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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Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
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