handy if you can afford it but not really necessary sort of way).

In case you are wondering I bought my Leon books, all three. This is just a rant of adoration with no perceived or actual benefit other the satisfaction of good purchasing and now owning lovely books.

I bought mine from The Book Depository.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Review of Reviews

Aren't people mad for consumer reviews lately?
 I must admit I am flabbergasted that people buy things based on a random strangers opinion. I am not talking about blog reviews which are a different beast altogether, a complicated one at that. In truth I find blog reviews fairly in depth and helpful for the most part. Part of the useful aspect is the fact I can gauge what the blogger is like by reading other posts. You are denied that luxury when you read a consumer review. You could be buying based on the advice of someone with completely different ideologies and goals to your own, a Neo-Nazi or worse one of those people who leave comments on newspaper articles! This is a best case scenario too. The sad reality is that a whole heap of consumer reviews are there for three reasons:

1) The reviewer has been incentivized (IE bribed) "$20 voucher if you leave a good review on Truelocal!" hrrm hardly objective there. 'Nuff said.

 2) It's fake, read some Indian restaurant reviews. They are shockers for this but very entertaining. "The fixed banquet was more epic than the Bhagavad Gita, it is the most astoundingly authentic North Indian cuisine in the known universe, more authentic than even that found in the north of India" etc... I suppose they do them themselves or outsource it perhaps? Not the only offenders...this seems widespread.

3)Someone has an axe to grind. Perhaps they couldn't diva a business owner into submission, perhaps they expected their $7 baby carrier from Hong Kong to be as good as a $300 carrier, perhaps they think that the customer is always right and have found that actually the customer is only right if they are right, maybe they are having a really bad day with their anxiety problem and have lain awake all night dreaming of the wording of a scathing but not necessarily justified review*."My Wendy walker Doll does not have a natural gait at all and the action could scarcely be described as walking, hobbling at best, it is completely unsuitable as a basis for my robotic butler project, I have attempted to get my money back for the doll but have been COMPLETELY IGNORED BY THE MANUFACTURERS!" etc Axe grinding reviews are not helpful for consumers although they may have merit for venting purposes they tend to reflect more poorly on the reviewer than the reviewed.

Sometimes there are people who leave reviews based on their experience in order to help others make an informed decision. I know at least one person who does this for realz without being bribed. Unfortunately I have never encountered her reviews when I am researching something.

I think that the concept of consumer reviews may have started off as a good idea on paper (like Communism or Eugenics**!) but there is a reason we have proper paid reviewers writing proper reviews. They know a bit about what they are talking about and hopefully understand the purpose of the product or service they are reviewing (how many scathing reviews on extremely budget hotels have you seen, there are a lot of people wanting a Hyatt experience for Hostel dorm money in the world!), we get to know them and their foibles like the chaps on Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson always wants to hate a Porsche and James May will always dribble all over a 911 and I can adjust accordingly because I know this!

What do you think? Do you think that consumer reviews are akin to readers comments on a newspaper or do they have merit? Have they ever helped you or just made you more confused?

* Not having a go at those who suffer from anxiety disorders, drawing a bit on my own experiences here. I try not to post "dead of the night  reviews" for this reason.

** If you lived in my Suburb you might think Eugenics were good on paper too.