Gastropod

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.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk