A short walk from the garden: Belgian chef Gert De Mangeleer is succeeding in self-sufficiency: During the mild months of early summer, the garden at the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Hertog Jan — located 20 minutes outside of the Belgian city of Bruges — is in full bloom. The pale orange outlines of butternut squash peek out from beneath a thick cover of wide, flat leaves. Radishes grow in neat rows along one edge, while golden nasturtium flowers sprout in another corner. But Hertog Jan’s garden functions as more than fancy landscape design: it is an experiment in self-sufficiency.
Michelin-star chef Richard Ekkebus and his intense relationship with time: Recognised as one of Asia’s top chefs, Richard Ekkebus, director of food and beverage at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, which includes two Michelin-star, fine-dining restaurant Amber, understands how precision can lead to success. “Cooking is about precise timing – timing between the restaurants, the service staff and kitchen, timing of the dishes and the pace of the guests according to their needs. All day we are busy with timing,” says Ekkebus, whose two Michelin-starred Amber is usually in the top four of Asia’s best restaurants, and top 20 of the world’s best restaurants.
Heston Blumenthal: being vulnerable and inquisitive may save us from a robot uprising: If we are to remain useful in a world where everyday tasks are increasingly being taken over by robots, we must retain our ability to imagine and create anything, chef Heston Blumenthal told the audience at WIRED Next Generation. But we also need to be free to express that imagination and creativity, without fear of being shot down and rejected. “The problem of living in a world that is just about perfection is that as kids, we are scared to put our hands up and have a go because we don’t want to feel rejected or stupid or judged by others. We need to replace the word perfection with discovery and change the environment where we don’t have a fear of failure.”
Who are Ireland’s top young chefs, and where do they work? Six young chefs have been named as finalists in the Euro-Toques Ireland competition to find the country’s outstanding young culinary talent. Having shone in the early rounds of the competition, which involved social media and written entry tasks, followed by face-to-face interviews with a panel of Euro-Toques chefs, the final six will compete in a skills test in Dublin on November 27th.
British-run cafe named France’s best village bistro by Le Fooding: A small cafe run almost singlehandedly by a British chef has been named France’s best village bistro. Manchester-born Chris Wright set up the Epicerie de Dienne as a shop-cum-cafe in a remote village in the mountainous Cantal region of central France in June.
The History of Butter: Although the time and place when people first created butter is a subject of ongoing debate, most anthropologists agree that butter arrived on the scene with Neolithic people, the first of our Stone Age ancestors who succeeded at domesticating ruminants. Once these early families had milking animals under their control, the invention of different dairy products was an evolutionary next step.
Recipe: Spaghetti alla Amatriciana: I took my ereader on holiday loaded with improving books. I managed Hardy’s Return of the Native but then moved on to the works of American writer John D MacDonald, which feature the exploits of detective Travis McGee. I fell asleep half-way through the fifth instalment of these intrepid adventures (a case of stolen gold statues) and woke at 3.25am on the sofa in our rented house in the Italian Marches. I stumbled up to bed and, as I pulled open the heavy oak door of the bedroom, all manner of hell broke loose. The lights came on, the fan crashed to the floor and the house shook.
The New Vermouth: It’s been a couple of years since Wine Enthusiast published a comprehensive review of vermouth bottlings. And since then, the pool has become considerably deeper. For starters, it’s no longer just white/dry and red/sweet.
Pinot goes global: Red burgundy casts a spell on a high proportion of wine drinkers. When it’s good, it is uniquely hedonistically charged. And when it’s bad, we tend to see it as our fault for having backed the wrong horse in the unpredictable race towards burgundian perfection.
36 Hours in Malta: Malta contains multitudes. Despite being the smallest member of the European Union, the Mediterranean archipelago below Sicily bears traces of numerous peoples and conquerors: Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Spanish, French and, most notably, the European crusader knights known as the Order of Malta. Preachers (St.Paul), painters (Caravaggio) and politicians (Napoleon) have washed up on the rocky sun-roasted shores and left marks too. The Maltese language is close to Arabic (though English is the second official tongue). And residents drive on the left like the British, who governed the islands for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. The cuisine is infused with Italian flavors and ingredients — to say nothing of rabbit, the national dish — while the architecture ranges from mysterious ancient temples to masterful Baroque-era cathedrals to new postmodern experiments. Rather than try to encapsulate Malta, it’s best to simply plunge in. The walled cities of Valletta and Mdina are your entry points.