On The Menu: Ajo blanco; Pierre Hermé macarons; Burns Night; Kamm & Sons ginseng liquor; Twinings Tea


This week I've been eating...ajo blanco

The cold and refreshing Andalucían soup (£3.95) – made with almonds and garlic – was a surprising thing to be eating in a cold January in London, especially given that every window in Copita, the newish tapas restaurant on D'Arblay Street, on whose menu it stars, seemed to be open. No matter, though, as the flavour made up for the draught. It was milky and slightly sweet, with the soft flavour of mellow garlic knocking around, too. The chunks of beetroot floating on the top – and grapes below – added texture. Good in all the right places – sight, smell, texture and taste.

Man cannot live on soup alone, though: the razor clams – with garlic, a little chervil root and on a potato puree bed – had just the right bite, too, and only £3.95. .

It's an unfussy and unpretentious place and a cheaper alternative to the likes of Barrafina around the corner – but, please, sort those windows, already.


Just the one...

If your detox plans are fading and your fasting has slowed down, why not have a little of what you fancy to get you through the dark nights? We're not recommending you hit the family-sized chocolate bars, mind, but a Pierre Hermé macaron from a pretty box shouldn't do too much damage to the diet and they come in such spring-like pastel shades, their look should lift your mood as much as their sugar content. (Hermé is the current king of chic treats.) Plus, as they're on the pricey side (£15 for seven), you'll less likely to poke a whole box down in one sitting. Probably.


Dinner inferno

It's Burns Night on Wednesday and even in England it seems every restaurant with a hint of the Scottish about it is going all out on the whisky-and-haggis front. Best of the crop are: The Rib Room in London, which is running a customarily meaty tasting menu for £50; or the Cadogan Arms in Chelsea or The Gun in the Docklands for three courses and a dram for £25. If you're in the North, check out Blackfriars in Newcastle upon Tyne, which has a dinner-and-whisky evening for £30 a head.

High spirits

A colleague spotted Kamm & Sons ginseng liquor on the menu of a London restaurant recently, and I've finally managed to get hold of a bottle. It's touted as a cross between a herbal remedy and something you might drink on a Saturday night – or on a Sunday to get rid of the effects of Saturday. Certainly the taste is pretty unusual. The herbal spirit has bitterness similar to student favourite Jägermeister, though with a honey finish. It wasn't love at first taste, but it's a grower. Definitely one for the drinks shelf.

£18.95, thedrinkshop.com

Brew horizons

Seems someone at Twinings Tea has been on a jaunt to foreign parts. Its new range of six flavoured green teas couldn't get much fruitier. Alongside tangerine and verbena, there's a strange peach and cherry blossom number – or maybe you'd prefer the warm cordial taste of a cup of mango and lychee?

£1.39, twinings.co.uk

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