On The Menu: Swedish Lapland reindeer; Llama snacks; Time Out's Eating & Drinking Awards; Qcumber; Vinoteca


This week I've been eating... Swedish Lapland reindeer

It doesn't seem quite right that the first time I ever came across a reindeer it was on my plate. I feel I ought to have made its acquaintance elsewhere first, as I did with cows, chickens and pigs, who grew up, like me, in the countryside in Staffordshire.

Instead, at the dinner organised to show off the produce of Swedish Lapland at a pop-up Red Cottage in London's Aldgate, the nearest I got to familiarity with the full beast – rather than a steak – was a wall-mounted head, which was positioned directly opposite my chair.

Still, no matter, I was more struck by the look of the meat on the plate – it was indistinguishable from a fillet steak, fine-fibred, lean and bloody. The taste, I can report, was neither like chicken, nor as gamey as I had imagined – there were hints, but only that. It is nearly enough to get me to Aldi, to indulge in its yearly pre-Christmas Grinchery, and try its own Rudolph steak.

Llama snacks

I was introduced to Llama snacks by the features editor of this newspaper, a woman who loves cutesy animals in all their forms – including crisps. In fact, I ought not call them crisps, because they are much more besides, for although they crunch, they are healthier than your common or garden bit of fried potato. They are baked for a start, so there is less saturated fat to deal with. They are also fiendishly, maddeningly addictive. There are three different varieties to get your teeth into – barbecue, cheese and sweet chilli.  £1.69, tesco.com

Dodgy decor

Reading Time Out's Eating & Drinking Awards makes me wonder if someone over there needs a new pair of glasses. For amid a sensible list of doubtlessly deserving winners, is the design award. Apparently the Best of New Design is exemplified by Mari Vanna, a Russian restaurant with decent food but more doilies than covers, and a design aesthetic that seems to have been dreamt up by Miss Havisham after a morning on the Tio Pepe. Each to their own, I suppose.

Mixer salad

I like cucumber, like it in salads, like it floating like a mossy iceberg in a Hendricks G&T – so I was pleased to find Qcumber, a soft drink made from the green vegetable on sale. It's free of all the usual stuff – additives, sweeteners etc – and has a sparkling-water base. Inevitably, its zingy fresh character and sparkling-water base means it's being marketed as an alternative to alcohol in the lead-up to Christmas. But to my (maybe addled) mind, it would make an interesting mixer with vodka or in longer cocktails – maybe even worth a go with a decent gin. £2.69, ocado.com

Box fresh

It used to be accepted as gospel that only bad wine came in a box. But Vinoteca, the upmarket London wine shop, is helping to reverse that tide of thinking by offering five or 10-litre "Bag in a Box" wines. There are three on offer, all French – one white, one red and a rosé. All decent and all priced at around £10 per litre. shop.vinoteca.co.uk

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
i100(More than you think)
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Manager - Holiday Homes - £100,000 OTE

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + £100,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: Birmingham, Derby, L...

    Investigo: Finance Manager - Global Leisure Business

    £55000 - £65000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in their fiel...

    Investigo: Senior Finance Analyst - Global Leisure Business

    £45000 - £52000 per annum + bonus+bens : Investigo: My client, a global leader...

    Investigo: Financial reporting Accountant

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: One of the fastest growing g...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit