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ARE PASTIES PAST THEIR BEST

We do get some compensations for growing old and knobbly. Only live long enough and there comes a time when a good many of the stories in the media strike familiar chords and realisation dawns that there is less original writing out there as we are led to believe. But it’s good to meet with old friends, this week there is an article about pasties which rehashed (perhaps that should be refreshed?) a good deal of pasty lore. There’s the story that pasties were strong enough to withstand being dropped down a mineshaft.

Something old, something new: Café Spice and Gymkhana

Over the years Cyrus Todiwala has set the gold standard for Indian restaurants in London. For decades he has been promoting authentic dishes from the Indian regions and gradually he has been joined by a handful of restaurants with similar ambitions - Amaya, Tamarind, Benares, Rasoi, Chor Bizarre... But sophisticated Indian food is still the exception rather than the rule. Recently a newcomer – Gymkhana – was voted the best restaurant in Britain in the National Restaurant Awards, leaving a long list of famous names trailing in its wake.

It's all about the taste

Each year the Great Taste Awards grows a little larger. In 2014 10,000 products were tasted and assessed during nearly fifty tasting days. For the record this was the year of meat and a succession of magnificent ribs of beef, legs of lamb and joints of pork were brought out for the judges to ponder. The selection of beers has grown. The array of ciders is larger. As readers of these musings may have noticed that this was the year when the awards went to Belfast. At the end of the day devoted to selecting the Supreme Champion, forty of us went to dinner at the White Post.

Putting the Ox into Oxford Street

Belfast is a most intriguing City. Opinions are strongly held and that goes for the food producers as well as the politicians. Generally this is a good thing. When I, and a gang of assorted Great Taste Awards judges, chewed through half a dozen tasting sessions last week there were some splendid local delicacies – potato farls, smoked fish, wheaten bread, soda breads and awesome meat. Mighty ribs of beef aged in a chamber lined with bricks of Himalayan salt. Good bacon, but profoundly ordinary sausages.

DING DONG! Bell's Diner

Bell’s Diner has been quietly going about its business in Montpelier (a somewhat less than trendy corner of Bristol) for decades. Despite changes of ownership and menu style over the years, Bell’s continues to qualify as a neighbourhood gem. As ever, longevity makes for a confident restaurant – and it was the perfect venue for the Guild of Foodwriters’ “West Country” lunch.

Sixtyone, and the vexed question of a front door

Imagine that you were an ambitious chef and that the devil took you up to a high place … to cut a long story down to size the Prince of darkness will happily make any chef who’s interested a deal, the cook gets a favourable rent and a very well equipped, often brand new, kitchen, but he also has to put up with setting up his restaurant within the bowels of a hotel. Before the chef has written his first menu the feel, standards and style of the host hotel will have leached into the atmosphere. That’s when having a separate entrance becomes so very important.

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ARE PASTIES PAST THEIR BEST

We do get some compensations for growing old and knobbly. Only live long enough and there comes a time when a good many of the stories in the media strike familiar chords and realisation dawns that there is less original writing out there as we are led to believe. But it’s good to meet with old friends, this week there is an article about pasties which rehashed (perhaps that should be refreshed?) a good deal of pasty lore. There’s the story that pasties were strong enough to withstand being dropped down a mineshaft.

Something old, something new: Café Spice and Gymkhana

Over the years Cyrus Todiwala has set the gold standard for Indian restaurants in London. For decades he has been promoting authentic dishes from the Indian regions and gradually he has been joined by a handful of restaurants with similar ambitions - Amaya, Tamarind, Benares, Rasoi, Chor Bizarre... But sophisticated Indian food is still the exception rather than the rule. Recently a newcomer – Gymkhana – was voted the best restaurant in Britain in the National Restaurant Awards, leaving a long list of famous names trailing in its wake.

It's all about the taste

Each year the Great Taste Awards grows a little larger. In 2014 10,000 products were tasted and assessed during nearly fifty tasting days. For the record this was the year of meat and a succession of magnificent ribs of beef, legs of lamb and joints of pork were brought out for the judges to ponder. The selection of beers has grown. The array of ciders is larger. As readers of these musings may have noticed that this was the year when the awards went to Belfast. At the end of the day devoted to selecting the Supreme Champion, forty of us went to dinner at the White Post.

Putting the Ox into Oxford Street

Belfast is a most intriguing City. Opinions are strongly held and that goes for the food producers as well as the politicians. Generally this is a good thing. When I, and a gang of assorted Great Taste Awards judges, chewed through half a dozen tasting sessions last week there were some splendid local delicacies – potato farls, smoked fish, wheaten bread, soda breads and awesome meat. Mighty ribs of beef aged in a chamber lined with bricks of Himalayan salt. Good bacon, but profoundly ordinary sausages.

DING DONG! Bell's Diner

Bell’s Diner has been quietly going about its business in Montpelier (a somewhat less than trendy corner of Bristol) for decades. Despite changes of ownership and menu style over the years, Bell’s continues to qualify as a neighbourhood gem. As ever, longevity makes for a confident restaurant – and it was the perfect venue for the Guild of Foodwriters’ “West Country” lunch.

Sixtyone, and the vexed question of a front door

Imagine that you were an ambitious chef and that the devil took you up to a high place … to cut a long story down to size the Prince of darkness will happily make any chef who’s interested a deal, the cook gets a favourable rent and a very well equipped, often brand new, kitchen, but he also has to put up with setting up his restaurant within the bowels of a hotel. Before the chef has written his first menu the feel, standards and style of the host hotel will have leached into the atmosphere. That’s when having a separate entrance becomes so very important.

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