- March 15th 2012
Her Majesty has seen a lot and lived through decades of change in the city of London. Traditional dining and restaurants have been around since the monarchy took to the throne: Some of them date back to the early days of London. While new eateries and restaurants appear every week on the streets of London, and you can even find “pop-ups” that are only around for a few days, for a true taste of tradition and some spectacular dining, you should consider making a reservation at some of the oldest restaurants in the city.
Rules holds the official title of the oldest restaurant in London. Thomas Rules opened the doors to this fine dining establishment in 1798. Offering a traditional British menu to patrons, it is particularly renowned for its game dishes during the season. Rules is an institution in London and it’s well worth a visit if you’re in the city for a special occasion.
Just making it onto the list of the oldest eateries and drinkeries in London is Biagio Chez Victor. An upscale dining establishment that opened in 1901, this is certainly the oldest Italian eatery in the city. In 2007, the restaurant was rebuilt after a fire, but retains its links to history by having decor features that include the signatures and comments of the famous and infamous who have dined here. The question remains though…who is the legendary Victor? Read more »
- October 27th 2011
Fancy a bit of mama’s home cooking? Imagine a guide to eating your way round long-legged Italy…
Forget your cordon bleu and your nouvelle cuisine– Italy is all about back-to-basics, Editno-nonsense fare. It’s an all out carb-fest of a place that’s not embarrassed to say it likes its food. And the best bit is Italy’s said to have one of the healthiest diets in the world. So what better excuse to dive headfirst into a bowl of steaming pasta or reach for that second slice of pizza? When in Rome and all that…
But it’s not just food that gets people stuffing napkins in their collars, it’s the Italian approach to mealtimes. In fact, you could say food is the backbone of everyday life. Lunch is a two-hour affair, whatever the day, and evenings are played out around the dinner table.
So it comes as no surprise that the country has got an impressive dining scene. Go down any backstreet, and you’ll wander past trattorias packed with people twizzling spaghetti around their forks. Past pizzerias where chefs in marshmallow hats toss frisbees of dough into the air. And past waterfront ristorante tempting you in with fish plucked fresh from the sea. You certainly won’t go hungry in Italy.
Polenta – While pasta certainly gets a look in, it’s all about polenta in these parts. Made from maize, this yellow staple looks a bit like marzipan. It’s usually grilled and sprinkled with parmesan. The flavour? Imagine taking a pestle and mortar to a bag of Doritos and you’re almost there.
Risotto – The secret to this rice dish is TLC – white wine has to be stirred into the mix gradually. Properly cooked risotto should be soft and liquid with an al dente bite. Get it wrong and you could be dishing up rice pudding. Try risi e bisi, made with peas, pancetta and cream.
Tiramisu – Translated, tiramisu means ‘pick me up’. Reason being, this rich sponge cake is laced with coffee so a caffeine fix is all part of the deal. Add indulgent layers of soft mascarpone and a generous dusting of cocoa powder and you’ve got one belt-loosening dessert.
Prosecco – Italy’s answer to champers, this sparkling wine makes a great aperitif. For full-on bubbles ask for Prosecco Frizzante – otherwise go for Prosecco Spumante. Add a slug of fresh peach juice and you’ve got yourself a Bellini, darling.
Insalata Caprese – Along with streets paved with Gucci, Capri is famous for this salad. Thick slabs of mozzarella share plate space with equally thick slices of tomato, all garnished with torn basil and oregano. Dress with extra virgin olive oil and ground black pepper and you’re good to go.
Pizza Margherita – It may be the plain Jane of the pizza world but it’s arguably the best. It was invented in 1889 by Rafaele Esposito. He cooked up a patriotic-looking pizza for Queen Margherita, with tomato, mozzarella and basil standing in for the colours of the Italian flag.
Baba Napolitana – This limoncello-soaked brioche is the mother of all liqueur cakes. While the roots of the baba are hotly debated – it would seem the French came up with it first – most agree the Neapolitan version eclipsed earlier incarnations and has never been beaten since.
Radici Taurasi – Since famous foodie, R W Apple Junior, of New York Times fame, declared “Neapolitan wine finds high notes”, southern Italian wines have been enjoying their moment in the sun. He described the Radici Taurasi, a majestic red, as the “Barolo of the south”.
Ribollita – Once upon a time, this stodgy soup was power food for peasants. Its name means ‘reboiled’, but don’t let that put you off. Bubbling with wholesome ingredients like cannellini beans, bread, zucchini and Tuscan black cabbage, it’s a pot of soul-warming satisfaction.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina – Steak fans won’t be able to resist this Florentine favourite. As thick as a brick, this icon of Tuscan cuisine is seasoned with rosemary and then has a brief encounter with the grill before being drizzled with olive oil and spritzed with a wedge of lemon.
Torta della Nonna – ‘Grandma’s cake’, this sweet pudding is the Tuscan take on the humble custard tart. Sprinkled with pine nuts and edged in crumbly pastry, it’s incredibly moreish in a wonderfully down-to-earth way. Second helpings are a certainty.
Chianti – Forget those immortal Hannibal Lecter lines and dive into a glass of this rich ruby nectar at the first opportunity. With its floral, cherry and nutty notes, this Tuscan-grown legend is the granddaddy of Italian reds.
Arancini – These balls of rice are stuffed with bolognaise or mozzarella, rolled in breadcrumbs and dropped into hot oil. They look like satsumas when they reappear, hence their name – arancini means ‘little oranges’. Just don’t expect a vitamin C boost. Their other name is bombetti – fat bombs!
Sarde a Beccafico – Fancy a fish supper? Then give this traditional Sicilian dish a whirl. Breaded sardines are stuffed with a sweet and savoury combo of pine nuts, anchovies, cinnamon, grapes and raisins, and fried until golden. Makes battered cod sound positively boring in comparison.
Cassata – This calorie-fest of a pudding dates back to Sicily’s Arab days. Made from sponge cake, it’s filled with creamy ricotta, almond paste and candied fruits. An added helping of sugar and chocolate nudge this naughty-but-nice number into the molar-dissolving end of the spectrum.
Marsala – Lord Nelson was a big fan of this dessert wine. In fact, Marsala became a standard ration for the British fleet. Even now the navy still keeps stocks aboard its ships. It’s the perfect after-dinner tipple and the prestigious Pellegrino label is one of the top corks.
- October 13th 2009
On my recent trip to Florida, one restaurant chain stood out for both taste and value – Sweet Tomatoes (also known as Souplantation in some areas). We happened into it one afternoon after rejecting the nearby Italian restaurant we’d been considering.
When we walked in we were greeted by a salad bar several feet long, and this on its own would have been enough to keep us happy. Not only did it have a huge selection of fresh individual salad items (including a couple of things I’d never heard of), but it included three lettuce based salads, two pasta salads and potato salad. You could put as much on your plate as you wanted, though we discovered that if you were too full of salad you would miss out on the other items on offer. To accompany your salad you could choose from water, iced tea, lemonade, strawberry lemonade and soda. Read more »