* Prices may differ from that shown
Sorry this is Mark Beam again the place is called ISO SUSHI www.isosushi.co.uk check them out
Salmon is smoked by one of two methods: hot-smoking or cold-smoking. Hot-smoking effectively 'cooks' the fish, because it's smoked over heat for six to 12 hours. Cold-smoked fish is first cured or preserved either in dry salt or brine, then smoked at a much lower temperature for between one day and three weeks (although usually for only 24 to 48 hours). This is the style that most people associate with 'smoked salmon'. The actual smoking process varies a great deal, with each smokehouse using its own techniques. Generally, the fresh fish is salted, dried, washed, then air-dried and smoked over wood chippings.
Learning to read the labels on smoked salmon will help you choose the best that you can afford. Whether sold loose at fish counters, or pre-packed in chiller cabinets, the same labelling regulations apply (at a fish counter, the information will generally be displayed on a sign next to the fish). The label must show how the fish has been produced: for example 'farmed', 'cultivated' or 'caught'. It must also state the name of the fish and where it was caught - for example, 'north-west Atlantic'. Be aware of the ambiguity of some labels: a label that reads 'Scottish salmon smoked in Scotland' is preferable to either 'Scottish smoked salmon' or 'Smoked Scottish salmon'. Remember, smoked salmon with added flavourings, for example honey and sugar, aren't subject to these labelling requirements.
So which to buy:
There seems to be masses of smoke houses out there, but generally the best ones are the snall artisan smoke house. I have tried various smokehouses and found them to differ amazingly, some amazingly good others pretty amazingly bad. To make things simple here is my personal pick of the best three:
Clarence Taylor smokehouses have been producing salmon for over 150 years in the traditional way, there salmon is utterly superb, it has a mild smoky flavour that just melts in the mouth. There website is easy to navigate and i found the whole experience simply a joy. You can find there site at clarencetaylor.co.uk
Weald Smokery is a relatively new smokehouse and i ordered there side of smoked salmon, and it was pretty good, nicely smoked with none of that oilyness that supermarket salmon has. The only downfall was that there website was playing up when i did my purchase.
smoked-salmon.net specialise in just salmon, and are based in london, they have a range of smoked salmons cured and smoked in different ways, and i found the service and product to be excellent.
Ah, food and drink reviews. These are the cause of much wrangling here on Dooyoo, in my view rather unnecessarily. I can only state right up here my own experience, which is this: yes, I have used this site, and not only on isolated occasions, to research food products. I have bought some of them at least in part *because* I've read consistently positive reviews here. In other words, exactly what I might have done with any other product. Some of you may think this is strange, but in my turn I find it distinctly odd that anyone would want to write about Celebrity Big Brother, or indeed even to watch it in the first place. Strange creatures, humans.
While I'm on the subject, one particularly bizarre argument I've seen crop up more than once is that it's unfair for people to be paid for food reviews because quite often the cost of the product is less than the reward offered by Dooyoo. I say "bizarre" because if you followed this argument to its logical conclusion, you'd also have to ban payment for any reviews of tourist attractions - such as many leading museums - which offer free admission! Besides, some food and drink products (high-end chocolate bars or bottles of whisky, for example) are at least as expensive as the average paperback book or music CD. In any case, does anyone at all honestly think Dooyoo would offer the reward it does for these reviews if it wasn't worthwhile for them?
Anyway, let's assume for the sake of everyone's sanity (it may be a bit late in my case, but never mind) that you've weighed up the various arguments and decided to write a food review after all. I suppose I should briefly run through the requirement common to all reviews: good English. There's no need for this to scare you off, since very few people (not even me) will mark you down for the odd typo - but writing in an obviously rushed, sloppy way shows little respect for your readers or for the site, and since these two groups together are responsible for your payment that's not really on. So: write in a word processor first of all rather than directly on to the site, use a spellchecker (but remember it can't catch everything), use paragraph spacing and use proper capitalisation.
So, having got the foregoing in mind, you're now just about ready to write your review. The first thing to check, ideally before you've written a word of it, is to make sure you've got the category right: in almost all cases it does have to be an exact match, and simply assuming that one flavour of crisps is much like another - while sadly true in the case of some unfortunate brands - is just going to get you complaints if you're lucky and Not Usefuls if you're not. If the correct category doesn't exist, then you'll just have to submit it through the suggestion process and wait while it goes through the works: the waiting time can be frustrating, but at the time of typing it's generally only a few days.
Onward. One piece of information most people find *extremely* relevant, but which a surprising number of people leave out of their review, is price. You don't necessarily have to get it to the nearest penny, but some indication of whether this fantastic type of bread is 50p a loaf or £5 would be helpful. For general products I find the "Baskets Price Check" on the Tesco website extremely useful, as it's kept well up to date and always has at least one other supermarket (Asda at the time of writing) to compare with. Of course this doesn't work for other companies' own-brand products, so you will have to either look at a receipt, find an advert or have a better memory than mine! If the product is much cheaper (or much more expensive) than directly competing ones, you might want to mention this too.
There's disagreement about how much in the way of ingredients, nutrition information and so on is sensible to include. Personally I'm not fond of reviews that copy out every tiny detail from the ingredients list: as with all types of review there has to be a balance between thoroughness and readability, and I feel that great blocks of unannotated text like that tip the balance too far away from what is supposed to be in the main an opinion piece and not a dietician's notes. Remember also that Dooyoo require all reviews to include 150 words *of opinion*, so a simple ingredients list does not count towards your total. All that said, I will usually mention any allergy warnings, and pick out one or two highlights from the nutrition panel.
A few comments about the pack are usually a good idea - for a start, don't assume everyone knows how big it is! Even if there's nothing particularly special about it, you might mention if you think too much (or indeed too little) packaging has been used, whether it's recyclable, what you thought of the design and so on. If something's annoying you from the text on the pack (my particular bugbear is chocolate that doesn't give a country of origin other than "EU") then you can mention that too. Something that should always be mentioned if relevant is any difficulty opening the packet, perhaps because the product comes in one of those awful blister packs - so called because that's what they cause on your fingers! And, if relevant, what about cooking instructions? Are they clear? Are they accurate? Do they require special equipment?
Now, what about aesthetics? This is more important for some foods than for others, but as humans we rely a lot on our eyes, and many people will have trouble eating a horrible-looking meal even if it actually tastes perfectly nice. Any obvious flaws should be pointed out, but conversely you should also be ready to praise any nice touches which made you smile or laugh. Other senses matter too: smell is an obvious one in many cases, but touch is important too: does a biscuit crumble to pieces when you pick it up? And even hearing: a factor with some sorts of chocolate is how satisfying it sounds when you snap it.
Taste, of course, is the most important factor of all in any food, so it needs to be treated in reasonable depth. "It tastes very nice" tells us that you loved a product, but it doesn't tell us *why* you loved it; we really do need a bit more detail than that. There's no need to go overboard and try to sound like professional wine tasters with all their "pencil shavings with overtones of aluminium" and suchlike - not even when reviewing wine! - but some detail as to what it was like to eat the food in question will help. Does it, for example, leave a distinct aftertaste - and if so, was it a pleasant one? Does it tingle on the tongue? That sort of thing.
I think quite a few people on Dooyoo labour under the false impression that food reviewing is much easier than any other sort, perhaps because we all eat regularly - and, secretly, most of us consider ourselves experts on the matter. Not so. It is probably true that a very basic 150-word review on a packet of crisps is remarkably easy to write, but it's also likely to be mediocre at the very best - and remember, if any of those 150 words are simply copied from the wrapper then you're not crossing the required threshold for amount of *opinion* in any case. I'm a natural rambler anyway, but I struggle to think of any food or drink I couldn't write at least 250 words on, and I'd strongly recommend you did the same.
So, to sum up: if you choose to write a lot of food and drink reviews, you will need a reasonably thick skin, because some people will not like your doing it and will say so - or, more precisely, they won't like the fact you're getting paid for doing it. (I haven't noticed any particular rating down on individual food reviews, however, so don't worry too much about that.) You will also need to avoid kidding yourself that a good food review is trivial to write. Finally, as with any other category I'd advise against reviewing ten slightly different versions of the same thing in quick succession: you'll bore your readers to tears. Keep all that in mind, however, and you can have just as much fun writing about food as you can writing about phones or films or fashion.
NB: Though this section is about food AND drink reviews, what I say below concentrates mostly on the food aspect. Much of what I say though, can equally be applied to drink reviews.
I love writing food reviews for DooYoo, and I also enjoy reading them, particularly if it's about a food that I haven't tried, yet it seems appealing. It must be borne in mind though, that a good review isn't necessarily about making a food item sound appealing; it's about whether you enjoyed it or not, and your whole experience with the product, from shop shelf to stomach.
We all depend on food, it being (along with other essentials such as air and water) the thing which keeps us alive. Not everybody uses lipstick, drives a car or appreciates music, but we all eat; and that is why I find food reviews so appealing, because they speak of something I simply have to do every day. I'm not for one minute suggesting that they are more worthwhile than reviews on other topics; merely that the common ground for readers surely must be the largest in area.
Though overall people seem to quite like my food reviews (judging by most of the comments I receive), no doubt there's a small body of DooYoo members who would prefer that I wrote them in a different style. My presentation of the food reviews I write has been created largely on what I like to read myself, and the information that I like to see.
Firstly before I dive into describing what to me constitutes a good food review, I will give an advance warning that a few people may not like a little or a lot of what I say, and I can thus assure that no offense in the slightest is intended, nor am I aiming what I say at any single person or body of people; I'm just generalising. We're all different, all just as valid as one another, and at the end of the day, personal opinion is what it's all about. Just because a food review doesn't 100% match up to my own ideals of perfection, it doesn't necessarily mean that I'll downrate it.
I don't mind what style of layout I see for a food review, so long as it's sensibly paragraphed, with due care and attention paid to good spelling and grammar (including correct use of apostrophes - nothing drives me more batty than seeing bushels of unnecessary apostrophes littering an otherwise good review). It doesn't matter to me if the price, nutritional information, ingredients and other blurb on the packaging are listed at the beginning or the end of the review, but I do prefer such information to be separate from the main body of typing. I find those details difficult to read and absorb if they appear in the text of a review, plus I feel that if they are separated and listed at the beginning or the end, those who prefer not to read these things will find it much easier to ignore them.
I have no objections to writers making their reviews amusing, but if I feel that the witty content obscures what the review is all about and that humour has been the article's prime content, my attention will begin to wander. Also, we don't all have the same sense of humour; what can seem hilarious to one person can seem boring or silly to another. That's something I learned myself when I was a relatively new DooYoo member; some people found my sense of humour irritating to read, so I gladly took that on board. I haven't completely abandoned humour from my reviews where it's appropriate, but I've dumbed it down a lot. I don't want to alienate people from my reviews any more than I have to, and my aim is to appeal to as wide a range of individuals as possible.
I do like to read a brief description of what the packaging looks like and consists of. Sometimes if there's an accompanying photo of the product, it's not always clear enough to stick inside of my mind, and I'd thus possibly not recognise it in the supermarket if it's something I feel I'd like to buy and try, so that brief description of what I'm supposed to be looking for can be very handy.
I also like to know if any part of the packaging is recyclable, as that could up to a point influence my decision as to whether I purchase the product or not. I don't want to read a too detailed description though as it simply distracts from the informative aspect of the actual product. I confess to being guilty myself of going way overboard with package descriptions when I was still a fairly new DooYoo member; that largely was due to me trying to improve (so I thought!!) the quality of my reviews, but I now have seen the light and realise that a brief description is ample.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION & INGREDIENTS
This issue does seem to entirely be down to personal preference in what people like to read, or don't like to, as the case may be. My own view is that I like to read the nutritional information and ingredients list, because I do have a couple of allergies, and it's nice to know if a product contains something I'm allergic to before I go out and try it. I agree that the information can be read on the pack in the supermarket, but it's often in very small print and some of us don't like to spend longer shopping than we have to. If I can see this information before I go shopping, then I can immediately decide not to even bother wasting my time looking for the product if I am forewarned as to whether it contains any nasties or not. As said above though, I like to see these details placed apart from the main body of the review.
It's not absolutely essential to include a price, but it's nice for me to have some idea of the cost before I go shopping with a view to trying a food product out. Yes, prices are changing all the time, but not that much, and the inclusion of a price in a review gives at least some idea as to what we can expect to pay.
I like to know whether the box/carton or whatever is big or small, as that can help me decide what type of shopping bag to take out with me and whether the product will fit into my sometimes bulging fridge or freezer. Is it lightweight? Is it heavy? Will I need the help of a 10-ton truck to transport the item home?
I like to know a person's opinion on whether they feel a product is under- or over-packaged, and whether any boxes, bags, trays are recyclable.
A very brief description is nice for me to read as to whether the packaging is easy to open. Are there any sharp edges which need to be avoided? Do seals or tins open easily? For tinned fish and meat products, will I need a tin opener or are they ring-pull or key-operated? All of those things can influence my decisions about what I buy.
PREPARATION & COOKING
Though it's not necessary for me to know the oven temperature which should be used (as whatever it is wouldn't draw me to or put me off using the product), I do like to read as to whether the product can simply be put in a saucepan or oven and left, or whether it requires a degree of pre-cooking preparation.
What does it smell like during the cooking process? Does it smell so delicious that my stomach starts to rumble, or does it smell worse than untreated sewage? If the latter, I won't want to use that product, despite claims of it being otherwise delicious. One useful thing for me to know as regards cooking, is whether the manufacturer's instructions are correct. Sometimes I find they aren't as accurate as I'd like them to be, so I like to read about reviewers' personal experiences.
Once the product is ready to eat, I like to know if the cooking process has enhanced or ruined the appearance of the food.
THE EATING EXPERIENCE
I like to learn if the product was easy to eat, e.g. in the sense of it being easy or difficult to cut and chew, plus I also like to know if it looks attractive on the plate, or whether it resembles the contents of a gro-bag. If there is meat involved, I like to know if it is tough or tender, whether it is fatty or lean and what the overall quality of it is. If it's a fishy product, is it full of bones? Is the product too sweet, too salty, too bitter, too greasy or whatever? What do you personally feel, if anything, would improve the overall experience of eating this particular food?
As regards what a food product actually tastes like, I do like to read a person's opinion of course, but I don't make a decision based on that as one man's meat is another man's poison. For instance, if somebody declares a certain brand of nut cutlet tastes delicious due to the liberal addition of green peppers, I'd have to disagree as I can't stand peppers, therefore it's all subjective; but, having said that, I need to read that those green peppers are there, as I'm not just reading and rating the review from the point of view of my own food tastes; I'm also reading and rating it as to how influential it would be to potential consumers en masse. What for me matters, is are those green peppers tough and chewy, or are they tender and succulent - are they in large chunks or tiny pieces?
I do like to read about what the consistency of the food is like - how it feels inside your mouth, whether it tastes natural or synthetic, and if there is any after-taste. How much chewing does the food require? Is it as tough as old rags, does it slide down your throat like a dream, do you have to virtually drink it or does it fall someway between those extremes? Is it sloppy, grainy, chalky, glutinous etc. etc?
At the end of your review, I feel it's worthwhile to state your overall feelings about the product. Would you buy it again? Was it good value for money? Was there anything specific which needs drawing attention to, such as an unusually high fat or calorie content? Was the serving (in the case of things like ready meals) large enough to feed the amount of people the manufacturer intends? Most importantly, would you recommend it to other people?
Keep them coming, as I love reading them!
Well, how on earth do I dole out the stars? For me, this isn't a topic that I can say is good or bad, so I'll award it a full house, simply because food is nice; so are food reviews that are informative and good.
Thanks for reading everyone and I hope that at least a little of the above has been of some help.
I am rather fond of my food and drink like everyone else. It's enjoyable to eat and drink things we like, so a good review should be written for such things! You should not go into the boring detail of what the packaging looks like and what all the packaging is made of, as no one cares and it's not useful.
The most important thing about food is the quality and taste. I'm sure someone would choose a nice-tasting steak over one that is vile with much nicer packaging. You should talk about what the food tastes like whilst trying to give an accurate account of the flavours. It can be really hard to do, but once you practice, you will get better. For example, it may be hard to describe what a simple peppermint chewing gum tastes like, but you can compare it to peppermint leaves, other chewing gums and say how fresh, intense and strong the flavour is and even how authentic it is.
It's good to mention everything about foods, for example if you're talking about a meal, you should mention all the different parts including meat, potatoes, vegetables, the sauce and everything else. You can also talk about the scent of foods, as it can be attracting or offputting. The look of foods can have a fair influence into whether we will buy it or not, so that can be useful too, but don't drag on about the packaging.
The ingredients of foods are important too and nutritional information is useful to have, but remember this isn't opinion, so make sure you have enough opinion.
With drinks, you should definitely mention the taste but also the consistency, whether or not they're fizzy and if they're alcoholic beverages, you can mention their percentage of alcohol or how predominant the taste is. Try to compare the flavours to ordinary foods like fruits, which makes it easier to describe. You can give an account of the appearance and packaging of drinks, as it is usually more important than with foods.
I hope this review helps.
Thanks for reading,
I've written a lot of food and drink reviews, and whilst I haven't yet had any national holidays dedicated to my food-review-writing talents, I also haven't had too many complaints. So I thought I was probably in a reasonable position to write a 'how to write a good food review' article.
Firstly, a word about length. Most people who are considering buying an item of food probably do not consider it so deeply that they are willing to read 1500 words on the subject. This might be an acceptable length for a hotel review or a review of certain electronic products, but for me it is far too much for a food review. The best food reviews, or at least the ones I find most helpful, are those who can condense their thoughts down to a review which has between 300 and 600 words.
Secondly I will take a look at what should be included:
~ A brief mention about packaging. The key word here is brief. Things that are worth mentioning include whether the packaging is attractive, recyclable, easy to open, easy to store, easy to spot on the shelf. Things that are not worth mentioning are the size of the font or the particular shade of green that the ingredients happen to be written in.
~ How to prepare the food. If the food needs to cooked, how long for? Is it easy and convenient? How much cooking or baking expertise do you need?
~ What the food looks and smells like. Again this only needs to be brief and a couple of sentences should more than suffice here.
~ What the food tastes like. This is the most important part of the review and should take up more space than the other things I have mentioned above.
~ Nutritional information. I don't believe that you need to include all the ingredients or all of the nutritional values, but certain things such as the amount of calories, fat and sugar are important. This is particularly important if you are reviewing a low fat food, and in such cases I think it is very helpful to also give the calorie information for the normal fat option, so that people can compare. I also try to mention if there are any E numbers or artificial sweeteners.
~ Price. This is important, and even if you can't remember what you paid for it, you can easily visit one of the many online supermarket websites and look it up.
In my opinion that's really all that needs to be included in a food review, and any review that incorporates all of these parts, without being longer than an undergraduate essay, will usually get a Very Useful from me.
Well, well, well. My 900th review. I thought I would use the milestone to perhaps give a few pointers on how to write a good food and/or drinks review, not to be condescending at all but as I am the Community Guide for the food and drink category I tend to read most of what is posted there and much of it unfortunately is below standard. Newbies seem to target food and drink as how hard can it be to write 150 words about every chocolate bar available? Describe each individual tin of Heinz soup and *whoosh* there's 500 Dooyoo Miles in your account and you haven't even mentioned the taste!
Gosh, there is so much more to a food and drink review than telling me what colour the packet is and going to great pains to educate me on how to heat a tin of beans. It's just not necessary. Yes, if your chosen product comes in a super duper wrapper that will be worth a description then a couple of lines would be helpful but I don't honestly think a two paragraph detailed segment about the colours on a Mars Bar is appropriate - especially as there is a photograph of the Mars Bar directly above your review (and because we all know what they look like anyway). I personally have started using the packaging description in any food and drink review as a consideration when it comes to rating, not so long ago I had to rate an otherwise perfect drinks review as Useful because a third of the text was taken up by a description of a coffee jar - without this unnecessary bumph it would easily have had a crown nomination from me.
Likewise ingredients lists. It's padding in my opinion and an absolute waste of your time sitting squinting at the packets and typing it all out! Have a look at the ingredients list and use your own judgement as to whether any one thing jumps out at you as something a potential consumer would want to know; Aspartame is one a lot of people mention due to the recent furore surrounding the use of the artificial sweetener and it's possible health risks, also you might perhaps want to mention if there seems to be a particularly high amount of E numbers or colourings used in a food product marketed for children. One thing that I really do not see the point of is mentioning whether a product contains nuts, my nephew has a peanut allergy and believe me it's so frightening that NO nut allergy sufferer is going to take your word for the fact that 'this particular chicken pie' doesn't contain any nuts or traces of nut. If you've ever been grocery shopping with a nut allergy sufferer you'll see how obsessively they scrutinise their own packets and then you'd see the irrelevance of your warnings!
Nutritional content, well I think this is one area where the Dooyoo community is split. Personally I might or might not include the calories and fat content of a food, basically it's down to whether I remember to make a note of them before throwing the wrapper away or not! A member mentioned to me tonight that she feels a review is incomplete without at least a nod towards nutritional values, but even having said this the consumer doesn't need you to copy every single fact and figure from the label. As a general rule of thumb I'd say that if you want to include this information then simple calories and fat content will suffice unless you notice a product has a particularly high salt content or something like that and then it's fine to elaborate on.
One thing I do expect is that the majority of your review be on the flavours, textures and aroma of the foodstuff you're reviewing. What use is any food review that simply describes something as 'nice' and 'yummy'? I want to know if a cake tastes of vanilla or strawberry, is the jam you're reviewing fruity or just sugary, can you taste the beef in your beef lasagne - and if so, is it gristly or well cooked? Taste is hard to describe so I advise you to write your review as quickly as possible after eating or drinking it; while eating try to make mental notes about the texture, take time to savour the individual flavours for us drooling readers, let us know if something doesn't quite work or if something works particularly well. Don't scrimp on the detail with your descriptions here.
As a consumer I want to know if your chocolate bar was creamy, was there enough nuts in it and did they taste fresh? Did those Yorkshire Puddings drip with fat as you put them onto the dinner plates or were they beautifully crisp? Were the Chilli flavoured crisps so strong they burned your tongue, or were they just spicier Ready Salted? How much meat exactly was there in your Tesco Chow Mein - and more importantly what meat was it? Try to take into consideration as much about your chosen product as possible and word it in a way that will make your review interesting to read, include lots of personal opinion but remember that the product should be your main focus and while I rather enjoy chatty and personal reviews if it comes to the point where I am struggling to pick out the worthwhile information about the product then I'm afraid your review becomes less useful to me.
Cooking instructions I don't really think are necessary unless you have encountered problems with the cooking time that is specified on the packaging. I find Tesco Finest products don't give terribly accurate cooking times so when writing about an item from that particular range I may well mention that the product takes 50 minutes to cook rather then the specified 35 minutes, but I honestly do not need you to tell me in detail about every different way of cooking frozen fish and then give me a step by step commentary on how you took it out of the box, put it on a baking tray, pre-heated the oven and blah..... blah..... blah..... It just makes your review very dull to read and can even come across as rather insulting sometimes even though this is obviously not the reviewers intention.
Obviously this review is my personal opinion, I don't expect or want anyone to change their writing style to fit in with my tips but I hope some of my advice will be taken on board - and please, please, please do not think that you recognise yourself in any comment I have made in this review. At no time have I written anything with any one member or review in mind, paranoia is such an ugly trait so don't get your knickers in a knot if you think you talk too much about packaging just have a rethink about how you write and structure your reviews.
Oh, and 'Moorish' actually relates to the customs and architecture of the Spanish Moors (the people) whereas 'moreish' means this particular food leaves you wanting more. I doubt many categories in food and drink require education on the Moorish culture so it's obviously the other one you want!
I have noticed there are many food products reviewed on Dooyoo and since eating is something that we all need to do to survive it is easy to see why. What I find interesting is the contrast in the quality of food reviews. They range from those barely scraping 150 words (most of which include lots of small and useless words that adds absolutely nothing to the review) to those consisting of hundreds of words that not only describe the product but also give an opinion. Some of these reviews I barely gloss over before clicking the back button to return to the new review list (there are times when I just can't be bothered to rate since I believe that if someone can't be bothered actually writing, or at least have an attempt at writing a half decent review then why should I bother reading it) and others I read in great detail and with great interest.
I appreciate reviewing is a very personal thing and what one person thinks makes a good review, another will not. In some ways this is unfortunate, but in others it can be advantageous as it gives us a chance to learn and improve.
I'm sure that there will be some who agree with me, and there are going to be many that disagree but I'll note down my thoughts on what should be included to produce a 'very useful' food review. The elements I consider that should appear are as follows;
****Why you bought the product****
The reasons for customer spending habits are very complex and there are loads of reasons why consumers buy the products they do. In these financially hard times a common one is cost or going down the supermarket own brand route, but there are many other reasons. Was the product recommended by a friend or peer? (I find this will be more common when dealing with luxury items rather than when purchasing a staple item such as a tin of tomatoes, although I could be wrong). Was your normal product unavailable so you had to find an alternative? Did you just fancy a change? Were you drawn to the packaging? Had you read a review by a fellow Dooyooer and fancied trying it? Whatever the reason maybe, state it.
What does the packaging look like? Does it contain bright and vivid colours and really stands out from the other products on the shelf or is it something that you actively have to look for and seek out? Maybe it was the packaging that made you buy the product - if it is then the marketing team did their job well and this should be commented on.
****The look of the product****
Describe the product and use well known and instantly recognizable products, whether edible or not, to let the reader build up a picture of the product. Describe the colour (is it bright and vivid such as in the case of Tesco Value mushy peas) or is it dull and drab? Describe the texture. Does the product look appetising or does it really look like the proverbial 'dog's dinner'?
****The smell of the product****
Smell is a wonderful sense and this can make or break a product. There are times when something smells so bad that your brain is telling your taste buds they are not going to like the product before you even put in your mouth, however there are times when a product may smell bad but once you actually get over this the product is gorgeous. An example I can think of is Scan meatballs, which I reviewed a few months back. When you open the packet these smell like a**e but taste amazing.
Try to find something easily recognisable and well known to compare the smell to. Personally, I find describing a smell quite difficult but if you can find some well known product then use it.
****The consistency of the product****
Is the product watery? Is it gloopy? Is it thick? This is an opportunity to really play with words in order to get your point across so use it. If there is a recognizable product (whether edible or not) that you can use to liken it to then use it since it helps the reader visualise the food product you're reviewing which will enhance it no end.
I think that the consistency is the 'feel' of the product, which once again is another sense that is affected whilst eating. Some products have little taste but the consistency of them can generate the gag reflex. If this is the case with the product you are reviewing then state it.
****The taste of the product****
Taste is possibly the most important thing when it comes to food. If something looks awful, smells bad, is an awful consistency (that gives the gag reflex) but tastes fabulous then I will usually consume it.
Don't just say it tastes 'great' or 'fantastic' or 'gross'. Put a bit more thought and add a bit of depth. Once again try and think of something to liken it to since it will give the reader the opportunity to actually 'taste' the product whilst reading your review.
The Western world appears obsessed with nutritional information. How many calories does it contain? How much fat is in the product? What is the carbohydrate content? I'm following the Atkins (or some other fad diet) - can I eat it?
I have read some comments from other reviewers that they see this 'listing' exercise as pointless and it adds nothing to the review. Personally I like to know the nutritional information and providing you do more than just list it (for example compare it to other products or do something like that) then I think listing the key nutritional information is key in making a buying decision.
****How it compares to similar products****
When dealing with one off items or luxury items then this will be a bit more difficult. If there are alternatives then note down some differences and similarities between your product and the market leader. Comparisons between staple items or items that are made by many manufacturers, such as many tinned beans, many jarred and ready made sauces etc. is easy and if this is not included in a food review (wherever possible) then I think that there is a fundamental part missing.
****Price and availability****
It is a sad fact of life that money makes the world go round. It is a commodity that we all need in order to survive therefore price is a key issue when making a purchasing decision. As such I think that this should always be stated. Wherever possible I would compare the price to similar products and then make a comment upon whether the product is good value for money or not.
The availability is something that many reviewers seem to miss out. If you are reviewing Tesco own brand or Sainsburys own brand or Asda own brand then common sense suggests that this product is only available in those shops. However, if it is a product manufactured by another company then I think it is useful to state where it can be bought to avoid confusion. For example when Reggae Reggae Sauce was first put in to mass production and made available it was only available in Sainsburys. Now it can be bought in Tescos. Another example is Scan meatballs which I have only ever seen in Sainsburys (although I'm sure someone is now going to correct me). If this was not mentioned in the review then there may be some Tesco shoppers out there looking for Scan meatballs whilst doing their weekly shop.
Now it's time for the important bit and bringing together all your thoughts on the product. Summarise the key points, list the positives and the negatives (nothing is ever perfect yet it is amazing how many reviews I have read whereby there are only positives), state whether you would buy the product again, state whether it is good value and finally state if you would recommend it to felloe Dooyooers.
In order to keep the readers interested I think you need to add a bit of personality to a food review (I guess this applies to reviewing all products). Make witty or funny comments, where appropriate, and really get under the skin of the product. When I write reviews I often think of all the questions I would ask about the product and then make sure that these are covered in my reviews.
I'm sure there are many people that would consider this list way over the top, but these are all the things I look for in a very useful food product review and if included then the VU tab will be clicked by me.
I?d just like to stress before I get started on this opinion, that I?m not advocating one way (and only one way) of writing a dooyoo review, simply expressing my opinion on the way that I write in the hope that it might prove helpful to anybody looking for some hints. My style of writing is the best way for me, but it may not work for anybody else? I?ve waited a very long time to write this opinion! Firstly, if you?re new to dooyoo, then please just get stuck in writing opinions. The more you write, the better you?ll get. That age old adage that your teachers used to recite to you ?practice makes perfect? actually does have a grain of truth to it? No, really! Along with many users of this website, I can honestly say that my first few opinions (well, more than a few if I?m being strictly truthful) were pretty poor. I?d write a paragraph or two of semi-useful information, then post it straight away and move onto the next subject. Although there are many users of this site who don?t like to see half a dozen short opinions all posted soon after one another, personally I think it?s probably the best way to learn. If you keep writing, your opinions (and writing skill in general) will improve naturally. And hey, if you?re really embarrassed by your early attempts at opinionating, you can always go back later and rewrite them! However, I?d also strongly encourage paying attention to any advice given to you in the comments section, especially if it suggests things that the reader is interested in, but feels that you?ve missed out of your opinion. The more relevant information your opinion contains (within reason!) the higher it will be rated, and you might even get yourself a crown! OK. Personally, before writing a review, I spend time making notes on every aspect I can think of about the opinion I?m going to write. I usually do
this when my husband is on the computer, but I also carry a notebook around in the car so if I have to sit and wait anywhere, I can do something useful instead of just staring at the scenery. Once I?ve completed my notes on any given subject, I then sit down at the computer to write my opinion, cherry picking the best and most relevant points from my notes for inclusion in the opinion. Now, I?ll admit that this is exceptionally anal, most people just sit down at the computer and type what?s in their head? Of course, this works perfectly well for them, but I?ve got a memory like a sieve, so rely on my notes! In my opinions I try to include all (or as much as possible) of the interesting and pertinent information on whatever I?m reviewing. For example, I?d include what a packet of crisps, looks, smells and tastes like, and I might even include what it feels and sounds like, if relevant (your senses are an excellent guide when opinionating, use them, then tell us about your experiences!) I then move on to the real nitty-gritty; the important information - though not always the most exciting! Sticking to my crisp example, I?d probably include what kind of oil the crisps are fried in, if they?re suitable for vegetarians, if they?re made of potato or wheat, how many grams in the packet, where they can be bought from, if they?re available in multipacks, what flavours you can buy, etc. The final step, for me, is whether or not I like the product. But I might also include whether my family like them, if I think they?re good value and whether or not I?d buy them again. But (and this is a big but) I probably wouldn?t include all of the points mentioned above, I?d just include the ones that I had something interesting to say about, and that I thought would be relevant to potential purchasers? Just including every last,
tiny bit of information you can think of does not a Very Useful opinion make! It just makes for a very long, dull opinion! You might think that all of this opinionating takes me an awfully long time, and you?d probably be right! I usually spend several hours a week brainstorming opinionating ideas into my notebook. Then, I usually write each opinion in one sitting, forcing myself to stay at the computer until it?s finished! Then I run the opinion through a spellcheck, before rereading in an attempt to pick up and correct any mistakes that the spellchecker missed. Finally, when I?m completely satisfied that my opinion is as good as I can possibly make it, I post it on dooyoo and wait for a response. Reading peoples comments on my opinions is probably the best bit! As I admitted earlier, I?m a particularly anal sort of gal. I take all writing very seriously, even opinionating on dooyoo. This is probably because I?m in the middle of a degree in Creative Writing! However, you can and should use dooyoo exactly as you wish to. Write in your own style and at your own pace. I have to admit that even I don?t follow my own guidelines all of the time. It took me three attempts to write my opinion on Welwyn Garden City, and I do sometimes bash out an opinion without working from notes, too! Oddly, this opinion is one of the shortest I?ve written in a very, very long time. This is mainly because I think that writing opinions is generally a very straightforward process. Going into great detail about how to write down something we all talk about every day of our lives seems a little like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs. The main point I?d like to make is that we all have our own set of opinions on everything we come across. This site is all about sharing those opinions to help others, and earn
ing a few pence along the way! It?s not about being a world class writer, just about getting your point across in a way that?s easy for others to read and understand! If there?s one, essential piece of advice that I can offer about writing opinions, it would be this. Make sure that the category exists for the opinion you want to write before you write it. There?s nothing more disheartening then writing a masterpiece, and then having nowhere to post it! If it doesn?t exist, then by all means request it, but write about something else whilst you?re waiting for the new category to appear on dooyoo, as they often take an awfully long time, and sometimes never arrive at all! And finally, I've posted this opinion in 'How to Write a Good Food & Drink Review' but this is general advice which could just as easily be applied to any other opinion you'd care to write (there just isn't a catagory for how to write opinions in general - see - told you I don't always take my own advice!!!)
How to write a good food op? Well, if you listen to some people (you know who you are) there is no such thing. 'Puerile', 'useless' , 'quick way to make money', even the word 'b******s' has appeared on certain hallowed message boards to describe food ops. Well, Guess what? Yep, I disagree. Undoubtedly its one of the easiest subjects to write about but one of the most difficult to write a decent op on. I mean, it can be so simple. E.g., Walkers Roast Chicken Crisps: 'They were big and very crispy and crunchy, they did taste of roast chicken and were very nice. They were cheap and I would buy them again'. There you go, all you need to know in 28 words. But that aint going to impress no one, no siree! What's wrong with it? In my humble opinion? Not enough information, imagination and that little something. In the above example I'd like to know a few more things, cheap?, what was the price, how did it compare to other brands, expand on the taste, greasy strong, subtle? Perhaps there could be some nutritional value, are they suitable for vegetarians (you'd be surprised) So they contain nuts? And give it some flair, liven it up, make me want to carry on reading, not run my eye over like a physics textbook does. Now class, lets take these issues in turn. PACKAGING - The major problem have with food ops is descriptions of packets taking up half the opinion. 'The packet is about 3 inches high and 4 inches long. Its made of foil and makes very nice rustling noises when you touch it. It is coloured red like a pillar box, the writing is quite small and is yellow with white around the edges. There is a small picture of the product and some stars, it makes the product look nice. However it was hard to open and I had to get some scissors that luckily I had bought earlier from Asda' Hope you were as bored reading that as I was writing it. That's not to say packaging is t
otally unimportant. In my ops its usually for a bit of amusement, the scary creature on the front of jaffa cake bars or the fact that I may become like the cowboy on the front of wagon wheels. How impossible it can be to open them, even how to recognise them on a shelf of similar product can all be useful. But that's it, I don't need to know the shade of colour of the typeset used, quickest way to get a low rating. INGREDIENTS - No, no, no ,no. Site guidelines say that these should no be listed. Another misuse of good opinion space, of course they can be useful. Obviously to find out if they are vegetarian, also more people are wanting to know if they are suitable for those with allergies. Personally I also like to know if they have so many 'E' numbers my kids are going to turn green, run up the side of building destroying cars with their laser sight as they go! OK, vegetarian, allergies, 'E' numbers, that's it, end of conversation. PRODUCT APPEARANCE - No, not that its an inch long, 3 inches high again. Does it look nice, does it look appetising, does it look like you want to put it in your mouth? Evolution see, if it didn't look nice cavemen wouldn't eat it, well I aint evolved much further than that! Describe it to me, does it look nice enough to get all drooly over or would it go in the bin as soon as I laid eyes on it? Does it belie or confirm its quality? IS it good value, does it actually resemble the product described or suggested? TASTE - Well obviously the most important thing. This is the thing that is going to clinch it for most people, so make it good. Often food has a start, beginning and an end, the first immediate reaction on you taste buds, a longer lasting middles and an aftertaste. Describe them to us, if it first tastes delicious, then moves to sheer heaven but once its disappeared it leaves a taste of poo in your mouth then I want to know about it. Don't let me be disappo
inted when I go to buy the product to find that you missed the poo bit out! 'It taste mainly of chicken', but what else, Strawberry Jam? I really would like to know. Again, is the taste indicative of the quality, supposed or otherwise or is it a complete rip-off? SMELL - Does it smell of what it should, is it lovely and tempting or rotten and nauseous? That's all I need to know, its not an airfreshner op! NUTRITIONAL STUFF - Not the same as ingredients, all us big beautiful women out there who have decided to succumb to the horror of dieting will be interested in the calories and fat content, I like to know how much salt its got in it, its also interesting to see if they something says it has only 1% fat, whether that's actually the case. But that's it really. Phew, I think that's the main things, every op has it little difference though, the alcoholics among you may want to know how much a alcohol a bottle of beer has for example. But even if you list all those things, it doesn't mean its a good op. I want to see some flair, some humour, a little va va voom, that makes you Walkers Crisps op stand out from all the hundreds of other. I cant tell you what it is though, that come with practice. Those anti-food op people also bitch about innuendoes in food ops, well ignore them I say? Food is almost an emotion in itself, it certainly mirrors our own, dare I say more so in women than in men? Food is very sexual, its oral, its pleasurable, just look at 9 ½ weeks! Who hasn't taken a can of whipped cream to bed (Space dust is another story!). The way it feels in your mouth is very important, melts easily or chewing it for hours, I know what's nicer. All women know when they are a bit down or stressed there's nothing better than curling up on the sofa with a big bar of chocolate and a few glasses of wine. Its the chemicals you see, makes you happier! I know my Nan or Mum gave me a l
ollipop or biscuits when I'd bumped my head or grazed my knee. Its been used as comfort, bribes, rewards and punishments for years. Food is an integral part of our lives on many different levels and is well deserving to be included in the ops categories. It still take skill to write one much as any other ops, and good ones should be recognised and nor rated down because people 'don't like food ops'. I'm going to e happy and proud to carry on writing my food ops. Well, thankfully we have come to the end of this rather long op. It seems to have turned into rather a long list of don'ts! Hope its of help though and say 'BAH' to all those doubters.!
Oh, you know, if you've come here looking for a foolproof recipe then you're out of luck. I can't cook! I sure do like to eat though, so I'll give it a go. For a basic Opinion Soup you'll need: 2 pints of Product Knowledge 2 pounds of Personal Experience 1 pound of Ideas 1 tablespoon of Yourself Seasoning of Humour and Wit to taste Cooking time The best utensils you can afford It's very easy to make: you just mix all the ingredients together, stir about and cook for a bit. That's it. And the wonderful thing about Opinion Soup is that it's so versatile. There's a variation to suit everyone. Opinion Soup can be warming and hearty and familiar, it can be sophisticated, delicate and a delight to the all the senses, or it can be light, frothy and witty. There is an Opinion Soup for all occasions, I promise you. Heehee. Would that it were so easy, eh? There, in a silly analogy, you have all the ingredients for a good Food and Drink opinion. But when you sit down to write it doesn't seem quite so easy or so basic does it? And that's because there's a tricky bit. Writing, like cooking, is all about balance. It's all about getting the mix right. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it just won't come out right. You've got all the ingredients, but somehow that recipe doesn't taste quite as you want it too, and neither will that darned opinion about it you've been trying to get down on paper for days sound quite right. It's too long, it's too short, it's too boring, it's too waffly. Oh, it's so annoying; you can't quite put your finger on it, can you? It's just too, too, SOMETHING. Well, don't worry, for a start you're probably trying too hard. It's only an opinion, after all. Don't get stressed because if you're stressed you won't stand a chance. Chill. Relax. Think of your basic recipe; it m
ight be just a silly analogy but if you use it you won't go far wrong. If you take all those things in roughly those proportions then your opinion will be fine. Let's take a look at them. They all apply generally, but let's see how they apply to writing about Food and Drink in particular. Product Knowledge Do get your facts together and get them straight. The last thing you want to do is mislead anyone. Product Knowledge is vitally important. Whatever foodie product you're going to recommend to us, or tell us to steer clear of please do tell us what it is, where to buy it, how much money we'll need, what to look for when we buy, tell us if there's anything else we should know. Give us enough detail and make sure that you've covered most bases. You'd be surprised at how many opinions there are on beer hereabouts that don't even mention whether it's a light or dark beer, or how much alcohol content it has, they just tell an 'I got drunk and fell over' story. We'd definitely like to know where we can get hold of that special wine you drank recently, and how much it'll cost us, otherwise we won't be able to drink it too, will we? Conversely, Product Knowledge is only part of a good opinion, even if it is a vital part. We don't need every teensy last detail, especially if we can find them on the label in the shop. Please don't insist on giving us the full list of ingredients and the entire nutritional information printed on that tub of ice cream, or a detailed description of its packaging in feet, inches and pantone colours. It's boring. Do tell us though if there's anything we SHOULD know about those things: has the ice cream unusually more or unusually less calories than other ice creams? The weightwatchers amongst us would be interested in that. Has the ice cream any particularly nasty E numbers? The allergic amongst us would want to know that. See what I mean? Give us the in
formation, but don't bore us rigid with it. Personal Experience Food and Drink is a pretty diverse category you know. There are sections here to write about branded products such as particular wines or spirits or gourmet foods. There are sections to write about generic products such as oils or cheeses. There are sections for you to share your secret recipes with the dooyoo community and places for you to pontificate on all sorts of food-related issues. A rigid set of rules won't work for all those vastly different things but one thing you must have is Personal Experience. You need to have eaten or drunk or cooked whatever you're going to write about, or used that super foodie website a few times, or taken your children to a few restaurants if you're going to tell us your views. Ill-informed opinions aren't to be trusted. We don't want to know your view on Courvoisier if you're a teetotaller, or to read your anti-smoking rant in a section for a particular brand of cigarettes, and you'd be surprised how many contributions there are like that. Sorry, but you're going to have to save it for Speaker's Corner. So please, let your opinion be informed with lots of experience. The most important thing about Food and Drink, and this will seem so obvious, is how the thing you're writing about TASTES. Edit out that worthy list of ingredients you included for the sake of padding in your Product Knowledge section and replace it with a lovely long description of your experience of the taste. Compare what you're writing about with other similar foods, tell us how and where you've enjoyed it the most. Is what you're writing about something to be saved for a special occasion and savoured? Is it something that will revolutionise the daily routine? Food is a sensuous experience. We'd like to read about the taste of your wonderful gourmet item until we can almost smell it cooking! Ideas Oh pl
ease, please give us ideas! I'm not an original thinker, or a lateral one, I'm a pretty hopeless cook too and so I'm always in need of tips and hints for success in the kitchen. What do you know that I don't? What's the clever way you use Balsamic Vinegar that isn't in the cookbooks? Is there possibly a super way to consume that Mars Bar that neither I nor Marianne Faithfull have experienced? (I doubt it). Don't just tell me how Stilton cheese is made, what it looks like and describe its taste, tell me a new way to use it that's yummy (I swirl and melt crumbs of mine into homemade leek soup, it's wonderful). Ideas are particularly important when you're giving us your recipes. We can find short, basic recipes on hundreds and hundreds of sites on the internet. Most of them are cleverly searchable by ingredient. Dooyoo isn't. So give us something else instead. Is there a particular utensil, or culinary technique that makes cooking the recipe you're writing about easier or quicker? Are there lots of possible variations for different occasions? Is there a way to simplify it so that you can include the children when you're making it? Can you turn any leftovers into something else equally yummy the next day? Ideas are the things that move Food and Drink opinions from the Useful to the Very Useful. Food is a creative thing you see. I know you've ideas, just don't forget to share them! If you include goodly amounts of Product Knowledge, Personal Experience and Ideas you really are almost there with your Food and Drink epic. The other ingredients are for you to add or not add as you please. They don't apply just to Food and Drink, they apply for any opinion you're writing. Yourself You are what separates a dooyoo opinion from a professionally written review. You're what makes it different and often more interesting. Yes, you. YOU! We want to know about you and yours and your par
ticular likes and dislikes. We only need a tablespoon of you (it's all about balance, remember?) but we do need you. It matters not a jot whether we like what you like or we hate what you hate. Even if we not like you, if you give us a tablespoonful of you then we'll more easily be able to make a judgement or a better decision on what you're telling us about. We don't need your life history, or your full day's agenda a week last Saturday, so don't give us more than a tablespoonful, but please do give us a little bit of you. Humour and Wit Ah, any recipe needs seasoning. Food is so bland without it and so is writing. Add your jokes and make us smile. Add them to your taste. But always remember the golden rule of cooking and don't over season either. Keep the balance. Make us smile but do inform us more. The right seasoning of dishes separates the chefs from the hopeless cooks like me. It's an art. And the seasoning can raise your opinion from a VU to its dooyoo Michelin star equivalent, a crown. But the danger with seasoning is that you'll drown the basic ingredients. No one likes anything that tastes of nothing but salt. You know? Balance balance balance. This goes for any opinion too. So there are the ingredients you'll need for a super duper Food and Drink opinion. Don't forget your technique and the tools you'll need though. Cooking Time Like I said, it's a varied category, Food and Drink. Some opinions will need a longer cooking time than others. Don't get hung up on providing us with 'enough' words. Once you've given us all those ingredients described above then we don't need any more. Any more will be too much. If you're writing about one item in the delectable Lindt range of chocolate offerings we really don't need hundreds of words on the history of the company (in fact, I think I'll scream if I read one more opinion all about thos
e chocolate philanthropists of yesteryear) with a few words about the chocolate itself tacked on the end. We just need to know that Lindt is a long-established and well-regarded (by me anyway!) manufacturer. Length in itself doesn't matter, but again, good old balance does. Do you see what I mean? An opinion on one particular red wine doesn't need an in-depth analysis of viticulture, but one on Red Wine In General will certainly benefit from that sort of background information. I think Cooking Time boils down (argh pun unintentional I promise you!) to relevance really. Think of the topic, the dooyoo category. Is what you're going to tell us relevant to that, or is it pointless waffle? Do be relevant and remember that some opinions, like some food, come better in small, intense servings, and some opinions, like some food, are best prepared over a long time and eaten slowly, with savour. Utensils Yawn. Ain't this just the boring bit? You don't want to think about getting all the right utensils ready before you create that wonderful confection in the kitchen, do you? That makes it all seem so dull. You just want to get out there and make it. It's likewise with opinions I think. You want your masterpiece up there in all its glory as quickly as possible. But you know, give it some respect, eh? Use the best tools available to you, boring as it is. Write in a word-processing program, or in Outlook Express and not straight into the dooyoo box so that you can use a spellchecker. Use paragraphs. Dispense with text speak. Verify your information on the www if you need to. Boring, and not particularly food-related, but necessary I'm afraid! I hope that helped. I'll enjoy your Opinion Soup when I read it, I'm sure!