Category Archives: Restaurants etc

64 Degrees, Brighton: great flavours, portion issues

64 Degrees, Brighton

We booked a table at 64 Degrees in Brighton ages ago. This 27-seat resturant opened in October 2013, but it’s taken us a while to get there. When we did, it started pretty well. They had a couple of beers from the innovative Wild Beer Co and I ordered their Madness IPA, thinking its hoppiness would be a good way of cleansing the palette between dishes. It was. It was so hoppy, and frankly American in style, I’d call it an APA. So while it’s not Wild Beer Co’s most interesting, it was a perfect accompaniment to what followed. Dishes. A lot of dishes.

Wild Beer Madness

The music is loud, the place is cramped, and I couldn’t quite hear the waitress. I beleive she suggested we should order three or four of the plates each as they’re small. Some are small – like the superb, delicate scallops with lemongrass and seaweed kale – but others are pretty substantial. The anchovies – crisp giants offset by gochujang – came by the dozen, while the venison balls were the size of golf balls, pretty dense and served on brioche, making for a hefty dish.

Venison balls, slaw, ricotta, on brioche

The result – we ordered too much and it slightly marred the experience. It also meant I couldn’t justify ordered the “Chocolate, hazelnut, hot & cold” for dessert, dammit! Never mind the fact that, along with Silo, 64 Degrees seems to be the most interesting food place in Brighton at the moment.

Anway, I cannot stand wasting food – I’d go so far as to say it was criminal. It takes a lot of energy to cultivate, transport and process fruit, vegetables, grain and particularly meat and fish, even when, as with 64 Degrees, the emphasis is on local produce. And we in an era when climate change having a significant impact on our civilisation, we need to think carefully about energy use.

Every time you throw food away you really should consider the repucussions: ethical, environmental and even financial (it costs a lot to shift stuff to the landfill. Never mind the fact that you’ve paid for the meal anyway).

So there I was trying to hoover up anything left by my companions. And I ate too much, and I felt a bit ill –  both inbody and in conscience. Which isn’t a great way to end a meal, especially an expensive meal I’d been looking forward to.

64 Degrees menu 20 November 2014

So I want to return to 64 Degrees: I like their menu, I just need to order more carefully. In the meantime, I think they need to do a bit of calibration of their portions, and when the waiting staff are talking you through the menu, they need to be honest about the difference between a fairly small plate of mackerel and a massive pile of potato knödel. These dishes are not tapas. I didn’t get the impression you could order as you go along. So if you’re going to order it all at the start, it’d be good know how much is enough.

Rare mackerel, with peanut crisps and a tomato foam


53 Meeting House Ln, Brighton BN1 1HB  | | 01273 770115


Filed under Ale, beer, Restaurants etc

Silo, Brighton: ardent principles and excellent food

Silo entrance crop

Not living in Brighton, I’m sometimes a little late to the party when new venues open. Not too late though – Silo opened in early October and I made it there yesterday. Apparently Fran was going to send me this Guardian article a while back, but forgot. So thanks to Rosie Swaffer for a reminder via her blog.

This is really my kind of place, but perhaps because it’s so in line with the sorts of food issues I’m interested in – such as non-industrial food, which they call “pre-industrial” – it makes me particularly critical. When I sat waiting for my food, which was slow-ish for an urban weekday lunchtime, I nitpicked. But most of the nitpicking in my notepad feels irrelevant now. The main criticism that lingers is how they use jars for drinks. Jars are for storage, they have lips and awkward necks. For drinks you need glasses and cups. I don’t think providing the right piece of kit for activity in question is a big compromise to the venue’s ardent principles. After all, they do give you knives and forks, not twigs or bits of pipe.

Flipping jars

But yes, Silo is a very principled place. Its founder and chef, Douglas McMaster, has tried to create a venue that overcomes much of that most monstrous of crimes in modern life: our wastefulness.

We are a shocking species. The garbage, much of it plastics, we produce and liberally sprinkle all over the environment is shameful. Last night was Bonfire Night here in Lewes, and while it was spectacular, and a wonderful traditional celebration, early this morning the town looked like a landfill site, thick with single use food and drink packaging. It’s truly horrible. How many tonnes of crap did the fiery party produce?

Modern society squanders resources like they’re going out of fashion, and restaurants are no exception. Indeed, they’re particularly bad, with food generally a commodity that’s both over-packaged and overly energy reliant. So it’s not just physical waste, food involves vast amounts of wasted energy too. McMaster is trying to tackle all this head on. Interestingly, a photographic exhibition in Lewes railway station features another café-restaurant that has a zero-waste policy – but it’s in the US. Silo may well be Britain’s first. Bravo.

Silo’s intentions greet you as you enter in a chalked up “mission statement”. As much as I dislike this kind of American corporate terminology, I wholehearted agree with the message of this one.

Mision statement

Of course, good intentions are all very well, but a restaurant is always going to be about the food, and the taste. Luckily, Silo comes through ably on this front, or at least it did on the strength of the lunch I had.

I really like the menu – it’s not overlong, indicating an emphasis on what’s in season, or available locally, or available at a reasonable energy cost. McMaster makes a point of serving the food and engaging with clients, and as I had both a chunk of their delicious bread, made from grain ground on site, and a risotto, I asked him about the source of their grains, as rice isn’t exactly a British crop.

Bread, recycled plastic trencher

He says that while utilising local produce as much as possible is important, it’s not the only deciding factor: they weigh things up and have to be realistic. A risotto needs rice. Orzotto is all well and good, but barley (which does grow in Britain) doesn’t cut it when you want the qualities of rice. He also made the point that while you could source an orange grown in Cornwall, it may well have required a higher energy footprint to grow and transport than one grown in the more suitable climate of southern Spain.


As for that risotto, it was made with brown rice, and featured mushrooms that, McMaster said, were fruited on premises, downstairs (presumably a cellar). Its earthy, meaty flavours were offset with a tart salsa verde (featuring what the waitress called cilantro – that’s coriander in British English) and a blob of curd cheese. The umami was intense, perhaps because this was a fermented rice risotto. McMaster explained the rice was soaked then a locally made miso-type paste  was added. I said the maker of the paste sounded like a local version of Sandor Ellix Katz, the American fermented foods guru, and McMaster concurred, and also said they hoped to get Katz in for an event.

Fermentation is a time-honoured means of both preserving foods and making them more digestible and it’s something McMaster is clearly keen on as the menu, which is broken down into daily dishes in six categories (salad, “Plant”, “Dairy”, “Fish”, “Meat” and “Wild”) also featured fermented ramson (wild garlic) which, in an amusing twist of syntax “may contain shot”. I think they meant the partridge it was served with.

While the food was brilliant the language on the menu was a tad iffy, even containing a dreaded grocer’s apostrophe. Another minor criticism – when I asked the very friendly and attentive waitress a few questions about where ingredients came from, she wasn’t sure. I would say that a venue where provenance is so important should brief the waiting staff a bit better.

Silo bread

Overall, this really was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. I despair sometimes, having lived in Rome then returned to small-town England. Getting great food in the former was easy, getting it in the latter is a challenge. Lewes is pretty rubbish for eating out but hopefully I can get to Silo whenever we visit Brighton. Tomorrow, perhaps. So much more to try on the menu, especially as it changes daily, depending on what’s readily available.

Talking of which, I drank  apple juice, made not just with English apples but apples from Stanmer Park, on the edge of Brighton. Earlier in the day I’d been in the supermarket trying to find apple juice made with English apples, which have been cascading off the trees here the past few months. There was none. I truly hope Silo succeeds, and also succeeds in taking its place in the dialogue that encourages a move away from this kind of absurdity, and a move away from the over-packaged, energy squandering, largely industrial, frequently toxic “food” we seem all too happy to accept in Britain.

Silo interior

39 Upper Gardner Street, Brighton BN1 4AN | | | 0330 3352368


Filed under Restaurants etc

An evening with Dan Lepard at The Hearth, Lewes


Dan Lepard is my baking hero. If you know my blog(s) you’ll know I mention him a fair amount. His book The Handmade Loaf was the encouragment I needed to take my baking to the next level, and I had a great run making his reliable recipes from The Guardian, now collected in Short and Sweet. So I had some fanboy excitment when I heard he was doing a day at The Hearth pizzeria and bakehouse in Lewes, arranged by proprietor Michael Hanson.

Taking place on Tuesday 30 September, this was surely one of the biggest days of Lewes Octoberfeast, and indeed The Hearth has been at the heart of the 2014 festival. Dan had three events over the course of the day: classes Bread Made Simple and The Big (Cake) Bang Theory, then an evening meal, prepared in The Hearth’s wood-fired oven.

Heads down

As Michael said in his introduction, a hearth is “where people are around a fire, sharing stories, in each other’s company” and you can’t argue with the warmth, literal and metaphorical, that comes from a wood-fired oven. It also gives a remarkable depth and richness to any food cooked in it – both in flavour terms but also in more rarified, almost spiritual terms. This is real cooking: wood, smoke, oven walls with serious mass, ancient technology.

Desserts on hearth

For the meal itself, Dan, aided by Michael, food and travel writer Andy Lynes and The Hearth team, prepared a series of hearty dishes that carried on this theme of warmth, real food, depth of flavour, all eminently suitable for the last day of September, where our Indian summer is finally giving way to a change of seasons and the food cravings that accompany cooler weather.

Bagna cauda

First up flatbreads with a bagna cauda. I’d not encountered the latter before, but it’s a hot dip originally from Piedmont/Piemonte, northwest Italy. Dan’s version was an intense, thick, oily and salty, as only serious anchovy-based dishes can be, and was served with flatbread. It included oregano brought back by Emilio and Diane, who we shared a table with, from Emilio’s Sicilian hometown of Pachino (of tomato fame).

Chopping pork

The main course was shoulder of pork, with sage, lemon and garlic. The woodfired oven is perfect for proper, slow-cooked pork, and Dan said they cooked this for about four hours. It was served with crisped-up polenta slice, roasted celeriac and potato, and mushroom and borlotti bean stew. I hope Fran isn’t reading this as she’ll be really sad she wasn’t able to make it, as these are some of her favourite things, excellently done.

Apple crumble cake with gelato

The desert was one an apple and pine nut cake served with Amaretto and raisin gelato. It was a delicious, surprisingly delicate desert. The cake is based on one of Dan’s recipes for the Sydney Morning Herald, and he explained how cooking apple in orange utilises the ascorbic acid to preserve the natural sweetness, resulting in a need for less added refined sugar. And cakes with some form crumble on the top are always a winner in my book (cf toscakaka, streusel cake).

Last bit of cake

All in all, a great evening, hosted by two men who combine experience with enthusiasm, to paraphrase Dan quoting Forbes. An evening that played to the strengths of a wood-fired oven, which isn’t just for pizza – though The Hearth remains one of the few places I’ve had a decent pizza in England. Let’s hope Dan Lepard comes back to The Hearth more in future, to spread knowledge – and cook great food.

(Oh, and usual apologies about the photography. I’m really not a photographer, despite being the only one wielding a DSLR yesterday evening. Not only was Dan a professional photographer, I also met Susan Bell that evening, which throws these bodges in a very sorry light.)


Filed under Misc, Other food, Restaurants etc

A week in Rome: pizza and pizza bianca

Biddy on the beach, where we had pizza bianca for our lunch

A couple of my pizza or pizza-related ambitions for this trip didn’t come to fruition – a trip to the vaunted Pepe in Grani pizzeria and a chance to try the intriguing pinse. The former just felt like too much of a mission, as it’s in the sticks, a two-hour drive or doubtless convoluted journey by public transport from Rome. The latter because the place I’d been told about by Hande Leimer, not just the expert sommelier of Vinoroma, but a great knowledge on Roman eating, was closed when we passed by around midday on our way back from closing our Italian bank account. Or attempting to close it. I’ll eat my hat – okay, I’ll just nibble it a bit – if that cheque ever arrives at our UK address.

Shame really, as pinse are a kind of rare Roman and Lazio relative of the pizza, made with a dough based on grains other than wheat, such as millet, oats or barley, in a mix with older wheat varieties. Next time.

And it’s not like we were otherwise deprived.

The best meal we had was for Fran’s birthday lunch, which we celebrated at the excellent trattoria Da Cesare (Via del Casaletto 45, Casaletto/Monteverde Nuovo, 00151 Rome – at the end of the number 8 tram route). It’s an old favourite, via Rachel, Hande and her colleague Katie Parla, and the place where I had one of my most memorable meals ever, last year on Ferragosto – the public holiday that’s celebrated on 15 August, the day that’s considered the hottest of the year. For Fran’s birthday, we gorged ourselves on amazing fritti (deep-fried antipasti) and fresh pasta dishes, like these giant ravioli, accompanied by some great wines recommended by Hande (who told me the boss is also a sommelier and has a great selection). They do do pizza, though I’ve never tried it.

Giant ravioli of ricotta and spinach at Cesare a Casaletto

More basically though, we also ate a fair amount of pizza, including at one one of my favourite pizzerias. Da Remo (Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice 44, Testaccio, 00153 Rome) is isn’t a place that sells products that are entirely in line with my more ardent principles about long fermentation and whatnot, but it does offer a consistent, consistently tasty product: classic, thin Roman-style pizzas, nicely charred from their wood-fired oven and served an atmospheric slightly rough, rushed setting.

When we went there I had a pizza without tomato sauce – that is, a white pizza or pizza bianca. The topping was simply mozzarella, a few zucchine flowers and some anchovies and it totally hit the spot, washed down with dubious house wine.

Da Remo

Shades of white
The term pizza bianca can be a little confusing in Rome as the other thing it refers to is a simple snack of basic pizza dough embellished with little more than a slosh of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. I love the stuff. Can’t get enough. Which is good, as it’s ubiquitous in bakeries and pizza takeaways, which bake long planks of it and sell it by weight. It’s such a popular staple with Romans, I suspect even mediocre outlets put more effort into getting it right.

I’ve got a recipe here, but I’ll be honest – while I’m pleased with it, it’s never quite as good as the real thing, baked in a proper commercial oven oven, cut from a massive plank, eaten on a Roman street. Or nearby beach (where the old biddy, above, was our neighbour), here topped with some caciotta di pecora (sheep’s milk cheese) and prosciutto.

Pizza bianca 'sandwich'

Or as part of a simple lunch, here accompanied by burrata – not a Roman cheese, but from Puglia, and one of the most stupidly indulgent simple pleasures that exists.

Simple lunch

We bought ours from Il Panificio Passi (Via Mastro Giorgio 87, Testaccio), which was basically underneath the flat we were staying in and fortunately does decent pizza bianca.

Pizza bianca torn open, showing its moliche - crumb or guts

Name games
Rome, and Italy in general, is a great place for getting confused about the names of foods you might previously have considered yourself well-acquainted with. So while pizza bianca refers to both plain pizza, or topped pizza, pizza rossa refers to both pizza based topped with little more than a smear of tomato sauce, and the types of topped pizzas that have that sauce along with other elements.

Furthermore, Romans even use the word focaccia to refer to a very thin, crisp, crunchy bread that some trattorie serve in their baskets of bread that accompany every meal. I love it, though I didn’t take a photo when we had some as the waiter was so grumpy about my query it put me off my stride.

The plumper flatbread us Brits (and I suspect Americans) know as focaccia, meanwhile, can be simply called pizza alla genovese, as that style is from Genova/Genoa and Liguria.

Pizza rossa, pizza bianca and (the fatter stuff) pizza/focaccia alla genovese at Passi, Testaccio.

It’s all six of one and half a dozen of another though, as arguably all flat breads can be considered focaccia. The name simply means “hearth bread”, bread cooked on the hearth, from the Latin focus. Furthermore, Wikipedia’s attempt at making a distinction between focaccia and pizza is clearly spurious as it says things like “while focaccia dough uses more leavening, causing the dough to rise significantly higher” and “focaccia is most often square whereas conventional pizza is more commonly round”, both things fairly disabused by the kind of Roman food mentioned above.

It’s also worth noting, no one really seems to know the etymology of the word pizza anyway, so sod it – if you want to make something thin or thick, round or square, with a hole in the middle or not, heavily topped or simply sprinkled with salt, I’m not sure it’s really worth any fuss if you call it focaccia or pizza. Or indeed pinsa, a word that some suggest has the same roots as pizza anyway. Or not. Chissa?

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Filed under Baking, Breads, Pizza, Restaurants etc, Rome

High tea, post-colonial-style, at Raffles, Singapore

View of Raffles
Last time we visited Singapore, we were arriving from India, barely recovered from a nasty dose of food poisoning garnered in the picturesque squalor of Kerala’s backwaters and were so relieved to be in this generally clean, orderly city with its reliable food hygiene. This time round we were coming from amiable, underpopulated New Zealand. We did frequent one food hall in Auckland for a bit of Asian food, but Singapore really is an amazing place for such affairs, known here as hawker centres.

I love hawker centres. For a few dollars and you can indulge in all sorts of Asian goodies – predominantly representing Singapore’s mix of Chinese, Malay and South Asian/Indian ethnic groups, but also Indonesian, Japanese, Thai and more.

Singapore really is an amazing food city.

Not that it’s all about the hawker centres though. The city boasts eating options in all price categories and styles. Indeed, our first morning we had breakfast in a place called Prego, which was a pizzeria by night and had walls covered in Italian sayings (such as “A tavola non si invecchia” – at the table, one doesn’t age). Elsewhere are fancy cake shops, restaurants with French or American-trained chefs, fusion places, and a gazillion other eateries tucked away in the endless malls, quaysides, hotels and science fiction developments. (Wandering around the Marina and some of the malls was like being in the sets for Logan’s Run or THX-1138, and entering the Marina Bay Sands – a trio of skyscrapers with what looks like a giant ship laid across the top – gave me a flashback to playing Halo 3 ODST.)

Then of course there’s the colonial heritage. Which of course means Raffles.

Raffles Tiffin Room

Named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781-1826), the founder of Singapore, Raffles is the quintessential 19th century remnant of the British Empire’s endeavours in Southeast Asia. It started life as a modest harbour-side bungalow in 1887 then went on to expand into an array of white, colonnaded, neoclassical buildings that seem to cover at least an acre and, miraculously in a city of thrusting capitalistic redevelopment, managed to survive the wrecking ball purges of the 20th century.

We’d had discussions with various friends about visiting this place, but the fact that we were in a room in a modern hotel across the road, overlooking the Raffles complex, decided us that we just had to go, despite the costs. But would it be? A bar? Which bar? An evening Singapore Sling? No – it had to be high tea in the Tiffin Room.

Raffles Xmas cakes w Santa

I love afternoon tea and high tea. It’s my favourite form of party (okay, when it sprawls into the evening and some boozing that’s even better). I love to make cakes, scones and biscuits. We’ve had afternoon tea at various venues over the years, but this had to be the most storied. And certainly the most expensive. The Raffles cake stand and buffets set us back way more than the combined cost of all our other Singapore meals put together. They’d even bumped up the price about 30 per cent to celebrate Christmas. Yay.

And although the food itself wasn’t exactly the most refined – there were no fine pastries, no choux, no macaroons – it was still lovely. What you were really paying for was the venue – a beautiful high-ceilinged room – and the service – dozens of staff moving between the tables, removing your used plates to make room for another trip to the buffet, topping up your teacup so you end up consuming litres, and generally being very courteous. If slightly haphazard with their info – our first guy got his scones and mince pies mixed up, called marzipan “cookies” and flapjack “fruitcake”.

It was all good fun, though I had to restrain myself from starting to refer to the staff as “My good man” and wishing people a “Frightfully good Christmas.”

Anyway, we started with a cake rack, with white sliced bread triangular cucumber, salmon, egg etc sandwiches, crusts removed of course, mince pies (nice crusty pastry, mild mincemeat) and a white chocolate high-heeled shoe, dyed red, and filled with brandy flavoured whipped cream. Oookay. This latter didn’t seem so popular with the other diners; I felt kinda sorry for whoever laboured over them in the kitchen.

Then there were several buffets – one with dim sum, one with an array of cakes and scones, one with fruit, and even one with a variety of iced teas.

Stollen, panettone, yule log at Raffle Christmas high tea

I enjoyed being able to fill up a plate with various national Christmas cakes – panettone, stollen and chocolate yule log. Fran favoured a white chocolate, rose, guava and champagne log thing. The stollen’s label had migrated several metres to the right, somehow, to beside a bowl of cream – clotted cream! Miraculous. A scone with clotted cream on the Malay Peninsula at Christmastime.
The German marzipan-filled enriched bread even inspired me to create this Christmas-cracker-worthy joke: “Where did you buy your German Christmas cake?” “I didn’t, it’s stollen.”

Too much tea perhaps…

What a fab experience.

They even had a harpist playing ‘Greensleeves’, ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme,’ and ‘Here, There and Everywhere’.

The only real disappointment was the fact that they have a dress code – smart casual, shirts with collars etc – but don’t enforce it enough. Call me a snob, but spending all that money, and enjoying the opportunity to dress up a bit (as much as possible when one’s lived out of a backpack for two months), it was a bit shoddy to have people in jeans, T-shirts and trainers sitting nearby. Come on Raffles – standards! Standards!


Filed under Cakes, Restaurants etc, Travelling

On granary row

Harbour Street Oamaru

As readers of this blog will know, I’m somewhat obsessed with humanity’s relationship with grain. So it was a great pleasure to discover a single street (more or less) in the old Tyne-Harbour Street historic district of Oamaru, a town on the southeast coast of New Zealand’s South Island that had not just an excellent bakery, but also a shop selling NZ whisky, and, just across the way, a craft brewery.

We had arrived in Oamaru on a wet and miserable Wednesday night. Our hosts at the excellent Oamaru Creek B&B warned us that it might be hard to find much open on a Wednesday, but had told us about the brewery, Scotts, which had a tasting bar (and, like so many names, seems to have lost its possessive apostrophe).

Soggy ghost town
Dashing under the Christmas decorations, which in the 12-ish C temperatures and rain felt very much like a familiar south of England take on seasonal festivities, over the railway line, which goes all the way from Picton in the north to Invercargill in the south but steadfastly refuses to run any environmentally pragmatic passenger services, then past the steampunk museum, with its steam engine lurching skyward, we went down Harbour Street, with its handsome 19th century whitestone warehouses – and found Scotts… just closed.

Scotts brewery, Oamaru

They gave us a few tips about where to find their wares, but the wine bar they mentioned was closed and the nearby Criterion Hotel only carried one, Nineteen 05, a kolsch – a lager-like ale style that, not being a lager drinker, I’m not a big fan of. Otherwise, the Criterion had an Emerson’s ‘Bookbinder’, but Emerson’s is one of NZ’s many breweries (Macs, Speight’s, Monteith’s) that’s been bought out by Lion – that is Kirin, that is Mitsubishi. So really not very NZ any more at all.

On this mission (and always) I’m much more keen to drink beer from independently NZ owned, smaller breweries. Like the decidedly rustic Brew Moon in Amberley, just north of Christchurch, which we visited while driving south.

Brew Moon, Amberley

Kiwi cuisine
We did however, have a decent dinner in a new, nominally Italian restaurant round the corner on Itchen Street. Oamaru is a place of streets named after British rivers, but this one was perfect for me as I grew up playing by, on or in the Itchen, in Hampshire.

The restaurant, Cucina, presented its menu in approximately Italian meal-structure terms (antipasti, primi, secondi, as well as pizza), but they didn’t have any Italian staff and much of the food was basically Kiwi. NZ seems to have confidence problems with its cuisine. Many places call themselves “French” or “Italian” but with a few tweaks, they could assert their food as proudly, distinctly Kiwi. Especially as NZ has such varied climate zones and is surrounded by relatively rich seas, so much good produce is available here.

Here comes the sun
The following morning, the sun, and the summer, revived itself somewhat, and we returned to Harbour Street. At number 4, there’s Harbour Street Bakery (site – may not be working), a small artisan bakery run by Dutch expat Ed Balsink.

Master baker Ed Balsink at Harbour Street Bakery, Oamaru

Ed’s been in here around a decade, arriving at a point when bakers were among the skilled professions the NZ government was keen to encourage to immigrate. After a fairly frustrating sounding experience in a small town north of Auckland, he made his way south.

NZ, like the UK and US, is dominated by the industrialisation of the food chain, but people like Ed are exponents of and envoys for quality food made using traditional skills and no-nonsense ingredients. “Everything is available here,” Ed said. NZ grows a great selection of grains for flours (and brewing), and imports other stuff from Australia. He says his bosses up north just wouldn’t believe people would be interested in naturally fermented products, but that’s an argument his current success is disproving. Indeed, I’ve talked to other people who’ve faced similar prejudice and ignorance – like a north Devon publican who was told his clients only wanted industrial lager, but then they embraced his real ales, and his pub won awards.

Ed, who trained in a special Dutch school that focussed on baking, cheffing and waiting, and became a master baker, provides a great array of naturally leavened breads, breads made with fresh (aka cake, aka bakers’) yeast, in various European styles, as well as pastries and biscuits, including speculaas. This is a Dutch spiced almond biscuit, and Ed uses a 1742 recipe from Delft.

Speculaas at Harbour Street Bakery, Oamaru

It contains cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and “a special mix”, and comes from that medieval tradition when such spices were worth a literal fortune. Indeed, Ed said the Netherlands had “the first stock exchange in the world because of the spices” and mariners returning from Indonesia would be searched much like contemporary diamond miners.

It was great chatting with Ed, and I’ve just very much enjoyed one of his almond tarts and some of his multiseed sourdough.

Cake and coffee at Housekeepers, in the Loan and Mercantile, Oamaru

Southern hemisphere prohibition
Afterwards, we blundered into a whisky shop, New Zealand Whisky Company, down the street at number 14 in the 1882 Loan and Mercantile warehouse building, which also houses Housekeepers, a new café and design shop with some decent coffee and chocolate cake (“award-winning” apparently).Despite my love of beer and bread, I can’t really handle whisky, so am totally ignorant about it.

It’s an interesting place though – they have the last remaining stock, around 600 barrels, from the Willowbank Distilllery, in Dunedin, just down the coast from Oamaru. One of the world’s most southerly distilleries. It was bought out by the Canadian Seagrams in the 1980s, then later sold to Fosters (before that Austrailian brand itself became part of SABMiller). Fosters “mothballed the company in 2000, and sent the silent stills to Fiji to make rum!”

We learned a lot more about the history of boozing in this part of the world when we went back to Scotts – now open. Phil Scott, the director and head brewer, served us a taster of their three new beers. They have four currently (including a gluten-free beer), but are developing a new range, including a Vienna lager. Phil explained how they’d operated in Auckland for seven years but have moved back to his hometown, opened “last Sunday”, and are going to be fully licensed “hopefully by tomorrow”.

The brewery is something of a landmark for Oamaru, as it represents the first beer being brewed (openly) since 1905. The town was apparently the fastest-growing in the southern hemisphere, with four breweries (and sundry brothels), until an unfortunate election saw prohibitionists take power in Northern Otago. They killed the breweries and effectively put paid to the port as sailors really did have certain very specific requirements. Amazingly, the prohibition was only ended in the 1960s.

Phil Scott of Scotts Brewery, Oamaru

The three, very bright and direct, Scotts beers we tried were the kolsch Nineteen 05, which suits the Kiwi taste for cold, easy lagers but is top-fermented like an ale and doesn’t require lagering (cold maturation): “it’s grain to glass in a week and a half” Phil says, unlike the six-eight weeks for lager. Then the Boulder Pale Ale, which uses five malts and four hops, and is a mild balance between citrus, gooseberry fruitiness and a subtle maltiness. And finally the B10 Steam Porter, named after a local steam train. This is a sweet, fairly carbonated dark ale that’s much lighter than many porters.

All were served a bit cold, but Phil explains this is really just a requirement of the Kiwi taste for cold beer. Despite how much such beer-consumers are be depriving themselves of the full organoleptic smell and taste sensation!

Real Kiwi cuisine
Phil gave us some tips for other beer venues to visit, and we headed off down the coast, to the little seaside village of Moeraki, famous for a clutch of spherical boulders on its beach. And for Fleurs Place, another place that’s lost its apostrophe, but not its character. This is a great example of a place that does a uniquely NZ style of cuisine with a quiet pride.

Giant biscotto and creme brulee at Fleurs Place, Moeraki

They’re right beside the old jetty, and get their seafood fresh from a small cluster of boats that land their catch mere metres away every day. They also use local produce, such as asparagus from just down the road in Palmerston. They seemed to have a good local wine list, though their beer list was strangely at odds with the local, quality ethos, featuring no good local brews, only generic international tosh or Mitsubishi-owned formerly NZ brands. They really should start stocking Scotts, from 40km up the highway!

Our seafood tasting plate was stupendous – simply cooked, no nonsense, nice sauces, and couldn’t be fresher. The crème brulée and huge biscotto wasn’t half bad too. All in all a great day.

Now if only our hostel in Dunedin could include genuine WiFi I could finish this post a bit more damned easily. Honestly, internet in NZ really is like going back 10 years. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised about that though, as when I first came to NZ in the 1980s it did indeed frequently conform to the old joke that said it resembled 1950s Britain. It doesn’t any more, at all, but the internet thing is frustrating, especially after the ease we’d experienced across most of the USA.

[It’s now the following morning, and we’re on the WiFi in the Octagon in the centre of Dunedin. It’s infuriating hit and miss, at times as slow as dial-up, but at least it’s genuinely free.]


Filed under Bakeries, Breweries, New Zealand beer, Other food, Restaurants etc, Travelling

Wellington: ugly buildings, splendid beards and fine beer

Havana and block md

We’re big fans of train travel, but NZ seems to have decided it’s a novelty, not a basic, logical sensible part of a sustainable transport policy: so the train from Auckland to Wellington only runs every other day. And is a tourist attraction, not really a quotidian mode of transport. So instead of a stately cruise down through the North Island on two rails, put in at great expense and manpower in the 19th century, we headed south in a coach instead.

We arrived in Wellington, NZ’s pint-sized, hill-and-ocean-hemmed, notoriously windy capital around 8.30pm after 12 delightful hours in the combustion engine behemoth that is the InterCity coach.

The wind – which had kept the first European visitors to NZ, Abel Tasman and James Cook, out of the harbour – wasn’t blowing, which is probably a good thing, as we found ourselves on the 22nd floor (actually the 14th or something, after all the superstition non-floors – 13 etc – have been factored in) of the generic chain hotel we’d accidentally booked. If the place had been being gusted it would have freaked Fran out even more; as is she was already worrying about what this elevation would be like in the event of earthquake.

Earthquakes are of course no joke in NZ. Christchurch, the South Island’s principle city, was terribly mangled by quakes in 2010 and 2011 and as a result building legislation has been revised. Now Wellington is a city that boasts fascinating topography, with craggy bays and hills, but it’s also defined by plentiful dull modern architecture, notably, but not exclusively in the CBD, and piss-poor town planning. The fact that the only characterful historic areas, notably the idiosyncratic Cuba Street, will probably get a massive makeover due to the combination of the new legislation and your predictable developer greed (lack of vision, aesthetic insensitivity etc etc) means the city will probably look very different if we come back in a few years.

In the meantime, we enjoyed trying to find interesting eating and drinking places, scrabbling through our hefty NZ Rough Guide, pottering up and down Cuba Street, round into backstreets, where older buildings are just about hanging on amid the identikit modernity. Having slept badly in our air-conned eyrie of blandness, we fancied the comfort of a cinema, so bought tickets to go to the Light House on Wigan Street. (Great little cinema, which even had some local craft beer like Tuatara; profoundly manipulative film One Chance.) Beforehand, however, we managed a quick beer across the street at the Havana, a bar, or pair of bars, in two old huts dwarfed by depressing modern buildings.

At the Havana we had a couple of beers from ParrotDog, a local brewery. Both – Bitter Bitch IPA and Flaxen Feather Blonde – were bottled, too cold straight from the fridge, very carbonated, but featured a decent amount of tasty NZ hops.

Angry Peaches beer and dinner at Olive, Wellington

After the film, we went to dinner at Olive on Cuba Street. This was a really nice restaurant, one of the best meals we’ve had for ages. It felt kinda posh, and I felt kinda scruffy, and I agonised about what wine to have (I settled on a very pleasant Milton Te Arai Vineyard Demi Sec 2009 Chenin Blanc) before changing tack after a glass and deciding I’d much rather try a beer from Garage Project, another Wellington brewery, a micro operation based in an old petrol station. The eccentrically hospitable waitress accommodated this with aplomb, as did the amiable waiter with his stupendous beard (if he’d had a black t-shirt showing off tats he’d look like a classic craft beer hipster). Jeepers, I’m getting serious beard envy. I’d love one of those dense lustrous beards, but unless I glue one on, I know I’ll go to my grave without every having that experience.

Anyway, the Garage Project beer was called Angry Peaches and was it great. The scent was fruit, cranberry, lemon and “Fairy Liquid” (Fran) and it was pleasingly not over-carbonated, mellow (despite the name) and sweet.

Fran Malthouse bar

The following day we went to the Malthouse (Courtnay Place), a great beer bar with an impressive selection, including more from Garage Project. There was even another guy with a great beard, damn him. We were served by a helpful, knowledgeable barmaid (no beard) who gave us several samples before we both alighted on the two beers on the hand pumps as an alternative to all the carbon dioxide on other taps. Our choices were from another local brewery, Fork & Brewer: Moon Blink Black IPA (5.8%) and Base Jumper (6.3%). The latter is a really smooth, surprisingly mild APA, with caramel and cereal tastes, and several hop varieties (Simcoe, Cascade, Centennial from the US; Orbit and Motueka from NZ) while the former is floral and blackcurranty.

Afterwards, we went to Chow, a kinda pan-Asian tapas place, with more good food – and, shock horror, actual spiciness, something that was very elusive in NZ a decade ago – and good beer. I had another ParrotDog, Dead Canary Pale Ale (5.3%), a gingery, orangey, malty ale while Fran had a Stoke Amber Ale. Stoke is part of the sprawl south of Nelson, original home of Mac’s, and Stoke is the McCashin family’s new brewery’s new brand. It was a delicious beer too, smooth but crisp. Good to see the McCashins back in business. Be interesting to see if they sell (out) this brand in a few years too, or keep it a microbrewery.

Beers in Chow, Wellington

So all in all, Wellington hasn’t disappointed on the beer or food front. Oh, and that thing I mentioned in the last post comparing its food options with NYC – the Rough Guide 2012 actually says “Wellington has more places to eat per capita than New York and the standard is impressively high.” Yep.

Now we’re on the ferry taking us across the Cook Straits to the South Island, aka the Mainland, aka the Middle Island. This route seems to be where old English Channel (and other European) ferries go when they retire. Just a week or so ago, one of these veterans dropped a propeller. Hopefully ours will make it, as at the other end, Picton, we get a smaller boat back up into the Marlborough Sounds to meet my wonderful old friend Nadia, who was one of my principle baking (and cooking generally) teachers and has a wood-fired oven with a view of the sea. Hopefully we’ll do some baking together, and I can get some bread back onto this blog, which has, I know, become somewhat ale-focussed of late.


Filed under Ale, beer, Bars, pubs etc, New Zealand beer, Restaurants etc, Travelling

Seafood guilt


A lot of things make me feel guilty about my personal contribution to the end of the world (by which I mean the end of human civilisation in its current form, not the literal destruction of the planet).

Flying, using a car, badly insulated houses with the heating on, having pets, not eating everything on my plate, using single-use food packaging, engaging with the industrial food chain, throwing away plastic, leaving lights on, my own methane etc etc etc (or ecc, ecc ecc in Italian), but my desire to eat seafood is right up there.

I could (and can) live without the meat of mammal and fowl, but do so crave cephalopod, crustacean and piscine flesh. Having gone without across the entire width of the USA – that is, about 3000 miles – I was keen to find some in SF. Luckily, one of Cameron’s friends was Sean, who not only introduced me to several good beers, but he also works at the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, which runs the Seafood Watch programme, to encourage sustainable seafood production and consumption.


One of the places in SF that carries their badge is Hog Island Oyster Co in the Ferry Building. Yesterday, while on a mission to replicate a photo of Fran’s mum in SF in 1971, we stopped in to eat. Not that either of us actively likes oysters but hey, when in Rome. I had a very tasty stew – well, more of a creamy soup with five oysters in it. It was good and helped me overcome my mundane issues about this particular mollusc (raw oysters = marine mucous). I also had a
Red Seal Amber Ale from North Coast Brewing Co, based in Fort Bragg, Mendocino, north of SF.

It was served too cold, which seems normal here, but was pleasant – rosewater scents (thanks Fran) and a sweet, caramel malty taste with ….. Crap, I’m struggling blogging via this Nexus 7. That sentence just stopped. I’m sure I wrote a conclusion, but now it’s lost after 20 minutes fighting with the useless Gallery app. Apologies. Normal service will resume eventually.

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Filed under American beer, Restaurants etc, Travelling

Go west, middle-aged man!

Done so much, seen so much, eaten so much, drunk so much since last post, hard to know where to start.

How about some of the amazing wildlife we’ve seen?

So, in vaguely chronological order: mule deer and a bald eagle, from the window of the California Zephyr, the train that took us on an amazing 25 hour journey from Denver, through the snowy Rockies and mud deserts of Utah, to Truckee; en route I enjoyed Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, the Californian operation that’s one of the US’s biggest craft brewers.


A red-tailed hawk skimming low over our heads in a frosty meadow in south Tahoe; we saw bear prints in the woods nearby, before arriving back at our friend Cameron’s street to see a black bear and her cub just over the street. In Tahoe, I drank Moose Drool from Montana.

Then Great Basin’s Icky IPA, named after Nevada’s official state fossil the ichthyosaur (delicious, but served too cold as usual, so I had to warm it in the sun); “Distinct not extinct”.

We also visited The Brewery at Lake Tahoe brewpub and sampling all nine of their delicious wares.

I also ate a serious cinnamon bun from Sugar Pine Bakery to give me a sugary-carb hit before we went and lost money on the blackjack (aka 21) tables in a casino over the Nevada state line and got our money’s worth from a House of the Dead III machine.

Lake to sea
After a few fabulous days in Tahoe, we continued our westward journey, towards the California coast. As Cameron drove us towards her hometown of Carmel, we saw our first coyotes. I know these are pretty common in the western US, and considered a nuisance by many, but Brits like me get excited about such large fauna as we killed off such impressive animals as bears, wolves and lynx centuries ago. Plus, well, I love foxes, and coyotes are their big canine cousins: real survivors.

In Carmel we saw hundreds of cormorants and pelicans (again, common there but pretty exotic for us), as well as my first ever (sea) otters, all during a walk on the glorious Point Lobos. The latter were especially engaging – six or so, all snoozing in the kelp beds, floating on their backs and holding hands.


In Carmel, I drank sundry beers, including Laguinitas Little Sumpin’ Wild Ale, which was strong (8.8%) and pleasingly, crisply bitter; Brother Thelonius from North Coast Brewing, a strong (9.4%) dark ale, reminiscent of slightly charred toffee apples; and Devotion Ale from The Lost Abbey, a sweet blonde; amongst others.

We also tried to visit Post No Bills in Sand City, but were too early. Phooey, thwarted!

Big Surring
Somewhere we did visit, however, was Big Sur. This is a really special area that reminded me a bit of one of my fave places: the north of New Zealand’s South Island. Both have a rugged beauty, partially shaped by humanity but mostly defined by ocean and forest. On a hike in Andrew Molera State Park we saw more red-tailed hawks as well as another iconic American raptor, the turkey vulture.


Beforehand, I’d fuelled up with the biggest, most amorphous almond croissant ever, from Big Sur Bakery. It was mighty good with a filling that was more crunchy than the usual almond paste.

Afterwards we had lunch at Nepenthe, a restaurant in a location once fleetingly owned by Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth that has incredible views but food that needs a bit of an injection of energy.


They had some great beers though, including the wonderfully named Eye of the Hawk from Mendocino brewing, another strong (8%) ale, this time coppery and warmly malty.


Later on, we even fitted in a quick visit to Big Sur Taphouse, in the same stretch as the bakery.

Pictures on the walls and a flag were Italian, but we drank local beers before buying some bottles from the amazing selection in the general store next door. Jeez, I wish British corner shops had such enthusiasm with their beer stock.

Oh, and I know I’m straying even further from my remit, but an honorable mention to Lula’s Chocolates for their Dark California Toffee: toffee, coated in dark choc, sprinkled with almonds. Best chocolate we had, and we we’ve been sampling a lot.

A bigger city
We’re now back in the big city, San Francisco, having said goodbye to Cameron, our ever-generous California host, on Wednesday night. We drove up via Santa Cruz, having a quick stop at the likeable Companion Bakeshop (handsome piles of breads, cookie far too earnest and 1980s-Cranks, tomato and onion tartlet underseasoned and soggy bottomed).


As Cameron and I met at the kitchens of the American Academy in Rome, it was fitting that our final dinner together was at Chez Panisse, the restaurant founded by Alice Waters, who also set up the Rome Sustainable Food Project at the Academy.

I must admit the food couldn’t quite live up to the hype (things rarely do), but I did have an excellent beer as an aperitivo: Proportional Response from The Rare Barrel. This brewery – also in Berkeley, like the restaurant – specialises in oak-aged sour beers. I usually loathe oakiness in wine, but this stuff was great – smoothly sharp, acidly mellow.

Having seen a few photos recently in which my 40-something-not-getting-enough-exercise-belly is coming along nicely (tall skinny man with a beergut – never a good look), I managed to go a day with our bread, cakes or ale yesterday (almost – had a cookie), but we did have a great walk around the city.

I’m loving California, but I do struggle with a car-oriented lifestyle; I just love to walk around and SF is a perfect place to do that. Cameron’s mum had kindly given us tickets for the de Young Museum’s David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition. The show was largely about Hockney returning to his native Yorkshire after 25 years living in California and as such provided a perfect connection between dear, soggy, verdant old England and this magnificent state.

We’ve got a few more days in SF now, before heading to NZ. I meant to get up early this morning and go to the much-praised Tartine, but I suspect we’re too late now as I’ve been doing this blog, having the usual fight juggling three devices and trying to sort all the pics and links.

We’ll see what the next few days hold. Sadly, I was way too late to get on a tour at Anchor Steam Brewery (thwarted again). Shame really, as I’m really keen to ask a US craft brewer about the whole issue of serving their brews at fridge temperature (4C, or 39F) compared to “cellar temperature” (8-10C, 46-50F).


Filed under Ale, beer, American beer, Bakeries, Bars, pubs etc, Discussion, Misc, Restaurants etc, Travelling

New York City, jetlagged, blind and spotted

Last week we were in Rome, a few days ago in my home town, Winchester, then we had a night in Hounslow, way west London. An unprepossessing area, perhaps, but we had a great curry at a place called Mantra, all enormous chandeliers, mirrored walls and lighting that phased through various colours, disconcertingly changing the pallor of Fran and our friend Nick as we chewed and chatted. I’ve never before experienced this blend of south Asian kitsch and east European mob (the waitresses were intimidating eastern blondes).

Now, however, we’re in New York, one of the greatest cities in the world despite the ennui of the guy in the Saint James stripy Breton shirts shop and the strange sense of synthesis and deadness in parts of Greenwich Village where no one seems to live anymore but you can spend $700 on a Barbour jacket that would cost you half as much in London.

We started the day yesterday with the worst croissant I’ve ever had and coffee Fran said was “vile”, but it got better. Before going to a Swedish shop playing 80s British music (Joy Division and Sisters of Mercy) in Little Italy, I had a good sfogliatella at Cafetal Social Club. This was a nice bit of continuity as I’ve enjoyed these pastries in Naples (their home) and Rome the past month or so.

The rest of the day involved a visit to an excellent produce market in Union Square and walking the length of the High Line, the wonderful linear park that rehabilitates a section of old raised railway, and a younger cousin to Paris’ Promenade Plantée. Along the way, there was even a stall that sold Zuppe and Biscotti, two of the books from the American Academy in Rome’s Rome Sustainable Food Project – another nice bit of continuity from the life I’ve just left behind.

Elsyian Hop Squash, Kuka Pumpkin Porter at the Blind Tiger Ale House

We subsequently got down to the serious business of sampling some US craft beer. The Blind Tiger Ale House in the West Village was having a Pumpkin Fest with Elysian Brewing, in Seattle, celebrating the new season’s pumpkin ales. Pumpkin ales are a big deal in the US, but previously the only one I’d tried was Italian brewery Baladin’s Zucca; I’ve never seen them in the UK, though British craft brewers are also getting in on the act now.

We tried four, and I must say, I found three of them a bit tricky, and one of them borderline disgusting. It was a great bit of cultural learning, but Elysian Night Owl, a 5.9% ABV pumpkin ale was just too nutmeggy for me, too much spice, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, to the point where both the more typical flavours of beer – hops and malt – along with any sense of pumpkin were obliterated. Fran identified a smell that recalled tea tree but I can’t say this made it any more palatable.

Blind Tiger

Fran tried a couple of the dark pumpkin ales, Elysian Dark Side of the Moon (6.5%) and Kuka Pumpkin Porter (7.6%). The latter was from a lot more nearby, with the Kuka Andean Brewing Company being based in Rockland County, New York state. The former had a lot of the Christmas pudding spice flavours going on, along with liquorice, orange chocolate (like Green & Black’s Maya Gold), ginger cake. The latter meanwhile, she said, smelled “a bit like garbage”, rotting veg, cabbage, but was much more balanced flavour-wise, with some pepper, liquorice and smokyness but not so heavy on the Xmas spices.

A helluva lot nicer was the Elysian Hop Squash, where any Christmas pudding spice overload was replaced instead by a serious floral, crisp hoppiness from Sorachi and Motueka hops. The pumpkin came through in a touch of buttery body. Of the four we tried, this one was much my favourite.

I’m not sure about this whole pumpkin ale lark – if there was more overt vegetably pumpkin flavour, sure, maybe, but they all seem much more like pumpkin pie ales, with a lot of sweetness and some serious heavy-handedness with the nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger etc.

Before the jetlag totally floored us, we headed further west again and went to The Spotted Pig, a notable location for its coat of plants and trees, potted along the pavement, cascading from the windows. I really liked this place – it successfully combines the feel of a transported, tweaked British pub with a New York restaurant. Whereas when many British pubs get gastrated, the results lose the quintessential pubbiness, this place gets the balance just right. Feels like a pub, but offers you a (not too formal) restaurant experience.

spotted pig bitter

They even have a decent selection of beers, bottled, keg and cask. The latter – served in handles – included their own Spotted Pig Bitter, which Fran said “smells of new shops”. It’s a sweet, malty, fruity brew, with very low carbonation, no head and a medium body. It’s pleasant, but a kind of stereotype-confirming version of flat, warm English bitter, brewed by Brooklyn Brewery. The other cask ale was Snake Dog IPA, from Flying Dog Ales in Maryland. This was much hoppier, with an almost metallic taste and something that made me think of (delicious, nutritious) stinging nettles.

The Spotted Pig also came with another connection to our old life in Rome. The chef and co-owner, April Bloomfield, is English and trained at The River Café in London before also doing a stint at Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, famously founded by Alice Waters – who also set up the Rome Sustainable Food Project.

We continued the local, seasonal food theme with our lunch today, at Cookshop on 10th Avenue, not far from the midpoint of the High Line. I’ve been becoming increasingly passionate about local, seasonal food the past decade and a half, but after my stint at the Academy, and living in Rome generally and trying to buy as much of our food as possible from the farmers’ markets, I feel strangely freaked out now when I encounter out of season produce: it’s just started to feel so profoundly wrong. I can’t quite explain it, but imported out of season, produce has started to repulse me as much as heavily industrially processed food. My mind and body react badly, crying out why, WTF is this? It’s Autumn, why are they offering asparagus (or whatever)? How far has that travelled?!

Really, if you genuinely care about food that’s healthy for you and healthy for the environment, local, seasonal food is the only option. (I’m no saint though, so of course I eat badly sometimes; plus, well, we’re off to the Midwest in a few days, and I get the impression it can be quite hard to find real food there, so I’ll either go hungry or have to eat stuff from the industrial food chain.)

Ales at Cookshop, 10th Avenue

Anyway, the food at Cookshop was excellent, but they also had some great craft beers. I had a Resin from Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn. I was slightly disconcerted by the can, being more used to bottle-conditioned real beer, but heck, why not? This was a great beer – a celebration of the hop, and hop resin, at 9.1% ABV and 103 IBU (International bitterness units; broadly, 30 IBU could be considered an average bitterness). It was both intensely floral and warmly earthy, with a very crisp, dry mouthfeel.

Fran, meanwhile, had Scythe & Sickle from Ommegang, based in Cooperstown, upstate New York. If the US Midwest these days is defined by its industrial maize production, the Autumn 2013 seasonal Scythe & Sickle (5.8%) is a celebration of the old world grains traditionally grown in the northeast: it contains not just barley, but wheat, oats and rye too. It’s lightly malty, with a smooth sweetness that… despite the wholesomeness of this endeavour perversely reminded me of 1970s childhood sweeties.

So, all in all, despite not knowing NYC, and being half-dead from the cumulative effects of moving house, flying, London, home, then flying across the pond, never mind being increasingly unequivocally middle-aged, we’ve managed a pretty good few days of food and booze.

Oh, and excuse me if this is even more rambly than usual. My own laptop is too big to take travelling, so I’ve been bodging this copy together trying to get used to a tiny keyboard for my tablet, as well as getting my head around Fran’s infuriating old Mac (seriously Macaholics – iPhoto? Really? Can you really, honestly and genuinely make an argument for that software exemplifying Apple’s purported ease of use and intuitiveness?! And enough Ken Burns already!)

Cafetal Social Club
285 Mott Street, New York, NY 10012
+1 212 966 1259 | |

The High Line
West Side Manhattan, New York
+1 212 500-6035 | |

Blind Tiger Ale House
281 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10014
+1 212 462 4682 | |

The Spotted Pig
314 W 11th Street, New York, NY 10014
+1 212 620 0393 | |

156 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011
+1 212 924 4440 |


Filed under Ale, beer, American beer, Bars, pubs etc, Restaurants etc