Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Reviews

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Fed up with celebrity chefs drizzling sauces over undercooked pieces of meat? I am!

I regularly dine out and am happy to share my restaurant experiences, and views on food, with you.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Gate Gourmet - A Contradiction in Terms

Gate Gourmet - A Contradiction in Terms

Those of you thinking of eating on a BA flight, may wish to read this article in The Times first.

The article covers the health and hygiene standards of Gate Gourmet (the sole supplier of BA's in flight catering).

Not a pleasant read, and I don't mean that it was poorly written!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Food Fight

Food Fight

A food fight got a little out of hand in Tennessee.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Marco Ruiz from McMinnville got angry when someone threw birthday cake in his face. He then got into his SUV and repeatedly drove toward a group of partygoers at about 40 mph. He hit a friend, breaking both his legs.

He is now in custody at the Warren County Jail, facing charges.

As my parents always told me; don't throw your food about the place.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

China Food Scare

China Food Scare

Hong Kong's health secretary has stated that China often fails to inform the territory of dangers in food supplies.

This statement was as a result of tests on five kinds of freshwater fish imported from China, that showed that they contained a banned suspected carcinogen, recently found in eels for sale there.

A Hong Kong health official said China, which produces 90% of the world's supply of farmed eels, failed to inform it when it issued an urgent nationwide health alert last month.

That alert said the eels could contain the industrial dye malachite green, a toxin widely used as a disinfectant on fish farms which has been shown to cause cancer in rats.

Tests then found the chemical in five different species of freshwater fish, that are regularly eaten in Hong Kong.

Needless to say, Hong Kong have now banned these fish in the territory.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Gate Gourmet

Gate Gourmet

Those of you who regularly fly BA, may well have your own views as to the quality of the food on board. However, no food at all on a long haul flight is not a particularly pleasant prospect.

The catering company, Gate Gourmet, has been in the headlines of late as a result of a dispute with it staff that had grounded British Airways flights 10 days ago.

It seems that its troubles are only just beginning, as today it announced that it could go out of business; unless it can agree on new terms with the airline by tomorrow night.

The company issued the warning, as it lost a High Court attempt to ban large protests near the gates of its headquarters at Heathrow.

Gate Gourmet sacked 670 of its 2,000 staff this month, after unballoted strike action and alleged breach of contract. The action gave rise to a walk out by 1,000 baggage handlers and other staff at BA. This cost BA £20M, and left them with thousands of stranded passengers .

Gate Gourmet is now preparing to call in the administrators, Kroll, unless it quickly agrees new terms with BA.

BA have been insisting on some changes to "1970s working practices", including paying staff a full day's pay for half a day's work.

Kroll's first obligation would be to keep Gate Gourmet trading as a going concern as it sought a buyer.

I think there will be trouble ahead, and that travellers may well face some problems over the coming weeks.

I suggest that if you are planning on flying BA, you take your own pakced lunch.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Fancy A Cuppa?

Fancy A Cuppa?

Those of you who like nothing better than a nice cup of tea, may think twice before venturing into the Plaisir du Chocolat on Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

There, if you choose the have a pot of Japanese tea called Kiyosawa, you will be charged £23.80.

Allegedly this brand of organic white tea is harvested in the first flush, from a very small garden where only eight people grow the Yabukita variety of tea plant.

Bertrand Espouy, owner of Plaisir du Chocolat on the Royal Mile, said:

"Japanese tea is always quite expensive as they don't produce a lot and there is a great demand.

It's the first flush - there are only two harvests a year - from the spring harvest, totally organic and very limited in quantity
."

Not surprisingly, he noted that it was rare for a customer to order the Kiyosawa.

Fortunately I can't stand the stuff, and stick to alcohol when dining out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Edinburgh Restaurants Help The Homeless

Edinburgh Restaurants Help The Homeless

During this year's Edinburgh Festival, 35 restaurants across the city have joined together to help support the homeless.

During the Edinburgh Festival, people in the city are being asked to donate £1 to the StreetSmart charity campaign each time they visit a restaurant.

StreetSmart is an independent charity that raises money to help the homeless get back on their feet.

Do the restaurants also contribute £1?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Stein Slams French Supermarkets

Stein Slams French Supermarkets

Rick Stein, a British celebrity chef, has put his two feet into the Anglo-French culinary spat that preceded the Gleneagles G8 summit; by claiming that oenophiles have a better choice of wine in British supermarkets, than in some of France's finest restaurants.

Quote:

"You've only got to go into any UK supermarket to see how enthusiastically we have embraced all the different wines of the world,".

Adding:

"Meanwhile, the French stick doggedly to their own stuff, and while they still make the best, they're missing out on all those lovely Australians and New Zealands and Chileans they could be enjoying,".

"The best French wines are still the best in the world," conceded Stein. "But for every one really good French wine, there are 10 bad ones,".

Monday, August 15, 2005

New Chef At The White House

Those of you expecting an invitation to dine at the White House, in the next few months, may be interested to learn that a new chef has been appointed there.

Cristeta Comerford, a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Philippines, has been chosen to head the executive kitchen team. She will be the first woman and first minority to hold the post.

Comerford has been an assistant chef at the White House for 10 years. She worked under former executive chef Walter Scheib III, who resigned in February.

Approximately 2,000 guests are fed at the White House each month.

Comerford will be responsible for designing and executing menus for state dinners, social events, holiday functions, receptions and official luncheons hosted by the president and first lady. The job pays from $80K-$100K a year.

Aside from formal dinners, the Bushes are known to enjoy; cheeseburgers, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, Tex-Mex and barbecue.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Trans Fats To Be Banned

Trans Fats To Be Banned

New York City Health Department has asked all city restaurants to voluntarily stop serving food containing trans fats. They argue that the chemically modified ingredient significantly increases the risk of heart disease, and should not be part of any healthy diet.

Scientists and nutrition experts agree that trans fat is America's most dangerous fat, and recommend the use of alternatives like olive and sunflower oils.

A survey by the department's food inspectors found that 30%-60% of the city's 20,000 restaurants use partially hydrogenated oil in food preparation.

Trans fats are mainly used in baked goods, frying oils and breads.

Changes to the ingredients will be expensive, and change the taste of familiar products.

Many of New York's more expensive restaurants already avoid using the fats.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Rabbit Shortage

Rabbit Shortage

Those of you with a penchant for eating rabbit in restaurants, may have a hard time satisfying your craving in the USA.

It seems that there is a shortage of rabbit meat there.

Demand for rabbit meat has surged in recent years, but supply has declined.

It seems that the number of US producers has been in a steady decline for the last 60 years.

Therefore the US now imports rabbit meat, mainly from China, in 2004 the US imported more than 1 million pounds of rabbit meat.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Cooking At Google

Cooking At Google

Normally staff canteens do not rate that highly in the world of gastronomy.

However, as with many things, Google aims to be a world leader; and in respect of providing its employees with good food, for free, it aims to be the best.

Google's chef, Charlie Ayers who once cooked for the Grateful, has left Google to start his own chain of restaurants.

Google are now looking for two new chefs, and have advertised as such. They say that the chefs would oversee menus "from vegan entrees to pad Thai, grilled burgers, and wood-fired pizza all while using organic ingredients whenever possible."

Google said it would sponsor a cook-off between its top four applicants, selecting the best two out of the four.

Standard Google fayre includes sweet potato jalapeno bisque with corn, and grilled petite New York sirloins seasoned with Creole spices.

Better than many restaurants in my view.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Restaurant Strike

Restaurant Strike

Restaurants and bakeries in Dahka have begun a 2 day strike in the Bangladeshi capital, they are protesting at a government drive against sub-standard food.

The government campaign is targeting the vendors of unsafe food who are breaching safety standards.

However, the restaurants, fast food chains and bakeries say that the drive was punishing honest traders.

The campaign began two weeks ago, and has led to the jailing of some shop owners and fining of nearly 100 shops.

The campaign has been welcomed by consumer rights groups in Dhaka, who say that the restaurants often use unauthorised chemicals and colours in their food which are harmful and unsafe for human consumption.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Stunning Statistic

Stunning Statistic

There are nearly 18,000 restaurants in New York City, according to www.nycvisit.com.

That's about one restaurant for every 40 people who live there.

New York is currently celebrating Restaurant Week, a bi-annual dining promotion that offers deals on gastronomy with bargain three-course prix fixe-lunches and dinners.

It's worth a visit, Eva and I have always enjoyed our trips there.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Drink Licensing Shambles

Drink Licensing Shambles

The Federation of Small Businesses has said that the new system for licensing alcohol sales in the UK is a "shambles".

There are only six days to go until the August 6 deadline. However, 58% of the 180,000 licence-holders in England and Wales have not yet submitted renewal applications.

This means that over 100,000 businesses will miss the deadline, including; 30,000 restaurants and fast-food outlets, 26,000 hotels and guest houses and 6,500 shops.

Policy chairman John Walker said:

"The Licensing Minister may well be predicting that the new system will be seen favourably in a couple of years' time, but few businesses will forget that its introduction has been a shambles.

We have some sympathy with local authorities. The failure of businesses to renew their licences is a time-bomb of the Government's making, which we warned was set to explode this summer.

Ministers under-estimated the vast array of firms that come under the new regime, including many that make just a tiny proportion of their profits from alcohol.

They didn't listen when we told them that 26-page forms and a requirement to submit plans of premises were all right for national chains with in-house legal teams but not for independent traders
."

This means that some areas may well face a dry Christmas.

You have been warned!