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I love to cook. I'm half-Irish, and suspect that my never ending desire to show those I care about that I love them through food comes from that heritage. That's the nature side, but nurture suggests my way of doing this is due to my love for the life and love attitude of Italy. There are a lot of similarities and the best bit is that it all boils down to good food from good produce, cooked well and served with love.
I'm currently unthinkably happy with Mr Rarr, but before I dated a very lovely chap who obviously enjoyed this approach to food and very sweetly bought me a subscription to Olive magazine so that I could get more inspiration (God knows I struggle to follow a recipe even more than I do a map, and that's a hell of a lot). So, here's a review of a magazine that I have come to thoroughly enjoy.
As I mentioned, mine is the subscriber issue, which has a different cover to the shop-standard issue. I'm reviewing this based on the July 2012 issue, which features a gorgeous big photo of a strawberry tart, with minimal text positioned to avoid detracting from this tasty-looking treat.
The magazine is produced by Immediate Media and is a little wider than standard magazines like Glamour or Company. It is linked to the BBC.
You can find out more and see a sample copy here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/content/magazine/olive/ and try a £5 introductory offer for a number of issues.
As I have a subscriber issue I'm finding it hard to track down the retail price per issue - most subscription sites have offers to entice you in. But this is a glossy and from vague memory and estimates I think a copy will set you back between £3-4. Apologies that I can't be more precise!
***WHAT'S INSIDE THE COVER?***
Well now, let's take a look through my shiny new July issue together.
Page one is Olive's Star Recipe - a Layered Picnic Pie in this instance. It looks disgustingly fattening, packed full of pastry, stuffed with sausage meat AND chicken, and altogether unutterably gorgeous.
First aside of what will be many - the photography in this magazine is lovely. It's clean, light and fresh but not overly fancy. No chefs preparing a meal that a dormouse would consider a skimpy starter with a Mondrian-esque array of jus artwork on the side. Good, honest fare well cooked and presented on an aesthetically pleasing but simple backdrop with nice, elegant props and good lighting. To paraphrase Will Smith when he once spoke about his love of a certain black suit, these guys make this look goooooooooood.
Onwards. Contents page. Second aside - this sums up the layout throughout from a graphic perspective. It's clean, white-based and uncluttered. There is some fun with the fonts in the headings of features but fundamentally this is a functional magazine therefore the recipes are cleanly laid out and easy to read. The whole aesthetic of the magazine makes you want to open a window, breathe in summer air and then bake something amazing from things you just plucked out of your own garden. This is effectively a magazine cookery book, and laid out as such, but they get the fun of getting in a new photographer every month. I'm really quite jealous!
On The contents page is the cover recipe for that gorgeous, fruit-laden strawberry and mascarpone cheesecake tart. Definitely have to try this one day.
We have a note from the editor, contact details and a section where a reader who recommends a local food hero can win a dinner out.
Then, "Starters". Edible flowers in lollie pops this time, from sprinklebakes.com.
There's then a few pages with cluttered (I don't mean this in a negative way) notes on things. Cravings, Bargain Hunter, Ccar Fly, Supermarket Sweep and Food Eds Shopping Basket - they're basically new happenings, nice places to bring to your attention and new notices. Supermarket Sweep has a quick and easy, costed recipe for grilled Halloumi Pittas with wine, this time all bought at Marks & Spencer.
More such nuggety offerings appear on the next pages, along with a book review.
A fun feature this month is "The Sport Spectator's Tool Kit", detailing all the things you could possibly need to eat well in this amazing summer of sport. Then 36 pages of 'Eat In', SEASONAL recipes "from relaxed food to feed a crowd to gorgeous summer berry desserts". John Torode of Masterchef is amongst those contributing, as he does regularly, and for you men, there's a saucy centerfold (it's a spicy meatball sub, but filthily portrayed against a black background laid on a kinky foil bed, with juices glistening...I can hear your mouths watering, you degenerates!)
Of course, if you fancy the leggy supermodel, the stacked 'Rachel' portrayed on page 35, all oozing cheese and pastrami, leaning seductively to one side, might do it for you. (I hereby demand commission from Olive for all sales sourced from this website!) And if you don't want to do something wicked to the Muffuletta on page 39, then to McDonalds with you and don't come back...
***ALRIGHT, ENOUGH WAFFLING. ANYTHING ELSE OF NOTE?***
Yes. There's a wine page which I find well-written; short, concise and seasonal, with budgets in mind. This also has a relevant recipe.
Each month features a useful, er, feature; 7 meals for £35. This includes store-cupboard ingredients and is healthy, not last resort. The recipes are enticing and interesting and it's refreshing that they can be done on a budget, although price per serving would obviously be compromised if cooking for one unless you have appropriate storage such as freezers etc. You have an ingredients checklist for shopping purposes (photograph it with you phone and hit the shops!) and this month's include Marinated Tofu with Ginger broth and Keema Patties with Spiced Chickpea and Yoghurt salad. So, cultural and diverse as wella as economical.
This month also has "Light Picnics" - brilliant recipes - fusion recipes, crowd pleasers (good for the Jubilee weekend and other bank hols), a big section on restaurants called "Eat Out" including a twin review of a venue - one from a pro and one from a "punter". Foreign eateries are featured in "Eat Away". City Break features our own dear London this month.
Among the features and recipes there is a page at the back every month, almost lost among adverts etc, where someone asks a moral question about food. This month it's about mega-farms. This is always concise and well argued in my experience, and let's the reader conclude their own opinions.
I love this magazine. It's clean, fresh, seasonal, responsible, full of articles that are not preachy, too long or telling us to go and buy golden seahorses from a free-range farmer in Mongolia because he does everything right. It's relevant to budgets and it speaks to people who are primarily concerned about eating and entertaining well, but tried to do so from an ethical and seasonal perspective.
The layout and photography is gorgeous, unfussy and does not get in the way of the important part of the recipe texts.
There is travel foodie advice and reviews if places here at home, and all in all this is a really well-rounded magazine, not condescending and not telling you that you should look like Jennifer Lopez whilst serving Michelin-starred inhalable food off pewter platters in your green home built into the side of a hill while your hateful brats Filo and Marjoram play with their toys in the garden (in between their efforts to remove next door's cat's ears from it's head). You can enjoy cooking healthy, practical recipes and pick up tips for buying good produce as well.
Olive magazine comes from the BBC magazine stable. It is a slightly more upmarket/foodie magazine than Good Food. It comes out every month and costs £3.40 for around £130 pages and around 110 recipes. However with a subscription this can go down to as little as £2 per issue. It is a nice looking glossy mag with a strong spine thereby easy to physically cook from. The magazine also has a presence online at www.bbcgoodfood.com.
The magazine is split roughly into the following sections by the indes - eat in, eat out. Easat away, need to know, cook like a pro.
'Eat in' is the predominantly recipe based section. It touts itself as being primarily focussed on having seasonal recipes. It is also proud of the fact that it triple tests all recipes for effectiveness. I have bought Olive for a number of years and I have to say that there has definitely been a move towards providing recipes that are impressive without being too costly - as evidenced in the 7 meals for £30, as well as not too time consuming - the ready in 30 section. Each recipe where appropriate has a signifier to say whether it is a 'bargain', 'ready in 30 minutes', ' really really easy', 'cheat's choice' or recipe of the month.
Each recipe also details the preparation and cooking time, level of difficulty and nutritional content. Typical recipes for a winter edition include:rhubarb crumble tart, salmon with fennel and orange salad, leek and goat's cheese pie, caramel lemon pudding, Vietnamese prawn, noodle and mint salad, roast duck noodle soup, potato, brie and thyme pizza, chicken braised with cider and bacon, gypsy tart, middle Eastern chicken and apricot stew.
This section also includes a really interesting section where a confident reader pitches one of their signature dishes against Gordon Ramsays version where each assesses each other's and it goes to a tasting panel for a final decision. John Torode also introduces a 'masterclass' type section where he shows readers step by step how to prepare a tricky but impressive dish eg chocolate fondant.
'Eat out' features restaurant reviews and a recipe from a highly respected chef/restaurant.
Eat away is primarily based around food and travel both in the UK and abroad. Gordon Ramsey also presents an 'Eat Like a Local' section where he cooks a traditional dish of that country.
'Need to know' is more of a general magazine article type section which features readers letters and recipes, general food news and features on drinks. It also has an 'investigates..' section where the magazine takes up a pertinent food issue and presents a balanced view of the pros and cons.
'Cook like a pro' features further cooking masterclasses on more standard meals as well as advice on the home growing of fruit and veg, wine and a question and answer page.
The magazine often has 'free' additional recipe pamphlets based around a theme. The Christmas editions are particularly good as they are generally larger and also have a good diary in them for the following year which includes recipes.
In my opinion, this is a really good magazine. It is wonderfully presented with good photographs. The recipes are really well put together and explained. There is even a facility for you to contact them either by phone and email if you have problems with the recipes.
I have to admit that I do not do recipes from my past issues of Olive at the same frequency that I do Good Food, but that does not mean that it is not a good read. The passion for food is apparent and comes through, and the fact that they have recruited some pretty well-known chefs and food contributors goes some way to show how well put together it is.
It is very accessible and I think that it has gotten better over time. It certainly does not possess the snobbery that you sometimes get with cook books that are more focussed towards the more gastronomic end. I think the highest compliment I can give is that I do keep mmy old back issues for reference and still enjoy going back to them from time to time. Many of the ingredients do tend to be a bit pricier or difficult to source for many of the ingredients so I would say that they are better for more special meals.
The fact that they now focus more towards doing good food on a budget is admirable principle I feel as it means that it makes the enjoyment of cooking not something that can be purely defined by having a lot of money to play around to start with.
Iin conclusion, whilst this might not be a must have or particulary comprehensive, if you enjoy cooking you will probably enjoy this magazine.
I get this magazine through subscription for just under 30 quid a year and personally I think it is the best food magazine on the market, I also subscribe to Good Food and think Olive is much more interesting in its content, design and attitude.
The magazine presents itself in a funky modern way, with glossy front cover and generally a supplement, recent ones have included top 50 recipes and italian food booklets which are small and very handy in the kitchen.
The magazine has a standard content with a letters page, then news on food issues around the UK, there is then a content of 7 days food for under 35quid which throws up some awesome and interesting recipes, there is then the monthly theme, be it summer barbeques, italian food, cooking for kids, it takes around 10 pages and is generally innovative, easy to follow and has some great food shots.
There is a challenge Gordon Ramsey slot where a reader creates their favourite recipe, the angry Scot creates his version and a panel judges who is best.
A section looks at restaurants in a certain city in Europe or the UK and another offers reviews of cookbooks, uk eating venues etc.
Overall the magazine is a great read and its the kind of thing you can keep coming back to over time. It is colourful and good value really when you consider what you could make from the recipes available in the budget section.
I like this magazine a lot and having tried other foodie magazines can confirm this is my favourite. It offers a subjective but irreverent look at food and cooking and doesn´t take itself too seriously it covers all areas of food and cooking and isn`t afraid to innovate.
BBC Olive magazine is a monthly publication dedicated to all things foodie.
I had been buying the magazine religiously until a couple of years ago when a friend bought me an annual subscription for Christmas (and did again this year) and I have to say it is such a great moment when I see it on my doormat each month.
The magazine gives you a multitude of ideas of what to eat in, eat out and has a fantastic 'eat away' section each month highlighting different destinations throughout the world highlighting great places to eat, whatever your budget. This also includes a different town or city in the UK, ideal if, like me, you like an occasional break closer to home.
Many of the well-known celebrity chefs contribute to the magazine and there is even a 'Mine is better than Gordon's' section where one reader takes on the might of Mr Ramsey on a dish of their choice. Other regular chefs appearing are John Torode and Valentine Warner.
Their 'Olive investigates' section take a look at different aspects one the food industry e.g. is organic best, is British meat the best and how can you guarantee its provenance etc.
The recipes have details on calories, protein and carbs per portion and often have details on a wine match for each dish - fantastic when trying to impress friends for dinner.
There are two standout sections for me. Firstly, there is the '7 meals for £35' which provides you with a shopping list and recipes for a weeks worth of evening meals - all serving at least two people and mainly all ready in 30 minutes or under. Another great read is 'Pro V's Punter' where a food critic and an Olive reader visit a restaurant separately and review a restaurant - always interesting to see what the 'ordinary folk' think.
If you like food or cooking this is an ideal magazine, even for beginners. Its is also great for those of us who get stuck in a rut, cooking the same meals week in and week out.
I read a number of various food titles, but I have to say that Olive is by far head and shoulders above the rest.
I first tried this magazine on a bargain £1 for 3 issues offer and have continued to subscribe since then.
This is a great magazine for those who love food, both cooking at home and eating out.
The front part of the magazine concentrates on cooking and recipes. They have a regular sections including seasonal cooking written by Valentine Warner, 7 meals for £35 and Challenge Gordon (where a reader puts their recipe against Gordon Ramseys).
There are a lot of recipes in each issue, and this covers all sorts of cooking. From quick and easy meals for a weekday evening to more complicated dishes for parties or special occasions. The recipes are always seasonal and so can work out value for money and I don't find them to require lots and lots of ingredients which can build up costs.
The back half of the magazine focusses on eating out. There are destination guides and a pro v. punter section where a restaurant critic and a reader both review the same restaurant.
The photography is beautiful and I enjoy reading this magazing and working out what recipes I'm going to try next.
I don't know if I will continue my subscription but this is because I have a lot of recipe books and I haven't tried half of the recipes in there yet!
Olive Magazine is a monthly publication from the BBC. It is a magazine based entirely around food and drink.
The magazine is released on the 5th of each month, it costs £3.30 for each issue, although you can get a years subscription with £9.50 of Tesco Clubcard Vouchers, or can subscribe online for 6 issues at £1 for each issue.
The magazine is glossy and looks fantastic with excellent photographs of food and drink throughout, there are well over 250 pages and while many of these are adverts, all are relevant to people like myself who just love food and drink. The format is similar every month but the menus and contributions aren't which keeps it fresh.
There are regular contributions from leading chef's such as John Torode writing about making menu's from certain ingredients, Valentine Warner offering a selection of menu's for the more daring cook and the Gordon Ramsey Challenge where a member of the public attempts to cook a meal better than Ramsey.
The photography is wonderful and makes the food seem alluring and well created, it really does draw you in from whence you will then be lulled in by the easy sounding menus before realising they are a tad more complicated than you thought. But its the kind of magazine you can browse and just admire the pictures if your hungry.
There is an incredibly handy feature where it shows you how to feed four people for a week for under £35, this is really handy and I have only tried a few of the recipes being a developing cook rather than a good one but they have been excellent meals and really good value for money.
The magazine highlights areas to go for great food, so there may be a feature on Paris one month and one on Glasgow or the Lake District another, quite often there are handy little cookbooks which will explain how to make meals on a budget or give the 20 best menus the magazine had printed.
I discovered the magazine recently at a family members house and was entranced, I have since subscribed to 6 issues as an experiment but just know I will love it, it gives restaurant reviews, bright and glossy menu ideas. It has a wide selection of features on the best cooking apparatus, the newest and best cookery books and things like food festivals, farmers markets, cookery schools and classes and little places where you can buy exceptionally sourced products.
There are excellent features listing the best seasonal foods, good stuff about how to eat and cook healthily. There are monthly competitions, things such as gourmet v punter where a food critic and member of the public both review a restaurant and we see it from two perspectives and issues on budget restaurants and bars as well as wine and spirit reviews.
Overall if you love food, you will love this magazine. It is inspiring and if you try it at the value subscription it really is well worth a look, if you subscribe via the magazine you will also receive a free gift such as a cookery book or cooking aid.
It's a celebration of food and a real aid to anyone who is a good cook or wants to be, it looks fantastic, there are so many features that you will just keep coming back to it and if you keep them it is something you can refer back to forever, just find a big space in a cupboard or on a shelf!!
I love to cook and I love to eat out, both hobbies that have been growing in the last couple of years buoyed by several rather attractive and charismatic celebrity chefs and in my case being forced to fend for myself. I like my magazines to be a little challenging and whilst avoiding the drivel about what Jordon and Peter did next found Olive.
At £3.30 it isn't cheap but you can find ways round this like by using your Tesco vouchers and it does become cheaper if you subscribe (25% cheaper). For a cookery magazine it has a pleasing diversity with some challenging articles that force you to examine about where your food really comes from, how to utilise 'unpopular' cuts of meat and also the next thing in the food trends.
Personally for me the regular features are the highlight. The magazine is split into two sections Eat In and Eat Out. Eat Out is great for recommending restaurants abroad when you are often relying on a guide book and not actual experience. I keep the ones that take my fancy on the off chance my other half takes me somewhere nice! It also gives me the opportunity to day dream about foreign climates and escape the fact that I'm budgeting with meal plans again!
The Eat In section is the most practical in any cooking magazine I have every come across. My favourite regular feature is 7 days for £35 which is basically a meal planner using a limited range of ingredients. Your provided with a clear shopping list and the dishes are amazingly diverse and it helps reduce waste. The 3 ways with article features a different vegetable each month and again offers creative and varied options for you to try.
There is good reader participation with a challenge Gordon Ramsey feature in which you can pit your homemade speciality against his version of the dish and an entertaining restaurant review in which a reader and a celebrity chef both review the same place. I really like the readers recipes as well, often simple and very tasty!
As you would expect the pages are awash with creative and colourful food photography as well as the usual adverts for expensive kitchen ware. All recipes include a calorie counter and breakdown of the salt/sugar content making it much easier for you to make informed choices. The recipes are also coded with labels such as 'really really easy' or 'something for the weekend' which offers something a little more challenging which great end results.
There is a lot to read in this magazine and on balance the cost is justified. It does become repetitive in terms of format but I don't really mind that and it never fails to get me cooking!
Olive Magazine is ideal for anyone interested in food and cooking. It provides inspiration for new recipes, as well as a range of articles on various cooking techniques, ingredients etc. There are usually a range of articles by or about celebrity chefs, and there's a whole section dedicated to restaurant reviews, or articles about foodie holidays/travelling.
One of my favourite features involves a suggested recipe or ingredient for each day of the month - these fit in really well with the season (eg June 2009 has a suggestion for making Hash Browns on Father's Day, May 2009 had blueberry pancakes for bank holiday weekend!) and are a nice source of fresh ideas.
Another great idea is the 7 meals for £xx (usually £30 or £35 type of price) which even includes a shopping list so you can make sure you've got all the ingredients ready for the recipes suggested for each week.
You can get some great deals on subscriptions to this magazine - including a 3 issues for £3 one which is available from the www.bbcgoodfood.com website.
The recipes here are generally easy to follow, the magazine claims they've all been tested at least three times and this does seem reasonable given that as a rule all the recipes turn out well.
Overall, highly recommended. The writing style is witty and engaging, and the selection of recipes is second to none.
***BBC Olive Magazine***
I recently subscribed to a few magazines on the BBC 3 for £1 trial offer to see if any of them would give me inspiration in the cooking department. Olive was one of the magazines that I gave a try, which is issued monthly.
***What's it like?***
Well the cover price is 10p more than Good Food at £3.40 for what looks like a very similar magazine.
The issue that I am reviewing is that of June and it is available in the newsagents during the first week of the month.
It is a glossy quality magazine and has around 130 pages. This month there is a focus on British Food.
The main format of the magazine is in three parts:
~Eating In (of course recipes to try at home)
~Eating Out (reviews of restaurants and cafes)
~Eat Away (recipes and food from around the world)
There are regular columns such as the letters column, new food items on the market, a look at drinks, questions and answer page and the usual classifieds.
Every month there is also an in depth discussion about a foodie issue. This month the discussion is about the pros and cons of commercial bread. This month there is also a feature on up an coming talent in the British Food Industry.
Straight away I felt as if the magazine was a bit pretentious. I had subscribed to a few others and so could make a comparison straight away. Good Food magazine seemed more down to earth and a bit more realistic. I can see that in this magazine they want to appeal to a more confident and adventurous cook, however the ingredients seemed a bit too 'posh' and some are only available from the Waitrose of M &S food section! This was for 'Miso Pollack with Edamame Noodles'
Another example of this is a reader's question:
"I have been given some salt cod from Madeira and have no idea what to make with it. Any suggestions?"
In our house it would most likely be a bit of trout that my brother has come back from fishing with! So I think you can see this magazine does not deal with the mundane ingredients of everyday life!
There was a dish of the day section for the month of June which had some good ideas. I also thought that the styling and photographs made the food look very appetizing! The recipes are rated according to their difficultly which I thought was a nice touch. Each recipe also contains the nutritional content which is useful to know. There was also a challenge were Gordon Ramsay was challenged by a reader to make the best chicken curry. I won't say who won, but this is a regular feature and I though this was a fun part.
There was also a section with 7 meals for £35 and the shopping list to go with it. Again some of the items were a little obscure and I think any reasonable cook could achieve meals less expensive than this anyway.
I mostly enjoyed the 'Eat In' section, but found the reviews of restaurants all over the UK a bit useless really. I am not likely to visit them and if I do, then I will probably have forgotten what was said by the time I do! This section I thought didn't have a great deal of use to most readers.
There are some classifieds but not too many, so that was a plus. There was also a review of the months best foodie tv and websites, which gave me an idea of what to look out for. There is also a handy recipe index at the back.
The most useful article for me was Lulu's masterclass - 'Olive's guru shares her cooking secrets'. What was it about?.... What cooking secret was she about to reveal?...- Making a simple sponge! Just about my limit!!
Overall, I did like reading it (out of curiosity - is this how people really live?), but really will not put much of what I read into practice! But for all you Jamie Oliver's out there - knock yourself out!!
From the newsagents for £3.40 or there is a bit of a discount for subscribing directly - 25% off the full cover price and a free Sophie Conran pestle and mortar worth £15 this month!
Olive magazine is a BBC production, its always printed on high quality paper with a glossy frontage. Although the pictures do alter month to month they are always tempting and draw your eye. In the summer they tend to be more colourful thus reflecting the season, in the autumn they tend to be darker with pictures of real comfort food again though it always looks tempting. It is priced at £3.40 per issue available once a month.
It is always a month ahead ie Mays issue is available in April and so forth. I find this very very handy as you can plan ahead especially if you like to stay in season with the produce you use. It also helps with meal planning, if you like to follow the magazine recipes you can plan, make a shopping list and do the shopping ahead of time if you see what I mean.
As an ardent foodie I adore this magazine it is always packed full of recipes, suggestions, wine matches for meals, new and intresting things, reviews for travel, restaurants and cookbooks. The cookbook reviews tend to come with an extract from said cookbook to give you a feel of the book and if you may like to try it.
Gordon Ramsay provides a recipe in every issue complete with a masterclass on how to prep and serve up yout culinary creations. There are offerings from several celebrity chefs and Masterchef hosts Gregg Wallace and John Torode both doing what they do best.
All in all a very good read and very entertaining which I have and would recommend to other food lovers.