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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Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style