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2010 ...


First of all HAPPY 2010! I have to say I’m not exactly sad to see the back of 2009, a relatively disappointing year all round in many respects. And now it’s gone.

Now 2010 on the other hand – I don’t want to jinx things but I think it’s going to be a goodun’. The year has already got off on the right foot for me in the snow-bound south although I hazard a guess that many in the north of the UK (minus the school age children) won’t agree with me. We have SNOW!

Down in the land of Kew, Surrey everything is nicely dusted with fine icing sugar. It has a satisfying, not fatal, crunch underfoot like a good crisp sandwich (I prefer salt and vinegar) and makes everything on my midday run look quite picturesque. Each gasp of air feels like a gulp of cold water and you can feel it flooding your throat and inflating your lungs.

The twelfth night of Christmas has been and gone and the days are finally inching their daylight hours longer. The last of our lovely shipment of Nussecken (nut corner biscuits from Germany) are running out and the clove-oranges are banished to the storage cupboard along with the decorations and cards. We are ready for the New Year!

A whole lotta coffee

Perfect macchiato cup from Andon Ryokan, Tokyo Honestly, is there any hot beverage that is better than a well brewed cup of coffee? It’s a rhetorical question.

I know there are people out there that claim ‘they don’t like coffee’ or ‘they can’t drink coffee’ but really do believe that they just haven’t found the right one for them. And like love there is the right one for everyone. For me it’s the rich, dark and incredibly viscous stuff the, as if by magic, erupts out of my percolator each morning. With just a little hot milk. I of course do not discount the little latte or the foamy cappuccino or the lightly frothy flat white – but macchiato is where my heart lies. By Strange coincidence this article popped up in yesterday’s Times. In amongst the fascinating facts and trends there was this sentence:

“flat white — the trendy, short drink developed in Australia and New Zealand that everyone seems to be ordering.”

I was ever so amused. Hailing from the Land of Oz myself, trendy is not the word I would use to describe the now ubiquitous flat white. My mother drinks flat whites, always has.  Some of my earliest memories are of her ordering one at the counter of a ghastly shopping centre coffee shop while I stuck with a chocolate milkshake. Well I was 7.

Another interesting tit-bit I found in some rather advertising-like videos I saw recently is that coffee beans before they are dried and roasted are called cherries. What a perfect name.

Oh well – back to my coffee.

*Image: Perfect macchiato cup from Andon Ryokan, Tokyo

Merry Festivious


Is it just me or are Christmas themed menus oh-so boring? Stuffed chestnut this, honey-roasted that and don’t get me started on the vege options most of which feature either butternut squash, goats cheese and some kind of carbohydrate or a combination of all three.

It’s all delicious, don’t get me wrong, but it’s tired and what’s more eating out during the festive season becomes atiring. There are only so many times one can stomach stuffing. It gets to the point where come the 25 Dec all you want is a salad.

I’m sorry for getting all prematurely bah-humbug but would it kill the chef to be a bit more interpretive on the Christmas theme. My local, and normally well executed, (pardon the term) gastro-pub felt the need to apologise openly on the front page of it’s Christmas menu for not featuring turkey. I know, panic, no turkey!! You’ll be happy to know that it reassures it patrons “if you would like to replace the guinea fowl with a little more tradition please let us know."

I’m sure the guinea fowl is delicious if a little on the apologetic side.

So in the spirit of good cheer and peace to all men I offer this advice. We are not all Andy Park. Merry Christmas