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Restaurant Critic Round-Up, 21/12

The Ashmolean Museum restaurant, Oxford. Great setting, shame about the food. Photo: The Ashmolean.

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

Click here to read.


Paul A Young's confit oranges [Recipe]

It's impossible not to like Paul Young: he's a calm and affable Yorkshireman, and an exceptionally talented chocolatier. I went to a tasting at his Camden Passage shop a couple of months ago, which sparked what I suspect will be a lifelong love affair with Amedei. His chocolate pairings can be sublimely inventive; I tried, and adored, his salt caramel ganache, as well as his unusual – and almost as successful – Marmite truffle.


The best winter pubs: The Bear, Oxford

The Bear. I nicked this photo from Google Images, and I'm afraid it doesn't come close to reflecting the pub's cosiness or charm.

The Guardian has asked me and 49 other alleged "bon viveurs" to recommend their favourite winter pub. I chose The Bear in Oxford, a place I grew to know and love when I was a student. It's under the shadow of Christ Church, my old college, and I always return to it with a strange blend of nostalgia and relief.

Click here to read – I'm number 31.


"Sharing" plates: the grim trend of 2009 [Article]

The trend for tiny food. Photo: crafster.org

My piece for iStarvin this week is on restaurants' bizarre recent fixation with teency-weency portions designed for sharing.

Click here to read.


The history of Christmas pudding [Article]

Allied Tastes: A French soldier eats Christmas pudding, 1914

I've written something for Foodtripper on the history of Christmas pudding. (More interesting than it sounds.)

Click here to read.


Restaurant critic round-up, 14/12

The Modern, Manchester. A 'chilly, self-important horror'. Photo: The Modern.

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

Click here to read.


What is it about French waiters? [Article]

The notorious French waiter.

My piece for iStarvin this week is on the galling Gallic waiter.

Click here to read.


Classic Christmas food TV [Article]

Fanny Cradock stuffs a turkey.

I've written something for The Guardian about classic moments in Christmas food on the telly. There's some YouTube clips too.

Click here to read it.

Douwe Egberts advertisement [3/3]

The last of three videos from Dutch coffee giant Douwe Egberts.

I've finally clicked which dulcet Ulsterman has been narrating these: it's James Nesbitt. I must say I can't remember the last time I saw Nesbitt act in anything: he seems to exist solely for adverts and infomercials like this. However, at least this time he got a decent script.

We're on to cappuccinos, and this is particularly worth watching for the shots of the Colombian jungle where the highest-quality beans, the arabica, are grown. Every week, apparently, we drink more than five million cappuccinos and lattes in the UK alone, which is kind of staggering. Coffee has flooded Western life like the melting of Greenland. I'd be lost without it.

I can't pretend to be the world's biggest fan of the cappuccino (though there's an interesting story behind the name), but I'll use this opportunity to bang a favourite drum of mine. One of the most ridiculous gastronomic snobberies is the 'rule' about when to drink cappuccinos. It's mornings only, they say.

Nonsense. If people want a milky, soothing coffee after dinner, that's up to them; it's not a world away from cocoa, anyway. Italians allegedly think that drinking milk after a meal affects digestion: somewhat odd when you consider their fondness for milky puddings. Regardless, I've tested this, and sipped a sacrilegious cappuccino after dinner. I was fine.

As with the last two videos, I've accepted a fee for posting this.


Restaurant critic round-up - 7/12

The cannoli at Mennula. Universally popular this week. Photo: Mennula

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

Click here to read it.


The pointlessness of 'authenticity' in food [Article]

'Chicken battered balls' from The Authentic Food Company. Unknown in the Orient. Photo: The Authentic Food Company.

I've written about the eugenic, irrational devotion to 'authenticity' in food over at iStarvin.

Click here to read.