Afternoon Tea at the Fan Museum

I’m not sure I’d recommend the Fan Museum at Greenwich to non-girls. Don’t get me wrong, it’s gorgeous, frilly froth, beautifully presented in a jewel box of a building. I utterly adore it. Men I have taken there, however, have developed a strange, glazed look halfway through Room Two. Perhaps that’s why up to now…

Georgian Dining Academy

If you’re planning a trip to London in the long term, allow me to tempt you with a very quirky evening indeed; one that truly steps back in Old London time… Regular readers will know the delights ofSimpsons Tavern, the oldest chop house in London–established in 1757 and still, hidden in a warren of medieval alleyways, a secret…

Colston Bassett Stilton

The tiny English village of Colston Bassett boasts a ruined Norman church, a market cross, a picturesque country pub – and what some might call the Emperor of the kings of British cheese. Stilton is, perhaps, the most distinguished cheese of all, with its thick yellow crust, sumptuous web of blue veins, crumble-cream texture and rich, piquant…

Maids of Honour

Some say Hampton Court, some say Richmond Palace. You pays your ha’penny and you takes your choice when it comes to legends about Henry VIII’s eating habits, especially when it comes to melt-in-the-mouth pastries dainty enough for a nursery rhyme. The story goes that the king, visiting his queen du jour in her apartments at…

Tea and Tattle

The delightfully-named Arthur Probsthain opened his oriental and African bookshop in Great Russell Street exactly 110 years ago. Upstairs it’s still family business as usual. A few years ago, however, the latest generation, Tim and Chris, cleared out the bulging cellar and turned it into a tiny tearoom. It’s turned into a favourite haunt of…

Coddle up for Winter

When I was a kid, my mum used to make us ‘poached eggs’ using a frying pan-like saucepan with little shallow cups simmering over water. She’d put a dab of butter in each cup, break an egg into each then let them boil to a soft set. I grew up sincerely believing that that was what…

Bordeaux Patrol

Bordeaux is misunderstood. Like an older, mysterious brother, the region so familiar to us both from holidays and supermarket shelves somehow manages to lead an unexpected ‘other life’. We tend to think of its rich, red wines, yet the region’s been producing whites for a thousand years. Bordeaux itself has a reputation for dark, enigmatic…

Chocolate for Men

Damian Allsop’s ‘water ganache’, dispensing with the traditional butter and cream.  The extraordinary exploding chocolates of Gorvett and Stone. The understated elegance of William Curley. Chubby cherubs gallivanting around Rococo’s fabled blue and white cornucopia. In the past few years, a chocolate revolution has burst onto our tastebuds, relegating the old choice – between cheap…

Skirret – the Forgotten Tudor Vegetable

“The sweetest, whitest and most pleasant of roots,” raves gentleman gardener John Worlidge, in his 1677 Systema Horticulturae Or The Art of Gardening. “Pleasant and wholesome,” agrees Culpeper’s Complete Herbal. Yet the subtle sweetness of the modest skirret, noted by Pliny as the Emperor Tiberius’s favourite and a mainstay of Tudor tables, is all but…