Friday, 29 January 2010

Magazine Review: The Art of Eating

Edward Behr's quarterly magazine The Art of Eating has built up a solid following over the last 24 years and has gained the reputation as the most serious and well researched food quarterly around.  The Financial Times has written glowingly about it, but its main market is still America, where it hails from.  Here it is said to be read by anyone who is anyone in the food industry.  Despite this the Europhile nature of the writers means at least as much focus, if not more, is given to Europe.  Not only will you find interesting, relevant articles to read, you will also not find any adverts between the well researched pieces.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Restaurant Review: Santo

Real Mexican food in London is difficult to find, people search desperately, trawling message boards discussing where they can get something that faintly resembles the real thing.  This is mainly the concern of ex-pat Americans.  Us Brits have been generally happy with Wahacca and that place that sells enormous burritos that fall apart when you take off the foil and leaves you with sour cream and guacamole all over your shoes.  I like Wahacca for the record, I think its fun.  One of my friends, who is  half Mexican, has a problem with its lack of authenticity, however, and has been trying out various places to find something that reflects his summers over there a bit better.  Santo is one of the places he found and liked, so when he suggested it for dinner I was happy to go along with the suggestion.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Restaurant Review: The Loft Project

A little bit of internet research led me to 'drop hints' that a meal here would be a really great birthday present, a really really great one a really really... Yes annoying for about 20 seconds in type, imagine it for a lot longer in a simpering whine.  Well here we were outside a very nice maisonette flat in Dalston after a couple of cocktails, slightly nervous about meeting our other diners and very excited about the 12 course meal to come.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Restaurant Review: Sushi Hiroba

In the 90s I remember that conveyor belt sushi sounded like a fantastic idea.  That was possibly because I was a child, however, a lot of big grown up people seemed to share my enthusiasm.  It seemed very modern in a kitch kind of way, it was informal and fun and apparently they did it in Japan a place much trendier than London since Brit Pop kicked the bucket.  So we all loved it.  But not as much as the restaurants that served it.  'Here's a clever way to stop people paying attention to how much they're spending.  Sure the price of each plate is up on the wall, but these idiot are far too lazy to count'.  They were right.  A quick lunch anywhere with a conveyor belt when you're hungry is the same as putting your credit card behind a bar 'to save you the hassle of having to pay each time' - a bad, expensive idea.  Well a whole decade removed from the 90s I fell for this trap, in the nicely decorated and okay but unspectacular Sushi Hiroba in Holborn.  Have I learnt nothing!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Gothenburg: an Eatist's City Guide

I ate a lot of good food in Gothenberg and to stop this turning into a long ramble, punctuated only when I need to wipe a bit of drool from my chin I think the best way to organise this is probably a kind of photo diary of things that I ate and liked.  I used to come to Gothenberg a lot when I was younger, but haven't been for a few years now and I had a lot of fun rediscovering it and all the things I used to eat there.  The food scene here is respected throughout the country, with its chefs regularly winning national awards, and increasingly international plaudits.  On the other hand there is a lot of great traditional food served in small places and a whole host of wonderful cafes.

Restaurant Review: Sjömagasinet (Gothenburg)

Sjömagasinet is the michelin-starred restaurant of top Swedish chef Leif Mannerström. If you're British you're unlikely to have heard of him, but in Sweden he's a big deal attracting 10,000 customers every Christmas to have his pickled herring and even getting his head on a stamp.  I was ready to sing his praises already just for the fact that there was an open fire in the reception area, something that was very welcome after a 20 minute walk in the minus 10C temperatures outside. 

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Restaurant Review: J. Sheekey

I have to declare an interest here: J. Sheekey is probably my favourite restaurant in London, which accounts for me being taken there for my birthday.  I was lucky in going here quite a lot when I was younger.  This accounts for a lot of the affection I feel for it.  It excels in making its diners feel comfortable.  The dark wood panelling, crisp white tablecloths and art deco design all add a feeling of old-world luxury to the whole thing.  It does very well, but it doesn't let you know how busy it is, and isn't loud and frenetic in the way a lot of popular restaurants are.  Not that there's anything wrong with busy, it creates an atmosphere.  Here though the aim is just very different.  The restaurant is divided into three rooms each with around twenty covers as well as a bar and a newly opened oyster bar.  The effect of this is to create a far more relaxed, intimate experience.  Everything is gracefully done, the service is good, very polite and slightly formal.  They wear waistcoats.  The photos on the wall are all of old theatre stars in black and white.  In some places things like this can feel very twee.  Here, however, it is done completely naturally and all the details are just right.  If you have been there more that one or two times the whole experience is a comfortable and very comforting one.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Good (North) American Pizza Coming to London?

Pizza creates a lot of debate in the US, Chicago v. New York are the two big boys (Italy's where now?).  The Chicago style is about two inches tall,  deep filled with cheese, sausage, peppers and if the above picture I found is to be believed is sort of similar to a kick straight in the left ventricle.  New York is thinner and often comes in foldably large slices.  Easy so far.  Well apparently thats not all, Canada's in on the action as well because there's Windsor style pizza and Ontario natives love it.  So who cares right, the North American style pizza we get here (although it is an occasional guilty pleasure) is made from dough frozen down in batches that last for around twenty years and cheese from a can.  Or is it?