Samuel Muston

Samuel Muston is deputy editor & food editor of The Independent Magazine. He also writes a weekly food column

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Shaken, not stirred: a pre-dinner martini

On the menu: Never go straight through to dinner, and never say aperitif

The aperitif is back, the aperitif is in. At Simon Rogan's joint in the Midland Hotel, Manchester, a guy in a bomber jacket breaks off a conversation with his date, "I'll have Just a Splash – that cocktail with Aperol and Prosecco," he says to the barman.

Phantom cruise: The MV 'Lyubov Orlova' was cut adrift in Canada last February

Ghost riders: An unmanned Russian ship full of rats is adrift in the Atlantic - so, just how many other vagrant vessels are out there?

In happier times, the MV Lyubov Orlova was a pleasure ship, a cruiser accustomed to taking well-heeled Russian holidaymakers on adventure tours around the Arctic. Today, that same 295ft ship is bobbing somewhere off the coast of Ireland, its only passengers a horde of disease-ridden rats.

Star quality: the Milestone Hotel

The Milestone: Is this Britain's best hotel?

The users of TripAdvisor certainly think so. But have they got it right? Samuel Muston checks in to the Milestone in West London to see why its guests are so impressed

A view of Davros

Davos: shadowy summit or ski holiday with suits?

Every winter, the World Economic Forum takes place in Switzerland. Its aim? Solving global problems. That and skiing, schmoozing and star-spotting, says Samuel Muston

Samuel Muston: The great chefs skewering each other at the Kebab Awards

The news that Mangal 2's Ali Dirik won the best chef gong at Tuesday's British Kebab Awards will come as little surprise to artists Gilbert and George. Every night with the regularity of a German express train, the pair pootle up London's Kingsland Road from their house in Spitalfields and dine here, each time going through the same ritual of handing their coats to the waiting staff when they sit (unknown for normal punters) and being helped to put them on again when they rise to leave.

Talking heads: students at the School of Life get a lesson in the art of conversation

Too cool for night school?

The highbrow brainchild of Alain de Botton, the School of Life offers evening classes with a difference - as Samuel Muston reports

The 10 best Champagnes

See in the new year in style with a bottle of bubbles. Sam Muston rounds up France's finest and best-value fizz for the perfect celebration

2013 - the year in review: It was a year of many flavours. But were they gourmet burgers or horse meat?

Hundreds of upmarket fast-food outlets opened this year, explaining how as a nation we threw away £12.5 bn on burgers

Because there is no mixer large enough for the 700 kilos of pudding, the chefs pour the ingredients onto a large table and gather around to mix the ingredients by hand,

The secrets behind a Ritz Christmas pudding

It takes a platoon of chefs, litres of brandy and rum, and almost 100kg of dried fruit to make the hotel's famous festive desserts. Samuel Muston lends a hand

Winter gape: the window wonderland display this year has a magical effect on some of Selfridges' younger customers

Wish it could be Christmas every day?

It takes year-long dedication to get Selfridges ready for 25 December. And they're already working on 2015...

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A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments