Friday, May 29th
The way the cookies crumble
After I'd arrived at the office and while I was brewing my morning espresso, I was having a hard time trying to think of what product I should recommend here today to complete this months blog postings. Then it belatedly dawned on me that my particular interests in technology and reading had meant Id got stuck in a rut, and had been overly focused for some time on computers, related gadgets and books. It was time to think out of the box, I thought, as I took a sip of coffee and reached for a Lemon Melt. Yum. And out of the box had come the answer.
My wife and I have been including a visit to our local Estafette organic produce shop most Saturdays for some time, and it was there that we first discovered the delicious biscuits produced by Island Bakery Organics on the Scottish Isle of Mull. Were not big biscuit eaters, but were intrigued by the attractive packaging and thought wed give them a go. My personal favourites are the Lemon Melts damn, thats the last one and theyre well named, as theyre really melty, buttery and lemony. Maggie thinks the Chocolate Limes have the edge, but she has to be quick to get her fair share of those too if she opens a box when Im around.
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Island Bakery Organics started out supplying Mull and neighbouring islands with fresh organic bread. The husband and wife team then set up their first retail shop and delicatessen on the island, and in 2001 they launched their first range of organic biscuits. Now their biscuits are sold all over the UK and are exported to the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and the US. The other varieties in the current range are Shortbread, Oat Crumbles and Chocolate Gingers, which I must try tomorrow. Theyve just launched Apple Crumbles too, which sound delightful.
Friday, May 15th
Event companies stage Amsterdam food fight
Timing is everything, as they say. Next month, only three days apart, two Amsterdam events agencies are each staging a 4-day outdoor culinary event, each featuring a number of restaurants showcasing their signature dishes in tents. Could be a sure-fire recipe for a marketing food fight, methinks
The first is Amsterdam Culinair, organized by Brownys Events and Stichting Amsterdam Culinair, who say theyre breathing new life into this scrumptious culinary festival. Amsterdam Culinair was first held in 1999 on the Amstelveld, the square on the Prinsengracht between the Reguliersgracht and Utrechtsestraat, but objections from residents meant they had to look elsewhere. In 2005 it was held again around the Nieuwmarkt, when Michelin-star Amsterdam restaurant Vermeer took part.
The first Amsterdam Culinair in its excellent current location, around the pond in the Museumplein, was held a year later. Having missed a year in 2007, the founders brought in Brownys Events to help them organize last years event, but attracted only half the predicted 20,000 visitors. The small-scale success was partly due to our becoming involved at too late a stage, said Brownys Frank Bruijnesteijn. He says on the Amsterdam Culinair website that theyre going for a larger scale event this year, with many special restaurants. The site says that a great number of restaurants have expressed interest, but more are welcomed to participate. As of today the only participant listed is WAQ-Food, apparently a company specializing in Indonesian/Asian catering and travel to Indonesia/Asia. Amsterdam Culinair is set to run from Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st June. Entrance is free, but if the scheme works as in previous years, visitors will need to buy tokens they can exchange in the participants tents for meals, snacks and drinks.
The other event is Taste of Amsterdam. Taste Festivals have been organized by London-based Brand Events Ltd since 2004, and Taste of London has become an increasingly successful event held in Regents Park each summer since 2005. They began expanding to other cities in the UK and Ireland three years ago and Taste Festivals have recently expanded internationally to Auckland, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Dubai, Melbourne and Sydney.
Local agency Downtown Events has been franchised to organize the first Taste Festival in Amsterdam, which will be held from Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th June at the Amstelpark, near the RAI. Like the other international festivals, a TV company is one of the sponsors, and a number of very high quality restaurants are taking part, including Peter Lutes and Ron Blaauws prestigious Ouderkerk establishments and one of my favourite Amsterdam restaurants, Toscanini. Tickets for entry to Taste of Amsterdam cost from € 12.50 in advance or € 15.50 on the day, and can be ordered via the event website. Florin tokens, with a value of € 1.25 and combined to purchase drinks and meals, can be purchased at the event.
Wednesday, May 6th
Category win and honour for Amsterdam agency in Webby Awards
In the 13th Webby Awards, announced yesterday, Amsterdam-based portable navigation device manufacturer TomTom won the consumer electronics award for their innovative Secret Services site. Its basically an ongoing online campaign to explain the secret functionalities of TomTom in-car navigation systems. It highlights a series of features people might not expect to find in a navigator and includes a number of engaging interactive components. Originally developed by local agency Black Magic Marker in 2007, the site was also awarded best online campaign by the Internet Advertising Competition last year.
Black Magic Marker were also selected as an Official Honoree in the Cultural Institutions category for the site they produced for the Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei (Dutch institute for War Remembrance) and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. World War Two Online (wo2online.nl) was launched in March, and will feature changing online exhibitions about various aspects of WW2 in the Netherlands, providing a trustworthy source about what really happened for a broad audience, from children learning about it for the first time to seniors remembering their childhood experiences.
Monday being Remembrance Day and yesterday Liberation Day made looking through the site this week particularly moving. The first exhibition focuses on the first five days of the Nazi invasion. It starts in a living room at 3.55 in the morning of May 10, 1940 (above). While explosions and sirens are going off outside, you can listen to radio broadcasts from the time, read newspaper front pages and listen to eye-witness accounts. When you go outside, you see the Luftwaffe flying overhead and see German paratroopers dropping from the planes (below). The opening sequence is followed by an interactive map of the Netherlands with a day-by-day sequence of events detailing the invasion and beginning of the five-year occupation.
Having just worked on a newspaper industry outlook report for PricewaterhouseCoopers, which naturally focused on publishers competing with and moving into the online arena, it was interesting to see that the New York Times won Webby Awards for best copywriting and best practices, the Guardian won best newspaper and best podcast but no newspapers were even nominated for best news award, which was won by the BBC News website. Meanwhile, the Boston Globe, whose owner, the NY Times, said on Monday this week that it would file a notice to close the prestigious New England paper if it fails to get unions to make further concessions, won the best use of photography award for the Big Picture section of its site.
One of my personal favourites was a site that won both the Webby Award and the Peoples Voice award for best use of typography. Jonathan Feinbergs Wordle is described as a toy for generating word clouds from text that you provide". The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and colour schemes. The above is the result of my using the first two sentences from this sites homepage. Because of the way it works, I guessed the result might have been more impressive had we been more repetitive, so I deliberately repeated a few words to generate the version below. Quite fun.
In the blogs area, marketing and branding consultant David Ibsens Five Blogs Before Lunch won the business blog award, while 1,000 Awesome Things won the culture/personal blog. Launched a few months ago and updated every weekday, Neil Pasrichas blog posted its 772nd awesome thing today, which was when you spill something on your shirt and it doesnt leave a stain. I do hate hearing young North Americans use awesome all the time, but stopped short of making some condescending, deprecatory remark about their misuse of English just in time. I remembered being a typical kid in England in the early sixties, for whom the same things were fabulous. Im sure it was equally annoying to adults at the time