Jay Rayner: my 20 years as a restaurant critic | Food

Jay Rayner: my 20 years as a restaurant critic | Food

Jay Rayner marks two decades as the Observer’s restaurant critic and explains why food writing is about more than what’s on the plate. I am the accidental restaurant critic. It was never my plan, because what fool would nurture an ambition to have their dinner paid for and then be paid to write smartarse things about it? And yet, exactly 20 years ago this month, that’s what I started doing. Two decades later I am still doing it. I have measured out my life in contrived starters and sublime main courses; in hours spent trying to avoid overstrained adjectives and overthought similes, and not always succeeding. I have spent months in the gym attempting to mitigate the impact, and not always succeeding. My body is no longer quite my own.
Until March of 1999 I was a general news and feature writer. Then one day over lunch, with the Observer magazine’s then editor, I was told Kathryn Flett would be moving on from the restaurant column. The thought only occurred to me in that instant. I said: “That’s a job you can’t apply for … but I’d like to do it.”
I could claim that I wasn’t drawn to it by the prospect of meals on expenses, but why should you believe me? Still, foremost in my mind was something else: I was tired of being a generalist and wanted a specialism. This was one to which I felt ideally suited. I love restaurants, always have done since my late mother introduced me to the joys of oysters amid the velvet plush and polished mahogany of Rules in Covent Garden. Restaurants are theatre and spectator sport. They are the place for gossip, disclosure, and for all kinds of appetites sated.
I already spent a fair chunk of my money in them, and consumed restaurant reviews like they were remedies for an ill-defined ailment. I adored the effortless writing of Matthew Fort in the Guardian and Jonathan Meades in the Times who both made it clear that food is not just about taste and texture. It’s about politics and history, about love and sex, the environment, architecture and so much more. I wanted the chance to write about all of that. It took me six months to convince the paper I was the greedy man for the job.
No-reservation restaurants struck me as the stupidest of ideas. Obviously, it would go nowhere. I was so wrong
It may all have been an accident but it was a happy one. For the past 18 months I have been mulling over my so-called career, while working on a deep-dive memoir, to be published later this year, about the pursuit of my last meal on Earth. As I looked back, it quickly became clear that 1999 was a uniquely blessed year in which to begin writing about what I had for my tea. For a start it was an optimistic time; one which made the unselfconscious enjoyment of eating out much more socially acceptable. New Labour was still all unsullied potential, the Twin Towers were still standing, and nobody had thought to invade Iraq on spurious grounds.
But it was also important gastronomically. 1999 was the year Marco Pierre-White retired from cooking. Although he had once looked like the shock of the new, others have observed that he was actually the last hurrah of the old. I think they are right. His food didn’t look forward. It referred back to nouvelle cuisine, all glossy surfaces and dotted sauces. 1999 was the year Jamie Oliver debuted on BBC2’s The Naked Chef , with a gob full of bantz and a pocket full of recipes prioritising taste over presentation. It was the year Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck won its first Michelin star for its modernist fancies and the first full year of trading for a joint in Chelsea called Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
Ah yes, sweary Gordon. It’s hard to overstate just how huge a figure he was at the time; not just as a gossip-column celebrity, who made a name by insulting people on TV in lieu of career advice, but as proof that Britain could compete on the world gastronomic stage. One afternoon in 2001 a newsroom fax machine spewed out the announcement that he was to take over the dining room of Claridge’s. It felt like Big News. Until then hotel restaurants had been where hope went to die. Now he spread his encouraging brand of reinvigorated classicism across London’s hotel land from the Connaught to the Berkeley to the Savoy.
And now? The cult of Ramsay feels like a cringeworthy view of the self when young. What the hell was all that about? His latest announcement, that he was to open an “authentic Asian eating house” in London, was greeted by significant criticism. (Not that he’ll care; he is one of American TVs most bankable stars.) But it points to one profound shift over the past 20 years. In 1999 serious food had to come with bells, whistles and a stool for the laydee’s handbag. There’s still a lot of that. What my erstwhile Guardian colleague Marina O’Loughlin referred to as the “Mayfair Wankpit” – she’ll want you to know she nicked that from someone else – is still alive and well.
But across Britain, good food is more often allowed to speak for itself. Tablecloths do still happen, but there are fewer of them. In truth the drift away from crisp linen began with the rise of the gastropub, a movement that predated my arrival – I had my wedding reception in London’s original gastropub, the Eagle on Farringdon Road , in 1992 – but which has spread its aesthetic inexorably across the country. They have become to Britain what the small country bistro once was to France. Recently Stephen Harris’s Sportsman in Kent, the self-styled “grotty” old boozer by the sea, was once again named the best food pub in Britain. Quite right too .
Few food pubs are as interesting as the Sportsman which is why I don’t write about them much any more. There are perfectly nice ones but how would I get 1,100 words out of yet another menu of goat’s cheese and beetroot salad, sea bass fillets and a creme brulee? An entertaining review, like any other serviceable piece of journalism, needs at its heart a story. My job has never been about telling you if the fish was raw or the lamb was overcooked. It’s always been about seeking out something noteworthy. Though “noteworthy” is all relative.
For example, in late 2004, while making my predictions for the following year, I grandly announced that small plates were the coming thing. To my shame I used the term “Indian tapas” and without a hint of irony. In any case I was a little previous. The small plates invasion didn’t really begin until 2010 and the opening of Polpo , a self-styled small plates Italian.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Jay, aged 10, cooking in the family kitchen. Photograph: Courtesy of Jay Rayner
In 2005, I found myself in Red Chilli in Manchester . It wasn’t the first Chinese place in Britain offering the gloriously fiery food of Sichuan, but its prominence made clear that a change was underway; that the opening up of China meant the generic British Chinese restaurant had competition from regionalism. There would soon be restaurants offering the food not just of Canton but also of Shanghai, Hunan and Xinjiang. Likewise, the generic curry house has endured, but alongside it we now have restaurants specialising in the cooking of Goa or the Gujarat, Sri Lanka or Pakistan.
But the year that sticks out is 2007. It feels like the moment “now” began. That year OFM gave Professor Tim Lang of City University its lifetime achievement award , for putting issues around food sustainability firmly on the agenda. On the other side of the Atlantic New York Magazine’s restaurant critic Adam Platt had recently coined a phrase that summed up the edible zeitgeist. The big thing now, he said, was “haute barnyard”. I Quote: d him admiringly because it was as true in London as in Manhattan. Chefs were being hugely influenced by Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant which pursued an avowedly regional agenda. Suddenly every thrusting young chef was all over localism, seasonality and the deathly phrase “farm to fork”, as if that wasn’t the journey that everything we eat takes. They foraged for Britain.
That was the year I first visited an entirely vegetarian restaurant called Vanilla Black , then in York, now transferred to London, which made a modern, non-doctrinal case for meat-free cooking. It was also the year that I gave up queueing for dinner at Barrafina, a tapas restaurant in London’s Soho about which I’d heard brilliant things. I concluded no dinner was worth waiting an hour for. No-reservation restaurants struck me as the stupidest of ideas. Obviously, it would go nowhere. I was so wrong. Barrafina got much better at managing the queue, and other places utilised technology so you can now leave your mobile number at the door and pop out elsewhere for a drink.
Leaving Barrafina that night, I headed to the first Hawksmoor on the Bethnal Green Road. It was a bijou steak house compared to the wood-panelled leviathans they would eventually launch. Still, it was enough for me to raise a cheer: real steaks had arrived in the UK and would keep arriving. Here comes Goodman and Cut and 34 Mayfair.
Some trends took longer to arrive than others. In 2009 I travelled to the Basque country to write about Bittor Arguinzoniz, the self-taught chef at Etxebarri where everything was cooked over live fire. Now, at places like St Leonards, Temper and Brat, if the cook doesn’t end up smelling like they have been tending a bonfire all night it doesn’t count as cooking.
There’s one startlingly obvious thing that so many of these places I have so far mentioned share: most are in London. At the start I didn’t have to make much of an excuse for a London bias. There were good restaurants elsewhere in the country but it took the skills I used as a crime reporter to find them. London still dominates and I can’t pretend otherwise just to soothe anti-metropolitan fury, but the situation has changed markedly. What’s more I have the train tickets to prove it. I have reviewed from Marazion and Porthleven at the tip of Cornwall to Stornoway and Drumbeg in Scotland’s furthest reaches; from Llandudno in the west of Wales to Cromer in the east of England. I have returned repeatedly to Belfast where feverish arguments about who serves the best burger are so much better than the things they used to argue about there.
Many excellent restaurants have come and gone in the time I’ve been reviewing. There’s Norse in Harrogate, The Old Spot in Wells, and Brasserie Chavot in London. All were loved. All are missed. Some have been there throughout: Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham was where I ate on my own dime as a young man, long before landing my job. I went back there during my first year as a critic and swooned, and it is still doing the thing, as is Tayyabs , a fabulous Pakistani grill house off Whitechapel Road, in London’s East End. The glorious Oslo Court in St John’s Wood, thunders onwards, with its menu of grilled grapefruit and duck à la orange. When it’s 7pm in London it’s still 1974 at Oslo Court.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest How much? Jay at 34 Mayfair, London Photograph: Levon Biss/The Observer
Only it’s not at 1974 prices. A few months after I started, I complained that it seemed impossible to eat out for less than £70 for two. Now, too many flash metropolitan places seem to glide effortlessly past £140. Happily, it has led to a flight away from the centres. Many of the most interesting, affordable restaurants in the UK are now to be found in once unlikely places: in shipping containers in Bristol or covered markets in Doncaster or Brixton. Alongside that has come the rise of street food. Too often it risks the self-parody of something shoved inside a brioche bun and flogged out of a reconditioned ambulance for £9. Still, at its best it’s a genuinely accessible model for interesting food eaten outside the home.
Have I got anything wrong? Yes. I dismissed the brash Indian Dishoom too easily as all concept and no substance. What was I thinking? The food is great, the brand is strong and they serve a killer breakfast bacon naan. But otherwise, as arrogant as it sounds, I am comfortable with what I’ve said. However grand it sounds, a national newspaper column is a responsibility. I don’t treat it lightly.
Doubtless other people think I’m wrong all the time. Indeed, they tell me so. In 1999, if I heard from readers it was in the form of a letter, which rarely felt like it demanded a reply. Now it’s a digital conversation, which cannot be ignored. My inbox fills constantly with restaurant recommendations, gratefully received. And then there is the rancid abuse, complete with references to my “so-called” job. These are harder to take because, deep down, I am as suspicious of what I do for a living as those who appear to resent me for it. What would the young reporter, determined to hunt down the truth, think of the man I had become? The problem is the man I have become is having so much fun. I have long said that I do the eating for free; it’s the writing I get paid for. This is certainly the case, but I still get to do the eating. And I do still love restaurants. I still push open the door, with hope in my heart, a credit card in my wallet and a gap in my belly that needs filling. And if I find a few stinkers, well, so be it.
As I approached the 10th anniversary in the job, I told my wife I was considering handing in my knife and fork. She rolled her eyes and said I wouldn’t quit. She was right. And I’m not quitting now either. I get my dinner paid for and then get paid to write smartarse things about it. Who wouldn’t want to do that? You’ll have to prise my cold dead fingers from this gig. Now then, where’s my table?
Jay Rayner’s new book My Last Supper: One Meal a Lifetime in the Making, will be published by Guardian Faber in September
Topics Food The Observer Restaurants Chefs Food and drink books The Observer features

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Travel – The three values that shaped Singapore

Though Singapore celebrated its 50th year of independence in 2015 , the country has wasted no time organising its next tribute. The Singapore Bicentennial , which is being recognised at events, exhibits and festivals throughout 2019, commemorates the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles, who established Singapore as a trading post for the British East India Company.
Singapore is a country with an identity of its own
Unlike the celebrations surrounding the SG50 , however, the Bicentennial is being marked as a time of commemoration. British colonisation of the island nation has long been a contentious issue, and many locals are unhappy that the date is being marked at all. However, the Bicentennial Office says it’s aiming to provide citizens with an opportunity to reflect on a colonial past that stretches even further back – 700 years in total – and on the values that have shaped the modern-day nation.
Those values – openness, multiculturalism and self-determination, as named by the Bicentennial Office – are exactly what many residents love about living here. “Singapore is a country with an identity of its own. Diversity in ethnicity and religion meld seamlessly in social interaction and in the food and landmarks,” said Singaporean LG Han, who is chef-owner at Michelin-starred Labyrinth . “In spite of this diversity, Singaporeans all share a commonality and trait in the way we speak, the values we share and acceptance of people from all walks of life.”
View image of Singapore celebrated its 50th year of independence in 2015 (Credit: Credit: Xinhua/Alamy)
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Despite Singapore’s cultural diversity, the country remains in an evolving conversation around sexuality. Singapore still recognises a rule inherited from British colonial rule banning gay sex, though it has frequently been challenged in court – with new trial proceedings to begin in 2019 after India abolished a similar colonial rule, according to The New York Times . Same-sex relationships are not legally recognised in Singapore, nor can a same-sex couple legally adopt a child, but activists continue to bring awareness and change during events like the annual Pink Dot rally , named after the mixing of the red and white colours of the Singapore flag and the push toward inclusivity for all.
Why do people love it?
The mix of cultures here allows newcomers, especially Westerners, to adjust quickly. “It’s a great gateway to Asia, both physically, as a fantastic hub for other travel spots in the region like Bali and Boracay, but also culturally,” said American Alexandra Feig, who has lived in Singapore for three years and writes the travel blog A Maiden Voyager . “Singapore has deep ties to the West, with a lot of British influence in particular. Walking around the town you will see Buddhist temples next to more British-style shophouses, and in local hawker centres you’ll have stalls serving [Hainanese] chicken rice next to nasi goreng [Indonesian-style fried rice] and Western cuisine like hamburgers.”
Don’t make the mistake of confusing hawker-centre fare for just any street food, though, warns Canadian Jordan Bishop, who lives part time in Singapore and is the editor of How I Travel . “Two of Singapore’s food stalls now have Michelin stars,” he said. Those stalls, Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle , were the first of their kind to be recognised with the honour in 2016.
View image of The mix of cultures in Singapore allows newcomers to adjust quickly (Credit: Credit: Art Kowalsky/Alamy)
With new restaurants and bars opening weekly, Singapore has no shortage of diverse cuisine reflecting its trading port past, including Chinese, Malay, Indian, Peranakan, German, Italian, Japanese, Vietnamese, French and American.
The multiculturalism doesn’t stop at the food. Locals even have their own lingo that reflects this melting pot. Though not recognised by the government (which recently even actively discouraged its use), Singlish – a creole mix of English, Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese, Malay and Tamil – is commonly used in social situations like ordering coffee or gossiping with friends.
What’s it like living there?
Unlike in many other big cities, residents rarely worry about theft or violence. With one of the lowest crime rates in the world, even petty street crime is viewed as “a waste of time” said 11-year resident Bino Chua, who blogs at I Wander . “You can leave your car unlocked, your purse unattended,” said American Alison Ozawa Sanders, who has lived here for five years and is the co-author of The Expats’ Guide to Singapore . “As a woman, I can go out at night in any neighbourhood and not worry about my personal safety ever. As a parent, I don’t have the feeling that if I take my eyes off my kids for two seconds they’re going to be kidnapped.”
Singapore is also very clean and convenient to get around, with very few traffic jams, in part due to government restrictions on cars and the high price of vehicles here. “Some people say it’s sterile and boring, but personally I think that’s just a product of the safety and convenience here,” said Chua. “I’d take this over having to worry everyday about the possibility of getting mugged.”
View image of Singapore has no shortage of diverse cuisine reflecting its trading port past (Credit: Credit: Jason Knott/Alamy)
The city centre has a career-focused vibe and people move at a fast pace, but it’s easy to escape the hustle when needed. “From my apartment, I could walk for about 25 minutes and find myself in dense jungle forests, and it’s an extremely rewarding destination for birdwatching,” said American Daniel Burnham, Asia flight search expert at Scott’s Cheap Flights . “Singapore has beautiful national parks and a significant amount of wildlife, given its size and density.”
Since the island is relatively small, residents also recommend taking advantage of world-renowned Changi Airport and low airfares. “Whenever I started to feel restless it was easy to hop on a plane and get out of town,” Burnham said.
What else do I need to know?
Located just one degree north of the equator, Singapore has a year-round hot climate that takes adjusting to, say expats. “One has to get used to sweating all the time. And your hair will never look the same as it did ‘back home’,” said Ozawa Sanders. Frigid air conditioning inside buildings is also a ‘necessary evil’, Burnham added.
The cost of living in Singapore isn’t necessarily in the stratosphere if you live a local lifestyle
Singapore is also notoriously the world’s most expensive place to live according a recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit , with sky-high rents of around S$1,885 for a studio apartment, even away from the city centre, according to cost comparison site Expatistan.com , and new car prices running typically north of S$100,000.
Still, seasoned residents say that those numbers don’t always reflect reality. “Many visitors and expats tend to conflate life in Singapore with what you see in movies like Crazy Rich Asians or wealthy expats on relocation packages,” Burnham said. “The cost of living in Singapore isn’t necessarily in the stratosphere if you live a local lifestyle. We made common-sense budgeting choices, like subletting a [public housing] HDB flat, cooking for ourselves and taking public transit. Our expenses were far less than they would have been living in the United States.” The country also has one of the lowest tax rates in the world, capping out at 22%.
View image of Singapore’s city centre has a career-focused vibe, but it’s easy to escape the hustle when needed (Credit: Credit: Agencja Fotograficzna Caro/Alamy)
All in all, Singapore shines best when residents make the extra effort to venture outside the sometimes-homogenous urban centre, where malls and identical apartments can seem to stretch on for miles in the larger residential neighbourhoods and commercial streets.
“There’s a lot of urban diversity if you go looking for it,” Burnham said. “Hidden amid pockets of 21st-Century development, the outskirts of Singapore reveal acres of farmland, crumbling cemeteries, fishing villages and colonial outposts.”
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Must try Restaurants in UBUD – Bali

Please suggest must try restaurants in UBUD Market.
We want to explore local Bali cuisine as well Indian and Chinese restaurants during our stay in UBUD.
Any recommendations on decent restaurants serving good food are welcome !

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The 15 best restaurants in Central London

News The Ormer restaurant in Mayfair was ranked 14th best in the country by the Hardens food guide
There’s much more than pie, mash and liquor to London’s culinary scene, and Westminster is the capital’s traditional hub of top-end restaurants.
Whether you want to grab a bite to eat before the theatre, need a pick me up meal after a Covent Garden shopping spree, or want a romantic dinner for two, the options are almost endless.
That’s why we’ve done the hard work for and compiled a fail safe list of the best restaurants in Central London .
From authentic Chinese to Indian, Italian, Thai, British, American, Vegan and fancy French cuisine, you name it, London has a restaurant for it.
So do not fear, there’s bound to be a place to everyone’s taste on our list of Central London’s 15 best restaurants. The 15 best restaurants in Central London 1. Mildred’s, Soho Instagram
Mildred’s was first established in a former 60s sex club on Greek Street. Back then the seedy, porn baron landlord would come to pick up his rent with a glamorous, fur-coated blonde on his arm. But now you’ll be relieved to know the 18th century town house has since moved on. It now serves fresh, international vegan and vegetarian food in Soho, Camden, Kings Cross and Dalston.
For more information visit here . 2. Ormer, Mayfair
Flemings Mayfair, 7-12 Half Moon St, London W1J 7BH The Ormer restaurant in Mayfair was ranked 14th best in the country by the Hardens food guide
Ormer was named London’s second best fine-dining restaurants in the Hardens gastronomy guide. It has a Michelin starred chef and serves up fresh seasonal British produce with high end gastronomic flair. This is a proper restaurant in the traditional sense and has the prices to match.
For more information visit here . 3. Thai Square, Trafalgar Square
21-24 Cockspur St, St. James’s, London SW1Y 5BN
If Thai food is your thing then you can’t really go wrong with Thai Square. The Central London branch is one of many across the capital and serves up classics like Chicken Green Curry and Stir fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts. It claims to be the best Thai restaurant in London, we’ll let you decide.
For more information, visit here . 4. Bleeding heart, Farringdon
3 Bleeding Heart Yard, London EC1N 8SJ
Believe it or not, the gorily-named Bleeding Heart has been dubbed London’s most romantic restaurant by more than one publication. It serves fine French cuisine in historical settings – and was apparently named after a 17th century beauty, Lady Elizabeth Hatton, who was found murdered there (yikes). If the thought of murder darkens your date’s mood, then there’s an exceptional wine list to help you forget all about it.
To find out more visit here . Read More 5. Ikoyi, Trafalgar Square
1 St James’s Market, St. James’s, London SW1Y 4AH
West African-inspired restaurant Ikoyi is a must. It serves West African cuisine with a twist in swanky settings. Dishes on the menu include Plantain, Smoked Scotch Bonnet and Raspberry and Jerusalem Artichoke Moin Moin, drooling yet?
For more information visit here . 6. Wild Food Cafe, Covent Garden
1st Floor, 14 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden WC2H 9DP
Wild Food meals are made with freshly foraged wild and artisanal ingredients.
The vegan joint serves meals on large, communal tables that give the place a very relaxed, hippy vibe.
And they even have a Wild Food Cafe Cookery school that offers monthly raw food cookery classes and ‘wellbeing immersions’. We’re not sure what that is but it sounds very healthy.
For more information visit here . 7. Clos Maggiore – Covent Garden
33 King St, London WC2E 8JD Instagram
You can cosy up to a log fire while munching on modern French cuisine. Clos Maggiore is in the heart of London’s West End and diners can take their meal in a flower-filled conservatory (swoon.) Dishes on the set menu which is around £35 per head for three courses, include New Season Vegetable Casserole, French Peas & Green Asparagus and Pan Roasted Scottish Salmon.
To find out more visit here . 8. Ceviche, Soho
17 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 4RG
Ceviche serves tasty Peruvian street food. From tasty fish tiraditos to fresh salads and tangy Pisco cocktails, a meal here is bound to leave your taste buds tingling. it’s Soho branch is slap bang opposite Ronnie Scott’s famous Jazz Club and it’s the perfect place to have a meal before or after a show there.
For more information visit here . 9. The Palomar, Soho
34 Rupert St, London W1D 6DN
The Palomar serves modern day food from Jerusalem. From tasty dips for starters to Confit Duck Siske for mains you’re date is bound to be wowed by Middle Eastern flavours.
To find out more visit here . 10. Bocca di Lupo, Soho
12 Archer St, Soho, London W1D 7BB
This restaurant gets its name from the Italian phrase for “good luck”. And, you guessed it, it serves Italian grub. From artichoke salad to veal spaghetti and pasta, it favours hearty Italian classics over predictable pizza. It also boats an incredible wine list and is reasonably priced for a restaurant of its caliber.
To find out more visit here . 11. Golden Hind Restaurant, Marylebone
71a-73 Marylebone Ln, Marylebone, London, W1U 2PN
This place serves some of the best fish and chips in London and has been doing so since 1914. Its fish is fried in groundnut oil or offered steamed with olive oil and oregano, so you have healthier options if you are counting those calories.
To find out more visit here . 12. Quo Vadis Instagram
The name may be Latin but Quo Vadis it serves British food. Dishes on its menu include smoked eel sandwiches, a whole artichoke and oysters . Ad it has a pie of the day -you can’t get more London than that.
For more information visit here . 13. Spring, The Strand Instagram
Spring at Somerset House is the ideal place for eco-conscious diners. It’s headed up by Australian chef and food writer, Skye Gyngell, who creates delectable dishes from seasonal produce. On the dinner menu are mains which include: Grilled leg of lamb with gratin of swiss chard and anchovy sauce (£34), wild halibut with sea beets, sea kale, hollandaise and salmon roe (£33) and guinea fowl with three-cornered garlic labneh, harissa and potatoes – phwoar.
To find out more visit here . 14. Burger and Lobster
36-38 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 4PS You can tuck into lobster rolls till your heart’s content at Burger and Lobster in Soho. (Image: Manchester Evening News)
Lobster rolls, croquettes and classic beef burgers are all for the taking at Soho’s Burger and Lobster branch. This restaurant says what it does on the tin and is a popular hit with diners looking for a greasy food fix.
For more information visit here . 15 . Bob Bob Ricard, Soho
1 Upper James St, Soho, London W1F 9DF
All the tables in this Russian-inspired dining room are in booths, perfect for cozying up in. Oh, and there’s a “Press for Champagne” button on every table – yes please! Champagne-on-tap screams of romance, in case you had any doubts. The pink decor is an Instagram Queen’s dream and the hearty menu which includes dishes like lobster mac n cheese, could fill even the most empty of hearts.
To find out more visit here . Like the My Central London Facebook page
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Ajanta Chef Popularizes ‘Momos,’ a Favored Nepali Food

Ajanta Chef Popularizes ‘Momos,’ a Favored Nepali Food Ajanta Chef Popularizes ‘Momos,’ a Favored Nepali Food Chef Dhruva Thapa describes the steamed dumplings as a significant Nepali dish and arguably Nepal’s single most common dish. By Anneli Star Josselin Rufus Published: March 18, 2019 Photos by Lance Yamamoto
After becoming Ajanta’s general manager and executive chef in January, Dhruva Thapa avidly applied his decade-plus of experience and expertise to crafting the classic Indian dishes that have made this Solano Avenue restaurant popular for over 25 years.
Even so, Thapa thought something was missing.
“Before I joined this company, most of its dishes were mainstream Indian, which usually means south Indian.”
Having co-owned and served as executive chef at the Gourmet Ghetto restaurant Taste of the Himalayas — which doubles as the title of his 2014 cookbook — Thapa is also an award-winning journalist, published poet, and Nepali-English translator who wants Western diners to know and love the dishes he grew up loving in Darjeeling.
Chief among these is momos .
These palm-sized steamed dumplings, round or crescent-shaped and stuffed with chopped, spiced meat and/or vegetables, “are one of the most significant dishes in Nepal,” and arguably the single most common dish.
Billing itself as an Indian restaurant, not a Nepali one, Ajanta’s official name is Ajanta Distinctive Indian Cuisine —“but more than 200 million Nepali people live in India, especially its northeastern states such as West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Mizoram, and Manipur,” Thapa said.
“Yes, all those places are in India, but their cuisine is dominated by that of the Nepali community with its dishes that originated in the Himalayas.”
Momos —“which we could technically call the food of northeastern India,” Thapa said — start with a basic but well-kneaded then well-rested white-flour dough, flattened into small circles atop that are placed spoonsful of traditionally ginger- and green onion-spiked filling, then pinch-twist-pleated into plump pouches. Steamed to a juicy tenderness, they’re typically served with chutney, hot dipping sauces, and/or the nonfermented Nepali tomato pickles known as achar .
An entire batch of momo dough usually contains just one spoonful of oil, if even that.
“Nepali food is less oily than mainstream Indian food, and more healthy,” said Thapa, who is working on a second book about his native cuisine. He’s also developing vegan and gluten-free momo recipes using buckwheat and millet flour instead of all-purpose white.
“I want people to recognize these things,” he said, “and know their names.”
Ajanta, 1888 Solano Ave., Berkeley, 510-526-4373, AjantaRestaurant.com .

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13 Amazing Health Benefits of Onions – Natural Food Series

13 Amazing Health Benefits of Onions 13 Amazing Health Benefits of Onions Food & Nutrition By Michael Jessimy February 19, 2019
Onions health benefits includes supporting immune system, preventing cancer, detoxifying the body, aiding antioxidant production, supporting healthy digestion, managing anemia, managing diabetes, supporting hair growth, slowing down aging process, fighting fungal and microbial, relieving pain, relieving cough and cold symptoms, and supporting healthy bones. What is Onion?
Onion is a staple in most of the known cuisines in the world. I personally cannot get over how delicious caramelized onions can be. In Indian cuisine it is the base of almost all curries and stews. Pour a little oil, add chopped onions, garlic, and green chili, there you have it! The perfect base to build any dish. Onions are extremely versatile and add a distinct flavor to food; there are many dishes that are made with onion as the key ingredient. I once had a chance to visit a Sri Lankan friend who had “especially” made onion curry for me. This is a dish that is made entirely made of onion with oil and seasoning. Then there is the onion pie, also based entirely on onions.
Onions are a superfood, a gift of nature. On understanding what onions can really do, it leaves us in awe of this vegetable. There are many varieties that can be used in different ways; green onions can be sprinkled on top of any savory dish. Not only does it add a pop of freshness and color, but it is also extremely beneficial in helping digest what you eat. Onions are often considered as one of the world’s healthiest foods, packed full of essential nutrients. Onion Nutritional Value
The nutritional composition of an onion is quite interesting. The scientific name of the onion plant is Allium Cepa. Onions are full of antioxidants and contain a number of sulfur-containing compounds. This definitely makes this vegetable appealing. Onions are found in many different sizes and can be eaten raw or cooked. A medium sized onion is composed of 89% water, 1.7 % fiber and 9% of carbohydrates . Onions contain 9.3 g of carbohydrates, 1.1 g of protein , 0.01 g of omega 6, 1.7 g of fiber and 4.2 grams of sugar. Onions also contain multiple vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of vitamin B6 , vitamin B9 , vitamin C , folate , and potassium . There are multiple phytonutrients that are found in onions. These are Anthocyanins, quercetin , sulfur-compounds, and thiosulfinates.
All these components have multiple benefits, that solidify the belief that onion is a superfood. Here are 13 amazing benefits of using onions 13 Amazing Health Benefits of Onions 1. Stronger Immunity
The defense mechanism of our body is our immune system and a healthy immune system will ensure we do not contract diseases that are caused due to bacteria, fungus, and viral infections. Nature has many natural ways to help prevent free radicals from affecting our body. Onions are one of these natural ways to build a stronger immunity. The vitamin C present in onions is the reason onions are believed to protect us from many diseases. The phytonutrients present in onions help the antioxidant properties of the vegetable to take full effect. 2. Prevent Cancer
Free radicals that enter the body and cause abnormal cell growth lead to cancer. Cancer is a disease that keeps on growing. Prevention is the cure in this case, and using foods that help reduce its chances is the best option.
Onions contain phytonutrients such as quercetin and other flavonoids that help fight the free radicals . Sulfur-compounds found in onions are also helpful in fighting the effects of cancer. 3. Detoxifying Properties
Detoxing has become a popular health trends nowadays, but aside from being trendy, it is extremely crucial for our body. Detoxing basically helps our body to flush out several toxins and bad cholesterol due to bad eating habits and lack of exercise.
Onions are an extremely good way of keeping our bodies toxin-free. Onions contain sulfur-compounds and amino acids that help clear out the digestive system and help expel the harmful toxins from within. 4. Aids in Antioxidant Production
Some vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and onions help the body produce its own antioxidants. This is the best way to help prevent the effect of free radicals. Studies show that onions help the body produce Glutathione. This not only helps fight cancerous elements, but is also extremely beneficial in maintaining a healthy heart. 5. Healthy Digestion
It is rich in dietary fiber, which acts as a natural laxative and ensures comfortable bowel movements. Fiber helps clean the intestines and remove waste from the body. Onions also contain saponins that help relieve stomach aches and cramps . 6. Helps Manage Anemia
Anemia is caused iron deficiency and can be a fatal disease. There are various conventional medicines that help balance and maintain the levels of hemoglobin in our bodies. However, going the natural route prevents us from the side effects of the conventional medication. It contain 0.2mg of iron per 100 gram and a good amount of folate. Folate is a phytochemical that helps absorb iron to its full potential and is often recommended to pregnant women. 7. Diabetes Management
Diabetes is a chronic disease that can hit at anytime if you lead a sedentary lifestyle and eat processed and junk foods. The biggest problem in managing diabetes is maintaining a safe blood sugar level. Raw onion consumption is recommended to keep your sugar levels in check and prevent them from getting out of hand. 8. Hair Growth
There are often instances when we start losing hair or it starts going gray. This may be due to age, stress or lack of specific nutrients. Eating protein and potassium-rich foods is helpful in preventing these complications. There are many hair masks that can be made with onions to apply, which you can apply to your hair and scalp. Not only are onions known to promote hair growth, but is also a good remedy for dandruff. Mixing onion juice with yogurt and leaving it on the hair for half an hour can help strengthen your hair and cleanse your scalp. 9. Anti-Aging
The antioxidant nature of it is no secret; it also helps boost the internal production of antioxidants in your body. Aging is caused by the accumulation of the harmful elements that our skin absorbs and also by the effects of free radicals. Onions, with their detoxifying and antioxidant properties helps slow down the aging process. 10. Anti-fungal and Antimicrobial
Not only do onions prevent infections and viral diseases from entering the body, they also help fight the bacteria present in our mouths. Some people recommend chewing an onion in the morning for 3 minutes to get rid of the bacteria in the mouth. 11. Pain Relief
I still remember being advised by my grandmother to rub a sliced onion on the affected area if stung by a blue bottle or a bee or when I scrapped my knee. I do not know how that worked, but it did provide instant relief. Same goes for ear irritation, add a few drops of onion juice to a cotton pad and apply it on your ear to get rid of the pain and discomfort. 12. Relieve Cough and Cold Symptoms
When suffering from a cough or flu virus, we often brew teas to find some solace. It is recommended to add an onion in hot water when preparing tea. Onion juice added to honey can also be taken to help reduce any swelling in your throat. 13. Healthy Bones
Onions can be helpful in treating bone loss as they have been found to contain growth plate chondrocytes. They also have the compounds that help rebuild connective tissue.
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The ultimate Kloof Street restaurant guide

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Buzzing Kloof Street and its surrounds has everything from amazing brunches to tasty burgers and everything in between. Here’s our guide to one of the hippest streets in Cape Town.
Asian-inspired cuisine Kyoto Garden
Pop in for fresh sushi of excellent quality. Not in the sushi mood? Opt for the tempura or a light Japanese curry. The rice with special fish also comes highly commended.
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Saigon
This mostly Vietnamese-themed restaurant opened its doors in 1997, and standards remain excellent. The oxtail at Saigon is a firm favourite, but remember to leave space for the delicious deep-fried banana with rum-and-vanilla ice cream.
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Yindee’s
Tuck into tasty Thai dishes like the Chu Chee curry tiger prawns at this relaxed restaurant with traditional décor.
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Bars Asoka
Cocktails and tapas are the things to order at this high-end bar.
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Cause & Effect
For classic and creative cocktails; bowls and sharing boards; or glasses of wine, punch, prosecco or champagne.
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The Moveable Feast Bistro & Bar
Highlights from the menu at this French-inspired bistro include Parisian choux pastry gnocchi with prawns, mange tout, butter and lemon. Pair with a glass of wine from the comprehensive wine list.
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New to the menu: Parisian Gnocchi – prawns, sugar snaps, butter and lemon. The simple combination is full of flavour and the Parisian twist is that the gnocchi is not made with traditional potato but a savoury choux pastry instead. #eatout #food
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Publik Wine & Bar
This neighbourhood wine bar is known for serving quality artisanal wines.
The Sorrows Bar
The Sorrows Bar has a long beverage list that caters to different drinking needs (whether you want to drown your sorrows or celebrate – they’ve got you covered). We recommend the colourful cocktails.
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Tiger’s Milk
Stop in for a mouthwatering menu featuring great grills, tapas, pizzas, burgers and all-round good vibes.
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Get your hands on our Monday 2 for 1 burgers and 2 for 1 on selected drinks! 🍔🍺 T’s & C’s apply. Alcohol not for sale to persons under the age of 18.
A post shared by Tiger’s Milk Restaurant & Bar (@tigersmilkza) on Mar 10, 2019 at 10:00pm PDT
Van Hunks
This pub is great for a more casual drink. The menu features a bit of everything: ribs, steaks, burgers, curry, pizza and pasta.
Yours Truly
This coffee shop has a great rooftop bar and the leafy coffee shop downstairs has great people-watching opportunities. The menu includes a selection of salads, sandwiches, wraps and the popular pizza-and-house-wine combo.
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Brunches Arnolds
Open from 6.45am, this spot has an early-bird breakfast deal that’s one of the cheapest in the city. On weekdays before 7am, you can get two free-range eggs, bacon, ostrich or pork chipolatas, fried tomato, toast and jam for just R25.
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Knead
This branch of the popular bakery chain serves breakfast, light meals, coffee and cakes.
Manna Epicure
This beautiful white space serves up a range of well-made inventive breakfasts. Think coconut bread, perfectly poached eggs and buttery croissants. For the early-risers, breakfasts are half price before 9am. Manna is also open at night, serving some of the best ribs in town.
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Mustacchio Caffé
Mustacchio Caffé is big on breakfast, Italian and South African coffee blends, and pastas and burgers.
Nourish’d Café & Juicery
Stop in for healthy, nutritious and wholesome food. The menu includes green juices, smoothies and smoothie bowls, salads and sandwiches.
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Peppertree Café
Open at 7am, Peppertree Café (formerly Melissa’s on Kloof Street) is a lovely spot that has something for everyone – from fresh breakfasts to everyday lunch buffets.
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Lunch Buffet everyday. Fresh salads & hot dishes. Yum!!!! #LunchBuffet #Salad #HotDish #PeppertreeCafe #KloofStreet #Gardens #CapeTown @peppertreecafeonkloof
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Today & Tomorrow
Today & Tomorrow is a sister restaurant to Yours Truly , with a similar vibe but a more substantial menu offering more than the usual light meal classics you’d expect – think breakfast, burgers, steaks, salads, pizza and pasta.
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Tamboers Winkel
Stop in for signature breakfasts, light meals, charcuterie boards and cheese platters.
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Burgers Gardens Collectors Club
A casual, creative and carefree meeting place for old and new friends. Expect a variety of bar snacks, pizzas and plates (including the GCC burger, steak and fries, cheese and charcuterie boards).
Hudson’s
Go for the tasty burgers and OTT shakes.
A burger prepared and served at Hudson’s. Photo supplied.
Jerry’s Burger Bar
From the cheekily named Cheapskate burger (with a classic home-made beef patty, barbecue sauce, pickles and mustard menu) to the Whoop Whoop vegetarian burger (with a home-made chickpea patty and cheddar cheese topped with mushroom or pepper sauce), this popular burger joint has something for everyone.
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Rick’s Café Americain
If you’re not stopping in at Rick’s for the lunch, cocktail or happy hour specials, sit down for a burger. Taste the culinary range of the varied menu in burgers like the chermoula chicken burger, the ostrich and gorgonzola burger or the lamb kofta burger.
Stacked Diner
Stack your own burger, hotdog, flapjacks and waffles at this burger joint in Kloof Street.
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Coffee Molten Toffee
This small coffee spot serves a good brew, fresh juices and a variety of tasty toasties. There are some gluten-free and raw options, too.
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Coffee and pastry with a view 👌🏻 #moltentoffee #moltentoffeelongmarket #moltentoffeeexperience #coffee #breakfast #food #yum #cafestyle #cafe #capetown #capetowncoffee #bestcoffee #coffeelover #pastry #croissant
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The Power & The Glory
This cosy hangout with a cool vibe serves coffee and light bites, along with draught beers and ciders.
Date night Black Sheep
With contemporary décor and a cosy, vibey ambience, Black Sheep is always full, so be sure to make a reservation well in advance. A sophisticated chalkboard bistro menu features fan favourites and daily seasonal additions. In summer the windows are open to show off panoramic views of the mountain.
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Bombay Bicycle Club
This child of the Madame Zingara group delivers the usual touch of whimsy and madness. If you’re not just here for drinks, try the famed chilli-chocolate steak.
A succulent steak meal from Bombay Bicycle Club. Photo supplied.
Janse & Co
For a real spoil, head to this fine-dining restaurant. Expect a lunch menu that ranges from two to five courses and a dinner menu that ranges between three to seven courses. Highlights include the home-made charcuterie served with six types of home-made mayonnaise.
Kloof Street House
This beautiful Victorian house is rather hidden, but boasts a wonderful garden out front. The dining rooms are the perfect settings for romantic candle-lit dinners. Highlights from the menu include Moroccan spiced lamb rump, herbed couscous, red cabbage and cucumber slaw with tahini yoghurt.
Unfiltered
This beerhouse and restaurant has something for everyone and is ideal for every occasion, from romantic candle-lit dinners and beer nights with mates to simple pizza evenings with family. The relatively small and reasonably priced menu includes salads, light bites, pizzas, sandwiches, draught beer and wine.
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Indian-inspired cuisine Thali
Liam Tomlin’s Indian tapas spot just around the corner on Park Road is too good to miss.
The jewel-coloured tones to be found at Thali. Photo supplied.
Ice cream Myog
If ice cream isn’t your thing, just up the road from Unframed (see below) is the popular Myog, which specialises in frozen yoghurt. Choose from the flavours of the week (including the likes of rooibos) and enjoy the selection of unlimited toppings such as fudge, Smarties, jelly beans and bananas.
Unframed
The best ice cream in Kloof Street (and possibly the world) can be found at this little minimalist ice-cream parlour. The salted chocolate is a knockout and the vegan ice creams – made with coconut milk – are so creamy that it’s almost impossible to believe they’re not made with double cream.
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It’s a date! Thirsty Thursdays are for ice cream tastings with your best buds 👅🍨🥄 #lifeunframed #tastingflight #tastebuds
A post shared by UNFRAMED ICE CREAM (@lifeunframed) on Jan 24, 2019 at 12:35am PST
Mexican-inspired cuisine El Burro Taqueria
El Burro Taqueria may be smaller than its Newlands and Green Point siblings, but it still delivers the same tasty Mexican flavours from both branches. The tons of tacos on the menu are worth a try.
The Fat Cactus
One of the best Tex-Mex restaurants in the city. Highlights from the menu include jalapeño poppers, nachos and tacos, fajitas and quesadillas, and margaritas and tequila.
Mountain views The Dark Horse
On warmer days, this bar is buzzy thanks to its glorious views of Table Mountain.
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Not a bad afternoon view… #thedarkhorse #tablemountainview
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Cafe Paradiso
The leafy front garden of this converted house has full-frontal views of Table Mountain – a rare find in the hustle and bustle of the city. Food is less of a focus, but try the slow-roasted lamb-and-aubergine salad with spinach, rocket, olives, sunflower seeds, beetroot, garlic aïoli and lemon.
Outside seating at Café Paradiso. Photo supplied.
The Deckhouse Crabshack & BBQ
There’s almost always a buzzy vibe on the deck, which looks out towards the mountain. The menu features shrimp popcorn and lots of fried seafood.
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Liquorice & Lime
This little café has some great views from the window seating area. Try an indulgent eggs Benedict.
Pizza Bacini’s
A slightly worn but very cosy neighbourhood pizza spot.
Positano and Amalfi pizzas from Bacini’s. Photo Supplied.
Beleza Restaurant
This relaxed restaurant serves Portuguese and Italian-inspired cuisine like pizzas, pastas and seafood.
Da Vinci’s
Pizza, burgers and wonderfully sticky ribs – this casual Italian spot does everything well. There’s paper and crayons on the tables so the kids (and adults) can draw.
Pizza and beer at Da Vinci’s. Photo supplied.
NY Slice Pizza
Stop in for authentic New York-style pizza. The menu is very small, with four pizza options sold either by the slice or whole. Try the Manhattan pizza topped with mozzarella, original tomato sauce and fresh basil.
The Striped Horse Bar & Grill
All the pizzas here are named after the British royals. Indulge in the The William (topped with bacon, gorgonzola, basil pesto and avo), the Elizabeth (topped with Jack Daniel’s onion relish, grilled chicken, jalapeños and avo) or the Charles (topped with salami, olives, peppers, feta and jalapeños).
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Plant-based cuisine Lekker Vegan (Kloof Street)
For lekker, cruelty-free vegan junk food. Highlights from the menu include burgers (with patties made from a wheat and soy protein mix), gatsbys and wraps.
A vegan burger from Lekker Vegan. Photo supplied.
Prashad Café
Prashad Café offers a completely vegetarian menu, with vegan dishes making up over half of it. Expect the usual Indian favourites like curry, breyani, dhal, bunny chows and wraps.
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Portuguese-inspired cuisine Toni’s on Kloof (Kloof Street)
Toni’s on Kloof serves traditional Portuguese cuisine with favourites like peri-peri chicken, prawns, seafood rice and Mozambican curries.
Steakhouses Arnolds
Struggling to decide? The warthog ribs are the ones to go for – if you can handle eating Pumba! They’re truly delicious.
Carne on Kloof
Giorgio Nava serves up some of the Mother City’s best steak, sourced from his very own farm in Nieu-Bethesda. It’s beautifully aged and accordingly priced – worth it, if only to understand how good steak can taste. It’s also imperative that you order the lamb ravioli with sage butter and parmesan.
Da Vincis
Saucy and juicy, the barbecue spare ribs are a house speciality here.
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Step 1: Order our 600g ribs…only 100 bucks on Wednesday. Step 2: Cut your ribs into easy to handle strips. Step 3: Put down your knife and fork, get #messy, and enjoy. . . . #ribs #foodmakesmehappy #messyeating #smile #happy #food #feedyoursoul #ribrack #eatwithyourhands #davincis #kloofstreet
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Seafood Best of Asia
Best of Asia doesn’t rank high on ambience points, but the sushi here is of a consistently good standard. It makes for a great spot for grabbing takeaways to eat at home.
Miller’s Thumb
Miller’s Thumb is synonymous with seafood, but carnivores are also catered for on the small ‘something meaty’ section of the menu, which includes a 300g flame-grilled rump steak and Portuguese espetada.
Sushi Box
The sushi here is top notch. Enjoy classics of sashimi, maki, nigiri, salmon roses and the signature California rolls.
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Indian antitrust watchdog raids five offices over pulse prices, Energy & Commodities – THE BUSINESS TIMES

Indian antitrust watchdog raids five offices over pulse prices Mon, Mar 18, 2019 – 5:50 AM
New Delhi
INDIA’S antitrust watchdog raided units of global commodities trader Glencore and two other firms in Mumbai on Saturday in an inquiry into alleged collusion on the price of pulses, four sources with knowledge of the raids told Reuters.
More than 25 antitrust officials carried out the raids at the offices of local units of Glencore and Africa’s Export Trading Group, and India’s Edelweiss group which previously had a commodities business, two government sources told Reuters.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been investigating allegations that the companies formed a cartel to discuss the pricing of pulses while importing and selling them in the Indian market at higher prices in 2015 and 2016, when India faced an acute shortage, the sources said. sentifi.com Market voices on:
A spokesman for Switzerland-based Glencore, Charles Watenphul, declined to comment, while India’s Edelweiss, which sold its commodities trading business in November 2016, and the Export Trading Group did not respond to requests for comment. SEE ALSO: EU’s Vestager opposes renewed Siemens, Alstom deal
Two years of drought pushed up prices of pulses such as chickpeas and black grams, which are a staple of Indian cuisine, in 2015 and forced New Delhi to offer duty-free imports, encouraging foreign and Indian traders who imported pulses to sell locally.
“The collusion by these companies led to higher prices of pulses,” one of the government sources said, adding that the CCI’s inquiry started three months ago.
The investigation will also assess whether the companies have continued their alleged collusion even after the prices of pulses stabilised in recent years, the source said.
The raids on five company offices in India’s financial capital began on Friday and were concluded on Saturday.
Antitrust officials collected evidence, including documents and e-mails, and questioned company officials during the raids, a second government source said.
Another source, an industry executive, told Reuters that CCI’s search involved going through company records at Glencore’s office in Mumbai, confirming it was part of the watchdog’s probe into accusations of fixing import prices.
The drought during 2015 wilted crops and exacerbated shortages of food such as protein-rich pulses and India, which consumes about 22 million tonnes of pulses annually, faced a shortfall of 7-8 million tonnes in 2015-16.
The CCI’s raids on commodities traders mark only its fourth such search operation in its near 10-year history. They can only be conducted with approval from a judge.
In October, the CCI raided the offices of global brewers such as Carlsberg and Anheuser Busch InBev and found e-mails which allegedly showed violations of Indian antitrust laws. REUTERS

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The Rajdhanis Create Delusion of Quality Service, Food

First of all, my favourite train between Goa and Delhi is the Sampark Kranti Express, the 12449/12450. However, as it has now been extended to start from and terminate at Chandigarh, the algorithms for reservations especially in First AC are skewed to favour passengers boarding at Chandigarh, which in turn keeps the waiting list pending till 4 hours before the departure of the train from Chandigarh. This is a game with all trains in India, the four hour window when all “quotas” are released, but it is worse in 1AC because allotment of lower berths is kept pending for these “quotas”, which are the bane of our passenger reservation system. In addition, the 12449/12450 also operates only twice a week, which did not fit in with our travel plans this time. So perforce we booked ourselves on the costlier Trivandrum Rajdhani, the 12432, which appears to have not so good reviews online for catering and other services. One reason for this is that the same catering and support crew work non-stop on this train for a journey that is over 3000 kilometres and almost 48 hours long. The other big reason is that this train appears to be over-staffed, with the usual passing the buck going on, and the NO FOOD option available on many other trains is not available here. Why, for example, the catering staff cannot distribute and collect bedrolls is a valid question. But simple solutions fall afoul of an assortment of vertical silos and horizontal frictions with Indian Railways. Into all this, then, is lobbed our favourite, IRCTC, Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation, who it must be said, do a great job in many other aspects – as long as one doesn’t depend on them for catering on the Rajdhani and Shatabdi class of trains. Some sort of weird legacy is at work here. Which in turn makes IRCTC treat passengers who are known as “the public” as captive prisoners. But I get ahead of my story. We reached Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station with about 30 minutes to spare for departure time and for a change there was no big traffic mess at the entry. There was, as usual, the old parking scam at this railway station of trying to force cars and cabs into the parking lot, to exit from which one has to shell out Rs50. Once we got around that, we disembarked at our favourite spot, near the Platform 1 entry from where the un-sign posted elevator can be reached. Why are elevators not sign-posted at many railway stations? So that you look at the formidable steps and seek assistance for which there is a substantial fee. To be fair, the railway station area was very clean, though our platform number 4 and 5 was under repairs with all sorts of construction material lying around, obviously not barricaded or sign posted. What really intrigued me was the substantial fee demanded this time from me — a mind-boggling Rs850. For one mid-sized suitcase and two trolleys. I once again blame my brightly coloured socks for this, they were bright pink this time, and so we happily rolled our bags to the coach ourselves. Till the asking rate dropped down to a more reasonable Rs200 to our coach. First AC on the Trivandrum Rajdhani is at the tail of the train when leaving North India. We departed dot on time at 10.55. And then picked up speed. And that’s when the coupler fun started. I’ve encountered the sharp retort type LHB coupler issue many times on Indian Railways, but this was a totally different ball game, with both frequency and amplitude suggesting something totally amiss. The Nizamuddin to Kota non-stop section is a high speed one demanding an average speed of 104 kmph so the train is often travelling at maximum speeds approaching 115-120kmph, and that’s when the jerks really make life uncomfortable. It became better on the slower Kota to Vadodara section with an average speed of 77 kmph, and with diesels on the much slower Vadodara to Madgaon section, the coupler jerks were almost absent – which could also have to do with the visible lack of maintenance on this rake. Primary maintenance of most Rajdhani Express rakes is done in and around Delhi, and vests with Northern Railway, which appears to be over-worked. The Trivandrum Rajdhani has a rake sharing arrangement with the Secunderabad, Madgaon and Chennai Rajdhanis, and as a result, unlike the dedicated rakes for Mumbai and Kolkata, appears to be nobody’s baby. The Mumbai Rajdhani rakes, for example, operate only between Mumbai and Delhi, and primary maintenance is carried out in Mumbai, so there is obviously a lot of accountability. Luckily we carry a small cleaning kit with us when travelling, so cleaned the tables, berths, windows, crockery and cutlery provided on our own. The very good part for us was that we had four berths to ourselves all through – even though the train reservation had shown waiting list for over a month. And food on this train is not optional. Which brings me to the worst part of the otherwise brilliant journey. From the time-table part, this train to the west coast of India from North India is ideal, though it could incorporate a few more stops en route in the catchment areas. But for the rest, the catering crew onboard this train, who also form the largest and therefore dominant contingent on board, appear to have nil willingness to adhere to any forms of hygiene, sanitation, or safety. You know what happens when one contingent is 20+ strong, and the rest are in 1s or 2s? Nobody takes on the fairly militant catering crew on these trains, least of all the variety of superintendents or managers onboard, and that’s a simple fact. They run the train and everybody else keeps quiet. This extends to the way they treat passengers too. Aggression towards meek passengers is part of the course. In this day and age, I video record such episodes and send it to safe accounts at home, and let them know I am doing this. Not meek. I spotted – # fire extinguishers removed from their securing points so that food trays could be stacked there. # about 50% of the doors of the train blocked by food trays and garbage. # used crockery and cutlery being washed in toilets and then dry-wiped with one cloth throughout the journey. # plastic and other waste being collected and then vanishing in the middle of the night, probably thrown trackside. # the less said about the excessive oil used in the all dishes, the better. All food tastes the same. # attitude. Instead of trying to resolve matters, the two catering managers onboard just appear to give up. # the less said about the conditions in the pantry car the better. I’m not expecting ship galley perfection but something should be clean? We resolved the expected food issues by carrying our own, though our ticket price included about Rs500 charged for three meals and two teas over a 26-hour journey, menu for which is also getting repetitive and not representative of anything except the lowest bid. In addition, using the same IRCTC’s online service, we ordered a brunch for ourselves at Ratnagiri station on day 2 from a co-op outlet, paid for it online whilst the train was rolling, and received some excellent kolim + 3 jawar bhakris and sambar + 3 idlis with a delicious curd based chutney representative of the best of Maharashtrian Konkan cuisine. For all of Rs118 delivered to us – the delivery person almost missed the train and ran to hand it to the guard from whose coach I then collected it. Thing is, not that Indian Railways cannot deliver good healthy food to passengers. Food on some trains is legendary, brilliant. Thing is, that the attitude towards passengers especially of Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains where “NO FOOD” is not an option is that we are “the public” ( as in “public toilet”) as different from “the Quota VVIPs/VIPs” (as in HO Quota etc). It took a few tweets for the size of the boiled eggs to become massive and decent crockery cutlery to arrive, while veg breakfast on offer changed from the usual triple fried cutlets to the brilliant upma-sheera transferred from the preceding 10111 Konkan Kanya. (yes, I recognise the taste of the upma sheera from Ahuja Caterers on the 10111/10112 cum 10103/10104, and have my own sources too.) All Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express and similar trains need to become NO FOOD optional trains as soon as possible. Delivery of hot freshly cooked meals onboard is very convenient and brings in a much needed healthier option that the tray of lowest bids served from the pantry/kitchen car. And most of all, the attitude of the catering staff onboard, whether contractual or employed, will change. NO FOOD, from what I am told, is up to 30% on some trains and rising.

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The Spice People Offering The Purest Gourmet Spices Like Curry Leaves

7/200 Boundary Rd, Braeside VIC 3195, Australia The Spice People Offering The Purest Gourmet Spices Like Curry Leaves The Spice People is providing a rich variety of premium spice blends and purest gourmet spices and herbs that include the flavourful and amazingly aromatic curry leaves. The Spice People brings the best ingredients in the form of gourmet spices, herbs and seeds to the food-loving people in Australia. The retailer has also been converting some of its regular spices into organic spices, in order to meet its customers’ expectations of adhering to the best practices when it comes to supplying spices to the market. The increasing trend towards the use of as many organics as possible has created an opportunity to improve the offerings of The Spice People. The retailer has additionally been adding hard-to-find condiments to its products.
While attending a media event, the spokesperson of The Spice People asserted, “We offer the best-quality, premium-grade herbs and spices on our online store. There are more than 175 different spices, spice blends, salts, chillies, botanicals and native spices, together with herbal and chai teas, with our list of offerings growing constantly. Our products are natural, preservative-free, additive-free, and filler-free. Our packaging is a high-barrier film with a resealable zip to retain maximum freshness and shelf life of our products.”
The Spice People provides free shipping to its customers that make purchases of more than $69. The retailer focuses on connecting people with spices in an enriching culinary adventure that makes eating fun, interesting, and wholesome. For this purpose, The Spice People has also been introducing a variety of hard-to-find condiments like pomegranate molasses and rose water. These condiments help in making that perfect dish or elevate a dish to the highest level of authenticity. People can use them to create delicious food items from various international cuisines.
The spokesperson also revealed, “We are adding more exciting accessories to help make people’s experience with our products even better. These items include speciality teapots, reusable cups, iced tea makers, and spice grinders. Further, we have expanded our range of gourmet spices to include versatile ingredients like kadi patta, which infuses a predominant flavour and incredible aroma in Madras curry, as well as other popular Indian and Sri Lankan dishes. This ingredient carries a delicate spicy citrus flavour.”
The Spice People offers kadi patta that is also known as curry leaves . They have many health benefits. These leaves contain calcium, phosphorous and iron, as well as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin E respectively. To get the best flavour, people can shallow fry the whole leaves in oil prior to adding to their dish. These leaves can be used in a similar manner to bay leaves. They go well with cardamom, chilli powder, cilantro, coconut, cumin, fenugreek, garlic, mustard, pepper, and turmeric. In Indian cuisine, kadi patta is used to make vada, rasam and kadhi dishes.
About The Spice People:
The Spice People offers a wide variety of pure and natural spices, blends, and herbs. The retailer also supplies several types of curries, barbecue rubs’, specialty blends, organic spices, smoke powders, and salt-free blends. Whether people need to try the pumpkin pie recipe in Australia or want to get the authentic flavours of South Indian cuisine, they can get the required spice ingredients at The Spice People. From ground cinnamon to ground ginger and cloves, the retailer supplies it all across Australia.

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