This week we begin with Grub Street musing on the changing nature of the restaurant game for those at the top. The rising influence of the World’s 50 Best list naturally means that some restaurateurs will start to “play the game”, as it were. The question is where this leads the industry and regular guests — to better dining or just more gimmicks?
Photo: AnemoneProjectors (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Closer to home: Rachel Lebihan, a.k.a The Food Sage, takes us on a much more down-to-earth journey. As part of a workshop run by Whole Larder Love in Victoria, Lebihan and classmates learned how to slaughter, clean and butcher chickens that had reached the end of their egg-producing lives. Lebihan describes the hands-on experience with a respectful honesty, giving an insight into a process that the vast majority of us meat eaters are well sheltered from these days.
Speaking of meat from animals that have reached the end of a productive phase of life, consider the Mutton Renaissance movement in the UK. Mutton is one of many ingredients that fell out of fashion in part due to a focus on cooking convenience. It may take a bit more work than your average chunk of lamb, but the mutton can also yield greater flavour. With a start by Prince Charles and the backing Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, mutton seems poised to make a comeback in the UK and perhaps across the western world.
Photo: Visitor7 (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Everyone with an iPhone is a food photographer these days, but most of us don’t get up to quite the same hijinks as the professionals. This Good Food article gives an insight into the tricks of the trade: some plumping here, a bit of painting there. It sounds (and indeed is!) more like cosmetic surgery than cooking. For those unwilling to go to such extreme lengths my key tips are: find a good light source, and when in doubt zoom in!
Photo: acme (CC BY 2.0)
I like to finish the five with a taste of the bizarre, something which is no stranger to EU regulators. Recently they’ve ruled that olive oil in EU restaurants must be served in sealed, tamper-proof packaging, ostensibly so that diners can verify its origin. Honestly this seems to be a regulation that serves major olive oil producers at the expense of restaurateurs and, ultimately, diners. If you’re served dodgy oil, no one is forcing you to use it and you’re free to complain, why not leave it at that?