20 posts categorized "Vaguely amusing"

29 July 2010


This is supposed to be a review of Paradise, an Indian restaurant in South Hampstead. 

With a name like that you're setting high expectations.  Whereas calling a food business that specialises in gluten, wheat and dairy free products OK Foods is an excellent example of expectation management.  

Back to Paradise.  I'd heard so many rave reviews from friends and family, I had to try it.  Might there be a Tayyabs lurking in a bucolic corner of North London?  No, unfortunately not. 

But it is a perfectly decent Indian.  The food was very nice, but pretty standard curry house fair.  The room is airy, the wallpaper is modern flock, the staff are lovely and attentive and the food is tasty.  My vegetable biryani was a very close approximation to one I had at Dishoom last week - and that's no bad thing.  This was a good or at least solid meal.  

That's all I have to say on the meal.  The restaurant is fine, but it's a long way from a must visit.  So why bother with a write-up?  Because I want to parlay into an amusing vignette. 

It's one of those stories that the subject thinks is brilliant, and the rest of the world yawns.  It's my blog, so prepare to stifle.

Father of Silverbrow and I were standing next to our table, waiting for the staff to finish clearing the previous diners' detritus before we sat down.  My eyes wandered across the room to the door, where a tall blond man seemed to catch my eye, smiled and mouthed "four" whilst holding up four fingers to his chest in a Tic Tac moment.

I realised it's none other than spinner almighty, Alastair Campbell, with family in tow and looked behind me to see who he's talking to.  There's no-one there.  I looked back at him and this time, assuming he's speaking to a dullard he says quite loudly "I'd like a table for four please".

The penny drops.  Quick as a flash I point out I'm not actually a waiter, but am also waiting for my table. 

Hilarity and laughter follow.  I gave good tweet, invoking both a current advertising campaign and a bit of self deprecating humour.  I remain desperate for him to reply apologising for the incident (he may have said sorry in the restaurant but we'll overlook that, I want it in writing) so I can claim to be the only man in London to get Campbell to apologise for anything.

I told you it was a brilliant story.  Wakey wakey.

Google Maps

Paradise, 49 South End Road, Hampstead, London, NW3 2QB, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7794 6314

21 May 2009

When is a crisp not a crisp?

When it's a Pringle, or at least that's what Pringle's themselves argue and have insisted for sometime.

"Look", they say, "there might be a bit of potato in this weirdly industrialised concave food stuff we produce, but what about all the other ingredients in them as well: there's loads of flour, both corn and rice, a fair bit of wheat starch, emulsifier and dextrose. And there's fat, lots and lots of fat. Yes, there might be potato in this over processed product. But let's not get too excited by that. It's only 42%. C'mon, what self respecting packet of crisps can stand up and claim, as a Pringle can can, "Less than half of me is potato!""

Unfortunately for the we're-not-a-crisp brigade at Pringle HQ, British judges disagree and now the tax-man is in the money.

I wonder what the PR damage is by Pringle's fighting their case so diligently. Afterall, in this era of healthy eating, it is more than a little alternative for a producer to insist just how unhealthy and unnatural their product is.

I assume that someone's done the maths to balance up the cost of the case, plus the potential cost of tax (£120m) versus the impact on sales of reminding us we're eating nothing but heavily processed starch and fat.

20 April 2009

The world's coolest cookbook?

Image and link to Len Deighton's The Action Cookbook

This does look promising.

04 July 2008

Pringles are not crisps, shocker

A UK court has ruled that Pringles aren't crisps.  Frederic Baur must be turning in his can.

26 June 2008

Yes, the rumours are true

My people call. I answer.

05 March 2008

Sour kraut

For those who have eaten my home made sausages, don't worry, I don't follow the German airforce recipe.

I like the justification from the airmen: they both "had an interest in cooking".

It reminds me of a story told by a former classmate who went off to study medicine. Medics at a London teaching hospital used to frequent the bars of posh hotels in the West End. They'd ask the barman for a Bloody Mary, but told him to hold the tomato juice. Once the vodka, tabasco, worcestershire sauce etc was sitting in front of them, they'd take out a needle, draw blood, empty it into the glass and promptly down the mixture. I suppose they'd justify it by saying they have an interest in drinking.

18 September 2007


Ratatouille is a great film, I loved it, but I am surprised it has been such a critical and box-office success. This film is about an environment that is not easily accessible or appreciated by a wide swathe of society. Yes, almost everyone loves nice food, but very few eat at the world's greatest restaurants. This is not about super-heroes, fast cars, the toy-box or monsters under the bed. This is about the very hautiest of haute cuisine. This is a film that gets its title from a dish that is widely known and usually pretty dull. But, the in-joke is that although ratatouille is a peasants dish, Remy, the film's protagonist, is following Thomas Keller's recipe for byaldi. In his cookbook The French Laundry, Keller describes byaldi as "a refined interpretation of ratatouille." But, being one of the world's most innovative chefs, Keller's interpretation of ratatouille is a loooong way from the dish's humble origins. As such, it mirrors the underlying message of the film, don't judge something by the way it looks or what it's called - a rat can cook and a few vegetables in tomato sauce can be the greatest dish ever made.

Like all Pixar's output, Ratatouille is visually stunning, repeatedly I would have sworn I wasn't watching an animation. In some of the bumpf I was given about the film, it said that rendering the various liquids, from wine to water to stock, was one of the toughest animation tasks ever undertaken. In my view, the hard work paid off. I loved the visual beauty and culinary detail, I was completely enthralled. Although, not the entire way through. I felt the film sagged a bit towards the end, especially all the stuff about friendship and family - unless the shmaltz is being used as a replacement for duck fat, it has no place in this film - although it will help to add to its family appeal. And from the repeated and very sweet giggles of the youngest viewer, about five I'd say, this is a film that will definitely appeal to all the family.

I didn't have one favourite moment but I did have a favourite theme: the sheer joy one can experience from food. In three separate instances the pleasure of food is beautifully portrayed with a great use of animation, music and humour. The first was when Remy expresses his delight in the simple pleasures of cheese and a strawberry, the second was when Remy's tasteless brother Emile almost sees the light and the third where my namesake and favourite character, Anton Ego, regresses to his paisan childhood.

This isn't the Oscars but I would like to thank Anna at Digital Outlook who helped me sort out the screening tonight. I know my fellow food bloggers and food aficionados enjoyed themselves immensely as well.

The one question this film left me asking is which UK chef has only just finished doing a voice-over for the UK release of the film? We saw the US release tonight, so had the pleasure of Thomas Keller's mellifluous tones as one of the diners in the restaurant. I'm assuming the secret UK chef will play the same role. Safe money would be Gordon, but I'd love to see Marco do it. Then again, I have no idea which diner it was that Keller voiced, he could not have said more than a couple of lines. Whoever it is won't add or subtract to the story line, but no doubt the hope is that it will boost the profile of film in the UK. In some ways that's a shame because the film doesn't need any gimmicks, it is fantastic with or without a celeb chef.

The film goes on general release in the UK from 12 October and will be previewing in some places from 5 October.