Category: Cooking

Just a quiet Monday night in Amsterdam

Caffè Toscanini, Amsterdam   Arriving early for our reservation, we asked if we could have an aperitif at the bar. I could see we were in safe hands, they stocked all the right brands. I ordered an Americano from the drinks list; equal parts Bèrto Bitter and white vermouth, with a (mere) splash of Fevertree […]

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A “Totally Swedish” moment

Putting together a simple Smörgåsbord   I’ve been writing about the Nordic food adventures I had in January while on a brief weekend in Stockholm, and since then I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen. Quantities and measurements needn’t be too precise, these are as much processes as recipes; proportions are important but not inflexible. If […]

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Indonesia comes to London Book Fair

17,000 Islands of Imagination at London Book Fair Indonesia will be London Book Fair’s Market Focus for 2019, introducing the country’s “17,000 Islands of Imagination” to the international public, “symbolising the intellectual and artistic richness of this incredibly diverse and multi-religious nation”. London Book Fair, 12 – 14 March 2019, at Olympia. https://www.londonbookfair.co.uk/en/Whats-On/Market-Focus—main-page/Indonesia/   General de Gaulle […]

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Swedish Food, Part Two: my quest for a meatball

First, a waterborne Smörgåsbord on the Steamship Stockholm. Invited to the city of Stockholm for a birthday celebration, we were instructed by our generous hosts to be ready to board ship at 11.30 on Sunday for a prompt departure at midday. The captain, they told us, would not wait for latecomers.       The […]

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Swedish food, Part One: “what have the Swedes ever done for us?”

In her Reith Lecture in 2018, Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan said this about the Swedish people:   “Think of the Swedes” “I mean we think of the Swedes now today as making expeditions to Ikea, assembling furniture quietly, not getting cross at it. We think of them going to the woods and picking berries. I mean […]

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Four favourite Venetian restaurants revisited

  A four night stay in November was prompted by the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Jacopo Tintoretto’s birth. This in turn triggered the question “where to have dinner?” Instead of seeking out new restaurants, we decided to revisit four that we have tried before. For the first evening we wanted somewhere lively and […]

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Of Pigeons, Pies, and Flakey Flossy’s Pastry

  Clay Pigeon Practice Arriving in the countryside the day before the pheasant shoot, I was invited to try my hand at shooting clay pigeons; terracotta discs which are released from machines to mimic the speed and trajectory of birds in flight. It started well. The barrels on a modern shotgun are “over and under”, […]

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Nervous of a Soggy Pickle

Giardiniera, or Garden Pickle.   Giardiniera is a typical Italian pickle. On holiday, I sometimes buy a commercial version from the supermarket, to eat with a picnic. It consists of little chunks of crunchy vegetables in a sharp, vinegary brine; something like piccalilli without the mustard.   At Trattoria Anzolo Raffaele in Venice, Luigi makes […]

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The most useful thing I learned from Anthony Bourdain

“Deep prep” in the kitchen; Anthony Bourdain on the mise en place: “Your mise en place, your ‘meez’, is an obsession, one’s sword and shield, the only thing standing between you and chaos”…. “It’s your first principle, your belief system, your religion.” The Les Halles Cookbook, says Bourdain, “is not a cookbook. Not really.” He addresses you […]

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Rocking the Lobster

Lobster Catalana I’d read about Aragosta alla Catalana, a Sardinian casserole of rock lobster with tomatoes. This is my free interpretation of chef Francesco Mazzei’s recipe, which I found in The Telegraph. He claims it as Calabrian. His version is an elegant, summery salad, which calls for coriander and fennel seeds in the dressing, along with […]

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