Pudding Bidding

Think of this as an online food event.  Fabbo chef Heston Blumenthal created a Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding for Waitrose this year and it’s sold out. It cost £13.99 and there are no more boo hoo.  So far, so ordinary.

Ah, but you have to reckon on the magic of ebay and human reaction to the laws of scarcity.  Right now there are nearly 200 Blumenthal puddings listed on ebay.co.uk and the current high bid is £75 plus delivery.  We love the seller who’s listed his pudding for a Buy It Now price of £1,000.  Good luck to him.  Even more we love the seller with the Tesco Value Range ‘Not Heston Blumenthal’ Hidden Satsuma pudding and all the people who’ve bid it up to £11.50.

Of course, if you had the thousand, you could do this instead: take two friends to The Fat Duck in Bray and have the £160 tasting menu, a bottle of Bolly, a 1990 Chasse Spleen and a half bottle of Vin Santo di Montepulciano dessert wine and you’d still have enough leftover cash to buy the Tesco pud.

Celebrating Mother Earth

The Slow Food movement has given us much – an appreciation for local, seasonal produce that’s become the norm in the best restaurants, encouragement and support for our grow-your-own efforts, a reminder that when we hurry life goes by in a rush, but when we slow down, time does too.

This weekend Slow Food sponsors the international Terra Madre Day, officially Friday, 10 December, but really going on all over this weekend.  Last year saw more than 1000 events in 120 countries worldwide and this year’s celebration promises to be just as widespread. In the UK alone we know of more than twenty events, ranging from bring-your-own shared meals of locally-sourced produce in Bristol, Durham, Hamble and Kings Cross, London, to a festive tasting event at Corney and Barrow Whighams Cellars in Ayrshire to a Seasonal Celebration of Eating Locally at the Wilderness Wood outside Tunbridge Wells. These last two are places you might want to explore anyway.  And for our friends in faraway places around the globe, click here to find Terra Madre events near you because there’s bound to be something fun going on.

Road to Christmas

Avenue House in Finchley is home to a Christmas Farmers Market this Sunday, 12 December, featuring local produce, handmade baked goods, artisan cheese as well as Christmas themed foodie delights to share with friends and family.  And if you need sustenance before or after, may we suggest some restaurants nearby?

Brighton Pudding Race Inaugural

Like the running of the bulls at Pamplona, Britain has its own annual racing celebrations and new among them this year is the Great Christmas Pudding Race in Brighton set for this Saturday, 11 December, at Bartholomew Square.  Think very silly and inventive fancy dress, wacky racing with unexpected obstacles, lots of laughter and some serious fundraising.  Proceeds will be split between Cancer Research UK and Martlets Hospice, two deserving charities.  The event begins at 11, so a later lunch will be in order, perhaps at one of these terrific restaurants.

Chocolate and Culture

London’s Southbank Centre is hosting a Chocolate Festival this Friday through Sunday and it’s free, though once you get there and peruse the dozens of chocolatiers, taste really high quality chocolate, enjoy the talks and demonstrations and get into a swoon, you may find that you’ve bought chocolate gifts for everyone on your Christmas list.  Not a bad thing.

Skylon

And while we’re about it, could someone please explain how chocolate came to be associated with every major holiday?  We celebrate Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, birthdays and Halloween with chocolate.  All that’s left are the Bank Holidays and Guy Fawkes and someone’s probably working on those two right now.

We have a seriously good selection of restaurants near the Southbank for you to enjoy before or after your chocoholic overload.  Don’t miss the super special offers at Skylon right in the Southbank Centre.

New restaurants on toptable

Angels With Bagpipes on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile has got it right: a cool named (inspired by St

Angels with Bagpipes

Giles’ Cathedral nearby), a super historic setting retrofitted with sleek modern décor, fine Caledonian-Italian cuisine, professional and friendly service, a fab-value two course menu up to 6pm for pre-theatre, and a free glass of prosecco when you book through toptable.  One of you toptable diners even loved the wallpaper.

O-de-V

Easily accessible from Newcastle Quayside and right beside the Swing Bridge, O-de-V restaurant is a fusion steakhouse with a pretty fab Margarita Bar and a blazing wine list.  Steaks are marinated or grilled plain and have been earning rave reviews everywhere.

Quantus restaurant in London’s Chiswick is a small

Quantus

neighbourhood eaterie with extremely high calibre modern European cuisine, stylish surroundings, warm staff and a deservedly loyal clientele.  If only all local restaurants were this good.

In Fulham, Brasa has arrived on the scene with a terrific modern dining room, a fine Asador Grill imported from the Basque country of Spain, divine cocktails and wines, and a seasonally-changing grill menu that will have you coming back again and again.

Brasa

Soho attracts French restaurants like doorways attract smokers, and it’s no wonder as the area has centuries of association with immigrant French.  The latest is a cool, brasserie style restaurant called C’est Ice Brasserie. The daytime menu is quick and lunchy

C'est Ici Brasserie

while in the evening things become more complex and the kitchen shows off its Mediterranean and European cuisine.