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Restaurant critic round-up - 30/11

The kitchen at Galvin La Chapelle. Photo: Galvin Restaurants

My weekly round-up of the national restaurant critics is live at iStarvin.

Click here to read it.


Restaurants at Christmas: misery [Article]

The office Christmas party. What larks.

I've written something for iStarvin on the wretched misery of restaurants in the festive season.

Click here to read it.


Douwe Egberts [Advertisement 2/3]

The second of three videos from coffee maestros Douwe Egberts. This one features cafetières: I'm currently compelled to use one after my university espresso machine died a clunking death a couple of months ago.

I particularly enjoyed this video for the splendid slurping noises made by the company's chief blender-taster, Etienne Morno. He tastes up to 300 cups of coffee a day, but impressively still drinks it for pleasure. DE suggest three minutes as the ideal time to brew the beans before plunging, which is a useful factoid.

Disclaimer: As with the last video, I've accepted a fee for posting this.


Restaurant critic round-up - 23/11

Harvey's, Ramsgate. Seemingly hated by all. Photo: Caterersearch.

My weekly round-up of the national restaurant critics is live at iStarvin.


Fire & Knives

Bit of a celebration this week: I was published in print for the first time. That is, if you don't count the school magazine (restaurant reviews), the student paper (ditto) and some journo work experience, unaccountably overlooked for the Pulitzer. But the inaugural issue of Fire & Knives - 'new writing for food lovers' - just trundled off the press, and I've held my copy and smelled the pulp, glue and ink, and known that it represented a small landmark in a germinal career.

The list of contributors is impressive. As well as the editor, Tim Hayward, there are essays by Matthew Fort, Tom Parker Bowles, Emma Sturgess and similar illustrious folk. There's a cracking short story; there's an article - I wish I'd written it - about food in Withnail & I; there are photo essays and interviews; there's a satirical masterpiece by a mysterious critic known only as The Gastrician. It's big and clever and looks stunning thanks to its splendidly-named art director, Rob Lowe.

I've written about dinner parties: history, role and form: why their classic model is an endangered species, and why they're worth saving.

To read it, you'll have to buy the magazine - or better yet, subscribe: it's only £20 for the year. Top Christmas present, of course. And if you've gone the other way round, and come to this blog via Fire & Knives, a big hello to you. I don't bite, unless you're a toastie.


The horrors of restaurant websites [Article]

Sketch's website. A glimpse into madness. Photo: Sketch

My latest piece for iStarvin.com is on infuriating restaurant websites, with their horrible music, pointless Flash, clunky graphics and other malignant quirks.

Click here to read it.

Complaining in restaurants [Article]

A fly and some soup. Photo: Flickr

After Giles Coren's tweet yesterday about Seven Park Place charging him twice, I've written something for Word of Mouth on complaining in restaurants.

Click here to read it.


Douwe Egberts [Advertisement]

An interesting and snappy video from Douwe Egberts about the history of the espresso. I knew coffee originated in Africa but I hadn't heard the (perhaps apocryphal) story of Kaldi, a ninth century Ethiopian goatherd who purportedly discovered its effects. This is especially worth watching for the shots of Brits drinking coffee in the 1950s, doing their best to adopt 'the unhurried philosophy of the Parisian at his pavement table' - with varying success.

Disclaimer: I've accepted a fee for posting this. But it's a particularly good video.


British lager producers vs. Camra [Article]

A crushed Stella tinny. Photo: Sonny Meddle/Rex Features

My latest piece for the Guardian's Word of Mouth is on the fracas between small-scale British lager producers and the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

Click here to read it.

Update: This has proved my most popular story on Word of Mouth so far, drawing over 150 comments and ending up the most viewed article across Life & Style. It's been invigorating to read such strong opinions on both sides. (17/11/09)

Restaurant review round-up at iStarvin

La Rueda, Clapham. Photo: La Rueda

My weekly round-up of the national restaurant critics is now live at iStarvin.com.

Click here to read it.


The spread of the British burrito [Article]

A burrito being assembled at Daddy Donkey, Leather Lane Market, London. Photo: PR

I've written something about the burrito's spread across the UK at iStarvin.com

Click here to read it.


My Weekly Round-Up of National Restaurant Critics on iStarvin

Cider-braised pork belly at The Princess of Shoreditch, one of this week's round-up.

I'll be posting weekly round-ups of reviews from the national restaurant critics on a new and devilishly handsome website, iStarvin.com.

Click here to read my first instalment.


Bom Jardim, Lisbon [Review]

Bom Jardim


Roast chicken is the greatest cliché in the kitchen. The trussed, homely, tits-up bird, fatted, auburn and steaming, stickey-out calves and oysters in its back, sleek skin pocked and follicled: brown thigh, ivory breast, muscle speared, sliced and gravied. Everyone knows it, everyone has a Proustian chook. Ask five strangers what their favourite meal is and I bet one of them will say roast chicken, probably their mum's. It's the first thing you roast when you're learning to cook: it's a culinary chapter heading, a gastronomic phylum, and if you do it half-right (and though difficult to do perfectly, it's easy enough to do acceptably) it'll seal, settle and fix something inside you that you'll take to your grave.


A Buffet Revival? [Article]

The buffet at Taybarns.

I've written something about buffets for Word of Mouth.

Click here to read it.