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If you had to guess the number of restaurants in London, what would you say? Hundreds? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions, even? If you go by licensed, food-led premises (as industry quarterly Market Growth Monitor does), there were 12,109 as of December 2015. That, however, obviously exludes drink-led establishments that may serve food (i.e. pubs and bars), or places that serve food but aren’t licensed to serve booze. The World Cities Culture Report 2015 (via Food Standards Agency research) estimates there are 24,360 restaurants in the capital. However you look at it, that’s more choice than we and our little noggins are equipped to navigate, which is one reason restaurant critics exist: to separate the Dinner by Heston Blumenthals from the dinners by a thousand cuts. And it’s when the critics stumble upon an example of the latter that the fun really starts – unless you happen to work there. You’ve probably heard what happened in June, when Evening Standard critic Fay Maschler gave a one-star review to then-newly opened Restaurant Ours, headed up by chef Tom Sellers. If you didn’t, Google it (basically, he responded to her review on his website, and he didn’t hold back), then turn to page 44 of this issue of foodism to hear about how critics like Maschler are shaping London’s food landscape. And when you’re done with that, find out what makes Sellers tick – and what he makes of the critics – on page 50. As he puts it: “When you’re in these shoes, and you get critiqued every day of your life, why shouldn’t you be able to say something back?” f
FRONT COVER: Photography by Ian Dingle. Glass by Riedel (Veritas Riesling/ Zinfandel, £55 for two, riedel.co.uk)
GRAZE 012 THE FOODIST 012 LOCAL HEROES 016 OPEN SEASON 016 LONDON LARDER 017 THREE OF THE BEST 017 THE ESCAPIST 018 THE RADAR 020 WEAPONS OF CHOICE 025 RECIPES 031 RICHARD H TURNER
FEAST 038 SUMMER IN LONDON 044 RESTAURANT CRITICS 050 TOM SELLERS 056 GREEK FOOD UNCOVERED 063 CHEF TO THE STARS
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EXCESS 070 BANGKOK STREET FOOD 074 BOTTLE SERVICE 081 THE DIGEST 085 UK: SUFFOLK 091 THE SELECTOR 098 DECONSTRUCT
MAVERICKS DONâ€™T DO RUN-OF-THE-MILL
NEW SEA SALT & PINK PEPPERCORN
012 THE FOODIST | 012 LOCAL HEROES | 016 OPEN SEASON 016 LONDON LARDER | 017 THREE OF THE BEST | 017 THE ESCAPIST 018 THE RADAR | 020 WEAPONS OF CHOICE | 025 RECIPES | 031 RICHARD H TURNER
— PART 1 —
GRAZE “EACH PROJECT IS UNIQUE, BUT EACH CHALLENGES OUR PERCEPTION OF WHAT YOU CAN PRODUCE IN THE CITY” THE FOODIST, 012
These agricultural projects show the role that cities can play in farming’s future, writes Mike Gibson
HE CONCRETE JUNGLE might seem like an abomination to someone whose job largely takes place surrounded by green fields. But farming doesn’t have to be confined to the country. In fact, there are a few urban farmers leading London’s slowly forming agricultural revolution – and doing so in creative, sustainable ways that are characteristic of our food scene. Reclamation is the name of the game. For example, Growing Underground (growingunderground.com) – the Michel Roux Jr-backed subterranean farm in Clapham – has used 16,000m2 of former airraid shelters to construct a dense network of underground tunnels which now houses an eco-friendly, hydroponic salad farm. London needs statement-making projects like these – ones that show the potential for genuine change, while still meeting the mass
demand of a city of its size and population. But, increasingly, small-scale, communityled projects are bearing fruit, too. Like the community garden at the start-up incubator and food market Pop Brixton (popbrixton.org), which has reserved a section of its space for growing vegetables and herbs, presided over by members of the community, with the aim not only of producing local produce, but helping growers educate each other, too. Or Hackney’s Growing Communities (growingcommunities.org), which produces vegetable boxes cycled to restaurants and homes, all grown on a patchwork of tiny farmland spaces in between terraced houses and shops. Each project is unique, but each challenges our perception of what can be produced in the city, and how sustainably you can do it. Local produce in London is no longer a pipedream – it’s very much alive. f
FIRE IT UP
SU M M E R F E STS
1 TELEGRAPH GIN EXPERIENCE 2-3 August; The Roof Gardens Summer and gin go hand in hand – particularly at a Fever-Tree tonicfuelled event like the Telegraph’s Gin Experience. This is more than just a tasting: it’s a two-day extravaganza dedicated to London’s favourite spirit. telegraphevents.co.uk
FOODSTOCK 30-31 July; Battersea Park
If you’re a South West Londoner, you’ll want to keep this weekend in your diary. The grassy expanse of Battersea Park will be dedicated to showcasing the best local food and drink, featuring Lickalix ice lollies, Sambrooks and more. enablelc.org/foodstock
Photograph by Camille Mack
There’s something about cooking over fire that’s addictive and primal. But if you want a bit more precision in your flame cooking, you could do a hell of a lot worse than the OFYR, a monolithic new grill from the Netherlands that’s pretty ingenious. Start a fire in the center,
and the flat steel rim around it becomes a hot skillet that’ll fry the food as it’s being covered in tasty woodsmoke. The best part? The design means the heat spreads steadily and dissipates, giving you control of how quickly you cook. Now that’s our kind of Dutch oven. Or Dutch skillet. Whatever. ofyr.nl
12 moments of
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Smooth, melting Lindor in a milk chocolate bar. You choose the moment, weâ€™ll provide the bliss.
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LOCAL HEROES + MORE S UMMER F E STS
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TEQUILA & MEZCAL FEST 17-18 September; Old Truman Brewery
27-29 August; Alexandra Palace If you fancy testing your tastebuds, head to Foodies Festival, where you’ll be able to take part in both a chilliand a jungle bug-eating challenge. Or you could just stroll around the splendid surrounds of Alexandra Palace and sample food from the Street Food Avenue, and top up your pantry with produce from the Artisan Market. Hard life, isn’t it? foodiesfestival.com
Forget Saturday night lemon-and-salt slammers; drunk in the right way, tequila – and its sister spirit, mezcal – is a delicacy, and that’s something you can learn more about at Tequila & Mezcal Fest. Patrón is this year’s primary sponsor, so you can expect to find plenty of its handcrafted tequila, while other brands to look out for include Amores Mezcal, Casco Viejo and Rosa Picante. What’s more, you’ll be able to soak up all that booze with food from the likes of Lupita, Camion and Wahaca. tequilafest.co.uk
MEATOPIA 2-4 September; Tobacco Dock
Prepare for some serious meat sweats: Meatopia is returning to Tobacco Dock, and bringing an allstar line up of chefs and music along with it. There’ll be appearances from the likes of Tomos Parry, Argentina’s legendary Francis Mallmann, plus Brad McDonald and Tom Adams, all known for their love of cooking with flame. Everything is cooked over logs or charcoal; you can expect dishes involving the whole animal, from nose to tail, along with paired drinks and a stellar music line up featuring Professor Green, Jazzie B and Norman Jaye. Get booking. meatopia.co.uk
Photograph by Pageturner Photography; Roger Alarcon
OUR FAVOURITE DEFINITELY REAL HOT SAUCES
MR SAUCE’S FRUIT SALAD
CRABSHAW’S GUT DESTROYER
Like the fruity tang of Scotch bonnet? Ramp up the flavour with this sauce, made with fresh kiwi, guava, banana, lychee, starfruit and durian fruit for a light and mild sauce that’ll take you to the heart of the, er, Caribbean? We’re not sure.
This tangy, sour sauce is made by fermenting chilli and adding pickled tea leaves, producing a borderline uncategorisable flavour that’s half-way between kombucha and sriracha. Because why the bloody hell not?
Like your stomach? Then this monstrous sauce isn’t for you, so do one. Made with the Colombian Facehugger chilli (clocking in at 3.4m on the Scoville scale), this is sure to produce blood, sweat and tears. Not in that order.
Eco chef Tom Hunt debuts a brand-new column focusing on seasonal produce. This month, he talks broad beans
ROM JUNE TO August, broad beans are a sure sign that summer is here. They begin small and sweet, raw and ready for salads; even the pods are tasty. As they grow larger and become a little more bitter, I like to use them in Arabic pilafs and rustic Italian-style soups. Dried broad beans – or fava beans, as they are also known – make a sumptuous and moreish purée that, flavored with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt, is better than any chickpea hummus. Broad beans are hardy and easy to grow, even in poor soils. This means that they are readily available from local farmers. If you grow your own broad beans, you can also eat the small leaves by steaming or wilting them like spinach; and you can even use the flowers to dress your salads. Broad beans keep well in or out of the refrigerator, as they are well protected by
their pods. If the pods become blemished, the beans will often still be perfect, so make sure you check inside before you throw them to the compost monster. f The Natural Cook by Tom Hunt is available now (Quadrille, £20). For more on Tom and his restaurants: tomsfeast.com; @tomsfeast
THE LONDON LARDER
This month: Aphrodite’s
What’s the product? The new pomegranate ketchup from Aphrodite’s leads something of a double life: you can dip your chips in it, or use as a sweet, sticky addition to a Middle Eastern slow braise.
Who makes it?
What does it taste like?
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW AT FOODISM.CO.UK
THE MODERN PANTRY’S ANNA HANSEN, talking about Peter Gordon’s mentorship
It’s got the sweetness of molasses, but a big whack of acidity thanks to the fresh vegetables and vinegar. We used it in a slow braise, but it’d work equally well with some salted sweet potato fries.
Where can I get it? It’s available now at Selfridges Food Hall. Or, if you can’t get out, you can buy online at aphroditesfood.com for £4.50.
Photograph by Violleta
HIS APPROACH WAS VERY MUCH GIVE ANYTHING A GO, DON’T BE AFRAID TO CROSS CULTURES, AND IF YOU THINK INGREDIENTS WILL WORK WELL TOGETHER, THEN TRY THEM. 16
The founders’ story is an interesting one. Dixie Innes and William Powell set up Aphrodite’s as an East London street-food van, cooking dishes that showcased the ketchup. Having built a solid reputation, they’ve now just put the standalone product on the market. The pomegranate molasses used to make it comes from Lebanon; all the fresh ingredients are locally sourced.
MEAN BEANS: Hardy broad beans grow well even in dry summers. Free-draining soil is important to create the best environment for them.
QUOT E OF T HE MO NTH
SUMMER DRINKS 1
SIPSMITH LONDON CUP
Like any modern gin distiller, Sipsmith owes much to London in the 1800s. But one thing that was largely lost to that era was borage, a quintessentially British herb that was infused in the gins of the time. In great news for antiquated herb enthusiasts, it’s bringing back the herb into its new London Cup, a summer liqueur designed to be mixed with lemonade. £20.45; sipsmith.com
SEEDLIP GARDEN 108
Normally, distilled spirits are, er, alcoholic. But Seedlip’s looking to change all that with its non-alcoholic versions, which are the result of distilling liquid in a copper still and infusing botanicals, like a gin, but without fermentation, meaning no sugar is turned into alcohol. This one’s infused with sweet pea and cucumber, among other things – try it with bitter lemon. £27.99; seedlipdrinks.com
HOOPER’S RASPBERRY & NETTLE
Looking for a sparkling, fruity refresher for a summer’s day? Drop the sticky, purple, ‘berry-infused’ ciders and go for something a bit more traditionally British. This range of alcoholic fizzes includes dandelion and burdock, and plum and sloe, but our favourite is the raspberry and nettle. Soft, lush raspberry combined with the earthy tang of nettle? Nice. hoopersbrew.com
Stephen Tozer, owner and co-founder of Le Bab, on trading investment for kebabs
USED TO WORK for an activist turnaround investor, working on strategy projects within their investment companies. I’d analyse performance in problem areas of the businesses and work on ways to strategically improve them and grow value. This was a typical sort of job among my peer group – leaving university most of us went straight into finance, law or consultancy. It’s hard not to follow the crowd into that kind of job. I’d always assumed I could take the ‘work to live’ approach. But I quickly learned that it wasn’t something I could do. Food has always felt like a calling for me. I’ve been cooking since I was a toddler, experimenting on my (incredibly tolerant) parents. I was a greedy kid and food has
always been my fixation – I grew up doing junior cooking competitions and gathering experience in restaurant kitchens, and gained a love of wine and hosting. I felt like a restaurant would be the best way for me to channel my passion and knowledge into work, and I thought I could add something to London’s amazing restaurant scene with Le Bab. Now I have to run the business administratively, but that’s not how I see my primary role. I need to make sure that Le Bab is as good as it can be. That means continuously working on our service, our food, our drinks, and trying to come up with ways to excite and intrigue our customers. It’s so hard to stand out in this
environment. I think London has the most conceptually developed restaurant scene on earth. It’s full of incredibly big thinkers, whose creativity and innovation inspire us. Hopefully we’re adding something here, and that’s certainly what I’m trying to do. f Le Bab, Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, W1B 5PW; eatlebab.com
100 ISL INGTO N OPEN NOW
Well, well, well. We probably don’t need to tell you about BAO – especially as you may well have seen the queues snaking out of its front door, no matter where in London you are. What we can tell you about, though, is the imminent arrival of a new addition to the family. The vaunted Netil Market food trader’s first son in Soho is being joined by a new brother in Fitzrovia. Expect more tasty parcels of hirata buns filled with unctuous meat and veg fillings. Cooler than cool. W1T 2JN; baolondon.com
THE RADAR We take you through the new and upcoming bar and restaurant openings you need to know about Dining
SA GARD I
If you’ve not experienced the Basque Country’s world-leading food, it’s easier than you think – some of London’s hottest recent openings have been inspired by this region on the border of France and Spain. Iñaki Viñaspre’s first UK restaurant will fly in produce daily from San Sebastián, cooking it in the style of its grillhouses and pintxos bars. EC2A 3BS; sagardi.co.uk
PIC T U R E
More ‘second restaurant’ news for you, this time in the shape of the West End’s Picture, which has branched out to Marylebone. The two head chefs and the maitre d’ behind the soon-to-be two restaurants all cut their teeth in Arbutus and Wild Honey, and their new site opens three years after the first. It’ll serve artistic, modernEuropean plates, with an atmosphere more akin to a neighbourhood joint. A £45, six-course seasonal tasting menu is available, too. W1G 9TZ; picturerestaurant.co.uk
AL B ION OPEN NOW
Albion’s restaurants might all offer different things, but what links them is the promise of a casual place to eat great food. The new Clerkenwell location offers diners not just brasserie-meets-café food – it’s also got a beer shop, a cheese counter and the brilliantsounding ‘pie rooms’. We’ll meet you there. EC1M 5NP; albion-uk.london
Islington’s Upper Street has had a glut of great restaurant openings recently, and this 140-cover pan-Asian joint from the founders of 100 Hoxton will make a nice addition. N1 2UQ; 100restaurants.co.uk
Another new site for the successful, approachable ramen kings, this time in Covent Garden. Expect more delicious, 12-hour Japanese bone broth, whisky and cocktails. WC2B 5AA; shoryuramen.com
C HU C K B U R G ER
One of our favourite street-food traders makes the leap to a permanent site. That’s great news to us (and you, too, we hope). E1 7PT; chuckburgerbar.com
WEAPONS OF CHOICE Weâ€™ve got all the kitchen gadgets you need to slice, brew and grill this summer PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID HARRISON
SLI C E OF L IF E GRAEF UNA9, ÂŁ319.95 Photograph by ###
Fancy upping your ham game? This electronic slider from Graef will enable you to slice your own meats, with easily adjustable thickness settings. steamer.co.uk
COOL STORY, BREW 1. HARIO 5-CUP ‘NEXT’ COFFEE SYPHON, £120 Coffee geek? Turn your brewing technique upside-down with this syphon from Hario. The unique infusion process means powerful, nuanced flavour. hario.co.uk
2. SAGE THE SMART GRINDER PRO, £199.99 This clever piece of kit – part of a range devised by Heston Blumenthal – takes bean grinding to the next level, with 60 different settings. It works seamlessly with professional coffee machines,too. lakeland.co.uk
1 2 2
KING O F THE GRILL 1. THÜROS GRILL, £79.99 A simple, portable charcoal grill that can be used outside or directly on the table. lakeland.co.uk
2. WELL DONE BBQ TONGS & SKEWERS SET, £24.95
3. LEOPOLD VIENNA OSLO FISH GRILL BASKET, £5.99
A classic stainless steel set featuring six skewers, tongs and holders. Perfect for a summery and social kebab cookout. steamer.co.uk
Forget the foil parcel – cook fish over the grill like a true Mediterranean with this simple basket accessory. steamer.co.uk
AWARD WINNING GIN FROM THE SILENT POOL IN SURREY Now available at Majestic stores nationwide. www.silentpooldistillers.com
TOMATOES, DILL AND PURPLE BASIL
A SWEET AND SPICY WARMING SALAD FROM THE HEART OF CENTRAL ASIA
◆◆ 2-4 people
Preparation ◆◆ 10 mins
I NG REDI EN TS ◆◆ ½ an onion ◆◆ 1 tsp sugar ◆◆ Pinch of sea salt ◆◆ Pinch of dried chilli flakes ◆◆ 500g sweet, ripe tomatoes ◆◆ 1 tbsp chopped dill fronds ◆◆ 1 tbsp shredded purple basil Photograph by ###
leaves ◆◆ ½ tbsp finely chopped
AMARKAND, UZBEKISTAN is an ancient city that truly warrants the ‘melting pot’ tag. Once an important trading centre on the Silk Road, it’s now home to at least seven ethnic groups: Tajiks, Russians, Turks, Jews, Koreans, Caucasians and, obviously, Uzbeks, and it consequently has a really vibrant and diverse food heritage. All of the above inspired travel author Caroline Eden and cookery writer Eleanor Ford to come together to write Samarkand: Recipes and Stories from Central Asia and the Caucasus. “This salad is known endearingly to Uzbeks as ‘sweetie hottie’,” says Ford. “It makes the best of sweet and juicy tomatoes, with a little dried chilli lending the heat.”
1 Slice the onion into half moons as paper-thin as possible, and put in a bowl of cold salted water for 10 minutes. Drain. 2 Mix together the sugar, salt and chilli. 3 Slice the tomatoes and start layering on a serving platter, scattering over the onion, herbs and sweet chilli salt as you go. 4 Serve at room temperature. f
A QUINTESSENTIAL UZBEK DISH FOR SHARING
ING R E DIE NTS ◆◆ 450g basmati rice, rinsed ◆◆ 600g blade stewing steak,
diced ◆◆ 150ml clarified butter or
sunflower oil ◆◆ 4 onions, cut into wedges ◆◆ 2 bay leaves ◆◆ 4 yellow and 2 orange carrots
(or use 6 orange), cut into thick matchsticks ◆◆ 1 tsp cumin seeds ◆◆ ½ tsp black pepper ◆◆ ½ tsp cayenne pepper ◆◆ ½ tsp paprika ◆◆ 12 garlic cloves, unpeeled ◆◆ 12 hard-boiled quail’s eggs, peeled ◆◆ Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Serves ◆◆ 6
◆◆ 100 mins
LOV IS A versatile dish that can be made with beef or lamb, and is a staple meal in Uzbekistan. “There are as many variants as there are people who cook it,” Ford tells us. “It should be eaten from one large dish placed on the table to share, each diner digging in their fork.” You’ll need a good, heavybottomed pan with a close-fitting lid to make plov. In Uzbekistan, a castiron kazan is used; a large cast-iron casserole makes the perfect substitute.
1 Put the rinsed rice into a large bowl of cold water to soak while you start the recipe. Season the beef with salt and pepper. 2 Heat the clarified butter in the pan until hot and foaming. 3 Brown the beef over a medium-
high heat, in batches if necessary, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the butter behind. 4 Lower the heat to medium and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden. Return the beef to the pan with any collected juices, the bay leaves and a small cupful of water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down very low, cover the pan and gently simmer for 1 hour until the meat is tender. 5 Spread over the carrot matchsticks, but don’t stir as you want to keep the layers separate. Scatter over the spices, and cover and cook for a further 10 minutes. 6 Drain the rice and layer it on top of the carrots. 7 Poke the whole garlic cloves into the rice and flatten the top with the back of a spoon. Season very
generously with salt and slowly pour over enough boiling water to just cover the top of the rice. Increase the heat and leave the pan uncovered so that the water starts to boil away. 8 When the liquid has cooked off, make six holes in the rice using the handle of a wooden spoon to help the steam escape. Cover the pan and cook at a low simmer for 5 minutes. 9 Turn off the heat without removing the lid and leave the dish to steam undisturbed for a further 10 minutes. If the rice isn’t cooked, add a splash more boiling water and cover again. 10 Serve the layers in reverse, first spooning the rice onto the platter, then the carrots and finally the tender chunks of meat on the top. 11 Circle the hard-boiled quail’s eggs around the edge. A juicy tomato salad is the perfect accompaniment. f
THE SOUL OF AFRICA
Distilled in the heart of England
A tale of discovery and adventure spanning two continents and over 200 years, Whitley Neill Handcrafted Dry Gin fuses classic English gin botanicals with exotic African essences like Baobab pulp and Cape Gooseberry, for a balanced, yet distinctive gin that captures the enigmatic beauty of Africa in every drop.
The Essence of Discovery Please Drink Responsibly
BAKLAVA BAKED APPLES
SWEET, SPICED PARCELS. PERFECT FOR DESSERT OR AN AFTERNOON SNACK ING R E DIE NTS ◆◆ 55g walnuts ◆◆ ½ tsp ground cinnamon ◆◆ 1 tbsp lemon juice
Serves ◆◆ 4
◆◆ 40 mins
◆◆ 50g honey ◆◆ 40g brown sugar ◆◆ 4 sheets of filo pastry ◆◆ 50g butter, melted, plus extra
for greasing ◆◆ 2 tbsp caster sugar ◆◆ 4 cooking apples, peeled
them with the flavours from another favourite sweet that evolved in the region – baklava.”
Samarkand by Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford
(Kyle Books, priced £25). Photography by Laura Edwards.
N KAZAKHSTAN, MARKET stalls overflow with apples, testament to the region’s love of the fruit. “Stuffed and baked apples are common in both sweet and savoury dishes in Central Asia,” says Ford. “Here, I’ve filled
1 Preheat the oven to 190°C and butter an ovenproof dish. 2 Put the walnuts in a food processor and blend to a coarse rubble. Stir in the cinnamon, lemon juice, honey and brown sugar. 3 Work with one sheet of filo at a time, keeping the rest under a clean, damp tea towel. 4 Brush a sheet of pastry with melted butter and sprinkle with a teaspoon of the caster sugar. Fold in half to make a square. Sit an apple in the middle of the pastry and spoon one quarter of the filling into the core. 5 Bring the four corners of pastry up to wrap the apple well, brushing with melted butter as you go. 6 Brush the surface with melted butter and another sprinkle of sugar. Put seam-side up into the baking dish and repeat with the remaining apples. 7 Bake for 25–30 minutes, until the pastry shell is golden and the apple inside is tender. Serve warm. f
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Richard H Turner
THE FLAME OF THE GAME
Carnivore’s paradise Meatopia is back for another year this September. Our columnist, and its co-founder, Richard H Turner tells us what he’s got in store
Photograph by Paul Winch-Furness
OUNDED IN NEW York more than a decade ago by the late, great, Joshua Ozersky – and brought to London in 2013 by yours truly – Meatopia returns to London’s Tobacco Dock on the 2, 3 and 4 September. What was initially an excuse to hang out with drunken fellow carnivores in pyromaniac frenzy has turned into an almost legendary event for food lovers; a Bacchanalian, weekend-long love affair of meat, drink, fire and music. This year Meatopia will have the best in artisan ales, fine wines and delicious spirits to complement
the food. There will be live bands, butchery demos, informal workshops, art installations, street theatre and brilliant live music performances. Now in our fourth year, we’re back with a stellar line up of more than 40 UK and international chefs and we’ve added an extra date to this year’s festivities, to include a Friday night ‘Late Shift’ for over-18s only. The Saturday will be the classic Meatopia everyone has come to know and love, followed by a Sunday carnival for the whole family with colourful acts, street theatre on the quayside, Tales from the Woodshed by London Log Company’s Mark Parr, and fire workshops from Hunter Gather Cook and much more. The meat on offer is extensively farmed and has lived the best of lives; hormone-, antibiotic- and cruelty free, and we celebrate the whole animal. Josh’s rules stand as much today as when he created the original Meatopia in New York: no butane, no propane, no convection and certainly no microwave nonsense; tastebuds get nothing but meat cooked over live fire. With the constant singe of exploding meat juices thickening the air with fragrant smoke, there’ll be nothing for it but to quench your scorched throats with rivers of wine, whisky and beer. Every year we scour the world for interesting chefs to gather at Tobacco Dock and cook their favourite meats. They explore whole carcasses and create signature dishes; everything cooked at Meatopia is unique to that weekend only.
This year the roll call of chefs is particularly long and hallowed. South America’s much-loved Francis Mallmann, who featured in the first series of Netflix documentary series Chef’s Table, is serving his celebrated wood-fired food from Argentina. And look out for Michelin-starred Niklas Ekstedt from Stockholm, who earned his star producing elegant dishes in a kitchen fuelled by live fire alone. Then there’s Connie de Souza, the ex-ballerina turned master butcher and restaurateur of Calgary’s Charcut; restaurateur legend Yotam Ottolenghi; the team from Hoppers with their family-style Sri Lankan cuisine; and Josh Katz, who specialises in Middle Eastern & North African dishes at his restaurant Berber & Q in Haggerston. Dan Doherty of Duck & Waffle is back again this year, as is Neil Rankin, who’ll be representing his new restaurant Temper. Selin Kiazim of Oklava, Tomos Parry of Kitty Fisher’s, Tom Adams of Pitt Cue, Brad McDonald of Shotgun, James Knappett of Kitchen Table and Shaun Searley of The Quality Chop House will be there, too. All in all, it’s a line up of extraordinary talent. And, of course, I’ll be putting in an appearance at a grill or two – if you see me, come say hello. In the words of the late, great man himself: “Meatopia is an evangelical movement to teach people to love meat as much as I do.” f
5 - S TA R
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heck into a Sandals Resort and you will be treated to our 5-star Global Gourmet Dining, where anytime dining in up to 16 speciality restaurants is all included in the price of your holiday. We pride ourselves in our European and International cuisines using fresh and local ingredients, each of which comes with its own Head Chef that specialises in their area. Unlimited snacks, white glove service and exclusive Butler Service are also available. We even offer Private Candlelit Dinners on the beach or on your terrace if you prefer.These are just a few of the personal dining touches that come with your next Sandals holiday, the rest we call Luxury Included®.
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A PERSONAL TOUCH Want a taste of the Rhône Valley right here in London? This new exhibition features amazing Côtes du Rhône Wines as well as a pop-up from star chef Adam Rawson
RINKING WINE IS undoubtedly a sensory experience. So it stands to reason that, when it comes to discovering Côtes du Rhône Wines, there’s more to it than just tasting them. The region produces some of France’s best loved wines. Situated in the southeast of the country, it is planted with grenache, grenache blanc, viognier and syrah grapes. If you’re up on your wine knowledge, you’ll have a rough idea of which flavours to expect, but if you don’t, the best way to get to know this unique region and its producers is to experience them yourself. “Experience”, rather than just “taste”, is the key word when it comes to Côtes du Rhône Wines this summer – especially given that, from 21-31 July,
THE REGION IS PUTTING ON A ONE-OFF EVENT, NAMED THE RHÔNE TOUCH, THAT’LL SEE ITS WINE REPRESENTED NOT JUST BY TASTE, BUT BY ART AND DESIGN, TOO 34
the region is putting on a one-off event, named The Rhône Touch, which will see its wine represented not just by taste, but by art and design, too. It’s partnered with the University of the Arts London to host a free exhibition of art pieces, commissioned and inspired by the region. And, as well as enjoying the sensorial pieces created by the university’s students and tasting some of the best wines Rhône has to offer at its bar, you can also book into its dedicated pop-up restaurant. Young British Foodies 2015 winner and former Pachamama head chef Adam Rawson is a big fan of Côtes du Rhône Wines – for him, the region embodies the vibrancy and boldness of the food he tries to create. After a few travels to Europe and North Africa for culinary inspiration, Rawson will present food inspired by his culinary trips at the exhibition’s accompanying eatery. For £49 you can enjoy a tasting menu by the talented young chef (from a list of ten dishes in total), and three paired Côtes du Rhône Wines, too. Whether you’re a total wine buff or just finding your way, the immersive exhibition is an original and fun experience. This meeting of art, food and wine means you can enjoy an evening as offbeat and quirky as the wines themselves. ● Register for The Rhône Touch exhibition and book your tickets for the restaurant at therhonetouch.com
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Adam Rawson in the kitchen; a village in the Rhône valley; sharing Rhône valley wine with friends; a plate of Rawson’s artful food
TRY IT YOURSELF Want to get a piece of Côtes du Rhône without travelling anywhere? The Rhône Touch is happening from 21-31 July at UAL's Platform Theatre Foyer and Bar. If you're just dropping in, you can dive into the exhibition for free, or visit therhonetouch.com to book tickets for Adam Rawson's popup restaurant experience. Dinner is priced at £49 with paired Rhône Valley wines. For more information: therhonetouch.com; @VINSRHONE; #TheRhoneTouch
038 SUMMER IN LONDON | 044 LONDON’S RESTAURANT CRITICS 050 TOM SELLERS | 056 GREEK FOOD UNCOVERED | 063 SAIMA KHAN
— PART 2 —
FEAST “WE CONVERT ROOFTOPS INTO LEAFY WONDERLANDS, AND WE BARBECUE ANYWHERE THAT’LL HAVE US” SUMMER IN LONDON, 038
Original illustration by Katerina Andronchik/iStock
HOT TOWN, SUMMER IN THE CITY
HE BRITISH INCLINATION to talk about the weather goes pretty much hand-in-hand with our undeniable social awkwardness. But in the capital, when it turns for us, we don’t just talk; we do. Ironic though it may seem in the most densely populated part of the country, how we spend our time in the sun is an icon of the London lifestyle. From March to September, if we’re afforded even an hour or two of glorious sunshine, we flock to green belts and restaurant terraces, we convert empty rooftops into leafy wonderlands, and we barbecue and picnic anywhere that’ll have us. This summer, we wanted to find out the traditions of some of the people who shape our taste. Though chefs, restaurateurs and food writers might not be able to get out much, they know damn well how to make the most of the sun when they do. This is a celebration of summer in neighbourhoods all around London – hopefully it’ll inspire you to make the most of yours...
Taste-making foodie Instagrammer Sunny day spot
Rochelle Canteen – it’s a brilliant café and restaurant hidden behind the gate of a converted school yard just off Arnold Circus in Shoreditch. The cooking is seasonal and honest, they’re open for breakfast and lunch on weekdays, and guests can bring their own bottle of wine.
My summer drink of choice is cold-brew coffee from Sandows London – made by hand in east London. You can even mix it into a G&T if you like!
I usually bring a bottle of pre-mixed negroni to barbecues and picnics. Simply mix and pour three equal parts of gin, vermouth and Campari into a bottle until it’s almost full, top up with a small amount of water, then pop into the freezer overnight.
I love the village feel of Clerkenwell in the summertime. There’s plenty of cafés and restaurants with al fresco options, and happy people eating and drinking in the sun. Follow Clerkenwell Boy on Instagram at @clerkenwellboyec1
PETER GORDON Fusion cuisine maestro and The Providores restaurateur Sunny day spot
It has to be my back garden in London Fields. At this time of the year the garden is lush and green and gorgeous.
Summer drink Photograph by ###
A Cynar spritz – it's basically the same idea as an Aperol spritz, but made with the bitter Italian artichoke-based liqueur Cynar instead.
A chilled New Zealand white or rosé. If a white,
it’d likely be a chardonnay. If it were an evening BBQ it would be a New Zealand pinot noir.
London Fields becomes a huge, open-air barbecuing community in summer. There’s a whole section of the fields where everyone is allowed to cook in the open, and the variety of techniques is amazing. Turkish families with very elaborate set-ups and double-pot Turkish tea brewing, to hipsters with their little supermarket BBQs made from disposable foil. The food shops and the Saturday market on Broadway Market are some of the best in London, too, so you know the produce will be top-rate. peter-gordon.net; theprovidores.co.uk
I LIVE IN A SUPER-SOCIABLE COMMUNITY THAT COMES ALIVE OVER THE SUMMER
JON HAWKINS Editor, Foodism Sunny day spot
The tiny Cutty Sark pub in Greenwich is right on the river – exactly where I want to be when the sun’s out.
Even crap beer tastes half decent when it’s ice cold and the sun’s out, but given the proliferation of great summer ales made in London, it’s Brew By Numbers’ rooibos and lemon saison. Like iced tea in beer form.
The Butchery in Forest Hill's sausages are outrageous, whether straight off the barbecue or cold in a picnic – either way, you’re winning.
EMILY ROUX Restaurant Associates consultant, soon-to-be solo restaurateur, and daughter of Michel Roux Jr Sunny day spot
I love eating at Source in Battersea – it’s a real hidden gem. Situated just by the river, it’s perfect for a tasty lunch under the sunshine. It serves simple British food that's beautifully seasoned and locally sourced.
My current tipple of choice at the moment is an elderflower and cucumber G&T.
I would definitely bring homemade bread – probably a baguette! I also have a secret stash of colourful and tangy homemade pickles (onions, cucumber etc) that are always a big hit in salads and sandwiches.
I can’t believe I’m recommending hanging out in a car park, but Brockley Market’s a great place to head on a sunny Saturday. Hit Tongue & Cheek for a Heartbreaker burger, Veasey & Sons for incredible fish and seafood, and Le Grappin for stunning Burgundy-via-SE23 wines.
MICHAEL SAGER East London-based restaurateur Sunny day spot
I really enjoy hanging out on Paradise Row, be it in Paradise Garage, Mother Kelly’s and of course at Sager + Wilde, where we’ve got a big terrace that's perfect when the sun's out
Any of Marcis Dzelzainis’s cocktails.
Champagne! It always gets me going...
I live in a lively, super-sociable community that comes alive over the summer. Clapham Common hosts absolutely loads of dance and music festivals over the summer and the atmosphere is always great.
There’s so much going on around here: Broadway Market on Saturdays, Columbia Road flower market on Sundays, loads of exciting new shops and boutiques, new cafés, you name it. I really love it around here – around Victoria Park and along the canal are pretty much unbeatable in the summer.
TRY WATERMELON BLITZED UP WITH ICE, LIME, MINT AND VODKA FOR A SUMMER SLUSHIE
JOSH KATZ Levantine barbecue Berber & Q’s founder and chef Sunny day spot
I enjoy perching outside a number of Edgware Road’s Persian and Lebanese restaurants, like Abu Said or Shishawi. It’s less about the food and more about watching the world go by. At times it feels totally foreign, which I absolutely love.
ROSIE BIRKETT Food writer, cookbook author and East London stalwart Sunny day spot
It would be a tough choice between a negroni and an old fashioned.
A big bag of king prawns and some homemade aioli. A great combination.
Another vote for Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch. It’s in a really secluded spot with foxgloves and lots of other lovely flowers, so I’ll nab a table outside and rip into something gorgeous from the menu like whole roast mackerel or roast chicken.
An ice-cold craft beer. I love Beavertown Neck Oil or Pressure Drop’s Pale Fire.
A watermelon, because there’s so many things you can do with it and it’s so refreshing. The watermelon, feta and radish salad from my book A Lot On Her Plate is a real winner, but it’s also great blitzed up with ice, lime, mint and vodka for a summer slushie.
Photograph by (Rosie) Helen Cathcart
Having a picnic in the marshes where I live in East London. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be on a really hot day than out in the wild with some cold beers and something I’ve made at home, like a spinach and feta pie with a panzanella made with really ripe tomatoes. I might even throw in some wild fennel and rocket I’ve picked up along the way, with a bag of British cherries to round things off.
Edgware Road is packed with revellers spilling out onto the street smoking shisha until late into the evening. It has such great energy and with just a touch of imagination you can transport yourself to being on holiday.
EDGWARE ROAD’S PERSIAN AND LEBANESE RESTAURANTS ARE LESS ABOUT THE FOOD AND MORE ABOUT WATCHING THE WORLD GO BY
'East London Food' by Rosie Birkett and Helen Cathcart is out now (£26, Hoxton Mini Press)
CAT ASHTON Paradise by way of Kensal Green’s super chef
Associate editor, Foodism
Sunny day spot
Usually having a barbecue in my back yard with friends. But if I want to go out, my favourite is the Dock Kitchen for outdoor dining in west London. It’s absolutely perfect for a sunny day, when you can graze through the whole menu with some nice wine.
Apart from the mandatory Aperol spritz, it’s got to be a G&T with a grapefruit garnish, or a dark and stormy.
I don’t have a garden, but luckily for me I live 30 seconds from Clapham Common. South-west Londoners love the sun – it’s like a festival there when the temperature creeps up, and a Saturday afternoon can quickly turn into a lazy few hours mixing drinks on the common and wandering around the farmers' market.
I love the classic Aperol spritz. It transports me back me to sitting outside in little bars and cafés in Italy, soaking up the summer rays. Anything long and refreshing for this time of year.
I would pack a nice big roast chicken with some homemade lemon aioli and lots of fresh crusty bread. There’s no better end to a party than cheese, so a nice summer selection – especially anything that's French.
SANDIA CHANG Bubbledogs’ founder and sommelier-at-large Sunny day spot
The Red Lion and Sun in Highgate. It’s got a great beer garden where we can hang out with our dog Noodle and lap up the sunshine.
Riesling – I love its punchy, refreshing sweetness and it’s so easy to drink. A particular favourite is Charles Smith’s Kung Fu Girl.
For food I would bring corn. For drinks I would always bring champagne (mostly because my friends expect it from me!).
We are so close to Hampstead Heath and I just love the energy there in the summertime. bubbledogs.co.uk
Staff writer, Foodism Sunny day spot
The Faltering Fullback in Finsbury Park. It’s got the most amazing threestorey rooftop garden that’s covered in lush greenery, with plenty of nooks and crannies where you can whileaway an hour or three.
You can’t beat a great potato salad, and it goes with everything. Baby new potatoes, cornichons, chopped red onion and parsley, with a dressing made out of half mayo and half crème fraiche, and a generous amount of white pepper – make sure the potatoes are still slightly warm and it’ll distribute more easily.
Heading to a local beer garden for some drinks in the sun or over to Queen's Park for a picnic. My new favourite is heading up to the Pergola on the Roof at the BBC Television Centre and relaxing with music and great pop-up food. theparadise.co.uk
AN APEROL SPRITZ TRANSPORTS ME BACK TO SITTING OUTSIDE IN LITTLE BARS AND CAFÉS IN ITALY, SOAKING UP THE SUMMER RAYS
S i p p e d , s h a k e n o r s t i r r e d ; i t ’s s u b l i m e . Little Scarlet Strawber ries are unique to the
T he result is this delicious gin liqueur, offering
Wilkin Estates at Tiptree, Essex, where we have
bright, clean strawberry notes with a crisp background
b e e n g r o w i n g f r u i t s i n c e t h e 1 8 0 0 s. T h e s e t i n y,
of juniper. Enjoy sipped straight over ice, add your
wild ber ries are carefully hand-picked, then
favourite mixer for a rather fr uity Gin Spritzer, or
g e n t l y r e s t e d i n l o c a l l y d i s t i l l e d H a y m a n’s g i n .
add a dash to Prosecco for a Little Scarlet Royale.
The preser ve of g ood taste
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THE GAME CHANGERS Food critics can make or break new restaurants with the power of words. Hugh Thomas meets the writers whose reviews, glowing or scathing, shape Londonâ€™s dining scene
Photograph by ###
becomes boring, unentertaining, and is no longer delivering an interesting account of the restaurants, I will be sacked.” One thing critics don’t agree on, however, is the extent of the power they wield to slap a new restaurant back up on the property listings overnight. “I still say, if the product is great, the people’s view will win out,” Tania Ballantine, Time Out’s food and drink editor, tells me. “Interestingly, when I visited [Restaurant Ours] a few days after Fay’s review, it still appeared full, at least on the ground floor. So it couldn’t have hurt that much.” Rayner echoes the sentiment in his book My Dining Hell. “We might be able to help restaurants along, but bad restaurants fail all by themselves.” Still, the dramatic demise of Le Chabanais last year could suggest otherwise. Marred by ‘a gas leak’ and a host of other alleged technical issues, the Mayfair restaurant didn’t exactly help itself achieve the grand opening expected of it, not least when its world-famous Parisian sister restaurant – Le Chateaubriand – was looking on apprehensively from over the Channel. In her review, Maschler wrote that the food was “bland” and “overpriced”, and that the task of having to chase down the food on her plate was a “pointless game of hide and seek”. The joint was named after a Parisian brothel and Rayner’s review confirmed, a couple of weeks after Maschler’s, that it was indeed “a place where customers come to get screwed.” The restaurant closed permanently about a month later. But swings and roundabouts, as they say. The Guardian’s Marina O’Loughlin (don’t tell the others, but she’s my favourite) gets the odd report of her reviews’ effects: “I have heard about phones ringing off the hook.
Of course, after the initial burst of attention, it’s down to the restaurants to keep the momentum going by simply being excellent. I know of one chef with a burgeoning empire who has emailed to tell me that his success was kick-started by my review. I love this.” Ballantine has similar experiences of her reviews’ effects: “I unintentionally met the owner of Patty & Bun a couple of weeks ago, and he told me the review was a gamechanger for him [she gave the James Street joint five stars]. Whether that’s true or was just the cocktails talking, I couldn’t say.” Both Ballantine and O’Loughlin possess an advantage that the Rayners, Maschlers, →
I’M SELLING NEWSPAPERS, NOT RESTAURANTS. WHAT REALLY MATTERS IS THE QUALITY OF MY COPY
Illustration elements by Shutterstock
ATATOUILLE. WE EAT it. We love it. So what could possibly go wrong with a single dish of stewed vegetables? A lot, it turns out. Earlier this year, one of London’s most esteemed restaurant critics filed a less-thanfavourable assessment of chef Tom Sellers’ latest joint Restaurant Ours. After the review in question – courtesy of Fay Maschler – any wild hype surrounding Sellers’ otherwise promising new restaurant (his first, in Bermondsey, is very good indeed) was dealt a shot right to the jugular. Her biggest snub? A dish of oh-so delicately arranged ratatouille that, auspiciously, was passed down to Sellers from the great American chef Thomas Keller. “There is none of the unctuousness, the south of France-iness of real ratatouille,” Maschler wrote in her Evening Standard review in June this year. “It is a dish for Instagram, not the mouth.” South Kensington’s next big thing was reduced to a sobering failure in the space of 800 words. But there was more. Sellers retorted with a review of his own. A review of Maschler’s review. The sarky response, however clumsy (he does cook, not write, after all), suggested they were words from the heart of a wounded artist. Of course, Twitter lapped it up. Public commotion reinforced an opinion all critics share – that the bad reviews get the most interest. Just ask the Observer critic Jay Rayner – he wrote a book about it. And, whether they do or not is pretty much exactly the point, as Rayner alluded to in an interview with Eater: “I'm selling newspapers and not restaurants. What really matters is the quality of my copy. If my copy
→ Grace Dents, and Giles Corens of this world don’t. And that advantage, figuratively speaking, is not having a face. Anonymity means a restaurant’s service has nowhere to hide – not even under the tablecloths – and critics get the same experience as their readers. “I’ve done it both ways and you definitely get a more realistic experience being anonymous,” says Ballantine. “If you’re recognisable, you get the good table. Me, I sit by the loos. Often. And I’m forgotten about. Often. The cooking isn’t different, though how they handle a complaint differs vastly.” O’Loughlin, not being the sort to relish champagne showers and arse-kissing, prefers to keep it that way. “A high-profile chef approached my table in an East End restaurant saying ‘You’re Marina, aren’t you?’ but weirdly said it to my pal. “There is an idea of what I look like in the ether – so a lot of 25-year-old Nancy Dell’Olio lookalikes out there probably get a lot more attention than they should.” That said, Maschler thinks a bit of familiarity can salvage at least some positives from a visit, bad or good. “After doing the job since 1972 – 44 years and counting – I am almost invariably recognised. However, Quentin Crewe [Maschler’s predecessor] used to say to people asking him for restaurant recommendations ‘Go where you are known best’. It’s not bad advice. Being greeted warmly is for most people a big plus in their evaluation of a meal out.” Also a big plus is no unwanted surprises. During his 40-year career, and with a restaurant empire to show for it, Chris Galvin
HARSH MY BUZZ: 3 EPIC SLAYINGS Jay Rayner – Blue Boar Smokehouse, London (The Observer, 11 Aug 2013) “Worse than this is the ‘southern fried chicken’, which must never be granted freedom from within those quotation marks: a tube of breast and a reformed leg, clumsily coated in bright orange crumbs the colour of the cast of TOWIE, fried off so limply that those on the bottom come off on the plate.”
Marina O’Loughlin – Hotel Chantelle, London (the Guardian, 20 Nov 2015) “Here come ‘tuna tartare cigars’. Leaving aside the wisdom of disguising food as something carcinogenic, and, to hammer the point home, serving it in a smokebillowing ashtray… Actually, no, I can’t leave it aside. It’s lunacy. Black seeds stand in for ash, and a pool of ectoplasmic green that tastes vaguely cucumber-and-wasabi for, I dunno – phlegm?”
Pete Wells – Per Se, New York, US (The New York Times, 12 Jan 2016) “I don’t know what could have saved limp, dispiriting yam dumplings, but it definitely wasn’t a lukewarm matsutake mushroom bouillon as murky and appealing as bong water.”
Illustration elements by Shutterstock
IF THEY WRITE A BAD REVIEW, IT HURTS LIKE HELL. BUT WE HAVE TO TAKE IT ON THE CHIN
has met a fair number of critics, it’d be fair to say. It’d also be fair to say many of them have been valuable informers of his success. “No doubt in my mind that without them we would not have such well-advised guests,” he tells me. “Giles Coren’s review of Bistrot de Luxe sent it into warp factor eight! But I should say that a good critic will only communicate what they find on a visit.” More recently, Shoreditch’s Santo Remedio – which only hard-launched a few months back – is seeing, for the first time, what a positive review can do. “When we first opened, our customers were locals who became regulars,” says co-owner Edson DiazFuentes. “We were busy, but not packed.” That was before Dent, Coren, and Tom ParkerBowles had something to say about it. “We now often have a queue. I think when people see a critic has recommended a place,” he says, “it makes them prepared to wait.” As for Galvin, critics more often than not say good things of his six London restaurants. But a chef’s cooking can be so personal to him that the bad reviews aren’t easy to swallow. “If they write a bad review, it would hurt like hell. But we simply would have to take it on the chin, learn from it if it is accurate, and rectify the issues.” The London dining scene is forever being influenced, and you could almost call the critics the architects to its evolution – trowel in one hand, sledgehammer in the other. I ask Maschler how significant eating out is to shaping the capital. “London is a huge maw,” she says. “What is getting digested at this moment could not be more important.” f
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THAT’S WHAT’S GREAT ABOUT THIS INDUSTRY: THERE ARE NO RULES Tom Sellers’ new restaurant has divided critics, but one thing’s for sure: their comments haven’t been taken lightly. Mike Gibson meets a chef who isn’t afraid to speak his mind Photography by Ciaran McCrickard
Photograph by ###
LEFT: Tom Sellers pictured at his second London outpost, Restaurant Ours in South Kensington
OM SELLERS HAS a lot on his plate. Not literally, having devised a style of cooking and presentation that combines artfulness and minimalism. What I mean is that his head, as is the case for many ambitious chefs at the top level, is heavy. Nottingham-born Sellers’ first solo venture, Restaurant Story, was a critical and commercial success. It’s as concept-heavy as restaurants get – as the name suggests, each course is designed to invoke memories, so the whole menu forms a narrative by the end of the meal – and won a Michelin star in April 2015, five months after it opened. More recently, he’s taken on a pub, The Lickfold Inn in West Sussex, and the culinary direction of Restaurant Ours, a huge, vibrant space set over two floors in South Kensington. While Ours has plenty of admirers, it’s also been divisive, especially in its reception by the London restaurant press. After one or two notable negative reviews, Sellers felt the need to post an open response on his website that challenged Evening Standard critic Fay Maschler’s bruising one-star verdict, and in turn looked to provide a voice for chefs and restaurant staff. His intention was to combat what he felt was a case of his reputation working
against him, and to question the relationship between chefs and critics – not to mention the relationship between critics’ words and reality. When we caught up with Sellers at the undeniably beautiful Restaurant Ours he was, as his reputation suggests, a bag of contradictions: aloof but passionate; browbeaten but effusive. He opened up about his route into cooking, his mentors, and how quickly industry awards and media acclaim can be used as a stick to beat chefs with. What’s abundantly clear is that balancing restaurant openings is a tricky business. When it came to setting up his first shop, the narrative made it look easy. With Ours, it’s clearly a different story...
Of all the chefs you worked under, is there anyone’s identity you see most clearly in your own food? I think ‘identity’ is a great word. I work really hard on our restaurants having their own identity, and I guess that was something that was probably influenced by René [Redzepi, head chef at Noma], because when I was at Noma I saw that he was very much about identity. I think you can only really find that when you start cooking your own food, and that’s a process, because of course everyone influenced me at the beginning.
How did you get into cooking?
Restaurant Story won a Michelin star quite early on. How does that affect your thinking when it comes to opening a new restaurant?
I started washing pots in a pub when I was 15, and then I very quickly realised I wanted to cook. I left Nottingham, moved to London and took my first job as a commis chef at Tom Aikens. At the time, it was probably one of the most progressive and best restaurants in the city. I worked there for a couple of years, then I moved to America and worked for Thomas Keller at Per Se as a chef de partie. Then I went to Noma in Denmark, which obviously everyone knows. I worked at Noma for a couple of years before opening Story.
I don’t think it affects my thinking; I think it affects the thinking of the general public. They probably have a perception of something I’m doing before they come through the door. That’s what I’ve learned with this project – however much you try to direct people down the path you want them to go down, they’re always going to have this preconception of what you are. Story had so much so much success so quickly and so early, it’s striving for more accolades and it’s very niche in that
Restaurant Story (London)
The place where it all began is a bright, airy, 40-cover restaurant a stone’s throw from London Bridge. The Full Story is an 11-course tasting menu that takes diners through phases like Childhood, Sea and Land. restaurantstory.co.uk
Restaurant Ours (London)
Up for something bigger, brighter and more, er, Kensingon? The huge walkway that greets you is just the start. Ours is an à la carte place – choose from dishes like black truffle tagliatelle and red mullet escabeche. restaurant-ours.com
The Lickfold Inn (near Petworth)
“Nothing’s more quintessentially British than a pub,” says Sellers, which is why he opened one in West Sussex last year that focuses on upmarket British fare, such as hake with treacle bacon, salsify and wild mushroom. thelickfoldinn.co.uk
A lot of the other industry awards are voted for by the industry, and I don’t really engage in the industry on that level. That’s by choice, but it’s not because I disregard it – it’s because I just like to do my thing.
You’re chef-patron at Story, but you’re culinary director at Ours. What’s the difference in the role? It’s my restaurant, and my name above the door, but [the name of the role] was my way of trying to let the public know that I won’t be cooking here every day of the week. My home, where I cook and where I create, is at Story. Here, of course, the menu is my brainchild, as well as the concepts and the idea, but ultimately I won’t be here executing it daily like I am at Story. We were trying to get that across to the general public in the most user-friendly way. How do you say that in two words, you know? Because if I were to say, “Yes, this is my restaurant, and I’m the chefpatron,” then people will come in and ask “Well, where is he?” The bottom line is I can’t be in more than one place at one time, and I think we just tried to manage that aspect.
Did you expect a different audience, bearing in mind the location? ABOVE: Sellers has taken on the role of ‘culinary director’ at Ours, meaning that even though he’s not there every day, he’s still very much involved
respect. People who then come to another establishment, whether they want to or not, will already have a preconception about what I’m trying to achieve. Taking that viewpoint, it makes it more difficult.
You’re a well-decorated chef – what do industry awards mean to you, and to the restaurant scene generally? Firstly, I think Michelin is the holy grail. I don’t care what anyone says. People say it’s not current enough anymore, but I think there is no higher achievement in this industry, and there never will be. We’re in a lot of the top tens and top 20s of pretty much every guide, and yes, that’s great, too. It’s a byproduct of us working really hard and it’s always nice – it’s like the icing on the cake. I also think, from an industry point of view, AA is massively influential. We have four rosettes with them, which is a huge achievement – obviously we want five and we’re working very hard to do that. We want to turn one Michelin star into two, as well, and we’re working really hard to do that.
I took on this restaurant because for me it was one of the most desirable spaces in London, and when you’re sitting here you can’t really argue with that. It’s an amazing space. I had a crush on it, and I wanted to deliver a restaurant that hopefully people could come to and have a good time at. If the counter product of that is becoming a place where people from West London come – because it’s in West London – and celebrities come because they want to come here, then it’s a byproduct. That’s not our selling point, by any stretch of imagination. But you have to play to your strengths as well – I said from the beginning I never wanted to alienate anybody. I want everybody to come to this restaurant, and we do get a good balance of people. But I do think, before I even opened this restaurant, the press wanted to compare it to Chiltern Firehouse, they wanted to compare it to The Ivy, they wanted to compare it to a place where that demographic of money and celebrity would come.
Do you think conceptual restaurants have more of a hurdle to clear when it comes to public perception? Yes and no. The concept here is we just wanted to create a place where people want to have a good time – hence the vast open spaces, the music, the relaxed approach to
the food, the cocktails, the walkway. I want a space where people come and have fun. I feel it’s been used against us slightly here, but whatever. I don’t think there’s much to not ‘get’ here, unless you’re 79 years old [sic] and you have an agenda. At the end of the day, I’m the one here putting everything on the line – I work extremely hard, and I’m in hospitality because I like to give to people. That’s my job. I want to create great opportunities for the hundreds of staff that work with me now. I felt that the journalism was lazy and 100% had an agenda. But I’m a big believer in ‘the cream always rises’, you know? This restaurant will be here for a long time, and it will become as good as Story in its own right. But that takes time, it takes dedication, it takes hard work, and it takes great people. We’re working extremely hard every day to make this a better place. Like I said, I believe in the concept, I believe in the food, I believe in the space. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.
You’ve had something of a lovehate relationship with restaurant critics recently. How do you feel the relationship between critics and restaurateurs works? When I responded to the [Fay Maschler] review, everyone was like, “Oh my God. He said something.” Yes, like I’m actually a real person. I think when you’re in these shoes and you get critiqued every day of your life, then why shouldn’t we be able to say something back? And why can’t we just say it? Why do we have to be advised by our publicist, or our agent, or our representatives? →
IF WE GET CRITIQUED EVERY DAY, WHY SHOULDN’T WE BE ABLE TO SAY SOMETHING BACK? 53
→ Personally, I don’t need critics and reviewers. Critics and reviewers need restaurateurs, because without us they don’t have a job. That’s what frustrates me. They have every right not to like my restaurants – fine, whatever, cool. Food is one of the most subjective things in the world, like music, like being slated in a review because they don’t like the music or they don’t like what the staff are wearing, or they don’t like the entrance. Come on, man. What’s your agenda here? To just not like anything? Cool, ok. But to attack me personally, it’s just not cool, man. It was very personal to me. And I have a right to protect my business, my staff, myself, my livelihood, this industry. It’s about time some fucker in this industry had the bollocks to say, “Do you know what? Cool,
MY UPCOMING BOOK’S VERY HONEST. I’M SURE IT WILL RUFFLE SOME FEATHERS 54
we go through this every day, but every now and then, shit like that is not good.” You can’t behave like that and there be no repercussions. It’s disheartening. That shit hurts, and that’s what people need to realise. And it doesn’t just hurt me, it filters down to everyone; it fucking hurts the 150 people who work here that I’m responsible for.
You strike me as someone who, first and foremost, loves to cook. How difficult is the other side of the industry to deal with? My time is no more precious than anyone else’s. I’m no more important than anyone else. If I have an appointment, if I need to do press or media appointments, I’ll do them. Do I enjoy them? I’ve had bad experiences when the media have misinterpreted the way I’ve said things, and things purely being said that I never said. So I think as that goes on, you get jaded by it but I don’t by any means think it’s not necessary. Of course, it’s part and parcel of what we do, and I guess it comes along with success. When I first started Story I felt like everyone wanted to support it; that I was this young kid who had come from pretty much nothing, who had worked really hard his whole career for great chefs; he’d gone out there and opened his own restaurant, and people wanted to support that. Fast-forward three years and now I guess I’m pretty successful, so I have a slightly different image. That’s human nature, because anyone who’s successful has a hundred people who want to tell them they’re not as great as people want to make out that they are.
ABOVE: Sellers’ enthusiasm for – and dedication to – Restaurant Ours is fierce, and he’s prepared to question any criticism he deems unnecessary
Has any of this affected your love for the restaurant industry? The industry is great. I love being part of it. I want young chefs to have a voice. Like I’ve said, people should choose the path they want to choose and they should feel that they can do that and be supported in it, whether they succeed or fail. There are many failures. I’ve failed many times. You just have to keep going, you’ve got to be resilient, stay focused, and yes, of course be influenced and be guided, but don’t be over-influenced. I almost felt like I was made to feel like I was stupid and naïve by certain people when I started making my own decisions. But that’s what’s great about this industry: there are no rules. You can do whatever you want. I can cook whatever I want in whatever environment I choose, and who’s really to say whether it’s right or wrong?
Tell me about your upcoming book… I’ve been writing it for two-and-a-half years – it comes out late September. So, yes, obviously I’ve been working on it a very long time, and it’s something that I’ve given a lot to. It’s not just a cookbook; it’s kind of a diary. It talks about my philosophy of food, it talks about who I’ve worked for, it talks about everything. It talks about critics, it talks about social media, too. Again, it’s very honest. I’m sure it will ruffle some feathers. f tomsellers.co.uk
www.edgertonpinkgin.co.uk â€˘ 0203 858 0023 â€˘ email@example.com
GREEK CHIC With the number of passionate Greek restaurateurs and suppliers in London on the rise, it’s time for the country’s often-overlooked cuisine to shine, says Clare Finney 56
LEFT: Grilled octopus from Mazi, one of the first in a new wave of upmarket Greek restaurants to have opened up in London, with the intention of bringing some of Greeceâ€™s finest dishes and ingredients to the capitalâ€™s dining tables
Photograph by ###
LEFT: Gourmet Goat’s kid goat sheftalia is one of the dishes turning the reputation of Greek food on its head; BELOW: Dips from Mazi restaurant
but those who stayed witnessed the birth of a movement which, almost 20 years later, is coming to fruition: of modern, produce-led, indigenous-chef created Greek food. “Only five years ago this would be a different conversation.” I’m talking to Télémaque Argyriou in the sunshine outside his street-food van serving ‘extra virgin’ Greek food. The scent of lamb gyros and halloumi drifts over us on the grill-warmed breeze. Five years ago the Real Greek was around, but in the wake of Kyriakou’s sell-out had reverted back to the failsafe staples of ‘Greek’ as the British perceived it: what Kyriakou has since described as “a mish-mash of Turkish, African
IT USED TO BE A STRUGGLE TO FIND GOOD GREEK FOOD IN LONDON, BUT NOT NOW
Photograph by Melissa Thompson; Ming Tang-Evans
HE YEAR, 1999; the place, Hoxton Square – though you wouldn’t know it, were you to take a time capsule back from today’s East End. Instead of Smokey Tails, imagine a pie and mash shop; instead of Happiness Forgets, a small, shady nightclub. Imagine ramshackle buildings, the majority boarded up with ‘Do Not Enter’ signs. “You had more chance of finding five grams of smack than five kilos of tomatoes,” chuckles Theodore Kyriakou, “but we could afford it, and it was south-west facing” – an aspect favoured by Greek restaurants because it means they face the sunset. I can’t imagine there was much of one in Hoxton in the 1990s – but one thing is certain: metaphorically the sun did not set on the Real Greek. The chain – now nine outlets and counting – has changed considerably since Kyriakou sold it to mass caterers in 2007, but under his watch it offered a rich, sun-drenched glimpse of what Greek food could be. People had their reservations back then, of course: about the concept of sharing plates (unheard of at that time, hard as that is to conceive now) and even about the food itself, which was not the moussaka and garlic bread they knew and understood, but arnaki me maratho – rack of lamb poached with fennel; kaltzounia me mizithra – small tartlets made with cottage cheese, and other fresh, vibrant ingredients we didn’t know to be Greek. “Some people walked out when they realised we didn’t have moussaka and chips,” Kyriakou remembers,
and Cypriot cuisines.” “I used to struggle to find good examples of Greek cuisine in London, basically” Argyriou says. “Now I can name several – Mazi, Opso, Greek Larder, Gourmet Goat – but back then it was all comfort food.” For as long as we’d had them, so-called ‘Greek’ restaurants in London had been dominated by Greek-Cypriot cuisine – or at least a version of Greek-Cypriot, brought over by Cypriot migrants and refugees who fled to London during the civil unrest of the 1960s and 1970s. “To sell cheap, comfort food like chips and moussaka was an easy win,” suggests Kyriakou. They were looking for money, not an opportunity to showcase their food culture – “and besides,” he continues, “Greek-Cypriot restaurants are to Greek cuisine what the Bangladeshi restaurants people referred to as ‘Indian’ in the nineties are to today’s Trishna or Dishoom. They are simply very different cuisines.” It’s a refrain I hear repeatedly from the producers, chefs and entrepreneurs behind the growing Greek food movement. Their frustration is not with Cypriot food per se, but with the effect it has had on our perception of Greek cuisine. “Even the holiday food in Greece did it an injustice,” laments Yannos Hadjiioannou of Maltby and Greek, one of the movement’s most pioneering figures. He imports Greek produce – both the expected and the eclectic – which he sells to restaurants and delis from his small shop on Maltby Street in Bermondsey. Everyone in the restaurant world knows him; the majority use his produce, even if they are not actually Greek. “Some of the top restaurants in London I supply aren’t Greek,” he says on the phone, in a muffled tone as he unloads his latest consignment of tomatoes – the very same tomatoes (I like to think) which a few days later I am enjoying in Argyriou’s koulouri bagel. “Bagel?” I mumble quizzically through a mouthful of thyme-infused scrambled eggs and tomato. His reply is almost indignant. “Yes, they do have bagels in Greece! “It is bagel to you, but in Greece it is koulouri – there’s a large Jewish community in northern Greece,” he tells me, and inevitably, a Greek version of this Jewish roll has emerged over the years. “It is soft and slightly aniseedy on the inside, and the outside is crisp and covered in sesame seeds,” Argyriou explains. It’s the first of dozens of
ingredients to surprise me during the course of my miniature odyssey around London’s ‘new’ Greek food: pasta, truffles, rice pudding and grape molasses soon follow, along with tea gathered by hand by elderly women from the mountains, and kritama, a sea herb I sample at Greek Notting Hill restaurant Mazi. “The kritama grows on the rocks by the sea near my father’s home in Greece. He sends it over when he can get it,” says Mazi’s co-founder Christina Mouratoglou. Born in Thessaloniki, Mouratoglou is another young Greek foodie determined to wrest control of the identity and future of London’s Greek food. “We had no Michelin stars here. Every other cuisine, even those with less-thanunblemished reputations like Chinese, had Michelin stars,” she recalls herself thinking, back before she opened Mazi in 2011. She saw the potential, both in the food and in the chefs, to get one. Love it though they did, the Greeks had never really capitalised on their sumptuous produce: truffles went untruffled, family olive groves overgrew and vines were left untouched – a result, in part, of Greece joining the European Union in 2001, claims Kyriakou. “We left the land, and abandoned things like that for the cities after such a large influx of money” he says bluntly, “only now the shit has hit the fan, young people have gone back to the land of their grandparents and parents to see what they can do.” The answer is: plenty, as evidenced by Argyriou, whose family olive grove is not just the company’s namesake, but its main supplier of olive oil. “Kalimera oil has been in the family for 200 years, but we’d never used it for anything other than our own purposes until I decided to bring it to the world.” He’s joined by a heavenly host of young Greek
IT’S TAKEN A LONG TIME TO CREATE A BUZZ ABOUT GREEK FOOD, BUT WE ARE GETTING THERE NOW winemakers, apiarists, cheese and pasta makers like Yannis Georgakopoulos, who, after studying accounting in Athens, decided to return to his hometown of Andritsaina in the Peloponnese mountains to make pasta based on age-old recipes unique to the area, using local eggs and milk. In historic times, pasta was made by the old village women, who would lay it out under the sun for days, explains Hadjiioannou, who imports the funny square hilopites, along with various other varieties of Georgakopoulos’ pastas, and a plethora of other products. The merit of youthful producers, he continues, is that they are well educated – often beyond university level – and entrepeunerial. “We can help them,” he continues. “They know the importance of things like branding, the internet and so on, and they want to learn. They want to make their products work as a business.” He
cites his young supplier of aubergines and tomatoes as an example. “You can build good relationships, because they’ll put in the time and effort that’s required.” It has not always been this way. Marianna Kolokotroni of Olivology started selling artisanal produce – oil, honey, truffles and nuts – from Greece in Borough Market back in 2009, when Greek food still basically meant hummus and pitta. “It has been a long journey making relationships and training producers,” she says from her newly expanded and richly stocked stall. “The quality of the products was always very high, if you were looking in the right places, but the communication and logistics were not as easy.” Dealing with older producers, who were used to getting their own way, was a challenge, she continues, but this is changing with the new, more “open-minded” generation. “It took us quite a long time (compared to our Italian cousins) to create a buzz about our food, but we are getting there… Not only because chefs such as Jamie Oliver or Rick Stein have been so passionate about Greek cuisine.” I Google it – and sure enough there is Jamie singing the health benefits (which are legion) of Greek cuisine alongside recipes for skordalia, kakavia and potatoes yiachni. Followers of Rick Stein’s series on the Mediterranean last year, meanwhile, may well remember the episode he spent tasting his way around Greece. The final scene saw him tuck into pot-roasted goat with potatoes, artichokes and fennel: the sweet aniseed of the bulbs melding with the meltingly tender meat. He is impressed – as indeed many have been recently, by the meat’s inimitable taste. Gamey, floral, and evocative beyond its years, goat meat in Greece does not mean the tough, stringy slabs of old goat found in less salubrious butchers, but kid goats: young males who, though clearly useless in the way of cheese and milk production, have long been valued for their meat. So far, so sensible – yet what in Greece and much of the Middle East and Asia has long been common practice has in Britain been a rarity until recently. Moving to London to study after growing up in the Mediterranean, Nadia Stokes of Gourmet Goat was dismayed to discover how hard it was to source her favourite meat. Goat’s cheese, easy. Goat’s milk, increasingly so. But male kids, far from being prized, were being euthanised and burnt at birth on the assumption there was no demand and they were a drain on resources: an assumption which, thanks largely to her and her husband Nick Stokes’ pioneering →
LEFT: One of Opso’s modern Greek dishes. The Marylebone restaurant prides itself on the fact that the majority of its chefs are from Greece
→ street food stall, has since been disproved. In May, the Gourmet Goat received one of the BBC’s coveted Food and Farming awards: a significant victory, and not just for goat-meat consumption. Stokes’ selection of goat dishes had people queuing 20 or 30 deep in Borough Market – but it wasn’t just the pungent meat, slow-roasted with thyme, lemon, garlic and oregano, and cushioned in soft pillows of pitta with creamy tzatziki, the devotees were greedily devouring. “Most of our core side dishes, including wheat berry salad, flash-pickled kohlrabi with feta and pomegranate and roast dakos salad are made up of core Greek ingredients,” Stokes explains, “and we’ve had such a positive response.” For the first two years they had to explain each one. “We spent an inordinate amount of time explaining every ingredient and process,” she recalls. “We seem to be doing that less now. I think it has become quite clear to us that there is a lot of appetite for new Greek dishes, or at least a better expression of the cuisine.” Her hope for the future of food served from Greek restaurants and street vans is for “more regional representation, less chip-filled souvlaki.” This sentiment is echoed – and indeed rewarded – by Mazi’s Mouratoglou, whose menu reflects the myriad regions represented by her kitchen staff. “The barley rusks which come from Rhodes in northern Greece we have in our Greek salad. Our orzo pasta giouvetsi with braised milk ossobuco and mizithra cheese flakes is from the south, near
the home our head chef.” So diverse are the regions that quite often “I’ll suggest dishes the chefs have never had before and vice versa.” Greece is blessed with many landscapes – and an eclectic gaggle of neighbours. There’s the Balkan states, Italy just a spit away from the Ionian islands and Turkey, of course, for whom Mazi’s politiki is to thank. After all, as Kyriakou bluntly remarks, “we spent 400 years under the Ottoman empire. It would be impossible to think Turkish men and Greek women didn’t occasionally mix.” This fusion continues. Many Greek chefs come to London via the kitchens of South America, northern Europe and Asia – particularly Japan, Kyriakou informs me, where there are growing numbers
EVERY MICHELINSTARRED RESTAURANT IN LONDON HAS A GREEK COOK
experimenting with Greek and Japanese cuisines. The effect can already be seen in Mazi’s grilled aubergine, soy and thyme honey dip, served with warm pitta as part of a mezze. The moussaka is made with shitake mushrooms. “This is modern Greek food. Every dish on the menu comes from a traditional recipe – we don’t make stuff up – but we give it a twist,” says Mouratoglou. “When it comes to tasting it, my test is if I shut my eyes, can I imagine that I am in Greece?” It has to taste authentic: a hackneyed word in the food world, but among those chefs, cooks and restaurateurs trying to rebrand Greek cuisine today it seems paramount. “The Italians have done very well at working on the image of their cuisine without alienating it,” says Argyriou, “and we have to do the same.” As such, where most restaurant kitchens in London are melting pots, almost every chef at Kalimera, Mazi and Opso, Marylebone’s modern Greek restaurant, hail from Greece. Freeze-drying, sous vide, smoking, molecular and mousses suffuse their menus: “for our giouvetsi” – a traditional dish of grilled lamb cooked with pasta – “we cook the lamb sous vide for 15 hours at 64˚C, then separately cook the orzo with lemongrass before bringing them together with tomato jam. We have Greek customers who say, ‘It doesn’t look like giouvetsi!’” grins Opso’s founder Andreas Labridis, “and then they try it.” They might not make taramasalata like their mothers or grandmothers, he and Christina say of their kitchen team, but they do need to understand Greek food. The odyssey continues. Victory shifts, as Homer so sagely observed in that most famous Greek work, and just as some of Britain’s most pioneering food businesses were born of our 2008 crash, so from the ashes of Greece’s debt crisis are rising producers and chefs of sparkling verve and creativity. “Every Michelin-starred restaurant in London has a Greek cook,” Mouratoglou claims. Greek spending on clothing, household items and other luxuries might have dropped in recent years, but their native love of food and drink remains undaunted. “We will find any excuse,” Hadjiioannou grins. “You might not have a job, you might be struggling for rent – but you will always find €10 somewhere for a glass of ouzo and a mezethes” – and if that’s not a recipe for culinary greatness, I don’t know what is. f
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FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES When Saima Khan left her job in the City to start a catering company, she was given advice from some of the biggest names in business, finds Victoria Stewart
Photograph by Tara Photograph Sura / Fork by & Dram ###
then at the end they all said ‘bravo’, thanked me and I just thought ‘this is amazing’. One lady even asked if I’d cook for her at her house in France. That was a Saturday in London, and then I had to go back to work in New York two days later.” Buffett, surprised that Khan had taken so
BILL GATES ADORED KHAN’S FOOD AND TOLD HER HE WANTED HER TO START A BUSINESS
long to answer him, suggested she revisit that memory. “He said: ‘You’re not living at the moment. You’re surviving. If you can’t tell me what inspires you, and what your passion is, then what are you living for?’” A month later, Khan ended up cooking curry for Buffett and his wife Astrid at her flat in New York. The month after that he returned with his friend, multi-billionaire Bill Gates, in tow and it turned out that not only did Gates also adore her food, but that he and his wife had also done some work in the Pakistani village that Khan’s parents had grown up in. More importantly, he wanted Khan to start her own food business. “I was like, ‘What sort of joke is this?’ I became tongue-tied and really nervous. He said to me: ‘Oh, go on. You have such a talent, you know how to engage people with the food, and you can do it!’” It wasn’t until a family friend passed away and she soon bumped into Buffett, who asked about her business plan, that Khan stuffed her suits and smart handbags into a wardrobe and The Hampstead Kitchen was born. Today, Khan is a full-time caterer who runs between two and eight events a night,
Photograph by Tara Sura / Fork & Dram
O SERENDIPITOUS IS the story of how Saima Khan ended up running her upmarket catering business, The Hampstead Kitchen, that you couldn’t actually invent it. And when we meet at her Hampstead flat, in which she has promised to cook me lunch, Khan is fussing over the presentation of the beautiful dishes in front of us while telling me about the day that she bumped into Warren Buffett in an airport lounge in Omaha. “So he asks me this question: ‘when was the last time you were excited?’ and I couldn’t answer him,” she says, laughing. Eventually Khan, then 20 years into a City career and working in credit and market risk strategy projects for Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway, told the billionaire magnate of an occasion where she had filled in at the last minute for a top chef who had failed to turn up to a small private cooking job. Having hosted dinners for friends since her university days, Khan was a keen cook but had no catering experience. “I was there in my apron, blagging it, thinking someone was going to find me out,
LEFT: The dishes Khan prepares for events are all based around the concept of sharing. BELOW: Her company caters for up to eight events a night
the majority of which are in London, with others anywhere from Barcelona to Qatar. These could be a dinner for ten people in their home – “I get so much business from word of mouth in Hampstead.” – to a banquet of 500. Regular clients are mostly unprintable, being a selection of A-list actors and actresses, presidents, or international royal families; she also recently catered for the Climate Change Summit in Paris. Born to Pakistani parents in London, Khan says she inherited little food knowledge from them – other than her mother’s “speed of cooking” and her father’s love of simple presentation. Inspired by years of eating around the world, she won’t be pigeonholed by her food, saying she can make anything as long as it’s “a cuisine based around a sharing concept”, and indeed her Instagram feed throws up all sorts – a platter of baby spinach, rocket and orange and orange blossom salad, a plate of smoky aubergine, smoked paprika and mascarpone blinis, or pomegranate, strawberry and rose Eton mess. “People hire us for our colourful and wellpresented food. I call it ‘food without borders’ – just because you belong and may have ties
to a country, it doesn’t mean you only have to represent that country,” she says. At this point Khan howls with laughter as steam whooshes up from a pan of sea bass. But she insists I dive in to try what she has prepared. There is a glorious onion and garlicky yoghurt side dish that Khan now calls ‘The Magic Dip’ after it became a firm favourite with a well-known president’s wife, there is a smoky paprika hummus, roasted red peppers with walnuts, the most delicate and nutty falafel, and then the pretty sea bass alongside salads of wild rice and baby courgette, and fennel, orange, and rocket. There are bright, intense flavours to each dish, and I can absolutely see why her regulars stick by her. But how does she manage it all? Khan says she only hires people – she currently has 170 freelance staff from waiters, to prep cooks and bar help – whom she trusts and whom she has picked out herself. She also has two kitchens where all the prep work is done. “I match staff according to my client, the event and the setting. For example I have an amazing team that also works during the day for corporate hospitality for Coutts, and are great for formal embassy and heads of state dinners. For a family dinner, we have extrafriendly staff who ensure the host is at ease.” She claims she can appear at three events in one night – “because I can pop in for dessert, or before the dinner, and tell them all about what we do” – but relies on her staff to send her pictures before each event so she can keep tabs on how it’s all going. “I’m really anal, so yes, I’m quite involved,” she laughs. But despite the focus on presentation, and the fact two of the most famous businessmen in the world continue to mentor her, there is no pomp to what she does; Khan’s favourite events are “the ones at home, where they don’t show off and it’s just about pleasing their families and friends.” Finally, I ask if she misses her old life: “I don’t miss the time that it takes out of your life – that sucks everything out of you… My life has become so much happier. But when all that [“travelling on first class, working at one of the best companies in the world, having a personal trainer, amazing shoes and handbags”] goes, you’re just left with yourself, and you think ‘what am I made of?’”I’d say she’s made of pretty strong stuff. f
KHAN’S REGULAR CLIENTS INCLUDE A SELECTION OF A-LIST ACTORS, PRESIDENTS AND ROYAL FAMILIES
Mauritius’s food culture includes influences from all over the world, and the result is an island with a fascinating culinary tradition, from restaurants to street food
AURITIUS IS FAMED for its white sand and crystal-clear waters, making it the perfect landscape for a romantic getaway. But it has much more to offer – especially when it comes to extraordinary cuisine. The idyllic island has established itself as a culinary hotspot, drawing inspiration from a range of cultures including Creole, French, Chinese and Indian. This unique blend of flavours is complimented by the island’s affinity for local produce, making dining in Mauritius an unrivalled, totally authentic experience. So, whether you're in search of fine dining or genuine local street food, Mauritius delivers. Leading chefs such as Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse and the Troisgros brothers have visited the island, and introduced menus to boost the top-quality cuisine already available.
MAURITIUS HAS ESTABLISHED ITSELF AS A CULINARY HOTSPOT 66
Local chefs, meanwhile, are known for their creativity and savoir-faire, using traditional and local ingredients to create modern fare for some of the island’s most famous hotels. Attitude Hotels, for example, offers the chance to eat in a local villager’s home, while Shanti Maurice offers a home-cooked meal by a grandmother in a rustic lodge, and Shangri-La Le Touessrok incorporates local artists into its menu. One of the best ways to experience the flavours of the island's local fare is to visit a typical table d’hôte, a local restaurant where you can enjoy a fixedprice, multi-course meal. Other local snacks include faratas, gâteaux piments (chilli bites), samosas and dholl purri – wheat pancakes stuffed with dholl, served with curry and tomato sauce. Common ingredients found in Mauritian recipes include onions, tomatoes, chillies and garlic. Rougaille is considered to be the local sauce, used with meat and seafood, and paired with dhal or rice. Mauritius is also known for its sugar cane, rum and tea; with the ‘Tea Route’, which is fast becoming a popular excursion for visitors to this bountiful island. ● For more info: Mauritius365.mu
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: A Mauritian chef prepares local delicacies; lychees are at home in the tropical environment; a local cook
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Tonic & Remedy’s pulled chicken sliders; the team behind the bar’s cocktails; a martini from the bar with food
JUST THE TONIC Shoreditch restaurant Tonic & Remedy explores the historic side of its East London location. But a unique (and boozy) afternoon tea offering brings it right up to date
ANY RESTAURANTS IN EC1 have a ‘Shoreditch’ feel. But Tonic & Remedy, the resident restaurant of the perspective-popping M by Montcalm hotel on City Road, is a little different. Instead of a contemporary Shoreditch, it celebrates the area’s historic heritage, specifically the old apothecaries of this part of London. This unique sense of identity, combined with its proximity to Shoreditch and the City, make it a perfect spot – whether it’s a quick lunch, after-work drinks, or dinner. That’s in addition to a lively calendar of regular events, too. You can take
advantage of things like two-for-one cocktails on Tuesdays, DJs and live music on Fridays, or – our personal favourite – Saturday’s Afternoon Remedy; a take on the cocktail-led afternoon tea. There’s a selection of great food and drink, including pulled chicken sliders, ‘crispy pig crunch’ and boozy homemade ice cream, served alongside cocktails, including one that emulates the flavours of the British cream tea, served in a milk bottle. ● You can enjoy the Afternoon Remedy service on Saturdays from 12-4pm, at a cost of £65 per two people. The service includes three cocktails and five food items. For info: tonicandremedy.co.uk; @tonicandremedy
WIN AN AFTERNOON REMEDY EXPERIENCE Want to enjoy Tonic & Remedy's unique afternoon tea for up to six people, totally free of charge? Of course you do! Luckily for you, we've got an Afternoon Remedy experience to give away to one lucky reader and their friends. To see a full list of T&Cs and to enter, go to foodism.co.uk/competition/ tonic-and-remedy
IN FIBRE LESS THAN
VIS NE IT O W UR SIT E
070 BANGKOK | 074 BOTTLE SERVICE | 081 THE DIGEST 085 INSIDER: SUFFOLK | 091 THE SELECTOR | 098 DECONSTRUCT
— PART 3 —
EXCESS “TWO LONELY RED RIBBONS OF CHILLI, GOSSAMER THIN. ONCE BITTEN, AN ATOM SPLITS IN MY MOUTH” BANGKOK, 070
TOO HOT TO HANDLE THAILAND When it comes to Thai cuisine, Bangkok offers a fiery mix of superlative street food and fine-dining discoveries. Just make sure you can handle your chilli, says Nick Savage
Photograph by Alexander Scheible/Alamy
T LOOKS INNOCUOUS enough. A glass tumbler half full of pickled mussels, mint, lemongrass, lemon juice; two lonely red ribbons of chilli, gossamer thin. However, once bitten, an atom splits in my mouth. I’m overwhelmed with nuclear heat, which is igniting sinus and ears, transubstantiating the face from solid to liquid. It’s a baptism of fire. And my tears are definitely crying out ‘tourist’. Server Khun Kiki arrives to check on my welfare. “What kind of chilli is this?” I manage to splutter, expecting something from the top shelf of the Scoville scale with an evil name like Naga Viper or Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. “Bird’s eye.” I try to save face, but it’s not easy when said face has been blown off. “I didn’t know that there was a weaponised version.” Apparently, chilli is spicier in Bangkok. Regardless, the mussels are outstanding. Located in Bangkok’s trendy Sukhumvit district, Bo.Lan is my first stop, and it fills me with excitement about what’s to come in my four days of investigating the dynamic between the street and the table in the Thai capital. Dylan Jones, co-owner of Bo.Lan and erstwhile Londoner, explains that the restaurant “borrows inspiration from the whole of Thailand, including street food. But normally the food is more focused on a time-honoured form of dining, gleaned from old texts and funerary books.” When pressed on the subject of street food in Bangkok he’s concerned that “the quality has deteriorated over the last several years, as prices remain stagnant but costs are always increasing.” Still, he’s very handy at suggesting some stalls and shophouses to visit. As is Andy Oliver. His restaurant Som Saa, transplanted from transient digs in London Fields to a permanent spot in Spitalfields, is currently one of the hottest tickets in London. Similarly to other creative industries, chefs operate in a tight community, and chasing one thread reveals how closely knit it is. Oliver formerly worked with David Thompson at Nahm when it was located at The Halkin in Belgravia (where Jones also rattled the pans), before EU restrictions made it untenable for the restaurant to import the exotic ingredients it needed for its brand of fine dining. So my second restaurant visit is at the Metropolitan by COMO Hotel, where, conveniently, my girlfriend and I happen to be staying. Situated on South Sathorn Road, it’s a stone’s throw away from the city’s nightlife, but it’s easy to find oneself detained by the hotel’s amenities, particularly Nahm. →
→ David Thompson, who won Asia’s 50 Best Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, is out of town, so I sit down with head chef Prin Polsuk while enjoying a banquet-style meal. He’s quick to explain there’s a contrast between street and palace food, which he draws inspiration from. “Historically, all-female kitchens in the palace would hand down recipes from women who cooked for the king, specifically Plienplang Pasakornwong, who wrote Thai cookbooks from the King Rama V period, during the 19th century.” Though he’s enthusiastic about the food sold by hawkers, it’s easy to see that his cooking is in another category altogether. At the tail-end of the meal, he presents a southern-style jungle curry (a curry made without coconut milk) with the caveat that it’s extremely spicy, even for him. In spite of myself, I take a bite. “It takes a couple of moments,” says Chef Prin, smiling. I chew. “Click, click, boom,” he adds. And that’s it for me for the rest of the night. Luckily, my room is only a short lift-ride away. With chilli-induced shakes, I wake at 4.30am to beat the heat and head to the Anantara Riverside Hotel, where I’ve arranged a tour of the city’s markets with its Streetwise Guru. The hotel packs in a wide array of foodie options to entertain its guests, including sunset dinners in Thai manohras (traditional wooden sailing vessels) and its own 3,000m2 rooftop hydroponic farm, where much of the hotel’s produce is harvested. My guru is named Waiyawit Thongserm but prefers to go by his sobriquet ‘Daimond Geezer’, acquired during a long weekend with an English woman on the Khao San Road. We board a manohra and head north along Chao Praya (the River of Kings) towards the city centre, before disembarking at Wat Yannawa, a junk-shaped Buddhist temple constructed by King Rama III, where we make an offering to a shoal of wide-mouthed catfish. Daimond directs us around the corner to the Charoean Krung Road, his favourite spot for breakfast. We pitch up on blue plastic seats and bury our chopsticks in fragrant steaming bowls of kuaytiaw – Thai noodle soup. The vendor is Muslim, so her
COMPLIMENTS OF THE CHEFS Bangkok tips from Andy Oliver, Ben Chapman and Dylan Jones Elvis Sukiyaki, Soi Yotse
“Ideal for a bowl of beef suki or a platter of charcoal-grilled scallops.” – BC
Chua Kim Heng, Lomkow Road
“Old-style shophouse serving the speciality of braised goose with pickled mustard green salad and goose blood.” – DJ
Jae Fai, Maha Chai Road
“Great quality seafood cooked in woks over charcoal. Go for the crab omelette and seafood pad kee mao.” – AO
Xia Duck Noodles, Rama 4 Road
“Go for the braised duck with all the trimmings.” – DJ
Soi Polo Fried Chicken, Sanam Khli Alley
“Good spot for some southern Thai-style fried chicken with Isaan salads.” – AO
Krua Apsorn, Dinso Road
“The crab omelette and the sour orange curry are special.” – DJ
Soul Food Mahanakorn, Soi Thonglor
“A fun place, set up by an American guy. Nice Thai food with western touches and good cocktails.” – AO
Baan Klang Nam, Rama 3 Road
“Very nice Thai-Chinese seafood down by the river.” – AO
Kai Yang Sua Yai, Piman 49 mall
“Isaan Thai restaurant opened by a local Hiso lady. It’s cleaner and better quality Isaan food than on the streets. They make a good som tum and the grilled chicken is spot on.” – DJ
recipe strictly eschews pork, instead using chicken broth, tofu, fishballs and plenty of coriander, spring onion and chilli. Noodles are like the sandwich of Thailand, eminently adaptable. It’s a short tuk tuk ride to the Chinatown district, a warren of narrow twisting alleyways with stalls selling everything from sides of pork to knock-off Gucci. We stop on Sampeng Lane for gaa-fee yen: iced coffee mixed with sweetened condensed milk. Soon after, we find what Daimond declares the best fried chicken in the city. For just a few baht
CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Bangkok at night; satay is a popular street food in the city; fresh mussels at a local market; chillis are an essential part of Thai cuisine
WHERE TO STAY Double rooms at the Metropolitan by COMO Hotel start from 4,000 THB (approx £76). 27 South Sathorn Road Tungmahamek Sathorn +66 2 625 3333; comohotels.com/metropolitanbangkok Double rooms at Anantara start from 5,250 THB (approx £100). 257/1-3 Charoennakorn Road Thonburi +66 2 476 0022; bangkok-riverside.anantara.com
we’re offered five golden chicken wings on a wooden skewer, fried to an immaculate crispness without a modicum of fat or gristle. One of my favourite Thai dishes in London is Ben Chapman’s scallops at the Smoking Goat. He recommended I visit Elvis Sukiyaki. The air is hot in Soi Yotse, and you have to run a gauntlet between the coal fires to find a table in the alfresco shophouse. Big bottles of Chang arrive from the freezer jacketed in ice. We order a serving of scallops, then we order three more. The bivalves are flame-grilled in the shell, with fatty ground pork and garlic butter, on a sheet of cast iron with nine apertures – the result is a surprisingly earthy sweetness. It’s the kind of experience that makes a 24-hour flight a matter of small inconvenience.
FOR JUST A FEW BAHT WE’RE OFFERED FIVE GOLDEN CHICKEN WINGS ON A SKEWER
And it’s the kind of experience chefs around the world are attempting to replicate in their respective cities. Though both Dylan Jones and David Thompson are quick to differentiate their restaurants from street food, both have ‘drinking food’ concepts in the offing. Dylan explains: “Thai street food is complex and interesting and the most accessible part of the cuisine, especially for foreigners. In most cases it’s also possibly the easiest to replicate outside of Thailand, which in my opinion makes it the most popular among cooks as well.” As we pack it in and prepare to head back to London, it’s good to know that chefs like Andy Oliver and Ben Chapman are carrying the (very fiery) torch at home. f
BUBBLE VISION We run the rule over some sparkling wines, Caribbean and South American rums, and next-generation tonics PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID HARRISON
SPARKLING FORM: Champagne, a wine grown in the region of the same name in France, is without doubt the most popular and well-known sparkling wine, and is made with any or all of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes. Champagne-style blends are popping up in England and across the New World, while European sparkling wines, like those made in Prosecco, Italy and Cava, Spain use local grape varieties.
1 CHARLES HEIDSIECK BRUT RÉSERVE, Champagne AOC, France. A classic dry champagne made with a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. 12%, 75cl; £36.34, thedrinkshop.com
Want something crisp, refreshing and fizzy for the summer months? Try one (or all) of these Oldand New-World sparkling wines... 3
2 CAVA GRAMONA LA CUVÉE NATURE 2011, Cava DO, Spain. Sparkling wine’s enjoying some much-deserved time in the sun lately, and this one’s a great example of how good cava can be. 12%, 75cl; £21, bbr.com
3 BELE CASEL ASOLO PROSECCO EXTRA DRY, Prosecco DOCG, Italy. More delicate than many proseccos, and perfect for summer drinking. 11%, 75cl; £14.95, bbr.com
4 JACOB’S CREEK SPARKLING SHIRAZ, South Eastern Australia. If you’re not looking to break the bank, you can find good value in Australia. This is an example of a farout sparkling red. 12.5%, 75cl; £9.99, waitrose.com 5 CHAPEL DOWN BLANC DE BLANCS 2011, Sussex, UK. South-eastern England shares a limestone shelf with champagne, which is why the terroir – and quality – is so similar. This one from leading English winemaker Chapel Down is 100% chardonnay. 12.5%, 75cl; £26.99, englishwineshop.co.uk 6 CLOUDY BAY PELORUS 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand. Temperate New Zealand is a brilliant environment for sparkling wine, and Cloudy Bay’s flagship, made with chardonnay and pinot noir, is a cracker. 12.5%, 75cl; £24.99, majestic.co.uk
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1 MOUNT GAY BLACK BARREL, Barbados. This dark rum from Mount Gay – officially the oldest rum distiller in the world – is finished in former bourbon barrels, like a scotch whisky. 43%, 70cl; £33.95, thewhiskyexchange.com
2 DIPLOMÁTICO BLANCO RESERVE, Venezuela. A premium white rum that’s just as at home in a glass with ice as it is in a daiquiri. It’s aged enough to add some complexity, but not long enough to turn it dark. 40%, 70cl; £29.83, masterofmalt.com
3 WOOD’S OLD NAVY RUM, Guyana. The term ‘navalproof rum’ (57% or more ABV) comes from sailors, who’d check whether gunpowder would still ignite when doused with the spirit to make sure it hadn’t been watered down. 57%, 70cl; £28.45, thewhiskyexchange.com
4 WRAY & NEPHEW WHITE OVERPROOF, Jamaica. The most popular rum in Jamaica, this high-proof, unaged rum makes a great base for tropical cocktails. 63%, 70cl; £25.37, masterofmalt.com
2 3 1
Photograph by ###
RUM DEAL: Rum is distilled from sugar cane or molasses, and has made something of a home for itself across South America and the Caribbean. Dark rum’s colour comes from time spent ageing in barrels.
1 BOTTLEGREEN ELDERFLOWER. The delicate infusion of elderflower makes a great match for light, floral gins that aren’t too heavy on the juniper. 175ml; £2.99 for 4, ocado.com 2 FEVER-TREE AROMATIC TONIC WATER. Inspired by the ‘pink G&T’ – where similarly healing Angostura bitters are added to the drink – this tonic is infused with angostura bark. It’s best paired with naval-proof Plymouth Gin. 175ml; £3 for 4 bottles; waitrose.com 3 DOUBLE DUTCH POMEGRANATE & BASIL. This fruity and herbacious tonic from Double Dutch takes a lead from European-style gin and tonic garnishes. 20cl; £1.45, 31dover.com
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Photograph by ###
JUST THE TONIC: Tonic water’s popularity dates back to colonial-era Britain, when quinine – tonic’s key flavour – was used to prevent malaria. The gin and tonic is possibly the quintessential English long drink. These are flavoured with fruit and botanicals to amp up the flavour even more.
THREE’S COMPANY The gin and tonic may be straightforward, but it’s not simple. Tanqueray London Dry, Tanqueray Rangpur and Tanqueray No.TEN all show a different side to the drink
IVEN THAT GIN, and the ingredients used to make it, offers its drinkers all kinds of different flavour profiles, tailoring its favoured cocktail to its variations in taste is a no-brainer. And Tanqueray’s three gins – Tanqueray London Dry, Tanqueray Rangpur and Tanqueray No.TEN – all combine with tonic water in unique ways. A Tanqueray and tonic (or T&T) is a classic for a reason. If you drink one now with Tanqueray London Dry, you know you’re drinking a drink that’s existed since the time of Charles Tanqueray in the 1830s, and nor has it needed to. Try it with ice, premium tonic and a wedge of lime, and know you’re sipping history.
PUNCHY AND FLAVOURFUL, ITS BOTANICALS SHINE SERVED STRAIGHTUP WITH VERMOUTH, BUT IT’S EQUALLY AT HOME IN A T&T
Tanqueray Rangpur, though, is different. It’s made with rangpur limes, grown in India, which have the juiciness of an orange but the acidic bite of a lime, so their peel and juice work in perfect harmony with bay leaves and other spices to flavour the cocktail. Tanqueray No.TEN, on the other hand, is made for a martini. Punchy and flavourful, its botanicals shine served straight-up with vermouth, but it’s equally at home in a T&T – just sub out the lime wedge with a piece of lipsmacking grapefruit. What’s your favourite T&T? You’ll have to try them all to decide... ● tanqueray.com
AUGUST 2 & 3, 2016, THE ROOF GARDENS, KENSINGTON Pe r f e c t l y m i xe d w i t h
Enjoy a taste of summer with the return of The Telegraph Gin Experience, perfectly mixed with Fever-Tree – makers of the world’s finest natural tonic waters. Back and better than ever, join us on August 2 and 3, at the beautiful setting of The Roof Gardens in Kensington. Featuring a brand new selection of hand-picked craft and boutique gins including Darnley’s Spiced gin, Slingsby gin from Harrogate and City of London’s Christopher Wren gin, as well as some old favourites - the Telegraph Gin Experience has something for everyone. With over 50 gins available to sample, an extensive summer BBQ menu and exclusive masterclasses, join host, Telegraph Drinks columnist, Susy Atkins for a four hour celebration of the ginnaisance!
GIN EXPERIENCE TICKET - £60: › Martin Miller’s gin and Fever-Tree cocktail on arrival › Introduction to a gin and Fever-Tree tonic flavour chart and welcome from Susy Atkins › Access to the private gin fair, featuring premium gin and tonic brands › Sumptuous summer barbecue › Telegraph-engraved Glencairn tasting glass › Official Telegraph Gin Experience gift bag
MASTERCLASS EXPERIENCE TICKET - £75: › £60 ticket package plus: › A specially designed masterclass - ‘An Edible Highland Garden’ brought to you by small batch Scottish gin, Caorunn
HOW TO BOOK YOUR EXPERIENCE
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Terms and Conditions: 1. There is a £2.50 booking fee per ticket for online transactions*. 2. Telephone bookings office hours only. 3. Full terms and conditions can be found at telegraphbespoke.co.uk. Promoter: Telegraph Bespoke, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0DT.
All the latest food and drink news, including newlook Camden brews and a mysterious whisky
TO HELLS WITH IT
Reactions to Camden Town Brewery’s takeover by AB InBev, one of the biggest drinks brands in the world, have been mixed to say the least. An accompanying, ground-up redesign of the brand’s look, though – which features bold primary colours – should be pretty well-received across the board. It also comes as the
GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND
Pitt Cue’s Tom Adams spends a good deal of his time in Cornwall tending to the pig on the restaurant’s farm, so opening a food-forward B&B nearby makes total sense to us. And when he enlists the help of New-Yorkconquering Brit chef April Bloomfield, of the Michelin-starred Breslin Bar and Spotted Pig, we start to get very excited indeed. Coombeshead Farm will feature just six bedrooms and a 12-cover restaurant that serves produce as local and seasonal as it gets. Read more on foodism.co.uk/news
brand pours some of its new-found spending power on a sexy new brewery in Enfield – reported to be one of the largest investments in a brewery in the capital in 30 years. Despite the move, the branding gives a nod to the brewer’s roots, with four pairs of clasped hands – an homage to Camden council’s official logo. Isn’t that nice? camdentownbrewery.com
CHEFS DE PARTY
ABOVE: South Place Hotel’s new executive chef Gary Foulkes
ANGLING FOR IT
Chopping and changing – if you’ll excuse the pun – of chefs at the top level is always cause for intrigue, and Gary Foulkes’ appointment to exec chef at South Place Hotel is sure to make some waves. The former head chef of vaunted Mayfair stalwart The Square will bring his brand of French-inspired cooking to the hotel’s restaurant, including its Michelinstarred seafood haven Angler. southplacehotel.com
CLASS OF HIS OWN
Last month saw ten top chefs under 30 cook their finest dishes in a bid to win the UK and Ireland heat of the San Pellegrino Young Chef Awards. George Kataras clinched the win and will go on to the final in Milan – he’s currently based at M Restaurants Threadneedle Street, so head there sharpish if you want to sample his cooking before he takes off. finedininglovers.com
Largely speaking, bartenders have three crosses on their calendar each year: New Orleans’s Tales of the Cocktail, the World’s 50 Best Bars finals, and the World Class bartending competition. The difference with the latter is that it’s for individuals, not the bars they work for – this year, each bartender that entered created their own bitters and were tasked with using them in an original cocktail. The finals, held at Rosewood London in Holborn, saw Dandelyan’s Aidan Bowie (pictured) crowned the UK winner. He’ll go on to contest the global final later this year. theworldclassclub.com
Photograph (South Place Hotel) by Paul WinchFurness / (Cipher) by Thomas Alexander Photography
Reading tasting notes off the bottle? You cheating swine, you. The Glenlivet’s brand-new whisky, Cipher, invites you to blind-taste – almost literally, with a largely unmarked, jet-black bottle that doesn’t give anything away. There’s also an accompanying challenge – drinkers can search the label for a hidden flavour note, and go to cipher.theglenlivet.com to play a game of ‘guess the flavours’ and test out their knowledge. A score at the end will tell you how close you came to nailing the official tasting notes. We scored full marks, with a clothes peg over our nose. Obviously.
Bath Gin gin of a different persuasion
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THE SIX BELLS
Suffolk's open spaces and bounteous farms make for a quintessential food getaway, writes Mike Gibson The Bildeston Crown Sometimes it’s nice not to be surprised. Driving through rural Suffolk, one of England’s most bountiful natural larders, that’s exactly the case: you’re greeted by green fields, flat arable land, and farms full of livestock so healthy-looking it’s practically beaming – and that’s exactly what I expected. The Bildeston Crown makes a great base for exploring this abundant county’s food scene. Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds have their own unique identities, but much of Suffolk’s hidden food delights can be found in the picture-perfect villages dotted in between them, like Bildeston. The Crown combines a cottage feel with ultra-modern amenities; winding, gnarled
corridors with vaulted ceilings and huge bathrooms; a cosy, antiquated hotel bar next to a modern, seasonal, cool restaurant. With local produce as good as Suffolk’s, chef Chris Lee’s food – served à la carte from two menus, or via a tasting menu – doesn’t have to overcomplicate. Sun-yellow yolk oozes from the first cut into a tangy haddock fishcake, and asparagus – as seasonal as it gets – bursts with flavour, too. And my main, a braised collar of Suffolk ham, drenched in warming mustard sauce and served with crispy croquettes, is another example of a light touch applied to a piece of local meat that sings with flavour. f
The Six Bells, in the tiny village of Preston St Mary, is part of London’s ETM Group – the only site outside central London, in fact – and its topnotch gastropub fare seems more at home surrounded by green than grey. It’s 15 minutes’ drive from the Crown, and rears its own pigs out the back to complement the produce it sources pretty much entirely from the county – and serves it at its Grade II-listed, quintessentially British pub. I start with a generous plate of creamy and meaty oysters from the obliging Suffolk coast, and continue with new season lamb from nearby Bridge Farm with peas, spring greens and gnocchi. The meat blushes pink and the minted peas and greens have a pleasing crunch and zest – a classic, fresh plate of late-spring English food with only the tiniest of twists by chef John Tremayne. A panna cotta made with tonka beans, served with lavender shortbread and summer berries, is a refreshingly light British pudding – especially if the allEnglish cheese board just won’t fit. The Street, Preston St Mary, Sudbury, CO10 9NG; thesixbellspreston.com
104 High Street, Bildeston, IP7 7EB; thebildestoncrown.com
GETTING THERE SUFFOLK ◆◆ Population: 730,100 ◆◆ Area: 3,798km² ◆◆ Key city: Ipswich
Suffolk contains a great mix of cities, farms and tiny villages, and there are treasures to be found in all three. Its secret? A natural environment that's perfect for farming.
Trains from London Liverpool Street to Ipswich start at £76.20 for an open return from trainline.com. Once in Suffolk, a hire car is probably the best way to get from hotel to hamlet to farm to restaurant, and vice versa.
SUFFOLK FOOD HALL When it comes to the farmable land, Suffolk's got most of the bases covered: lots of coastline; fertile, flat land; and a long, rich history of growing and producing food. The Suffolk Food Hall – which is much more of a destination than the name might suggest – is where all of these elements meet. An enormous farmers' market which includes a deli, bakery, fishmonger, as well as a butcher, that makes use of the farm's own herd of Red Poll cattle. The distinct operations run on as much of a closed loop as possible, to minimise waste and food miles, and maximise the sense of the area's identity present in the food. It's also home to Cookhouse, a fine restaurant that's as farm-to-table as it gets, which serves relaxed, unfussy food with a view of the Suffolk cattle outside. Not only that, there are rooms on-site that act as an incubator for local talent including gin makers, bakers, caterers and more. Perfect for a quick shop, a day out, or anything in between. Wherstead, Ipswich, IP9 2AB; suffolkfoodhall.co.uk
If you want to know where Tuddenham Mill's reputation is heading, the fact that since we returned from Suffolk last month there's been yet another industry award given to its kitchen team should show you. The esteemed Acorn Award, awarded to head chef Lee Bye, follows local accolades for its commis chef Max Cameron and one for the restaurant itself. From the starter – Jacob's ladder short rib absolutely bursting with East Asian spice – it's clear this is a restaurant that values creative, progressive cooking. Seasonal asparagus with duck egg makes for a lighter option before the main arrives: a breast of guinea fowl glazed in salty-sweet malt, served with nero barley and laced with a sloe gin reduction. The room is beautiful (it's clearly the area's bestthought-of 'destination' restaurant), and there's a real focus on sourcing characterful, interesting wines, too. High Street, Tuddenham nr Newmarket, Suffolk, IP28 6SQ; tuddenhammill.co.uk
THE OLD CANNON Yep, you’re in real ale country – as opposed to the big, hoppy, American style that’s steadily taking over London – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t new and exciting brewers here keen to put their stamp on some of Britain’s best-loved ale styles. Bury St Edmunds’ Old Cannon is both a microbrewery and a pub with rooms. It’s no slouch, either: as well as the weekly batches of its well-loved Best Bitter, Hornblower and others – which it brews with English barley and hops on the majestic polished-steel machinery you'll see as you walk in – it also distributes Old Cannon ales to a network of pubs around the area. Buy it by the cask, in take-away containers, or prop up the bar and let the staff take you through the selection they're so proud of – and rightly so. 86 Cannon Street, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 1JR; oldcannonbrewery.co.uk
LEFT: A bunch of bananas growing towards the sun in tropical climes; ABOVE: Edward Wathen Fyffe, who began importing bananas alongside teas and general household goods in 1888
BANANAS TO YOU
How much do you really know about the bananas on our supermarket shelves? Fyffes sheds some light on this familiar, but in many ways unknown, tropical fruit
ANANAS ARE ONE of those familiar things we tend to take for granted. But when they come from Central America, as most of the bananas on sale in the UK do, provenance and sustainability are important issues. Around a third of all the bananas sold in the UK are supplied by Fyffes – a homegrown company, now one of the world’s largest fruit companies and Europe’s number one banana supplier. But what you really want to know is: are Fyffes’ products of good quality, and are they are produced responsibly? The brand works with independent quality and ethical standards organisations to help ensure this, whether the fruit is conventional, Fairtrade or Organic. And 125 years in, they’re still a people business. Since 1888, when the Fyffe family first imported bananas, they’ve worked with farmers’ groups and co-operatives in partnership. Maybe
that’s why Fyffes brings more Fairtrade bananas into the UK than anyone else, why it’s a proactive member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, and why so many of its farmers are with GlobalGAP. Every choice Fyffes makes in getting bananas from farm to market has potential consequences – for the communities that grow them, for the quality of the fruit and, ultimately, for the environment. Bananas are grown in the tropics, and most of Fyffes’ come from Central and South America, where farmers have been growing them for generations. But how do they get from there to the supermarket? First off – bananas do not grow on trees; the banana plant is actually the world’s largest herb. And today’s bananas have no seeds, so new plants are grown from cuttings. It takes 12 months for the tiny plant from the nursery to grow into a 4-metre-high shrub. The
plant blossoms, and the bananas begin to appear. Thin and straight at first, they take on their distinctive shape as they fill out and turn towards the sun. Bananas are harvested while still green – they need to be firm and starchy to survive the two-week journey to market. They’re washed, boxed up and packed into a temperature-controlled container to slow the ripening process. Upon arrival in port at journey’s end, the bananas are taken to a ripening centre, where boffins put them through a ripening programme that ensures the fruit reaches the colour required by the supermarket. After a century working at this, the ultra-reliable ripening system in use today is a far cry from the gas-heated storage rooms of history. Bananas: there’s more to them than meets the eye. ● Discover more at fyffes.com
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ALL JARRED UP
Gym Bites knows that picking up healthy food on the go can be hard, which is why it’s found a solution in the form of its delicious, nutritious salads, artfully served in jars
ET’S FACE IT: once you’ve been at work all day, endured your daily commute, and managed to drag your tired bones to the gym, the last thing you want to thing about is spending time crafting an elaborate healthy meal. This is something that Alexis Oladipo, founder of Gym Bites, knows only too well – just three years ago she was working as a cleaner and facing depression, until she joined the Prince’s
THE SALADS ARE MADE DAILY WITH FRESH INGREDIENTS AND NO PRESERVATIVES
Trust’s Business Enterprise Scheme. She came up with the idea for Gym Bites’ delicious portable salads, which are presented in handy resealable jars – making them perfect for eating on the go. The three different varieties are stuffed with nutritious ingredients: there’s the Pack-A-Protein Chicken Salad, the Oh Mega! Prawn Salad and the Green Supreme Broccoli salad, all of which are made daily with no additives or preservatives, so you know they’ve got to be good for you. Gym Bites has had a cracking first year, launching its salads first on its own website and at Selfridges. But we’ve got good news for you: they’re now available on UberEATS, so you can keep yourself topped up with delicious, nutritious food, no matter where you are. ●
REACH FOR THE JARS Order Gym Bites from UberEATS, Uber's new food delivery service, and you'll get 10% off your first order. What's more, you could win a week's supply of salads: just share a photo your jars on social media and use the hashtag #FYHL (Feeding Your Healthy Lifestyle). Follow GymBites on Twitter and Instagram at @GymBites
It’s not just London that’s undergoing a bit of a gin revolution. Conker Spirit’s story shows that there’s plenty of room for ingenuity outside of the capital, too...
INCE THE LATE 2000s, which saw the opening of the first copper gin distillery in London since the 19th century, there’s been a flurry of gin distillers converting old spaces into new gin making workshops, from tiny craft creations to new, mainstream brands. But although gin’s history goes hand
IT’S A GIN FROM BOURNEMOUTH THAT TASTES LIKE ALL THE BOUNTIES THE NEW FOREST CAN OFFER 90
in-hand with that of the capital, there are plenty of talented and creative distillers around the UK working to further revive the spirit and come up with their own, local creations. Take Conker Spirit, for example, made not in London, but in the Bournemouth backstreets. Conker is a business with quality and passion for the product at its heart – each batch of its gin consists of just 60 bottles, all bottled and labeled by hand, so you know you’re getting a genuine craft product. The best thing about gin, though, when it comes to locality, is that it’s so characteristically flavoured. This means that aside from the juniper and citrus notes you’ll find in most London Dry-style gins, you’re also tasting hand-picked (and often hand-foraged) ingredients. And, because the foraged flowers and other ingredients tend to be wild and indigenous, where the
distillery goes, the flavours follow. That means gins from Scotland that taste emblematically Scottish, gins from the Lake District whose flavours reflect the area’s landscape, and, in this case, a gin from Bournemouth that tastes like all the bounties the New Forest can offer. Conker Spirit’s gin is distilled with marsh samphire and New Forest gorse, making it equally at home in a gin & tonic or a martini. And it also provides Conker with an absolutely inimitable sense of place, leaving you with the feeling of having had – quite literally – a true taste of the Dorset spirit. ● conkerspirit.co.uk
Photograph by ###
Hungry in the city? Good, so are we... Happily, London has a superlative selection of bars and restaurants that’ll provide whatever you’re after – whether that’s a bit of Brazilian, a bar in a basement, or dinner by the river
1 Yoobi 38 Lexington Street, W1F 0LL
Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside Japan, so it makes sense to find restaurants merging the two national cuisines. Yoobi is just one example, drawing inspiration from the two countries to serve a menu of ‘nikkei’ dishes like spicy Amazon salmon temaki, delicately spiced with north Amazonian biquinho pepper. It’s based around temaki, a style of sushi that’s often referred to as hand rolls, and it has London’s first sakeria, too. 020 7287 9442; yoobisushi.com
Didn’t make the Olympic team? Don’t worry: you can get a taste of the spirit of Brazil in London BEST OF THE REST 2 Galpão
1024 Harrow Road, NW10 5NN
10 Kingsgate Place, NW6 4TA
This family-run restaurant in Kensal Green is just about as authentic as you’ll get this side of the Atlantic – and it’s previously been voted Brazilian restaurant of the year, too, so you know you’re getting the good stuff. It serves home-style cooking, the finest exponent of which is the churrasco mixed grill with South American rump steak, pork loin, chicken breast and Brazilian sausage. It plays samba and bossa nova music, so you can sit back and soak up the Latin vibes while you eat.
London has pubs; Rome has trattorias; and Rio de Janeiro has boteco bars – small boozers that were bohemians’ meet-up spots. It’s these Brazilian institutions that Kilburn’s Barraco emulates, serving up dishes like frogs’ legs and yam cakes.
020 8960 1811; facebook.com/GalpaoLondon
3 Tia Maria 126 South Lambeth Road, SW8 1RB
Dinner here involves tucking into authentic Brazilian cuisine in typical British surrounds. Chef-patron Eduardo dedicates one night a week to touring London’s wholesale markets, making sure everything he serves is of the very highest quality. 020 7622 3602; tiamarialondon.com
020 7604 4664; barracocafe.co.uk
5 Sushisamba 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY
Tucking into celebrated Brazilian/Peruvian fusion food while looking over the City from the 38th and 39th floors of the Heron Tower? Sim, por favor. 020 3640 7330; sushisamba.com
BEST OF THE REST 2 The Owl
4 The Dog House
Foxlow Balham, 15-19 Bedford Hill, SW12 9EX
Bernardi’s, 62 Seymour Street, W1H 5BN
Foxlow’s speakeasy-style bar The Owl has its own drinks menu, entirely separate from the cocktail list upstairs, and the compact back-bar is a cherry-picked selection from sister-brand Hawksmoor’s well-stocked supply chain.
What do you do immediately before settling in for an Italian feast? If the answer is ‘have an aperitif’, we’ve got news for you: head underneath Bernardi’s and you’ll find The Dog House, which specialises in vermouth- and amaro-based Italian classic cocktails.
020 7680 2700; foxlow.co.uk/the-owl
3 Below the Smoke Rök Smokehouse, 26 Curtain Road, EC2A 3NZ
020 7377 2152; roklondon.co.uk
020 3826 7940; bernardis.co.uk
5 7 Tales Sosharu, 64 Turnmill Street, EC1M 5RR
7 Tales is an hommage to Japan’s late-night bar scene. You’ll find all the hallmarks – neon lights, loud beats – and it’ll come as no surprise that the cocktails are heavy on the Japanese ingredients, from sake to sesame, with a healthy list of Japanese whiskies, too.
020 3805 2304; sosharulondon.com
4 THE SELECTOR
BASEMENT BARS If you know, you KNOW… Ramp up your evening’s cool credentials at one of these secluded subterranean havens 1 1 The Bloomsbury Club Bar The Bloomsbury, 16-22 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NN
You don’t need us to tell you that the 1920s and 1930s were a great time for cocktails. But you might need us to tell you the best places to go to relive them, and the newly set-up Bloomsbury Club Bar, underneath the Bloomsbury Hotel, is one of them. It’s themed around the Bloomsbury Set – a collective of authors including Virginia Woolf and John Maynard Keynes – who used to hang out in what was probably London’s most celebrated literary neighbourhood. Cocktails include some new-school tipples and some timeless classics, including the Gin & Milk, where gin meets gomme syrup and cream. There are bar snacks, too, and even a cigar menu. 020 7347 1000; doylecollection.com
Photograph by Simon Brown; Toby Keane
For the uninitiated, Shoreditch’s Rök Smokehouse is one of the very best restaurants in the capital for Nordic-inspired food, and its underground bar follows suit. Its cocktails will feature the same kind of crazy experimentation (brining, pickling, fermenting, smoking – you know the drill) that goes on upstairs.
1 Prawn on the Lawn 220 St Paul’s Road, N1 2LL
TAKE IT HOME
Not only can you buy all sorts of wonderful produce at these establishments – you can eat it there, too 94
Islington’s Upper Street has long been a go-to for north London foodies, and nearby Prawn on the Lawn is one of its best-loved establishments. Its beginnings as a seafood bar and fishmonger mean it only has an A1 cold food licence, but the 16-seater basement restaurant has turned this to its advantage, putting together a creative menu featuring the likes of scallop ceviche, seared tuna and Prawn on the Lawn’s classic dish – appropriately named, er, Prawn on the Lawn, which consists of prawns and smashed avocado on toasted soda bread. Venturing (much) further afield? There’s now a second site in Padstow, too. 020 3302 8668; prawnonthelawn.com
BEST OF THE REST 2 Hill & Szrok 60 Broadway Market, E8 4QJ
Meat takes centre stage at this ‘cookshop’, and understandably so – it’s housed in a butcher specialising in organic and free-range meat sourced directly from farms all over the UK. Come evening, the site is transformed into a buzzy 25-seater restaurant where you can sample all the good stuff mentioned above. 020 7254 8805; hillandszrok.co.uk
3 Valentina Fine Foods Various locations
Not much draws us in like a bounty of real Italian meats, cheeses and breads. Whether
you want to get your fill of antipasti in Valentina’s breezy restaurant or at home, it’s up there when it comes to scoffing delicious food from our chic continental cousins. The venues also host educational events in their various communities. 020 7036 6028; valentinafinefoods.com
4 Sutton & Sons 90 Stoke Newington High Street, N16 7NY
It’s pretty obvious that the fresher food is, the better it tastes, and this is particularly true when it comes to fish – something that Stoke Newington-based Sutton & Sons knows very well, as its restaurant is located just over the
road from its fishmongers. There’s all the usual fish-and-chip-shop favourites, alongside Cromer crab and Maldon oysters, as well as cakes that are homemade by Mrs Sutton. 020 7249 6444; suttonandsons.co.uk
5 Cure & Cut 36 Monmouth Street, WC2H 9DA
The clue is in the name at this new deli-cumrestaurant, which specialises in home-smoked pastrami, freshly made sandwiches and seasonal salads. It boasts an airy, two-floor dining area, catering for quick lunches at its counter or intimate meals in the basement. cureandcut.com
Photograph by ###
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BEST OF THE REST
2 The Dock Kitchen
4 The Gun
342-344 Ladbroke Grove, Kensal Road, W10 5BU
27 Coldharbour Lane, E14 9NS
Come for the picturesque waterside setting; stay for Stevie Parle’s excellent experimental cooking. You’ll find dishes like hummus, octopus and za’atar, salt cod, January king cabbage and jasmine rice – and the striking building also has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Grand Union Canal.
This is one for the history buffs: The Gun’s been around for more than 250 years, and was frequented by Lord Horatio Nelson and later by smugglers, no less. Today it’s known for good food and drink instead – but it still has a spy-hole in its secret circular staircase so you can watch out for the ‘revenue men’.
020 8962 1610; dockkitchen.co.uk
020 7515 5222; thegundocklands.com
3 The Lighterman
5 Crate Brewery
3 Granary Square, N1C 4BH
Unit 7, Queen’s Yard, Hackney Wick, E9 5EN
This Granary Square newcomer is all slick grey lines and tall windows, but don’t be fooled by its modern appearance: there’s an expertly curated menu of British classics from executive chef Diego Cardoso. The pub’s got a killer sun trap of a terrace, too.
There’s a lot to love about this riverside hipster haven, from its hand-rolled, stone-baked pizzas to its five-barrel brew kit which it uses to make new and innovative taste concoctions. The venue itself is totally upcycled: the bar is made of old railway sleepers.
020 3846 3400; thelighterman.co.uk
07834 275 687; cratebrewery.com
DOWN BY THE RIVER If you can’t get to the seaside go for the next best thing and have dinner by the river instead
Photograph by Jason Bailey
1 The Narrow Boat 119 St Peter’s Street, N1 8PZ
020 7400 6003; thenarrowboatpub.com
Photograph by ###
The Narrow Boat occupies a long and, er, narrow space, sitting directly above the calming waters of Regent’s Canal. It boasts proper boozer credentials, too – it’s a Young’s pub – along with a load of other craft options. As for food, there are seasonal dishes from daily breakfast, lunch and dinner menus to its traditional Sunday roasts. In summer, the floor-to-ceiling windows are pulled back so you can soak up the balmy air – perfect for lazy brunches or an evening drink. Or five.
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BERRY GOOD: Strawberries are a great source of vitamins C and K, along with potassium, manganese, fibre and folic acid. They’re thought to protect against inflammation, cancer and heart disease, regulate blood sugar and even whiten teeth.
ON THE ROSE: Strawberries aren’t considered to be fruits as their ‘seeds’ are on the outside. They’re actually runners, and members of the rose family.
SOWING SEEDS: On average, a strawberry will be studded with about 200 ‘seeds’. What’s more, each ‘seed’ is actually one of the flower’s ovaries, with the seed inside it – which means that each ‘seed’ is technically a fruit.
Photograph by Design Pics Inc/Alamy
Whether it’s in ice cream, cake, a cocktail or Pimms, the sweet flavour of the humble strawberry always comes out on top. No wonder we love the juicy berry so much
2 Cases of SAUVIGNON GRIS Brancott Estate wine and 6 Riedel glasses FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN, VISIT: FOODISM.CO.UK/BRANCOTT-ESTATE See the competition page for a full list of T&Cs
Enjoy Brancott Estate Wines Responsibly
Enjoy Brancott Estate Wines Responsibly
Foodism Magazine - Issue 12 - London, food and drink