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Latest Food & drink news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Firefighters eat sausages made of piglets they saved from blaze

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 10:45:56 GMT

Farmer sends gift of sausages to thank Wiltshire firefighters who rescued piglets and two sows from fire in barn

A farmer whose piglets were saved from a barn fire has served the animals up as sausages to thank the firefighters who rescued them.

The baby pigs and two sows were freed by firefighters from Pewsey in Wiltshire when a barn went up in flames in February.

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10 of the best beach bars in Greece

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 05:30:03 GMT

Step out of the sea and straight into one of these drinking dens, many offering top-notch food and cocktails – plus a party atmosphere after sundown

More in: France | Portugal | Spain

From modest beginnings as a few friends who learned to catch the waves at Kolibithra beach, Tinos Surf Lessons has become a scene. Yiannis Vidalis and his crew have made something fun and friendly at the surf school that is also chic – a VW campervan converted into a bar, with driftwood furniture and umbrellas woven by local basket-makers. Everything is made to be packed up during the winter and leave the sands of one of Tinos’s longest (and windiest) beaches untouched. The daytime menu is hearty with toasties, salads and crepes. Locally brewed Nissos beer and fruit juices give way to good cocktails from the VW bar as sunset approaches.

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Bricking it: Bake Off judges reject Guardian reporter's rock-hard brownies

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 23:01:01 GMT

As new GBBO series nears, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith are unimpressed by Nadia Khomami’s baking ‘skills’

“Never bake again” is Paul Hollywood’s advice for me when I present him and Prue Leith with a tray of mediocre, hard brownies that have been left in the oven for too long.

After failing to cut into them, the veteran Great British Bake Off judge rises from his seat, stacks my desserts on the floor and steps on them to prove that even a boot would fall short of dismantling them. It seems a tad harsh, even for a man known for his steely looks and severe put-downs on screen.

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Anna Jones’s recipes for arroz con tomate and sweet potato cakes | The modern cook

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 11:00:14 GMT

As our columnist makes her annual trip to Portugal, she shares two dishes picked up on previous visits, both to be made time and again: a piquant tomato rice and an Algarvian sweet potato cake

Every August, we spend a couple of weeks on the wild south-west coast of Portugal. These holidays have a kind of ease that only comes from time spent in the same place: the comfort of repetition.

I have grown fond of Portuguese food. It is simple and homely, boldly flavoured and uncomplicated to execute. Like the long beaches of Portugal itself, we come back time and again to the same adored meals. Rustic bowls of caldo verde, a soulful soup of kale, potatoes, good olive oil and not much more, washed down with vinho verde, and custard tarts – which I buy stacked into cardboard tubes, complete with packets of icing sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling – to name two favourites.

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How to cook the perfect chocolate crispy cakes

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 07:45:02 GMT

In these dog days of the summer holidays, this is the perfect activity to make everybody happy. And, best of all, licking the bowl is positively encouraged

Chocolate crispy squares are some of the first cakes most of us learn to make – maybe the fond memories of standing on a stool to laboriously stir the bowl, cereal flying everywhere, mean these simple treats never quite lose their appeal. Or perhaps they just tick all the boxes our most basic selves demand: at once sweet, buttery and delightfully crunchy.

Either way, they’re useful to have up your sleeve (and squashed under your feet) in what are the dog days of the school holidays for much of the country. At this stage in the summer, any activity that makes everyone happy is a rare gift indeed – and remember: you’re never too old to lick the bowl.

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Cornish seafood restaurant topples L'Enclume to be named best in UK

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 07:52:49 GMT

Cornish seafood specialist Nathan Outlaw ousts Cumbria’s L’Enclume, while guide complains of loud music at other eateries

A Cornish seafood restaurant has been crowned the best in the UK in an annual food guide, elbowing Cumbria’s L’Enclume into second place after four years on top.

The restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac, named after its chef founder and owner, has been awarded the No 1 spot in The Good Food Guide 2018 after notching up a perfect score of 10 for the second year running.

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Why are coffee house teas such bad brews? | Letters

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:49:27 GMT

Outpourings of frustration at the quality of high-street tea-making from readers Craig Wright and Roland Hill

The reason that the coffee chains sell so little tea (A little steep: why are there no tea bars in the UK? 14 August) is that they appear incapable of making a decent cup of English breakfast tea. I recently ordered a tea in one such emporium. Despite my drinking in-house, the tea bag was put into a cardboard cup, the water was clearly not boiling; I had asked for it with milk, which was added along with the water.

The result was an awful cup of tea costing well in excess of £2. I eventually took it back to the counter and to their credit they gave me a fresh cup, made to my instructions and with a separate small cup of cold milk for me to add myself.

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Where's the best place to find out who your real friends are? The kitchen

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 11:00:46 GMT

Time for my annual holiday dilemma: who can I bear to allow to cook alongside me?

It is August, the month of my great social experiment, or the summer holidays as other people call them. Here’s how it works. Each year we book a large house with too many rooms for my own family. It could be anywhere but this year it happens to be in Spain; the Spanish stay up later than the Italians, and the food is less exhausting than in France. Then we invite other families to join us. There is just one condition, beyond us all liking each other. They don’t just have to be willing to do their share of the cooking. They have to be eager to do so.

And then the social experiment begins. Because you can learn more about a friend by cooking alongside them, than through almost any other common pursuit. Certainly, you can learn more than simply by eating their food. When it comes to character assessments what matters is not the ends, but the means that got you there.

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s peach recipes

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 08:00:08 GMT

There are few things as, er, peachy as a ripe peach (and even unripe ones have their uses)

I went to a party earlier this summer and took a tray of ripe peaches instead of a bottle of wine. I would never have dreamed of taking a tray of, say, avocados or a bunch of bananas. It’s not that those fruit are any less special; it’s just that they don’t have quite the same wow factor, that tempting, “eat me now” look of a perfectly ripe peach.

The difference between peaches and avocados is all to do with the way the fruits ripen. Bananas and avocados (along with pears and tomatoes) are climacteric and often store their sugar in the form of starch. Once picked, a simple hydrocarbon gas called ethylene triggers the process that converts that starch back to sweetness. This makes such fruit a logistical dream for those who grow and sell them: they can be picked unripe and shipped hard (so they’re not prone to bruising), and ripened once the travel is done. (On a smaller scale, you can achieve a similar effect at home by putting an unripe fruit in a paper bag with a ripe one. The ripe fruit will emit ethylene, which helps ripen the unripe fruit.)

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In defence of sugary drinks: five fancy cocktails that don't work without sugar

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 06:30:01 GMT

For many drinkers, sweetness signals tackiness, but these cocktails challenge the idea there’s only one (dry) path to sophistication

In an 1897 interview with the New York Herald, an anonymous “proprietor of a fashionable drinking place” let slip a few gems about the subject of sugar in drinks.

Sweet drinks, quoth he, were only for “young fellows from the farm, with their rosy cheeks and sound stomachs”; of all of his city friends, “I know not more than half a dozen who can stand drinking sweet things”.

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Neo Bistro, London W1: ‘This is uncharted territory for the branché and cool’ – restaurant review | Marina O’Loughlin

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 13:00:23 GMT

Relaxed, approachable environment, beautifully assured cooking – hell, this bistronomy lark might have something going for it, after all

The bistronomy movement was one of the biggest revolutions to hit restaurants in recent-ish years. Hotshot young chefs, chafing against the tyranny of the toque and the dictatorship of the mainstream guides, ditched starched linen, lobster and foie gras, and launched stripped-back ateliers where they could wreak wizardry with le wasabi, turning everyone on to trotters and terrines.

In Paris, that is. Here, it was less revolution and more ripple, possibly because we don’t have centuries of haute cuisine bullying to rebel against, and already had gastropubs doing ambitious stuff without the attitude. This may be why bistronomy bigwig Greg Marchand’s Frenchie landed in London with less of the expected fanfare, and why the scene’s superstar, Iñaki Aizpitarte, shuffled off home, not so much celebrated as eviscerated.

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The only 4 spaghetti recipes you'll ever need

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 10:00:40 GMT

In an exclusive extract from his new cookbook Made at Home, Giorgio Locatelli suggests four classic store-cupboard pasta dishes that will never fail

  • Interview with Giorgio, plus more recipes from Made at Home

These spaghettis are not just convenient, quick and easy dishes; they can also be seductively brilliant, a perfect example of how a dish can be so much more than a sum of its parts.

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Take the kids to ... The Ice Cream Farm, Chester

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 11:53:07 GMT

The ice-cream is divine (and award-winning) at this free-to-enter attraction but costs add up paying for individual rides and the other food options aren’t so tasty

The Ice Cream Farm near Chester is a mini theme park aimed at primary school-age children. It’s free to get in and there’s no charge for a great ice-cream-inspired playground and an underwhelming farm with donkeys, pigs, goats and llamas. However, you have to pay for all of the other attractions individually, including mini JCB diggers, go-karts, a near-vertical slide, soft-play areas for toddlers and older children, and Honeycomb Canyon, an indoor sand and water play park – which claims to be Europe’s largest. Do book online in advance if your children have their heart set on the diggers: there was a three-hour waiting list when we arrived at noon during the summer holidays. The site underwent a £4m redevelopment two years ago, which has left the original farm unrecognisable, dismaying as many regulars as it delights.

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The Big Family Cooking Showdown review: like Bake Off … with gravy

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 05:00:30 GMT

The Beeb’s cosy new cookery show is pure comfort TV, but viewers may struggle to emotionally invest. Plus: star turns but no laughs in Quacks

The Big Family Cooking Showdown is a cosy, two-presenter, two-judges cookery competition among amateurs in a family-friendly weeknight slot on BBC1. We are assured that it is in no way a substitute for or rival to the BBC’s previous cosy, two-presenter, two-judges cookery competition among amateurs that was broadcast in a family-friendly weeknight slot, The Great British Bake Off, before – in a move that grieved the nation only slightly less than the current threat of nuclear war – going over to Channel 4.

Why? What’s the point of such obvious denial? Why not say, in keeping with the warm, enveloping, all-in-it-together, vanilla-scented mood that was GBBO’s USP and which any true successor must manage to emulate: “We’re as sorry as you are to have lost it. But here! We folded together as many of the same ingredients as we could, added Nadiya Hussain, the winner of series six of you-know-what, and served it up to you on a similarly nostalgically decorated platter, this time with a savoury twist. We really hope you like it. Come on in – the gravy’s lovely.” Or something.

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A little steep: why are there no tea bars in the UK?

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 05:59:34 GMT

British high streets are packed with coffee shops, but we’ve never taken to tea bars as they have in the US. And that’s not only because we have more kettles ...

The US currently seems to be enjoying a tea party to which Britain has not been invited, with tea bars popping up across the nation and sales of the hot drink shooting up 15% in the past five years. Even Drake has invested in a New York-based matcha bar – with a hip-hop-sounding ethos: “Good things come to those who hustle.”

So where are the UK’s tea bars? In 2015, we spent £654m on having a cuppa. According to the UK Tea and Infusions Association, Brits drink 95m more cups of char every day than they do coffee. But while it’s barely possible to walk down a British high street without passing roughly 75 Costas, Neros or Starbucks, there is no chain dedicated to the UK’s most popular hot drink.

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Jeremy Lee’s recipe for grilled seabass with parsley salad | Jeremy Lee

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 11:00:35 GMT

The Quo Vadis chef shares the lessons he learned from his first mentors and a recipe for seabass in honour of an early inspiration, Alastair Little.
Discover who inspired four other top chefs here.

Restaurants and their kitchens are no longer, with rare exceptions, peopled by the high white-hatted brigades I learned to cook with back in the late 1970s. No, chefs these days have names – the erstwhile expression “Oui, Chef” now seems as dated as the stiff, hushed temples of gastronomy that were once the pinnacle of fine dining (stuffy hotel dining rooms, where the clink of china was more audible than conversation) – and they are no longer confined to the kitchen.

When I came to London first in the mid 1980s, the restaurant business as we know it today was but a tiny twinkle in the eyes of a small few. It was only when Bibendum opened in 1987 and I joined Simon Hopkinson and his kitchen crew there that I began to think there might be a serious future as a chef.

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Bland, awkward and awful – the BBC's disastrous attempt to recreate Bake Off

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 10:33:54 GMT

The Big Family Cooking Showdown kicked off last night … an insufferable, samey version of the original. Surely there was a stronger idea than this, BBC?

We see your game, BBC. You lost The Great British Bake Off and, in retaliation, you W1A-ed a rival show by running the phrase “The Great British Bake Off” backwards and forwards through Google Translate until it threw up a similar but workable format. That format is The Big Family Cooking Showdown and, based on last night’s opening episode, I am here to tell you everything that’s wrong with it.

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Cocktail of the week: Morning glory spritz – recipe

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:00:26 GMT

Long summer’s evening, plus whiskey, plus Pernod… Perfect

Much more classy than your standard whiskey sour, and perfect for long, hot evenings. Serves one.

50ml light Irish whiskey (we like Mitchell & Son’s Green Spot)
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tsp white sugar
1 egg white
1 dash Pernod (or similar anise)
Dash of soda, to top

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Picture Fitzrovia, London: ‘Exceptionally good’ – restaurant review

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 05:00:34 GMT

Abandoning his usual well-planned ways, Jay takes a last-minute chance on dinner – and to his surprise hits the jackpot

Picture Fitzrovia, 110 Great Portland Street, London W1W 6PQ (020 7637 7892). Meal for two including drinks and service: £120

As a restaurant critic, my body is not entirely my own; I sacrifice it weekly in the service of your reading pleasure. And then, through either self-denial or ugly straining in the gym, I declare war on the calories I have just eaten in the restaurants I have just visited so you wouldn’t have to. But what can I do? I am cursed with the sluggish metabolism of a Mitteleuropean peasant designed, by natural selection, to get through a harsh winter on the Russian steppe. It just happens that this peasant has been misplaced to metropolitan London where the only hunger gap I will ever encounter is the one between breakfast and lunch. Such is my privileged life.

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10 of the best beach bars in Portugal

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 05:30:34 GMT

With cold beer, caipirinhas and great seafood, these bars, from the Algarve up to Porto, are as hot, bright and breezy as the stunning Atlantic coastline itself
Best beach bars in France and Spain

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Kay Plunkett-Hogge’s recipe for cabbage stir-fried with fish sauce | Comment

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 11:00:21 GMT

Don’t be freaked out by the thought of including fish sauce in European or American food. Try it in this linguine and clams recipe ...

“I’ve just hired a Thai Texan,” David Thompson tells me over tea. “She was making some gumbo recently, and I said to her: ‘You know what that needs? Fish sauce.’ And she looked at me with stark horror … ”

This is not an unusual response. Many Thais see fish sauce as belonging exclusively to the Thai canon. Likewise, many westerners are freaked out by the thought of its inclusion in European or American food. As a child, my Bangkok-born mind thought fish sauce was, if not uniquely Thai, then at least particular to south-east Asia. But, aged 11, I found some anchovy essence in a cupboard in my gran’s Lewisham kitchen and realised the two condiments were loosely the same.

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Three cheers: a trio of English wines

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 05:00:05 GMT

Delicious home-grown wines made from the Bacchus grape

New Hall Bacchus, Essex 2016 (from £9.50, Newhall wines; Mr Wheeler Wine)
English winemaking used to be a rather eccentric, eclectic pursuit. Certainly, the set of grape varieties farmers used were not the kind you’d really find elsewhere in the world. They were mostly hybrids or crossings that had been bred for hardiness and early ripening, chosen for their ability to withstand the English climate rather than their reputation for making fabulous wine. Despite the fizzy gold rush that has, in the past couple of decades, filled English vineyards with Champagne’s chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, the eccentric originals survive and, in the case of white bacchus, thrive, not least in this zippy, citrussy example made by pioneering Essex producer, New Hall

Camel Valley Bacchus, Cornwall 2015 (£13.95, Camel Valley; Waitrose)
Given that English sparkling wine is so transparently inspired by champagne, there is a case to be made for bacchus being England’s signature wine style. Its origins are in Germany – it was bred in the Pfalz region in the 1930s from a crossing of silvaner and riesling with müller-thurgau – but its popularity there has dwindled, and most growers these days tend to use it as a bulk, blend makeweight. In England, by contrast, it’s proved capable of making wines that recall sauvignon blanc in their hedgerow leafy greenness and refreshing pulse of gooseberry and citrus. And it has found a home in vineyards from Suffolk to Camel Valley in Cornwall, where it yields an almost exotically fruited but racy example.

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Nigel Slater’s smoked trout colcannon recipe

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 11:00:20 GMT

Crushed spuds in a herby dressing with juicy chunks of fish

Put a deep pan of water on to boil and salt it lightly. Boil 200g of new potatoes for about 15 minutes until they are tender and crushable.

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Jeremy Lee’s alluring chocolate mousse recipe | King of puddings

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 10:00:11 GMT

A spoonful of real chocolate mousse is an alluring proposition. Do it justice and use the darkest chocolate imaginable for the finest possible result ...

Has there ever been a question quite so loaded with hope as: “Is there chocolate mousse for pudding?” One wouldn’t want to send one’s poor, hopeful diners into a gloomy decline with little chance of return … Might this be the reason why we put a chocolate mousse on the pudding menu at Quo Vadis, even giving the little pot of joy its own box? It is even given billing above chocolate profiteroles.

Chocolate mousse is as familiar to us all as The Sound of Music, the prospect of which excites the same range of emotions – from utter delight to utter dread. I confess to loving both the pudding and the musical. For now, though, I won’t waste another breath on Julie Andrews’ epic masterpiece, but I will happily talk chocolate mousse.

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Novel recipes: ice-cream floats from Agatha Christie's Crooked House

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 05:01:14 GMT

A brief jaunt for a sweet treat in one of Christie’s detective mysteries sparks inspiration in the mind and kitchen of Kate Young

  • Scroll down for the recipe

As Josephine looked mutinous, Edith added: ‘We’ll go into Longbridge and have an ice cream soda.’

Josephine’s eyes brightened and she said: ‘Two.’

Crooked House, Agatha Christie

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Elisabeth Luard: ‘My old table is the only thing that matters to me in my new kitchen’ | My kitchen

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 11:00:12 GMT

An irreplaceable handmade table laden with memories is the heart of the kitchen for celebrated food writer Elisabeth Luard. Here she shares an extract and recipes from her latest cookbook, Flavours of Andalucia.

About two months ago, I packed up my country home in Wales and moved to London. You’ve no idea how much stuff there was. Five bedrooms, outhouses, 100 acres of woodland, an enormous library, and everybody’s debris. I had to concentrate everything right down into what I really minded about. Getting rid of one’s life can be traumatic, but I found it liberating.

When my children were small, I moved the family to Tarifa in southern Spain. It was the 1960s, not long after the Civil War. We built a house in a cork oak forest. The table is from that time – made by a carpenter named Ramon Sosa, a republican who had to stay deep undercover – it’s made as a shipwright would make it, everything is tongue-and-groove. The inset tiles came a few years later, they’re from the 19th century. I scrub it with bleach when I feel like it. The children had every meal at this table, and would slide anything they didn’t want to eat into the drawers. It is the only thing that really matters to me in the whole kitchen, I can do without everything else, so the fact that it fits in my new flat – it’s about 8ft long – is thrilling.

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Thursday’s best TV: Top of the Lake; Princess Diana’s ‘Wicked’ Stepmother

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 05:01:28 GMT

Robin reconnects with her birth daughter but is less than impressed with her boyfriend. Plus: a profile of Princess Diana’s controversial confidante

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Apartheid, prohibition and Midori: how cocktails went from martinis to Mesha

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 18:00:01 GMT

From London’s Hanky Panky to Melbourne’s Japanese Slipper, new book Around the World in 80 Cocktails traces the geographical origins of mixed drinks

Travel has always been a part of the cocktail’s DNA. Early cocktail recipes called for American whiskey, British gin (itself a Dutch invention), Caribbean rum, French brandy, Italian vermouth, Spanish sherry and Portuguese madeira, among others. As travel and commerce have made the world smaller and better connected, the world of cocktails and mixed drinks has only become more diverse – and if you’ll excuse the pun – more cosmopolitan.

The new book Around the World in 80 Cocktails traces the cocktail’s journey around the globe, from the early 19th century through the 21st. Each of the cocktails collected in the book is linked to a place – sometimes literally and sometimes more metaphorically.

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Borough Market to phase out plastic bottle sales with free fountains

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 06:01:06 GMT

London’s historic food market also aims to achieve zero landfill with biodegradable packaging and compostable leftovers

London’s Borough Market is to introduce free drinking water fountains as part of a new pledge to phase out sales of all single-use plastic bottles over the next six months.

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The secrets of a maitre d’: what it’s really like feeding the 1%

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 14:41:41 GMT

The gatekeeper at a top London restaurant reveals which guests are likely to be blacklisted, how to get a table without booking – and why you will never be seated next to Adele

A great restaurant experience relies on four things: the food, the service, the company (that’s your job) and the atmosphere, which is down to the maitre d’. That’s me. By “atmosphere” I mean the music and the lighting, yes, but there’s only so much mood-setting Dave Brubeck and a few filament bulbs can do. In the end, it’s about the guests. The maitre d’ runs the reservations book, which means mixing the characters in the room like the drinks in a cocktail to get the right balance of shot and mixer, salty and sweet.

At a top London restaurant, you have the pick of the finest ingredients. I once spent several minutes chatting to celebrated California-based architect Frank Gehry about the urban contrasts between London and LA. Later that evening, Pharrell Williams told me how much he liked the meatballs. (Gehry and Williams weren’t dining together, although I’m sure they would get on.) Where else besides a chatshow studio would you so frequently encounter people at the top of their game in business, entertainment, sport and politics?

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The Guardian view on grocery wars: Lidl Britain | Editorial

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 18:12:01 GMT

Discount stores are upping their game. They have learned that price isn’t everything

British supermarkets were once an established social ecosystem: Waitrose and Marks & Spencer catered for the wealthy, Asda for the hard up, and Tesco and Sainsbury’s for everyone in between. Then a foreign species disturbed it. In the early 1990s, German discount stores Lidl and Aldi arrived in Britain, catering mostly for those who couldn’t afford to go anywhere else. Now they respectively make up 5.2% and 7% of the market, and are stuffed with middle-class shoppers, who shun Sainsbury’s Pimm’s for “Jeeves”, Lidl’s own brand version. On Tuesday Lidl overtook Waitrose to become Britain’s seventh largest grocer. It now has plans to open 60 new UK shops a year.

The success of these budget shops can be partly explained by a decade of stagnant incomes and government austerity. The depth of the recession, and now rising food price inflation, encouraged people to hunt down the cheap deals (one survey claims Lidl beats other stores on price by some 15%). It is also down to altered social trends. When faith in the banks took a hit in 2008, loyalty to other institutions, including large superstores, did too. Shopping habits became more fragmentary: people carrying their designer handbags would also wear socks from Primark (the effect is known as “Primarni”). If you bought your avocados in Waitrose, you might also buy your milk from Morrisons or Aldi. And as more young people head online for their groceries, supermarkets are competing over a population of ageing shoppers who have the time to look around for the cheapest option.

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How to crowdfund a restaurant empire

Sun, 16 Jul 2017 12:00:21 GMT

When award-winning chef Gary Usher was turned down by the bank for a loan to open a second restaurant, he set up a crowdfunding campaign. Now he’s about to launch his fourth restaurant

All restaurants have a coming-of-age moment, the point at which they survive and thrive, or go down fighting. For Gary Usher’s Sticky Walnut, in a two-up two-down house in Hoole, just outside Chester, that moment came in 2013, about 18 months after they had opened. Usher, like any ambitious young chef starting out on his own aged 30, had ploughed every penny he had into Sticky Walnut. He had gone back to Chester to open the restaurant – not far from where he had started out working in pubs – after successful stints in London at Michelin-starred Chez Bruce, and running Gordon Ramsay and Angela Hartnett’s kitchen at the York & Albany. He couldn’t afford to fail.

Sticky Walnut had started well. He was getting good local reviews, doing healthy evening business and was packed at weekends. But the busier he got, the hotter the two rooms of the restaurant became. Usher couldn’t afford air conditioning and in the heat of the summer, diners literally started passing out. “We were essentiallycarrying people out, Fridays and Saturdays, mostly older people,” he says, “which obviously wasn’t ideal.” To install air con upstairs and downstairs would cost £10,000. Usher went to the bank and told them how Sticky Walnut had quadrupled the turnover of the previous restaurant in the building, but how they really need this small loan so they could stay busy and people didn’t keep fainting. The bank said no.

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Kitchen gadgets review: the One Precision poacher – a crime against brunch

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 08:00:09 GMT

Most of the settings on this egg cooker work perfectly well, but the watery bolus produced by its ‘eggspert’ setting is unforgiveable

The One Precision poacher by Sage (sageappliances.co.uk, £169.95). Metal pot and wand thermistor sitting on a conduction plate. Monitors and calibrates the temperature of the water for precision cooking.

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Why we fell for clean eating

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 05:00:49 GMT

The oh-so-Instagrammable food movement has been thoroughly debunked – but it shows no signs of going away. The real question is why we were so desperate to believe it. By Bee Wilson

In the spring of 2014, Jordan Younger noticed that her hair was falling out in clumps. “Not cool” was her reaction. At the time, Younger, 23, believed herself to be eating the healthiest of all possible diets. She was a “gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-free, grain-free, legume-free, plant-based raw vegan”. As The Blonde Vegan, Younger was a “wellness” blogger in New York City, one of thousands on Instagram (where she had 70,000 followers) rallying under the hashtag #eatclean. Although she had no qualifications as a nutritionist, Younger had sold more than 40,000 copies of her own $25, five-day “cleanse” programme – a formula for an all-raw, plant-based diet majoring on green juice.

But the “clean” diet that Younger was selling as the route to health was making its creator sick. Far from being super-healthy, she was suffering from a serious eating disorder: orthorexia, an obsession with consuming only foods that are pure and perfect. Younger’s raw vegan diet had caused her periods to stop and given her skin an orange tinge from all the sweet potato and carrots she consumed (the only carbohydrates she permitted herself). Eventually, she sought psychological help, and began to slowly widen the repertoire of foods she would allow herself to eat, starting with fish. She recognised that the problem was not her veganism, per se, but the particularly rigid and restrictive diet regime she had imposed on herself.

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Nigel Slater’s avocado and smoked salmon tortilla recipe

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 11:00:37 GMT

A light supper – perfect for Sunday nights

Halve, stone and peel 2 ripe avocados, put them in a mixing bowl then crush them roughly with a fork. Thinly slice a couple of spring onions and add them to the bowl. Finely shred 6 large mint leaves, and finely chop 1 small, hot red chilli then fold them into the avocado. Tear up a handful of coriander leaves, add to the avocado, squeeze over the juice of a lime and season with black pepper.

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A bit vanilla ... in defence of our most dependable ice-cream flavour

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 12:01:47 GMT

A rise in unusual, Instagrammable flavours such as matcha, allied with the rising costs of Madagascan pods have threatened the dominance of Britain’s favourite scoop. But there will always be a place on our plates for vanilla ice-cream

Plain. Conventional. Unimaginative. That’s vanilla.

Or rather, that’s vanilla when it’s used to describe sex – the word has become synonymous with boring, lights-off, one-partner, no-cuffs action. Even if you like it that way, no one wants to be described, dismissively, as “vanilla”.

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Drink: can cans usurp bottles as the containers of the future?

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 16:00:20 GMT

You can buy anything in a can these days

The biggest drinks trend this year, to my mind, has not been any specific bevvy (though adult soft drinks run it close), but the continued rise in popularity of cans – the latest being still water, which surprisingly overtook cola last year, according to figures from the admittedly partial industry association Can Makers.

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BBC accuses Channel 4 of 'cynical move' in Bake Off scheduling clash

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 18:03:43 GMT

Corporation moves The Big Family Cooking Showdown to new slot to prevent ratings war with hit show poached by rival

The BBC has accused Channel 4 of a “cynical move” by scheduling the return of the The Great British Bake Off against its new cooking programme The Big Family Cooking Showdown, sparking a fresh clash between the broadcasters over the most popular show on British television last year.

Channel 4 will air the first episode of The Great British Bake Off since it controversially poached the programme from the BBC on Tuesday 29 August at 8pm, clashing with the slot for The Big Family Cooking Showdown, which started this week on the BBC.

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Around the world in six cookbooks | Cookbook review

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 09:00:09 GMT

Review: Bring back those travelling memories from the comfort of your kitchen with our pick of the best new cookbooks celebrating six countries’ cuisines

Ino Kuvacic (Hardie Grant)

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The Himalayas or Rennes: where to find a good cup of tea | Letters

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 17:31:29 GMT

Dave Wilcox found his best cuppa on the hippy trail in India, while Karey Hunter discovered it in France

I have some sympathy with Craig Wright’s view (Letters, 19 August) that too many coffee houses make lousy tea. On the hippy trail to India in the early 1970s I tasted locally grown and picked tea, freshly prepared by the roadside beneath the foothills of the Himalayas. A man with a dazzling smile added tea, milk and sugar to a simmering water pot, let it bubble and then sieved the boiling liquid into a cup. It was as “decent” a cuppa I’d tasted before and since. Tea fanatics need to be cautious in asserting that England knows best. If we’re not vigilant they could even start claiming it’s made in Yorkshire.
Dave Wilcox
Tintwistle, Derbyshire

• Mr Wright might like to visit the Salon du Thé in Rennes, Brittany, for a really good cup of tea. The tea is served in a teapot, and the tray also carries an egg timer. You are not allowed to pour the tea until the sand has run out. We ordered three different kinds of tea – English Breakfast, Darjeeling and Russian – and received three different sizes of egg timer.
Karey Hunter

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'Burgundy is pastoral, like a Constable painting – I love it': actor Lambert Wilson

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 11:30:22 GMT

The star of the new Cousteau film, The Odyssey, loves the area’s food and waterways. Its chateaux and abbeys are worth a look, too!

Burgundy is huge: it starts 80km south-east of Paris and stretches past Mâcon, not far from Lyon. I particularly love the lesser-known north, the Yonne department, where I live. People are familiar with the wine areas but this area is really special.

When I was a kid my family used to drive from Paris to the south of France in a Citroen – my father smoking all the way. I always remember the scenery near the motorway exit at Semur-en-Auxois: it was hilly, soft and green, not like the wheat fields you see over thousands of acres of the country. It was pastoral, like a painting by Constable – and I loved it. The stone in Burgundy’s villages is very beautiful too: it’s a whiteish gold, less yellow than the Cotswolds.

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Cuban entrepreneurs take a bigger slice of profits thanks to reforms

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 11:00:41 GMT

Small enterprises, such as pizzerias in Havana, are springing up all over Cuba after 2011 licensing changes and relaxed US restrictions on tourism

Pizza is falling from the sky in Havana … Actually, it’s being lowered in a basket from a third-floor balcony belonging to a small pizzeria called A Mi Manera, run by two Cuban cuentapropistas, or entrepreneurs, Marta María del Barrio and Marta Juana Castañeda in densely populated Centro Habana. Business is booming and they open from 9am until midnight every day – Castañeda is adamant they take no holidays.

Cubans call this street food pizza de cinco pesos because five pesos (15p today) used to be the standard price in a country where the average monthly wage was about £15. But things are changing. In 2011, Raúl Castro’s economic reforms permitted individuals to take out private business licences. A decade ago, pizzerias were few and far between; now, they are all over the city.

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How to cook like a pro. Step one: listen to the sound your food makes

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 11:00:41 GMT

Samin Nosrat could barely dice vegetables when she began working in Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse in California. Here, she reveals how learning to tune in to all of her senses changed everything

I was born in San Diego in 1979, on the eve of the Iranian revolution, and my twin brothers followed a few years later. My parents had arrived there several years earlier, unsure whether they’d ever be able to return to Iran. So our mum made it a priority to immerse us in the culture of our homeland. Maman especially infused our food with that sense of heritage. The highest compliment anyone could give a food was that it “tasted like Iran”. Having never been to Iran, I had no idea what this meant. But the search for that taste of home motivated Maman in her shopping and her cooking. My brothers and I spent nearly half of our childhood packed into our blue Volvo station wagon as Maman traversed San Diego and its bordering counties in search of the cheese, bread, lamb, citrus, fish and herbs that could transport her back to Iran.

Then, each night, we’d gather around the table with our aunts, uncles and grandparents to dine upon fragrant heaps of saffron rice, steaming pots of stew, fresh herbs and yogurt. I loved all of the aromas and flavours – the heavenly scent of rosewater, the sour shock of pomegranate seeds and plum leather, sweet quince preserves and salty feta cheese. As a kid, I was always aware that I wasn’t really American or Iranian. I had some sort of third, nameless identity, But my palate? It was the most Persian part of me.

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Tiko Tuskadze: from Georgia with a passionate love of food

Sat, 29 Jul 2017 05:30:42 GMT

For the restaurateur, watching her grandmother and aunt cook instinctively and exquisitely was the inspiration for her own career

Tiko Tuskadze grew up in Tbilisi in the Soviet republic of Georgia as an only child in a family where food dominated. She had two formidable grandmothers: one who loved to cook and one who hated it. Both had a ritualistic approach to mealtimes. “My mother’s mother, Pati, was very different to the other side of the family,” she says. “For her, food was made because you had to eat. With Tina, my father’s mother, you lived for eating. She would say to her neighbours, ‘Don’t make anything for dinner, come to ours.’”

Tuskadze went on to introduce Georgian cuisine to London with her Little Georgia restaurants (in Hackney and Islington). Her aunt Nana, her father’s sister, is immortalised in Nigella Lawson’s book Feast: “Nana’s Hachapuri” is a tribute to the Georgian cheese bread that featured everywhere in Tuskadze’s childhood.

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Bake Off first-look review – exceedingly good, despite switch to Channel 4

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 23:01:05 GMT

The new series loses the BBC’s worst bits while sticking to the winning recipe

Fans annoyed by the big money transfer of the Great British Bake Off from the BBC to Channel 4 will be hoping to throw insults like “half-baked”, “overdone’, “burnt out” and “stale” at the show’s debut in its new home next Tuesday.

But on the evidence of the first episode, Channel 4 and Love Productions, who make the programme, have achieved the most difficult of all bakery-related metaphors – having their cake and eating it. The eighth series of the extreme patisserie challenge manages to seem both exactly the same but also just subtly different enough.

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Galicia coast holiday guide: the best beaches, bars, restaurants and hotels

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 06:00:06 GMT

White sandy beaches, epic Atlantic scenery and supreme seafood combine to great effect on Spain’s most beautiful coastline

Lush green valleys and rugged mountains, sheer cliffs and wild, frothing, slate-grey seas. Bagpipes, baroque cathedrals and the smell of grilled seafood. The architectural grace of Santiago de Compostela and the industrial churn of Vigo. Galicia, the north-west corner of Spain, is a diverse region, but amid the variety there are two constants: first, it’s one of the best places to eat seafood in the world; and, second, its wild landscape, seemingly more Scottish than Spanish, is the most beautiful on the Iberian peninsula.

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Sommeliers are not the new rock stars of food and drink – they’re the new DJs

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 11:30:41 GMT

Obsessive about their subject, the talent of the new breed of master sommeliers lies in shaping the mood and lining up seamless food and wine matches

Not so long ago, the phrase “star sommelier” would have been considered an oxymoron in the English-speaking world. Wine waiting was not seen as a career for the ambitious. It was reserved for the kind of man (and it was almost always a man) who takes pleasure in making sarcastic remarks while quizzing timid customers about the contents of his big, leather-bound book of potential faux pas, or shaming them into spending more money than they want on something they’ve never heard of.

Such was the stereotype. Today things are rather different. Or at least, they are in the US, where leading sommeliers are treated with something of the reverence and respect afforded to chefs, with huge salaries, book deals and reality TV shows (Uncorked). As the chef Michael Mina puts it in the documentary Somm, these are “the new rock stars of the industry”.

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Nigel Slater’s late summer fruit recipes

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 07:00:05 GMT

Canteloupe gazpacho, nectarine tabbouleh and sausage wellington with plum sauce: celebrate the season’s bounty while you can

Late summer is the high point of the fruit season. The berries and currants are still with us, the melons are plentiful and cheap and the plums just coming into their own. I am celebrating this bounty, not just with cakes and salads, but with main dishes too. A fat, spiced sausage roll with plum sauce, a refreshing parsley and nectarine salad and a fabulous chilled soup with ripe, golden cantaloupe have all been on the table this week. I have even been making jam, stashing away some of the season’s fruitfulness for colder days.

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The best of northern Spain: readers’ travel tips

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 05:30:00 GMT

Forget crowded Med beaches: the four coastal regions of España Verde offer cool cities, wild shores and great walking in verdant coast and mountains

If you’d rather stray far from the tourist trail, the Basque Coast Geopark is a delight. It’s a protected area of the coastline around Mutriku, Deba, and Zumaia. There are 13km of cliffs made up of flysch (shale bed) deposits which have created layered and bizarre rock formations. We felt as though we were on the set of Jurassic Park. These staggering cliffs show how the Earth changed over millions of years and fossils are plentiful for the kids to admire. A boat tour is a great way to see it and costs €20 adult, €10 under-12s.
Lisa Anderson

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Rachel Roddy’s recipe for ricotta, lemon and olive oil ring cake | A kitchen in Rome

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 11:24:08 GMT

The local bar’s former owner will always be remembered for his ciambellone ring cake. This version blends ricotta, olive oil and lemon – so easy and delicious that it’s always time for cake

There were so many delays in the renovations of Moka in Testaccio that I dared to hope it would never happen. Then it did. Toni retired to his garden and, like so many others in Rome, the old market bar was given a vigorous facelift: 50 years of wrinkles, coffee stains and smoke swirls, but also life and experience, were smoothed and sanded. Progress, I know, but what sadness when history is swept away like that.

I just hope somebody saved the zinc bar with its panelled base, the chiller cabinet that once upon a time dispensed wine like petrol, the fridges and luminous latteria sign, the woven plastic chairs, the coloured cups and saucers that were a bit too thick, the heavyweight juicer, and the plastic dome with an orange base that provided a home for a ciambellone cakes.

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The week in TV: No More Boys and Girls: Can Kids Go Gender Free?; The Big Family Cooking Showdown and more

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 05:59:35 GMT

A documentary about gender and the Beeb’s Bake Off wannabe weren’t quite as described on the tin. But Valkyrien zipped along furiously

No More Boys and Girls: Can Kids Go Gender Free? (BBC2) | iPlayer
The Big Family Cooking Showdown (BBC2) | iPlayer
Valkyrien (C4) | All 4
Dangerous Borders (BBC2) | iPlayer
Quacks (BBC2) | iPlayer

Pointlessly unwieldy title of the week – against, as we shall come to see, some stiff competition – was No More Boys and Girls: Can Kids Go Gender Free? Managing to combine foot-in-mouth length and borderline dystopian threats with that irreducibly twee ‘kids’, it turned out to encompass nothing more sinister than an exploration of simple equality: the first of a rather splendid two-parter in which Dr Javed Abdelmoneim aided by some impossibly sunny children and teachers on the Isle of Wight, sought simply to address the balance in expectations among seven-year-olds, depending on whether they’re a boy or a girl.

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How Britain fell for Wetherspoon’s

Sun, 06 Aug 2017 07:00:34 GMT

Wetherspoon’s has won a special place in our hearts, bourgeois snobbery notwithstanding. As it nears its 40th birthday, Ed Cumming visits his local

Honestly, this is nicer than the X,” says my girlfriend, referencing an international luxury hotel brand whose name you would know but whose favour, as a travel writer, she is keen not to lose.

The problem is that we are not staying with a rival luxury hotel chain. We’re in a Spoons. More specifically, we are in the Greenwood in Sudbury Hill, west London, sampling one of the 40 hotels JD Wetherspoon now operates around the country. Our entire stay, including room, dinner, drinks and breakfast for two, will come to less than a single round of drinks I bought in a bar in Soho the previous week. But, as I look up at the ceiling, my belly full of steak and beer, lying in the comfortable bed, clean from the hot shower, I think: maybe she has a point. Then I begin to question some of my other consumer choices.

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Cava, the Catalan answer to champagne

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 05:00:34 GMT

Three fine examples of sophisticated yet sensibly priced Spanish fizz

Heretat El Padruell Cava, Spain NV (£8.50, Marks & Spencer)

Why have the British ditched cava for prosecco? According to figures released this summer, exports of the Spanish fizz to the UK dropped by 18% during 2016, while those of the spritztastic Italian continued to soar. For producers in cava’s Catalan home of Penedès (a small amount is also made in other parts of Spain), this is a bitter pill to swallow: they would tell you that theirs is a much higher-quality product, getting its fizz from the labour-intensive practice of bottle-fermentation rather than the more industrial tank method of most prosecco. Despite this, prices can be more than a match for their Italian rival in wines such as M&S’s white blend, an engagingly creamy mix of pear and crisp green apple.

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Beet it! Why beetroot is this summer’s barbecue menu must-have

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 16:36:06 GMT

The root is having a renaissance with the introduction of Tesco’s veggie burgers, adding a pop of colour to this season’s grills

Juicy, red, delicious and hot off the barbecue. Roll up, roll up, vegetarians, your burger is ready. This isn’t a carnivore’s intervention. The burger that is on everyone’s lips is made of beetroot and is more than welcome for non-meat-eaters fed up of filling up on salad at every summer party.

You know a trend – in this case, plant-heavy menus – has reached critical mass when the supermarkets get on board. In this case, Tesco is selling beetroot burgers at £2.25 for two and, according to reports, they’re selling like hot (veggie) cakes.

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Giorgio Locatelli: new cookbook, new TV show, new lease of life

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 10:00:40 GMT

With his first cookbook in six years and The Big Family Cooking Showdown on BBC2, Britain’s favourite Italian chef is finally getting over the explosion that shut Locanda Locatelli for months

  • The only four spaghetti recipes you will ever need, by Giorgio Locatelli

If the 55-year-old chef Giorgio Locatelli suddenly seems everywhere– as a judge on the Bake Off rival, The Big Family Cooking Showdown, which began on BBC2 last week; promoting a new cookbook, Made at Home, his first for six years; the return in the new year of his much-loved travel documentaries with art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon – there’s a reason for that. It has come from a plan he made almost three years ago, with his wife and business partner Plaxy, when he thought his career was over.

In November 2014, Locanda Locatelli, his Michelin-starred restaurant in central London, blew up. There was a gas leak and, on a busy Friday night, a huge explosion. One person was trapped under a collapsed wall, but there were no serious injuries. For months, there was no water and electricity and the restaurant had to stay closed. Locatelli knew that he should probably fold the business, make his staff redundant. But Christmas was coming up, and some of his team had been with him for 12 years, since the restaurant opened.

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Why is London so expensive? You asked Google – here’s the answer | Jonn Elledge

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 07:00:07 GMT

Every day millions of internet users ask Google life’s most difficult questions, big and small. Our writers answer some of the commonest queries

There’s a great recurring joke in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s comedy Fleabag. The lead character, played by the writer herself, scratches a living by running a cafe, but doesn’t quite seem to know what she’s doing. Consequently, whenever a customer asks her for, say, a cup of coffee and a panini, she’ll blurt out the first ridiculous figure that pops into her head (“Twenty pounds, please”). These prices get increasingly outlandish as the show goes on, yet each time, the customer will hiss something like “Bloody London”, and pay up.

The reason this joke works, I think, is because this is what living in London is genuinely like. Prices are so ridiculous that it can feel as if there are magnets at the door of each shop, ready to drain all the change from your pockets and wipe your debit card to boot. Spending £20 on a coffee and a sandwich is still at the upper end, sure; but there are definitely places where you can blow £10 without buying anything particularly exotic.

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Family life: My mother on the beach in Germany; The Laughing Policeman; and first-night dinner

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 05:45:06 GMT

Readers’ favourite photographs, songs and recipes

“That’s my grandfather’s handwriting on the photograph and that’s his advertising flag,” said the young man. I was at the Photohaus Knospe shop in Sellin, Rügen Island, on Germany’s Baltic coast. The photograph, which includes my mother and grandmother, was taken in 1933 by Hans Knospe, who established the photography business now run by his son and grandson.

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Prepare for the best series of Bake Off yet, says judge Paul Hollywood

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 23:01:05 GMT

Only star to follow show from BBC to Channel 4 says at launch that fans will be won over by first episode of new series

Paul Hollywood has said the Great British Bake Off has not changed despite its move from BBC to Channel 4 and the departure of fellow judge Mary Berry and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins.

The programme was the most-watched on British television last year and the news of its move, along with the exit of key talent, caused some fans to panic that its character would change beyond recognition. But those involved with the programme were eager to reassure viewers at a launch event before its return to screens next Tuesday.

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A Ferrante feast: a night out in support of global literacy

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:48:51 GMT

Elena Ferrante’s books evoke Naples in all its drama, and inspired a Neapolitan fundraising feast for Worldreader, in the heart of urban London – testament to the power of food and literature to do good

See the photo gallery here!

A group of clamorous punters gather around a table on the cobbles. They’ve come to the pavement to escape the heat of the kitchen. Dodging crates of tomatoes, waiters dole out dishes piled high with fried things – mozzarella, prawns, courgette flowers – and bruschetta. The voice of Fred Buscaglione crackles from a speaker, just-heard over calls for Campari and the clatter of plates.

You’d be forgiven for thinking we were in Italy. Yet this is east London, just off Columbia Road. We are at Campania & Jones, a southern Italian restaurant housed in a 19th-century dairy, which, like the wardrobe to Narnia, feels like a magic gateway to Naples. This evening, the restaurant, Cook editor Mina Holland, columnist Rachel Roddy and myself are collaborating on a dinner (see gallery) celebrating the transformative power of books and food in aid of the Worldreader charity.

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Honesty box – or dishonesty box?

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 07:00:05 GMT

The light-fingered might take advantage of the honesty box, but for the creative cook it provides a roadside recipe challenge

Our garden is fairly dinky: no room, really, for veg, though at one end there does stand a senior and increasingly frail-looking plum tree. Nevertheless, this year we have an unaccountable surfeit of green stuff, some flowers having self-seeded to an almost freakish degree. Digging up a few, Derek, who visits once a year in order bravely to wrestle our triffid-like wisteria, pondered what we might do with the rest. “Maybe you should put an honesty box out front, and try to sell them,” he said. What? I gave him a narrow look. Dishonesty box more like. That very week, someone had gone to the trouble of nicking a five-inch-long strip of lead from the roof of our crumbling coal hole. That, too, is out front, trying hard to look dignified among the ketchup-smeared polystyrene cartons chucked in its direction on a seemingly almost hourly basis.

I went inside, thinking mournfully of that semi-mythical place, the country, where shiny people in ebullient wellingtons would doubtless be more than willing to hand over their spare change for my mighty agapanthus. But no! Moments later, on to my screen it came: an everyday story of Norfolk farmers and the trouble they’d had with their honesty box. In Wymondham, David and Julie Barber have grown so fed up with people taking eggs without paying for them (about 40% of their produce, they reckon, was essentially being nicked), they’ve taken drastic action. Outside their farm is a newly installed vending machine. Henceforth, eggs will be released to customers only once payment has been safely received.

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Thomasina Miers’ recipe for Moroccan chicken tray bake

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:00:27 GMT

Bring the scents and flavours of Morocco into your home with this cinch of a chicken recipe

Imagine yourself sitting in a sun-soaked, dappled courtyard filled with lemon trees, an intricate mosaic underfoot. Whether or not you are able to go abroad this summer, one way to evoke a real sense of somewhere else is through its food. So this week, I bring you Morocco, by means of a heady mix of aromas, tastes and textures. If you think the recipe looks too much from the length of its list of ingredients, think again: it is no more than a simple job of assembling a few aromatic spices, slathering them all over some chicken legs and sticking the lot in an oven to bake. This is one for romantics who, while they may not have a tagine (a traditional Moroccan clay cooking pot with a conical lid), still want to feel as if they’re having lunch on the Formica table of some north African souk, complete with hot black mint tea.

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GM salmon: want to try it or avoid it? Either way, good luck

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 11:00:12 GMT

Labeling for GM foods is not required by law in the US or Canada, but surveys show consumers want their food – particularly transgenic animals – to be labeled

If you want to sample the world’s first animal to be genetically engineered in the name of dinner, good luck finding it. If, on the other hand, you would never eat such a thing – good luck avoiding it.

Tons of lab-developed salmon was sold in Canada last year without any packaging labeling it as a product of science, and the company that created and raises the fish, AquaBounty, won’t release the names of food distributors it sells to.

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Alabama pit stops: 5 of the best gas station barbecue joints

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 10:58:20 GMT

Alabama excels at the gas station barbecue – a sub-genre of one of the few truly American cuisines – which is tailor-made for lovers of the open road
Barbecue is serious stuff: tell us about your favourite place in the comments

Gas station barbecue is just what it says it is: homespun food, cooked yards from the petrol pumps, in small kitchens. Ribs, pulled pork and chicken wings are served on paper plates at simple table settings inside the garages, overlooking aisles stacked with engine oil, anti-freeze and rubber hoses. It is not surprising Alabama excels at this road-trip cuisine of convenience: the deep south’s Yellowhammer State reputedly has the most barbecue restaurants per capita of anywhere in the US.

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Alain Senderens obituary

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 12:02:23 GMT

Leading French chef and one of the founders of the nouvelle cuisine movement

Alain Senderens, who has died aged 77, was one of a small group of French chefs whose nouvelle cuisine transformed European cooking in the late 1960s and early 70s, not only by the rejection of elaborate dishes heavily doused with cream, fats and flour-thickened sauces, but also by their declaration of the independence of the chef-patron, and their willingness to absorb ideas from sometimes alien cultures.

In 1985, moving from his small restaurant, L’Archestrate (named after the ancient Greek gastronomic poet Archestratus), Senderens took by storm one of those citadels of the old ways of cooking, the restaurant Lucas Carton on the Place de la Madeleine, which had served Paris since 1860. However, he shocked the gastronomic establishment in 2005 by “returning” his three Michelin stars and transforming the restaurant, of which he now had sole ownership and which he rechristened Senderens, into somewhere that served food of the highest quality, but without the “tra-la-las and chichi” of high-end dining.

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Rachel Roddy’s recipe for aubergine, tomato and ricotta bake | A kitchen in Rome

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 11:29:39 GMT

The siren call of simmering tomatoes will draw hungry souls to your door. Layered into a bake inspired by Richard Olney, with ricotta and slices of deep-fried aubergine, it begs for a hunk of bread to mop it all up

By the time I arrived, Gisella, along with her sister and mother, had already peeled 30 kilos of tomatoes, which were draining in large sieves, steadily depositing pale red drips into the bowls beneath. Temperatures have remained doggedly around 45C (113F) in Sicily this last week, so steady too were the drips of sweat running down the sides and napes of everyone’s necks. “It’s the hottest 8 August since 1800,” noted Gisella’s husband Rodolfo, who was standing in the street, just outside the garage door.

“Do you want to watch or help?” Gisella asked. “Help,” I said, at which point an office chair on wheels was rolled from the workbench up to a large, blue plastic tub in the middle of the garage. At first glance, it seemed the tub was full of soupy sauce. I soon realised it was simply water stained red with seeds, skin and juice. The tomatoes – a round, fluted variety - were bobbing at the bottom of the tub and needed fishing out.

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Meera Sodha’s tomato curry recipe

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 08:30:09 GMT

In India, tomatoes tend to be used as a background ingredient, with the odd, and very tasty, exception

Last year I moved house and finally got a patch of earth to call my own. The first thing I did was plant seeds of my favourite vegetables in every inch of soil. I soon learned, however, that there’s a hierarchy of joy when it comes to home-growing, and there’s nothing I’d rather get dirt under my fingernails for than a tomato: I could inhale the smell of those vines for hours. It’s a deeply seductive fragrance of sweet tobacco and heady days in the sun. But the smell is a drawn-out tease, the start of a long drumroll, because the fruits take their time to arrive. When they do, they come in gangs: too few to too many in a matter of days.

India has a vast library of dishes that use tomatoes, but they tend to be in the background. Rarely are they the star, as they are in so many Mediterranean dishes, from spaghetti napoletana to gazpacho, which are built tomato-first. We have just a few rare jewels that truly celebrate the tomato, such as Keralan tomato fry and Gujarati sev tameta shaak; but it’s thakkali kuzhambu, from Tamil Nadu, on which today’s recipe is (very) loosely based. The sweetness and acidity of tomatoes is married to classic pickling spices, then tempered with curry leaves, tamarind and coconut: the ingredients that define south Indian cooking.

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Think you know what fish is in your sushi? Think again

Sat, 15 Jul 2017 23:04:05 GMT

Exotic tropical species being mis-sold to British customers who can’t tell their mackerel from their herring, research shows

Sushi bars and shops are regularly mis-selling exotic species of fish to unwitting British customers, according to new research.

In cases cited in the report, customers thought they were buying a fish from the Atlantic when it was really a tropical variety, while many fish were sold under a generic name that revealed little about where they came from. Some of the species were endangered, while others were so rare that little was known about their population size. The findings suggest that an increasingly complex and globalised food supply chain is open to abuse, putting exotic species at risk.

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Stefano Manfredi's Roman pizza with eggplant parmigiana recipe

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 00:39:38 GMT

The Italian-Australian chef takes on a classic parmigiana – albeit in a shape of a Roman pizza

  • Stefano Manfredi’s smoked leg ham, mushroom and sage pizza

Everybody loves a good eggplant parmigiana. This is a homage to that great dish, albeit in the shape of a Roman pizza.

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Nigel Slater’s bruschetta and taramasalata recipes

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 05:00:34 GMT

For a light lunch, you can’t go wrong with Italy’s favourite antipasto. Just add tomatoes, feta or smoked cod’s roe

A fresh, soft loaf is the one I like for bruschetta, slightly awkward to slice but better for getting a rough surface to each piece. The ridges and furrows of a badly cut slice of bread are far more interesting when toasted than a perfectly flat slice with its uniform brown. They are more interesting to eat, but also better for rubbing the cut side of a garlic clove on.

A badly cut slice of bread is far more interesting when toasted than a perfect one

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Who wants to share their plate? Definitely not me

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 11:00:06 GMT

You can hardly escape sharing plates when you eat out – but who gets the last bite? Time to embrace your inner glutton …

And so, it’s farewell once more to the asparagus season. Personally, I’m delighted to see the back of it. This isn’t to do with disliking asparagus. I love it: boiled, chargrilled, as part of an edible re-creation of Stonehenge. I’ll take it any which way. The problem is one of mathematics. It’s not unique to asparagus, but this season its popularity has highlighted the issue.

Simply put, the asparagus of 2017 was at the heart of what I call The Casual Dining Paradox. The paradox being that the more casual the dining concept, the more socially complicated the experience becomes. Because just how the hell do you split a sharing plate of seven asparagus spears between two? There are, to be fair, other reasons to hate the whole sharing-plate thing: the fact that there’s not a waiter alive who can say the words “we have a sharing-plate concept here” without sounding like an arse; the suspicion it’s a sneaky encouragement to order more than you otherwise would; the way the table clutters with dishes which have no business loitering in each other’s company. But key to it is the whole numbers game.

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Tenerife's pop-up restaurants: tradition and taste – without the hype

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 11:00:12 GMT

In sheds, gardens and fields in the north of the island, wine growers run makeshift guachinches, selling their own wine and excellent local food

In the green, wine-growing areas of northern Tenerife, sharp-eyed visitors might spot makeshift restaurants in garages and courtyards. These unpretentious places are guachinches, originally outlets for small growers to sell their surplus wine. The atmosphere is convivial and relaxed. Oilcloths in vibrant colours cover the tables and they are traditional, family-run affairs: the men selling the wine and women in charge of the food.

Cheese, bread and wine – mostly red – arrive first. The menus, with low prices (and cash only), feature traditional dishes such as carne cabra (goat meat), garbanzas (chickpea stew), papas arrugadas (Canarian boiled potatoes with a wrinkly, salty crust) or carne fiesta (marinated fried pork).

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