On the menu: Huevos rancheros; elderflower tonic; TOG santoku knives; Rene Redzepi
This week I've been eating… Huevos rancheros
I knew I'd like the tortilla-wrapped rancher's eggs that Anna Barnett was serving at her three-day pop-up at Jones & Sons in east London before I'd even pushed open the big glass doors.
Why? Because having read the recipe for them on her blog (getinmygob.co.uk), I was fully apprised of the fact that they were composed largely of Gruyère cheese, butter and egg, which is about as happy a triumvirate of ingredients as you are likely to come across on a parky night.
There were lots of other things to coo over on the "Latin-inspired" menu – almond alfajores and ceviche proved big hits, too – but it was these golden volcanoes of molten cheese and egg yolk which took the day.
Rich without being cloying and served with a zingy salad, they were a fine demonstration of the beauty of simple cooking. I left warm, satisfied and wishing Barnett's pop-up would never pop down.
Fever-Tree continued its shake-up of the mixer market with a tasting at west London's Chelsea Physic Garden. It claimed to have amassed the largest display of gins in history – 160-odd in total – and would have scored a Guinness world record had the thirsty adjudicator not fallen asleep in the rhododendrons (not really, there was no adjudicator).
I sipped Nolet's Dry Gin and a suitably floral Fever-Tree elderflower tonic barely an ice cube's throw from Britain's first cinchona, or "fever" tree, the bark of which provided the quinine that kept malaria at bay back in the days of the British Empire. That's 600 years of history in one drink. Don't mind if I do.
Libraries may be closing down all over the shop, but at a central London hotel one is being opened up to the public. The Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington will be hosting hosting book clubs throughout November in its well-stocked reading room. A roster of authors has been invited to come and read from their books, and to ease the evening on its way, there'll also be cocktails and sweet and savoury canapés inspired by the writer's novels. £35, ampersandhotel.com
I try not to. Really I do. But every time I use a TOG santoku knife I feel a tiny bit like a samurai. Not only would the all-purpose knife probably cut Buddha, so phenomenally sharp is its blade, the range also happens to be made in Seki City, home of the Japanese samurai sword.
It is an exquisite thing. Well balanced – an essential when you are buying a posh knife – with a maple-wood handle and a blade made from 21 layers of steel and copper (the latter metal is added not for strength, but because of its antimicrobial properties). Seldom has chopping an onion ever been such a pleasure... £98, togknives.com
Sneak a peek
Rene Redzepi, the king of Nordic cuisine, has a new book out – and it's rather special. Although Rene Redzepi: A Work in Progress has a fair few recipes from the restaurant (crispy reindeer moss, anyone?) it's not your common-or-garden cookbook – rather a compendium, of notes and snapshots from day-to-day life at one of the world's best restaurants. £39.95, phaidon.com
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