Healthy breakfast cereals 'are a con' according to a new survey. Apparently it's not just the hidden added sugar you have to worry about (although to be honest Sugar Puffs and Frosties rather give the game away), it's the salt. Ah well, back to the Shredded Wheat...although I have to admit to a soft spot for Kellogg's cornflakes.

I guess for most people breakfast doesn't really figure highly on their list of priorities - I just grab a bowl of cereal and some fruit juice while getting ready for work in a morning. The magazines are full of helpful hints about what to have for breakfast (all this make yourself a poached egg on toast, or why not whip up some scones to go with your healthy freshly made fruit salad) but in reality it's whatever you can find in the cupboard that doesn't taste like cardboard in the five spare minutes before brushing your teeth and rushing out of the front door.

At the office where I work, there's a sandwich lady who turns up at 10.30am, and a sandwich man in a van who appears at about 11.15am. Maybe (in the absence of a cafe nearby) there's a niche for a breakfast man (or woman) who comes round with nice breakfasty things at about 9am? If you're thinking of starting up in business, you could do worse...


All things Welsh

A trip to Wales for a wedding confirmed that Welsh food is fabulous, and comes in ginormous quantities. Much like Yorkshire food then. Must be something about the quality of ingredients in farming areas...maybe those of us who shop at supermarkets aren't really getting the best deal after all.

At Cozen's Bakery in Usk we found a new variety of pie (when I say new, I mean to me - these have probably been around for hundreds of years) - Lamb Oggys. A Cornish-pasty like filling (only tastier), surrounded with beautiful flaky pastry...delicious.


A subject close to my heart...

Pies! And more specifically pork pies. Did you know that there was an annual competition for pork pies from all over the country every March? Judging takes place on Saturday 27 March...get your pies entered! The defending national pork pie champion is Hinchliffe's of Netherton, near Huddersfield.


Adventures in the East

It was Friday, and we couldn't be bothered to cook, so instead we headed to the Taste of Persia in the centre of Newcastle...(which has the best blue perspex chairs I've ever come across, and two rather fierce-looking goldfish crossly circulating in a bowl). I couldn't claim to be an expert on Persian food, but it was fantastic - huge flat breads, sprinkled with sesame seeds, herb and feta salad, an amazing aubergine and scrambled egg dip - and that was just for starters. If you're a fan of aromatic, subtle food then go try!

This is going to sound like a very posh weekend - Saturday was fresh lobster in the tiny village of Low Newton on the Northumberland coast. Four fat lobsters ended their days in vats of boiling water - the last one so desperate to avoid being chucked in head first that he grabbed spoons, towels and the sides of the pan in his pincers, in a last-ditch attempt not to let go! In fact he was the one Rob and I ended up sharing...his pincers tasted delicious!


State of the nation

If you want to get a feel for food in the US, then check out the nominations for the James Beard Foundation Awards for 2004. If you're a chef, it seems like the places to be are New York, San Francisco or LA. Good to see also that Madhur Jaffrey gets a mention...but there's a sad lack of names familiar to anyone over here - I guess our food worlds are further apart than I thought.


If you like pasta...

then check out Pastalog, a 23-year-old Italian's photo record of all the pasta he's eaten...


Vodka is the new gin

Apparently, gin has been left out of the National Statistics Office shopping basket for the first time in 50 years, as we prefer to drink vodka now. Frozen turkey has also disappeared, to be replaced by fresh turkey steaks and lamb mince. Cheese slices have also gone - about time too. Apparently we are all shopping for regional cheeses now, don't you know.


If you ever go to New York...

and need somewhere cheap to eat, you could do worse than read the comments posted by this lot before you go. Of course what would be really handy would be to read them on your mobile phone while you're there....but unless you're a tri-band techie that's not possible.


You can't beat

...a nice local Italian restaurant. We tried Cafe Zonzo in Sandyford on Friday night, and discovered a little gem with lots of nice seasonal stuff on the menu, including a really good spinach, ricotta and roasted pepper salad, with honey and balsamic dressing...mmm. It's the only place I've come across in Newcastle that does proper Sardinian flat bread too (the really thin, crispy stuff). Anyway, I suspect we'll be back there on another Friday night when we can't be bothered to cook...(what else are Friday nights for?!).

It's lovely finding somewhere local that you can eat, apart from takeaway. Sometimes you just want a bit of formality and the chance to talk, eat and let conversations meander, rather than sitting in front of the telly eating out of a carton.

Speaking of telly, if you get the chance, start watching The Nation's Favourite Food on the UK Food channel - it's really well done, with some good, controversial talking heads (Gordon Ramsey, Clarissa Dickson Wright, Keith Floyd) and some sarcastic narration by Richard E Grant. My favourite was the nation's top 10 party foods...they were so scathing about salad coming in the top 10. And where were the cheese and pineapple on sticks?


Dying for fast food

Can you have a healthy diet from eating at McDonalds and co? The Guardian reckons you can...What I'm dying to watch is Super Size Me: A Film of Epic Portions in which Morgan Spurlock ate 3 McDonalds meals a day for a month, supersizing when offered. He ate more McDonalds meals in that time than nutritionists recommend over 8 years...


Possibly the best pork pies in the North?

You can't fault Hunters of Helmsley for their pork pies - beautiful pastry and juicy pink pork combine to make it a gourmet experience. Especially when eaten in the car park at the NEC in Birmingham with a little mustard after a long car journey...

If you drool over chocolate cake, then Mr Slater in the Observer has the perfect recipe. I have to say I've never tried Valrhona chocolate, but he's plugged it so often that I think I might. I'm normally a Green and Black's girl, but I might make an exception. If you're looking for another recipe to try out your chocolate on, Nigella's easy chocolate cake in her Domestic Goddess book is pretty good too, and is the perfect pick-me-up when you're feeling a bit fed up round the edges...