Food Acupuncture: article 1

Welcome to the first article of a major series on vitamins, minerals and supplements by Professor Oya Alpar. The aim is to clarify the roles of different vitamins in regard to health, how they work, why we need them and where we can find them.
Professor Alpar introduces the series in the video below.



Read the first article in the "Food Acupuncture" series here.

Read a brief biography of Professor Alpar here.


Food Acupuncture

In "Food Acupuncture", Professor Oya Alpar begins a series in which she writes about the vitamins that are essential to us, and where we get them from.


 Read the introduction to the series here.


A Year in Chicken Soup - Cock-a-leekie

chicken soup right

A Year in Chicken Soup

Cock-a-leekie 2



Join Hattie Garlick for the final instalment of A Year in Chicken Soup. After twelve months of culinary globetrotting via soups from Cambodia to Syria, Mexico to Nigeria, she returns to these shores for a final get-together with friends old and new round a soothing bowl of cock-a-leekie.


A Year in Chicken Soup - Hassan's Shakriya

Shakriya 5

A Year in Chicken Soup

chicken soup right

A series by Hattie Garlick



Have you read Only in London, by Hanan Al Shaykh? There’s a passage in it that describes one of the main characters, freshly arrived in the UK, making a to-do list.

‘This is going to become my country’ she writes, ‘I’ve stopped living a temporary life’. And so, she must learn to speak English properly, look for a job and.... read on


A Year in Chicken Soup - Bengali Chicken Curry

bangladeshchicken soup

A Year in Chicken Soup

A series by Hattie Garlick




Eid Mubarak! As I type, the smell of toasted spices and marinated meat sinews through the window, open to the cold air just a fraction of a gap. Below, small groups gather excitedly on doorsteps before disappearing within, behind warm lit windows that glow enticingly in the darkness.  (read on)


A Year in Chicken Soup - Ghanaian Nkatenkwan

chicken soup right

A Year in Chicken Soup

Ghanaian Soup 2



Join Hattie Garlick at Hackney's Ridley Road market to find the ingredients for her latest recipe, a soup so substantial that, as you can see above, it was served with knife and fork... (read on)

A Year in Chicken Soup - Mexican Pozole


mexican pozole

Hattie Garlick


A Year in Chicken Soup


with La Jacana

I’ve had to source some difficult ingredients for previous chicken soups – a kosher boiler chicken, memorably, and pepper from a particular province of Cambodia. This has to rank as the trickiest, though. For Mexico’s contribution to The Year in Chicken Soup I had to find a baby of less than 40 days old. .... (read on)chicken soup

A Year in Chicken Soup - Da's Cambodian Chicken Soup



cambodian soup 8s

chicken soupA Year in Chicken Soup


A new series by

Hattie Garlick




As Cambodians wake and shake their dreams from their slumbering limbs, they face a real working day that is likely to revolve around rice. According to a recent report by the New York Times, 80 per cent of the population work on the paddies. Which explains why Da, a Cambodian now transplanted to the urban fringes of London, says that Chicken Rice Soup — or borbo sach moan — runs in her veins. … (read on)


A Year in Chicken Soup - Jewish Penicillin

Jewish soup ingredientschicken soup

A Year in Chicken Soup

A new series by Hattie Garlick




A friend’s grandmother, a holocaust survivor, recently turned ninety-five. Surveying her life, she gave the following advice to young women: “be happy every day, eat, wear a scarf and don’t marry a schmendrick.”

It seemed like a good idea to heed her tip-off, and make Jewish chicken soup the second ‘chicken soup from around the globe’ to be cooked in our Comfort Food Cafe. ... (read on)


A Year in Chicken Soup - Avgolemono

chicken soup rightHattie  Garlick 1


A Year in Chicken Soup

A new series by Hattie Garlick



The first lesson of chicken soup club is this: you do not choose your chicken soup, your chicken soup chooses you.

As soon as I announce my plans to cook a different incarnation of the classic comfort food every month for a year, the Chicken Soup Conflict erupts. “My grandmother's Jewish penicillin is THE best!!!” emails a vague acquaintance. “Mexican chicken soup! Which other country actively encourages you to take both chocolate and tequila with your cure?” texts a friend.  (read on)

A Year in Chicken Soup

chicken soup right


A Year in Chicken Soup

A new series by Hattie Garlick


I am deep within the annual existential crisis otherwise know as The January Spring Clean. Literally so: I’m up to my knees in books, flung from their roosts on the book shelves in a desperate attempt to Get Rid Of This Infernal Clutter. I lift one at random and blow a film of dust from its decorative cover... (read on)

This Week's Wine - No.7

Chilean Dessert Wine

Chilean Dessert Wine

Sainsbury's Mayu Reserva Syrah 2009

Despite being on the southern edge of the Atacama, 530km north of Santiago,  the Valle de Elqui is a refreshingly “cool climate” region, benefitting from the steep slopes of the Andes and the cooling Pacific breezes.  They say on the Wines of Chile website, the region is perfect for Syrah and on this evidence,  I concur.
Sainsbury’s MAYU RESERVA SYRAH 2009 is packed with vibrant damson fruit that is spicy, peppery and rich. It has freshness, length and some bottle age complexity. A lot of bang for your peso!

Vital statistics

Alcohol 14%
Price  £10.00 on offer £8.50
Value  9
RDC rating 8.5



This Week's Wine - No.6

Rudolph's Red

Petri Pinot Noir

Petri Pinot Noir


A light and bright in colour German Pinot Noir, initially with an attractive slight spritz. Vibrant, fresh and balanced red fruits and acidity. A lovely alternative to red burgundy for Christmas Fayre and as I was drinking it, I was thinking how great this would be with left overs, always the best part of Christmas!


£10.95 Lea & Sandeman.


Other reviews in This Week's Wine series here.



This Week's Wine - No.5

Walter 2012 Riesling Trocken

Walter Riesling

Reasons for Riesling

In the UK, despite numerous promotions, tastings and festivals, Riesling, from where ever it originates, is still a tough sell.  

The pioneer and still the best source of dry German Rieslings is The Winery, 4 Clifton Road, Maida Vale, London W91SS whence this wine originates.

This 2012 Walter Mosel Riesling Trocken  is vibrant, zesty, citrussy and pure.  Slightly atypical of Mosel Riesling, in that it packs quite a punch making it suitable for a variety of oily fish and creamy dishes. Gratin Dauphinoise with a green salad a la Rick Stein appeals to me right now!  

Vital Statistics
Price £9.99
Alcohol  12%
RDC rating
Quality 8
Value 9

Other reviews in This Week's Wine series here.



This Week's Wine - No.4

La Gitana Manzanilla from Waitrose

La Gitana

LA GITANA MANZANILLA - Waitrose 15% abv £8.50

Those of us of a certain age may remember the slogan for a certain low alcohol beverage being “so light, so dry, so buy some!"
Waitrose are offering 75cl of La Gitana Manzanilla at a spankingly good £8.50 from £10 and I recommend that you do!

Manzanilla is a Fino Sherry that comes from the village of Sanlucar de Barrameda.  It has a fresh apple skin, salty aroma, clean as a whistle, dry and sappy.  At 15% abv, low for a sherry, don’t think of it as only an aperitif. Though it does that job admirably, try drinking it throughout the meal with some poached fish or chicken.



Other reviews in the This Week's Wine series here


This Week's Wine - No.3

Manz Platonico from Oddbins


Portuguese MANZ PLATONICO - Oddbins  13% alc. £10.00


On opening, crunchy, vibrant cherry fruit , tangy, blood orange mouth watering fruit.  Returning to it an hour later softer aromas of mulberries, violets and cocoa, warm, rich and elegant on the palate. Take your pick, but either way, very good indeed.

Refreshingly, exactly £10, certainly an excellent autumn buy.



Other reviews in the This Week's Wine series here


This Week's Wine - No.2

Waitrose Chilean Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013

Waitrose Sauvignon Blanc

Waitrose Chilean Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013 £7.99

Distinctly indistinctive  

If I had tasted this wine blind, I think I would have been able to pick it out as Sauvignon Blanc, but only just.  Formulaic, green apples, clean with a gentle tropical, sugary finish, therefore, easy to drink well chilled. Nothing for New Zealand to worry about here!

Score out of 10

Quality  5
Value  6.5


Other reviews in the This Week's Wine series here.



This Week's Wine - No.1

Le Fleur Bleu from M&S

Wine 1

Le Fleur Bleu 1.5L 12% abv  £11  Bag

The packaging, simplicity of use and convenience of this product, for that is what it is, is to be commended. Light and easy to carry for picnics, festivals and the Tour de France!

The contents are however less exciting. A blend of Grenache Blanc and Clairette, it is low on fruit, acidity and freshness, in fact it has no discernible character and should be consumed exceedingly well chilled.

Should one do this, it is acceptable plonk, not for the discerning, my recommendation would be to add cassis!

STAR RATING out of 10

Quality  3     Value 5


Other reviews in This Week's Wine series here.



A Landlady’s Diary - Part 1

A Landlady's Diary


Zara G. moved from a two bedroom flat to a large house in the summer of 2005.  For four years she has been landlady to students from all over the world.

"...Food is the pivotal factor, it helps break the ice and around the kitchen table is where the most meaningful and engaging conversations have taken place..."

Read the first episode of A Landlady's Diary


A Landlady’s Diary - Part 2

A Landlady's Diary



The second episode of A Landlady's Diary:


Henry, a carnivore from Colombia...


A Landlady’s Diary - Part 3




The third episode of  Zara G.'s

A Landlady's Diary:


Yozo, a football fanatic from Japan...


If you've missed Parts 1 and 2 you'll find them in READ


A Landlady’s Diary - Part 4




Katya, a size 0 from Moscow, is the subject of Zara G.'s observations in the latest episode of

A Landlady's Diary


Earlier entries featuring Henry, a carnivore from Colombia and Yozo, a football fanatic from Japan can be found in READ


A Landlady’s Diary - Part 5




Katya has returned to Moscow so our Landlady is free to take a holiday... first stop India.

Zara G.'s latest episode of

A Landlady's Diary




A Landlady’s Diary - Part 6

landladys diary picnic

It's been a while since we've had an entry in 

A Landlady's Diary  

In Zara G.'s latest episode,  a period of recuperation leads to memories of home remedies from the kitchen.

Parts 1 -5,  featuring Henry, a carnivore from Colombia and Yozo, a football fanatic from Japan, and more can be found in READ



A Landlady’s Diary - Part 7



In Zara G.'s latest diary entry, a lady from Turin is not quite what was expected...

Parts 1 -6,  featuring Henry, a carnivore from Colombia and Yozo, a football fanatic from Japan, and more can be found in READ



A Landlady’s Diary - Part 8


a landladys diary 2



Business isn't brisk for our Landlady, Zara G, so she has time to expand on an episode from her childhood.



A Landlady’s Diary - Part 9

landladys diary



In the latest entry in A Landlady's Diary, Zara G meets Yoshi and intoduces some spice into his culinary life!




Cling Film Noir

cling_film_noir_200Kazuo Ishiguro, prize winning author of Remains Of The Day, has just voiced his sympathy and support for the disdained cliche.

With this in mind, plus our national obsession with food, here is a short piece which might have been conceived by Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett had they been alive today.

Read on..



Tobi, alias Paul Tobias, is our resident food cartoonist.  He started drawing cartoons when he was five. By eight he was drawing on the walls and signing them (the first indication of a high I.Q.).

We tried to interview Paul's teachers but they wouldn't return our calls. With artistic talent like that there was only one career path ideal for him - he became a solicitor.

There followed 30 odd (very odd) years as a lawyer practising in the High Street ( he could never seem to afford an office) but Paul never let his cartooning fade and in his spare time (of which there was precious little given the Law Practice to run and wife and three children to support) continued drawing with commissions to illustrate books, and free lance publication in the National Dailies (even once having a cartoon accepted by The National Enquirer in America).

Paul has retired from  full time practice but continues in the Law as an occasional lecturer and consultant - and yes he's still drawing.

Here's what the critics say:-
"Paul is fantastic" His Mom
"Paul's drawings are to art what Marmite is to the Space Programme" Barak Obama
"Who?" David Cameron


See his cartoons in Gallery

Fyne Time




There are 3 million oysters in Loch Fyne . That's a fact. At least that's what Andy Lynes was told when he travelled to the Highlands to find out exactly what lies below the crystal clear waters of Scotland's largest sea loch.

Read on...

Watch video


Four Course Lunatics




Four Course Compost anyone?  Melon skin, steak bones, red peppers and pasta on the menu for some of California's best fed vines.

Richard Craig discovers how natural winemaking is completing the green loop:  from the farm to the restaurant kitchen and from the kitchen back to the vineyard that produces the wine that goes back to the restaurant!

Wine Titbits


Is wine made for tasting or drinking?

Would you want to drink more than a glass?

This was a discussion I had with Tim Johnston at the infamous Juveniles Wine Bar in Paris, which has an excellent wine list that is based on the premise that you would like to order another glass!

He is obviously of the opinion that an extra glass is good for business and buys wine accordingly, yet still interestingly!

Richard Craig on Californian Chardonnay...

Richard's Beef




Richard Craig on misleading wine label terminology.

Vielles Vignes, Reserve Wine, Cuvée.  Do they have any real meaning?



Richard Craig's Wine of the Week - No.1

Two from the independent Jeroboams


Chateau Lalande-Borie 2007 Saint-Julien £22.95
This estate was bought by the Borie family, owners of Ducru Beaucaillou in 1970. This does not guarantee a fine existence! However in this case, in a difficult, cool and wet vintage, this wine is seductive and pure. Definitely Bordelais, medium bodied, fragrant and gentle tannins. It shows truly superb and flexible winemaking, producing a wine "of the year" rather than throwing money and wood at unsuitable raw materials. It would make a great accompanyment for lamb, veal and cocks.



Sancerre 2007 Cuvee Reserve "Silex" Domaine Serge Laloue £17.50
This is top draw Sancerre. Great depth and beautiful balance. Crisp and lively but more than just rasping. A gentle softening, due to the low yields and bottle age, of the often searingly acidic Sauvignon Blanc that can be produced in these Northern climes makes this wine a great match for seafood and also light meats and vegetables.


Richard Craig's Wine of the Week - No.2

Two Classics from the anything but "classic" The Winery, Maida Vale  020 7286 6475 


Champagne Carte d'Or NV, Amyot. £18.99

This Champagne is a "GROWER CHAMPAGNE" made from grapes grown and vinified by the name of the producer on the bottle. The Winery specialise in these. No Grande Marque multi, mega blends here! The current shipment of Amyot  is fresh, crisp and lively with attractive red current fruit acidity and a lingering gentle finish. It is 100% Pinot Noir, a true blanc de Noir!  This is in contrast to the previous shipment, which had a delicious creaminess with depth and complexity but without the raciness.  That is what you get with these very individual grower Champagnes, produced to the best quality possible, but with a little variation more often or not to do with the time/date of degorgement when the sediment created by the secondary fermentation is expelled and a wine and sugar solution is added. The more recently that this is done, the fresher, more lively the Champagne is the normal rule of thumb. Anyway, this is a delicious drinking physio suitable for many outdoor pursuits.



Chablis 2008 Mosnier £15.99

This is top class minerally, dry, dry Chablis, no oak , fresh acidity balanced with restrained and pure fruit.  Stephanie Mosnier gave up her job in logistics to take over her father's domaine in the small village of Beine. Unlike many a modern Chablis, this one actually goes well with seafood and makes a bracing aperitif.


Richard Craig's Wine of the Week - No.3

Rippon 2009 Lake Wanaka Central Otago Sauvignon Blanc  75cl £14.95 Lea and Sandeman.

I have to admit to being a bit fed up with a succession of blowsy, over sweet and vegetal NZ Sauvignon Blancs and some at high prices. Rippon 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, however is poised and focussed, with tight blackcurrant leaf aromas, excellent intensity and a racy mouthfeel. 40% of the cuvee was vinified in oak and this just adds to the complexity - it is not oaky!


Tenuta di Riseccoli 2000 Vin Santo 37.5cl  £34

This is tippy toppy sweet, complex, unctuous and rare. On the face of it, expensive, but when one considers the yields that are obtained not only for this vin santo but for many, top quality desert wines, an absolute maximum of 15hl/ha.  This can be compared with the yields achieved by the great Chateau of Bordeaux, where often as much as 40hl/ha are achieved, plus the probability of making second and third wines,  one can then see that these are not overpriced at all. Often they are made as a hobby or as a means of maintaining the traditional viticulture of an area and are non-profit making.


Richard Craig's Wine of the Week - No.4

Touraine Amboise Sec 2002  Domaine de la Perdrielle 12%  £9.50 Bordeaux et Beyond

This wine is still fresh and lively, very classic Chenin Blanc, complex, rich and gracefully ageing. Chenin Blanc is a very noble grape variety in the Loire. It is just a shame that most people come across it in fairly bland South African Whites!


Domaine des Rocailles Apremont 2009 Savoie

DRINK IT NOW! and for the summer with strawberries!

White wines of the Savoie do not often find their way out of the region. Like Swiss wines, they are true local wines, drunk by locals in the locale!  Often dull and uninteresting, the wines that is!  I can whole heartedly recommend this for early Summer drinking at the very refreshing price of £6.07 Waitrose.  Made from the usually high yielding Jacquere grape, this wine is not for cellaring, it has an attractive slight spritz, which enlivens the relatively neutral and soft mouthfeel. It has a gentle, pleasing citrus finish and slips down very easily.

Richard Craig's Wine of the Week - No.5
*Wine of the Year - so far!!

Grolleau "Le Cousin" Vielle Vignes 2007 Domaine Cousin-Leduc, Anjou AC. Les Cave de Pyrene,  tel. 01483 554750

This wine was consumed at Terroir Wine Bar tel. 020 7036 0660 £30, with a companion who like me wanted something "wacky! " Grolleau is a variety now virtually only encountered as a component  in Rose d"Anjou, bland and insipid! The name Grolleau is derived from the old French word "Grolle" means Raven, a bird with plumage as black as the grapes from this vine. Old vines, carbonic maceration, non filtration and biodynamic practises produce a wine that is cloudy, purple-violet-red, has aromas of farmyards and horse manure, is red current juicy with vibrant, long acidity and considerable depth . Give me more!!


Chateau Pierre-Bise L'Anclaie 2007 Coteaux du Layon Beaulieu 50cl. Lea & Sandeman  £16.99

2007 was not the best vintage for Loire sweeties, but Claude and Joelle Papin of Chateau Pierre-Bise manage superb consistency. This is achieved by tirelessly picking trie after trie only the most botrytised grapes for there cuvees. This, from one of his more exposed vineyards, hence less susceptible to the positive mists necessary for the noble rot to infect the grapes is a case in point. It has ripe, golden, flower honey aromas,  creamy and elegant with appropriate balanced acidity. It would be and in fact was, delicious with baked apples and custard!