Well, 2018 has been a phenomenal year for us. This time a year ago we were just starting out, struggling through the bareness last winter had to offer. With so much having happened we thought we’d pause and consider twelve special moments in the last twelve months. Turns out – there’s an awful lot to running a restaurant. From social media networking, to the odd special lunch, to huge events even before we get the fun things – planning menus and doing service...
It’s a familiar feeling. You feel full, a little drowsy. The meal you have just finished was surprising and delicious in equal measure. You don’t consider yourself too much the foodie or the wine snob but recognise that both, in this case, were excellent. The evening is in its adolescence so, after glancing at the time, you motion for the bill. In our little container, the bill comes folded into a kind short fat cigar, paperclipped to two cards - one business, one charity.
Learning about the industry has given me new insights into the relationship between restaurants, food and various trends that have ebbed and flowed. Sometimes these trends run along cultural themes, sometimes they are a reflection of economic constraints or, perhaps, environmental concerns. What interests me then, is to what extent Smoke and Salt has responsibility in shaping attitudes and norms associated with restaurants?
I am a chef. Dry January is not something I’d considered, ever, in my adult life. I did need a small selection of alcohol free beers to get me through the month. Let’s take a look at what helped me get through the challenge of not getting to have a little drink after service – which is a practically nightly occurrence.
Cesar Ritz, founder of the Ritz, whose kitchen was headed Escoffier (known as roi des cuisiniers et cuisinier des rois), famously once said ‘If a diner complains about a dish or the wine, immediately remove it and replace it, no questions asked.’ ...
I did mention Sri Lanka right?! Many thanks to Nic (Sharking for Chips and Drink – 19 Travel Tips For First Time Travellers To Sri Lanka) for grabbing a beer with me before the trip with a couple of helpful suggestions. I must say though, it wasn’t the most inspiring travelling I’ve done, but there could be a reason for that….
It might seem as if we’re taking on a much more “Travel-Themed” direction to this blog, but it’s not been intentional. I can’t imagine either of us will have much time to be doing a lot of travelling in the coming years so I think we’d best get it over and done with now shall we?! This most recent journey had me away in Pakistan and Sri Lanka for 2 weeks for a wedding and a good bit of general “travelling”…
I am now writing this several weeks “anno trumpini” and this tip was made many days “before trumpini”, when New York was still one of the most ethnically diverse food cities in the world. Arguable claim, given the efforts of the current “leader of the free world”, but I feel like recent new-comers to the scene (of foreign-descent of course!) such as Cosme and Sushi Nakazawa will be well-supported by their established neighbours for the foreseeable future. For now though, how about a quick run down of a few places to hit when in the Big Apple for a couple of days….
Roll your brain back to French-lessons many moons ago - “stahhhge”, although I don’t know if that helps. After an aggressive end to 2016 (personally and professionally), I took a few weeks to wholly clear my head – no phone calls, no e-mails and a A LOT of planning time to myself away from life and it’s daily intricacies. As part of this time out I dropped an e-mail to my ex-head chef team at Deuxave to spend some time in the kitchen as an extra hand. I then realised…who else outside of the industry even knows what a stage is??...
Before going we had to book a couple of restaurants, so bookings at jaja berlin, a small-plates offering served alongside some pretty tasty wines, by an equally small but amazingly gracious team. Reservations at Industry Standard were miraculously acquired and their small plates (notice the trend that is taking over the world!) is now considered one of “the most exciting eateries Berlin has seen in modern time”, per Berlin Food Stories. Both restaurants are based in the ultra-hip Neukölln (think Brixton’s international mix meets Shoreditch’s bare-bones approach to trendiness) which is also home to probably the most insane late-night dessert/bar concepts I’ve ever been to; Coda. Let’s get this clear it is a dessert-bar, not a late-night “pastry shoppe”. Uber-cool and decked out in black and concrete, A made sure we found our way here down some dodgy-looking alley-ways, and it was really worth it. Flavour pairings were wild, as were some of the drinks, presentation was on point and the team were all chilled and amazing. Order the cicharrone popcorn…and then a second!! The standout dish for me was…get ready for it...milk, fig & anchovies….let it sink in!