Sausage In a Basket: The Great British Guide of How NOT to eat
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Served with a red onion marmalade, garnished with a dressed salad and fresh toasted bread.
Knickerbocker gloryyears
The Knickerbocker Glory Years: the Great British Book of How Not to Eat

On sale now from Bloomsbury Publishing. From all good book shops or order a copy from these lovely online retailers:



More How Not to Eat - Martin's Food Journal

Sun Apr26th

It's kind of sunny in London

Dracula Lolly

Fri Mar6th

American/Southern Style

American/Southern Style

Food from the Southern States of America: seasoned meats cooked over glowing coals. Rich gravies, yams, glazed hams, grits, squash, hot cakes and sorghum; pecan pie, banana pudding and peach cobbler.

Folks living south of the Mason Dixon line call it "soul food". After eating it for several weeks you'll look like you've eaten Luther Vandross.

None of the dishes listed above are available at British restaurants offering Southern-style food, though the chef does have a certain knack with a de-frosted seasoned drumstick, a double CD by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and a t-shirt with an airbrushed portrait of a white wolf wearing a Native American head-dress; howling at the sky and lit by a ghostly prairie moon.

Every British supermarket chain has its own American-style food range: gunky, mushy, 100% prime beefed, cheese-topped, corn-flecked, chili-flavoured tat with microwave Tex Mex wedge fries, authentic Arkansas coleslaw, stumpy corn on the cob with chili butter and a Texan-style sour cream and chive dip.

They're all packaged in finger-clickin' faux-hep Americana: the stars and stripes; 1958 Cadillac Eldorados, drive-in diners, malted vanilla milkshakes and Wurlitzer jukeboxes. All as authentically American as Showaddywaddy or Russ Abbot draped-up like a Teddy Boy on his Saturday Madhouse.

Sun Dec21st

King Prawn Spoon

King Prawn in Burberry Cap
Whatever happened to the King Prawn?

It was a thing of luxury - a juicy exotic treat from Honduras to be pan-fried with lime and dipped in chili.

Not it's to be found on the menu in Iceland (the shop and not the country), served on top of a tinned salmon and sea sticks terrine or on top of ASBO Iceland's bizarre 'King Prawn Spoon'.
Fri Dec19th

The Perfect Christmas Gift... really

No, you don't want a doll, a collectors edition action figure, an iPod, Wii, a stand-up comedy cash-in DVD, a jar of peaches in port, a beers of the world coaster and six-pack set or those milk chocolate sea shells from Belgium that taste like old Horlicks.... you want a copy of the Knickerbocker Glory Years. Available online (see the links to the left) or in all good bookshops(Waterstones is proobably the best place).

Werewolves of London
Wed Dec17th

"There's No Way I'm giving a Tip"

Lucky Cat
"The plaster money cat is staring at me."

"The tenderness of the sweet and sour chicken strips was offset by squeakiness of the bamboo decor."

The strolling accordionist had a malevolent stare, a shabby shuffle and an off-key take on 'Lady of Spain'.

By the time the slushy tiramisu that tasted of instant coffee granules arrived, and sensing that there was no way he was going to receive a substantial tip, 'Georgio' had given up on the whole accent thing.
Sat Dec6th

La Baguette

La Baguette
In the pantheon of bad kitchenware that my parents have bought over the years (the electric bread knife, the pod-based coffee system, the radioactive bread-maker, the coaster set with birds of the Devon moors.

This is the latest addition to their hall of shame.... a baguette holder. .
Fri Oct31st

Werewolves of London

Happy Halloween from London... if you're here, avoid steping out during a full moon and the Angus Steak Houses... ick!

Werewolves of London
Sat Oct18th

I Hate...

Those dusty, pre-packaged flapjacks they sell in train station cafes that smell of suet.
Mon Oct13th

Supermarket Sushi

Supermarket sushi: previously-canned tuna and mouldy cucumber in a 'California roll'; a carrot in a minute rice wrap; one of those rectangles of omelette tied onto a lump of hard, sticky rice; panda brand Wasabi in a small sachet - made in Leicester; Oh, and a small piece of plastic grass.

Sun Oct12th

Birthday Cake

It's my birthday in 3 weeks.

Marks and Spencer Caterpillar Cake
Sat Oct11th

This Weekend I'm Eating...

Martin - 2001
I bought some space ice cream from the V&A shop. It tasted of sick and watercolour paints.

Fri Oct10th

The Worst Starter Ever: Crab claws in breadcrumbs

Lobster Claws
I ordered this Dr Moreaua-approved monstrosity from an Italian takeaway in East London.... recontsituted, pressed crab meat with little celebratory crab claws stuck in them like a flag in a child's sandcastle.

Sun Aug18th

This Weekend I'm Eating...

Martin - Full Metal
I've pitched the Argos tent in the local park this week and I'm on ration packs this week -just add water food - strawberry jelly, butterscotch Angel Delight and dessicated beef goulash in silver packs.

The foods I was given to eat growing up had nothing to do with flavour. They had little nutritional value. They had sod-all to do with working the taste buds or food as a conversation point. They were all about chemistry:

Powdered sauces and desserts, packet mixes and reconstituted meats; ice cream toppings that froze solid on contact.

You didn't need to worry about sell-by dates. Mum might have bought it when you were still in Primary School, but, rest easy; you'd be revising for your A-levels by the time the best-before date ticked round on that packet of Knorr granules.

We were living in the space age - the age of frozen, freeze-dried, bi-carbonate-of-some-shite, instant food.

I swear, before the age of nineteen, I'd never eaten anything that wasn't coloured red, involved the addition of half a kettles worth of boiling water and vigorous stirring with a hand-held wire whisk.

Sat Aug17th

Eighties Food pt. 3: Deep Fat Fryers

80s food pt 3
Deep Fat Fryers - they were the iPods of the seventies and eighties. Every household had at least one.

Unlike iPods, they only played one song. The frying chip tune - a bubbling Bo Diddley beat played not on a rectangular six string, but on heated slime extracted from sunflowers. There was no iTunes in my youth, though I snapped my fingers daily to the boiling oil jangle as I buttered the bread.

No one uses deep fat friars these days. Fritters and home-made, hand-cut chips died out at the same time as jokes about Englishmen, Irishmen and Scotsmen and the bubblegum soul of Billy Ocean. Everyone uses oven chips now - fluffy, unsubstantial reconstituted potato cooked in a hard, crunchy casing. Or those flimsy, flaccid three minute versions served straight from microwaves in soggy cardboard boxes.

My Mum was a dab hand at he deep fat friar. All those years working the six form kitchen of Eggbuckland Vale Comprehensive School had given her asbestos fingers. She could pick a stray chip out of the napalm-hot sunflower oil with her bare hands without wincing or taking her eyes off the barbeque baked beans bubbling away on the hob.

We had a huge, round electric friar made by Morphy Richards (the Apple computers of the hand-cooked chip era). Oil would last up to eight months. It had hot grease blisters down the side. Dribbling fruit juice from those pineapple fritters had combined with the hot Mazola oil and corroded the metal cage.

I'd lower the battered pineapple rings into the oil, as if sacrificing a goat to the gods - cruel, vengeful gods who'd spit their displeasure back over Mum's treasured Autumn Leaves-themed tablecloth and matching cork-bottomed coasters.
Sat Aug9th

This Weekend I'm Eating...

Martin - Spaghetti
Some sort of bean and meat stew - like a character in a Spaghetti western.

I'm slurping it from an earthenware bowl with a small wooden spoon whilst laughing maniacally to the rhythm of a Jew's harp, shouting something about confederate gold and staring-down Klaus Kinski.
Fri Aug8th

Eighties Food pt. 2: French Bread Pizzas

80s food pt 2
Findus French bread pizzas were individual servings of an Italian favourite: a tough, stale baguette base, a thin layer of tomato paste dotted with minute cubes of ham, pepper squares, pineapple chunks and grated cheddar cheese.

Shrink-wrapped and then frozen, they were generally eaten on canal holidays or in Humberside caravan sites and devoured in their millions by latch-key kids on half-term holidays.

Myself and my sister weren't allowed them, just like we weren't allowed to chew bubblegum, blow whistles or watch ITV.

French Bread Pizzas looked so good in 1985, but then again so did West Midlands pop dandies Duran Duran.

Times change and in 2008 Duran Duran look like old men wearing young men's hair. Simon Le Bon, in particular, looks like Richard Nixon in a Lady Diana Spencer wig.
Wed Jul23rd

Eighties Food pt. 1: Nouvelle Cuisine

Hall and Oates
Nouvelle cuisine was huge in the nineteen eighties. It was minimal, colourful and didn't come with a 'combo' option. It never caught on.

It was a style of cooking that was all about visual presentation; setting vividly-coloured ingredients against white plate space - bringing to mind the Optical Art of Bridget Riley, Athena posters of airbrushed hot fudge sundaes and men in cream linen jackets who looked like Daryl Hall or John Oates who click-finger danced with themselves to Classix Noveau club mixes in L.A. discotheques named after Weimar Republic youth movements that smell like sweet and sour pork, before checking the hour on their wafer-thin Swiss timepieces, rolling their jacket sleeves up and return to their warehouse apartments to snort six lines of "coke" and brew Ethiopian Sidamo in their stainless steel cafetieres.
Sun Jul20th

Irish Foods

If, like me you have an Irish mother; one thing is certain; there's at least one set of rosary beads in their purse (or a scraggy old 1mm x 1mm shred of an obscure saint's cloak on a laminated prayer card), and they'll wax lyrical on the superiority of Irish foods: how the bacon tastes better across the sea; how Irish potatos compare to Russian caviar or Maine lobster. On trips back to Ireland my Mum would bring back bags and bags of Tayto crisps and fizzy tangerine drink called 'Tanora' that you could only buy in the Cork area - probably due to the famiine of the "brutal Black and Tans".

Irish foods
Sun Jun15th

All-American Junk Foods I Love But You Can't get Over Here pt. 1...

Here are the American junk foods I adore but you can't get over here... probably due to E.U regulations on artificial flavourings. I love the drug store fruit pie that tastes like perfume; the gooey mass market cupcake; anything grape flavoured (a flavour that tastes nothing like grapes); breakfast cereals that are pure sugar, contain marshmallows and are sold using minor Hanna Barbera characters; square hambugers from the U.S. only chain and anything, but anything cinnamon flavoured.

merican Junk Foods I Love But You Can't get Over Here
Tue Jun10th

British Summertime

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Summer Food
Sun May25th

Chocolate with liquid in it

Chocolate with liquid in it
I hate chocolate with liquid in it: Irish coffee, cherry kirsch, blended Scotch; sticky essence of ethanol in miniaturised, foiled-wrapped casks or little bloody barrels.

That goes for any union between the cocoa bean and any alcoholic extract:

icing sugar-dusted truffles; apricot mush soaked in brandy flavouring and covered in cheap continental chocolate; marzipan rum and plum balls from Benelux or a gift box set of milk chocolate whiskeys of the world.
Sat Apr5th

Gourmet Burgers Redux

They've been springing up all over the UK: burger boutiques; 100% ground beef Benetton's selling bespoke, fusion fare in unhurried, carbon neutral surroundings and charging at least three pounds seventy five for twelve chunky chips in a chrome bowl. All served up by amiable, overqualified New Zealand ex-pats with degrees in Ecology and Conservation from the University of Otago.

(Article continued below image...patronise, patronise)

Shakin' Stevens

Visit a burger boutique for lunch. Scan the menu and choose between the satay special; the bacon, avocado and venison version; the mint lamb with onion jam or the jarlsberg and jalapeno Aberdeen Angus in a ciabatta bun. By the time you've weighed up all the options and plumped for the blue cheese Cajun-style quarter-pounder with lemongrass shake and Thai chilli chicken and feta cheese side salad - its dinner time and you'll have just enough change for the last bus home.

With their citizen-of-the-world menus and neutral decor (mahogany-veneered bench seating; tasteful black and white photography of fjords in brushed metal frames) the rise of the upscale burger restaurant represents a sea change for the hamburger joint in the UK.

While previous incarnations of the High Street burger bar were either franchise imports with scratched plastic seating and or home-grown equivalents that aimed for Elvis-wearing-Levis-style themed Americana but ended up as pale Anglo imitations, like Shakin' Stevens in supermarket jeans; a wall-mounted Tennessee license plate here, a plastic jukebox there...

Maybe the rise of the geographically-neutral burger boutique reflects the souring of the transatlantic special relationship or the dissatisfaction with food franchises.

Then again, it could just be an excuse to charge eight pounds fifty for an overloaded burger - one that's impossible to eat without using a knife, fork and forceps.
Sun Mar30th

All-Day Breakfast Anything

Breakfast In a Bag
Breakfast should ideally be a leisurely activity - a meal best taken in separate servings of bread, meat, eggs and fruit and eaten in silence; silence only interrupted by the peeling of Church Bells, the crunch of brown granary under knife or the rustle of newspaper as one tries to avoid getting buttery crumbs or blobs of marmalade on the Society section.

Unfortunately, modern life is all up and at 'em and food on-the-go. Hence the advent of the all-inclusive takeaway breakfast: the fast food joint's spongy muffin - mercifully only available before 11am - containing an anaemic egg with blackened yolk and synthetically spicy sausage patty; the cereal bar with the malted milk taste and 200 grams of refined sugar or the yogurt smoothie with crushed berries, infused oats, probiotic bacteria bits and a curdled consistency.
The greatest crime against the 'most important meal of the day', however, is the all-day breakfast anything, from the all-day breakfast with tomato mayonnaise, ground black pepper and an sodium chloride aftertaste comparable to swallowing a mouthful of Dead Sea silt - to the culinary nadir of the All-Day Breakfast in a Can with it's constituent ingredients of beans in vinegary tomato sauce, 3 oily button mushrooms, 2 small strips of streaky bacon and 4 and a half supposed pork sausages with the texture and touch of marshmallow.

Basically, where breakfast is concerned, the Barbarians are at the gate. They know not love, they know not pity; they know not marmalade. They're on-the-go and armed with all-day Cumberland sausage and egg mayo wraps and kedgeree, tomato and curried bean paninis.

Sun Mar16th

Children's Menus

For decades, British pubs and restaurants operated under the assumption that, for children, eating out was such a rare treat they wouldn't notice that the food offered on kiddie's menus was generally appalling.

They'd be distracted by the space ships or circus patterns on their paper plates or too busy conducting junior science experiments: dissolving chicken nuggets in glasses of cherry cola.

(Article continued below image...)
Children's Menu Image

And there was always the rebellious thrill of tucking-into a shrivelled birthday burger in a spongy bun with that child-who's-mother-their-mother-didn't-like or the sheer sensory novelty of the occasion; the sour smell of the pub or the clang of cutlery in the leisure centre cafeteria.

Besides, if children's options were unimaginative - that was ok; they were only eating scaled-down servings of the food the grown-ups were eating: chips; beans; slightly larger portions of reformed chicken or fish.

A consumer group recent conducted a survey of modern children's eating options: nipping in family restaurants and stealing menus (along with balloons on sticks and glacier mints from the complimentary bowl by the cash register).

Amazingly, junior menus don't seem to have changed one jot. While today's parents are tucking into suckling pig and seared scallops, the minor members of the family aren't offered scaled-down versions of the same, but burgers, chips, pasta shapes in watery sauces and, in one case, something called 'Captain Billy's Golden Fishies'.

You'd think that kids today aged 6 - 12 - savvy consumers that they are - would no longer be placated by the chicken goujon, the dipper, the finger or the baked apple covered in treacle.

Then again, there's always the circus train placemat and disappearing nugget diversion.
Sat Mar1st


A year ago I'd never tasted pomegranate. I'd barely even heard of it and had only seen one once - next to a toucan on a Philately Fair grab-bag postage stamp from Papua New Guinea.

In the frosted glass fruit bowl of my mind, pomegranate was at the bottom; underneath even the pawpaw and prickly pear; 2 atypical tropical fruits present in my consciousness due only to their mention in the Bear Necessities song on my Disney Jungle Book sing-along cassette.

Then it happened: the pomegranate explosion; the scarlet seed sprang up everywhere: in juices and smoothies; floating in Persian soups; sitting in summer salads and hidden in cous cous dishes like the prize in a lucky dip. As I write, a cabal of founding fruits are voting - by secret ballot - on pomegranate's proposed membership to the Munch Bunch.

Pomegranate's popularity is due mainly to its 'superfood' status; its antioxidating properties and nutrient density.
Well, after a year of daily consumption - in juices, soups and salads - I'm cutting it from my diet. I've noticed no visible reversal of the ageing process, the pips get stuck between my teeth and, like wheatgrass juice, the goji berry and green tea leaf before it, it tastes unremarkable at best and unpalatably bitter at worst; like licking a lemon or a postage stamp - from Papua New Guinea.

Sat Feb23th

Plymouth Argyle 3 - Burnley 1

A fine result for the promotion-chasing Pilgrims (in football reporting parlance) in front of the Home Park faithful (more football reporting parlance there)

One of the best thing about Plymouth Argyle home games is the Ivor Dewdney pasty van and the premier league 'oggies' it serves (more soccer speak)

If you're down in Devon (the home of the pasty despite what the Cornish will tell you) for the football, go for the Ivor Dewdney giant traditional pasty - thin buttery crust, meat, diced veg and peppery spices - streets ahead of the bland, tasteless, crust-heavy supermarket pasty *coughs* *Ginsters*.
Ivor Dewdney!
Thu Feb14th

Happy Valentine's Day

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Tues Feb5th

Happy Shrove Tuesday!

Better known as Pancake Day. But they're more like crepes.

Pancake Day is the great non-secular celebration. The mixing of the batter, the fun, the flipping, the fetching of the Lyle's Golden Syrup from the back of the cupboard...

The Jif dispenser that doubles as a water-pistol once it's finished; the Nutella topping.

The bitter/sweet mix of lemon juice and sprinkled cane sugar. More bitter/sweet stuff: 4 pancakes for everyone, but one small final dollop of batter for Mum.
Sun Jan27th

Health Food Guide

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Eat Well
Thu Jan10th

Lidl Product of the Week

idyl Product Week 3
It's January. It's that horrible gap between Christmas and pancake day : (

It's January. It's time to cut back, balance the budget and shed some pounds. It's time to spend the dark, cold evenings flicking through Cosmos Summer Sun brochures.

The only package holiday we ever went on was to Yugoslavia in 1984. We took an escursion to Venice and I spent most of my money on a Viennese glass Pink Panther.

Let's shop and Lidl and save the spare housekeeping for a similar trip.

Treat yourself to a fruity yogurt. A 4-pack value box decorated with a disturbing elephant and a fit-inducing fruit collage.
Mon Dec24th

Gift Foods

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Gift-giving at Christmas has a long history; from the Three Kings from the east - Caspar, Melchior and Ringo - bestowing Our Lord and Savior with Gold, Frankincense and a 3 bottle box set of World Ales with 4 stainless steel metal disentanglement puzzles.

Without sounding ungrateful, surely the worst Christmas gratuity is the food gift: the white chocolate tool kit for him; the hollow milk chocolate lipsticks for her. The jar of layered olives and chilies in an extra-extra virgin oil; peach halves in Napoleon brandy or a selection of berries in a 'first reserve' port syrup - wrapped with a silk ribbon and destined to remain uneaten until the Epiphany after the apocalypse; starfruit and chili vinegar in a Viennese glass bottle; the crystalised stem ginger cubes in a muslin cloth sachet with nougat cherry dainties and seasonal cinnamon-scented bath salts.

Fish Mousse, Terrines & Speciality Cheeses

Christmas is the only time when it's deemed acceptable to eat fish terrine or salmon mousse; gills and tails whipped into air, moulded into triangular blocks and wrapped in substandard smoked salmon that tastes like cigarettes, and served with toast, blinis, crisp breads or crackers for cheese.

And speaking of cheese, Christmas is the only time of the year when Britons - usually slaves to the mild cheddar slice or the squishy cheese triangle - experiment with cheese - buying crumbly Cheshire varieties inexplicably flecked with dried cranberries, stilton stuffed with dried apricots, individual roulade wheels with pineapple rind and stale nuts and wedges of smoked Bavarian cheese that make the roof of your mouth hurt.

Wed Dec19th

The Worst of Christmas Dining cont'd

At Christmas avoid modern versions of seasonal classics:

An updated It's a Wonderful Life starring Billy Crystal and Queen Latifah and set in San Diego; Nat King Cole's Christmas Song mangled for charity by the opportunistic Reality TV show star... or the updated Christmas food classic: the mulled wine mix made from antioxidating goji berries; stuffing with apricots or pomegranate pips; the too-sweet Christmas pudding ice cream or the filo pastry mince pie parcel.

...Especially the filo pastry mince pie parcel. Not a patch on the hard crust original, they keep the mince meat filling lava hot and are impossible to apply clotted cream to, resulting in an oily, buttery slick on your double sized RadioTimes or textured plastic tablecloth with the reproduction Norman Rockwell Santa print.

Sat Dec15th

The Worst of Christmas Dining

Gingerbread Man
It's Great Britain in mid-December.

There's a recycled article in the paper about Christmas being renamed 'Winter Fest' by a local council in the West Midlands and Sir Cliff Richard has recorded a pop-classical peace hymn sung to the tune of Ave Maria.

Lethal Weapon IV and something starring David Jason in sideburns are the highlights of ITV1's 'glittering' yuletime schedule and Britain's High Streets are lit up in garish golds and neon greens; overpowering displays sponsored by Iceland Freezer Centres and switched on by Lou Carpenter from Neighbours, Danny from Hear'Say, the balding one from Boyzone or a local weathergirl dressed as a fairy.
It's also the time of the year when the population of Britain throw culinary good taste out of the window, along with the idea of responsible consumption of Tia Maria, several million tons of shiny wrapping paper and the cardboard casings from sadly secular advent calendars that contained 24 cheap chocolates with low cocoa contents and unappetising white speckles on the surface.

Yes, a modern British Christmas is a rum culinary affair; a 10 day festival of gluttony, wrapped in marzipan, filled with liquer fondant, slicked with brandy butter, infused with chemical essence of orange peel, cooked with cloves, containing a cherry kirsch centre and decorated with a plastic robin and a decal which reads 'Joyeux Noel' in a faux Edwardian font and runs red food dye from the lettered rice paper onto Cointreau-flavoured icing.

So, pour yourself a glass of mulled Dubonnay and help yourself to a cheese triangle as, over the next week or so, we count down the worst Christmas food fads...
Tue Dec11th

"We'll just take the cheque"

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Rubbish Indian Desserts
Sun Dec2nd

Danke Schön

After Dinner
Thank You so much for all your competition entries

The winner of the hamper was Andrea Jones of Bromsgrove for her gastro pub scallop risotto which was a boil-in-the-bag affair - and they'd included a piece of the bag with the meal. Lovely.

Andrea sent a photo, but I won't publish it as it's too graphic; reminiscent of something of that Channel 4 Body Shock show.

Daniel Meddings from Exeter, Sally Vermes from Aberdeen and Lynzi Ann Grice from Derry each win a fake sundae.

Check out the competition page for a new competition. Same prizes, different task...

Sat Nov24th

Relaxed Atmosphere

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Decor Dos and Don'ts
Mon Nov12th

Guide to French Markets

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French Market
Sat Nov10th

'A writer of wit and warmth'

... or 'a bastard child of Mike Leigh and Delia Smith'

I had a rather good review in the Times today. Have a peek

Sun Oct28th

Full English

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Autumn Food Guide
Fri Oct26th

Collectible Sticker No. 4

Sticker 1
Sun Oct21st

Ground Beef Benettons

A handy guide to those posh burger chains that are every-bleedin-where now.

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Autumn Food Guide
Fri Oct19th

BBC Radio London

I'll be talking about Sausage in a Basket and bad British food on the Jo Good breakfast show on BBC Radio London tomorrow (Oct 20th) tune in.


I beg you.
Fri Oct19th

Daily Mail

Had a nice review in the Daily Mail today.
Mon Oct15th

Finally... the Robin Hood & Zorro

Robin Hood and Zoro menu
I finally went to the Robin Hood and Zorro English/Mexican eating house in Hammersmith on Friday (see the Aug 7th entry). It did not disappoint.

The legend on the menu stated 'Enjoy the Mood of Lasting Moment': cryptic.

The walls were covered in oil painted murals of the 2 heroes...

I scoffed a Scampi starter. I wolfed down Tacos and Chips for my main and washed it down with Pina Colada.

The food was unpretentious and filling and there's a Sherwood forest fresca that's just JAW DROPPING

Sun Oct14th

Collectible Sticker No. 3

Menu subversion. Like, stick it on a menu
Sticker 1
Sun Oct7th

The Season of Mists...

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Autumn Food Guide
Mon Oct1st

It slices, it dices, it chops, it grates

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Sun Sep30th

Take one and pass the box round

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Mon Sep24th

Try our garlic 3 cheese bites

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Sat Sep22nd

Lidl Product of the Week

idyl Product Week 1
Lidl: home of strange, parallel universe-style brands. Mondos fruity condoms, Mr. Yummy's Cream Spread, Crunchy Croc Cornflakes. You get the idea.

This week's special offer is Choco Softies, a box of twelve for less then the price of a Sunday paper.

They looked like they might be ok: cheap chocolate for sure, but possibly mallow, biscuit and a kirsch-style spirit smell.

I didn't buy them - I was intimidated by their unknown origins.
Mon Sep17th

Last lolly of the summer

Nobody on the road / Nobody on the beach...

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Ice Cream
Sun Sept9th

Oh La La!

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Continental Breakfast
Fri Sept7th

Spanish Sunset

Prawn Cocktail
I went to a Greek restaurant last night. Yes, really. There was a disturbing liquid candle on the table and a noisy wedding reception in the function room downstairs. While I was eyeing up our menus, the Maitre D called me into the kitchen to smell the barbecued lamb. I think he was playing mind games. No fooling.

I ordered a prawn cocktail starter. Six specimen shrimp in a scuffed steel ice cream bowl, sitting on a bed of old-style iceberg and a wedge of brown lemon.

I'm re-painting an en-suite and wanted to match swatches with the Marie Rose sauce on top; the orange sludge that was the same colour as the liquid in the disturbing candle.

The closest in the colour chart I got was with Spanish Sunset, Sirocco Sands, Rust Edam, and Raw Umber.
Tue Sept4th

Martin's Southern Fried Chicken Guide

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Martin's Southern Fried Chicken Guide
Sat Sept1st

Collectible Sticker No. 2

Stick it on something - a ready meal risotto or a bistro menu. I dare you.
Sticker 1
Mon Aug27th

Martin's Free Gift Guide

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Martin's Free gift Guide

There was something on the news the other day about cartoon characters peddling junk food to kids. Something to do with Homer Simpson eating doughnuts. I'm not sure, I wasn't paying attention. Well, Mr Nanny State, I grew watching Tom chase Jerry with a large ham and I've never used a meal in such a manner.
Sat Aug25th

Martin's Packed Lunch Guide

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Martin's Packed Lunch Guide
Wed Aug22nd

Win Felt Doughnuts!

Felt Doughnuts
I love doughnuts - cheap doughnuts from high-street bakers, deformed doughnuts; coloured coffee brown and with chewey burnt bits on the bottom which taste like toffee; sugar-sprinkled doughnuts filled with a thimble-full of cheap, seed-free preserve.

I DO NOT love glazed doughnuts from America filled with vanilla cream and flecked with candy chunks.

I love supermarket doughnuts sold by the half dozen in a greasy paper bags.

Ich bin ein traditionalist.

Someone gave me 7 felt doughnuts today.

I would have preferred money, but there you go...

I would have chosen cold cash over tongue-in-cheek arts and crafts, but you can't have it all.

So I'm giving them away. Simply mail me and tell me what your dream doughnut filling will be.

Use your imagination. Be lucky. Closing date: Oct 31st.
Mon Aug20th

His & Hers Guide to Dinner Dates

Part 2: Hers (+ Click on image to enlarge)
Girls Guide to Dinner Dates
Sun Aug19th

His & Hers Guide to Dinner Dates

Part 1: His (+ Click on image to enlarge)

Girls Guide to Dinner Dates
Mon Aug13th

Cream Tea at Fortnums

The cream tea conjures up many memories for me: day trips to castles of the Cornish coast; souvenir ships; pocket money purchases of giant novelty pencils (with a tiny packet of coloured pencils hanging rom the rubber end); windy roads on the road trip home, me made nauseous from the smell of my sister's souvenir lavender water in a Cornish Piskie-topped bottle (the Piskie is Cornwall's leprechaun).

I was at Fortnum and Mason on Friday evening for a posh cream tea. I devoured the round of delicate no-crust sandwiches, polished off 2 miniscule choux pastries and started work on my jam, cream and scones.

The lovely Holly who, like me, is from Devon, pointed out that I'd applied my scone toppings in the Cornish manner - with the jam spread on before the cream, while the correct way to prepare a scone is the Devonian way: with the cream spread on before the jam, acting as a butter.

Maybe - like the war between Lilliput and Blefuscu over the correct way to eat a boiled egg in Swift's Gulliver's Travels - this is the reason why Devonians don't trust the Cornish.

Or maybe it's because they're a county of fudge-peddling, Piskie-loving, EU-subsidised, flakey pastie scoffing, ruddy-faced, luddite separatists.

Here's a Cornish Piskie easting a scone the wrong way.

Cornish Piskie
Sun Aug12th

The Daily Mail

I got a nice namecheck in the Daily Mail the other day.

If you missed it it was printed on the page predecing a PC World one page promo and right after a 5 paragraph polemic entitled 'Why All Supermodels Are Evil, Skinny Bitches'. Here's a link to the online version of the article:
Daily Mail
Sat Aug11th

Cherry Brandy?

I had a rummage in Britain's cocktail cabinets. Click on the image below to see what I found.

(+ Click on image below for full article)

Martin's Cocktail Cabinet Guide
Fri Aug10th

Martin's Guide to Pick 'n' Mix

(+ Click on image to enlarge)

Pick 'n' Mix
Thu Aug9th

Martin's Guide to Fish 'n' Chips

I stayed in last Friday night. I served fish, chips and Krug champagne and watched a film with the opening credit 'Starring Cuba Cooding Jr.' Yes, really.

Anyway, I also put together a guide to Britain's many fish and chip shops.

(+ Click on image below to enlarge
Martin's Great british Chip Shop Guide

  1. Map of proprietor's home country: with no reference to the Turkish Republic in the North.

  2. Mermaid Mural: Disney's The Little Mermaid is a favourite film amongst attractive 18-24 year-old female receptionists. Familiarise yourself with it to, ahem, curry favour.

  3. Fish menu: What exactly is cod roe? Why is it so cheap?

  4. More menu choices: I once ate the bone bit of a chip shop spare rib. It was chewey. It's still lodged somewhere in my stomach. Someday it will stop a bullet in a shoot-out.

  5. Pies: I've shortened the name of my favourite pie to 'chick and mush' in order to appear hip. I click my fingers and lean against the wall as it heats up.

  6. Frying tonight: "Haddock will be 5 minutes."

  7. Saveloys: SO many jokes

  8. Luncheon vouchers: Scheme for heroin addicts. Trade them for 'smack', which actually has greater nutritional value than the fish cakes.

  9. Sat and vinegar: Vinegar always reminds me of Donald Sutherland. I don't know why. You put it on first, then the salt sticks to it. It's not so hard to understand - it's simple science.

  10. Pickles and sauces: You're expecting me to say something scathing, but I actually like pickled produce and Daddie's sauce.

  11. Pop: Sun-faded 7-Up sign.

  12. Billy Bass Singing Fish: From the nineties. Novelty item - not a toy.
Wed Aug8th

Martin's Rejected Food Mascots

No. 2 in a series of 52 (or however many of them I can be bothered to do)

Batter Bear
Tue Aug7th

In Like Flynn

For the past 10 years I've been obsessed with the Robin Hood and Zorro Restaurant in Hammersmith

Back in the days of Douglas (Fairbanks Sr.) It was called the 'Robin Hood Restaurant' - offering traditional British fayre (and an exotic chicken kiev option) - until last year when it closed for several months and reopened (with no discernable decor change) as the 'Robin Hood and Zorro: English/Mexican Eating House', offering an unlikely marriage of transcontinental dishes - with a piped-in music choice of lute madrigals or Aztec pan pipes moods.

I've never eaten there - everyone else I know is poor, lives in South London and refuses to travel West - but if you're in the Hammersmith/Chiswick area and fancy the nacho chilli shepherd's pie wrap with beer-battered onion rings - I'm in like (Errol) Flynn.

NB. This entry only exists as an excuse for me to draw the respective moustachioed folk heros of England and Mexico - in particular Robin Hood...

In my illustration I've gone against the grain of recent film and TV versions and depicted the 'Prince of Thieves' not as angst-ridden outlaw (one who in his last BBC outing, wore the kind of dour expression and grungy attire that suggested Maid Marion had stolen his best bow and Alice In Chains LPs and run off with Alan A-Dale) but as a lincoln green-clad trickster; very much a merry man with a baritone singing voice, cheeky post-swordplay quips to the Sherrif's men and - quite possibly - the voice of Leslie Phillips.

Robin Hood & Zorro
Sun Aug5th


Between the ages of 7 and 11 I yearned for knowledge.

I craved it. I thirsted for it - similar to a sip of Capri Sun on a summers day.

I searched for answers to big questions:

1) Which was the largest dinosaur?
2) Why did the dinosaurs die out?
3) What's the difference between a Luger and a Mauser?


Why can you only buy whistling lollipops in chemists?

Melody Pops!
Sat Aug4th

High Street Musical

Hog Roast
Farmer's market
Farmer's market
There's a hog-roast on the high road

It's next to Nat West

Hog Roast
Fri Aug3rd

Free Inside: Collectible Sticker

Collect 'em all. Cut 'em out. Stick 'em on your satchell if you must. When you get bored of them, try shifting the sticky smear with nail varnish remover and a cotton swab.

Below is the first in a series of stickers I'll be secretly affixing to the Nation's menus (both laminated and cut from thick card stock) and pasting on ready meal packets in Britain's supermarkets. Keep your eyes peeled for these situationist stunts.
Sticker 1
Thu Aug2nd

Martin's Rejected Food Mascots

No. 1 in a series of 52

Disturbing on so many levels. Likely to induce fits.

Diamond Sushi
Wed Aug1st

Lidl Product of the Week

idyl Product Week 1
I happen to believe that Lidl is the finest food shop in Europe.

Then again, I also believe that scientists have already invented a teleportation machine, but have destroyed the blueprints lest the device fall into the wrong hands and be used for evil...

Anyway, Lidl stores are well worth visiting; for the budget prices, the handy industrial estate locations... and for the bizarre brands sold within.

This week's bizarre brand: Snacky Cracky Mini Bake Crisps (Sesame)

Tue Jul31st

The Cream Cake Chronicles Vol. 2

Rum Baba

Mon Jul30th

Life Is Sweet

Chocolate Lollies
I'm not much of a collector. I live a life that's zen and free of clutter. I sprinkle seeds on my morning oats and keep a black onyx pyramid paperweight on the Connemara marble coffee table in my sparse loft apartment; Alpha male issue.

I do, however, collect limited edition feature film and fad-themed chocolate lollipops from Marks & Spencer.

I have Batman Begins, Shrek 2, Pirates of the Caribean 3 and Superman IV: the Quest for Peace.

Last night I raided my collection and ate the foil-wrapped Spider-Man 3 souvenir lolly (pictured. right, top).

I would never eat the rarest of my collection (pictured. right, bottom)

...the much sought-after milk chocolate confection manufactured by Marks to coincide with the 2001 Ken Loach film Bread and Roses.
Sun Jul29th


Pea and Ham soup
I got back late tonight. I'd been to the gym. My fridge was nearly empty and cupboard stocked only with sugary cereal and out-of-date milkshake mix.

I consumed a can of pea and ham soup and a slice of amber-coloured processed cheese. It's the six-steps-to-scurvy diet.

Pea and ham soup. Soup is the only dish where the meat is subservient to the vegetable... Second fiddle to stock and cut into cubes.
Sat Jul28th

The Cream Cake Chronicles Vol. 1

Chocolate Eclair

Fri Jul27th

"Love the show - keep up the good work"

Feel free to > mail me food recommendations and recipes; eateries to avoid or release dates for the next limited edition Kit-Kat.

And can someone tell me what a "bistro" is?

Feel free to lavish me with unnecessary praise as precursor to a question or comment so - in the style of radio talk show hosts with low self-esteem - I can preface every reader remark with variations on the following:

"Clive from Uttoxeter writes 'I love the show. Keep up the good work. My wife and I listen every week... Is it true that JFK was murdered by a shadowy cabal of rogue C.I.A agents, disgruntled Cuban exiles, white supremacists and cross-dressers from New Orleans...? and what exactly is a Bistro?'"
Thu Jul26th

NOT a blog

Let's get one thing straight - this is NOT a blog.

I don't like any form of computer communication. I don't use any instant messengers anymore. That chiming sound that plays whenever someone sends you a message online... it reminds me of the pre-chorus percussion on Marguerita Time by the Status Quo.

Back to blogs: they're for individuals called Ian and 'digital designers' who think that because they know where to put a 'log-in box' on a web page they're bleedin' Banksy. The kind of people who fabricate opinions on insurgents in Iraq in order to appear interesting.

I've known many such individuals; design managers who'd carry copies of 'No Logo' around the office; said tome clasped in their sweaty palms along with a handheld electronic organiser, compact disc from a band from Iceland and invitation to a seminar in Stockholm. You could smell their sickly Calvin Klein CK One from three floors down.

No, it's not a blog. It's a daily journal, a scribbled dossier to detail the best and (mainly) worst of British cuisine - from the foolish dried fruit fad to the big pesto push of 2001.

Anyway.... here's an unsung hero of mediocre food; from the iceberg-cetric salad to the slippery ham sandwich.

All text, illustration & site design by Martin Lampen
© Martin Lampen 2007-2008