So do you like salt, or do you like eating?

French Fries

I know it shouldn’t surprise me, but now and again it does. What is that you may ask? Well the blog post title is a bit of a giveaway, the answer is salt, or more specifically the amount of salt in both processed foods and in restaurant meals too.

I recently bought a chocolate cake from Sainsbury’s, what astounded me was that the salt content per 100g was higher than Ready Salted Pringles! I know people complain about the amount of sugar in savoury foods (I am looking at you Duchy) but this was a sweet thing. There I was thinking that supermarkets were trying to reduce the amount of salt they use in their products.

I am finding a fair few restaurants are not just adding salt to cooking, I kind of expect that level of seasoning, but then “garnish” the dish with even more salt. I recently had some sweet and sour squid, over the salt and pepper squid and was disappointed to find that the squid had been garnished with sea salt. Similarly the number of places that “garnish” their fries with salt, yes, I’m looking at you Café Rouge!

I am now pretty sensitive to the amount of salt I find in foods and I do find now that when used excessively detracts rather than enhances the flavour of the food I eat. So do you like salt, or do you like eating?

How much salt?

Guardian finds the salt content in some foods varies from country to country.

Salt content in some of the world’s most popular burger, snack and cereal brands almost doubles in some countries, according to new research out today.

A survey of more than 260 popular food products available around the world from food giants such as KFC, McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, Nestle, Burger King and Subway found that no single product surveyed had the same salt content around the world while some displayed huge variations from one country to another.

Read more

It can be quite amazing, well more like scary, how much salt can be found in some ready meals and fast food. Often as much (if not more) than the recommended daily amount of salt, and then some people add more salt! The fact that there is more salt added in different countries means you can’t rely on having the same eating experience as you travel around.


For me personally I try and avoid salt for health reasons, but now much prefer the natural flavours of food, herbs and spices and I don’t need the taste of salt. I certainly don’t consider salt to be a natural flavour enhancer.

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Unsalted Crisps

I much prefer unsalted crisps, however I am having real problems buying them locally.

True I can buy Smiths (actually Walkers) unsalted Salt ‘n’ Shake crisps, but I much prefer the traditionally cooked crisps you can buy.

In theory Tyrells, Kettle and Burts make unsalted crisps, but though my local suppliers have other flavours they no longer stock the unsalted versions.

Tapas for a Tenner

I have been meaning for ages to visit La Tasca. I really like tapas and I really wanted to try their paella – more often then not I am very disappointed with the paella that is offered at other places.

So today I happened to be in Regent Street and popped into La Tasca for a (very) late lunch.

I decided to do the Tapas for a Tenner deal. This deal allows you to eat as many tapas as you want for just £10! The deal varies across the UK, but here it was available until 5pm, whilst in Bristol it is available from 5pm!

Tapas for a Tenner

I went for six dishes in the end.

Patatas Bravas – Fried potato, topped with a spicy tomato sauce.

A Spanish classic and a tapas favourite. The tomato sauce was spicy, but rather too salty for me. Whilst the potatoes were soft and not crispy, slightly oily. A bit of a disappointment for a dish which should be relatively simple to make. It felt like it had not been freshly cooked and left around for a while. For me tapas should be freshly cooked.

Paella de Pescado – Paella with squid, prawns and mussels, served with lemon.

This was a well flavoured dish, but again like the patatas bravas did not taste fresh, felt like it had been cooked a good hour earlier.

Calamares a la Andaluza – Deep-fried rings of squid, served with roasted garlic mayonnaise and lemon.

Now this is a dish which again is simplicity, but oh was so wrong. The rings were overcooked so were rubbery in texture. I got the feeling (and I may have been wrong) that these were not freshly prepared, but came from a packet or even the freezer. Good calamari should be cooked using fresh squid. Alas they covered the calamari in salt – if I wanted salt I would have asked for it.

Chorizo Frito al Vino – The spicy Spanish sausage, sautéed in red wine.

This in my opinion was perfect, great chorizo cooked in red wine, bursting with meaty flavours and with a great depth provided by the red wine. This one I would have had second helpings of.

Selección de Embutidos – A selection of cured Spanish meats.

Can you get this wrong, no, and La Tasca didn’t. Three slices each of three different kinds of cured Spanish meats.

Paella Valenciana – A Valencian-style paella, with mixed seafood and chicken.

A different paella to the first tapas, but a similar story.

Overall I kind of had what I expected. La Tasca is a chain (not a family run restaurant) and probably cooks to a system. I did enjoy the meal (despite the disappointing food) and the ambiance and the atmosphere was pleasant, and you have to remember this was a very busy Regent Street.

Will I go again, possibly if I was stuck and there was nothing else to choose from.

Don’t buy the salty food…

The Guardian reports today that consumers are been asked to stop buying excessively salty ready meals.

Shoppers are today urged to boycott an unhealthy “hit list” of supermarket ready meals amid claims that they undermine the progress made by most manufacturers in reducing the average salt content of convenience foods.

It can be quite amazing, well more like scary, how much salt can be found in some ready meals. Often as much (if not more) than the recommended daily amount of salt, and then some people add more salt!


For me personally I try and avoid salt for health reasons, but now much prefer the natural flavours of food, herbs and spices and I don’t need the taste of salt. I certainly don’t consider salt to be a natural flavour enhancer.

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Sea Bass Recipe

The Guardian has published another of Hugh’s recipes, sea bass baked in a salt crust.

This is one recipe I won’t follow due to the amount of salt involved though I know a salt crust is more a cooking process then a seasoning process, having done this in the past (with a chicken), the end result is still quite salty.

How much salt?

Blinding obvious comes to mind when I read on the BBC about the CASH (Consensus Action on Salt and Health) report on salt in fast food.

The daily recommended intake of salt for an adult is just 6g.

According to the Cash survey, a family of four sharing a Pizza Hut meal deal – consisting of one Cheesy Bites Meat Feast, one medium Super Supreme, a portion of garlic bread, a portion of potato wedges, chicken wings, and a cheesecake dessert – could eat 12.3g of salt each.

Most fast food “meals” contain about the daily recommended amount of salt. That’s a lot of salt, and remember some people then add extra salt to their salted food as well.


Most people eat way too much salt, it’s not difficult to cut down, but people forget that herbs and spices can add a huge amount of flavour to a dish without needing to resort to salt.

However it can be difficult if you are going out to eat. It’s surprising how many chefs think that just because they haven’t added salt it’s not salty. I have been offered as salt-free dishes, a salad with olives, cured loin of pork (like gammon) and even ham sandwiches.

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I can’t believe it’s salted butter…

For many years now I have been avoiding salt, I don’t add salt when cooking, I don’t add salt to my food when eating and where possible I avoid foods with a high salt content and where I can I will purchase the unsalted variety.

So when it comes to spread, virtually all margarines (and especially low fat spreads) are out of the question due to the salt content, so I usually go for unsalted butter. I realise it has quite a high fat content, but I just use less!

My usual brand is unsalted President butter, I have tried other brands and unfortunately the only other brand I liked was Rachel’s unsalted organic butter, but I can’t find that locally. All the other unsalted organic butters (own brand included) seem to be made by Yeo Valley and I didn’t like it.

So imagine my annoyance when I went to purchase some butter from my local Tesco when I found that they had stopped selling President unsalted, but had started selling salted President butter instead!



I am annoyed, looks like back to Morrisons or Sainsbury to get my butter.

Café Rouge – too salty even it was by the sea…

Cardiff Bay

I really like Café Rouge, I have had nice meals there in Brighton and Bath, so when I was in Cardiff recently I stopped to get a coffee and a snack.

I ordered a baguette with fries and a coffee.

Well I was disappointed, the baguette sandwich was fine and what I was expecting, however the fries were so very salty. I have never understood why some places insist on salting their fries (or chips) before serving them to the customer. Are people getting so lazy now that even if they want salt on their fries they couldn’t be bothered to do it themselves and let the restaurant or café do it for them. Even so in this instance there seemed to be a about three days of your recommended daily allowance on a pathetically small portion of fries in Café Rouge. I had to send them back, and though the waitress seemed to indicate that was how they came, I did manage to get unsalted fries. I got the impression that the fries I had before *may* have been secondhand or from the bottom of a badly salted batch.

I don’t like a lot of salt on my food (I never add it myself to my food or my cooking) so when I get something which is heavily salted in a restaurant I can’t eat it. Sometimes I remember to ask, but usually I forget.

So apart from the very very salty fries, what else did I not like about Café Rouge in Cardiff, well, the sausage in my baguette was overcooked and slightly burnt in places, I am guess they meant chargrilled, but it was more charred than grilled.

Another thing, the service was very very intrusive. I really wanted to be left alone to enjoy my meal, but the waitress kept coming up to me to see if I wanted this, or wanted that, or was it okay, etc… I had only just put my fork down on my empty plate and she was there ready to take it away.

Please give me a little time…

Also it took ages for my order to arrive in the first place (so I did get my time then, but she was always there…). It wasn’t as though the place was really busy, six of us all together I think, and the others were either about to leave or had their food on their table. There were about six waiting staff, there may have been more, but I think they needed more staff in the kitchens.

Overall I was disappointed with the food and the service, I know Café Rouge is a chain, but in this case the Cardiff branch was a real disappointment. I will probably go to the one in Bath again, but Cardiff, well there are plenty of other places to eat in the vicinity and the tapas place looked interesting.