“ Magazine offering articles on food, wine and the people who create them. „
Waitrose Food Illustrated is a magazine available only in Waitrose or by subscription. It comes out every month and is normally £2.50. The September 09 issue is on a TRY ME offer for £1.
Now I get it every month and I look forward to getting it every month- but here is the important bit- I do not pay for it- as it is free to Waitrose/John Lewis credit card holders. To be honest if you are a regular Waitrose/John Lewis shopper, and if you are sensible with credit, it is best to have the card- apart from the cashback- you get £30 of free Waitrose Magazines.
Now to be honest I would not spend the money on buying the mag if I didn't get it free- but then with all my food allergies and intolerances the recipes are of no use to me, even though I can still enjoy looking at them.
Every month there are 5 special offers - this month two for discounted stays at hotels, 30p off some sweets, a free main course at one restaurant and a free bottle of wine at another. But I cannot think of a month where there has not been an advertiser giving money off their product or a free product as well.
As the title decrees- the mag is about food and wine. But it is not all recipes, or what is in season that month. It is also about the food and wine itself, the farmers, the countries from whence our food comes. There are restaurant, wine bar and hotel reviews. There is always a competition and reader offers. The back page is always a celebrity food based question and answer session- what did you eat last night? what would your last meal be etc; etc.
Now to the recipes. More often than not the recipes are part of an article, for example September's issue includes an article talking to Antonio Carluccio about regional italian cooking and this includes six great recipes.
It is packed with recipe and food ideas from picnics to banquets, from family meals to dinner parties. From quickly prepared meals, to more involved catering. Every taste is catered for.
But the articles are not just recipe after recipe they are interesting and informative.
You learn about food across the globe, there is a particularly good write up on Vietnamese cooking in the September issue.
I particularly enjoy the monthly piece informing me about new products- of course these are products that are available in Waitrose, but rarely only available in their stores.
Each month they review new cook books.
The piece on seasonal food importantly also tells you what to do with it, very useful especially when they show one of the more unusual foods - like exotic fruit and veg.
The wine article cleverly links the wines to the main recipes in the magazine- as well as telling you all about the wine and what else it could be served with.
It is undoubtedly a magazine for foodies September's issue containing 63 recipes displayed in glorious mouthwatering colour.
Waitrose Food Illustrated magazine is published on the last Thursday of every month and is available from branches of Waitrose as well as from waitrose.com if you are placing an order for delivery. Any Waitrose/John Lewis and Partnership card-holders are entitled to one free copy; otherwise it costs £2.20. There are, however, money-saving vouchers on page 7, some of which are redeemable at Waitrose and some not. To give an example, in the November 2006 issue, there are vouchers for 50p off Dr Oetker's Deep Crisp Pizza and 50p off a So Good multipack of flavoured soya drinks (both redeemable at Waitrose); £10 saving and free delivery if you spend £75 at Waitrose Wine Direct; £10 saving on each top-price ticket to see 'The Snowman' at London's Peacock Theatre; and 30% saving on a night's dinner, bed and breakfast at the Midland Hotel Manchester. There is also an advertisement for Pilgrim's Choice cheddar cheese which has a coupon for 30p off .
The magazine includes a wide variety of recipes as well as articles on eating out in the UK and abroad, flavours of the month, book reviews, readers' letters and a competition. There are cooks' notes giving metric and imperial conversion tables alongside American cup measurements in case you don't usually use the metric weights quoted in the recipes. Towards the end of the magazine is an application form for a subscription to WFI, and each month new subscribers are tempted by a special offer. For November 2006 it is a free gift of a set of Charles Worthington Dream Hair Products worth over £20. A subscription to the magazine could make a good present for someone who is interested in cooking but doesn't live near a branch of Waitrose. A subscription for one year costs £16.50 if you are a Waitrose/John Lewis or Partnership card holder (to cover postage and packing), otherwise it is £26.40.
Many of the dishes that recipes are given for are illustrated with mouth-watering full-colour photographs. In the current issue Sophie Grigson (a regular contributor) focuses on recipes using beer or cider, from stew to apple fritters and of course Christmas pudding. Tonia George gives instructions for home-made croissants with a series of six step-by-step photos. Recipes using wild meat such as pan-fried pigeon salad form another five-page feature. Previous 2006 issues have featured recipes for redcurrant meringue tart, fragrant noodle soup (with green tea and fresh ginger), gluten-free pizza and gratin dauphinois to name but a few. On average, each issue gives 27/28 recipes; colour coding indicates those that take half an hour or less, those that may need advance preparation, those that can be made ahead of time and those that are suitable for vegetarians.
Most of the other articles are imaginatively illustrated, for example 'Flavours of the Month' uses almost life-size watercolours by Emma Dibben, while Prue Leith's feature criticising loud-mouthed chefs has distinctly unflattering caricatures of five of the worst offenders by Andre Carrilho.
Regular features include a one-page article where a celebrity says 'I couldn't live without......' (Ronnie Corbett chose Victoria Plums.) At the end of the magazine there is a one-page interview entitled 'A Question of Taste', where a famous personality is asked a series of questions including:
Where did you eat last night?
Who would you invite to a fantasy dinner party?
What's your favourite restaurant?
What would your last meal be?
Over the past year those interviewed have included Bill Nighy, Dannii Minogue, Jenny Seagrove and Nancy Dell'olio. Nancy had never heard of Marmite but loves roast beef. Mr Nighy 'became passionate' about Rowntree's Fruit Gums and apples when he gave up smoking, and remembers how much he enjoyed corned beef, new potatoes, peas and brown sauce as a child. Dannii would like to invite Bob Geldof and Jesse Metcalfe to her fantasy dinner party, and her favourite TV chefs are Anthony Worrall Thompson and Gordon Ramsay. Jenny Seagrove is a vegetarian who has given up alcohol; her fridge is full of organic salad, margarine, goat's milk and chickpeas.
Although this is essentially a food magazine, drinks are also included, mainly of the alcoholic variety. Wines of the Month is a regular feature. The current issue has recipes for cocktails whereas the June 2006 one had a 32-page summer drinks special.
The only non-alcoholic drink recipe I have come across recently was one for real lemonade in a summer issue.
From time to time you may find an article not directly linked to food: the August 2006 issue ran a twelve-page feature on the British summertime in pictures and verse. Beautiful photographs by Jenny Zarins showed very different aspects of the season, from billowing deckchairs and grandfathers playing bowls to young pink-clad girls clutching buckets on the seashore and a well-wrapped up young lad contemplating a huge Mr Whippy. Brian Patten supplied the poetry:
The ice cream is melting, the lemonade's hot,
Suntan oil's one thing Mum went and forgot.
Now my sister's a lobster, she's angry and red,
All day tomorrow she'll be sulking in bed.
Several of the contributors to WFI have received awards since the year 2000, and the magazine itself was chosen as Customer Magazine of the Year for 2006.
As with any glossy magazine, there are a lot of advertisements, usually full-page, mainly for products available at Waitrose. John Lewis do also advertise in the magazine; this month they are promoting their new 'green bee' service.
I value WFI mainly for recipes, but others may be particularly interested in features on UK restaurants as well as foreign cities, their food and their restaurants. Recent issues have featured Stuttgart, Cuba, Thailand and California.
The magazine is printed on good quality glossy paper that should stand up to use in the kitchen. It has 124 pages.