Tag Archives: The CReative Pot

Crush! 6 is more ‘less is more’, design still inconsistent

I have written about Crush! 1, Crush! 2, Crush! 3 and Crush! 4 and 5, the food and wine digital magazine, and had not yet got around to reading  Crush! 6, when a follow-up e-mail arrived last week, requesting me to read it.  The publishers must be able to track who has read the latest issue, and who has not, in sending out reminder e-mails.  I was pleasantly surprised that great improvements have been made to the presentation of the content.  Overall, it is evident that the Crush! designers are starting to understand that ‘less is more’ design is more attractive and efficient in getting one to read what is presented.

The cover page is the best of the six issues, with a beautiful salmon dish photograph, and because the Crush! designers have finally learnt that one cannot place text on top of visuals, a fundamental design rule in making copy readable.  The salmon colour has inspired a strong orange masthead, making it striking and attractive, and making one want to read the content. 

Advertising support has shrunk to Old Mutual, with two ads, and Fairview, with a ‘talking’ ad.   Pack recognition on the ‘Essentials’ page is far improved, the brand names being far easier to read, with typed names alongside, and this also applies to the ‘Quaff Now’ page.  Yet it fails on the ‘High Five’ page, on which the labels are barely legible.  The child-like banner for the ‘Tomato and Veg pasta’ recipe below the ‘Essentials’ feature attracts attention away from the featured products on the same page, a ‘conflict of interest’.   The Fairview feature is introduced through an illustration, which appears to look similar to the design of its ad, but uses two light blue banners that are barely legible, and one of these is obscured by a goat.   It is not immediately clear that one must click onto each of the flags/banners, to get a full overview of Fairview.

I loved the page by Meeta K. Wolff, whose name I have seen on Twitter, but about whom there is no introduction.   The photograph of her ‘Carrot and Red Soup with a hint of cumin’ makes one want to eat the page!  I am happy that editor Michael Olivier has accepted our suggestion to use a selection of talented food bloggers locally and even from overseas (Wolff lives in Germany).   The Creative Pot blogger Marisa Hendriks also has a double page, previously that of Andy Fenner/JamieWhoSA?, the same irritating shaking flashes containing the links to her five stories on Vanilla Rose ‘Pana Cotta’, ChilliJammer, Mushroom and White Rock Flatbread, 5 Ways with Beets, and the Wild Peacock Food Emporium.

The ‘Breakfast with Brad at Bistro 1682’ is very stylish-looking, the most stylish article I have seen of all in the Crush! issues, and the restaurant deserves it.   The photography of the egg dishes is excellent.   Following this is the rather pedestrian and boring looking ‘Quick and Delicious’ Monday – Sunday recipe suggestions, a complete contrast to the style and quality of the two pages that had preceded this section.   The ‘Four ways with Salmon’, with food preparation and styling by Sophia Lindop, and photography by Russel Wasserfall, is excellent, the salmon colour used to its best photography advantage.  Luisa Farello is a clever food stylist too, and this is the third Crush! issue for which she has worked.  Her Formal Dinner page, with Weltevrede MCC, looks beautiful and good enough to eat.  Pick ‘n Pay has a ‘Green Zone’ page for the first time, and is intended to reflect its environmental conscience, including the SASSI code fish that they sell.

Five unknown food bloggers are ranked in a ‘Rate Your Recipe’ feature, and these differ per issue.  It is unfortunate that the writers are not introduced.   An oddly designed feature on the Robertson Small Hotel uses the block number system, and one has to click on a series of these to get a good overview of the featured product, many readers probably opting out before opening each block.  An interview with Boets Nel of De Krans also uses the block method, and I doubt if readers will open all 16 of these blocks.

The messiest and poorest page in the issue is that by David Cope, The Foodie blogger, whose rambling on about a Bachelor Party is boring and not easy to read on a dirty-looking red-and-white check background, with black and white photographs, an absolute no-no when writing about wine or food.  His story on the Coffee Revolution is far better in presentation, but again is so superficial in only featuring Truth and Origin, when there are so many exciting new coffee suppliers opening, including the Haas Coffee Collective, and is therefore not comprehensive.  Another messy page is the ‘Fine Print’ book review page – eight books fight for attention, and one does not comprehend any of them, as the page is too busy. The classified ‘Crushifieds’ page is much simpler and more readable.

Rudi Liebenberg, Executive Chef at the Mount Nelson Hotel, is featured, also in a classy design, but there is almost no photography of his food at Planet Restaurant, and too many black and white photographs of Rudi and his chefs.   The feature does not inspire one to eat at the Planet.  

‘Less is more’ is a good design principle, and fewer, rather than more, design bells and whistles will make Crush! close to perfect.  I am happy to see how the ‘bells and whistles’ have been reduced drastically over the six issues.   Now all Crush! needs is greater design consistency throughout the whole magazine – one could think that each feature has been designed by a different designer, not what the magazine needs!   

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com   Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Sam Wilson of Food24 Blogs “paired” with Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir

The fourth Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting takes place on Wednesday 18 August, from 18h00 – 20h00, at Brio Restaurant, and will pair Sam Wilson of Food24 food blogs, and Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir wines in Franschhoek.

Sam Wilson is the Editor-in-Chief of Woman24, Parent24 and Food24.  Food24 has a special page on its website to provide a platform for 440 food bloggers, with 50000 readers and 200000 page impressions per month.  Sam was previously a commercial lawyer, and turned to freelance writing after the birth of her sons, before joining Media24. She was a speaker at the Food Bloggers’ Conference earlier this year.  She has also worked as a copywriter, a customer publishing strategist, a columnist and a cocktail bartender. Her websites collectively attract over 500 000 readers, and she says she “specialises in community management and the art of oversharing”.

Rob Armstrong has a BA in Archeology and Environmental and Geographical Science, and runs Haut Espoir in Franschhoek.  It is celebrating the 10th anniversary of turning this family farm into a red wine farm and planting it with Franschhoek Fynbos.  Rob is committed to “minimal intervention” with “mother earth”, both in terms of winemaking and their farming.  He is a proud member of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   Each of the two bloggers will talk for about half an hour about their blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club will give fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun.

Other writers that will be talking at future Bloggers Club meetings are the following:

Wednesday 22 September: Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog, and Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte and Hein Koegelenberg Blog

Wednesday 20 October: Clare Mack of Spill Blog, and Simon Back of Backsberg Blog

Wednesday 24 November:  Marisa Hendricks of The Creative Pot Blog, and Emile Joubert of Wine Goggle Blog

Wines are brought along by the wine blogging speaker, and Rob will introduce the Haut Espoir wines served.  Snacks will be served.  The cost of attendance is R 100.  Bookings can be made by e-mailing info@whalecottage.com.

Venue: Brio Restaurant, 130 Adderley Street (ex-Riboville), two doors down from the Twankey Bar of the Taj Hotel.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com