This week i've been eating...Sole at Benoit in Paris
In a world of ever-rolling food trucks and pop-ups that very quickly pop-down, a centenarian restaurant is rare as diamond and (nearly) as nice to stumble upon.
I know the thrill of innovation and all that, but sometimes you just want thick leather banquettes, stiff tablecloths and a restaurant that has seen off two world wars.
I found that place just up from the Hôtel de Ville in Paris at the weekend.I say “found”, of course, but Benoit is hardly Paris’s best-kept secret, being one of the few bistros there to have a Michelin star and possibly the only one where you can have a three-course lunch for €38.
I ordered the sole, which, defying any claims to lightness, came in ringlets on which a healthy glug of sauce nantua (that artery-hardening mix of bechamel, cream and crayfish butter) had been poured. A dish to build another 100 years of service on.
We’ve had vodka bottles with lights in them (Belvedere), bottles shaped like crystal skulls (thanks Mr Dan Aykroyd) but it’s Mamont vodka which streams across the finish line in the cool bottle stakes with a “mammoth tusk-shaped” bottle. It is ever-so slightly mad and a fine addition to your drinks shelf.
It’s not all fur coat and no knickers, though, to use that Northern phrase, the contents are pretty topnotch. It’s five-times distilled through “Siberian rock” (not just any old pebbles) to give an almost candied sweetness.£29.20, thewhiskyexchange.com
Katy’s Kettle Corn
It’s what we’ve all been waiting for Katy Perry, the dark-haired American pop starlet, has been made into potato chips.
Or, to be a little more exact, she now has her own Popchips flavour – Katy’s Kettle Corn, which, presumably like the singer herself is both sweet and, err, salty. They’ve gone great guns in the US, but whether the purple-pink packaging and peculiar flavouring will appeal to punters over here remains to be seen.
Unlike many of our cousins across the Channel we Brits aren’t typically raised on petite chablis and montrachet. Over here it’s often a case of ordering the wine which you can manage to pronounce.
Well, help is at hand – in the shape of a new app called Plonk, which has been designed by the wine merchants Bibendum.
What’s so nifty about it is that it displays 70 grape varieties from 14 countries in the form of a periodic table. You can then click on these elemental wines, as it were, for a full description and a spoken recording of how it should be pronounced.
The Little Book of Scone
The Little Book of Scones by Liam D’Arcy and Grace Hall is just about the most charming food book I’ve come across this year. Not only does is it a compendium of every left-field scone recipe you can think of (tomato and jalapeno, anyone?). It’s also laced with irresistibly surreal illustrations.
£10, Square Peg