The Week in Food

Alert!  Father’s Day on the horizon!
Sunday, 19 June.  He’s your dad.  Do something nice.  Click here to book a restaurant.  We don’t want to nag so that’s all we’re saying.
Whisky Business
If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s a serious don’t-miss for whisky lovers and the whisky curious.  (There’s something so Mad Men about brown drinks in short glasses, isn’t there?)  Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky has a pop-up Whisky Den going now through 5 June in Tavistock Street in Covent Garden,  open 1 – 8 pm with whisky tastings every Saturday.  In fact, the whole enterprise is hands-on for us punters, everything from sampling whisky straight from the cask to making furniture out of old whisky barrel staves.   Balvenie is one of the few family-owned distilleries remaining in Scotland, still growing its own barley and hiring coopers to tend its barrels and they are rightly proud of their long history of fine whisky-making.  Can’t make it?  The Balvenie folk have an online Whisky Academy, too, so you can deepen your knowledge of the golden stuff from the comfort of your iPad.
Michelin-Star Chef Pop-up

Atul Kochhar


Atul Kochhar was 31 when he won his Michelin star, the first Indian chef ever to have been so honoured.  His Benares restaurant is a Mayfair institution and a toptable diner favourite.  Now Kochhar has taken over Meza in Soho in the evenings for a pop-up of terrific taste and style: Atul Kochhar of Benares at Meza.  This pop-up is a brilliant opportunity to sample his amazing Anglo-Indian cuisine — all dishes are £10 or less and we even have an early evening special offer of three dishes (it says ‘courses’ on the restaurant page, but stick with us, it’s three dishes) for £22 including a glass of wine or a Kingfisher beer.  Some of the favourites from the Benares menu are there as well as innovative dishes just for this event.  It ends 28 May, so we advise you to book, like, now
Peak Food Experience…
The Derbyshire Food & Drink Festival is happening this weekend, 21 – 22 May, in the glorious surroundings of  Herdwick Hall.  Cleverly, the many cooking demonstrations, food stalls, arts and crafts sellers, music and entertainment will be held under canvas, so festival-goers can laugh at the weather.  more than 10,000 people are expect to come enjoy the day, learn from the celeb chefs like Simon Rimmer, resident chef on BBC 2’s Something for the Weekend and Dean Edwards from ITV’s Daybreak, and buy from the enormous number of local growers and producers.  And there’s a bouncy castle where you can wear the children out while you follow your gastronomic interests.   
…And North Yorks Food Experience…
At exactly the same time, the delightful North Yorkshire village of Malton will hold its annual Malton Food Lovers Festival.  They too expect 10,000 visitors to their 100 stalls of locally-grown and locally-produced food, their two food theatres where celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager (Ladette to Lady, Soapstar Superchef) and food writer Tom Parker Bowles will be hosting exciting cookery demonstrations, and follow the Taste Trail around town, sampling miniplates of local food, beer and wine.  At the very same time, the Malton Beer, Wine and Drinks Celebration featuring more than forty casks of real ale, cider and a separate wine bar.  And there are loads of family-friendly entertainments like the Army Field Kitchen and the Young Chefs Competition.  And it’s free.  If after all that, you still have an appetite, toptable has restaurants in York to try.
… and North Norfolk Crustacean Celebration
The Cromer & Sheringham Crab & Lobster Festival is something special as well, a three-day festival that unites two rival fishing towns to celebrate their shared history and the people who bring these delicacies home.  The Crabster Festival will feature cookery demonstrations and food events hosted by Mary Kemp, a champion of local seafood who runs a cookery school at her south Norfolk farmhouse kitchen and writes regular cookery features for local and national publications.  But the art side of this festival is brilliant with a capital B — there are sponsored deckchairs decorated by local artists that will be auctioned for charity, there’s a Two Minutes of Your Time film project by local filmmakers, the creation of a new crustacean-loving superhero, decoration of the local clocktower by schoolchildren and much more.  For music, the Sheringham Shantymen and Cromer Smugglers are kicking off the event on Friday evening.  We have to stop listing things now — and there is much, much more — or your eyes will glaze over.  This festival is truly worthwhile because all the proceeds go to local charities.  As ever, toptable has many and fabulous restaurants in Norfolk.
Sandwich This In
Ahead of the annual Sammies Awards, the British Sandwich Association has declared this week British Sandwich Week, and if you help them decide the best new sandwich of the year, you might win a trip for two to the Sandwich Islands, aka Hawaii, not too shabby. 
So many toptable restaurants offer superior sandwiches that we almost hate to admit we even know what a supermarket, cello-wrapped sarnie tastes like, but we do, we really do. We’d like to mention a great sandwich-friendly restaurant: Joe Allen in Covent Garden, who offer a big menu of mainly US favourites, including their fine hamburger.  No, it’s not on the menu, you just have to ask for it.