1 Cooking with blood
Blood has gone out of fashion as a cooking ingredient despite its widespread use in many cultures, from coq au vin and jugged hare to blood “tofu” in China. In its latest investigations into neglected foodstuffs – following on from headline-grabbing work with insects – Copenhagen’s Nordic Food Lab has been exploring the potential of pig’s blood.
“Perhaps it’s been associated with poverty, and it is tricky to work with because it coagulates quickly,” says the Lab’s head of research, Edinburgh-born Ben Reade. “We were talking one day about offal and I mentioned some blood macarons I had at Mugaritz in Spain to Elisabeth Paul, who’s a meat scientist, and that got her thinking.” Paul focused on blood’s potential as an egg substitute, using it to develop recipes for pancakes, ice-cream, meringues and, in tribute to her German homeland, a black forest gateau (if you want to try yourself, 65g of blood is equivalent to an egg).
“The blood pancakes are my favourite,” says Reade. “Salty, umami, a bit sweet – and it’s a delicious texture.” @nordicfoodlab Michael Booth
2 The rise and rise of Bristol
Having been home to both George Perry‑Smith‘s groundbreaking restaurant The Hole in the Wall in Bath, and Joyce Molyneux‘s Carved Angel in Dartmouth, the West Country long ago earned its place in the story of British food.
In the past couple of years it is Bristol in particular that has laid claim to having the most interesting emerging restaurant sector in the country. It’s not just the knowing modernism of the Sanchez brothers at Casamia or the more formal flash of Wilkes, both recognised by a certain French tyre company. It lies in the gutsier, more robust cooking and laid back vibe at the likes of Flinty Red with its small plates, the smokey woodfired oven of Bristol Lido, the recently reborn Bell’s Diner, glorious steaks at the Ox, and the terrific Wallfish Bistro, on the site of what was the great Keith Floyd’s first business. No wonder Mitch Tonks has decided to open one of the first of his classy seafood chain, Rockfish here. Jay Rayner
3 Kelis’s food truck
The music world is full of foodies, from Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos – who once wrote a taste-based tour diary for the Guardian – to Action Bronson and his penchant for rapping about barbecued venison. Kelis out-foodies them all, though: a Cordon Bleu-trained saucier with her own cookery show, her latest album is called Food and features tracks such as Jerk Ribs and Fish Fry. It’s these credentials that made her appearance running a food truck at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, more than just the average PR stunt. Rather than simply put her name to proceedings, Kelis hired out a kitchen on the outskirts of the city and spent a couple of days frantically prepping all the food with her small team, before getting in the van to serve punters herself. On the menu were jerk BBQ goat ribs, shredded beef sliders with a cherry BBQ sauce and duck confit sliders with a ginger sesame glaze: the beef sliders won this writer’s vote: tender, succulent with just the right hint of sweetness, although all three were superior to most of the stalls you’ll find on a British street-food setup such as Kerb. iamkelis.com Tim Jonze
4 Fernet Branca
It’s enjoying another resurgence. Fergus Henderson tell us why: “Fernet is a miracle, curing all known ailments, even esoteric complaints such as a broken heart. When in need of nursing it’s a good time to reflect on what a debt we owe the family Branca for making the elixir; they have scoured all corners of the world for their ingredients, which include frankincense, myrrh, saffron, roots, bark, essential oil of mint and more. It is no wonder then that you can follow its route through you, soothing each organ on its way down. “My wise father pointed me in the direction of Fernet Branca. He took it in the form of a cocktail: two parts Fernet to one part crème de menthe, served on ice. Even though I prefer to take my Fernet straight, I can see the benefits of a Dr Henderson (as the drink has become to be known) at about five in the afternoon when you have had a good lunch and some of your vital organs are playing up. The Dr Henderson gives you a minty freshness to set you up for the evening.” thewhiskyexchange.com
5 Spiteri and son
Jon Spiteri was a founding partner with Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver at St John in Smithfield 20 years ago and has since worked his maître d’ magic around much of London, from Corrigan’s in Mayfair to the Royal Academy’s Keeper’s House. But it was at Jeremy Lee’s revitalised Quo Vadis that he lit up the room, returning a light touch of louche to the Hart brothers’ faded Soho restaurant. So when Russell Norman wanted a would-be waiter to learn about the importance of good service in an episode of his BBC2 show The Restaurant Man, he inevitably turned to Spiteri and son (another brother, Lorcan, works in the QV kitchen).
Fin has inherited his father’s taste in tailored suits and his sensitivity to the mood in a room. Both, though, have since moved on – Fin is now working with his mother Melanie and Margot Henderson at the cult Shoreditch cafe, Rochelle Canteen, while Jon is adding an elegant charm to the new Holborn Dining Room. Allan Jenkins
6 The new Paris
A more relaxed approach to eating out is taking hold in the French capital, with innovative young chefs from around the world opening low key restaurants and doing simple things to fantastic ingredients. Bones in the 11th arrondissement is a good example: opened in January last year, the small dining room overseen by 32-year-old Australian chef James Henry turns out superior bar snacks such as smoked oysters, duck hearts with gremolata, exemplary charcuterie and dishes such as cuttlefish, beetroot and horseradish ”snow”.
Hip no-reservations seafood bar Clamato, (next door to revered sister restaurant Septime in the 11th) draws a cool crowd with its baked razor clams with crushed peanuts and herb butter, and octopus carpaccio with grapefruit pulp and anchovy. Even more unassuming is Miznon in Le Marais, whose menu is based around house-baked pitta breads. The magic is in the fillings and side dishes (chargrilled monkfish with chilli sauce, whole roast cauliflower), proof there’s talent in the unprepossessing kitchen. bonesparis.com; lefooding.com/en/restaurants/restaurant-clamato-paris; facebook.com/miznonparis Eleanor Morgan
7 Roy Choi
Six years ago, Roy Choi was the chef of a ritzy hotel. Some years before that he was a degenerate gambler, and before that he was a low-rider cruising Los Angeles looking for trouble. He’s also been a jewellery hustler, a brawler, a busboy at his family’s Korean restaurant, a student of the Culinary Institute of America, and a cook at Le Bernardin in New York City. And now? He is a magnate, and his brand is a movement.
It began on the sidewalk. You stand with a paper tray in one hand, legs spread to shoulder width, a slight hunch in your back as you lean over the tray to avoid spillage on your shoes and shirt. Pinched between the fingers of your other hand is a tortilla – a crisp flour one if it’s a “blackjack” quesadilla filled with pork belly and cheese; a soft corn one if it’s a taco topped with sweet, smoky Korean-style barbecue short rib – procured from Choi’s roving Kogi taco truck. The flavours are an idiosyncratic homage to LA, remixing and mingling the various parts of Choi’s upbringing in this sprawling city of a hundred identities and as many ethnic groups. But as the shiny food trucks that now congest the streets of cities the world over show, the idea has universal appeal. You may even have had a “Korean taco” by now. Thank Roy.
Choi’s fleet has grown, and now includes four brick-and-mortar restaurants: Chego, A-Frame, Sunny Spot and the newly opened POT. Situated inside the Line hotel, right in the heart of LA’s Koreatown, POT signals Choi’s return to the hotel business. It is also a symbolic homecoming for a chef who spent most of his career avoiding the food of his heritage.
“I grew up in the 80s and the late part of the 70s. Being Asian wasn’t like what it is now. In my generation it was really hard to break out of the mould,” Choi says. “Cooking was a last way out. It was my voice of freedom to not cook Asian food. I found my way back to Asian food when I was ready.”
Koreatown, with its neon-lit streets and all-night karaoke bars, may not be where you’d expect to find a cook of Choi’s calibre. But he is hellbent on spreading his food to places traditionally neglected by restaurateurs. The Kogi truck’s mobility is its core value: “We’re not out there for the coolness factor. We’re out there to feed people. There’s some point in everyone’s life when they didn’t have a lot of money.” His food is “a handshake to whoever is out there. If you’re just chilling on the couch, you ain’t got no money, you can’t figure out what to do. Wherever you are in life, here you go. I understand what you’re going through.” eatatpot.com Chris Ying
8 Have a butcher’s
A new breed of restaurant is offering diners a more direct relationship with the meat they serve. Farringdon’s Quality Chop House in London opened a butcher’s shop in December and in March 23-year-old Luca Mathiszig-Lee joined butcher Tom Richardson Hill and chef Alex Szrok (of The Eagle) to open Hill & Szrok Master Butcher & Cookshop on Broadway Market. In Queens, New York, Butcher Bar’s motto sums up the trend: “We cook what we sell and sell what we cook.” thequalitychophouse.com; @Hillandszrok EM
9 PPC magazine’s 100th issue
Before photo-saturated food porn, before Fool magazine, Cereal and Lucky Peach, there was Petits Propos Culinaires, founded in 1979 by a stellar panel of Alan and Jane Davidson, Elizabeth David and Richard Olney, largely as a vehicle to publish recipes that could run in Olney’s Good Cook book series for Time/Life. David contributed three pieces to PPC issue one – Hunt the Ice Cream; Good Hay, Sweet Hay; and A True Gentlewoman’s Delight – while Olney wrote a recipe for crayfish à la bordelaise, under the unlikely pseudonym of Tante Ursule (Aunt Ursula). Now edited and published three times a year by Tom Jaine, Petits Propos Culinaires is about to publish its bumper 100th issue, including a look at New York’s Lower East Side, a history of the Cornish pasty and camp cookery in the days of the Raj. It is an eclectic feast for the mind – and it is still determinedly photo-free. prospectbooks.co.uk/ppc AJ
10 Koppi coffee
Two former Swedish barista champions, Anne Lunell and Charles Nystrand, have been roasting their own beans in Helsingborg, in south Sweden, and selling them under the Koppi brand since 2007. Recently, small quantities of their coffee have been cropping up in London – if you see a bag, snap it up. The Ndaroini, a Kenyan coffee with blackberry and rosehip notes, is particularly good. South London cafe/restaurant M1lk stocks them, as will Lyle’s, the new restaurant from Young Turks chef James Lowe, when it opens in Shoreditch next month. Or order online – shipping of six bags or more is free. koppi.se KF
11 World-class world cup drinking
Cachaça – rum’s flavourful Brazilian cousin – is best known in the UK as the main ingredient in a caipirinha, if it’s known at all. Cachaça is the world’s third most popular spirit after Korean soju and vodka, yet 99% of the estimated 1.6bn litres produced annually are consumed in Brazil. Until recently, only a few brands bothered to export, sending most to one country – Germany. Although the caipirinha is a wonderful drink, another Brazilian classic is more versatile. The batida, a combination of cachaça, fresh fruit or juice, ice and sugar to taste, is easy to replicate. It may be hard to source cashew-apple juice in Britain, but it is possible to find açai, coconut milk, passion fruit and fresh citrus, which are the usual alternatives. Blackcurrant, blackberry and strawberry are also delicious.
Batida Morangocachaça 40ml (try organic Abelha cachaça)ripe strawberries 5sugar ½ tspice cubes 1 cup
Combine ingredients in a blender. Blend well. Serve in a wine glass. Optional: combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake well. Pour the contents of the shaker unstrained into a wine glass. Jared Brown
Polpetto is a new Soho institution. Its low-key, high-quality Italian cooking made a star of head chef and local girl Florence Knight when it opened above the French House pub on Dean Street, and the critical acclaim has continued since its move in February to a chic, slender room at the grotty end of Berwick Street. Standout dishes include a hefty bacon chop and a clever spin on caesar salad using cavolo nero, anchovies and burnt bread.
One of three relatively recent openings on, or just off, the same street, it’s joined Ember Yard (tapas, from the Salt Yard group) and Blanchette (bistro) in what’s becoming Soho’s restaurant alley. Alan Yau’s “Chinese gastropub” Duck & Rice is also on its way. Yau was here first, of course, with plush dim sum restaurant Yauatcha (still open, sold a while ago, though he’s thought to retain a minority stake). Among the area’s other early adopters: Copita’s slick tapas, Bone Daddies’ brilliant ramen and Flat White, one of London’s first up-to-date coffee shops.
Berwick Street is now the faultline between Soho’s romantic past and glossy future, especially at the Polpetto end, close to what’s left of the sex shops on Walker’s Court, which may soon be redeveloped. Diners seeking the shabby glamour of old may have to be content with the smart way Yau’s been hiding the building work for Duck & Rice: blowups of nostalgic old photos, with pride of place going to Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, buying fruit on Berwick Street in 1976. polpo.co.uk Gareth Grundy
No longer merely the aromatising seasoning for a classic martini, vermouth is having a moment. It’s a particularly big deal in Barcelona, where Albert (brother of Ferran) Adrià’s Bodega 1900 is one of many new-wave vermuterías. But the trend for small-batch vermouth is also apparent in London restaurants and bars such as Opium in Soho and 69 Colebrooke Row, with the latter’s Tony Conigliaro crafting his own. Try it at home with Italian classic Punt e Mes or high-class Piemontese small producer Vergano, sold by Tutto Wines. tuttowines.com David Williams
14 The Lockhart
Before he moved to London, The Lockhart‘s Brad McDonald was executive chef at the highly rated Governor in Brooklyn. Then Hurricane Sandy intervened. “When we left, the night of the storm, there was about 18 inches of water in the restaurant,” says McDonald. “We thought we’d just have to rip up the floor. The next day, it was like the hurricane had gone through the building – the water was four feet deep.”
Having decided not to reopen, McDonald instead moved to London, cooking first at La Bodega Negra in Soho but making his mark as head chef at The Lockhart in Marylebone. His food draws on the southern American cuisine of his Mississippi childhood; simple dishes – cornbread, gumbo, shrimp and grits – cooked with the flair and intense flavours you’d expect of someone who trained at Noma, Per Se and Alain Ducasse at Essex House.
“It’s a heritage project,” he says. “Being in London has given me the opportunity to look back and reflect. But it’s not completely emotional: there’s a gap here between what’s offered as southern fare, and what I know to be southern food.”
It’s a region that’s increasingly influential in Europe. Not for nothing did the inaugural US leg of Cook It Raw – the roadshow featuring some of the world’s best chefs – take place in Charleston, South Carolina, last October. And the truth is, we’re still catching up.
“It’s the birthplace of American cuisine,” says McDonald. “Many of the true southern food ways resonate with European chefs – cooking locally, cooking from nose to tail, cooking seasonally. Also, it’s totally charming.” lockhartlondon.com GG
15 Sandor Katz
“Most people aren’t thinking about fermentation,” says Sandor Katz, “but everybody is eating products of fermentation every day.”
He mentions yoghurt, cheese and sourdough bread; we talk about beer, wine, salami, chocolate and coffee. Katz has lived for many years in an off-grid commune in rural Tennessee, churning out sauerkraut and brewing obscure variants of kombucha tea for a small band of devotees. He spreads the gospel by writing successful books and running workshops around the world (he’ll be appearing in London and Devon in May).
My first Katz-inspired attempt at fermentation is sauerkraut – the best place to start, he says. I chop carrot, onions, beetroot, cabbage and mix them in a bowl with salt and caraway seeds. I squeeze them by hand till they are dripping with juice, then cram the colourful mixture into a Kilner jar. A week later, the mixture is punchy, complex, flavourful – delicious. wildfermentation.com KF
16 64 Degrees, Brighton
Chef and owner Michael Bremner has given the Brighton food scene a bit of a shakeup. There are no courses, there’s no structure, order what you want and eat it as it comes (in my case, virtually the whole menu).
His adherence to the further fringes of kitchen kit is hinted at in the restaurant’s name: 64C is the temperature at which the “house egg” is cooked until its texture is as silky as the finest praline. When I reviewed 64 Degrees I said to local indignation that, foodwise, it was possibly the most exciting thing to happen to Brighton ever. I’m more than happy to stand by what I said. 64degrees.co.uk Marina O’Loughlin
17 Wine: the next generation
Developing a serious interest in wine no longer requires deep pockets: there’s a younger, more relaxed group of enthusiasts emerging, focusing on making exceptional and lesser-known wines accessible to a wider audience. Husband and wife team Michael and Charlotte Sager-Wilde’s pop-up Wine Thursday has enough of a following for them to open a wine bar in Hackney, with a daily menu, available by the glass, bottle or to take away
Meanwhile, former model Ruth Spivey has been introducing street-food fans to a varied list of lesser-known wines at her Street Vin stall and Wine Car Boot event in London Fields, and Julie Campbell of Vinvixen on Dalston’s Kingsland Road organises her selection by flavour profile – such as soft, smooth, aromatic, mineral and stone – rather than region or country. “It encourages people to experiment,” she says. sagerandwilde.com; goodlegslonglength.com; vinvixen.com Mina Holland
18 The grilled cheese at Towpath
Often the best things are the most simple. “It’s the salt of the cheese, the sweet of the quince jelly, the gentle tang of spring onion and the chewiness of the bread,” says Lori de Mori, a food writer and co-owner of Towpath, a tiny cafe on the bank of Regent’s Canal in east London. “It’s perfect comfort food.”
The cheese sandwich with quince jelly has been on the menu at Towpath since day one, five years ago. Originally it was picked because the cafe’s cooking facilities were so basic, but now regulars won’t let them take it off. “There will be times when the cheese hasn’t turned up and people can be quite unpleasant about it,” says Laura Jackson, the head chef. “But as much as it’s the bane of my life, it’s a very versatile and delicious thing.”
The secret is to use the best ingredients you can find: Towpath opts for Montgomery cheddar from Neal’s Yard Dairy. Tues–Sun, 36 De Beauvoir Crescent, London N1 5SB; 020 7254 7606
Bakehouse sourdough and homemade quince jellyday-old sourdough bread (fresh is fine but harder to cut), 4 slices, buttered on one sideMontgomery cheddar 250g, gratedspring onions 2, sliced
Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan (cast iron is good) over a medium flame. Mix the chopped onion in with the cheese and heap between two slices of bread (butter on the outside please!). Cook on both sides until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden and crispy. Serve with quince jelly. Tim Lewis
19 High-rise dining
For some restaurateurs, eating out in London is a race to the top, the prize being the loftiest dining room possible. So you’ll find Europe’s highest outdoor terraces at Sushisamba on the 38th floor of the Heron Tower, looking down on the suddenly puny Gherkin, while evening tables at any of the Shard’s trio of restaurants – Hutong, Oblix and Aqua Shard – offer a widescreen view of the capital that’s pure cinema. In May the Shangri-La hotel’s Ting will open on the 35th level of the Shard, with its bar, Gong, on the 52nd floor. Do these places offer the best views of the capital? Maybe. They’re certainly the most spectacular, with elevated old favourites such as the Oxo Tower, Galvin at Windows and Coq d’Argent quaint relics from another era, when height wasn’t everything. GG
20 If you can’t get a table at Noma
Noma may be a small restaurant for which it’s nigh on impossible to get a booking, but it has transformed Copenhagen into one of the world’s top food destinations, populated by chefs who acquired their skills and confidence in René Redzepi‘s groundbreaking kitchen.
Relæ, opened in 2011 by Italian-Norwegian Christian Puglisi, was the first to suggest Noma might produce equally adventurous alumni, followed last summer by Bror, whose chefs Samuel Nutter and Victor Wågman have won rave reviews for their challenging dishes (one favourite is deep-fried bull’s testicles). “Copenhagen was the only place I could call home,” says Matt Orlando, whose highly rated Amass is in the city’s old shipbuilding quarter. “I stayed because the produce is among the best in the world. The chefs don’t adhere to what they think the public wants, and none of us thinks of each other as competition.” MB
21 Lunch at Hibiscus
When it comes to restaurants of ambition, lunch has always been where the bargains hide. Nowhere is this more true than with the brilliantly poised neoclassicism of chef Claude Bosi’s cooking at Hibiscus in Mayfair. The full menu costs £87.50 for three courses before you hit the wine list. At lunch, however, £35 gets you three courses from a menu that includes the likes of a warm pike quenelle, Scottish bavette with barbecued onions, profiteroles, coffee sorbet and whisky crème anglaise. Go to £49 and they’ll throw in half a bottle of wine, coffee and petits fours. Cheap? Of course not. But good value? For some of the best cooking in Britain today, absolutely. hibiscusrestaurant.co.uk JR
22 24 Hours in the Kitchen
Sous chef-turned-writer Michael Gibney has compressed his career in some of New York’s more intense kitchens into a compelling account of a single day’s service, from opening up in the morning to arriving home in the small hours exhausted, after a stress-relieving blow-out in a bar. Gibney is strong on the camaraderie engendered by working in such close quarters (“by day we are craftsmen of military efficiency, by night we are scoundrels”) but equally illuminating on the tasks at hand. “Cleaning foie gras,” for example, “is like performing an autopsy.” For any diner who’s ever watched all the rushing about behind the pass and wondered: “Could I hack it?” Sous Chef: 24 hours in the Kitchen by Michael Gibney (Canongate, £12.99) GG
23 The BackBench at Koya
Since Koya opened in central London four years ago, head chef Junya Yamasaki has been serving up exquisite small plates (tempura vegetables, braised pork belly with Japanese mustard) alongside the restaurant’s staple udon noodle dishes. Now he’s developed an occasional tasting menu, served to five lucky diners at a communal kitchen table, that reinforces Yamasaki’s status out as one of the capital’s most exciting young chefs. The emphasis is on foraged and fermented vegetables – standout dishes at a preview event included wild spring weeds tempura and jellied eel with komatsuna miso soup. The BackBench will run monthly (with sittings at 1.30pm, 6.30pm and 9pm) from 14 April. Booking for the 19 May event opens at noon on 12 May via email: [email protected] KF
24 Aged basmati
Bas: fragrant; mati: mother – picked in the foothills of the Himalayas, layered with salt, turned by hand and aged for up to three years, green saffron “vintage” basmati is the Romanée-Conti of rice. The triple-A-grade, single-strain grain from the Taraori region of northern India is sourced and shipped by Arun Kapil’s cousin Vivek. Silky, plump, aromatic, perfect for a pilau or biryani, subtly scented with spice or just plainly steamed. Rinse well, add one cup of rice to two cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, turn down to a bare blip, half cover with a lid. When the water’s gone, it’s cooked. No fuss, no salt and no stirring, says Arun. Simple. greensaffron.com AJ
25 The Reuben Special at Monty’s Deli, London
Don’t just take our word for it – Tom Kerridge and Alain Ducasse are also fans of Monty’s tower of salt beef and pastrami, £9, topped with Russian dressing, mustard, sauerkraut and swiss cheese. Squeezed between lightly toasted rye bread, its a delicious feat of engineering, the dressing spilling down your fingers with each bite.
The deli itself is actually a south London railway arch, run by Mark Ogus, named after his grandfather and selling “Jewish soul food” so popular that Ogus is getting through almost 80kg of brisket in a weekend. @montysdeli GG
26 Crispy Squirrel and Vimto Trifle
The first book from much-loved north- west chef Robert Owen Brown, whose fans include Fergus Henderson and OFM’s own Jay Rayner. His classic recipes are here, including Shropshire blue cheese onion bhajis with dandelion and burdock syrup, classic rag pudding, and octopus stew with Yorkshire chorizo. None of them, he stresses, require technique that’s “beyond a dedicated amateur cook”. For those who want to try his southern fried crispy squirrel recipe, he recommends an eco-savvy company that sells squirrel online or “a mate with an air rifle”, but stresses that he is talking about “the common grey, not the endangered red squirrel, of course.” mcrbooks.co.uk Luke Bainbridge
27 Ballymaloe literary festival of food and wine
Given their deep involvement in the food world – plus the country house hotel in east Cork and cookery school nearby – it made sense that the Allens of Ballymaloe would start a food festival. Last year’s inaugural event, held in a converted grainstore in the grounds of the hotel, was such a success that they’re doing it again, but bigger, next month.
Thanks in part to Rachel and Darina Allen’s international renown as writers and broadcasters, the family has excellent connections, and the magnificent setting also helps draw big names. Noma’s René Redzepi’s foraging workshop has (predictably) sold out but there’s plenty more to enjoy in the line-up, including Diana Kennedy, Simon Hopkinson and a pop‑up dinner cooked by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.
The Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine runs from 16 to 18 May. litfest.ie KF
28 Azurmendi, Bilbao
Declaration out of the way: I swap seeds with Eneko Atxa, the inquisitive, charismatic chef behind Azurmendi, outside Bilbao. I send him an eclectic collection of organic seeds I have grown and sourced from the British Isles, Europe and Oregon. He sends me seeds of the Basque “tear” peas (tiny, sweet, exquisite) and tomatoes (ditto) he serves at his astonishing restaurant (meals start with a garden tasting). Although Atxa’s tastes were influenced by his grandmother and mother, his cooking was schooled in Japan and by top kitchens in his beloved Basque country (a stellar CV includes Etxebarri and Mugaritz). This is inspired world-class food (his three Michelin stars came within eight years of opening) in a spectacular setting. Seed-swapping isn’t essential. The truffled egg on the menu is. azurmendi.biz AJ
29 Chiltern Firehouse
In a quiet Marylebone side street lies Chiltern Firehouse, London’s hottest restaurant. As you would expect from André Balazs, owner of The Mercer and Chateau Marmont hotels, much money has been lavished on the Victorian Gothic building and its 21st-century kitchen. Executive chef Nuno Mendes has traded in Viajante, his Bethnal Green fine-dining restaurant, for a smarter room and menu. Expect cheffy twists on current trends: starters include fried chicken and doughnuts (slider‑sized and stuffed with crab), but it is in the grilling and smoking that the skill shines through, particularly on a monkfish dish and a perfectly marbled Iberico pork. The open kitchen is as buzzy as the well-heeled room. Shame the clever frozen apple panna cotta is likely wasted on some of the clientele. chilternfirehouse.com AJ
30 Gymkhana’s wild muntjac biryani
Signature dish from the acclaimed Indian restaurant in Mayfair, it arrives in a bronzed pastry shell, strewn with seeds, with a bowl of thick pomegranate and mint raita on the side. Crack through the golden crown and there are jewels of rice and tender game, complemented by cooling raita. gymkhanalondon.com MH
31 Frank’s Bar, Barcelona
Frank’s Bar in Barcelona’s swanky Hotel Arts is named after architect Frank Gehry, whose titanium fish sculpture is visible from the hotel. Refurbished last year with a colour scheme that replicates the sculpture’s reflective light – emerald green seats, chocolate ottomans, graphite tables – its interior design is one thing, but its “Berta” margaritas, named after Gehry’s wife, are known among locals as among the strongest – and most delicious – in town. hotelartsbarcelona.com Morwenna Ferrier
32 Damas Rose’s Syrian pistachio ice-cream
You could walk past Damas Rose without giving it a second glance, but behind the nondescript exterior on London’s Edgware Road lies a rare treat. According to the owners of this tiny Syrian pastry shop, you won’t find booza al-haleb – Arabic ice-cream rolled in chopped pistachios – anywhere else in Europe. (The most famous booza parlour is Bakdash in Damascus, still operating in spite of the war.) At Damas Rose, they make it fresh every day, with milk, salep powder and mastic gum, for elasticity. Whereas ice-cream is usually whipped up to let air in, booza has all the air pounded out, hence the density and slow melt. The flavour is subtle but more-ish. 121b Edgware Road, London W2. 020 7180 1972 KF
33 Cocoa Runners
It arrives in a slim cardboard package. Open it up and – if you have the slightest interest in chocolate – your heart will race. Each monthly delivery from Cocoa Runners, a new subscription service, contains four bars from some of the world’s finest chocolate-makers. The emphasis is on small-batch, “bean-to-bar” makers – from places as diverse as Brooklyn, Vietnam and Suffolk – who have direct relationships with cocoa farmers. Once you join the club (from £14.95 a month), you can access an online “library” containing more than 100 bars, many of them difficult to find, all of them crafted with care. cocoarunners.com KF
34 Sweden’s prodigal son returns
Petter Nilsson is one of Sweden’s best chefs but first established himself in Paris, as part of a talented group of young cooks who helped make the city an exciting place to eat again. Now he’s bringing his precise vegetable-driven cooking to Stockholm, although it has taken a while.
Five years ago he began spending more time back in Sweden where his wife-to-be, Anna, still lived. Running his restaurant, La Gazzetta, and the contrast between the two cities – hectic workdays in Paris; the calm of just hanging out in Stockholm – made him rethink. There was also an opportunity to make his mark in his homeland.
“One thing I really missed in Stockholm,” he says, “when I started to spend time here again, was a good place to eat lunch. Somewhere you could go for one main course but end up having three, and a glass of wine. Places that make you want to put off work to spend a whole afternoon in them.” So when the offer came to take over the restaurant at Stockholm’s waterfront Spritmuseum the decision was easy.
The restaurant opens on 5 May and its terrace overlooks Saltsjön, the inlet to Stockholm from the Baltic sea. Magnus Nilsson
35 Lan Zhou La Mian noodle bar
From the outside it’s just one more Chinese fast-food joint with neon-backlit menus and steaming vats of precooked food in the window – or even on the inside, where waiters cram you into communal seating and return with your meal in seconds. But take a moment to watch the cook behind the counter at this tiny restaurant near Leicester Square and you’ll see something that doesn’t happen very often this side of Gansu. At Lan Zhou La Mian, they pull their noodles by hand. Order one of the la mian noodle soups: they’re fragrant and generously proportioned, and for around £6, you get to witness true food theatre. 33 Cranbourn Street, London WC2. 020 7836 4399 KF
In this brightly lit box of a restaurant what matters is what’s on the plate. Matthew Young’s cooking is smart, big on flavour and short on flummery. A constantly changing menu could include seared ox heart, crusted with black pepper and served with the crunch of pickled radish. There’s could be a potato soup lifted beyond the ordinary by flakes of smoked eel, or seared turbot with a musky carrot puree and deep-fried sage leaves. All this and prices that rarely go beyond £10 a dish. mayfieldswiltonway.co.uk JR
37 Amphora wines
Most wines are made in stainless steel, cement or oak vesselsbut, in tandem with the rise of the back-to-basics natural wine movement the ancient method of fermenting and ageing wines in clay amphorae has returned. The spiritual home of the style is Georgia, and the country’s almond- and cherry-scented qvevri wines are appearing in UK restaurants (and, last year, in M&S), while the pioneer of the form, Friuli’s Josko Gravner, has inspired a wave of followers in north-east Italy. For a budget introduction to these captivatingly different wines, look out for the stunning red and white Viejas Tinajas from Chile’s De Martino (£11.90, newstreetwineshop.co.uk) DW
38 Vintage cookbooks
Marcella Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cook Book, Good Food by Ambrose Heath, Plats du Jour by Patience Gray and Primrose Boyd – in a small shop in north London (I cannot tell you where), the famous chef and I eye each other warily as we trawl the shelves in search of secondhand treasure. We are looking for inspiration, ideas, insights into an almost-forgotten food culture, written when olive oil was for earache, when garlic-eater was an insult. My holy grail: early Elizabeth David Penguins (I leave the first editions at up to £1,000 a pop to the likes of Angela Hartnett) to be pored over, Instagrammed to fellow obsessives. Recipe pictures aren’t necessary. Good covers are. AJ
The cult of the condiment began with Sriracha, the Thai hot sauce that’s developed such a following in the US that it’s inspired a documentary, an art exhibition in Los Angeles and panic when the factory that makes it briefly shut down. Next up is gochujang, which is so integral to Korean cuisine it has its own page on the national tourist board’s website. “Korean-Mex” street-food stall Kimchinary is dolloping it on tacos and east London’s Clove Club uses it to flavour mayonnaise, but Nigella Lawson was one of its earliest fans in the UK, adding it to stir-fried squid in her book Kitchen, back in 2010. Thick and shiny, gochujang is made of a fermented soybean and wheat-grain base, taking its deep-red colour and mild heat from Korean red pepper powder. Think of it as a spicy miso paste to season a dish or as a stand-alone condiment. Stockists: Korea Food (koreafoods.co.uk), Chung Jung gochujang, £2.49/500g Shahesta Shaitly
40 Tip for the top: Massimo Bottura
Last year Spain’s El Celler de Can Roca knocked Copenhagen’s Noma off the top of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, ending the Danish restaurant’s three-year domination of an event that’s as much a measurement of innovation and media buzz as it is of fantastic places to eat. This year’s results – votes are cast by regional panels of food writers, chefs, etc – are revealed at London’s Guildhall on 28 April and the dark horse for top spot currently occupies third place: Italy’s Osteria Francescana. Head chef Massimo Bottura is a charismatic ambassador for his region, Emilia-Romagna, as well as his country, his personality reflected in playful dishes such as An Eel Swimming up the Po River (Adriatic eel served with polenta, apple jelly and burnt onion). “I want to inspire the young people of Italy in these difficult times,” says Bottura. “I want to share our culture.” osteriafrancescana.it MN
41 Crab shacks
With brown crab certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as OK to eat, crab shacks throughout the UK are gearing up for the summer. Dorset’s Crab House Cafe is a great place to crack a claw (its spicy Chinese crab is especially good), as is Teignmouth’s Crab Shack on the Beach, which has its own fishing boats. Over on the Norfolk coast, the famous Cookies in Salthouse has just been rebuilt after the winter floods. And if you’re after something more adventurous, New York’s Fatty Crab, the Malaysian-inspired seafood joint, is due to open it’s first London outpost later this year following on from its success in Hong Kong and the Virgin Islands. crabhousecafe.co.uk; fattycrabnyc.com; crabshackonthebeach.co.uk; salthouse.org.uk SS
42 The Lunchbox
The Lunchbox is a food lover’s film to rival Babette’s Feast, Tampopo, Ratatouille and Eat Drink Man Woman. Closest to the latter, it is a gentle romance centred on two lonely people brought together by lunch. Widower Saajan Fernandes’s (Irrfan Khan from The Warrior, Slumdog Millionaire) dreary life is changed by a mistake by one of the 5,000 Mumbai dabbawallahs who deliver office tiffin tins sent from wives to their husbands. Director Ritesh Batra conjures a tale of magical curries, demure letters and longing. “Sometimes the wrong train will take you to the right station”, is the alluring thread that runs though the film. thelunchboxfilm.co.uk AJ
43 Stuffed olives at Wright Bros
The Wright Brothers are famous for fish and shellfish. But the standout dish at their new Spitalfields restaurant (where you can choose your crab from a huge aquarium by the bar) is hidden on the starters menu – the stuffed olive. Deep fried balls of chopped olive, lemon, anchovy and parsley, at £6 for a plate, they’re the size of ping pong balls. thewrightbrothers.co.uk Eva Wiseman
44 Grotty food photo blogs
The food photo backlash has begun. And it’s not pretty. There’s dimlylitmealsforone.tumblr.com, a collection of the highlights of the saddest looking meals on the web. “It shows what real people are doing in their kitchens,” explains its author, “in between drinking too much and staring bleakly at plates of overcooked pasta.” There’s instagram.com/cookingforbae, an Instagram account that compiles the best/worst of users’ food photography, and warns: “not for weak stomachs”. And, to top it off, there’s malechef.tumblr.com. This is an artist’s gallery of intentionally vile food photography, featuring soup sprinkled with peppermints, and a cup of risotto garnished with hair. EW
45 Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird
There are cookbooks you turn to when you’re late home from work or you’ve got odd, orphan ingredients you need to use up. Gabriel Rucker’s Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird is not one of those. Its recipes will nonchalantly drop in: “The lamb belly has to cure for five days…” Or, “You’ll need an untreated cedar plank…” There’s a chapter devoted to tongue, including tantalisingly – but logistically problematically – elk tongue stroganoff.
However, do not allow this to put you off. Le Pigeon is the standout restaurant in Portland, Oregon, one of the most forward-thinking food cities in America, and Rucker is a meticulous, wildly inventive chef with a pair of James Beard awards. Ease your way in with his killer Le Pigeon burger and then move on to lamb shepherd’s pie with curry mash. Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird by Gabriel Rucker is published by Ten Speed Press, £30 TL
46 Thomasina Miers Chilli festival
Thomasina Miers’s obsession with chilli began during her travels in Mexico and her love of its transformative powers has only grown. The MasterChef winner and Wahaca founder’s new cookbook Chilli Notes is devoted to its ability to “delicately pep up a pile of silky aubergines… how dark, tobacco-flavoured chillies can add deep mysterious tones to molten chocolate.” To further spread the message, Miers has set up a food festival, Chilli Chilli Bang Bang, which takes place 9-10 May in east London. Alongside the street food, hot sauce bar, chilli market and mezcaleria, there will be appearances from Claudia Roden, Giorgio Locatelli and Roberto Solis of the highly rated restaurant Néctar in Merida, Mexico. More info: tweatup.co.uk; Chilli Notes: Recipes to Warm the Heart (Not Burn the Hongue), Hodder & Stoughton, £25 KF
47 Volta, West Didsbury, Manchester
Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford, from the much-missed Manchester club The Electric Chair, opened the award-winning Electrik Bar five years ago, but their new venture, Volta, is more food-oriented. It feels more Lower East Side NYC than West Didsbury, with a great short chargrill menu including Dexter rib on the bone and a fine hanger steak, plus plenty of inventive smaller plates.
Dance music to restaurateur is now practically a career path, with lots of DJs, record label bosses and promoters going into the restaurant business. Stephen Harris, acclaimed head chef of The Sportsman at Seasalter, near Whitstable in Kent, found an early backer in brother Damian, who runs Skint records, the label that launched Fatboy Slim. Expat American DJ Seth Troxler has been running Smokey Tails, a canalside BBQ restaurant in Hackney, and next month Layo and Zoe Paskin, who ran one of London’s most successful clubs, The End, are about to open The Palomar in central London, in partnership with successful Jerusalem restaurant Machneyuda. Old ravers never die, they just find new ways to stay out late. voltafoodanddrink.co.uk; @SmokeyTails; thesportsmanseasalter.co.uk; john-salt.com; @palomarsoho LB
Mostly grown in Calabria, the bergamot orange and its distinct aroma is no longer just associated with Earl Grey tea and luxury perfume: it’s a regular on the menus of some of the UK’s most exciting restaurants (often used dried if out of season). Hay-smoked venison with bergamot jelly and wild onions was a standout dish at Koya this winter, Simon Rogan served it with John Dory, or as a salsa at L’Enclume and foodie haven Mayfields (see No 35) in Hackney grate dehydrated peel on their hot chocolate mousse. EM
49 Alessandro Palazzi, Dukes hotel, London
Dukes Bar at Dukes hotel, hidden in St James’s, is home to what many consider the world’s best martini.
Head bartender Alessandro Palazzi’s table-side trolley arrives at your deep green velvet armchair primed with frozen gin (or vodka), bespoke vermouth from Sacred Spirits and a bowl of large lemons from his native Amalfi coast.
Each impeccable drink is assembled in a frozen martini glass, garnished with a generous peel. Ernest Hemingway could have been writing about Alessandro’s martinis in A Farewell to Arms: “I had never tasted anything so cool and clean. They made me feel civilised.” dukeshotel.com JB
This brilliant little shop in the Jordaan neighbourhood of Amsterdam is a mecca for chocophiles. What sets it apart is the variety: they stock most top-end chocolate-makers – Dandelion from San Francisco, Mast Brothers from New York, Rózsavölgyi from Budapest – as well as their own eccentric creations. The owners prefer to think of the shop as a “chocolate gallery” and will happily spend an hour talking you through their collection and offering samples. chocolatl.nl KF
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