Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cheerios Lament

Real Canadian Cheerios Box. Sadly empty.

My all time favourite breakfast cereal is Cheerios. Plain, whole grain oats, yellow box, black writing with the 'o' of the i a single cheerio. I don't think they've ever had a mascot, I can't recall their jingle. I don't know if I loved them as a kid (though I certainly ate them) but I adore them now. Especially with a little homemade granola sprinkled on top. Morning bliss.

Here's the tragedy. You can't buy them in the UK. Oh - shut it -  I can hear the protests through the computer. Yes you can buy Cheerios here. You can get Honey Nut Cheerios (a nice occasional treat but I hate the sugary leave behind milk) and you can get Whole Grain Cheerios in a white box with purple and red writing. These are wholly disgusting, surprisingly sweet and with a bizarre texture. Awful. You would think that since there are two types of off shoot Cheerios then the original would be available. But it's not. So I went on an internet mission to find out why.

General Mills makes Cheerios. So I visited the General Mills UK site. They don't make Cheerios. They have other brands I recognise but they don't make Cheerios. I checked the cereal section when I was in the store this weekend. Cheerios (false, bad, unoriginal ones) are made by Nestle in the UK. OK.... Turns out that General Mills and Nestle have this partnership  where they agreed to make cereals for each other and sell them under the Nestle label. In Ireland you can get something called 'oat cheerios' which I am guessing are the original and still the best Cheerios.

I don't understand what market forces/research/idiot decided that England wouldn't eat proper Cheerios. You can buy them for £6 a box at fancy shops catering to sad and emotional  expats eating their feelings. In the world of globalization and international commodities when you can get anything anywhere I find the things that you can't get utterly fascinating. Also, the things that you can find but that are... different somehow. Kraft Dinner. Maple syrup. KitKat. They're all available here (for a price). But somehow they taste better when they come out of suitcase directly from the Canadian source. But these are Canadiana specific. Cheerios aren't Canadian. You can make them here and sell them like regular cereal and I am just about sure that they'll taste the same and that people will buy them.

My friend brought me back a box from Canada just over a week ago. I have eaten the entire box. It was glorious. (I've also lost three pounds but I'm not sure if the two things are connected.) Now I have no Cheerios and I have to wait until the next person comes from Canada with room in their luggage. Or the Cereal Partners Worldwide could get me some 'oat cheerios' and as long as they haven't messed them* up I will stop complaining. About the Cheerios thing. I'm sure I'll find something else to moan about.

(I checked but I can't understand the Nutrition Labels but I think the Ireland oat cheerios may have more sugar than the original and still the best Cheerios from Canada. I despair.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Supperclub Trust

On Saturday night four of us went to the Goethe Institute for their Supperclub Summit. A cultural exchange of food for the Olympics, British food bloggers and supperclub types were paired with German food bloggers and chefs for a series of collaborative dinners in a minimalist space in South Kensington. On Saturday night Ruth (@saffronandsalt), who I know via twitter for her charcutterie and recent bike accident, was teamed up with the Rhineland Rockers, four Germans from Cologne and Dusseldorf. They made us an eight course dinner with wine pairings from Germany. It was fantastic. 
Here's the menu:
  • Landjagger sausage 
  • Himmel & Ääd - apple, potato, black pudding and a tempera green onion 
  • Erbsenparfait & Räucher-Forelle - pea mousse (which I loved), smoked trout and a warm gin trout stock shot of sorts (weird but good) 
  • Finkenwerder - haddock, bacon jam, little brown shrimp and a fritter thing-y. 
  • Sauerbraten-Maultäschle - horse ravioli with this neat jelly strip of gravy 
  • Zicklein - pulled goat 
  • Schwarzwälder Kirsch - deconstructed Black Forest cake
and the Charcuterie platter which was somewhere in the latter half but I'm not sure where exactly but it was pork scratchings with a sour apple sauce (which I LOVED), a terrine and chicken mousse. 
So, dinner was great - lovely, interesting food. Wines were delicious and interesting. All around fabulous. We sat at a table with four strangers and were laughing and raucous together by the end of the night.  
But the whole experience got me thinking about supper clubs in general. I love the trust that you need to go and get the most out of the experience. You're going to a strange place, to eat food cooked for you by strangers who have no official designation, there's no health inspector, there's no TimeOut review saying if it's good or not. Few of the people cooking will be professionals. Often the space is a private one that they have invited you into. You'll probably not know what you're going to be served and you'll probably end up sitting with strangers. 
I show up and trust that everything will be just fine and I sit back and am open to whatever, or whoever, comes before me. And because of these experiential dinners I have made new friends, real ones too - not just on twitter! and I have tasted all sorts of new foods. You have to let go and be with the moment and the atmosphere and the food and the people. And that's beautiful.  And something that is much more difficult to do in the confines and strictures of a restaurant.

Essen gut, alles gut.