This week Samuel's been eating... Argentine stew
Locro, to be exact. It's a rich and hearty concoction of steak, pancetta and pumpkin from the Andes region, served up at De La Panza in that slightly less picturesque part of the world, Islington. It may be modelled on an Argentine bodégon (roughly translated as "pantry" or "tavern") but in the grand style of restaurants in Islington it's all white walls and rock-hard wooden chairs and benches. As well as Locro (£14) we ordered sirloin steak (£22), which had a serious char on the outside and was pink-going-on-purple in the middle. Melt-in-the-mouth stuff. Empanadas of spiced beef and onion had a lovely kick to them. Alternatively there is tapas at around £6 a dish and a light-meals menu at around £11, with blood sausages and Argentine shepherd's pie but two of the dishes on offer. Choose deftly and you can have a South American feast for the price of a standard curry.
Some really cool ices
If I were to mention chrysanthemum flower or red bean ice cream, you'd probably roll your eyes. "Another gimmicky ice-cream brand knocking up sub-Hestonesque creations," you might sigh. Well sigh not. Yeek Wan's savoury ice creams are anything but gimmicky, they're actually rather delicious. They're made in Yorkshire, though inspired by Yorkshire woman Wan's Chinese heritage. Alongside the chrysanthemum, there is refreshing lime and lemon grass, and green tea, which admittedly proved an adventure too far for my palate. The 500g tubs are £5.95.
Fancy checking out a house made of chocolate? Trying an edible jumper on for size? Or casting your eyes over a butter Venus de Milo? Then head down to the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, in east London, this evening and tomorrow afternoon. The Experimental Food Society – a group of culinary eccentrics from across the country – is taking over the 8,500ft former brewery. Alongside the mind-melting art, there are talks from chefs, "food magicians" and trend forecasters – and lots of nosh to sample. Tickets £5.
That's the spirit
Berry Brothers has released a new gin in time to toast out the final days of autumn. No 3 London Dry Gin has been created especially for martinis, with the help of the Dr David Clutton, the only man in the world to have a PHD in, wait for it, gin tasting. It's strong on juniper flavours with a clean, almost metallic taste in the finish, though not cheap at £36 for 70cl.
A slice of Spain
The restaurant chain and Spanish-food importer Brindisa was one of the first to introduce British palates to the delights of Jamon Iberico. Now it is to start selling a new range of Spanish cured hams on its website. From the acorn-fed pigs of the Extremadura area comes the creamy and rich Senorio Iberico Bellota. Also from acorn-fed pigs is Brindisa Iberico Bellota from Salamanca, matured for three to four years to give a deeply savoury flavour. The saltier Jabugo Iberico is also worth checking out. All are ethically sourced, and the pigs free-range. £10 for 100g.