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4 posts from April 2008

28 April 2008

An ology in cookbooks?

I've worried for sometime that my cookbook obsession has been getting out of hand. I was therefore intrigued by this programme on Radio 4 last night. It's amazing what happens when you're awake thanks to baby wailing.

The first half of the programme was about Andrea Tonner's PhD into what cookbooks say about people. I want to try to get hold of the final dissertation, sounds like interesting stuff.

You can listen to the full programme here.

23 April 2008


At 2.07pm today, our baby daughter was born. She's beautiful and has already brought us immense joy. Days simply can't get any better than today.

But - and here's the rub - her arrival means posting here is going to be very light for the foreseeable future. I'm sure you'll understand.

I'm not going to get the chance to explain why I regard much of Jay Rayner's latest book, The Man Who Ate the World, as a manifesto for eating. In many ways it's the food book I'd love to have written. It's erudite, funny and most of all it's about his sheer unadulterated love affair with good food.

There were some points I'd like to explore further, but I won't have the chance. If you feel so inclined though, maybe you could address why he doesn't eat anywhere in Spain and San Sebastian in particular. I know there are many great restaurant cities, but given the book's title and the global influence of El Bulli, it seems a bit remiss. I was surprised by the frequent references to his Ashkenazic roots - more an observation than a question. And finally, a second observation, I was most disappointed by the London chapter. I was hoping for a bit more insight on dining in the capital - although maybe that was the point of his dinner with his parents at Rules. For him, that's how it started - with the family - and despite all those Ashkenazi references, his palate lies with excellent, reliable, grounded restaurants.

I'm not going to be able to note how useful The Opinionated About Fine Dining Survey 2008 would have been to Jay on his travels. Nor can I riff about how fitting it is that both Jay's book and the OA book came out in the same month, given that Jay is a regular contributor to the OA forums amongst others. If you're the type of person who either travels in order to eat, or checks out the decent restaurants before deciding where to stay, the OA guide is for you. Ignore the others like Michelin, Zagat and Hardens. If you care what people like you think about Europe and the US's best restaurants, get your mitts on this.

I'm also going to be unable to write-up my meals at The Grill at The Dorchester or Hibiscus. Suffice to say Aiden Byrne (can't help but think of Dick) is a fantastic chef and a very nice bloke. The room at the Dorchester is hideous, but the food is generally astounding. We had a tasting menu, chosen by the chef, with wine pairings courtesy of the sommelier. It was a treat. One word of caution though, steer clear of any dessert with mushrooms in the chocolate sauce.

Similarly, I loved Hibiscus. They were accommodating, I found the much maligned room quite cosy and the food is astounding. Claude Bosi might not be comfortable working the dining room at the end of service, but he knows his way around the stove and I look forward to many return visits.

The Grill at The Dorchester, The Dorchester, Park Lane, London, W1K 1QA, UK
Tel: +44 20 7629 8888

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Hibiscus, 29 Maddox Street, London, W1S 2PA, UK

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14 April 2008

Interview with Trusted Places

I always had a problem understanding Trusted Places. I couldn't understand what they were all about.

That was until I met Walid at a fascinating shindig arranged by Andrew of Eating Albion fame. After a bit of explaining it all made sense and I see that it's not simply another London Eating.

That night Walid asked me if I'd like to do an interview with them, I said yes and it's up now on Trusted Places. Thanks to Laura who asked all the questions. Welcome to all those who have come over here, from over there.

08 April 2008

Marcus Wareing has got a blog - and a new book

He doesn't update it much, but Marcus Wareing has a blog, with a bit of YouTube thrown in for good measure.

I learned about it from a press release to his new book One Perfect Ingredient, Three Ways to Cook It. The book reminds me of Simon Hopkinson's seminal Roast Chicken, in particular the way both books focus on several recipes for a limited number of key ingredients. I quite like it, it seems straightforward and well written. I haven't cooked from it yet, but Silverbrowess has - more of that anon.

Given the infrequency that Marcus has updated the blog, I wonder if it's part of a wider post-Pétrus project? Funny that none of the links on the site are to Pétrus or any Gordo related site - they're only to his books or the BBC. Not really that much of a surprise I suppose.

Seriously though, if Marcus was to blog properly, himself, frequently, that would be pretty cool.