Thursday, 24 April 2014

Wine comes alive: Cloudy Bay at the Chelsea Flower Show

The Cloudy Bay sensory garden at the Chelsea Flower Show
By Laura Day

If you'd heard a wine producer had a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, you'd be forgiven for thinking there'd be rows and rows of vines, bunches of hanging grapes, and maybe a cheeky glass of something chilled on arrival.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

A booze-free bar and a sore head

Prohibition style at B.Y.O.C
A cocktail bar that doesn't sell any alcohol, has no drinks menu and requires booking. Hmm. At Bring Your Own Cocktail, the deal is you book a slot, turn up with bottle or two of your spirit of choice and let the mixologist take over. I'd heard good things about this London cocktail bar but to see if it lived up to the hype, I grabbed a bottle of gin, a bottle of rum and two willing guinea pigs. 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Is dirty food over?

By Rebecca Smith

Fried chicken? Bring it on! And the sides too...
First came the burgers: shamelessly brash meaty monsters, groaning with toppings, sauces and sides. Then came the ribs, followed by the fried chicken, then the pulled pork sandwiches. 

A wealth of bourbon and rye cocktails followed hot on their heels and before we knew it, our restrained British dining scene was seeing a dirty food revolution  we were wallowing in the sheer forbidden, greasy pleasure of it all. Eating with your fingers! Loud music! Mac’n’cheese as a side dish!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

That iffy whiff of spring

How did this wild garlic get to London?
By Susan Low

Just a couple of weeks ago, the cherry tree outside my house could have passed for dead. Now, it’s dressed up in a frothy frock of white and pink blossom and throws pale confetti onto the ground in my front garden, as if celebrating the arrival of spring. The once-bare earth is alive with green and the air is honey-scented. But there’s another aroma too – something a bit, well, pungent; stinky even. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say there was garlic growing nearby.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Blind dining: what it's like when you can't see the menu

By guest blogger Matthew Wadsworth

I’ve been blind my whole life, so I’m used to finding alternate solutions to everyday problems. My girlfriend calls me the king of the workaround. 

Nowadays she and I cook our meals together, but I do cook on my own when I need to. You can hear when it’s time to turn the heat down on the veg, and you can smell when the mince has cooked through. Pouring a glass of wine? Just stick one finger halfway down the glass, and when the liquid just touches your fingertip, stop pouring and hand the glass to your bemused dinner guests.

There were some early mishaps when I was learning to cook, like the first time I made spaghetti. I poured a tin of tomatoes into a pan for the sauce, but they evidently didn’t all quite make it into the pot. As I sat the table munching my curiously dry spaghetti, my horrified flat-mate came into the kitchen, which, he said, looked like a murder scene.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Nature's larder? No thanks...

By Andrew Webb

Always open for business
Foraging was all the rage post-credit crunch. Fuelled by survivalist fantasies and a desire to get back to nature after years of decadence, people headed off into the countryside to reap nature’s bounty. But after a while who could be bothered with all that travelling out to the sticks? Not time-poor city folk, that’s for sure. Thus was born urban foraging or, as I like to call it, shoplifting from your borough council.

I was once on Hampstead Heath in London, where nestling near a rotting tree trunk was what I thought was a truffle. I teased back the dead leaves and gently tried to pick up a… dog poo. Thankfully I was wearing gloves. That’s the thing with urban foraging: everything comes with a dressing of urine, car fumes and dirt. Why people spend their time picking weeds in the park is beyond me.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The magic of wine explained

Jilly raises a glass and a smile
“Look, sniff, swirl, chew, cup in your tongue and inhale.”

I give it a go and inhale some Italian Pecorino Terre di Chieti 2012 with a cough and splutter.

Then I hear in familiar, crystal tones, "No, don't inhale the wine, suck in the air over your tongue to combine taste and smell...”