The race is on to find the official Capital of Cuisine. Which town produces the finest food? The best cheese…? The most delectable wine…? The finest sweetest ham…? The most accredited restaurants….? At least it is in food-loving France where a government committee, the French Mission on Food Culture and Heritage, have been assigned the frankly not-very-onerous task of deciding upon the town with the most to offer food tourists of the world. And to settle once and for all who’s the best in the world, ever ever ever (because the French really really care about that). Read full post
Posts Tagged ‘food’
Once again Michelin has found itself plunged into direst controversy over the recent news that celebrated Aussie chef Skye Gyngell has left her much-acclaimed quirky restaurant at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond because of the ‘Michelin curse’ brought about by her deserved star rating. She claims that customer expectations rocketed to unreasonable levels and complaints have soared – not, let it be noted, about the food, but about the rickety tables, the outside toilets and the greenhouse surroundings; ie, customers expecting the intimated level of opulence evoked by a star rating were disappointed at the ‘au naturel’ surroundings of a working plant nursery. It seems that Michelin ratings bring with them a certain level of customer expectation; the organisation has educated – indoctrinated – the once-naive customer to such an extent, the centre doesn’t hold when the framework is not adhered to. Read full post
Unless you’re Michael Winner, or particularly au fait with each and every half-decent restaurant and possessed of an admirable persistence, it’s very hard to ensure you are given a really good table, or at least one halfway satisfactory when you eat out. You might think it not a matter of great importance; the service, the food, the wine are all much more significant factors to many of us but a poor table can ruin a potentially great night out. Obviously some quite like the busy thoroughfare quality of the toilet entrance – it adds content to the non-existent conversation – but for the rest of us, that draught from the frequently-opened door, the clash of cutlery at the work station, the looming pillar blocking your view of any helpful staff can make you unwilling to return. Read full post
Restaurant campaigns: what are they for? There, we’ve said it. An organisation somewhere, usually highly ethically minded, begins a website and endeavours to sign restaurants up to it, sending them window stickers in return, promising the proprietors this is what will increase custom. If you can give them sustainable sea snails, beef from the cow next door, knowledge that your leftover cooking oil is powering the pizza-delivery vans across the street, they will throng through your doors. And do we? Do we ever, ever pay any attention to these campaigns? Do we heck. Read full post
It doesn’t get much bigger than this.’ Ah, famous last words. No sooner had the owners of Cosmo, the pan-Asian chain, launched their 800-seater in Croydon than some bright spark in Bristol thought they could beat it and so lucky Bristolians can now gaze in dribbling awe at the 1000-seater Za Za Bazaar, newly opened and ready to indulge your every dining whimsy. Read full post
And so it came to pass that the gastropub, that once-mighty bringer of semi-decent pub grub throughout the land, was no more. Or so The Good Food Guide says. It claims that the term is no longer relevant; once used to distinguish pubs serving food from pubs serving crisps and pork scratchings, now the gastropub label is actually deriding that which it once elevated.
The concept of the gastropub arrived on the foodie scene with the launch of The Eagle in East London in the mid-1990s. Suddenly their casual, Med-inspired dishes served alongside elevated pub booze became, quite literally, the talk of the town and the pub was reinvented. Boozers, to differentiate, were for old men; everyone, darling, was eating out in gastropubs – they were cheaper, more ‘real’ and often offered more eclectic choice and quality than many restaurants. Read full post
And so, with a final mind-blowing, palate-boggling, eye-watering 49-course fanfare, el Bulli is no more. To some, this is no less a culinary disaster than a high street peppered only with Harvesters and not a scrap to eat; to others, it sounds as a blessed return to the safe harbour of ‘un-mucked-about grub’.
There were – and numbers are vague – between one and two million panting, salivating diners on the waiting list in the six months before closure; that’s a lot of disappointment spread in a world already teetering on crisis. Apparently, you had a 0.08% chance of ever scoring a table – those aren’t odds, just humiliation in prospect. And yet, despite demand, Ferran Adrià made the decision to close his foodie Mecca because, finally, he might have run out of ideas. And energy – although he and his 70 staff only open the restaurant for six months of the year, the work behind the scenes goes on year-round, 15-hour days churning out experiment after experiment. No wonder he’s exhausted. Read full post