Archive for June, 2011


Lutyens Restaurant. 85 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1AE

Lutyens also designed park benches

Fleet Street isn’t what it was. As much a legend as a street, it was always shorthand for journos getting stories, getting drunk and getting laid. For finding news on the street and not rehashed from Google.

Walking down Fleet Street today you wouldn’t know it. The newspaper offices are now just offices, the bars and pubs quiet, smoke-free places for quiet, smoke-free people. Only the giant clock outside the old Express building seems to be intact and I’m not sure that it’s even telling the correct time.

There’s probably a clever metaphor there, if I could only think of one.  Damn you Twitter, you’ve shrunk my mind as well as my attention span.

Opposite the clock is a building once used by the mighty Reuters news agency. Reuters always seemed a bit strait laced but they did have two pubs in the building back then for thirsty newshounds, now there’s a bar and a restaurant – Lutyens Read more…

Categories: Restaurant Reviews

Eating and cooking in Abruzzo

A cookery course and foodie safari, all run from a restored palazzo high on a hill in Abruzzo, Italy? Nick Harman takes a three day sampler to see what this almost unknown region of Italy can bring to the table

They say owners get to look like their pets, maybe that’s true of artisan food producers too. Luciano Caracciolo looks like he’s been assembled out of various component sizes of the salumis he produces high up in the mountain top town of Carunchio in Abruzzo, Italy.

He’s a jolly man, as well he might be. Creating salumis, including Ventricina, an Abruzzo speciality where a pig’s stomach is stuffed with finely ground meat and fat must be a relaxing job. It’s one that takes time, the mix of meat and spices must mature slowly in his climate controlled rooms where they hang like so many items in a Debenham’s clothes rack. Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

Pest control

The bastards!

An allotment is a warzone. So much conspires to rob you of the just rewards for all the hard work you’ve put in.

The weather can be friend or foe; too sunny and you can’t get enough water into the ground. An hour with a hose every evening barely begins to make up for lack of rain. The ground shrinks and cracks, compressing the plants’ roots and they are stunted forever as a result. Water loving plants like lettuces are limp and small. A drought really does no good in the garden.

And that’s what we had in spring. Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

L’Avant Port, Ile de Re, France

8 Quai Daniel Rivaille, St.-Martin-de-Ré, Île de Ré, France. Tel: 00 33 546 68 06 68

‘16 Euros to cross a bloody bridge?’ I shouted incredulously at the mec manning the toll booth as he gazed back impassively. No doubt the sight of a middle-aged Englishman having an apoplexy over the entrance fee to the Île de Ré was becoming rather familiar to him. He shrugged Gallicly. It wasn’t his fault that this time last year 16 Euros was equivalent to about £10 while now it was almost exactly £16. ‘Blame Gordon Brown and the people who voted Labour,’ he advised, or something like that. I couldn’t hear him anymore because of the roaring noise inside my head. ‘This had better be one hell of a lunch,’ I grunted to no one in particular as I ground the hired Peugeot’s gears furiously in a personal statement of defiance to Sarkozy.

Once over the bridge and bouncing over the most speed humped roads in Europe I tried to relax while my head regularly cracked against the roof. The French don’t build speed bumps the way we do – in order to penalise plucky small car owners while allowing fat 4×4 drivers to zoom along with impunity – no, these are the full road width and with sharp edges. Go more than 20mph over them and you can kiss goodbye to both your suspension and your car hire deposit. Given that my tiny Peugeot 107 had cost £170 for a week, I could ill afford any more costs or delays on this particular jaunt. My destination was the north end of the island, the capital port of St Martin de Re, and it was already hard going what with the hundreds of cyclists that infest the island at this time of year. Read more…

Categories: Food and Travel

Flat Planet restaurant review

39 Great Marlborough St, W1F 7JG

Do today’s youth know what loudspeakers are? They seem to think music emerges only from earphones or mobile phones on buses.  The latter is apparently called ‘sodcasting’, as in ‘sod you’, and sociologists claim it to be a marvellous expression of individuality.  Of course sociologists don’t travel on suburban buses, forced to listen to violent, misogynistic lyrics whilst trying to read a book.

Flatplanet are definitely loudspeaker likers, they have classic, working, examples dotted around the room and even an essay about them on the menu. It’s funny how the people behind Flatplanet, the same people behind Leon, seem to idealise the 1970s. It’s like sitting in my teenage bedroom without the Yes posters and I’m no longer wearing flares, except to weddings and funerals.

The Flatplanet food idea is simple; various toppings on baked bread. This of course sounds like an idea that’s already been had, one that we food experts call a pizza, but there is a difference. Read more…

Categories: Restaurant Reviews

Beer and Bratwurst in Nuremburg

June 23, 2011 1 comment

The bangers are banging

By Air Berlin it’s about a 100 minute journey today from Gatwick to the German city of Nuremburg. Back in 1944 it took the Allied air force a little bit longer but when they left, an hour later, 90% of the city was smoking rubble.

Today the only smoke is that from scores of beer kellers cooking the legendary Bratwurst. It swirls around the restored mediaeval streets and surges out of open windows, along with the sound of laughter and clinking glasses of beer.

Nuremburg has not forgotten its unhappy past but it cheerfully looks to the future. A multicultural city that is proudly steeped in history, it welcomes visitors from across Europe, all keen to sample the uniquely German approach to life and beer. Read more…