The official oyster season is in full spate, and last week a crowd of enthusiasts gathered at Cafe Fish in Panton Street, north London, to witness the British Oyster Opening Championship, sponsored by Tabasco. Since the reigning champion, Armando Lima, formerly of Green's, has retired to his native Spain, the field was wide open.

A dozen contestants, from London's most prestigious oyster bars, were presented with 30 elongated, frilly-shelled Irish oysters, imported from Cork for the occasion. The objective was to 'shuck' them (open the shell and detach the oyster) as quickly as possible, with penalty points for poor presentation.

After a lengthy wait, during which there was heated debate as to whether the sponsor's hot pepper sauce improves the delicate flavour of oysters or masks it, and whether farmed Irish oysters are inferior to natives (The Gastropod, controversially, decided 'yes' and 'no' respectively), the results were announced.

The new British Oyster Opening Champion is Sam Tamsanguan, a Thai who has worked at Wilton's for 10 years. He shucked his 30 oysters in two minutes, 16 seconds. Mr Tamsanguan (who eats no more than half a dozen oysters a year, just to try them) said the secret of his success was in the wrist action and his unerring ability to find the hinge. He will now represent Britain in the World Championships in Galway later this month.

NEWS THAT, after long negotiations with Hammersmith and Fulham council, the renowned River Cafe (071-381 8824) is to be allowed to open on Saturday nights (as long as the premises are vacated by 11pm) is a timely reminder of the comparative novelty of robust, rustic, so- called 'new wave' Italian cookery. Was it just the year before last that the River Cafe was the only place in London to eat bruschetta, polenta and char-grilled vegetables?

Now such delights are so commonplace that even Forte, the country's largest catering corporation, is getting in on the act. Its half-dozen Distinctive Restaurants have been restyled and relaunched with menus by the 26-year-old group head chef, Marco Giordano.

Not only is the food at these establishments a great improvement on spag bol, but the coffee they serve - in all the traditional Italian variations such as ristretto (thimble-sized and intensely strong), corretto (with a jigger of alcohol), and macchiato (with a touch of milk) - is the real thing.

In a promotion in conjunction with Lavazza coffee, readers carrying this copy of the Independent can claim a free dessert and coffee when eating a full meal at any of the following Distinctive Restaurants (081-847 6060): Issimo] in Lime Street, London EC3, Opera Terrazza] in Covent Garden, Tutto] in Paddington, Scarto] in Pimlico, Fresco] in Queen Victoria Street, EC4, and the less startling Cafe Italien in Charlotte Street.

IN ALTRINCHAM, Cheshire, a weekly organic food and flower market opens on Thursday in the old covered market. The brainchild of Elizabeth M Taylor, who is behind the successful Sunday market at Spitalfields in London, this is the first link in a projected chain of markets around the country. While other sites are being negotiated, the Spitalfields market is to become a daily event from 25 September.

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Morrissey pictured in 2013
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
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

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star