I know I moan about London from time to time, especially when stuck on the Tube, but surely nowhere is ‘Cool Britannia’ more in evidence than in our capital city. London has been totally transformed since the 1980s and must be one of the top culinary destinations in the world for pure choice. You can eat or drink anything in the capital and the London Coffee Festival illustrated how London has become a haven for top quality coffee. From pop-up stalls to sit-down cafés, you can really enjoy your caffeine-in-a-cup like never before. There are clearly too many coffees to mention, but I particularly enjoyed the strong and delicious Neapolitan style from Kimbo and the delightfully smooth Vietnamese coffee from The Saigon Coffee Company.
This blog is a collection of thoughts about some of the best food and drink available in the UK and abroad. Do have a look as well at the reviews and reports on my main website - The Write Taste.
I hope the ideas you read about on these pages inspire you as much as they have inspired me.
The question: should we choose natural and organic food over other produce? The answer: maybe yes and maybe no. I’m putting on my fence-sitting hat here, as for me there cannot be a straight answer. Financial, lifestyle or health choices, including dietary restrictions, often dictate our eating and drinking habits, but for me, the taste of what I’m consuming is of paramount importance. I dislike mass-produced low quality produce, as much as anyone, but just because something is produced on a grand scale and may not qualify as "natural", due to its list of ingredients, does not automatically void it of nutritional or organoleptic worth. However, could the Natural Food Show component of the "Natural & Organic Products Europe Fair" at London’s Kensington Olympia this week convince me to change my eating and drinking habits? I went along to find out more.
In January’s edition of What’s Brewing, CAMRA’s monthly news magazine, there was a highly insightful article by food and drink market researcher, Peter Jackson. He investigates why more 18-24 year-olds don’t drink real ale when it often tastes better, has probably a greater variety of styles and costs less than lager and cider. I completely agree with everything he says in this article, so here are two of his key points and a few thoughts of my own.
According to CAMRA, 3 million fewer UK adults visit the pub on a regular basis as a result of the beer duty escalator, which increases tax on alcohol by 2% above the inflation rate each year. This, in turn, is being blamed as a major contributory factor for the increase in pub closures. Therefore, following a 106,000 signature e-petition, CAMRA organised its biggest ever campaigning event, as over 1,200 members lobbied Parliament yesterday, demanding an end to this damaging piece of legislation.
Twenty years ago, I predicted that the England football team should stop playing 4-4-2, as this system was outdated, one-dimensional and would guarantee failure at every major international tournament. Hardly anyone believed me then, but pretty much everybody agrees now. I also predicted that fewer and fewer people would turn out to vote at elections and this also seems to be true.
In terms of wine, a few years ago, I came to the conclusion that perhaps Vinho Verde Tinto was not quite the joke it was sometimes made out to be – even the Portuguese considered it a rather eccentric style of table wine for the home market only. I’ve now seen it advertised in the wine trade press for UK consumption! However, ten years ago, following a holiday to Sicily, I rated the island as a future wine force, as the signs of quality were starting to shine. Having just attended the Wines of Sicily tasting in London, I can definitely say that I was not wrong.