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If you draw a blank when you hear the name Pierre Koffmann, I (almost) forgive you. Sure, his career in the kitchen has spanned 50 years, and he makes a decent case for being the person who’s influenced London food the most in that time, but he remains the consummate chef ’s chef. He’s unstarry (all those Michelin wins aside); and at 68, having done all there is to do in the kitchen, he gives the limelight a nonchalant Gallic shrug. As you’ll find out in a frank interview on page 38, the man has packed a lot into a career that began in his native France and took a 46-year detour into the UK when he popped over for a rugby match. And what did Koffmann make of the food here at that time? “It was shit,” he says. If things have since improved – “you can eat as well as in any big city in the world” – it’s in no small part thanks to him. The lifetime achievement awards he’s been hoovering up recently are testament to that. Koffmann’s influence has barely wavered since the 1970s, but it’s hard to say the same about French food. While classical French cooking remains the backbone of fine dining, the explosive growth of London’s dining scene has largely left French restaurants behind. “Things are evolving very, very fast,” says Gregory Marchand on page 44. As chef-patron of Covent Garden’s Frenchie, he’s one of a growing group of evangelists striving to remind us what we’ve all been missing. “At one point French cuisine wasn’t taking part in this change, but today it definitely is.” All of which bodes well for the next 50 years of French food in the capital. f
L O N D O N , O N E B I T E AT A T I M E
FRONT COVER: Photography by Ian Dingle
GRAZE 010 THE FOODIST
010 LOCAL HEROES 014 OPEN SEASON 014 LONDON LARDER 015 THREE OF THE BEST 015 THE ESCAPIST 016 THE RADAR 018 WEAPONS OF CHOICE 023 RECIPES 031 RICHARD H TURNER
FEAST 038 PIERRE KOFFMANN 044 FRENCH FOOD 050 FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY 055 OYSTERS 058 BASQUE FOOD
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076 BOTTLE SERVICE 083 THE DIGEST 085 INSIDER: FALMOUTH 092 THE SELECTOR 098 DECONSTRUCT
010 THE FOODIST | 010 LOCAL HEROES | 014 OPEN SEASON 014 LONDON LARDER | 015 THREE OF THE BEST | 015 THE ESCAPIST 016 THE RADAR | 023 RECIPES | 031 RICHARD H TURNER
— PART 1 —
GRAZE “UNLIKE OTHER RECENT FOOD TRENDS, FERMENTATION HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS” RICHARD H TURNER, 031
A new opening marks the arrival of London’s first proper restaurant on a boat, writes Mike Gibson
LOCAL HEROES DELIVERY APPS
1 THE BOOZY ONE Bevy
E IN LONDON tend to make pretty decent use of the massive river that snakes its way through our city, and the estuaries and canals that shoot out like veins into neighbourhoods around London. And while we’ve got plenty of riverand canal-side restaurants, as well as the occasional boat or barge that goes out and back for a couple of hours – you know the ones, with a bit of live jazz thrown in and a hastily installed kitchen chucking out set menus – the restaurant industry hasn’t, in my opinion, made the most of the potential for water-borne entertainment. That is, until now. The imminent arrival of the London Shellfish Co. will make it the first restaurant in the capital to be on the water. It’ll take over the newly refurbished Prince Regent barge (assuming it didn’t already
have a working restaurant kitchen in the old setup), and will run continuously from its base in Paddington along the Regent’s Canal to Camden Lock and back. And if you’re the kind of person for whom ‘restaurant on a boat’ roughly translates into ‘gimmick’, don’t worry: these are restaurateurs-turned-sailors, not the other way around, and food will be the focus from the off. The menu will be a continuation of founders Leah and Harry Lobek’s successful seafood supper clubs, serving British fish and shellfish alongside the odd bit of game, locally sourced wherever possible, with a cracking wine list and a bar to match. At the time of writing, the opening date’s scheduled for 3 November. I’ll see you on board. f Find London Shell Co. at The Prince Regent, Sheldon Square, W2 6EP; londonshellco.com
THE FRESH ONE iDeli
A brand-spanking-new website that takes the fuss out of shopping for unusual ingredients? Sign us up. It’s got a crack team of buyers that source the finest artisans, and who’ve even created party packs so you can throw together an impressive dinner spread without batting an eyelid. ideli.online
Photograph (beer) by Garth Dale
What’s better than being able to pour a pint of your favourite draught beer in your own home? That’s right, absolutely nothing. Live the dream with CDA’s BVB4SS integrated beer dispenser, which fits smartly into your kitchen and will enable you to pour a perfectly smooth
pint. Temperature controlled by an in-built thermostat, the sleek stainless steel device is compatible with ten-, 30- and 50-litre kegs, and is ready to use within five minutes of being installed. While operating your own in-house ‘happy hour’ isn’t essential, it does sort of feel like it’d be a bit silly not to…
Impromptu late-night party but, heaven forbid, no booze? Look no further than new(ish) app Bevy, which delivers alcohol, tobacco and snacks in Zones one and two in London from 5pm to 5am Thursday to Saturday. ‘Butlers’ arrive on average within 30 mins, and the minimum spend is only £10. Winning. bevy.co
Ever so slightly
Shot Top cupcake kits. A party game-changer. Fill with your favourite tipple. And top with prosecco flavour frosting. Please eat responsibly.
69 stores nationwide lakeland.co.uk
LOCAL HEROES + MORE D ELI VERY APPS
THE SPICY ONE The Spicery
Love exotic foods but don’t want to shell out on spices that are expensive, hard to find and that you won’t use very often? The Spicery is the answer: once a month, it sends you all the fresh spices you need to make a three-course meal a month, whether that’s Yucatan fish tacos or Jamaican chicken curry. The team behind it have supplied restaurants including Ottolenghi and The Fat Duck – so you know it’s going to be good. thespicery.com
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THE CHEFFY ONE EatFirst
EatFirst’s USP is simple: it delivers high-quality, chef-made meals to your door at the click of a mouse. The chefs come from top restaurants around the world – there’s Jane Tran, who was trained at Bar Boulud in New York; Benn Hodges from Roka; Marcel Brixel, who managed kitchens at Four Seasons resorts around the world; and its R&D chef Daniel Budde was head pastry chef at Berlin’s famed Tim Raue restaurant. If you’re not already sold, there’s the not-so-small matter of its finest-quality produce and dedication to the best customer service to contend with. eatfirst.com
CONCEPT RESTAURANTS WE’D LIKE TO SEE MIX-A-LOT This new restaurant in Covent Garden is a shrine to Bombay mix. Try one of five trailblazing flavour combinations, and make sure you grab the signature Bombay Icicle Club – a Bombay-spiced, multi-layered icecream sandwich.
Like salt on your food? Try salt as your food – this opening will put its iconic salt bar front and centre, so you can serve yourself handfuls of smoked and unsmoked rock salt and sea salt. Thirsty? Order a tipple from the margarita menu.
Inspired by UK barbecue culture, Riot Grill puts the focus on high-quality, locally sourced produce, grilled until it takes on the appearance and consistency of coal. Everything’s served cold in a damp bun, drowned in supermarket ketchup.
THE FARMY ONE Field & Flower
The fact that delivery service Field & Flower was set up by two agricultural science graduates – spoiler alert – gives a little hint into what it sets out to do. It’s both a subscription service and a delivery service, supplying customers with only the best free-range, grass-fed meat and MSC-certified fish. All the meat is carefully and ethically sourced from Home Farm in north Somerset’s Gordano Valley, and all the beef it delivers is dry-aged for a minimum of four weeks. Amazing ingredients delivered to your door – just let your local supermarket try matching that. fieldandflower.co.uk
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THE LONDON LARDER
This month: Jarr Kombucha
In this month’s column, eco-minded chef and SRA award winner Tom Hunt tells you how to choose and cook all the parts of the quintessentially autumnal pumpkin and squash What’s the product?
S OTHER LOCAL vegetables grow sparse on our market shelves, pumpkins keep growing and fill them up in many shapes and sizes that are a pleasure to explore. My favourite has to be the Crown Prince – a bulbous, round pumpkin that has teal to Tiffany-blue skin and a deep, vibrant orange, sweet centre. The Prince is perfect for blending into silky soups and purées, while other varieties like the butternut – yellow and tempting as it is – is better when it’s roasted. Pumpkins are a mainstay for the autumn and winter larder. They’re great to store – they keep for a week or more, even when cut open. Buy pumpkins that are heavy for their size, as they’ll have more flesh and less of a hollow. They can be stored at room temperature and, once opened, can be kept in the fridge.
The skin of some pumpkin and squash, such as the Crown Prince and butternut, are delicious and edible when roasted. I like to serve huge, rustic wedges of pumpkin on people’s plates for them to gnaw like a melon. Not only that, the seeds are delicious, too. Dry them in the oven and then season with spices, butter and maple syrup. f The Natural Cook by Tom Hunt is available now (Quadrille, £20). For more on Tom and his restaurants: tomsfeast.com; @tomsfeast
What does it taste like?
NICOLAS JAOUËN, co-founder of modern Italian bistro Margot, on how setting up a restaurant as front-of-house staff rather than chefs has affected their approach
The ’booch is light and refreshing, and slightly – but not unpleasantly – vinegary. It comes in ginger and passion fruit flavours, too – we were particularly keen on the warming notes of the ginger. Perfect for winter.
Where can I get it? It’s sold in the taproom at Mick’s Garage, and also in Harrods and Sourced Market shops. It’ll set you back £6 for a 473ml bottle. jarrkombucha.com
Photograph by C hristopher Jones / Alamy
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW AT FOODISM.CO.UK
WE ARE FACING THE GUESTS, WE CAN SEE AND FEEL THEIR REACTION, GREET THEM, SEAT THEM AND LOOK AFTER THEM THE WAY A CHEF CAN’T 14
Who makes it? Adam Vanni, Neil Hinchley and Crate Brewery founders Tom and Jess Seaton started making it themselves when they couldn’t get their hands on it in the UK. It’s now brewed and bottled in Mick’s Garage in Hackney Wick, where there’s also a Jarr kombucha and cocktail bar. It’s made with the best organic and biodynamic loose-leaf Sri Lankan tea, organic cane sugar from Brazil and pure filtered water.
SKIN DEEP: While your first thought might be to hack and chisel away at squash and pumpkins’ hard skin, you can incorporate it into your meal
QUOT E OF T HE MO NTH
Kombucha is a fermented, lightly effervescent tea drink that’s widely touted for its health benefits – packed with enzymes and beneficial bacteria, it’s said to be brilliant for your gut. It’s made by steeping tea in hot water, adding sugar, cooled water, starter liquid from a previous batch and a SCOBY (that’s a culture of bacteria and yeast, FYI) before being left to ferment.
LONDON HONEY TOP P I C KS T HIS MO NTH
THE GOLDEN CO
The Golden Co’s honey is a bit special: the company itself is a social enterprise that reinvests profits in its local community, working with young people to teach them how to run a business, with options to do a beekeeping course too. The honey is sold from a stall at Borough Market on the last Saturday of the month. thegolden.co
FORTNUM & MASON
Fortnum’s Bees’ Honey is up there when it comes to exclusivity – it’s harvested from four beehives on the iconic department store’s roof just once a year, which means there’s a waiting list to get your hands on it. The bees usually buzz around Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Green Park, giving the honey subtle hints of chestnut, lime and garden flower flavours. fortnumandmason.com
BERMONDSEY STREET BEES
This London honey, with delicate notes of lime, mint, fennel and liquorice, won the accolade of Great Taste Small Artisan Producer of the Year for 2016 – so you know it’s going to be pretty damn good. The company is run by Dale Gibson, who also runs a beekeeping consultancy, and the bees live on a rooftop overlooking The Shard. The lower floors, presumably. bermondseystreetbees.co.uk
Chika Russell, founder of CHIKA’S, on making the switch from finance to food
BECAME A FINANCIAL analyst in 2005 and shortly after decided to take my CIMA professional exams to become a qualified management accountant. After five years working at an investment bank in London I became pregnant with my first child. It was during my maternity leave that I began to question whether I could continue on this high-flying career path within finance for the next 20 years, and sadly the realistic answer was ‘no’. What I did want to consider, however, was something that touched on all of my passion points. Food, charity and wellness are real priorities in my life. I grew up in a large African family and food is at the heart of everything we do. I knew that there was a
niche in the market for an exotic snack brand, and that’s how CHIKA’S was born. I wanted to create snacks inspired by the West African culture I grew up with, and to create a product that was easily accessible, for everyone to enjoy. The first product I created for CHIKA’S were the hand-toasted peanuts: they’re sourced and created in West Africa, and everything from the type of nut to the packaging was chosen with expert care. From there I developed the range to include plantain crisps, smoked almonds, salt and pepper cashews, and chickpea crisps. I then went on to create Snack4Change, which is where we are now. It’s a new snack box containing four delicious snacks, available in four flavours. But more than
that, Snack4Change involves a partnership with the charity SOS Children’s Villages, where 35% of profits from each snack box sold go towards educating children in West Africa, allowing them their fundamental right to an education. f Buy CHIKA’S Snack4Change boxes at chikas.co.uk
ST R E ET XO
K R IC K ET
Modern Indian is the name of the game, and Kricket’s second restaurant in Soho joins Hoppers, Gunpowder and a host of other great casual-dining joints playing with the formula. The restaurant, which follows founders Will Bowlby and Rik Campbell’s first in Brixton, will serve modern, seasonal dishes, some prepared on the kitchen’s robata grill or clay tandoor. It’ll be bigger than the first, spread across two floors with a chef’s table and bar seating. W1D 7HL; kricket.co.uk
THE RADAR Introducing some of the openings we’re most excited about, from Laotian cuisine to US-style BBQ Grazing
V E NETA
If you want a London-ish stamp put on modern European cuisine, you won’t go far wrong with Ben Tish and Simon Mullins’ Salt Yard Group, which counts Ember Yard, Dehesa and Opera Tavern alongside its eponymous first restaurant. The next opening is Veneta, inspired by the cicchetti restaurants of Venice’s winding backstreets. SW1Y 4SB; saltyardgroup.co.uk
F UC IN A
T HE G R IL L AT M C QUE E N
If you want to open a steakhouse, getting a former Hawksmoor man on your side is probably no bad thing. That’s what Shoreditch hangout McQueen’s banking on, anyway, enlisting the help of the iconic steakhouse group’s ex head chef Richard Sandiford to completely revamp its menu, which now features loads of locally sourced meat and other ingredients. It’ll serve predominantly US-style cuts, with a wine list to match. EC2A 4AA; thegrillmcqueen.co.uk
Trends come and go, but Mayfair will always be a great destination for food. It’s helped in that sense by an influx of exciting new openings to complement the old-school fine-dining haunts – most recently a London launch of Emma Bengtsson’s new Nordic mecca Aquavit, which has garnered two Michelin stars since opening in Manhattan. It’ll be overseen by head chef Henrik Ritzen. SW1Y 4QQ; aquavitrestaurants.com
Top European chefs have been flooding into London lately – the latest is David Muñoz, whose casual incarnation of three-Michelin-starred Diver XO, in Madrid, opens in Mayfair in November. W1S 2JL; streetxo.com
Chef Stefano Stecca fronts this Italian trattoria-style restaurant, which will have a focus on seasonality, and a sister bakery down the street due to open just afterwards, too. W1U 5QY; fucina.co.uk
L AO CA F É
East Asian food fans should be excited about this opening from the people behind Rosa’s Thai – it’s the first Laotian joint in the capital. WC2N 4HG; laocafe.co.uk
you can never have too many nuts
Protein, energy, deliciousness: nuts have got it all. Thatâ€™s why at Meridian we go to such crazy lengths to pack as many nuts into our nut butters as humanly possible.
meridian: nuts about nuts
WEAPONS OF CHOICE An all-in-one kitchen companion, big ideas for small spaces, and the tools for a perfect roast PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID HARRISON
K NOW-IT-AL L TEFAL CUISINE COMPANION, £699.95 This behemoth of an appliance can do most things a chef can – minus the tantrums. A great all-rounder for the time-poor. johnlewis.com
Photograph by ###
KEEP I T C OMPA CT 1. ANDREW JAMES HAND BLENDER, £48.99 This stick blender and processor is a great option if a stand mixer’s out of the question andrewjamesworldwide.com
2. JOSEPH JOSEPH INDEX STEEL, £70 Coloured copping boards housed in a handy, compact steel case. A lifesaver in a small kitchen. josephjoseph.com
3 4 1 2
3. ILO SOFT TOUCH KNIFE RACK, £11.99 Save on drawer space and hang your knives from this smart magnetic rack instead. lakeland.co.uk
4. LAKELAND DAMASCUS JAPANESE KNIFE RANGE, FROM £45.99 As many or as few top-notch knives as you need will make a great companion to your new knife rack. These are a cut above. lakeland.co.uk
ROAST WA NTE D 1. JOSEPH JOSEPH THERMOBASTE SET, £17.99
Baste your meat and take its temperature, too, with this set from Joseph Joseph. steamer.co.uk
2. STELLAR HARD ANODISED ROASTER WITH LID, £112.95 Use this adaptable hardened roasting tray in the oven or on the hob – lid on if you want to pack in flavour and moisture. steamer.co.uk
3. DONALD RUSSELL CARVING SET, £49 A professional-standard carving set from one of the UK’s biggest and best butchers, Donald Russell. It even comes in a handy presentation box. donaldrussell.com
Enjoy delicious Norwegian seafood with a conscience as clear as our waters. All kinds of amazing seafood thrives in Norway’s cold, clear waters, especially cod, haddock, salmon and Norwegian fjord trout. The icy conditions mean they grow slowly, making them all the more exquisite. And because we’re committed to responsible practices, there’s always plenty more fish in our sea. Find delicious, sustainable Norwegian seafood in your supermarket.
FOR THE LOVE OF COD... THIS MONTH, WE’VE SCOURED LONDON’S RESTAURANTS TO FIND CRACKING CURED, PAN-FRIED AND EVEN PULVERISED FISH DISHES TO COOK AT HOME
HEFS IN BRITAIN have it pretty good when it comes to seafood. Not only do the British Isles have an enviable pedigree of their own, but our friends around the continent each have their own unique sourcing and cooking culture, too. To showcase just how delicious fresh fish can be, we’ve enlisted the help of a few friends around London’s kitchens. Want to try curing? Check out the Norwegian Seafood Council ambassador Daniel Galmiche’s recipe for cured Norwegian trout on p24. If you want to turn a salmon fillet into
something else entirely, see J Sheekey’s salmon fishcake recipe on p25. And for panfried cod, Wright Brothers have you sorted on p26. We admit we snuck in a dessert, too – although there’s no fish in that one (p28). All of these fish recipes, in their own way, are designed to bring the best out of carefully sourced seafood. Whether you’re cooking or curing, frying a fillet, or mashing it into comfort food, they’re all reminders of how good the fruits of the sea can be when they’re sourced well and cooked with a sense of respect for the quality of your ingredients. f
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F O O DISM RE CIPE S, IN ASSOC IAT ION W IT H NOR G E
Photograph by ###
Foodism’s recipe section is brought to you in partnership with NORGE, the brand of the Norwegian Seafood Council. When it comes to quality, sustainable seafood, Norway’s hard to beat. The country has incredible natural resources, from wild Arctic seas to placid fjords. And, because the Norwegian people have been fishing
for millennia, taking care of this precious resource is in their nature. Chances are, the cod in your local chippy comes from them, as may the salmon in your supermarket. Look for the NORGE logo – or just the word Norwegian – and use it as a mark of quality and sustainability. For more info: seafoodfromnorway.co.uk
MARINATED FJORD TROUT ELEGANT NORWEGIAN TROUT WITH CORIANDER, LIME AND CELERY, SERVED WITH AN APPLE SALAD
◆◆ 8½ hours
simple This fresh, e flavour th ts recipe le trout d of the fjor rough th e in sh really
S AN AMBASSADOR for Norwegian seafood, The Gore’s Daniel Galmiche is wellplaced to create recipes that harness its quality and diversity. “This is the perfect way to showcase the vibrant colour and delicate flavours of fjord trout,” he says of this simple canapé.
1 Lay the trout skin-side down on a large piece of cling film. Mix together the salt, sugar and coriander seeds and sprinkle over the flesh side of the fish, then finish with a little pepper and grated lime zest.
2 Wrap in cling film and put, flesh side down, in a small baking tray. 3 Refrigerate to cure for 8 hours, depending on the thickness of the fish, turning often throughout. 4 When the trout is cured, remove from the fridge and carefully rinse under cold water to remove the excess cure, then pat dry. 5 Slice thinly and arrange on serving plates, topping with tender celery and coriander, apple batonnettes, grated lime zest, seasoning and olive oil 6 Just before serving, drizzle over a little lime juice. gorehotel.com
ING R E DIE NTS ◆◆ 600g piece of fjord trout,
skin on ◆◆ 2 large tbsp fine sea salt ◆◆ 2 small tbsp caster sugar ◆◆ 1 tsp crushed coriander
seeds ◆◆ 2 large limes ◆◆ 1 small celery with plenty of
leaves ◆◆ 1 small bunch of fresh
coriander leaves ◆◆ 1 green apple ◆◆ 2 tbsp olive oil ◆◆ Freshly ground black pepper
A TASTY, LIGHT STARTER OR MAIN, SERVED SIMPLY WITH WILTED SPINACH AND A SORREL AND CREAM SAUCE
HE TEAM AT J Sheekey refer to this as “the dish that launched a million copycat ready-meals,” but there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a go at making it at home from scratch. “Some people use white fish or add smoked haddock but we prefer to stick to salmon,” they say.
Divide the spinach between warmed plates, place a fishcake on top, pour over the sauce and serve. f
◆◆ 30 mins
1 Keep your fish stock on a low heat once you’ve made it. In another saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour on a low heat to make a roux (paste). Stir in the wine. 2 When it’s been absorbed, slowly add stock, stirring all the while. Simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened and is smooth, taking care not to burn it. 3 Add cream and reduce the sauce until it’s of a thick pouring consistency. Stir in the sorrel and season to taste. Keep warm.
1 Ensure the spinach is as dry as possible. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the spinach, lightly season, and cover with a lid. 2 Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain in a colander to remove excess water.
Method 1 Poach the salmon in a big saucepan of salted water for 4 to 5 minutes. 2 Mix together the potato, a third of the poached salmon, ketchup, anchovy essence, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard until it is smooth, and season. 3 Flake the remaining salmon and fold it in gently, ensuring that you retain some chunks of fish. Mould the mixture into round cakes and place them in the fridge until needed. 4 Lightly flour the fishcakes and fry in oil until coloured on both sides, or brush them with oil and cook for 10-15 minutes in a 200°C oven.
INGRE DIE NTS ◆◆ 325g potatoes, boiled and
dry mashed ◆◆ 325g salmon fillet ◆◆ 1 tbsp tomato ketchup ◆◆ 2 dashes Worcestershire
sauce ◆◆ ½ tbsp anchovy essence ◆◆ ½ tbsp English mustard ◆◆ Sunflower oil, for frying ◆◆ Plain flour, for dusting
acidic The slightly el is a rr so of r flavou for the r ne rt perfect pa on rich salm
◆◆ Salt and ground black pepper
For the sauce ◆◆ 300ml fish stock (a good-
quality stock cube will do) ◆◆ 25g unsalted butter ◆◆ 1 tbsp plain flour ◆◆ 50ml white wine ◆◆ 100ml double cream ◆◆ 50g fresh sorrel leaves,
For the wilted spinach ◆◆ 1kg spinach, washed and
spun dry ◆◆ 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Norwegian salmon taste special.
A RECIPE THAT BRINGS THE BEST OUT OF COD FILLET, WITH PICKLED MUSHROOMS AND YUZU HUMMUS
HAVE TO ADMIT that credit for the creation of this dish comes down to me going through a hummus stage in my life. Everything tasted better lathered in homemade hummus, and cod is no exception,” says Sasha Ziverts of seafood haven Wright Brothers Soho about creating this recipe. “Buying a whole cod is great and it’s a relatively easy fish to fillet, but if you’re feeling nervous then ask your fishmonger to fillet and portion for you. Getting portions from a larger fish will give you a more even cooking time and better result.”
6 Put into the blender, and blitz at high speed. If the mixture is too thick, add a small amount of icecold water to thin. THE CRISPY SHALLOTS
7 Peel the shallots and cut in half lengthways. Then cut into thin slices. For the best results keep all the shallots as thin and as uniform as you possibly can. Wash the shallots and dry well. 8 Heat your vegetable oil up to 140°C and fry the onions in small batches to keep a constant temperature in the oil. You’re looking for an even brown coating to all the onions. Finish by seasoning well with salt.
THE PICKLED MUSHROOMS
1 Bring the sushi vinegar to the boil. Then add the yuzu zest, shichimi pepper, ginger and shimeji mushrooms. 2 Take off the heat. Cover with cling film and steep until all of the ingredients have cooled down completely. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge. THE HUMMUS
3 In a heavy-based pot, roast the soaked chickpeas in a little olive oil, just until the skins start to blister. Add a small amount of water and cook the chickpeas until just tender. 4 Wrap whole garlic cloves in tinfoil and roast at a moderate temperature in the oven until the garlic is cooked and soft. 5 Add the chickpeas, yuzu juice and lemon juice to taste, and the salt and pepper and olive oil.
9 Heat up a heavy-based pan, and melt a small amount of salted butter and oil. Place your cod portions skin-side down and roast in the pan until the skin is crispy and golden brown. 10 After 4-5 minutes, turn the portion skin-side-up. Add some washed curly kale and picked samphire and finish in a high oven for 5 minutes, until cooked through. Season with sea salt and pepper. Cover and rest the portion for 2-3 minutes in a warm place. TO SERVE
11 Put a dollop of yuzu hummus and some pickled mushrooms on a plate. Make a bed on top of the hummus with the kale and samphire. Gently place the cod on top. Finish with the shallots. f thewrightbrothers.co.uk
ING R E DIE NTS ◆◆ 4x 200g portions skin-on cod
◆◆ Kale and samphire to serve
For the pickled mushrooms
◆◆ 45 mins ◆◆ 15 mins
Because that’s how we treat them.
◆◆ 250g of shimeji mushrooms,
(stems cut off, mushrooms separated) ◆◆ 500ml sushi vinegar ◆◆ 30g shichimi pepper ◆◆ 15g fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced ◆◆ 20g frozen yuzu zest
For the hummus ◆◆ 300g dried chick peas –
tas Sam ius assi ellaccum os qu ia in m si moloribus hicae consed inctati esequi que m
rehydrated in plenty of water overnight ◆◆ 10ml unsalted yuzu juice ◆◆ Olive oil ◆◆ Lemon juice ◆◆ Roasted garlic ◆◆ Salt and pepper
For the crispy shallots ◆◆ 1kg banana shallots ◆◆ 1l vegetable oil
Photograph by ####
Pure glacial meltwater collides with Arctic seawater in our famous fjords, creating ideal conditions for salmon to grow. In addition to the pristine water, we treat them like superstars, with lots of space and five-star food. This results in vibrant flesh of such quality, you can eat it raw. Look for delicious, sustainable Norwegian salmon in your supermarket.
GOAT CURD MOUSSE A DELICIOUS, LIGHT(ISH) DESSERT, SERVED WITH POMEGRANATE, WALNUTS AND HONEYCOMB BRITTLE
unchy Shards of cr d an ad b om honeyc sh to this ni fi t en lg indu e light mouss
Serves ◆◆ 4
◆◆ 10 mins
Cooking time ◆◆ 10 mins
HE INVENTIVE CULINARY influence of Camino’s Nacho del Campo is in action here, in this creative dessert recipe.
1 Whisk the cream with the sugar and the vanilla seeds until the mixture begins to firm. 2 Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for a few minutes to soften, then melt in a saucepan over a gentle heat. Add to the cream mixture, and then gently whisk again to mix in. 3 Carefully fold the goat’s curd into the mixture with a spatula. 4 To make the honeycomb, stir the
sugar with the honey in a pan. Once mixed, place the pan over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is golden and bubbling. 5 Remove from the heat and whisk in the bicarbonate of soda to the melted sugar caramel. The mixture will foam and rise quickly – immediately pour this into a deep baking tin lined with baking paper and let it cool. Once set, bash into pieces. 6 Pour your mousse into individual bowls and garnish with shards of honeycomb, pomegranate seeds and the walnuts. Add a drizzle of orange blossom honey to finish. f camino.uk.com
ING R E DIE NTS ◆◆ 150g caster sugar ◆◆ 500ml whipping cream ◆◆ 3 gelatine leaves ◆◆ 450g goat’s curd, drained
with a clean muslin cloth ◆◆ 2 vanilla pods ◆◆ Orange blossom honey ◆◆ 4 tbsp pomegranate seeds ◆◆ 2-16 walnut halves, to garnish
For the honeycomb ◆◆ 150g caster sugar ◆◆ 1 tsp bicarbonate soda ◆◆ 1 tbsp orange blossom honey
An amazing spectacle common in Norway. (Oh, and some green lights.) Norwayâ€™s abundant stocks may appear miraculous. But itâ€™s all thanks to our longstanding commitment to sustainable fishing practices. Come and see for yourself. Or just look for delicious, sustainable Norwegian seafood in your supermarket.
Richard H Turner
GUT INSTINCT The current trend for fermentation isn’t just about preserving ingredients, says Richard Turner – it can aid digestion and improve wellbeing, too
Photograph by Paul Winch-Furness
HINGS ARE DECIDEDLY gaseous in my kitchen at the moment; there’s a lot of bubbling, burping and general flatulence going on. Admittedly a little late to the party, I’ve discovered fermentation, and I am embracing it with characteristic fervour. Due to my fascination with growing stuff, I’m knee deep in Carolina reaper chillies and calamansi limes which I’m in the process of preserving, and I’ve also developed the most delightfully fragrant ‘mother’ lurking in one corner of my fridge. Unlike other recent food trends, this one has been going on for thousands of years. Up to a third of the foods in our diet are naturally fermented. Fermentation preserves food with lactic acid, and pickles, ketchups, chocolate, coffee, cheese, butter, beer, wine, charcuterie, and bread all require fermentation to produce.
We are surrounded by aerobic yeasts, microbes, funghi and bacteria all our lives. They adhere to our skin, we breathe them, they find their way into our darkest recesses, and there is a variety of them in almost every level of our digestive system. In fact, it turns out that we are only 10% human, and that 90% of the cells in our body are actually independent of our body; they are our gut microbes, which include harmless freeloaders, favour traders and, in a tiny number of cases, pathogens. We are each a superorganism rather than an individual human being: we share our bodies with 100 trillion microbial bacteria, over several hundred different species, weighing in at around a kilo. There is evidence that the more varieties of microbes present in our gut, the healthier we are. And it is thought that naturally fermented foods may have been feeding these benevolent gut flora for thousands of years. Yet we have spent the past few decades doing our unwitting best to wreck this symbiotic relationship, with a war on bacteria and a diet notably detrimental to its wellbeing. While a diet with a large array of natural ingredients is thought to promote a cosmopolitan microbiota or gut flora, a modern diet of processed foods laden with simple carbohydrates is thought to dramatically reduce variety. Similarly, although the use of antibiotics has helped us to conquer a great many infectious diseases and has increased our life expectancy, it seems that even in tiny doses they are reducing essential microbes and impacting upon our immune system and our weight. Those aren’t the only antimicrobials finding their way to the gut: antibiotic residues are found in meat and milk as well. And civilisation’s slow destruction of the western microbiome means each generation is passing on fewer of these microbes with the result that it is being progressively impoverished. These gut microbes influence our
digestion, our moods, our metabolism, and our health, both physical and mental, playing a critical role in training and modulating our immune system, helping it to accurately distinguish between friend and foe. They also play a role in the manufacture of substances like neurotransmitters, enzymes, vitamins and other essential nutrients and signalling molecules that talk to, and influence, the immune and the metabolic systems. Some of these compounds may regulate our stress levels and even our temperament. Gut microbes are of course looking after their own interests, and chief among them is getting enough to eat and regulating the passage of food through their environment. The bacteria appear to manage these functions by producing signalling chemicals that regulate our appetite, satiety and digestion, playing no small role in our bodies. Some bacteria, common in fermented vegetables, like the bifidobacteria and lactobacillus plantarum, seem to directly enhance the health of our gut, improving its function. These and other gut bacteria contribute to the gut’s welfare by literally feeding it. And unlike most tissues, which take their nourishment from the bloodstream, epithelial cells in the colon obtain some of theirs from the short-chain fatty acids that these microbes produce as a byproduct of their fermentation of plant fibre. Indeed, the Koreans believe they escaped the Sars virus and have the lowest rates of cancer in the world because of their voracious consumption of kimchi, which is high in microbes. Eating fermented foodstuffs might actually improve our health, providing of course, our nanny state doesn’t legislate against them. So I intend to pursue my enterprise, regardless of the strange and peculiar nighttime noises emanating from my kitchen, and I’ve a gut feeling this renewed passion for all things fermented will continue to grow. f Follow Richard on Twitter: @RichardHTurner
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
WILKIN & SONS LIMITED
2 8 % Vo l . Yo u m u s t b e 1 8 y e a r s o r o v e r t o p u r c h a s e a l c o h o l .
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The Telegraph Whisky Experience, from 5-6 December, brings together some of the best and brightest names in the whisky business for a celebration of the drink
OR THE SEASONED whisky drinker, walking into a show with more than 100 brands of whisky represented is a breeze. But if you’re just dipping a toe in, that’s a lot of liquid to get your head around. But when you head to the Telegraph Whisky Experience this December, you should look at it with excitement, not trepidation. The whisky scene isn’t an old boy’s club, and the Telegraph Whisky Experience looks at whisky in the same way that London’s bar scene does: like finding one that suits you should be a fun and rewarding endeavour, not a painful slog. To make sure you’re not out of the loop, just read our guide to getting the best out of the show.
Get acquainted Photograph by ###
Even a total newcomer to whisky shouldn’t feel mystified at the show – there’s an introduction to whisky-tasting tutorial before each session, where you’ll compare two contrasting whiskies from the William Grants and Sons Ancient Reserves collection. Not only that, but spirits experts Charles
MacLean, Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison will be providing tips every day, too.
Become a master When you’ve found your footing, choose a more hands-on, tutored masterclass to dive into. On the programme are a guided tasting with the Macallan, and an ‘Around the World of Whisky’ masterclass that focuses on whisky from emerging regions.
Shop around With more than 100 whisky brands present at the show, and plenty of experts making the trip from their distilleries to provide guidance, there’s no better time to shop – especially armed with new-found knowledge.
Win big The big prize at the Telegraph Whisky Experience is without doubt the chance to win a private tasting of three whiskies worth more than £2,000 each. The best thing? Your ticket purchase enters you automatically. Good luck, and happy sipping... f
NEED TO KNOW
The Telegraph Whisky Experience runs from 5-6 December at One Whitehall Place. Ticket packages include a Whisky Experience Ticket (£75, £3 booking fee) – which includes access to the Whisky Fair, a tasting guide, a two-course meal and a gift bag including a Glencairn tasting glass – and the Masterclass Experience Ticket (£90 plus £3 booking fee), which also includes access to a masterclass hosted by Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison. Book at telegraph.co.uk/events
SALT OF THE EARTH The Maldon salt company has gone from a family business to a brand found in kitchens worldwide. The story is one of care and attention, crafted over four generations
IVEN THE POPULARITY of Maldon’s iconic sea salt with professional and home cooks alike, you’d be forgiven for thinking there are a few secrets to the process of making it. But, aside from the expert hand that’s been carefully honed since the company’s founding in 1882, it’s as simple as the product itself. It’s Maldon’s unwavering care and attention to detail that makes its
product so undeniably good. The sea salt is hand-harvested in small batches every day – collecting seawater on the marshes surrounding Maldon and boiling away the water in steel pans, leaving pyramidshaped salt crystals behind it, which are hand-harvested with long-handled rakes. The unique shape of the salt crystals not only looks beautiful; it’s also the key to its tactile quality, and the experience
of eating it. This renowned sea salt has been hand-harvested in Maldon, England for four generations since 1882, using an artisanal production process to get the best texture and flavour possible. It’s worth it, because Maldon sea salt is more than a seasoning – it brings the best out of the flavours and textures of a dish. That’s whether it’s used simply to top a dollop of creamy butter on
THERE’S A REASON TV CHEF DELIA SMITH CALLS IT “AN ABSOLUTELY PURE SALT THAT TASTES OF THE SEA” bread, or rubbed into chicken, fish or vegetables to add a beautifully crunchy texture when roasting. In fact, you can even use it to curtail and complement the sweetness of a rich dessert. It’s the reason why the brand is now, after more than 130 years of production, unrivalled in its class. Maldon sea salt is now exported to more than 50 countries, and with good reason: it’s no exaggeration to say that the flavour it brings to food is unrivalled – so good, in fact, that to let it melt on your tongue on its own is an experience in itself, and it can be as much an ingredient in a meal as a seasoning. Put simply, there’s a good reason that renowned TV chef Delia Smith calls it “an absolutely pure salt that tastes like the sea”. Maldon’s is a modern-day success story that shows the importance of staying true to age-old production processes, of carrying on local tradition, and of putting quality and flavour at the forefront. It’s good to know that some things never change... ● Visit maldonsalt.co.uk, follow @maldonsalt on Twitter or @maldon.seasalt on Facebook
The festive edition of
OF LONDON 17–20 NOVEMBER 2016 TOBACCO DOCK
LONDON’S BEST RESTAURANTS
FOOD & DRINK MASTERCLASSES
A WONDERFUL DAY OUT!
TICKETS AVAILABLE AT TASTEOFLONDON.CO.UK In Support of
038 PIERRE KOFFMANN | 044 FRENCH CUISINE REVISITED 050 FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY | 055 OYSTERS | 058 BASQUE FOOD IN LONDON
— PART 2 —
FEAST “I INCOMPETENTLY HOVER MY PHONE OVER MY PLATE. IT’S LIKE I’M SCANNING THIS BEAUTY INTO MY LIFE” LAURA GOODMAN ON FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY, 050
IF I RETIRED, IN TWO YEARS I’D BE DEAD. I DO NOTHING ELSE BUT COOK Photograph by ###
After 50 years cooking, 46 of them in London, and a raft of acolytes across the capital, what spurs Pierre Koffmann on? Mike Gibson meets a chef who’s been there and done it all Photography by David Harrison
FOLLOW US @FOODISMUK
EW MISSION STATEMENTS are as accurate, yet leave so much unsaid, as the one that opens Pierre Koffmann’s latest book. “I am a typical French chef,” he says at the top of the first page of Classic Koffmann. It’s an interesting opening gambit, and a reminder of the extent to which the man embodies French cooking. Even in his 50th year as a chef, and his 46th in London, he has steadfastly refused to fade from relevance, just as his country’s cuisine has – even if both are operating in a different landscape now to when French food was the undisputed pillar of fine dining a few decades ago. There’s a good reason for this. After all, French cooking is the foundation upon which modern dining is built. If Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Peruvian, and
any other cuisine that’s been exported and elevated to new heights by modern chefs, are the muscles and the organs, French cooking is the skeleton. “Everybody who’s a good chef has a French technique,” Koffmann says. And he’s absolutely right. He remembers French fine dining’s heyday in the 1970s – he helped build the Roux empire in London as a young chef at Le Gavroche and the Waterside 1 Inn in the early 1970s. Almost every job title in an English kitchen is in the French language – commis chef, sous chef, chef de partie. And Koffmann argues that, even if young chefs don’t go specifically to France on stages to train, they’re learning skills from chefs who did. “Learning” is an important term when talking about Pierre Koffman. Classic Koffmann is also full of lengthy
COOK WITH KOFFMANN It’s not every day you usher an iconic chef into your kitchen, but that’s exactly what happened at foodism’s brand-new test kitchen recently.
LEFT: Pierre Koffman prepares a classic dish – salt-crusted seabass – in the brand-new Foodism kitchen at Tun Yard Studios, London
exaltations from world-leading chefs who learnt from Koffmann at his three-Michelinstarred restaurant La Tante Claire, and also from ones who spent time working under him at his more relaxed restaurant Koffmann’s, at the Berkeley Hotel. He ushered in chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Tom Kitchin, Marcus Wareing and Marco Pierre White in the 1990s, but he’s still playing a part in the burgeoning careers of young chefs such as Ben Murphy of acclaimed restaurant The Woodford, whom he proclaims is in fact one of his best ever young chefs. In Classic Koffmann, he chooses not to revisit classic menu items from Tante Claire or Koffmann’s, but to give readers an insight into the classic dishes of his youth in Gascony. It’s in a way inevitable that, after 50 years in the kitchen, Koffmann’s mentality would be one of reflection, rather than progression. But that doesn’t mean he’s ready to retire – his half-century as a chef is very much 50 years and counting. He talks to us about the milestone, why he came to London, how it’s changed, and why his kitchens seem to have produced so many leading chefs.
How does 50 years of cooking feel? Tiring – 50 years is a long time. But it’s the type of job that if you’re not passionate, you don’t do. It keeps you young, because you
Monsieur Koffmann walked us through the recipe for salt-baked seabass – one of the many Gascon dishes you’ll find in Classic Koffmann – and you can get in on the act, too. Go to the site and have a look to see the recipe online, take a look at his new book Classic Koffman, or watch the video and give the dish a go yourself.
I CAME TO LONDON IN 1970 TO SEE A RUGBY GAME AND 46 YEARS LATER I’M STILL HERE
technique in France. But secondly because I love sauces, and French chefs really love sauces. I only cook French, and I don’t cook fusion food. I don’t mean fusion food isn’t good, but it’s not my style.
Is it inevitable that you’d be reflecting at this point in your career?
spend the day with young people, from 18 to 25. It’s good for your brain, and that’s one of the reasons, too: if you spend your days with old people, you’re going to die fast. I couldn’t have done a job in an office, I would have found it very boring. If you enjoy it, you’re going to do it until you’re 70.
You say “I’m a typical French chef” – What do you mean by that? Everybody who’s a good chef has a French technique – the technique is French. Chinese, maybe, is different, but that’s the only one – all the Italians, Spanish who have good food use French technique. So I’m a typical French chef because of the technique. I learned the
It’s a classic, and some might call it oldfashioned, but it’s iconically French – just like Koffmann himself. Check out the recipe and video at foodism.co.uk/recipes
What brought you to London initially? When I came to London in 1970, I came for six months. I didn’t come to London to cook, because you can find a job everywhere you go if you are a French chef at 17. I came to London to see a rugby game between France and England at Twickenham. I said I was going to go to England for six months, and after that I wanted to go to Australia and America. I came here, and 46 years later I’m still here. But the food in the 1970s in England was rubbish, it was shit. If you wanted to eat correctly, you had to go to big hotels, like the Ritz or the Savoy, and it was very poor – a plate of smoked trout with horseradish sauce, avocado cocktail was top of the range. It’s changed a lot: now you can eat as well as in any big city in the world.
Do you think it’s as important as ever for a chef to do a stage in France? When you’re a young chef, you’ve got to move. It’s very important. Not specifically in a three-star restaurant – although you’ve got to do that if you can – but any stage, moving, when you’re young, up to the age of 28. →
BELOW: 1. Salt the seabass; 2. Making the sauce; 3. Cracking the salt; 4. Plating up
We still go forward in terms of the cooking. The book is classic cooking that we don’t necessarily serve at the restaurant – it’s just dishes I like to eat. But we still go forward, because you want to keep your job interesting. If every morning you repeat the same things, it can be robotic. We don’t only serve green sardines just because that’s what I like to eat at home. Maybe the next book will be like that [a retrospective of classic Koffmann dishes], but we decided to do a book because it’s been 50 years, with dishes that I’ve enjoyed eating over that time.
Photograph by ###
ABOVE: Pierre Koffmann takes a break from cooking in our kitchen. Lakeland Damascus 18cm santoku kitchen knife, £70.99; lakeland.co.uk
→ When I was in France I never stayed more than seven months in one job. When you work there, you’ve got your chopping board and your knife. But if you work with blinkers, you need to remove your blinkers and see what’s happening here, and there, and you learn much faster. It was only when I came here in the 1970s that I stayed at Le Gavroche for two years, and The Waterside Inn from 1972-1977, until I opened La Tante Claire. Gordon Ramsay, Tom Kitchen, even the top American three-starred chefs have worked in France. So maybe you don’t need to go especially to France, but if you go to work with Gordon, or at The French Laundry, you will learn the French technique. If you are a painter, first you have to make the colour. If you’re a chef, it’s the same – you’ve got to learn to sweat the shallot before you make the sauce, how much brandy you put in a sauce, how long you let it reduce for. Once you know all that, you can do what you like. How does it feel to have trained so many important chefs? Sometimes people say that I had a lot of famous chefs coming into my kitchen, but they were not famous when they came. Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Tom Kitchin – people ask “How can you make so many good chefs?” I didn’t make them
– they wanted to be famous. They came to work for me to have a good CV and to learn something, but their success was because they wanted to be good chefs; it wasn’t for me to take them by the hand.
Do you remember the first chef you trained opening their own restaurant? Bruno Loubet was. And Bruno, when he left, opened a restaurant on Fulham Road, had fantastic write-ups, and was doing very well. Everybody who opens a restaurant and does well, I’m happy. I’m never jealous. When you’ve got competition, it pushes you to do better. Now we eat on the other side of London. Lyle’s, Portland, Clove Club, Pidgin – they’re only young people, and it’s fantastic to see the young people doing well.
What can you teach young chefs aside from pure technique? You’ve got to give them some freedom. I had a young chef, Ben Murphy, who came to me and stayed for three years. Ben was something special – he always liked to do different things, to improve things. I love young chefs who want to do their own things. Maybe when I was younger, not as much, but I like people who do a dish, and just try to improve it. Ben Murphy is my best example of a brilliant chef, at the moment.
What’s on the agenda for you in the next five to ten years? At 68, I don’t know. In 2003, when I was 55, they said “you’ve got to retire one day”, and I took very good insurance, so I went travelling for a year, and when I came back I started to get bored, so I came back to work. Actors never retire, or painters, or sculptors. As long as the legs are working, it’s OK. To be honest, if I retire in the next two years, I’d be dead. I’d do nothing else but cooking. It’s the only thing I know. f
READ ALL ABOUT IT You can get a unique glimpse into Pierre Koffmann’s childhood in Gascony through the recipes in his new book, Classic Koffmann. Released to mark his 50th year as a chef, it’s a collection of dishes that have influenced the way he’s cooked over the course of his distinguished career. Classic Koffmann by Pierre Koffmann (Quarto, 2016).
LEFT: Tortellini at Frenchie Covent Garden, where chef-owner Gregory Marchand has created a modern French menu with influences from around the world
PRÊT À CHANGER
Whether it’s classic dishes cooked to perfection or food from the southern regions and beyond, a raft of new restaurants is reminding us just why we love French cuisine so much, writes Lydia Winter
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HE CLASSIC TIME is over,” declares restaurateur Maxime Alary in throaty, French-accented English. He’s one of the three brothers behind modern French restaurant Blanchette and its recently opened sister, Blanchette East. “There’s a new wave of French bistro.” Bold words indeed, but they’re not without substance. 2016 has seen a glut of new French restaurants opening up in London, yet each one is definitely a significant departure from the classic haute cuisine that has long dominated the city’s French food scene. A roll call will inevitably mention the likes of Pierre Koffmann, whose influence on our food culture saw him receive the Lifetime Achievement award at this year’s AA Hospitality Awards; Hélène Darroze and her two Michelinstarred restaurant at The Connaught hotel; and Michel Roux Jr and his iconic Mayfair restaurant Le Gavroche, among others. These bastions of French cooking are undeniably among the best chefs in the world, but the food they serve, and the atmosphere in their restaurants, is almost uniformly fine dining. “The traditional French restaurant is not very relaxed. The waiters are all formally dressed and the menu is set out in a certain way,” says Alex Jackson, whose recently opened neighbourhood joint Sardine on Old Street specialises in food from southern French regions, including Provence and Languedoc. “I don’t really think of French food as being a big part of what I eat in London, which is funny because I love it. It’s just been a bit boring here.” Ali Burgess, who runs Petit Pois on Hoxton Square, agrees that the traditional French fine-dining restaurant isn’t as highly regarded as it once was: “The whole point of French cuisine originally was home-cooked food, and they would cook it for everyone. It all got a little bit too serious – I think that’s why people fell out of love with it, and why it fell by the wayside.” Jackson shares this opinion: “People don’t really talk about Paris influencing London’s food any more, which is really interesting.” It’s worth mentioning that both Burgess and Jackson are British – so when they talk about French cuisine, it’s from a different perspective to the French restaurateurs who have come to London and set up bistros that are based on the food that they know from home. In a city that’s constantly hungry for new trends and that’s known for its exacting standards, French cooking – no matter how good it was – seemed to lose its edge. But this
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Moroccan-style lamb tagine at Blanchette East; the buzzy, informal dining area at Sardine restaurant near Old Street; one of chef-patron Alex Jackson’s southern French-influenced dishes at Sardine
new wave is reminding us just why it was so highly prized in the first place. Whether it’s a modern, marble-tiled brasserie on Henrietta Street in Covent Garden or a pocket-sized bistro in Bermondsey that seems straight out of Lyon, London’s French restaurants are reintroducing us to a cuisine that focuses on great produce that’s cooked really well, rather than with complicated techniques, and a style of dining that’s casual, intimate and reasonably priced enough so that we can, and do, keep coming back. This is a feeling shared by London’s French restaurateurs. Blanchette’s Alary tells me, with palpable excitement, that “French food is making a comeback. London is so full of culture that it has an open mind to French food with a modern twist.” Alary and his brothers run Blanchette and Blanchette East, which both specialise in classic French dishes, but served with a contemporary flourish on tapas-style sharing plates and, like Sardine, with influences from the south. “When we opened our first restaurant in Soho, we were worried about people being tired of classic French dishes
so we wanted to bring modernity,” he says. “At Blanchette East, we’re bringing a little bit more spice into it. We’re using some new spices from the North Africa and the South of France.” The result is a menu that reflects the influence of Moroccan and Tunisian cooking, with a signature dish of lamb tagine, a meltin-the-mouth concoction that’s rich in →
PEOPLE DON’T TALK ABOUT PARIS INFLUENCING LONDON’S FOOD SCENE ANYMORE 45
→ flavour and studded with dried apricots. Gregory Marchand, chef-owner of Covent Garden’s Frenchie, agrees with Alary’s emphasis on the importance of new cultural influences. “I think a lot of young French chefs have been travelling and coming back with new ideas. At Frenchie, I created a place
THERE’S SO MUCH TO FRANCE AND THE BREADTH OF FOOD IS INCREDIBLE 46
I’d like to go myself based on my travels. “A lot of things are evolving very, very fast,” he says. “I think that French cuisine at one point wasn’t taking part of this change, but today it definitely is.” Marchand has been a key player in the development of the modern French bistro in Paris, where the ‘bistronomy’ movement has seen top chefs focusing on informal offerings with great food rather than coveting Michelin stars. Frenchie Covent Garden is the London outpost of his stable of Parisian restaurants of the same name – Frenchie, Frenchie Bar à Vins, and Frenchie To Go, which dishes up reuben sandwiches and other quick bites that are ideal for eating on the hoof. The Henrietta Street site, decked out in marble and sleek art deco lighting, epitomises the idea of a modern brasserie – yet it remains a world away from the stiff, outdated French restaurants of old, in both its cooking and its attitude. Frenchie’s food is French, yes, but there are many other influences visible on its menu. There’s pappardelle, the broad,
CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: The bar area at Blanchette East; Holybelly in Paris; Rose Bakery offers a slice of British-style baking in France
flat pasta that Marchand fell in love with while working in Italy; there are irresistibly moreish bacon scones; there’s Cornish turbot with tomato, figs, muscat grapes and tarragon; and to celebrate our game season, there’s Lincolnshire grouse with beetroot, blackberries and hay. The menu may take its lead from French traditions, but Marchand has woven together produce and techniques he learned about while travelling to create a menu that spans several cuisines. Equally important is that modern French food finally looks beyond Paris. Sardine is run by chef-patron Alex Jackson, who earned his stripes under Stevie Parle at Dock Kitchen, and focuses on food from the South of France. “There’s so much more to France and the breadth of the food is incredible. You didn’t really ever see it in London and you didn’t really see it in Paris,” he says.
“What I’m interested in is Southern French food. That sweep down from Catalunya to the whole Riviera. There’s just so much going on,” Jackson tells me over a plate of deliciously ripe figs and mozzarella so creamy it’s close to collapse – a simple dish that’s as Italian as it is French. “There are influences from north Africa; further south west there’s paella and bull fights; and then in the south of France pâtes au pistou is pasta with pesto, and it’s just as authentic there as it is in Liguria.” Sardine’s menu reflects these Mediterranean influences, but still remains undeniably Français: lamb à la ficelle (similar to a spit roast); girolle mushrooms with grilled polenta; onion and anchovy tart; saucisse seche. As Jackson points out, “a lot of the food here doesn’t tick the boxes of what to put on a French menu but it’s more about an attitude, a spirit. I’m perfectly happy
cakes, crumbles, tea, plus salads and organic store-cupboard produce, have seen it garner a faithful French following. 46 rue des Martyrs
Le Bal Café
Photographs by (Holy Belly) @holybellycafe/Instagram; (Rose Bakery) @rosebakeryparis/Instagram
BRITS ABROAD: WHERE TO FIND MODERN BRITISH FOOD IN PARIS Rose Bakery
This English bakery was founded by Rose Carrarini (a Brit) and her French husband, Jean Charles – something that seems a bit counterintuitive in a country known for its patisseries. Nevertheless, its carrot
Describing itself as ‘modern English’, this trendy café dishes up its deeply satisfying food without ceremony. There are British cheeses courtesy of Neal’s Yard Dairy, excellent Scotch eggs, and it makes sure it’s always stocked with HP sauce. It also has a bookshop, and hosts exhibitions and film nights. How do you say hipster in French? 6 Impasse de la Défense
This brunch and lunch spot serves seriously good coffee. It’s vaguely Melbourne-inspired, but the menu still has a British bent – in part thanks to its breakfast offering, a burgeoning trend in Paris. Oh, and staff only speak in English. 19 Rue Lucien Sampaix
IT’S ABOUT CREATING FRENCH FOOD THAT’S FREE FROM FORMALITY putting figs on a plate. It’s not showing off my technical ability, but that’s not the point.” And this, ultimately, is what is all boils down to: creating French food that’s free from fuss and formality. Petit Pois sits above – and is owned by the same people as – Happiness Forgets, the cocktail bar that recently clocked in at number ten on the World’s 50 Best Bars list. Here, French cooking has not been ‘modernised’. Instead, it’s the classics, but done extremely well: you’ll find sole meunière, steak frites, and a chocolate mousse that’s already garnering a following for its sheer size as well as its flavour and texture. Founder Ali Burgess is frank about the menu’s aims: “What we would love is to bring French cooking back and just make food for the people.” Elsewhere, Bermondsey Street’s Casse Croute similarly focuses on this traditional style of eating, served in a 25-cover restaurant that feels as if it’s been there since the 1950s. “Our food is comfort food,” says owner Hervé Durochat. “It’s something that maybe you can eat at home but you don’t necessarily need or want to do it, so you come to Casse Croute, where you can have the entertainment and the atmosphere.” The food here is as French as it can possibly get: the menu changes every single day, with three starters, three mains and two desserts. “My chef is recreating dishes from his books when he was at school when he was 18. He’s now 43.” This authentic feel permeates everything from the décor to the food and the service. Diners are greeted in French and the menu is written in French – “A lot of people come through the door and feel like they’re in Paris or Lyon. That was our little goal.” Whether London’s French food offering focuses on modern dishes or on the classics, as Marchand reminds me, “French cooking is still the base for most of the cuisines in the world.” He believes instead that “it’s →
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THE FRENCH BISTRO IS A PLACE YOU FEEL AT HOME IN, SOMEWHERE YOU WANT TO RETURN
FROM TOP: A selection of dishes at Frenchie in Covent Garden; croque madame at Petit Pois; chef Chris Smith and founder Ali Burgess at Petit Pois
Photographs (Petit Pois) by Addie Chinn
→ actually more the attitude as a whole and the ambience which is changing.” “The culture about French food being snotty, that’s all changing,” he continues. “Service in London has been a bit more polished. There’s been a switch. Restaurants have realised that the service needs to be a little less frightening for customers. People go out to have fun.” London’s French restaurants have long been associated with a bit of polish; formal service that features starched white tablecloths and fawning waiters – and this is precisely what we’ve moved away from.
This departure is seeing a return to more intimate establishments. Familiarity is key – at Blanchette, “my brothers and I try to spend the maximum time in our restaurant. Taking orders, delivering food, being there at the entrance to greet guests or working behind the bar,” says Alary. “You get to know the owner and you feel that you’re being looked after better.” Similarly, Durochat at Casse Croute and Burgess at Petit Pois spend much of their time working front-of-house and interacting with their clientele. “The French bistro is a place where you feel at home, it’s very cosy, it’s something you want to go back again and again,” says Blanchette’s Alary. And this is how these restaurants are staying full every night. “60% of our clientele are regulars. It’s always the same people.” Frenchie’s Marchand echoes Alary’s words: “That’s our strength here. This is how we fill our restaurants all the time, getting people to come back.” Each of these restaurateurs has a slightly different take on French dining – and that’s perhaps what is most striking. They’ve all identified what it is specifically that they love about it, whether it’s creating an intimate ambience, serving classic dishes that are cooked to absolute perfection, or celebrating regional cuisine that’s often overlooked, to remind us exactly what made French cooking great. Characteristics, it seems, that Londoners still find irresistible. f
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OVER THE TOP
Photographing food has become an obsession that, for some, beats eating it. How did we get here, asks Laura Goodman, and what can we do to save ourselves?
T Photograph by Charlotte Bland from Flavour: Eat What You Love by Ruby Tandoh (Chatto & Windus) Photograph by ###
HERE’S A PATISSERIE called Pain Pain in Montmartre that isn’t cake par excellence but it’s cute. Say Pain Pain out loud in your best French and see if it isn’t cute. There are four cute tables by the window, and one long cabinet, full of deeply cute Parisian tarts that you just have to take pictures of. Yes, even you. I select a pistachio-raspberry tart and carry it to the window, where two women are using three of the four tables to host a private iPhone shoot. Such theatre! They’ve got props – magazines and sunglasses – and they’re just wondering whether bringing one of the seat cushions into the frame might add a little je ne sais quoi. They demand fresh napkins. No good. A member of staff is summoned to eliminate some wayward ganache. What I must impress upon you is that this place is already photogenic. The tables are faux marble, the gateaux are works of art, and the stationery is navy-gold magnificence. We’re right by the window, don’t forget, with all the late afternoon Parisian light we could dream of. The Pain Pain set-up I’ve just described is ripe for the overhead shots that fuel our Instagram feeds every day. Once I’ve sat down, I take one too – by briefly, incompetently hovering my phone over my plate. It’s like I’m scanning this beauty into my life. This tart registers. It’s in the catalogue. I’m going to eat it now. Taking a photo of a whole tabletop gives us space to install a bit of ourselves and that can be real (a smeary knife) or not (a copy →
→ of Shantaram). If we want, we can use the space to show off the hand of a husband, or a fresh shopping bag, or perhaps a fancy purse. There’s lots of opportunity here to be awful humans if we want to be. Photographer Charlotte Bland’s Instagrams are entirely honest, naturally lit snapshots, often taken inside her actual house. She’s got this overhead thing nailed, whether it’s two fried eggs, a cup of tea, a tray of just-baked cookies, a massive tomato, a pan of pears or a bowl of lemons – it’s all there, all beautiful, all real. Her delicious work is – and has always been – about capturing “everyday life”. “It’s very much a visual diary of a time and place – where you’re living and the things that you’re eating,” she explains. “Instagram has been a huge enabler. Before that I used Flickr – that’s where I started posting things like half-eaten meals and empty plates, which a lot of people found – and still find – really messy. Someone once commented: ‘Why on earth would you post a photo of a plate with a chip on it?’ – well, because it’s my plate.” I tell her I’ve heard of people scattering rose
WE’VE COME A LONG WAY FROM IMAGES OF SLICK, INEDIBLE FOOD, BRASH WITH FLASH. NOW, IT’S ALL ABOUT NATURAL LIGHT
petals around their macarons (it’s true, I have). “A lot of the photos you see on Instagram are styled to look like they haven’t been styled. It’s the Kinfolk [the US hipster lifestyle magazine] phenomenon. These ‘natural’ shots are often so carefully thought out that they present a style of living that just doesn’t exist.” Bland recently shot Ruby Tandoh’s cookbook, Flavour. Tandoh is all about the joy of cooking and eating – everything real and celebratory, nothing pretend at all – so the photos had to embody that feeling. “I was photographing dishes that were cooked from scratch, genuinely. We’d all sit down and eat the food, and then I’d photograph around people while they were eating. A lot of styled shoots would be done in studios with lights, whereas I’ve always used natural light because that’s what I love.” And that’s another thing our Instagram feeds are flooded with – natural light. We’ve come a long way from slick, hairsprayed, inedible food, brash with flash. Petrina Tinslay has been a food photographer for 25 years and has shot 45 cookbooks. She worked on Nigella Lawsons’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess, which was
THE OVERTHE-TOP ANGLE HAS A GRAPHIC LOOK AND GREAT VISUAL IMPACT
Photographs by (main) Jason Lowe from Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson (Bloomsbury); (eggs and soup) Charlotte Bland from Flavour; (cake) Petrina Tinslay from How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson (Random House)
the cook’s first book with photos in it. At the time, she says, “baking books tended to be shot in warm tones” but she and Lawson went for “white backgrounds and minimal props”. She remembers shooting the cupcakes – Lawson loved the beauty of each one, and how the very minimal sets really let the cupcakes work the pages. I think immediately of the chocolate-cherry cupcakes with their dark swirls of ganache. In the early noughties, Tinslay worked on books with Donna Hay, the Australian food stylist, author and magazine editor. For maybe the first time, every recipe had its own image, so there were a lot of photos to take – no time to faff – and consequently the look was “super simple and pared back”. She won a James Beard award for her pictures in one of these clean, modern books. “We used backgrounds in block colours – white, blue or green – with white plates that were usually matte, and just gorgeously plated food. This look was widely copied afterwards”. Of lnstagram, Tinslay says: “The overthe-top angle has a more graphic and onedimensional look, which translates well to a hand-held device. If you glance at a feed that’s been shot this way, it has a great visual impact. There’s basically no depth of field on an iPhone, so this angle is the best.” One book that’s notably full of these shots is Fergus Henderson’s Complete Nose to Tail. There are pressed pig’s ears pictured from above, on white plates, on white tablecloths. The style is St John all over – natural light, crisp linen, hands reaching across for capers, or digging some crabmeat out of a leg. “Natural is the theme all the way through at St John,” says Henderson. “If it’s a fish, it’s a half-eaten fish, which is why no one liked the
pictures when they first came out”. It’s hard to imagine the images being any other way now, but when Henderson and photographer Jason Lowe first tried it, the style was a bit affronting, a bit messy, and some food critics hated it (Henderson: “well everyone thought Christopher Columbus was mad”). Of the book’s photographer, Henderson says: “Jason’s appetite is huge, so his pictures were taken with love. He’d clamber up an enormous tripod to take them, then come down and eat the whole lot. Jason was a lovely chap to work with. His hunger was very good. It was a whole new school of thought for taking photos.” Through the hands, everyone gets their moment in the book. There are the hands of Henderson’s parents, wife, friends and ex-colleagues, and the littler hands of his now-teenage children. For the blood cake and two fried eggs recipe, Lowe and Henderson found themselves short of hands. So they went outside in a bid to try and recruit some, and managed to bring in two kosher Jewish women. “They were happy to puncture the yolks and cut the blood sausage, but they wouldn’t go any further than that”. There are of course some really witty
pictures in here, too (Henderson: “pleasure is pleasure”). Alongside a recipe for butterbean, leek and cauliflower salad is the now-ubiquitous overhead shot of an immaculately laid table, but it’s carefully dotted with single butterbeans. This is how ahead of the curve they were. Henderson has noticed that this style is everywhere now – not just on Instagram but in advertising, too. New restaurants employ it on their feeds and websites – it’s a neat way of demonstrating to potential diners what their time at the table might look like. And though we owe a lot of it to St John, Henderson doesn’t really want you to take photos of your food. “We try to have a no phones policy, but I can’t really enforce it. Most of the time it’s fine, but sometimes people bring in giant cameras and tripods to shoot these poor carrots that can’t move at all”. Poor carrots. That’s exactly how I feel about the women’s tarts, originally so carefully constructed by a patient chef, and now entirely uneaten as I leave Pain Pain. Photograph your food if you want. Scan it in. Log it in your visual diary. But don’t make a mockery of it, and please make sure you eat it. If it tastes good, then you won’t need a photo to remember it by. f
CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: A typically relaxed shot from Complete Nose to Tail; naturally-lit images from Flavour. The photo brief for the book was ‘realness’; a paired-down pic from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess. The shots in the book were unusually minimal for the time
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PEARLS OF WISDOM When it comes to oysters, some of the best can be found right here in UK waters. Gareth May discovers the finest British varieties, and how to make the most of them
ATCHING HELIO GARZON handle an oyster is like eavesdropping on a romance. As he holds one out for me to see, cradling the gnarled shell like the hand of a lover, his Latin American accent flares with affection. “I can tell the age of an oyster just by looking at it,” he says, tracing the growth rings of the shell with the edge of his knife. “See. Like the circles in a tree. This has been in the water three years.” Then, sliding the knife in and under – killing it softly – he twists and cracks it open, revealing the glistening, plump oyster meat within. All love affairs, it seems, must come to an end. Not so for Garzon, the master shucker of Bentley’s oyster bar; the tryst between man and mollusc has lasted over 50 years, and Bentley’s itself has been dishing out the decadent delicacy for 100 years this month.
September marks the start of Britain’s oyster season and I’ve come to Richard Corrigan’s fishy outpost to learn the art of going native. There are oyster fisheries all over the UK, with beds in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Kent, Essex, Scotland and Ireland. Each oyster has a different taste, body and nose depending on their environmental conditions, or terroir – merroir if you want to get fancy. For example, oysters from the River Fal bloom with notes of melon and cucumber before easing into a metallic finish, whereas Loch Ryan oysters are meaty and earthy, culminating in a tuning-fork tingle of iodine. Even oysters that are from the same body of water can differ wildly depending upon the location of their bed. As Wright Brothers’ Robin Hancock says: “Oysters take their flavour from the environment that they’re grown in, and with such variations of minerality and salinity we have wonderfully diverse-tasting oysters in the British Isles.”
NATIVE OYSTERS FROM THE SAME BODY OF WATER CAN DIFFER WILDLY WHEN IT COMES TO TASTE
GIVE A SHUCK
A definitive guide to shucking oysters Always shuck with a sharp knife, with your hand holding the oyster cupped-side down, protected with a folded tea towel. Hold the hinge or ‘frill’ side of the shell towards you and steady the knife with your thumb resting on the blade. Let the knife go through the gap in the oyster hinge – it may need a wiggle or two – but not all the way in or you’ll break the shell. Once in, twist until the shell opens with a click and then run the blade down the side of the shell to free the oyster from the connective muscle. Once the top shell comes off, loosen the oyster meat by scraping gently beneath until it comes free of the second muscle and lower shell. Serve on crushed ice.
Photographs by (Wright Bros) Charlotte Anderson; (Bentley's) David Cotsworth; (Sheekey) David Cotsworth
When we think of oysters, we might think of the devilish Casanova scoffing 50 for ‘sexfast’, or 'the world's mine oyster', a line borrowed from William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor. And when we eat oysters we often eat ‘Pacifics’ (a nod to the species’ original home in the warmer Pacific waters), otherwise known as rocks. While natives (ostrea edulis) are smaller, lighter and with smoother shells, rocks (crassostrea gigas) are larger, heavier and rougher to the touch. Both kinds thrive in British waters, but since the rock’s introduction some 30 years ago – ironically intended to boost native stocks – the adopted and artificially grown oyster has risen to prominence. Cheaper to farm and quicker to grow, they can be ready to eat in two years compared to the native’s three or four. They’re also hardy little so-and-sos, as seventh-generation oysterman Richard Haward, of West Mersea Oysters – whose
family have been plucking native oysters from the Blackwater in Essex since 1798 – explains: “The first thing a native thinks of doing is dying,” he says. “It doesn’t like extremes in natural conditions. Too much heat, too much cold, too much of anything. Whereas rock oysters don’t take any notice. Their mortality rate is very low and they breed prolifically.” As a result rock oysters are farmed, sold, and consumed all year round. The native oyster, however, is only available from September to April (all the months with ‘r’ in their names). Haward asserts that the best time to eat your first native of the season is in November, once stocks have had a chance to rest in the cold water and plump back up after the summer’s spawning has left them “skinny and milky” (and, although OK to eat, aesthetically undesirable for most). This slower method of production is the key to the natives’ superior body and taste. Oysters feed by filtering water through their system – the greedy beggars can get through up to ten litres per hour – and their flavour develops as a direct result of the minerals, salinity, and algae types they eat. And the longer they filter, the better the flavour. In fact, even land run-off can impact the way an oyster tastes. That metallic tang of the Fal oyster described earlier? That comes from the tin mines on the Cornish coast. Talking of which, Chris Eden, Michelin-starred head chef at the Driftwood Hotel in Portscatho, believes the lesser-known Port Navas native – which tastes of “sweet brine and seaweed marine” – should be a treated as a seasonal great in the same way that asparagus, peas and Cornish new potatoes are. Andrew McLay, head chef at seafood mecca J Sheekey – a glistening pearl in the urban oyster of Covent Garden – feels similarly about the West Mersea of Colchester because it’s “nice, plump and earthy, and just a good oyster.” He also acknowledges that it won’t be everyone’s cup of char. “If you had six different native oysters in front of you, you’d be able to taste the difference between the six. But taste is down to the individual and you should try more than one variety.” There is, however, one thing he is certain on: how to taste them. As a general rule of thumb, once shucked, an oyster should be sniffed (it should smell of the sea), sipped, and then tipped up until the meat slides out of the shell and into your mouth. It may need
persuasion to leave its home with a fork. When it’s in your mouth, however, the advice varies. Garzon says you should always push the oyster against the roof of your mouth with your tongue to make sure that it’s solid and flavoursome, as bad oysters will instantly reveal themselves with an acidic taste. He then says the oyster should be swallowed whole. Hancock recommends a few chews to release the juices and let the complex minerals swim around the mouth, and McLay agrees: “Swallow an oyster whole and you don’t get the whole experience,” he says, adding that natives should always be eaten au naturel, with a pinch of black pepper and a squeeze of lemon if needed. Back at Bentley’s, I take his advice, swigging down a West Mersea for the first time. It smacks the chops with a salty kiss before mellowing to a meaty sweetness, leaving a pleasing sea scent lingering at the back of the throat. I can almost feel the sand between my toes, and the sun on my skin. I am blissed out on the beach. Garzon nods sagely. “An explosion of happiness,” he says – and there’s romance in his voice once again. f
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Oysters on a bed of ice at Wright Brothers; shellfish and service with a smile at Bentley’s; seafood mecca J Sheekey
BACK TO BASQUE
Northern Spainâ€™s Basque Country is famously home to some of the finest food in the world. Clare Finney explores the roots of the regionâ€™s remarkable gastronomic culture and cuisine, and its ever-increasing popularity in London Photography by Joseph Fox
Photograph by ###
AST NIGHT I became one of those people who, like the worst TV spoilers, tells you everything about your meal before you’ve taken a bite out of it. As we tucked into hake, anchovies, cheese – even the apple sauce – I loudly informed my fellow diners at Eneko at One Aldwych where their food had come from and who it was produced by. “I’ve been to the vineyards,” I announced, when the waiter presented the vintage txakoli from Gorka Izagirre – recalling as I did so how the undulations, heavy downpours and gusty sea breezes of the Biscay shaped the grapes, which became the wine we were drinking. “I met him when I was in the Basque Country,” I beamed at the waiter as he explained how the grapes were cultivated and the wine created by the chef’s cousin, Bertol Izagirre, and his team. I carried on like this through four courses, deaf and blind to all but the food and my – in hindsight, slightly irritating – wealth of insight.
The thing is, in May I’d visited Eneko Atxa’s original restaurant, Azurmendi, and explored the vegetable plot, txakoli vineyards and the dairy behind it. My excitement, four months later, of being in a plush Covent Garden dining room, enjoying the same uniquely flavourful Basque produce, was hard to contain. The experience was exceptional. I’d gone because, while not the first Basque-based chef to set up shop in London, Atxa was certainly the most famous to announce the opening, back in January. His London debut crested a wave of pop-up restaurants, permanent restaurants and recipe books from or inspired by the mountainous, Michelinstarred landscape surrounding the icy waters of the Bay of Biscay, Spain. From to Amesta with Arzak Instruction in Belgravia to Xiringuito in Margate, via Lurra in Marylebone and Shoreditch’s Sagardi bar and grill; with each new opening came a new take on the cuisine, not to mention a slew of
THE BEEF IN THE BASQUE COUNTRY WAS REALLY DIFFERENT. IT WAS LIKE NO BEEF WE’D EVER TRIED BEFORE
unfamiliar words full of Xs. Having for decades served to deter visitors, the words ‘Basque movement’ these days are more likely to refer to this food trend than the notorious ETA terrorist group, which blighted tourism to the region for years. As Monika Linton, founder of the long-established Spanish deli Brindisa points out: “While we’ve never had borders in the range of products we source – we want to reflect as many regions of Spain as possible – the political separatist group ETA had a big effect on foreign visitors to the Basque Country for decades.” Indeed, so little did the wider public know that when City worker Nemanja Borjanovic and his partner Melody Adams visited in 2010 they were astonished. “It was so good: the pintxos bars, the fresh fish, the culture… We were just normal people with City jobs at the time, but we kept saying someone in London should do a Basque restaurant – then joking that maybe we should do it.” A year later, having visited a second time and with no such restaurant forthcoming in London, they decided to bring the mountain to Mohammed themselves. They called it Donostia – the Basque name for the city of San Sebastián – found a Basque chef and suppliers and served pintxos, the likes of which you won’t find in your average tapas joint: crispy fried cod cheeks with black squid ink aioli, or white anchovies with marinated peppers. “It was,” Borjanovic says of its nerve-wracking debut, “an instant success.” “We couldn’t believe it. Eventually Adams quit her job, but I was still working in the City in the day and moonlighting as a waiter at night.” When, eventually, Donostia became so big Borjanovic’s colleagues were paying it a visit, he knew something would have to give. “One night someone really senior in my firm showed up – and I ended up ducking behind the counter so he wouldn’t see me!” he laughs. He quit his City job not long after, and set about managing not just Donostia, but the opening of his second Basque restaurant, Lurra: a less rustic establishment inspired by the region’s unique breed of beef. They’d returned to the Basque Country, with no immediate plans to open another restaurant, but as they ventured outside San Sebastián and along the coast a new opportunity loomed. They drank in old cider houses, sampled strange cheese and ate turbot at Elkano: an old family grill turned Michelin-starred restaurant in Getaria where they serve the whole fish grilled on charcoal and basted in local txakoli wine. “We never say we are chefs,” insists owner Aitor Arregui when we visit and he feeds us what feels like the entire Biscay, “we say we
are sons of fishermen. We work with the fish we receive daily, because each is different and needs treating differently according to the species, seasons and even the time of day.” Elkano’s turbot would come to play a co-starring role at Lurra – but as the name (it means ‘land’ in Basque) suggests, it’s not their headline act. “One night we were staying in this guy’s apartment and he asked us if we liked steak. He then took us to a restaurant where they’ve served nothing but steak, tortilla and tomatoes since 1980.” Day in, day out, a queue of people would form outside this small, run-down bar – and it could only be explained by one thing. “This beef, when we tried it?” Borjanovic whistles in remembrance. “I mean, fuck me, it was different. It was like no beef we’d ever tried before – ever. It was something else.” He asked the owner, who informed him that the cows were over 14 years old: an unheard of age in this country where most cows are slaughtered before they reach three years old. At face value it did not seem that selling steaks from old cows here would be
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: The Petritegi Cider House; coffee and a traditional cigarrillo biscuit at Lurra; pintxos on display in San Sebastián
feasible: our perception, he feared, would be that it was stringy and tough. When he came home, Borjanovic introduced the old-cow steak (known as txuleton) to Donostia as a side portion, and was overwhelmed by the response. “People went crazy. They were pre-booking it– we were actually selling out of that dish in advance – and we were supplying some of London’s best restaurants with it, too.” Taste it and you’ll understand: the longer life results in an intense flavour and rich fat marbling – and inspires a deep and unfamiliar connectivity with the animal and the land from whence it came. “It’s ingredient-led”, says Borjanovic of Basque cuisine: a definition I would argue holds the key to its surging popularity in a city where such words are rendered meaningless by marketing materials. “Artisan, hand-picked, small producers, organic – these are buzz →
→ words in London, but they aren’t in the Basque Country. That is just what they do.” They aren’t selling a story – indeed, there’s no story to sell, Borjanovic continues, for until recently, old cow was only found in the Basque Country: the grill-charred, succulent steaks a staple of the old cider houses which pepper the rolling countryside. Ingredients-led is not a ‘thing’, it’s just what happens: the people eat locally and seasonally, from the market, because to do otherwise is as inconceivable to them as wolfing down a sandwich on the Tube. To my amusement, the whole concept of a sandwich is met with genuine shock by winemaker Izagirre and another of our hosts in the Basque Country, Maite Diez. The Basque export manager for Brindisa, she is our guide to their addictive, pickled guindilla peppers – a protected-designation product – and the inimitable cigar-shaped biscuits, cigarrillos. “To have a sandwich here? No. When we are eating, we are sitting down with people and enjoying our produce.” Even the most trivial meeting demands at least some pintxos and a glass of txakoli, Maite continues. We see this at coffee time at Casa Eczia, when the third-generation producer of cigarrillos Javier Ecezia plies us with five different types of cake and biscuit; and we see it again when, barely an hour later, our plea for a light lunch “because we’re eating a six-course meal at Azurmendi this evening” is met, courtesy of the pepper farmers, with a large cold salad of scarlet-hued octopus tossed with cracked pepper and olive oil, followed by a thick stew of garden vegetables and an ancient variety of grain – and the half sweet, half hot pickled peppers on the side. “It is a genuine food culture. I know a lot of countries say this about themselves, but when you go there you really see it. It is different,” Borjanovic warns us before our trip. The obsession is tangible: “we always say that when we are eating lunch we are thinking about dinner,” Izagirre explains, when I ask him about it in Azurmendi’s sun-dappled vineyards later, a saying oft repeated, we discover, by his proudly food-centric countrymen. “It’s why we have our gastronomic societies” – collectives of local men and, increasingly, women who gather regularly to cook and eat. Sometimes it’s Izagirre cooking, sometimes the local cheesemonger or fisherman – sometimes Eneko Atxa himself, cooking a simple meal
RIGHT: The Agiña Piperrak farm, where the region’s famed half hot, half sweet guindilla peppers are grown then harvested for pickling and bottling
LOCAL, SEASONAL EATING ISN’T A ‘THING’, IT’S JUST WHAT HAPPENS for his fellow members. “All the Michelinstarred chefs in the Basque Country are members of these societies in their town – membership is passed down from father to son or daughter,” says Borjanovic. “So of an afternoon you’ll easily find a famous and pioneering chef like Juan Mari Arzak sitting around with a couple of local guys cooking and chatting about food.” It’s all of a piece. The same passion that fuels Arzak’s restaurants here (he and his daughter Elena are behind Ametsa with Arzak Instruction) and in San Sebastián pervades the raucous cider houses and the bright, clattering pintxos bars. Arzak’s
tacos de vacuno con tomatillo, the steak and chimichurri pintxos and the slabs of txuleton slammed down in the cider houses are all branches of the same tree. Their ingredients are sourced on the same principles – quality, local, tradition and care – and treated accordingly: the service at the cider houses might be brusque, but the respect of the chefs for the meat they cook is as great as you’ll find in any Michelin-starred kitchens: perhaps more so, given the historic role they’ve played in the development of Basque cuisine. Not for nothing did Borjanovic and Adams go to one of the country’s oldest and most renowned cider houses to find not just their cider, but their formidably talented head chef, Daniel Seifi. Perched high in the forested hills frowning over San Sebastian, the seemingly timeless stone-flagged buildings of Petritegi are in fact more than 500 years old. Outside, the apples ripen and fall; inside, long wooden tables and burly oak barrels serve the needs of everyone from raucous family gatherings to bands of bantering young men and women: the cider, I should point out, is bottomless, poured at a height from the big barrels adjacent to the dining room at regular intervals; and just as this recipe, using only windfall apples from their orchards, has been unchanged for generations, so the non-negotiable set menu carries a significance that dates back →
COSY UP IN BABYLON
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→ hundreds and hundreds of years. Cod omelette, hake, steak, and idiazabal cheese with quince are set down unquestioningly between the txotx – the cider toast called at ten-minute intervals. Each course is the result of the cider house’s historic function as a resthouse and trading post for beef farmers and fisherman traversing the country peddling their wares. Over time, the act of trading food at a house of booze became a knees-up in which “they drank the cider and cooked the fish and meat they’d brought”, and the inclusion, Borjanovic continues, of a large grill in the house became as much of an institution there as the txotk: the rallying cry in which, in the name of journalistic integrity, we enthusiastically join. Mass-market cider, this is not. Brewed solely from specific Basque breeds of apple, without additives, this cider is sharp, unfiltered and potent. It’s served little and
ENEKO ATXA SERVES CHEESE MADE BY HIS MOTHER’S COUSIN’S SON 64
often, and Borjanovic has lost more than one chef to the stuff while on staff jollies out there. It is quite flat – hence the practice of firing it out of the barrels at a height to give it fizz, and downing it while the fizz is still there. The serve at his restaurants is more civilised: there’s waiters, and bottles, and people are seated rather than standing up and swaying, glass in hand. It’s no Petritegi, but the sight of a smartly dressed waiter aiming at a glass from a great height is worth witnessing. Meanwhile, for the more rustic food and banterous atmosphere of the native cider house (if not the barrels) head to Shoreditch for the newly opened London outpost of cider-house style restaurant chain, Sagardi. “I’m not surprised that it’s taking off. Londoners love their fresh flavours, fantastic seafood and bold plates,’ says José Pizarro: founder of three award-winning restaurants and something of a pioneer of Spanish food in London. Though not himself from the Basque Country, his latest recipe book is lovingly dedicated to its chefs and dishes and their significance to Spanish cuisine. These aren’t as ‘new’ here as we think: “Places such as Barrafina and Iberica will always have had dishes typical of the region, as will every good Spanish restaurant and deli in London,” he continues – it’s just we haven’t noticed it before. Indeed, the preternaturally successful chef of Barrafina, Nieves Barragan Mohacho, is Basque. For my part, I thought I’d never gone near anything Basque before Brindisa’s Linton – who, along with running several Basque suppers in her London restaurants this year, has just released a book of Brindisa recipes – informed me it was home to both
my beloved cigar-shaped biscuits, and my favourite brand of posh canned fish, Ortiz. Once again we’re back to the simple merits of the Basque’s raw materials: from the soft, mild butter necessary for Ecezia’s delicate cigarillos to the Bay of Biscay and its icy wealth of tuna, sardines and anchovies. It’s caught by rod and line according to the bay’s strict fishing seasons, and the 120-yearold company still fillets, salts and cans the fish almost entirely manually. Back at One Aldwych, it’s time for the cheese course. Though graced with the ‘molecular’ techniques and dazzling flourishes for which Atxa is famous, there are several courses showing the clear ‘line’ from his and other Michelin chefs’ strikingly modern take on Basque food to its foundations in good ingredients and good company; and it’s a line that is most evident in Atxa’s cheese. His mother’s cousin’s son makes it, on Erotik: a small farm and diary perched high above the Atxas’ home town. Azurmendi and Eneko at One Aldwych are the biggest clients; the rest are local people: old women who totter wheezingly up the hill, wicker baskets in hand (yes, really) and young excitable kids sprinting past them, on a mission for cheese. He may be barely 25 years old, but this cheesemaker is well known and respected among the villagers for his dedication to the area’s cheesemaking traditions. “Usually his cheese is served as an elaboration at Azurmendi,” Izagirre explains, above the bleat of goats when he takes us to visit: “liquid cheese balls, or a cheese cream for desert...” Yet at Eneko at One Aldwych it is the thing itself: sliced and served, as it comes, with quince jelly. Before I tuck in, I leave my diners with one last morsel of insight. “You know the name of the dairy, Erotik? It comes the Basque word meaning, ‘from the roots.” f
FROM ABOVE: Production of cigarrillo biscuits; Eneko Atza’s Azurmendi restaurant’s txakoli vineyards. The wine produced is served to diners
MATCH MAKER Southern Comfort has found its perfect partner in fried chicken, and now you can enjoy them together at five London bars...
HEN IS A drink not just a drink? The answer: when it makes delicious food even better than eating it on its own. Southern Comfort knows this, which, given that the worldfamous whiskey liqueur hails from New Orleans, a global hotspot for both American whiskey and Southern cuisine, is far from surprising. If you didn’t know already, Southern Comfort was invented by M. W. Heron in the Big Easy – and it’s fitting that its creator happened to be a bartender. The drink has been loved by those in the South and far beyond in the more than century and a half since its creation. Now, you can experience it in a new way
– a way that takes Southern Comfort’s unique flavour profile and matches it to one of the South’s hero foods. After all, what better to pair with an iconic spirit drink of the Deep South than fried chicken? One of the region’s best-loved foods makes a perfect match with the soft, spicy and fruity tang of Southern Comfort, and the good thing for you is that you’ll see this pairing more and more across London. Southern Comfort is a drink best enjoyed as it is in the south of the US – with good food and good friends. Fresh from a successful event at London Cocktail Week – the Southern Comfort Chicken Stop, where Southern-fried
ONE OF THE SOUTH’S BESTLOVED FOODS MAKES A PERFECT MATCH WITH THE SOFT, FRUITY TANG OF SOUTHERN COMFORT
WIN A COCKTAIL EXPERIENCE There’s still time to take part in an October initiative, the Southern Comfort Chicken Trail. The brand has partnered with five bars across the city – Bodeans (Old Street and Tower Hill), Barnyard, Ninth Ward and Randy’s Wing Bar – to offer a cocktail and a chicken dish at a cost of £10. What’s more, if you take a photo of yourself with the meal, tagging @southerncomfortuk, the restaurant and the hashtag #SouthernWelcome, you could be in with a chance of winning a cocktail experience for you and up to nine friends. Keep your eyes on the @southerncomfortuk Instagram for exclusive social media offers
chicken was expertly matched with specially created Southern Comfort cocktails, all inspired by the food and drink culture of New Orleans – the brand has also put on events at food festivals like Meatopia and Grillstock. The aim? To show the adoring crowds just what can happen when great food finds a partner in a well-matched spirit. Take a look to the right to see how you can get involved in the Southern Comfort Chicken Trail – a collaboration between Southern Comfort and some of the hottest chicken venues in town that will save you money and let you experience this perfect match for yourself. ● southerncomfort.com
FINISHING TOUCH Silent Pool Distillers’ new line of Liquid Garnishes add a touch of class to your cocktails – and with three to choose from, there are options to suit a range of drinks...
AVE YOU EVER tried to recreate that moment when a mixologist expertly holds a flame up to a piece of orange peel so that the intense and zesty aromatic oils are distributed over the surface of your cocktail? No, neither have we. That finishing flourish is almost certainly best left to the professionals, or at least it was, until Silent Pool Mist Liquid Garnish came along. These ingenious little bottles have
EACH SPRAY COVERS THE SURFACE WITH A MIST THAT’S DELICATE, FLAVOURFUL AND AROMATIC
been devised to raise your homemade cocktail game to grand new heights, and with the festive season fast approaching, the timing couldn’t be better. Each spray, distilled to 80% ABV and with the ability to create 120 drinks, covers the surface of your cocktail with a mist that’s delicate, flavourful and aromatic, adding an extra dimension to all of your favourite festive tipples. Created by steeping citrus peels and spices in spirits with angelica and orris root, before blending with chamomile
and rose tea, the sprays are the perfect finishing touch to gin-based drinks, but can be added to whatever you please. Use the Christmas Spirit mist to add a seasonal twist to a classic martini – the festive blend of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and a hint of Christmas tree is bound to get everyone in the party spirit – or jazz up a classic G&T with a spritz of the Kaffir Lime variety. The final flavour in the line-up is Bergamot Orange, and it’s the perfect pick-me-up for a cosmo or old fashioned. Silent Pool Distillers is based in Surrey, and its highly skilled team hand-craft an impressive range of gins – including Navy Strength and English Rose plus a limited-release gin – as well as strawberry and blackberry gin cordials, vodka and eau de vies, so you can stock your entire drinks cabinet. They even do glasses too… ●
FROM LEFT: Silent Pool Mist range; Silent Pool Gin’s distinctive teal bottle
Silent Pool Mists are available for £10 per bottle. For more info, see silentpooldistillers.com
WHISKY EXPERIENCE MONDAY, DECEMBER 5 AND TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2016 ONE WHITEHALL PLACE, LONDON
Returning for our third year at the luxurious One Whitehall Place, The Telegraph Whisky Experience is the ultimate private whisky fair. Featuring world-renowned whisky experts, exclusive masterclasses and more than 100 whiskies available for sampling, whether you’re a novice or a connoisseur, join us to find your perfect dram.
Foodism readers can claim an exclusive 15% discount when booking tickets with the code FOODISM15.
FIND OUT MORE
Visit telegraph.co.uk/whiskyexperience* or call 0800 542 5859
Terms and conditions: *There is a £3.00 booking fee per ticket for online transactions. Telephone bookings office hours only. Full terms and conditions can be found at telegraphbespoke.co.uk. Promoter: Telegraph Bespoke, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0DT.
072 CHINA CITY GUIDE | 076 BOTTLE SERVICE | 083 THE DIGEST 085 INSIDER: FALMOUTH | 092 THE SELECTOR | 098 DECONSTRUCT
— PART 3 —
EXCESS “THIS BEING CORNWALL, WE SET OURSELVES THE TASK OF FINDING THE BEST FISH AND CHIPS IN TOWN” LYDIA WINTER IN FALMOUTH, 035
FEAST FAR EAST CHINA Lauren Ho takes a culinary tour around six Chinese cities, and reveals their must-try dishes 72
ITH A POPULATION of 1.2 billion people, scattered throughout a country made up of 22 provinces, it’s fair to say that China’s food is a little more than just spring rolls and fried rice. We give the lowdown on a culinary culture rich with tradition and reveal exactly what we’ve all been missing.
HONG KONG Functioning as a gateway to the rest of China and with its history as a British colony, Hong Kong’s dining scene is international and varied, serving everything from regional street-food nibbles to fine-dining French fare. But, it’s the city’s border with Guangdong – the province from where Cantonese cuisine originates – that most influences the local palate. So there’s no better way to start your day than with a quintessential dim sum feast at City Hall Maxim’s Palace, where a dizzying assortment of goodies are paraded on trollies, the old fashioned way. Making the most of its coastal setting, seafood is a nobrainer, and the best spot to sample salt and pepper-baked abalone is at Sing Kee Seafood Restaurant, a buzzy spot, further bolstered by its live offerings that are proudly displayed in the ubiquitous Chinese restaurant fish tanks. As any local will tell you, a steaming bowl of wonton noodle soup is the ultimate comfort food and while everyone has their personal preference, try out the Wing Wah Noodle Shop, where the all-important ratio between the minced pork and shrimp contained in the dumplings is just right. Finish off by wandering down King’s Road in North Point, where you’ll find Lee Keung Kee, a stall that specialises in gai daan jai – or the Hong Kong egg waffle – a nostalgic childhood treat, best eaten on the street, of course. Must try: Wing Wah wonton noodles
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ABOVE: Fish tanks and lights outside one of Macau’s seafood restaurants
Better known as the Las Vegas of Asia, Macau wasn’t always the excessive deluge of glitzy casinos, colossal hotels and extravagant malls it is today. A Portuguese colony for over four centuries and once an important trading port, the region has developed a unique culture that’s a blend of its Southern Chinese roots and continental history, that expresses itself in everything from the Asian-inflected European architecture down to the cuisine. Largely based on Portuguese fare, it uses spices and ingredients from Africa, India and Southeast Asia picked up during maritime travels, combined with traditional Chinese →
→ culinary techniques. The best restaurant to tick all the Macanese food boxes is Riquexo, a cheap and cheerful family café. Make sure you order minchi, a savoury minced pork dish, or the bacalhau a bras, salt cod cooked with scrambled egg. The most popular local snack, however, is as simple as a deep-fried pork chop served in a bun and while there’s usually a queue that snakes around the corner at Tai Lei Loi Kei (literally ‘pork chop bun café’), it’s definitely worth the wait. Head to the beach and Fernando’s for a buzzy, fun authentic Portuguese menu, and of course, make sure you do not go home without popping by the legendary Lord Stow’s Bakery for one (or two) of its world famous pastels de nata, the legendary Portuguese-style egg tarts. Must try: the egg tarts at Lord Stow’s Bakery
FOSHAN It doesn’t get more real than in Foshan where, for non-natives, it’s tricky enough to find the location of a restaurant, let alone to find pictures on its menu. A sprawling industrial metropolis in China’s southern Guangdong province – best known for its furniture production – Foshan is often considered the
little brother of Guangzhou, which is a mere 30-minute ride away on the metro. And while its cuisine falls under the general Cantonese umbrella, it is more accurately influenced by Shunde, a district within the city, where the food is widely regarded as the precursor to Cantonese fare as we know it today. Of course, the usual suspects such as dim sum and wonton make the hit list, but the city also has its own specialties worth a nibble. Taking advantage of its location on the Pearl River Delta, freshwater fish is a common menu staple – usually served steamed in a broth at the table – along with dairy-based dishes such as sautéed fresh milk topped with shrimps, or desserts such as the custard-like double layer milk or sweet sago pudding in winter. The
best spot to sample all of these dishes under one roof is at Lingnan Tiandi, a planned development project built to preserve the city’s artistic traditions but also a social hub with a plethora of restaurants. If the language barrier gets too much, head to any of the western hotel brands, where the dining rooms serve bona fide local dishes. And don’t forget to pick up a pack of Manggong cakes from the Heji Biscuits Industry Corporation before you go, as a souvenir. Must try: sautéed fresh milk topped with shrimps
GUANGZHOU Once known as Canton, Guangzhou is the capital of China’s southern Guangdong province. Its history as a trading port has resulted in the amalgamation of various
up at Baihua Dessert Store, to slurp up a sweet bowl of red bean soup. Must try: crispy barbecued roast pork at Bing Sheng
CLOCKWISE FROM HERE: Market vendors in Wangfujing; fried scorpions in Beijing; Macau’s pastels de nata; Foshan river shrimp; Hong Kong egg waffles
Unlike the temperate climes to the south, where rice is grown in abundance, Beijing’s food has been shaped around the chilly northern temperatures where wheatbased staples from hand-pulled noodles to comforting dumplings make for hearty tummy warmers. Of course, there’s no escaping the city’s most famous dish: Peking roast duck. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, eat it served in a paper-thin pancake with cucumbers, spring onions and plum sauce. Where to try it? Quanjude, of course. The type of restaurant to have its own Wikipedia page, it’s not exactly a hidden gem, but as the city’s oldest and most famous roast duck joint, it’s certainly worth a visit. Afterwards, meander down Wangfujing snack street, where the live scorpions wriggling on skewers ready to be grilled might not take your fancy, but steaming crispy flatbreads filled with spring onions will. Finally, slurp a bowl of zhajiangmian – noodles topped with minced pork cooked in yellow-soybean paste – at Yaoji Chaogan, or head to Yang Fang for lamb hotpot and choose from a selection of raw vegetables and lamb to cook in a bubbling pot of soup at your table. Must try: Quanjude’s Peking roast duck
Photographs by (main) Valeriy Tretakov/Alamy; (scorpions) Susan K/Getty; (tarts) Jason Lovell/Alamy; )prawns) huoguangliang/Getty
cooking styles and ingredients – both regional and international – to form Cantonese food as we know it today. The best-known Chinese regional food in the west, it has developed something of a bad rap, with the common high street takeaway serving an adapted, average version, liberally doused in corn starch and MSG. The real deal however, is anything but; clear, natural and fresh flavours that reflect the region’s rich agriculture are abundant. It’s true that Cantonese cuisine will comprise anything that moves, so if you’re going to get into the nitty-gritty, it is best to approach with an open mind and a strong stomach. First up, head to Bing Sheng in Zhujiang New Town. This local favourite serves up exotic offerings such as sea cucumber and shark fin soup, but for the faint-hearted, go for the barbecued roast pork; the crispy skin and melt-in-your-mouth meat mean that you simply can’t go wrong. Next, suck on some chicken feet at Guangzhou Restaurant, the city’s oldest dim sum haven, or take your time plucking out the meat from the freshest crabs at East Ocean Seafood Restaurant. For those with a sweet tooth, make sure you end
SHANGHAI China’s most populous city, Shanghai has blossomed over the past decade or so, to not only boast an impressive skyline with the tallest building in China, but to become a cultural hub that has shaped the local art and
A QUEUE SNAKES AROUND THE CORNER IN MACAU FOR DEEP-FRIED PORK CHOPS design worlds. This, in turn, has influenced the dining scene, motivating international industry bigwigs, including Jason Atherton, to set up shop, with whispers that the Michelin Guide’s first Chinese stopover will be in the city. And while western fare has a certain amount of cachet for the affluent, local food has its own merits, not least for its distinct sweet flavours and light, mellow palate. Start with a visit to A Da Cong You Bing, a backstreet hole-in-the-wall shop where Mr Wu churns out deliciously crisp scallion pancakes to queuing locals. For lunch, head to Old Jesse on Tianping Lu, a shabby eatery that serves tasty Shanghai classics such as braised pork shoulder. Xiaolongbao – delicate soup-filled pork dumplings – are not to be missed at Din Tai Fung, and to end the day take a stroll down Shouning Lu, the city’s food street that comes alive at night. If you’re visiting between October and December, don’t miss the hairy crab, a regional delicacy. f Must try: xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung.
ART TO FINISH Get your drink on with these barrel-finished whiskies, as well as a few prime examples of cabernet sauvignon, and some stouts and porters PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID HARRISON
SCRAPING THE BARREL: After the initial ageing period, most Scotch whiskies are â€˜finishedâ€™ in barrels previously used to age other distilled spirits, like sherry and bourbon. Sometimes, though, whisky distillers get creative and finish their whiskies in ex port barrels, rum barrels, and even wine and beer casks, to impart unconventional and complex flavour notes to the liquid. Bourbon has to be aged in new oak barrels, but even that can be finished in other barrels for special releases.
These whiskies (and whiskeys) are all aged in different types of casks for a lively, complex flavour: 1 BALVENIE 14 YEAR OLD CARIBBEAN CASK, Dufftown, Moray, UK. Balvenie whisky benefits from the vanilla, toffee and raisin notes from a barrel used in Caribbean rum. 70cl, 43%; £49.75, thewhiskyexchange.com 2 WOODFORD RESERVE MASTER’S COLLECTION SONOMA-CUTRER PINOT NOIR FINISH, Versailles, KY, USA. Unusually for a bourbon, this expression is the result of finishing in oak barrels previously used to age winemaker Sonoma-Cutrer’s pinot noir. 70cl, 45.2%; £91.40, masterofmalt.com
3 JAMESON CASKMATES, This Irish whiskey uses old stout barrels to add a dark, coffee-like kick to the flavour profile. 70cl, 40.0%; £25.96, amazon.co.uk 4 GLENFIDDICH IPA EXPERIMENT, Dufftown, Moray, UK. Finished in India pale ale casks from a local brewer, which gives it a touch of the lively, hoppy character you’d associate with an IPA. 70cl, 43%; £45 whiskyshop.com 5 GLENMORANGIE QUINTA RUBAN 12 YEAR OLD, Tain, Ross-shire, UK. The upgraded version of the Quinta Ruban bottling from Glenmorangie, now with an age statement. A dried-fruit character comes from ageing it in former port casks from ‘Quinta’-grade wineries in Portugal. 70cl, 46%; £47.95, thewhiskyexchange.com
Photograph by ###
1 ST. AUSTELL BREWERY VANILLA & BOURBON PORTER, Cornwall, UK. The infusion of vanilla in this dark beer gives it a bit of sweetness and complexity. 7.2%, 330mll; staustellbreweryshop.co.uk
Photograph by ###
DARK HORSE: While there’s ambiguity even in brewing circles about the difference between stouts and porters, what’s definite is that they’re both brewed with malted barley that’s roasted, which gives them their dark colour and coffee-like flavours.
2 LONG ARM BREWING CO. SHADOW WOLF, London, UK. A creamy, full-bodied stout brewed with the addition of smoked oats. 5%, 330ml; longarmbrewing.co.uk 3 BAD CO. DAZED & CONFUSED, Yorkshire, UK. Loads of coffee, chocolate and caramel flavours give this milk stout loads of body. 5.5%, 330ml; wearebad.co 4 ISLAND RECORDS JAMAICA PORTER, Sussex, UK. Cocreated with Horsham brewer Two Tribes, this porter shows notes of coconut and rum-barrel wood. 6.2%, 330ml; islandrecords.co.uk
1 TERRAZAS DE LOS ANDES CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, Mendoza, Argentina. It’s an area widely known for its malbec, but cabernet does well in Mendoza, too. This is a great expression of the grape at a good price. 15%, 70cl; £16.85, amathusdrinks.com 2 BERRY BROS & RUDD PAUILLAC 2012, Pauillac AOC, France. This is a classic pauillac (an appelation on the Left Bank in Bordeaux) that’s bottled by London wine stockist Berry Bros and made by Bordeaux winemaker Ch. Lynch Bages. 13%, 70cl; £19.95, bbr.com
3 OLDENBURG VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011, Stellenbosch, South Africa. A beautiful cabernet from one of South Africa’s best-loved wine regions. It’s got loads of black fruit flavour, and vanilla notes that come from oak ageing. 14.5%, 70cl; £21.95, bbr.com
4 MT BRAVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012, Mount Veeder, CA, USA. An exceptionally good cabernet from a premium Napa Valley winemaker. This one adds a touch of other Bordeaux grapes to the blend. 14%, 70cl; £54.99, simplywinesdirect.uk
2 3 1
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BANK ON IT: Cabernet sauvignon is one of the main red grapes of Bordeaux, and the primary grape used in the blend by wineries in the region’s Left Bank, to the left of the Gironde river. It’s also used to make great wine in places like California, South Africa and South America, and carries a characteristic green bell pepper flavour note.
Only Four Roses uses 10 distinct Bourbon recipes, then mingles them by hand to create our family of award-winning brands. Artistry such as this is how we survived Prohibition, The Great Depression, Two World Wars, and 40 years of exile from the US. Be mellow. Be responsible. FourRosesBourbon.com
AA THRILL WHAT’S NEW
We were there to see Sosharu, Sketch, The Ritz and our interviewee Pierre Koffmann all pick up gongs at the AA Hospitality Awards this year. Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, Restaurant Story and Pollen Street Social also won five AA rosettes. See the list in full at foodism.co.uk/aahospitality-awards-2016-london
It’s awards season, and we’ve got the low-down on the winners and losers from London and beyond...
YOUNG LIONS Michelin stars and AA rosettes are serious accolades, but there’s another set of awards that are arguably the most exciting in the food scene – the Young British Foodies. There were big wins this year for the Hemsleys, plus The Dairy’s Richard Falk for best chef, and Freddie Janssen of F.A.T. in the street-food category. See the list in full at foodism.co.uk/ young-british-foodies-awards-2016
Photographs by (best bar and Jennifer Le Nechet) Rob Lawson; (hospitality awards) Kit Fanner
PASSING THE BAR The results are in, and the new best bar in the world is... The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog in New York. But there were London winners all over the shop in the World’s 50 Best Bars Awards, with five in the top ten, and Dandelyan at Mondrian London climbing 47 places to clinch third place. See the list at foodism.co.uk/worlds50-best-bars-2016-london-winners
TOP O’ THE WORLD It was a good night for Jennifer Le Nechet in Miami recently, as she claimed the World Class Bartender of the Year award in Miami for her work at Café Moderne in Paris. This is a big one – if the World’s 50 Best is about the bars and Tales of the Cocktails is about the drinks, World Class celebrates bartending talent across the industry.
MICHELIN, MAN There were shocks to spare at the Michelin Guide 2017 awards announcements this year. Notable new stars went to Pidgin, Ellory, The Ritz and The Ninth, while L’Autre Pied, Launceston Place, Brasserie Chavot, Hibiscus and more lost theirs. See the list in full at foodism.co.uk/ michelin-guide-2017-winners-losers
Dine and play
by [ Fusiontables ]
Check the other colors and timbers available on www.fusiontables.com
The New Vintage collection is marked by a unique and easily recognisable style. A perfect mix between reclaimed wood timbers and a post-industrial metal frame. Sober and original, yet reverent and groundbreaking, the Vintage dining pool table provides class to any space through its perfect blend of chic and tradition. Old oak wooden floors have been sourced in rural Spain and recycled into beautiful vintage panels which are then married with old powder blue Simonis cloth. The result is stunning, inviting you to breathe the air of an old Brooklyn workplace or a typical 80's English pub without leaving your dining room.
Take a closer look at Falmouth and you’ll find trendy and traditional food spots alike, finds Lydia Winter The Greenbank Hotel Consisting of a hodge-podge of buildings dating back centuries, The Greenbank sits resplendent at the far end of Falmouth town, so a lovely ten-minute stroll along the high street from the station will help you lap up all that British seaside charm. It’s a maze of hidden nooks and crannies that ooze historic character – but with a contemporary twist, as the hotel is fresh from a nip-and-tuck, boasting light and spacious rooms decorated to complement its waterside location. The rooms weren’t the only things to get a facelift – the hotel’s restaurant also received a refurb last year, part of which saw local lad Nick Hodges come on as executive chef. Hodges
earned his stripes at the vaunted Watergate Bay Hotel before returning to Falmouth, bringing a wealth of experience to The Greenbank’s Waterside restaurant. Given Hodges’ knowledge of Cornish produce and a fruitful relationship with his supplier, Matthew Stevens – who also works with the likes of Mayfair’s Sexy Fish – it’s just the place to dive into fresh seafood. You'll find classic dishes like scallops with blood pudding, and delicate plaice that’s served simply with lemon and market greens, as well as international flourishes in the form of Thai-style monkfish stew with prawns and mussels. f
THE STAR & GARTER One look at the menu at this up-andcoming food-forward pub and we were sold. The team in the kitchen is young and bordering on hipsterish (there are tattoos and pickles aplenty), but don’t let that fool you: the chefs use local, seasonal produce – obviously – and do so with serious flair. We had turbot, our absolute favourite, which arrived on a bed of heritage tomatoes in a range of traffic-light hues, liberally topped with fresh basil leaves. Local lamb, too, was meltingly tender and served with fresh veg. Given all this, it’s not surprising that the pub is beginning to garner a following (and a few local awards) for its modern style of cooking. The pub itself mixes traditional charm with the kind of clean black-and-white tiling that wouldn’t go amiss in a trendy Shoreditch joint, and it’s got a drinks list to match, with sparkling moscato and a host of spirits including the likes of smooth Black Cow vodka. A word to the wise: book in advance. 52 High Street, Falmouth, TR11 2AF; starandgarter.squarespace.com
Rooms from £109 per night. Harbourside, Falmouth,, TR11 2SR; greenbank-hotel.co.uk
GETTING THERE FALMOUTH ◆◆ Population: 26,767 ◆◆ Area: 21km2 ◆◆ County: Cornwall
One of Cornwall’s biggest towns, Falmouth sits at the mouth of the Fal estuary, making it a hotspot for some of the very best fish and seafood in the county.
Great Western Rail operates high-speed services from London Paddington to Truro, including sleeper services. National Express also runs coaches from London. If you’d prefer to drive, it’s around a six-hour schlep down the M5.
HARBOUR LIGHTS This being Cornwall, we set ourselves the task of finding the best fish and chips in town. A couple of pit stops and full stomachs later, we came across Harbour Lights, which recently gained the prestigious accolade of ‘best independent takeaway fish and chips in Cornwall’. All of the fish it serves is responsibly sourced – from Matthew Stevens again, natch – and the business is dedicated to being as green as possible. Just what we like to hear. And it helps that it serves deliciously flaky fish, too. Feeling classy? It also does breaded butterfly king prawns, halloumi and calamari. Arwenack Street, Falmouth, TR11 3LH; harbourlights.co.uk
THE REBEL BREWING CO. The Rebel Brewing Co is just about as crafty as a brewery can get. It’s worth the pilgrimage on the bus to the site for the tour, as you’ll see just how tiny it is (pint-sized, in fact) – not to mention that you get to sample each of the different kinds of brew. The dedicated team of five create several award-winning beers, including the Mexi-Cocoa, a velvety, warming chocolate and vanilla stout that rings in at a whopping 7.2% (steady on), and Eighty Shilling, twice Champion Beer of Cornwall winner and three-time CAMRA Gold winner. Elsewhere, there’s the light and hoppy Surfbum, at a gentle 3.5%, made with ingredients from some of the world’s best surfing countries – testament to the team’s creativity. You’ll find its beers on tap and by the bottle in a couple of the pubs in Falmouth, but the best place to sample them is at the brewery itself, where they’re currently planning to turn the shop/bar area into a micro pub. Watch this space… Century House, Penryn TR10 9EP; rebelbrewing.co.uk
PICNIC CORNWALL Picnic Cornwall does what it says on the tin, and more. Stop off here and you can organise a stonker of a picnic for any day trips you might undertake, which means you’ll get a hamper rammed with the best local produce, including the knockout crab sandwiches. There’s cheese, charcuterie, Camel Valley sparkling wine (which, by way, is pretty damn good) and the best sausage roll we’ve ever had. We’re being serious. Picnic is also a deli and lunch spot with crisp, seasonal salads, and you can pop in to ogle shelves packed with Cornish coppa, venison salami and pork rillettes with sloe gin, before buying everything. 14 Church Street, Falmouth, TR11 3DR; picniccornwall.co.uk
A FEAST FOR THE SENSES From mouthwatering cuisine and vibrant local character to stunning natural scenery, Tunisia is a country rich in culure that it's just bursting to share with its visitors
HEN DESCRIBING A country as as varied as Tunisia, it's hard to know when to start. That said, it's not impossible – and the country's varied, flavoursome cuisine is a good place to begin. There's brik, a traditional Tunisian dish that's a crispy, deep-fried parcel of thin pastry sheets, wrapped around a lightly cooked egg, onion, parsley, tuna, and a generous dollop of spicy harissa sauce; there's chourba soups; merguez lamb sausages; and cooling salatas with tomato, cucumber and onion. And that's just for starters – main dishes consist of lamb, chicken or fish, cooked slowly with a mountain of fresh, seasonal vegetables, and, by the coast, fish is grilled or roasted with spices such as cumin and coriander. If the local larder is a feast for the stomach, the souks are a feast for the
IF THE LOCAL LARDER IS A FEAST FOR THE STOMACH, THE SOUKS ARE A FEAST FOR THE EYES. YOU'LL FIND THE FINEST CARPETS AND HAND-WROUGHT JEWELLERY 88
eyes. Busy thoroughfares are filled with heady smells and a cacophony of sounds as vendors wield their competitive sales techniques to attract your attention to their wares, from the finest carpets to hand-wrought gold and silver jewellery, with designs displaying influences from Andalusia, France and the former Ottoman empire. What's more, there's a growing appreciation of sustainable tourism. Ksar Ezzit, a resort not far from the northern town of Zaghouan, consists of seven luxuriously furnished houses that mirror the country's varied regional styles, set in 440 hectares of lush, hilly forests and olive trees. It's located on an organic farm, where only horses and donkeys are used to cultivate the land – preserving the area's tranquility. In the south, there's the historic centre of Nefta, where Dar Hi is a contemporary luxury resort with rooms inspired by Tunisia's different home environments, from urban confines to desert bivouacs. The hotel only uses sustainable palm wood, and there's an on-site research lab that's devoted to exploring new uses for palm wood products. Even better, Dar Hi has an organic restaurant that uses produce from the hotel's garden, as well as from local village farmers, who are engouarged to follow low-intensity farming practices. Elsewhere, The Green Hill Resort in the northwest, slated to open soon has a minimal carbon footprint thanks to its solar thermal, photovoltaics and geothermal energy. They say you can't have it all, but Tunisia comes pretty close. ●
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: A market stall selling clay pots; the Nefta oasis; a vegetable trader; colourful spices; a much-loved traditional pastry
Photograph by ###
THE ITALIAN WAY For genuine Italian food and wine in London, make sure you visit the Bellavita Shop. The new store is full of unique, quality food, sourced directly from Italian producers
RYING TO PICK your favourite Italian food is like trying to choose your favourite child; from classics such as pasta, prosecco and prosciutto to up-and-coming buffalo mozzarella, barolo and bresaola, there’s no denying that good Italian food is everyone’s guilty pleasure. The secret behind Italy’s gastronomic greatness? Quality ingredients, with strong heritage and authenticity. No cuisine is more steeped in tradition than Italian, with techniques that have been passed down through generations of artisans at its very core. But in London, original Italian food and wine can often seem like more hassle than a trip to Italy itself. So Bellavita has come to the rescue, with a brand new shop near Wapping (as well as an online version shipping all across the UK), with the aim of bringing the best of real Italian produce directly to you. Including iconic brands like Lavazza, La Molisana and Villa Sandi as well as artisanal offerings from small, familyrun producers, everything at Bellavita is high quality and genuinely made by real Italians. As well as stocking all the nation’s most lusted-after exports,
Bellavita Shop also holds an array of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. From red pepper ‘chips’ dried solely in the Basilicata sun to salty anchovy ‘syrup’, and even wine aged in the Adriatic Sea – browsing the Bellavita Shop feels like stepping off the streets of London and into Italy. Bellavita believes that the story and origin behind what we eat is crucial to its naturally great taste, which is why every single product on the Bellavita website comes with a detailed description about the producer, ensuring you know exactly where your ingredients are coming from. You can also shop by region, selecting products based on where they are made and read more about the specific cuisine of that area. And with the festive season fast approaching, you can even pick up themed hampers full of Italian treats that are perfect for gifts, or a case of quality Italian wine for your Christmas party. Taste all the country’s flavours under one roof – from sunny Sicily to the snowy Alps and everywhere in between – on a gastronomic tour of Italy. ● bellavitashop.co.uk
GET £10 OFF You can get £10 off your first shop at Bellavita Shop with code BELLAVITA10 (minimum spend £30). Shop online bellavitashop.co.uk or in its central London store at 11c Dock Street, E1 8JN
FROM LEFT: Martin Miller’s Strawberry and Black Pepper G&T; the bottle, next to some of the botanicals including juniper and angelica
A SOFT TOUCH Martin Miller’s Gin may be a quintessentially English product, but the ingenious use of water from further afield, as well as careful sourcing, is key to its unique flavour
ORDIC FOOD CULTURE’S rise to prominence in England and beyond has been well-documented in recent years – but there’s an Icelandic influence at work in one of England’s finest spirits that just might surprise
IT’S THE ADDITION OF NORDIC SPRING WATER THAT HAS ELEVATED THE GIN
you. Martin Miller’s Gin may sound much more English than Icelandic, but the addition of Nordic spring water has elevated this excellent gin above its competitors to become the most-awarded gin in the world in the last 12 years. The late Martin Miller – the brain behind the botanicals – quite simply wanted to create a quality premium gin. His search for the best led him to Iceland, where he sourced the highestquality Icelandic spring water, which has a unique effect alongside the alchemy of the carefully sourced botanicals. It is this spring water that provides an incredible softness, in addition to providing unparalleled smoothness that ensures a beautifully balanced gin. Martin Miller’s Gin has paved the
way for the modern-day gin revolution thanks to its innovative distillation process, whereby the earthy botanicals are distilled separately to the citrus and then joined together. It’s made in England and blended to strength at 40% ABV, with the Icelandic spring water giving a smooth, clean nose and finish. It’s a versatile gin, too – its balanced flavour profile makes it a hit in many cocktails – try it in a G&T with strawberries and black peppercorns to garnish. The best thing? You can find it at leading retailers for just £26. ● martinmillersgin.com
This month, we’ve picked out the best places to buy wine, match beer with food, and have your say on what goes on the menu. Still hungry? Well we’ve selected some of London’s finest pasta joints too. Appetites at the ready… 92
1 Padella 6 Southwark Street, SE1 1TQ
The house-made pasta at Tim Siadatan and Jordan Freida’s restaurant debut Trullo proved so popular that the duo went on to open a second site dedicated to the stuff – Padella in Borough Market. The dough is hand-rolled, and the sauces are inspired by the pair’s trips to Italy. Every dish is as outstanding as the last, and it’s updated regularly to reflect changes in seasons – at the time of writing, choices include tagliatelle with spicy nduja, mascarpone and parsley; and tagliatelle with Scottish girolles. There might be a queue, but it’s worth it. @Padella_Pasta; padella.co
1 THE SELECTOR
PASTA & PRESENT
Seeking a superior Italian dining experience? These places are a step ahead when it comes to pasta BEST OF THE REST 2 Ostuni
4 Burro e Salvia
1 Hampstead Lane, N6 4RS
52 Redchurch Street, E2 7DP
This restaurant isn’t solely devoted to pasta, but the dishes on offer here are pretty damn spectacular and make it worth a mention in its own right. We’re thinking of one thing in particular, here: green pasta made with spinach and then delicately shaped to mimic the leaves of the olive tree, topped with creamily collapsing burrata and decadent, pungent truffles.
Burro e salvia is Italian for butter and sage, a classic pasta accompaniment. That should give you an idea what to expect at this café, which has sites in Shoreditch and Dulwich. This is no-frills pasta.
020 7624 8035; ostunirestaurant.co.uk
20 Paul Street, EC2A 4JH
34 Tavistock Street, WC2E 7PB
Savurè is the real deal – its debut outpost is in Turin, northern Italy, which means you’ll find traditional techniques and topnotch ingredients at its first UK branch in Shoreditch. Its range of daily made pastas include tagliatelle and gnocchi di patate, with sauces ranging from pesto Genovese to a hearty beef ragù. The best bit? You can also take raw pasta home to cook.
A pastificio is, funnily enough, a pasta factory – which is exactly what you’ll find at this delicafé and wine store that was born out of Angela Harnett’s celebrated Café Murano, next door.
020 7539 9322; savure.co.uk
020 7739 4429;
020 3535 7884;
BEST OF THE REST 2 M Victoria
4 Amathus Drinks
3 Zig Zag Building, 70 Victoria Street, SW1E 6SQ
Hammer House, 113-117 Wardour Street, W1F 0UN
M’s Victoria Street restaurant takes its focus on wine a step further with the addition of a massive on-site wine shop, full of specially selected bottles from the same countries from which the food is sourced. 020 3327 7776; mrestaurants.co.uk
At Amathus in Soho, a fantastic wine selection is stacked high on all sides of the tiny shop, which happens to be housed in the old offices of iconic British film company Hammer Horror. Enomatic machines mean you can dip into one of the sample bottles before you buy.
3 Vinoteca 3 King’s Boulevard, N1C 4BU
You’d be forgiven for not noticing the wine shop at the back of the sprawling Vinoteca King’s Cross, which is more restaurant than tasting room. But when you’ve finished grazing, head to the shop and you’ll see some cracking bottles. It’s got a great, diverse selection from the old and new worlds. 020 3793 7210; vinoteca.co.uk
020 7287 5769; amathusdrinks.com
5 Hedonism Wines 3-7 Davies Street, W1K 3LD
If it’s fine wine you’re after, Hedonism Wines’ store is largely dedicated to top-notch bottles, including a selection all awarded the 100-point score by legendary critic Robert Parker. It’s got enomatics, so you can try some iconic wines at a price you can justify, too. 020 7290 7870; hedonism.co.uk
A LOT OF BOTTLE
Choosing the right wine shop means you’ll leave with an informed selection of brilliant bottles
4 1 1 Vagabond 4 Northcote Road, SW11 1NT
Photograph (Burro e Salvia) by Thorsten Stobbe
Vagabond has been 5 around since before enomatic machines were cool – and its combination of a bar atmosphere, small plates and 100 wines to sample from the machines that line the compact room has been a game-changer. It’s a drinking and dining destination primarily, rather than a shop, but you can also take away any bottle for £10 cheaper than the drink-in price. The new Battersea site also specialises in beer, with growlers to take away from a few different London brewers. 020 7738 0540; vagabondwines.co.uk
1 CRAFT London THE SELECTOR
1 Green Place, SE10 0PE
These restaurants know how to mix it up, enlisting the help of diners and staff to curate new menus
020 8465 5910; craft-london.co.uk
TESTING, TESTING 94
Craft London’s kitchen staff specialise in old-school and progressive cooking and preparation techniques, so you know a development menu here will be packed with experimental textures and flavours. Each Tuesday from 8pm, you’ll be able to sample a blind-tasting menu of up to six courses, each dish being still in development. The plates will be brought to the table by the chefs who cooked them, who’ll give you the low-down on each dish’s story. You’re then invited to give your feedback, which will then help shape the final menu offering. The best bit? It’s only £28.
BEST OF THE REST 2 Le Bab Kingly Court, W1B 5PW
At modern kebab house Le Bab, chefs Ed, Manuel and Angus give diners the opportunity to sample dishes that are in their final stages of development before making it onto the menu. There’s two benefits to this: you get to try the dishes at 50% off, and you’ll also play a part in shaping the menu for the coming season. 020 7439 9222; eatlebab.com
3 Aulis at Fera Claridges, Brook Street, W1K 4HR
The Claridges iteration of Aulis (the original’s
at sister restaurant L’Enclume in the Lake District) is a six-seater counter, where you can watch the chefs create experimental dishes. Experiencing the genius first-hand doesn’t come cheap, though: it’ll set you back £150.
and any dishes that go down especially well make their way onto the permanent menu. 020 7836 4422; frenchiecoventgarden.com
020 7107 8888; feraatclaridges.co.uk
148 Clapham Manor Street, SW4 6BX
4 Frenchie 16 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8QH
Gregory Marchand is continuing to pave the way in modern French cooking with his new Carte Blanche menu. It’ll see him and his team create a bespoke menu based on the produce bought at the market that morning,
5 The Manor Hospitality is a tough industry, which is why The Manor’s chef-patron Robin Gill has set up the Home Grown Supper Club. It will give young chefs in his kitchen – and the front-ofhouse staff, too – the chance to put together their own menu for the night, with mentoring from the senior team members. 020 7720 4662; themanorclapham.co.uk
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BEST OF THE REST
2 Crate Brewery
4 Duke’s Brew & Que
Unit 7, Queens Yard, E9 5EN
33 Downham Road, De Beauvoir Town, N1 5AA
Pizza and beer is a time-tested pairing, and it’s been kicked up a notch at Hackney Wick’s Crate Brewery, where there’s a selection of beers brewed on site alongside hand-rolled pizzas. If that’s not enough to convince you, the brewery’s setting should: it sits alongside the canal, and you can even arrive en bateau.
The menu here is all about Deep South barbecue, with pork spare ribs, steaks and burgers abounding. Beavertown Brewery used to brew here until it moved to Tottenham Hale, but the site is now home to a Beavertown taproom instead, which means there’s a freeflowing supply of the brewery’s beers.
020 8533 3331; cratebrewery.com
020 3006 0795; dukesbrewandque.com
3 Zero Degrees
5 Temple Brew House
29-31 Montpelier Vale, SE3 0TJ
46 Essex Street, WC2R 3JF
Zero Degrees was set up with a ‘tank-to-mouth’ ethos: visit and you’ll be able to see the openplan microbrewery and drink the beer straight from the tanks, as well as munch on dishes like wood-fired pizzas, pasta and salads, all of which are designed to complement the brews.
Temple Brew House is the HQ of the Essex Street Brewing Company, which produces a small range of craft beers, and you’ll find the range in full at its dedicated restaurant, which serves dishes with the aim of “sneaking as much beer onto the menu as possible”.
020 8852 5619; zerodegrees.co.uk
020 7936 2536; templebrewhouse.com
5 THE SELECTOR
FOOD AND BREWS Come for an inside look at the process then stay for dinner at these distilleries and breweries
1 East London Liquor Company Unit GF1, 221 Grove Road, E3 5SN
020 3011 0980; eastlondonliquorcompany.com
Photograph by ###
A former glue factory in Bow might not seem like your first choice for top-notch Italian food, but that’s about to change: East London Liquor Company has added a restaurant to its distillery. The kitchen’s headed up by William Dennard, formerly of White Rabbit and Rebel Dining Society, and he’s bringing his expertise to a menu of pizza and seasonal sharing plates. If pairing it with gin and whisky is a step too far, there’s a complementary drinks list with amaro, fernet, vermouth, wine and beer, too.
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TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA CARROTS: The orange type of carrot was developed using mutant strains. In the Netherlands, rather than in the sewers under NYC, as it turns out. Sorry.
SUPERFOOD: Purple carrots have been shown to have stronger antioxidant properties than their orange counterparts, as well as antiinflammatory effects, too.
Think this is an exotic breed of carrot? Think again – a few hundred years ago, all cultivated carrots were purple. The orange kind was developed by Dutch growers in the 16th century
BETTER-CAROTINE: Growers haven’t just been playing around with colour – they’ve also experimented with making carrots more nutrientdense. Now, the veg contains 75% more beta-carotine than it did 25 years ago.
WIN FOUR TICKETS TO “CHRISTMESS” AND A BOTTLE OF SOUTHERN COMFORT A UNIQUE SUPPER CLUB EXPERIENCE BRINGING NEW ORLEANS SPIRIT TO LONDON WITH A SOUTHERN WELCOME FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN VISIT
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Copyright © 2016 Southern Comfort. All rights reserved. Southern Comfort is a registered trademark.