Friday, December 30, 2022


 You ever seen one of these?  I hadn’t.  


Then I went in the Sprouts Farmers Market in Culver City and there they were.  They’re limequats.


Allow Wikipedia to explain: ‘The limequat is a citrofortunella hybrid that is the result of a cross between the Key lime and the kumquat, hybridized by Walter Tennyson Swingle in 1909. 


Who knew?


I was even foolish enough to try eating one whole, since that’s what you do with a kumquat.  This was a mistake.


I have never actually tasted battery acid, but I imagine the flavour would be somewhat similar.  Perfectly OK in your gin and tonic though.


This is Walter Tennyson Swingle.



Thursday, December 22, 2022


 This one made me snicker like a guilty schoolboy: 


It was posted on Instagram by David R. Chan (@chandavkl) who is a champion eater at, and chronicler of, Chinese restaurants; and an amusing fellow, judging by his blog.

This is a link to that blog:

Tuesday, December 20, 2022


Want to see some evidence of enthusiastic but prudent alcohol intake?

Well of course you do.

Here's a Manhattan in the bar at the Hilton Garden Hotel, Heathrow.

This pic is by me, all the rest were taken by Caroline 'hot shot' Gannon

A martini at Musso and Frank in LA.:


A couple of 'James Bond Martinis' at The Kaiser Grill in Palm Springs:


Another at Lulu's, also Palm Springs - hey, it's martini kind of town.

Another at the bar in the Bonaventure, LA (the revolving restauarant was closed – and not revolving), and yes, the glass could have been a LOT fuller:


And a Margaraita, also in LA, at a somewhat fancy Mexican restaurant, La Conde:


Made by this guy:

Cheers and a happy equinox to you and yours.  

Thursday, December 15, 2022


 A few years back when cannabis became more or less fully legal in California, various Los Angeles restaurants offered tasting menus that included ‘cannabis pairings’ – different types of dope for each course, designed to match and enhance the flavor of different foods.  I’m not sure that these establishments ever really caught on, though I see they do still exist in some form.  I also see that the internet is awash with recipes for ‘cannabis cocktails’ and even ‘cannabis gin.’


I never went to one of those cannabis restaurants, mostly because I know that my own reaction to cannabis is very unpredictable.  Some types and dosages leave me completely unmoved.  Other types have been known to turn me into a drooling, dribbling wreck. There may be a time and a place for that, but I’d say not when you’re sitting at a table in a restaurant.


However … finding myself in Palm Springs recently (long story) where there’s a cannabis store on many a street corner, I sampled some edibles and then set out with the (untainted) inamorata for a couple of martinis at Zin, which calls itself ‘American bistro’ – no definite or indefinite article.


The walk there from the motel was an experience.  Most of the time I had no idea where I was or where I was going, and the roads seemed hundreds of yards wide.  It wasn’t unpleasant but it was very weird to feel that way before dinner, before even having had a drink.


Photo by Caroline Gannon

But we arrived at Zin, sat on stools at the bar, and ordered a couple of martinis from the cheery, mask-wearing barman.  He asked what kind of gin we wanted and I said Tanqueray possibly thinking of Snoop Dogg and the fact that he rhymes Tanqueray with Dr. Dre in the song ‘Gin and Juice.’ The barman then asked, and really do I believe this was the first time I’d been asked it by a barman, if we wanted the drinks shaken or stirred.  The latter obviously.


Well, I was certainly not a drooling, dribbling wreck and the martini was very good, and then I tasted the olive, and OMG!!!

It seemed to explode with brinish intensity not just in the mouth and taste buds but also in my brain, in my very core.  It was, and I hesitate to use the word, COSMIC.  I asked the barman where he bought his olives and he said just down at the local supermarket, and of course I was well aware that the bang was in me rather than in the olives, and probably it was an unrepeatable experience. Even if I could guarantee the ‘pairing,’ it no doubt wouldn’t be the same next time.  

Sunday, November 27, 2022


Here is the Carron Lodge Charcoal Briquette.

It looks like a waxed hockey putt on the outside and it looks like a mineral sample on the inside.

The label says it's a Cheddar with 'added charcoal.'  No, I don't know why.  Tastes OK though, like a Cheddar with crumbly bits in it.

    When my friend and food editor Carolyn Hart was pregnant with her daughter, she developed a craving for clementines, so when the baby arrived she named her Clementine.

    When my Aunty Kath was pregnant with her son, my cousin, she took to eating coal.  I thought it would have been good if she'd called her son Cole (as in Porter) but in fact she called him Michael.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022



When I was a young man, I crossed the Americas on foot.  By which I mean 

that I hitchhiked (as was the style at the time) from Toronto to Santa 



I had read and half-digested a lot (arguable too much) of Jack Kerouac’s work.  And although I had no Neal Cassady in my life, at least there was no Allen Ginsburg either.


This is Jack Kerouac in a diner in New York in the 1950s.

Anyway the point of my story is that the final lift, the one that got me to Santa Barbara was with a very slightly older woman who said, ‘I’ll take you out for dinner tomorrow evening.’  I thought I had arrived in California heaven.


Next night she took me to eat at a Taco Bell.  This is a Taco Bell in Santa Barbara but it almost certainly isn’t the one we went to.


Now, I was not a exactly a food sophisticate at that time but I was sophisticated enough to realize that a meal at a Taco Bell was not exactly ‘going out for dinner.’


Even so I enjoyed myself – I’d never had Mexican food before and I thought it was great.  I seem to recall it was the refried beans that I liked best of all.


Well the years pass, and I was in Gloucester last weekend and imagine the thrill of discovering that Gloucester has a Taco Bell.  So obviously we went.

In the intervening years I’ve had a fair bit of good Mexican food, much of it in California, and Taco Bell is nobody’s idea of good Mexican food, whether in California or Gloucestershire. The food looked like this - not a refried bean in sight – and it tasted just as good as it looks.


Still, I’m glad we went - they did have this very fancy sign above the door to the unisex toilet.  


Monday, November 14, 2022


 I had an idea, possibly even a concept, though I admit it wasn’t the greatest or most 

original concept and I’m sure it’s been done before, but the plan was that I’d eat my 

way through the entire cheese alphabet.


I might start with Abbamar, a Sardinian semi-soft cheese made cows’ and sheep's milk and go all the way to Zighera,a smoked cheese made in the mountains of Pinetano, and along the way I’d hope to eat some Xynomizithra, a Greek, specifically Cretan, whey cheese made from ewe and/or goat milk.


The obvious problem was where I’d actually obtain these cheeses without going to Sardinia, the mountains of Pinetano or Crete. I thought ‘International Cheese,’ the shop in Liverpool Street station, might be some help – their slogan is ‘tired of cheese, tired of life’ - but it probably wouldn’t be the complete solution.


I could also see certain problems with names and alphabetization.  Here for example is Westminster cheese, which is pretty good, though as it says on the pack it’s actually a smoked cheddar.


So would I file that under W or C, or conceivably S?


As for Red Windsor, that could be R or W, but again it's a cheddar before being laced with Bordeaux or sometimes port or brandy, so perhaps it also should be under C.  


I like these cheeses very much but the conceptual purity of my project was looking a bit thin.


So I decided I’d just go with whatever weird and wonderful cheese I happened to find, and of course whatever it was, it would fit into the alphabet somewhere.


Here for example here is what appears to be called ‘It’s Cream Cheese’ – but containing Marmite.  File under I?

This is a Marks and Sparks version but it’s sold elsewhere. The most interesting thing about it is that it tastes EXACTLY the way you’d imagine it would – simultaneously and equally of both Marmite and cream cheese.  If this is the kind of thing you like, you’ll like this a lot, though the label says it contains ‘vegetable juice extract’ without specifying the vegetable, which I thought was a bit dubious.


And then in the nearby Asda I found this thing, Castello Taste Hawaii. File Under C, T or H? The pack says, ‘Tropical, fruity, crunchy & deliciously smooth cream cheese.’  


Yes, it’s got pineapple and almonds in it which sounds OK but it also contains ‘candied papaya’ which I thought was an abomination.  And you know, you might think it would taste like a dessert, like a cheesecake, but it doesn’t. 


My thoughts turned to the joys of Leagram Organic Bob’s Knobs, actually a kind of Lancashire I had some years back.  


I can only imagine where that ought to fit in the alphabetical scheme of things.  But I’m not losing sleep over it.  Sometimes you just have to shut up and eat yer cheese.



Monday, November 7, 2022


I was leafing through my copy of Alan Davidson’s Oxford Companion to Food when out fell an ancient cutting I’d put in there from the Times (30 September 1995 in case you want to research it) headlined ‘Kohl Treating Chum Major to Blood Sausage Ritual.’  Keep a clean mind there at the back.


The story was that Kohl, a keen amateur chef, was going to serve Major a seven course dinner, including ‘potato ravioli filled with blood and liver sausage … quickly followed by a carpaccio of pig’s stomach and blood sausage.’


It would work for me.  And the Times said it had also worked for Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Brian Mulroney, the Canadian Prime Minister, who'd been served similar meals.  I haven't been able to find a picture of Kohl and Major at table, though there is this:

Anyway this led to me buying a copy of A Culinary Voyage Through Germany.  The attributed to Hennelore Kohl, General Editor, with Commentary by her husband Helmut Kohl, though the introduction says it is Hannelore’s ‘recipe book.’

This is Hannelore and Helmut at table:

The book contains sections titled ‘Hannelore Kohl in conversation with master chef Alfons Schuhbeck.’  This is Alfons.

         One of the conversations is about bread and walking.  Hannelore says, ‘My husband and I are enthusiastic hikers.  Hiking and sandwiches go together so well, don’t they?’


And Alfons replies, ‘Yes, because after an exhausting hike the body primarily needs the carbohydrates from starch, and it can obtain these most easily from bread and rolls.  If you were to eat a huge pork roast during your hike, you wouldn’t feel like walking anymore; instead you’d want a bench to sit down on to have forty winks. Big meals tend to make people lethargic, while bread on the other hand, makes them bright and lively.’


I wonder if this has lost something in the translation.  I also wonder how you would eat ‘a huge roast pork’ during a hike.  The logistics seem tricky.  It would be worth a try though, I think.

Monday, October 31, 2022


 It's from the Sunday Sport so I assume it's fictional

but personally I'd just like to meet a man who can eat a whole sheep in 63 minutes.   His resemblance to Rishi is neither here nor there.

Sunday, October 30, 2022



I’ve been slightly worried about the fish man down at the market.  The last few times I asked him for oysters he didn’t have any and he said he was having trouble getting them.  Well, the oyster shortage is over, at least for now, and on Saturday I bought a dozen and they were very fine.

Photo by Caroline Gannon.


They were £1,50 each, which was what I expected to pay, but it did cross my mind that 18 quid for two starters was a bit steep; though when you think you can expect to pay several quid for a single oyster in a restaurant, it seems a lot more reasonable. Bibendum is currently charging £4.50 for a Maldon oyster (which is what I believe my fish man sells) and they’re charging £8.50 for a Gillardeau.


All of which, naturally, reminded me of Brillat-Savarin and his oyster anecdote.  In the transaltion I have in front of me this reads. 

‘In 1798 I was at Versailles as a commissary of the Directory, and frequently met M. Laperte, greffier of the count of the department. He was very fond of oysters, and used to complain that he had never had enough.

‘I resolved to procure him this satisfaction, and invited him to dine with me on the next day.

‘He came. I kept company with him to the tenth dozen, after which I let him go on alone. He managed to eat thirty-two dozen within an hour for the person who opened them was not very skilful.

      ‘In the interim, I was idle, and as that is always a painful state at the table, I stopped him at the moment when he was in full swing. "Mon cher," said I, "you will not to-day eat as many oysters as you meant—let us dine." We did so, and he acted as if he had fasted for a week.’

      I’ve often had ‘enough’ oysters but I’ve always thought I could manage a couple  more, though perhaps not another 32 dozen.


Thirty two dozen is 384 – that’s a lot of oysters, and quite an expense even at £1.50 each, let alone at Gillardeau rates. I don’t know how much money a commissary of the Directory earned in 1798, or whether he had a generous expense account, but the final bill would surely have stung.


I was also taken by that line ‘the person who opened them was not very skilful’ which reminded me of the food writer Christopher Hurst, who I used to meet one in a while though I haven’t seen him for years.  When he was writing for the Independent I think it was, he got roped in to an oyster-opening contest, at Bibendum.  It may have been for charity.  He was strictly an amateur and he found himself up against the professionals. I’m pretty sure Tom Parker Bowles was one of them – he seemed a nice lad.

Of course the pros trounced poor Christopher, and I do remember Christopher looking ashen and humiliated afterwards, and saying the whole thing was jolly unfair. Which it was.  I imagine he’s got over it by now, though on the night it looked like something he might never get over at all.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022



So the great Rodney Graham, conceptual artist, which in this case included being a 

photographer, filmmaker, sculptor, musician and much more besides, has become the 

lategreat Rodney Graham.  He was 73.


You may remember him from such art films as Lobbing Potatoes at a Gong in which he sits on a chair and throws (or lobs) potatoesat a gong some distance away.  This was apparently inspired by Nick Mason of Pink Floyd.


Some of the potatoes hit the gong, some inevitably missed, and the ones that hit were supposedly distilled into vodka.


But I do wonder how, after the lobbing, anybody could look at all the potatoes on the floor and tell which had hit and which hadn’t.  Maybe there was a system. Or maybe that was the joke.


Anyway, the end result looked like this:


Now, some people might say that’s an awful lot of trouble to go to for a bottle of vodka. But then some people just don’t understand art.