Sunday, September 04, 2016

What have the French ever done for us ? ( Gastronomically speaking )


Over the last ten years or so what the French call ‘Anglo Saxon” press have suggested that French Gastronomy has been in steady decline whilst at the same time overstating the improvements in both the US and the UK.

Reasons for the so call decline that tend to be sited are to do with the “rigid labour market, minimum working week legislation as well as demographic changes common in many advanced first world economies.

It is also suggested that in France, Chef’s and the populace in general are not open to new ideas and influences emanating from other food cultures. Continue reading here

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Best of London Food and Beverage 2015

Here is my list of best of London food shops , restaurants and wine establishments for 2015.

Best Restaurant(s) in London : Hedone , Dinner , Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road , The Greenhouse and The Ledbury

Best Sourcing and Ingredients : Hedone

Best Restaurant Wine Lists : Pollen St Social , Chez Bruce  , The Greenhouse , Hedone and Taillvent 110

Best New Openings : Bonhams , Noble Rot , Lyles , Hoppers , L'Amorosa and Sartoria ( Francesco Mazzei)

Best Argentinian : Zoilo

Best Italian Restaurant (Southern) :  Quattro Passi

Best Italian Restaurant (Northern) :  Novikov , Locanda Locatelli

Best Pan Italian :  , River Café Tinello  ,  Enoteca Turi , (Francesco Mazzei 's) Sartoria and L'Amorosa

Best Trattoria : Mele e Pere  Antico and Artusi

Best Casual Indian :  Chai Ki

Best Indian (Modern) : Roti Chai and Gymkhana

Best Pakistani :  Saloos 

Best Chinese : Hunan , Kai , HKK and A Wong

Best Dim Sum :  A Wong  and Royal China (Baker St)

Best Thai :  Heron and Som Sa

Best Fusion : Novikov 

Best Japanese : The Araki

Best Vietnamese : head to Paris or Vietnam

Best Lebanese/Syrian : Ishbilia  Knightsbridge and Meza , Tooting

Best Greek : The Greek Larder

Best "Politiki Kouzina " Peckham Bazaar 

Best Turkish : Mangal Ocakbasi (Stoke Newington)

Best Sushi : Sushi Tetsu , Yashin Sushi

Best French : Hibiscus , Gauthier Soho , Club Gascon and The Greenhouse

Best Modern British/European : The Ledbury , Kitchen Table and The Clove Club

Best Spanish : Cambio de Tercio  and  Pizarro 

Best Tapas : Tendido Cedro , Barrafina and José

Best English : St John's , Gillrays

Best Fish/Seafood : One - O - One , Knightsbridge 

Best Gastro Pub : Harwood Arms , Anchor and Hope , Great Queen St

Best Service : Galvin's Windows and Cambio de Tercio

Best Sandwich : Kappacaseins Cheese Toastie

Best Pub : The Hourglass

Best Selection of Craft Beer :  The Rake , Drafhouse ( various)

Best Wine Bar : 40 Maltby St , Antidote Wine Bar and Noble Rot

Best Brasserie : Bob Bob Ricard , Brasserie Chavot

Best Neighbourhood Restaurants : L'Amorosa , Peckham Baazar and 

Best Mavericks : Brunswick House Café , Dock Kitchen , Moro , and 40 Maltby St

Best French Bistro/Bourgeois Cooking : Brasserie Chavot , Casse Croûte  and Koffmann's

Best Burger :  Little Social 

Best "joint" Burger :  Tommi's , Meat Market , Meat Liquor , Bleecker St  and Patty Bun

Best Chain Burger : Byron and  Honest Burgers

Best Steak : Gillrays and Goodman

Best Steak Restaurants : Gillrays, Hawksmoor , Sophie's and Goodman

Best Pizza :  Santa Maria and Pizzicotto

Best Pizza Chain : Franco Manca

Best Street Food : Mr Falafel ( Shepherds Bush )

Best Value for money Wine List : Noble Rot and Andrew Edmunds

Best Value for Money Restaurants : Koya Bar , Sophie's ,   and Mangal Ocakbasi

Best Breakfast : Koya Bar and The Ritz

My best meal in London 2015 . Hedone .

My best meals outside London in 2015 : The Sportsman (Kent) , The Fat Duck , The Crown Burchetts Green and The Pipe and Glass  (Beverley)

My best meals outside the UK in 2015 : Mavrikos Lindos , Rhodes. Chez L'Ami Jean, Paris . Maison Troisgros Roanne. Le Calandre , Rubano. Restaurant de L'Hotel de Ville , Crissier .

Best Bakery/Bread :  Hedone

Best  Chocolatier : William Curley

Best Patisserie : La Pâtisserie des Rêves

Best Coffee : Prufrock Coffee

Best Coffee Roaster : Square Mile , Monmouth and Caravan

Best Croissants : Little Bread Pedlar and Hedone 

Best Gelato :  Oddono's 

Best Fishmonger : The Chelsea Fishmonger (Rex Goldsmith), Chelsea Green

Best Greengrocer : Andreas Veg , Chelsea

Best Cheese Shops : La Fromagerie , Androuet , Buchanans and Neal's Yard 

Best Purveyor of French Charcuterie  : The Ham and Cheese Company

Best Purveyors of Italian Salumi : The Ham and Cheese Company and L'Emporio Fine Foods

Best Purveyor of British Chacuterie : Cannon and Cannon

Best Wine Merchants Retail : Lea and Sandeman, Philglas and Swiggot , Market Row Wines , Bottle Apostle , Hansen Hayes and Clark and Handford

Best Wine Merchants Wholesale : Liberty , Fortyfive 10 , Aubert and Mascoli and Fields , Morris and Verdin

Friday, September 18, 2015

Is there such a thing as Italian Cuisine ?


As John Mariani observes in his book How Italian Food Conquered the World, Italian food is the most popular in the world, but with popularity comes commerce, and with commerce comes ubiquity, and with ubiquity, very often, comes mediocrity. Brilliant marketing and mass production has led to almost all Italian ingredients, including such staples as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cheese, cured meats, tinned tomatoes and, indeed, pasta, being available on the shelves of retailers large and small the world over to such an extent that otherwise discerning consumers no longer know what is good and bad because they have never tasted the good.

In the UK some of the most high profile restaurant critics, food writers/ broadcasters either dismiss Italian Food claiming it is not a serious cuisine or tinker with it to such an extent that one would expect to see the books in the comedy section of a bookshop and the TV programme on a Comedy Channel.


Whilst Slow Food has been the antithesis to mass produced food and globalization one must not fall into the trap that Italy has not, and continues to be affected by these global realities. In Italy today most of the issues relating to food that one sees in say the USA or the UK are present.

In terms of retail, large supermarkets and hypermarkets many owned by pan European or multinational groups and their buying power threatens the small independent and specialist retailers in the same way as in the UK. Wherever you are, it is important to purchase Italian food products from a trusted source.

Italy is certainly not a junk or processed food free country as some people might expect. A recent book by a Canadian journalist, Jeannie Marshall, living in Italy shows that packaged snacks and junk foods are displacing natural, home-cooked meals even in Italy, a place we tend to associate with a healthy Mediterranean diet. Italy’s food culture is giving way to Americanised processed, packaged, and industrially produced foods. This certainly contrasts with issue 4 of the excellent Fool Magazine that is dedicated to Italian gastronomy. If read out of context it certainly propagates the myth of Italy as largely being a country dominated by superb designers, artisan food and wine producers and stupendous chefs.

What the editors of Fool do recognise is that Italy is still a young country and even today is more like a confederation of states. Regional differences are reflected in food and there is a very rich food culture. Traditions are defended but there is still much debate and disagreement on the pursuit of that myth called authenticity. The editors suggest that the rich food culture and tradition leads to a static status quo, obstructing development, curiosity, and creativity.

However, the history of Italian cuisine or cooking before and after unification would suggest instead that there has been and continues to be a veritable melting pot. What has gone into the pot has arrived with invaders, expatriates returning home and more recently through the technologies that facilitate mass communication and media.

If you are interested in this subject join me for an evening of delicious debate at the  London Review of Books , Bookshop. I will be chairing a panel of writers and chefs to discuss the question: 'Is there such a thing as Italian cuisine?'. 

On the panel will be food educator and journalist Katie Parla, historian Professor John Dickie and celebrated chef Francesco Mazzei. The talk will be accompanied by a menu of seasonal food and Rose and Brut Prosecco from Bisol/Jeio. The food is provided by award-winning greengrocer Andreas of Chelsea and L`Emporio Fine Foods.

Tickets are available from here


Monday, December 01, 2014

Best of London Food and Beverage 2014


Here is my list of best of London food shops , restaurants and wine establishments for 2014.

Best Restaurant(s) in London : Hedone , Dinner , Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road , The Greenhouse and The Ledbury

Best Sourcing and Ingredients : Hedone

Best Restaurant Wine Lists : Pollen St Social , Chez Bruce , Tinello , L'Anima , The Greenhouse and Hedone

Best Argentinian : Zoilo

Best Italian Restaurant (Southern) : L'Anima , Quattro Passi

Best Italian Restaurant (Northern) :  Novikov , Locanda Locatelli

Best Pan Italian :  , River Café Tinello  and  Zafferano

Best Trattoria : Mele e Pere and Antico

Best Casual Indian : Roti Chai

Best Indian (Modern) : Benares and Rasoi

Best Pakistani : Shezan , Saloos and New Tayabbs

Best Chinese : Hunan , Kai , HKK and A Wong

Best Dim Sum :  A Wong  and Royal China (Baker St)

Best Thai :  Heron

Best Fusion : Apero , Novikov ,  Zuma and Moro

Best Japanese : Umu and Sake No Hana

Best Vietnamese : head to Paris or Vietnam

Best Lebanese/Syrian : Ishbilia , Knightsbridge and Meza , Tooting

Best Greek : The Greek Larder

Best "Politiki Kouzina " Peckham Bazaar 

Best Turkish : Mangal Ocakbasi (Stoke Newington)

Best Sushi : Sushi Tetsu , Yashin Sushi

Best French : Hibiscus , Gauthier Soho , Club Gascon and The Greenhouse

Best Modern British/European : The Ledbury , Kitchen Table and The Clove Club

Best Spanish : Cambio de Tercio , Fino , Pizarro and Iberica

Best Tapas : Tendido Cedro , Barrafina and José

Best English : St John's , Aqua Shard , Gillrays

Best Fish/Seafood : One - O - One , Knightsbridge 

Best Gastro Pub : Harwood Arms , Anchor and Hope , Great Queen St

Best Service : Galvin's Windows , Goodman Maddox St , Hedone  , Bar Boulud and Cambio de Tercio

Best Sandwich : Kappacaseins Cheese Toastie

Best Pub : The Ship (Wandsworth)  and Black Friar

Best Selection of Craft Beer :  The Rake

Best Wine Bar : 40 Maltby St , Antidote Wine Bar , Sager and Wilde

Best Brasserie : Bob Bob Ricard , Brasserie Chavot 

Best Mavericks : Apero , Brunswick House Café , Dock Kitchen , Five Fields , and 40 Maltby St

Best French Bistro/Bourgeois Cooking : Brasserie Chavot , Racine , Bistro Bruno, Casse Croûte

 and Koffmann's

Best Burger :  Little Social ,   Elliot's

Best "joint" Burger :  Tommi's , Meat Market , Meat Liquor and Patty Bun

Best Chain Burger : Byron and  Honest Burgers

Best Steak : Gillrays and Goodman

Best Steak Restaurants : Gillrays, Hawksmoor , Sophie's and Goodman

Best Grill : The Dorchester Grill

Best Pizza :  Santa Maria

Best Pizza Chain : Franco Manca

Best Street Food : Mr Falafel ( Shepherds Bush )

Best Value for money Wine List : Bob Bob Ricard and Andrew Edmunds

Best Value for Money Restaurants : Koya , Sophie's ,   and Mangal Ocakbasi

Best Newcomers in London 2014 : Rex and Mariano , Little Water , L'Amorosa , Lyle's

Best Bakery/Bread :  Hedone

Best  Chocolatier : William Curley

Best Patisserie : La Pâtisserie des Rêves


Best Coffee : Prufork Coffee

Best Coffee Roaster : Square Mile , Monmouth and Caravan

Best Croissants : Little Bread Pedlar

Best Gelato :  Oddono's 

Best Fishmonger : The Chelsea Fishmonger (Rex Goldsmith), Chelsea Green

Best Greengrocer : Andreas Veg , Chelsea

Best Cheese Shops : La Fromagerie , Rippon , Neal's Yard , Paxton Whitfield and Beillevaire

Best Purveyor of French Charcuterie  : The Ham and Cheese Company

Best Purveyors of Italian Salumi : The Ham and Cheese Company and L'Emporio Fine Foods

Best Purveyor of British Chacuterie : Cannon and Cannon

Best Wine Merchants Retail : Lea and Sandeman, Philglas and Swiggot , Market Row Wines , Bottle Apostle , Hansen Hayes & Clark and Handford

Best Wine Merchants Wholesale : Liberty , Fortyfive 10  and Bibendum