This week I've been eating...pho
I've made it my mission, this past month, to try out the best of these Vietnamese noodle soups (pho).
Admittedly, not a Herculean task given that the best places are, on the whole, found on Kingsland Road in London (aka Little Hanoi). But nonetheless the results are in.
At third place in the pho charts is Long Kee Café, one of the more unreconstructed venues, with its tofu and hot and sour soup (£4), which was light, airy and with a good punch of chilli to it (better, though, is its flour pancake with minced pork – but we're not here for that). Song Que comes in second with its rare steak soup (£4), which really was bloody rare and quite beautiful.
Both pale, however, when compared to Viet Grill's fish-bowl-sized ox cheek Pho (£9). Instead of thin slices, the meat here was in great chunks, bobbing like icebergs in the dark, earthy cinnamon and black cardamom broth. A total triumph.
Eat, play, love it
With the Olympic jamboree about to whirl into town, Peter Prescott and Terence Conran have updated their 2007 foodie bible Eat London. The bulked-up new edition remains as handsome and informative as ever with 15 chapters each devoted to an area of London. There's information on delis, restaurants and top-notch grocers. But what makes it really special is that the better-known places have given recipes to be printed alongside their entries. Galvin lemon tart, anyone? £20, octopusbooks.co.uk
A fine spread
On a recent trip to Chiswick Farmers' Market, I came across the Romeo Jones stall. Along with cheese, smoked ham and other bits and bobs, the dinky stall also had an unusual "pâté", which I can't get enough of. It's made from garlic, oil and a smidgeon of chilli and is probably more like a dip than anything else – either way, it's delicious. Should you be so inclined – and I am – you can eke out a whole lunch by spreading the hot, prickly, conconction on crusty bread. £3.59, romeojones.co.uk
Out on the spicy sauce
It's enough to have the tomato ketchup fans reaching for the brown sauce. After the success of its Balsamic vinegar tomato ketchup, Heinz has now released a second purist-annoying (yes, there are ketchup purists) flavour: ketchup with Indian Spices. The Indian spices in question are cumin, coriander and cinnamon and they give the red stuff an unusual tang. Though I can't help feeling it would have been much more fun with a hit of chilli in there as well. Where will the tweaking of the classics end? £1.49, asda.com
Baking fans take note – there's a new range of utterly delicious vanilla and chocolate extracts that are sure to perk up your cakes. Along with a natural vanilla paste (£9.99), there's a no-added-sugar pure chocolate extract (£6.49) and a pure bourbon vanilla extract, which is – frankly – good enough to drink. littlepod.co.uk