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Food | The Guardian

Latest Food news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Coalville’s Trappist brewers – in pictures

Wed, 07 Aug 2019 07:00:45 GMT

Faced with dwindling revenues from dairy farming, the monks at the Trappist monastery of Mount St Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire decided to swap milk for beer

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The best health foods? Soup, garlic and cake

Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:00:53 GMT

When you’re ill, food can be a powerful force for recovery – even if scientists can’t always explain why

Some people are brilliant when their loved ones are ill, and know instinctively what face to make, when to chat, when to be quiet, when to make tea, when to plump a pillow and so forth. Others are terrible, instinctively avoidant, brusque and awkward. They need to ask themselves what they’re so afraid of. But in the meantime, a great way to show you care while you build your genuinely caring personality is to do convalescent cookery.

Soup is so famously a restorative that scientists with a bit of downtime often try to show the mechanism. This week, a study found four traditional broths that were protective against malaria, although there was no particular ingredient common to all four. The active property has yet to be identified, which is the fancy way of saying “we have no idea why”. It is unlikely, however, that you’re tending to someone with malaria. More probably, they have a cold (although my Mr currently has lockjaw, and if you’re wondering what to feed someone who can’t open his mouth, it is of course more soup).

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s mushroom recipes

Sat, 16 Nov 2019 09:30:33 GMT

Three super-savoury recipes that celebrate the unique flavour and texture of mushrooms: a traybake ragu, a spicy lasagne and a toast-topping confit of oyster mushrooms with a tangy aïoli

Mushrooms are little flavour sponges that will soak up just about anything you throw at them. Given the opportunity, they will also eagerly release their own extraordinary, savoury assets and meaty textures.

It takes a bit of know-how to unleash that potential, and those friendly fungi do need a bit of tough love every now and then. Tear, shred or mince them before subjecting them to searing heat and lots of oil both to stop them from going sloppy-squidgy and to ensure you get that full-on, delicious, mushroomy umami delight.

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There’s more to Spanish wine than rioja | David Williams

Sun, 17 Nov 2019 06:00:10 GMT

Three great red wines from Ribera del Duero, a sometime challenger to Rioja for Spain’s best tempranillo red wines

Cillar de Silos Crianza, Ribera del Duero, Spain 2016 (£23, bbr.com) Rioja is the big name in Spanish wine, no question. Bottles from the northern region account for around half of all the money the British spend on Spanish wine each year, and its traditional stylistic template of oaky mellowness still shapes what many of us expect from the country’s red wines. The most coveted Spanish wine bodega of all, however, is not in Rioja. That credit belongs – as it has done for around 150 years – to Vega Sicilia, a single estate in Ribera del Duero to the west of Rioja, whose trio of superb ageworthy reds, but particularly Unico and Reserva Especial, attract top-Bordeaux (three and four-figure) prices. Until recently, the fame of Vega Sicilia dwarfed that of the region itself; but over the past 30 years, Ribera has emerged as a real challenger to the Rioja hegemony, thanks to wines ofdepth and silky polish, such as Cilar de Silos’ immaculate crianza.

Bodega de Bardos Romantica Crianza, Ribera del Duero, Spain 2016 (from £13.50, nickollsandperks.co.uk; cambridgewine.com; henningswine.co.uk; woodwinters.com) What makes comparisons between Ribera del Duero and Rioja irresistible is that both regions are dominated by the same grape variety: tempranillo, (or tinto fino or tinta del país as the Ribera del Duero variant is known). The big difference is that the vineyards in the upper valley of the Duero River (which flows down to Portugal where it changes its name to Douro, and supports another great wine region near Porto) are at a much higher altitude (around 800m above sea level) than in Rioja (which tops out around 500m). What that tends to mean in practice is a short growing season where the very hot days are matched by very cool nights, leading to wines that tend to be more intense in colour, dark fruit (mulberry and blackberry) flavour and tannin, but with a balancing, focusing freshness, all qualities very much in evidence in Bardos’ Romantica.

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OFM Awards 2019: Best food personality – Jamie Oliver

Sun, 20 Oct 2019 10:00:52 GMT

‘I’m a bit battered and bruised, but I’m optimistic,’ says the campaigning chef who has been voted by OFM readers as their personality of the year

Jamie Oliver has had a year. It was a year that kicked him into a bush then pulled him through it slowly, and he’ll talk about how that felt, yes, but first, he wants to discuss something more important, which is how to save the world.

We are sitting in the grand warehouse of the Jamie Oliver offices in north London, where today’s staff lunch is pappardelle with dried porcini and thyme in a mascarpone and tomato sauce. Their in-house barista is employed through a social enterprise staffed by the homeless, and a huge sign by the door reads “BRAVE”. The atmosphere is more that of a bohemian family home than the headquarters of a multi-million-pound food empire – Oliver has no office, instead he takes meetings here, on the sofa, casual as pizza, a jaunty little scarf around his neck, a tired flicker in his eye.

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Soggy soufflés: have Bake Off’s impossible technicals soured the whole show?

Wed, 30 Oct 2019 17:19:55 GMT

The icing is off the stalwart series after a bleak finale. But is it the challenges or the judges that have stripped it of warmth?

No one has had much fun with Bake Off this year, have they? For a show lauded as the balm for all our pains the 2019 season has been one massive upset. As upsetting as a deflating soufflé, in fact. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what played the star role in the final’s ultimate technical. Our finalists had to double bake six stilton soufflés, with biscuits, in under 70 minutes, and, boy, did they struggle. Alice had never made a roux; Steph didn’t know what a bain-marie was. Instead of impossibly light creamy, cheesy clouds, we got puddles. And underbaked crackers. The general feeling is that the show has got too difficult, too obscure and too cruel. But has it, really? To find out, I went through the final technicals in every year’s Bake Off since it started.

Perhaps we’re homing in on the wrong thing: it’s not the challenges but the judges

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The 50 best wines for Christmas 2019

Sun, 17 Nov 2019 12:30:05 GMT

High street bargains, best value buys – and reds, whites and fizz to splash out on, chosen for Observer Food Monthly

Voyage au Sud Vermentino
Pays d’Oc, France 2018 (£5.99, Waitrose)
A white grape variety that thrives in the Mediterranean sun, vermentino retains its freshness in the heat. Here that makes for a brilliant value, crowd-pleasing party wine with perky lemon-and-lime and a gently peachy character.

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James Acaster: ‘If there was no health consequence, I’d eat ice-cream all the time’

Sat, 16 Nov 2019 17:01:42 GMT

The stand-up comedian on his dad’s pancakes and the joy of cold lasagne

My mum loves baking and would make loads of biscuits and cakes, but the rule was that when a batch was gone, they were gone. Until she baked more the following month. I’d have to pace myself. I got worse at pacing myself as I got older. I was obsessed with her double chocolate chip cookies – really chewy but still with granules of demerara sugar. I still haven’t had a double chocolate chip cookie as good.

We always had dinner at the table. Mum and Dad thought it was important to have that communal time. We weren’t allowed to have dinner in front of the telly, ever. Even when I was a teen. Mum’s dessert was always kept secret. If we’d known what it was, we might have rushed or not finished our main course. Me, my brother, my sister and Dad were all obsessed by desserts, so Mum had to keep a very close eye on us.

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Live Seafood, Manchester: ‘A parade of the best and freshest Chinese dishes’ – restaurant review

Sun, 17 Nov 2019 06:00:09 GMT

The Chinese dishes here are so fresh that you can go eyeball to eyeball with them first

Live Seafood, 163 Ashton Old Road, Manchester M11 3WU (07894 062 214). Seafood prices vary depending upon choices and weight, but roughly £10-£25

This week’s restaurant is not a secret. Many of Manchester’s Chinese restaurateurs will know exactly where it is: on a scuffed drag, a mile or so east of Manchester Piccadilly station, overlooking wasteground apparently untouched by thoughts of urban regeneration. That doesn’t stop Live Seafood being obscure. And utterly, delightfully nuts. It was once a red brick boozer called the Seven Stars, but now has an extension and a lot of signage, plastered with giant images of lobsters, king crabs and shiny fish. Occasionally the building is hung with fairy lights. They love a fairy light at Live Seafood.

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Dining gripes: why all restaurants should take bookings

Mon, 04 Nov 2019 17:50:19 GMT

The founder of Polpo has made a list of everything he hates about eating out. I disagree with most of it, but here are my own bugbears – from time slots to up-selling

When the restaurateur Russell Norman makes a list of everything he hates about eating out, this is a giant act of generosity: the man pretty much invented the small plate (the whole grand concept of making things so delicious that you don’t mind a tiny portion). Nevertheless, I have checked the list and disagree with most of it. For instance …

The founder of the Polpo restaurants hates the question: “Do you have a reservation?” (It’s actually OK, if you still run a booking system, to ask people if they have booked); the “concept” (fair enough, but we are all humans just trying to plant a flag on the shifting soil); “artisanal”, “hand-cut”, square plates, novelty crockery (OK, granted); sommeliers sniffing corks (there is a theatrical framework to all human activity – what Lakoff would call Metaphors We Live By; sniffing stuff is merely part of that frame); waiters who go: “Don’t worry – I’ll remember everything” (but what if they can?): also, ones who say “Enjoy” (castigating expressions of goodwill is very 1980s).

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Junior Bake Off: the kids spinoff that’s the perfect antidote to baking brutality

Mon, 11 Nov 2019 14:32:25 GMT

A world away from the increasingly competitive adult series, the children’s Bake Off is more smiles than tears, with bakes you’ll actually want to eat, and added laughs from Harry Hill

“It’s inspired by the melting ice caps,” Bakr explains to Harry Hill, showing off a blue velvet cake to represent geography, and more specifically an iceberg.It is an impressive sight, with painted cracks suggesting fissures in the ice, and two fondant polar bears.

If this were regular Bake Off, my eyes would have rolled back in my head. Even lovely Alice tried my tolerance for try-hard with her “Save Our Oceans” entremets in the most recent series. But this isn’t schtick. Bakr isn’t trying to build a personal brand. He is just a kid who loves polar bears, and he is alsoone of 20 competitors, all aged between nine and 15, on this year’s Junior Bake Off.

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Observer Food Monthly Awards 2019 – highlights video

Fri, 18 Oct 2019 21:54:02 GMT

The biggest event in the food calendar, the Observer Food Monthly Awards celebrate Britain’s leading chefs, restaurateurs, food producers and much more. This year’s awards took place on 17 October at the Freemasons Hall in London, hosted by Nigella Lawson and Jay Rayner. Jamie Oliver collected the award for Best Food Personality, Claudia Roden took home Lifetime Achievement and Refugee Community Kitchen won Outstanding Achievement.

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Liam Charles’ recipe for toffee-apple buns | The Sweet Spot

Sat, 16 Nov 2019 11:30:35 GMT

Lightly spiced and warming, these cinnamon and apple buns topped with toffee are never more delicious than when devoured straight from the oven

You know the November vibe: hearty, comforting, autumnal flavours. Apple, toffee, warming spices… They’re all here in these cinnamon-style buns, which are pretty simple to make, so get the whole family involved. They’re banging served warm from the oven.

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Nigel Slater’s mushroom and dill tart and chocolate chip cake recipes

Sun, 17 Nov 2019 10:30:03 GMT

Bake a tart and a swirl of cakes and warm up your home this winter

I’ve been spending too much time away from home. (You could measure my life in tubs of instant porridge eaten on trains and sandwich-shop lunches hastily devoured between meetings.) Of course, when I say away from home, I really mean away from my kitchen.

So, I stole two days off this week, time enough to get the house back to order, plant some spring bulbs for the pots on the steps and make my kitchen feel loved again. Most of all, I baked. My life feels restored with a cake in the oven, even more so when that cake is accompanied by a tart of mushrooms and herbs, its face turning golden as it cooks. Suddenly, the room is warm, the oven is aglow and the place feels like home again. Cake, anyone?

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Anna Jones’ winter salad recipes | The Modern Cook

Fri, 15 Nov 2019 12:00:08 GMT

Two substantial winter salads: roast pumpkin with honeyed breadcumbs and a traybake with winter roots at its heart

For me, it’s OK to eat a salad in winter if it has carbs in it. Namely, bread: torn craggy pieces or golden crumbs with soft, roast winter roots and herbs. Today’s recipes are a great way to make the most of any stale or leftover bread, and are halfway between a salad and a traybake – equally good eaten piping hot from the oven or at room temperature a little later. Winter means carbs in my house – even in a salad.

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Oranges are not only fruit: the many uses of orange peel | Waste Not

Sat, 16 Nov 2019 06:00:30 GMT

Orange peel has a thousand uses, from marmalade and tea to scented firelighters and DIY kitchen spray

I first became aware of the severity of global food waste from Tristram Stuart’s book Waste, in which there are many poignant images, including one of Florida oranges rotting in a barren landscape. It inspired a change in how I cook, and I’ve tried to eliminate my food waste ever since.

Fortunately, the rind and zest of an orange have more practical uses than I can count on my fingers and toes. Here are a few worth trying: make a frugal but tasty marmalade such as the one below; dry the rinds to make scented firelighters; infuse peelings in boiling water with other sweet-smelling ingredients such as rosemary to make an aromatic tea. You can even make an effective DIY antibacterial kitchen spray: chop the peel of four oranges, cover with 350ml boiling water and leave to cool. Add 350ml cider vinegar, leave to leave to infuse for a week, then strain into a spray bottle and use on everything but stone, marble and waxed surfaces.

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Meera Sodha's vegan recipe for leek, potato and cashew nut curry | The New Vegan

Sat, 16 Nov 2019 10:30:34 GMT

A familiar vegetable double act comes together in this mild curry that’s as comforting as a thick winter coat

Potatoes and leeks go hand in hand the world over. In the wet wilds of Wales, for instance, there is potato and leek soup, and in France vichyssoise, but on the tropical, palm-fringed island of Sri Lanka, there is leek and potato curry – also known as a ‘white curry’, because it contains no turmeric or red chilli (it is often mild enough to feed to children, too). This is a comforting dish; a soothing blanket of textures and flavours with only the crunch of the odd cashew, a little spice or a spritz of lemon juice to break with proceedings.

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The new rules of holiday eating: ditch TripAdvisor, embrace disaster, and make a plan for when you're 'hangry'

Wed, 17 Jul 2019 14:13:06 GMT

Dining out while away can lead to meltdowns. From setting a budget to finding a place to eat, here’s how to make the most of your mealtimes away from home

Eating out on holiday is considered a treat. And on one level, it is. You have enough cash to blow on a plate of pasta puttanesca that tastes the same as the one you make at home, but is slightly superior because you are eating it while wearing perfume in an artfully dilapidated alleyway. That’s not something to sniff at.

Ultimately, however, while there may be a small number of eerily well-adjusted weirdos who disagree, for the rest of us dining out while away spells meltdown: skipping sightseeing to obsess over TripAdvisor reviews; arguing with holiday companions over whose dietary preferences should take priority; wasting hours trying to locate a joint that suits both your pescatarian girlfriend and your raging carnivore of a dad.

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Rachel Roddy’s recipe for rice with pumpkin, chestnuts, sage and butter | A Kitchen in Rome

Mon, 18 Nov 2019 13:00:35 GMT

A sumptuously sticky rice dish packed with autumnal flavour

It is such a good time of year for fruit and vegetables. Pumpkins and squash, the rabble of roots and their greens, the first fennel and the last grapes, freckled apples, pears and fuzzy-felt quinces, wild and tame mushrooms, pomegranates, green-black kale and red-stalked chard, the first artichokes and green-tinted citrus, smooth, chocolate brown chestnuts: with all this to wear, no wonder the market, corner shop and supermarket shelves look so gorgeous. The changeable weather – sun, then scudding clouds that arrive full of rain and inevitable humidity in between – just serves to exacerbate the scent and fruitfulness of it all. A scent that lingers long after you have left the market or the shop ... especially the apples – why is it that apples smell so strongly and persistently?

Strong and persistent is the pleasure I get from putting autumn produce in its place, ripping open nets of chestnuts or mandarins and watching them skittle in a bowl, attempting my own private Caravaggio with two pomegranates, three pears and a quince that may never get cooked, and putting the pumpkin on the shelf like an ornament. I get less pleasure from cutting pumpkin, having almost lost a finger last year. “You must woo an autumn squash,” wrote Molly O’Neill in her book A Well Seasoned Appetite. I disagree: you need to discipline them or delegate the task. Scoring chestnuts, on the other hand, I like, because it means we are going to roast them, wrap them in a paper bag and then a tea towel, so the shells come off easily when we eat them with cheap red wine.

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Thomasina Miers' recipe for braised hispi cabbage with chorizo and chickpeas | The Simple Fix

Mon, 18 Nov 2019 11:00:32 GMT

A garlicky braised cabbage infused with chorizo and topped with creme fraiche that’s as good on its own as it is with rice

Healthy eating is big news, but we are simultaneously being told that the nutrition in food is plummeting as soil is overworked from intensive farming.

My response is to cook with as many whole ingredients as possible – organic, where I can – since we now know that essential nutrients come from good soil. The brassica family is a good place to start: naturally full of vitamins, minerals and fibre – that discreet, understated element that keeps our guts in such good check. These leafy greens are also great-value, so you can feed many for a lot less.

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Nigel Slater’s sausage and celeriac recipe

Tue, 19 Nov 2019 12:00:03 GMT

A hearty, porky, herby feast for a cold winter’s evening

Brown 6 fat Tuscan sausages on all sides in a little oil in a shallow pan. Roughly dice 2 medium carrots and 2 red onions. Remove the sausages then sauté the carrots and onions in the sausage fat until they start to colour.

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Bake Off winner David Atherton: ‘I enjoy the buns innuendos!’

Wed, 06 Nov 2019 15:47:00 GMT

He won GBBO with a reputation for being calm, tidy and methodical. But the star baker says in reality he’s an extrovert hippy who hasn’t washed his hair in 15 years – and another contestant tested one of his bakes

He’s the quiet, controlled one who wowed the judges with precise technical bakes. At least, that’s the impression you probably have of the 2019 Great British Bake Off winner, David Atherton. Wrong. In person, he’s an adventurous extrovert with a hippy streak. “Most of my practices I did in my pants while eating pizza and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. The person in the edit is not me,” he says. “At the end, it showed me singing to myself and dancing around, but actually I did that the whole way through. I am calm and methodical, but I’m not particularly reserved.”

Atherton’s triumph – he didn’t win a showstopper while the hotly tipped finalist Steph Blackwell was star baker four times – is all the more remarkable because he was a reserve applicant (as was his co-finalist Alice Fevronia), drafted in to replace a dropout just two weeks before the show began. Yet the 36-year-old health adviser is such an experienced and confident cook (“Ottolenghi is my absolute hero,” he says, and he is a big fan of baker Dan Lepard), he didn’t panic or even change any social plans. “The weekend before the show, I decided to cycle to Paris. It was good for my headspace.”

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Honey & Co’s Middle Eastern sweet bakes | Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich

Sat, 16 Nov 2019 07:00:33 GMT

Four authentic Middle Eastern treats of baklava, nutty basbusa, date and walnut-stuffed biscuits and delicious sticky spirals of cream-filled filo

Prep 5 min
Cook 1 hr
Makes 6

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Kolamba, London W1: ‘Big, bold lessons from a faraway island’ - restaurant review | Grace Dent

Fri, 08 Nov 2019 09:30:24 GMT

Sri Lankan cuisine could be your new favourite after a visit to this West End hideaway, where every dish is a lesson in flavour and authenticity

On my way to lunch at Kolamba, a new Sri Lankan place on Kingly Street in Soho, I got to thinking how one of the great subplots of British eating over the past 30 years is our growing curiosity and adoration of spice. Diners who might once have known curry simply as something that’s vivid red or fragrant brown and hails roughly from India now know a Malaysian laksa from a Thai massaman, or a katsu from a scotch bonnet-laden curry goat.

Recently, more of us have been turned on to the joys of Sri Lanka. Kari and rich sambol served with a crisp, rice-and-coconut crepe, possibly with an egg baked into its base – an egg hopper – and smeared with sticky chutney. It’s a godly combination that, once tasted, you’ll wonder where it has been all your life. Patently, Sri Lankan food has been cooked lovingly in Wembley, Tooting and East Ham for decades, but it was the opening three years ago of the very much adored Hoppers in Soho that shoved Sri Lankan cuisine blinking into the “cool food” spotlight.

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10 of the best restaurants in Cádiz, Spain

Fri, 02 Aug 2019 05:30:10 GMT

Fizzing with culinary highlights, this selection from the Andalucían city’s old town takes in special spots for seafood and tapas joints away from the crowds

Go early: this tapa place is very small and almost always busy. It cooks its speciality, tuna from the strait of Gibraltar, in a variety of ways: from traditional with a twist to a more-modern style. Tuna tartare or tuna lasaña are my favourites. The menu is long and the quality is high, though the prices remain reasonable (tapas from €2.20). Check out the wine list, too, and you’ll spot some great bottles.
€12-€14pp, Calle Columela 4, on Facebook

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Not just for Christmas: support your local independent wine shop | Fiona Beckett on wine

Fri, 15 Nov 2019 14:00:09 GMT

A specialist will likely stock a better, more interesting range of wines, with some quite spectacular choices that sneak under the radar of the supermarkets

Even the most curmudgeonly and Scrooge-like among you has probably started to give some thought to the necessity of ordering food for Christmas, especially if it’s something in limited supply such as a rare-breed turkey or a goose. While you may normally shop in the supermarket, it may be a time of year when you feel you want to patronise your local butcher or buy direct from the producer. But do you feel the same about wine?

If not, and if you care about the continuing presence of independent wine shops on the high street, you should. In fact, you should give them some of your custom year-round, not least because they have far more interesting wines than the supermarkets, as well as staff who can help match them to your personal taste. I’m not saying buy everything from an independent – well, not unless you’ve got deep enough pockets to – but rather to use them to source your most interesting bottles. I’ve yet to find a worthwhile supermarket barolo, for example, and top-end, own-label bordeaux is generally underwhelming, but supermarkets absolutely deliver on party wines such as cheap prosecco and cut-price sauvignon blanc.

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Carbon cafe: what is the most sustainable coffee order?

Wed, 13 Nov 2019 17:00:16 GMT

From the beans to the milk to the way it’s brewed, the environmental impact of your daily pick-me-up can vary widely

If you stroll through any Australian city during morning rush hour, you’ll find the sidewalks teeming with people inhaling the savoury, bittersweet aromas of their early morning coffee, zinging to life as the caffeine hits their circulation. In fact, Australians drink more than 16m coffees every day, supporting a $10bn industry in this country alone.

But while the caffeine hit is relatively short-lived, the environmental impacts linger.

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How to make the perfect quesadilla | Felicity Cloake

Wed, 20 Nov 2019 12:00:26 GMT

They are simply fresh corn tortillas folded over melted cheese, and anything else you might fancy – but what’s the best way to go about making these Mexican morsels?

The quesadilla, according to chef Enrique Olvera, is “the simplest of pleasures”, and is described by Rick Bayless as “the grilled cheese sandwich of Mexico” – though, perhaps surprisingly, despite their name, these toasted tortillas don’t always contain cheese. Whatever’s inside, however, they’re the perfect quick feast, as much like an empanada or pasty as a mere sandwich, and best enjoyed hot from the grill with a lick of salsa and a second already on its way. But if you don’t have a taco stall handy, churning out handmade tortillas faster than you can eat them, what’s the closest to heaven you can get at home?

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Decimo, London WC1: ‘Slighty ridiculous, sometimes delicious’ – restaurant review | Grace Dent

Fri, 15 Nov 2019 09:30:04 GMT

Are you hip enough to book a table at this achingly chic new Spanish-Mexican joint?

Decimo, a Spanish-Mexican restaurant by Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, has opened at the top of The Standard Hotel in London. Decimo, as in Spanish for 10th, is the floor that it lives on. The capital was, to my mind at least, not pining for any more fancy restaurants at the top of tall buildings, yet still they come. I could write a hospitality MA thesis on how cooking standards plummet the more floors one ascends to the pretty view. No sane person has ever thought that duck with waffle sounded like a delicious idea, but add the chance of vertigo to the recipe, and there’s a lemming stampede towards the lifts.

That said, I was curious about Decimo. The rest of The Standard, including two other restaurants, Isla and Double Standard, opened in the summer, but this vast mezcal and aguachile palace took its time to reveal itself. Meanwhile, the hotel itself quickly became my go-to recommendation for travellers in search of fun. It is, in parts, a David Lynch-style dreamscape of fractal carpets and flickering hearth fires, and in others a party palace on a Quentin Tarantino set. The yearningly gorgeous suites have minibars with full bottles of Patrón silver tequila and baths out on the balconies in the open air, so you can be stark naked and clutching a loofah, yet just out of view of the commuters at St Pancras.

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Christmas cheer: seven cocktails from Mr Lyan

Tue, 19 Nov 2019 12:00:03 GMT

Port and pony for a party, apple seed punch for the abstainers and a bloody Claus for a pre-lunch sharpener

These drinks are reflective of the season; flavours reminiscent of the aromas, nostalgia and comforting dishes that pervade the holiday time. They’re also drinks designed to suit the various gatherings that crop up. Some work for impromptu drop-ins. Others are for when you need the right cocktail to accompany the multitude of indulgences that adorn the Christmas table.

There’s also a consideration for the fact that the holidays also seem to spur a little extra waste in all our lives, so I’ve tried to balance this by using some ingredients that curb the impact on the planet, or are getting used across the table anyway. As with cooking, a little prep ahead of time makes a world of difference – and, as with your cooking, please use these as a guide and adapt as necessary. Happy gathering!

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Norma, London: ‘A place of joy’ – restaurant review

Sun, 10 Nov 2019 06:00:37 GMT

An Italian restaurant in Fitzrovia has all it takes to be a success – and it doesn’t put a foot wrong

Norma, 8 Charlotte Street, London W1T 2LS (020 3995 6224). Snacks £3.50-£8, small plates £8-£15, large plates £19-£30, desserts £3.50-£9, wines from £27

Movie critics get excited about the latest Scorsese picture. Theatre critics get excited when they hear Tom Stoppard has written a new play. I’m a restaurant critic, so I got excited when I heard about Norma, a new restaurant from the team behind the Stafford hotel. The Stafford is hidden away down one of the lanes off London’s St James’s Street. It’s a neighbourhood occupied by shops selling only things you might want rather than anything you might ever need: a handmade pair of shoes, say, or a £15m superyacht. In 2017, the Stafford became home to the Game Bird, a restaurant nobody thought they needed, but which it turned out I really wanted.

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How to make the most of dried beans | Kitchen Aide

Tue, 19 Nov 2019 14:00:02 GMT

Fresher beans, softer water and leaving out the straining are some of the ways that will give your beans deeper flavour and that perfect texture

How do I make dried beans and chickpeas taste as nice as the expensive ones you get in fancy jars. Does it depend on the type of bean, or is there a secret trick?
Danny, Littlehampton, West Sussex

“Pulses are probably the one thing I can talk about with any authority, and even that is dubious,” says Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co and Honey & Smoke in central London. And the key to getting the best out of them, he says, is to use beans that have been picked and dried recently, rather than ones that have sat around for years. “From the latest harvest, ideally, though good luck with that in the UK. It took Sarit [Packer, his partner] and me three years to find a chickpea supply we were happy with.”

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Kim-Joy’s recipe for lion cake pops

Wed, 20 Nov 2019 13:59:29 GMT

A dessert you can take pride in

These are great fun to make. And they last a good while, as the buttercream keeps the cake very moist, and this is sealed in with a thin layer of chocolate. If you want to decorate them in a rush, just dip the pops in melted chocolate and scatter on sprinkles before it sets. You will need cake pop sticks.


Makes: 12-16

For the cake:
100g butter
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
100g egg (about 2 medium eggs)
130g self-raising flour
1-2 tbsp whole milk

For the buttercream:
70g butter
140g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1-2 tbsp whole milk

For the coating:
Either 250g white chocolate and a little yellow food dye (oil-based and chocolate-safe), or 250g yellow candy melts/compound chocolate

To decorate the faces:
Orange candy melts
Fondant: black, white, brown, yellow
Edible pen

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Wine & Health
Wine, alcohol and health research: an in-depth look

Every month, new, valid research findings on alcohol, health and social issues are being published in peer-reviewed journals.
Buy, sell or hold: wine country real estate trends

Kendall-Jackson To Sell 900 Acres; Mondavi Puts 1,500 Acres And Two Wineries On the Market; Coppola Pays A Record $350,000 Per Acre For Napa Vineyard.
U.S. funds grant for wine/health study

In an unprecedented breakthrough, the U.S. government's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) provided the first major multidisciplinary programmatic grant to study the effects of moderate wine consumption on cardiovascular health to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
Wine slightly better than beer for cardiac health

A recent article in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis determined that drinkers of wine benefit from its cardioprotective effects, more so than those who drink beer or other spirits, and wine drinkers may also live longer.