Thai food in the UK

Thai food in the UK Globalisation is playing strange tricks with Thai food. Whilst French-born chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten delivers his interpretation of Thai dishes in chic Vong restaurants in New York, Chicago, London and Hong Kong, more basic Thai restaurants are the fashionable additions to a growing number of pubs across London. And in July Australian chef David Thompson, who used to own the renowned Darley Street Thai in Sydney before being invited back by the Thai Government to consult at their premier cooking institute, Suan Thai in Bangkok, will…






Slow Food

Carlo Petrini, father of the slow Food movement The news that McDonalds is currently suing Italian restaurant critic Eduardo Raspelli over his comments about their food which they allege are ‘defamatory and offensive’ made me even more delighted to be renewing the acquaintance of Carlo Petrini, who has done more than anyone worldwide to safeguard the food we eat since he founded the Slow Food movement in Italy in 1986. Although it was not a bucolic affair. Petrini is recovering from a severe and rare liver condition – as he…






Truffles in England

Truffles in England – 2006 The email from Roger Jones, the wine loving, chef/proprietor of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn in Berkshire was brief and to the point – if I wanted to see the best British truffles he had ever seen, and lots of them, I should head out west immediately. Three days later I was patting the dog of the couple on whose land deep in the Marlborough Downs these truffles have been found, although for obvious reasons I trust that readers will understand why I cannot be…






Spanish ingredients in London

Spanish ingredients in London – 2001 A significant change on British menus over the past decade has been the closer, more conspicuous, collaboration between chefs, restaurateurs and their suppliers, whether growers, farmers or importers. One of the most influential but hitherto singularly under-appreciated importers during this period has been Monika Lavery who opened Brindisa 13 years ago to supply restaurants with the best Spanish produce. Those to be found on a tapas bar near you range from pata negra, top-quality Spanish ham to olive oils, Ortiz tinned tuna and anchovies…






British Meat

British Meat – 2002 Tales of British farmers setting off merrily for market used to meet with a happy ending. It is a reflection of the problems facing those who are trying desperately to deliver better and safer quality produce, particularly meat, that even post-BSE and foot-and-mouth, the following two stories end very differently. The first concerns a Cumbrian farmer who, faced with a unit price of £21 for his 200 flock of sheep at auction, ie, an annual income of £4200, decided to go direct to the customer. Fortunately,…






The Mushrooom Man

The Mushroom Man – 2006 My colleague Rowley Leigh’s eloquent eulogy to the morel mushroom a fortnight ago prompted me to make yet another call to Michael Hyams whom for the past five years I have known by the name of the company he runs – the Mushroom Man (www.mushroomman.co.uk). Early April should have been the start of the wild mushroom season across Europe – a season that begins with morels and St George’s mushrooms from Turkey and Bulgaria and then moves steadily west until the late summer brings girolles…






Neal’s Yard Dairy

The story behind Neal’s Yard Dairy – 2006 In 1980 the seemingly innocuous but soon to prove highly enjoyable phrase ‘A selection of British and Irish farmhouse cheeses’ began to appear on restaurant dessert menus across the UK with increasing regularity. I use the phrase ‘seemingly innocuous’ advisedly because serving top quality cheeses presents particular challenges for restaurateurs: they are highly perishable and neither very profitable nor that easy to sell, as many customers feel, with some justification, that it is the one dish they can do just as well…






GM Food

GM Food – 2002 The debate over genetically modified foods may have slipped from the front pages but this situation can only be temporary. It is an issue of such critical importance that no-one – government, scientists, farmers, consumers or those in developing countries – can ignore it for long. Professor Mark Winston’s lucid new book, Travels in the Genetically Modified Zone, is therefore both timely and valuable, not least because it is easy to read and understand, even for the non-scientist. As the issue confronts the whole of the…






Chocolate

Chocolate – 2005 Restaurant correspondents rarely get the opportunity to be private detectives but for the past nine months I have been trying to track down Frédéric Bourse, once described to me by a leading London chef as ‘ such a wonderful pastry chef that I wish I had never worked with him – he has spoilt me for all the rest.’ Since I last saw Bourse in London a year ago I had heard that he was consulting across France and Italy, then that he was giving professional patisserie…






The story of languostines

The story of languostines – 2006 Every summer many holidaymakers head for the Mediterranean with one particular objective in mind – that when the unpacking is done they will wander down to a restaurant by the water’s edge and begin to unwind with a large plate of langoustines, a bowl of tangy mayonnaise, some crusty bread and a bottle, or two, of crisp white wine. Of all those who do so, most will remain ignorant of the fact that these delicious shellfish will have travelled almost as far, if not…