Journal

Praise, rants, interviews and comment from some of Britain’s liveliest food writers.

30 August 2018

Everything else is dross

Journal

Contradictions are not unknown in cookbooks though they are rarely as egregious as the one in Nikko Amandonico’s La Pizza (Mitchell Beazley). This exploration of the history and ingredients of the pizza concludes with 27 recipes including pizza with broccoli, with aubergine, with rosemary, with onion… Almost all would fall into the ‘dross’ category if […]


11 June 2018

A Fond Farewell to the Bard of the Bistro

Journal

The loss of Anthony Bourdain hit the food world hard. He was intense, driven, foul-mouthed (his books introduced the obscenity into recipes) but also charming, friendly and curious. His friend Fergus Henderson once described him to me, ‘Delightful. You should meet him.’ Sadly, this was never to be. We may be deprived of this idiosyncratic […]

 

26 March 2018

Audreys chocolates

Journal

Deliciously old-fashioned, famous for its rose and violet creams, Audreys, the East Sussex chocolatier, is ready for Easter. Edan Ambrose investigates Audreys, the product of a partnership between the famous chocolatier William Pain, Mr Floris, a Hungarian refugee and Fortnum and Mason, the august grocers on Piccadilly, has its roots firmly set in the 1920s. […]


26 February 2018

Toulouse-Lautrec tackles bronchitis

Journal

A little-known aspect of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is his culinary prowess. His recipes were collected in a beautifully illustrated book called The Art of Cuisine (co-written with the art dealer Maurice Joyant). The introduction points out, ‘He invented recipes with as much zest and unerring technique as he would put in decorating a menu card or […]


15 January 2018

Sugar Sugar

Journal

The price of fizzy drinks is going up in 2018 but in certain situations, only a can of pop will do says Sophie Hart-Walsh   Sugary drinks usually only occur to me when I’m flagging at work but another coffee is just not advisable. Around 15:35 on a Thursday say. If someone suggests I might […]


12 January 2018

No one is ever disappointed by a pancake…

Journal

Pancakes are the best. They are delicious, quick, reliable food for which you always have the right ingredients in your cupboard. Nobody would ever turn one down. Nobody would ever be disappointed by a pancake on their plate, apart from sometimes John Torode and Greg Wallace (and even then only if one of them has […]


22 December 2017

A winter’s tale at Burton Agnes

Journal

Christopher Hirst enjoys a seasonal visit to a Yorkshire stately home Burton Agnes Hall, an exuberant Elizabethan pile near Bridlington in East Yorkshire, would make a wonderful set for A Winter’s Tale. The Hall has been owned since 1598 by the Cunliffe-Lister family and they have embraced winter with enthusiasm, covering  three floors with seasonal […]


19 October 2017

A Day for D’Arcy Spice

Journal

As one supermarket chain has discovered, it’s time to start growing your own English apples. By Edan Ambrose It’s Apple Day on Saturday – a chance to celebrate the astonishing varieties of apples that still exist in this country, or a day or mourning for those that we’ve lost. It’s a difficult call; native English […]


18 September 2017

Strawberry Hill plus five of the best places for tea

Journal

Horace Walpole,  politician, gossip and man of letters, first moved into Strawberry Hill, his gothic fantasy villa by the Thames in 1747 and stayed put for the next 50 years. This month the house is hosting a series of events to celebrate the writer’s tercentenary, including an 18th-century style tea party. Guests will be served […]


14 September 2017

Coming up in October

Journal

Feasting at Stonehenge what did the people who built it eat and how did they cook it… Q&A: Giancarlo and Katie Caldesi reveal all about simple Italian food, date night suppers and inheritance recipes Five of the best on-line suppliers of Greek, Italian and French food, winter recipes, chocolate bars English apples growing your own […]


29 July 2017

Kitchen tricks of the walnut

Journal

Christopher Hirst visits the heart of Kent to discover the dark secrets of the pickled walnut For some of us, a small, knobbly, brown-black, oval nut is the apogee of pickles. Good all year round, it really comes into its own on Boxing Day when it plays a star role. Sliced into sour-sweet, tantalisingly flavoured […]


19 June 2017

Food notes from Catania

Journal

Sicily’s second city Catania has a wealth of restaurants, food markets, chocolate and fine Sicilian wine. By Nick Welch Catania, Sicily’s second city,  is on the eastern coast, slightly overlooked by the hoards of tourists that pour into Palermo,  but  well worth a visit in its own right. Catania is, first and foremost, a real […]


19 June 2017

Alphabetti Spaghetti

Journal

Cannelloni, conchiglioni and conchigliette…Sally Bayley recalls an early lesson in Swiss-Italian cuisine As an eight year old child I was sent abroad to stay with a Swiss-Italian family. The mother spent a great deal of time in the kitchen, pulling sausage-strips of pasta from a silvery machine. I dutifully recorded this domestic ritual in my […]


17 May 2017

The Original GI Diet

Journal

Peanut butter, hot sausages and doughnuts….novelist Marianne Kavanagh explores what happened when the Yanks arrived in wartime Dorset Bread and tea, tea and bread – when I started researching my new novel, I kept coming across these staples of our British diet. A story built from a snippet of Dorset history in 1878 grew into […]


11 May 2017

Use Your Loaf

Journal

Kneading, proving, baking… is homemade bread really worth the effort? Emma Hagestadt rises to the challenge Cactus Kitchens, based in Clapham North, is home both to the TV series Saturday Kitchen, and Michel Roux’s popular cookery school. It’s the perfect place for anyone with a secret desire to bake at a GBBO-style workstation, as well […]


26 April 2017

Food Photographer of the Year

Journal

Winner of the 2017, increasingly prestigious, Pink Lady Food Photographer of the year is Bangladeshi-based Shoeb Faruquee. His photograph, Food For God (above) ‘stood out from the rest’ said Andy Macdonald, CEO of Pink Lady in the UK, ‘in the way in which he made the subject matter – cooking for the breaking of a […]


31 March 2017

The Willy Wonkas of Acton

Journal

Hot cross bun eggs, frolicsome earls and knickerbocker glory truffles – Prestat, chocolatiers to the Queen are getting ready for Easter. Emma Hagestadt visits a real life chocolate factory One memorable year, Prestat, chocolatiers to the Queen and the late Queen Mother, forgot to deliver the Royal Easter egg.  Following a discreet call from a […]


29 March 2017

Ten of the best Easter Eggs

Journal

Prestat Pink Popping Easter Egg Milk chocolate egg with fizzing pink chocolate lining, filled with pink prosecco mini-truffles £14/170g, prestat.co.uk/shop/pink-popping-prosecco-easter-egg-170g.html Solid chocolate eggs Each egg is made with 42 pieces of solid chocolate. Five flavours: Caramel Milk, Dark, White, Milk and Columbian Dark £24.99/750g, solidchocolateco.com Hotel Chocolat Coffee Easter Egg Hard boiled coffee Easter Egg […]


8 February 2017

Whale, puffin and fermented herring: the forbidden foods of Scandinavia

Journal

The wilder shores of Nordic cuisine are explored in two books by  Swedish chef/photographer Magnus Nilsson.  Even Christopher Hirst has second thoughts… Published in 2015 and running to 760 pages, the Nordic Cook Book by the Swedish chef/photographer Magnus Nilsson is comprehensive but unwieldy. Possibly because his photographs are a little lost amid the 700 […]


4 February 2017

Kale – king of the greens

Journal

When lettuce is rationed and broccoli is just a memory, what do you eat instead…. a steaming bowlful of British kale, advises Edan Ambrose In a winter world of post-truth, alternative facts and totalitarianism, the last thing you want is a thinning plateful of iceberg…. How fortunate then, that supplies of salad from Spanish farmers […]


8 January 2017

Porridge: an exacting test of character

Journal

Cold, wet and miserable…? A bowl of hot oats is the answer says Sally Bayley, but getting it right requires patience On a wintry day there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of porridge. ‘This will soon warm us through’ my grandmother would say as we hovered over the hob. My grandmother taught me […]


21 December 2016

New Year biscuit hygge

Journal

Old Norse  tradition suggests that you should have, at the very least, seven sorts of biscuits for the winter festivities.  That poses no problems for Norwegian baker Rune Wold; he has the  recipes that will add ‘hygge’ to your New Year table… Originally from the squally west coast of Norway, Rune Wold now lives in […]


15 December 2016

Gin revival – the heart of a good cocktail

Journal

Christopher Hirst visits darkest Clapham to discover the secrets of premium gins… It is appropriate that Thames Distillers, a major player in the recent revival of London gin, is located not in the Victorian garret you might expect, but in a suburb. You will find the company, which makes gins for over 50 clients including […]


18 November 2016

Stir-up Sunday

Journal

In this darkest of years, it may be that sanity, or at least a sense of hope, could come from a brief return to a now almost defunct Christmas ritual: pudding-making on Stir-up Sunday. The term Stir-up Sunday, or the 25th Sunday after Trinity,  comes from the opening words of the Collect for the day […]


30 October 2016

Ingredients of an Ottoman thriller

Journal

Even in mid-case, it was impossible to keep Yashim, the flawed Turkish hero at the heart  of his series of detective stories, out of the kitchen, reveals author  Jason Goodwin When I started to write The Janissary Tree, the first of Yashim’s five adventures set in Ottoman Istanbul, I had no idea that Yashim would […]


22 October 2016

Raising a glass with Papa

Journal

Christopher Hirst explores the life of Ernest Hemingway through his favourite cocktails The world’s greatest writers and artists have inspired a tasty genre of cookbooks. Through anthologies of their favourite dishes, it is possible to join Proust, Monet, Dickens, Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso at the table. But only one cultural titan has inspired books about […]


6 October 2016

Joseph Mitchell’s wonderful obsession

Journal

Christopher Hirst explores the fishy passion of a great American journalist and the book that inspired him… A star writer on the New Yorker in its Forties and Fifties heyday, Joseph Mitchell (1908-1996) is regarded as one of the great names of journalism. His collected writing for the magazine, published under the title Up in […]


20 September 2016

Cooking with Sylvia

Journal

Apricots and cream cheese, basil and bay leaves – Sylvia Plath’s shopping-lists were works of art in themselves. Sally Bayley delves into her diaries to find out more… Writing from Cambridge, England, in 1957, the budding future writer Sylvia Plath tells herself to ‘set each scene deep, love it like a faceted jewel.’ Plath’s writing […]


14 September 2016

From Borough to Barcelona

Journal

Working as a waitress in a Catalunya bar, Monika Linton became passionate about Spanish food. Emma Hagestadt talks to the woman who introduced chorizo, Monte Enebro cheese and tapas to a hungry British public With so many new cook books flooding the market every year, it’s sometimes hard to say which will become keepers on […]


5 September 2016

Preserving the lessons of the past

Journal

‘Use your eyes, ears and nose and appreciate everything that happens…!’ Sage advice from Elizabeth Luard, a food writer who has never been afraid to grab life, or indeed her dinner, by the horns. By Emma Hagestadt Over the course of a long and influential career, Luard has not only penned several classic cook books, […]


20 August 2016

Dulse delicious

Journal

Seaweed is the latest superfood to hit the health shops, but its use can be traced back to Mesolithic man and the early Irish monks. Xa Milne investigates My love affair with seaweed started a long time ago, prompted by a strange pregnancy craving for brown rice and seaweed, which was satisfied by a local […]


4 August 2016

Fish from the Rialto

Journal

How Christopher Hirst brought his supper from Venice to London… Probably the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed fish market in the world is at the Rialto in Venice. Dating from before 1100, its dozen large stalls run along the left bank of the Grand Canal. The heart of the market consists of a two-storey […]


3 August 2016

Where fast food means a pie

Journal

World Gravy Wrestling, Black Pudding Throwing, Pie Eating … there’s nothing Lancashire doesn’t know about food, says Charles Nevin I am not a foodie. This is not a boast so much as a regret: got the stomach for it, but not the palate. No, really: I speak as a man who once asked a French […]


1 August 2016

Sweet-hearts of the bean field

Journal

What transforms a humdrum vegetable into a favourite ingredient of Mediterranean cuisine? Christopher Hirst rediscovers a seasonal treat… Broad beans are a spring highlight in the Mediterranean. Marcella Hazan, regarded by many as the finest Italian cookery writer, describes them as ‘the most alluring of fresh beans, regrettably limited to a short period in early […]


20 July 2016

Saffron and rose water

Journal

  On a journey from  the mountains of Tabriz to the cafes of Tehran and the fishing ports of the Persian Gulf, Yasmin Khan revisits the food of her childhood.   She talks to  Emma Hagestadt It all began with pomegranates. As a child, Yasmin Khan would cling to her mother’s knees as she got ready […]


12 July 2016

Boat cuisine…

Journal

What can you expect for supper on board a small yacht half way across the Atlantic? Strangely, not a lot of fish, reveals intrepid sailor, Tim Halford Ever since standing on Horta harbour in the Azores in the late 1980s, I had had a dream of crossing the Atlantic on a yacht. Now in my […]


1 July 2016

Pleased to meat you

Journal

The Texan barbecue has made it to the UK, so dig a fire-pit, chop up the coleslaw and celebrate July 4th with a piece of lusciously marinaded brisket. By Edan Ambrose An April specialising in arctic winds and blizzards of snow which turned the tulips into stiff white lollipops above a sea of mud may […]


25 June 2016

Our Manifesto: 10 Proposals for British Food

Journal

For the first issue of Bread & Oysters, Christopher Hirst makes 10 Food Proposals ranging from how to eat Yorkshire pudding to a rousing cheer for butter. Stressing simplicity, seasonality and quality, they form a manifesto for this online magazine. Like Anna Del Conte’s 10 Commandments of Italian Food, recently published in The Guardian, we […]


4 May 2016

Milking it

Journal

Of the many things that supermarkets have had a hand in – some good, some bad – one of the most significant, in purely sociological terms at least, must be the demise of the milk bottle By Edan Ambrose Hardly anyone now gets their milk delivered to the door. Price wars between the supermarket giants […]


23 April 2016

Sour views of sourdough

Journal

by Christopher Hirst The sourdough bread now making a tentative appearance in UK supermarkets was rubbished in a recent Guardian taste test. Top place (6.5/10) went to Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference San Francisco¬style sourdough, which was praised for its “bristly, lactic tang” despite “unappealing looks”. It led by a head from Asda’s As Chosen By […]