The Truffler

News from the food-lover's world
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A body blow for Geordie gourmets. Chef Terry Laybourne, leading light in the north-east's eating out scene has closed his Michelin-starred restaurant at 21 Queen Street in Newcastle after 12 years. That means there's no longer a single Michelin star shining in the region. Laybourne tried to sell the restaurant, which suffers from not having a car park, a lounge, or enough customers at lunchtime, but didn't attract the right offers. Now he's reopening it as more of a bistro, called Cafe 21, on 4 September.

A body blow for Geordie gourmets. Chef Terry Laybourne, leading light in the north-east's eating out scene has closed his Michelin-starred restaurant at 21 Queen Street in Newcastle after 12 years. That means there's no longer a single Michelin star shining in the region. Laybourne tried to sell the restaurant, which suffers from not having a car park, a lounge, or enough customers at lunchtime, but didn't attract the right offers. Now he's reopening it as more of a bistro, called Cafe 21, on 4 September.

It'll become his third Cafe 21, joining the one in Ponteland, Newcastle and Sunderland's Brasserie 21, which he's renaming to match the other two. He also has a Bistro 21 in Durham. And if all these 21s don't add up to enough of an attraction for his Queen Street customers, Laybourne says he's looking for the right spot for another really smart restaurant to replace it away from downtown Newcastle.

* Organic may be everywhere, but it isn't everything. Do we really need refined white organic sugar? Or coffee that isn't also fairly traded? Now Danepak has introduced organic bacon, which it claims is "the first organic bacon to hit the value-for-money mark". But it's not necessarily cheaper than British bacon, and shouldn't we spare a thought for our own farmers? Even non-organic British pork is reared to higher welfare standards than those required by other European countries, and this puts British farmers at a disadvantage. It's not just whether they're fed an organic diet that counts; home-produced, free-range pigs may lead a more comfortable life than their European counterparts. British organic pig farmers are also dedicated to raising standards of animal welfare above those laid down by the Government. And, although generally the cheaper the food the higher the price paid by the animal, Helen Browning's Eastbrook Farms organic streaky bacon costs less than Danepak's, and is certified organic by the Soil Association.

* Part of the cachet of The Ivy, Le Caprice and more recently J Sheekey's, the luvvied-up trio of restaurants founded by Christopher Corbin and Jeremy King, was that one or other of the patrons were always there, kept an eye on everything, and knew everybody. Even when they sold out to the Belgo Group two years ago they remained very much in evidence in their three restaurants. But, in a month's time, their contract runs out and they're free to loosen their ties, 20 years after they opened Le Caprice and a decade after they transformed The Ivy. From the end of September, Corbin and King may be conspicuous by their absence from their star-studded eateries, but their regulars and well-connected wannabe customers can rest easy. The maître d's, Le Caprice's Jesus Adorno, and The Ivy's Kevin Lansdown, who famously exercise the power to allocate tables according to the glamour of aspiring customers, will remain.

* Non, non, non, as Caroline and Stephanie Tatin would surely have said. Bramleys are not dessert apples. A recipe accompanying news of Le Creuset's new cast iron tarte Tatin dish (put it on the wedding list now should any rellies be willing to stump up £39), suggests using "5 large dessert apples such as Bramley" to make the upside-down tarte, invented by the Tatin sisters more than 100 years ago at their Loire Valley hotel. Though it has much going for it, the Bramley would make a sadly floppy, fluffy tarte Tatin. Even the Bramley Apple Information Service (yes, it does exist) admits it's not ideal. What a faux pas.

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