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France’s Galeries Lafayette turns to art and gourmet food to lure shoppers

18 May

France’s chic department store Galeries Lafayette is betting on an art foundation and an Italian gourmet food hall in Paris to help differentiate its brand from bricks-and-mortar rivals and e-commerce competitors.

food

The French capital is attracting a wave of investment into luxury stores and premium food halls as retailers seek to capitalize on a rebound in a tourism industry that was badly hurt by a wave of militant attacks in 2015 and 2016.

The foundation, Lafayette Anticipations, opened on March 10 and Galeries Lafayette plans to open its first Italian food emporium, Eataly, next February near the foundation and its BHV Marais lifestyle department store in the Marais district.

“We are building an ecosystem around the BHV store,” said Nicolas Houze, head of the family owned Galeries Lafayette group, which has revenue of 3.8 billion euros ($4.67 billion) and owns BHV Marais.

Galeries Lafayette is part of a club of French high-end retailers turning to gastronomy to lure more people through their doors. It already has a food court at its flagship Boulevard Haussmann store, where foreigners account for half of its clientele.

Le Printemps in January opened a food hall on the 7th and 8th floors of its Haussmann building dedicated to men’s fashion and luxury group LVMH opened a second upmarket La Grande Epicerie store in Paris’s posh 16th district last year.

“With Eataly and the foundation we are creating a shopping destination. We are building an offer much larger than that of BHV,” said Guillaume Pats, head of buying for BHV Marais.

Galeries Lafayette has the exclusive franchise in France for Eataly, the premium chain renowned for selling Italian truffles, wines and pastas around the world.

The three-storey food hall, now under construction, will spread over 3,500 square meters and include seven restaurants serving 2,500 meals a day, a courtyard fruit and vegetable market, cafes and a cellar with more than 800 Italian wines.

Pats said it would draw hip locals and tourists for whom “Italian food is a safe haven abroad”.

The art foundation, which has moving floors and includes an exhibition tower made of glass, metal and concrete, is located in a 19th-century industrial building and hosts art exhibits and performances. It has a working budget of 21 million euros for the next five years and cost 12 million euros to remodel.

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How to cook the perfect… vindaloo – recipe

15 Aug

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The peculiar place of vindaloo, a fierily fragrant speciality of Goa in popular culture can be summed up by the 1998 World Cup football anthem of the same name, whose irritatingly catchy chorus references the curry no fewer than 11 times. As the Observer pointed out, its authors, the “prank art collective” Fat Les, “persuaded, among others, a lot of xenophobic, racist Little England football supporters to celebrate an item of Indian cuisine as a quintessential expression of Englishness”. This is despite Goa having been a former Portuguese colony and one of the few parts of India that never saw British rule.

Yet the vindaloo with which most Brits are most familiar – the hottest rung on the generic korma, tikka masala, madras ladder – bears little resemblance to the aromatic, pickle-sour original. Dan Toombs, author of The Curry Guy, dubs them “eight-pint vindaloos”, after the amount of lager needed to finish one. As chef Vivek Singh observes, though vindaloo is probably one of the best- known Indian dishes, “it’s also one of the most misunderstood”.

Thought to be a corruption of the Portuguese carne de vinha d’alhos, or meat cooked in wine vinegar and garlic, an authentic, tangy vindaloo tingles the tongue with pepper, clove and other spices, rather than the one-dimensional heat of chilli powder. So unless you’ve got a Goan specialist nearby, if you want to try the real thing, your best bet is to make it at home.

The masala
Whether or not you use it to marinate the meat before cooking, every curry begins with a masala, or spice mix – and in this instance chilli is not the principal ingredient. Though they all use slightly different combinations and amounts, all the recipes I try contain an array of what we might think of as sweet spices – cinnamon, cloves and cardamom – plus a hefty hit of black pepper, and the earthy, nutty flavours of cumin, coriander and turmeric. Chilli powder is generally added for colour, rather than heat, with Jaffrey recommending “bright red paprika” and Stein and Todiwala specifying Kashmiri chilli powder, sold under that name by Indian brands and remarkable for its brick-like hue. According to one Goan of my acquaintance, vindaloo is defined by its “beautiful, deep-red masala”, so be liberal with the mild chilli for maximum authenticity. Jaffrey and Collingham also use mustard seeds, which win points both for their pleasing texture and the little pops of bitter warmth they release.

The vinegar
Though the Portuguese would have originally used wine vinegar (or, some speculate, simply wine that had soured on the long voyage over), the dish was quickly adapted to the local palm vinegar, made from coconut toddy. Collingham notes that if you can get hold of it, “it will add a particularly Goan flavour” to the dish. I manage to source some coconut vinegar, probably made from coconut water, in an Indian grocers (many Oriental stockists may carry a Filipino brand), but as I’m reliably informed, “it’s really hard to find the legit stuff outside the state of Goa, let alone abroad”, I wouldn’t worry too much about hunting a bottle down. Singh uses a mixture of white and malt vinegar, and Stein white-wine vinegar, but the best substitute I find is Jaffrey’s cider vinegar, which has similar sweet notes to the coconut variety.

The vegetables
Todiwala describes the dish as “a sort of meaty pickle, rich and intense in flavour”, which may explain the extraordinary number of onions in his recipe – but, in fact, their sweetness works brilliantly with the tangy vinegar and rich, slightly fatty meat. Much as I dislike chopping the things, it’s worthwhile labour here, especially if you can find the sweeter Indian pink onion; otherwise, yellow ones will work fine. Liberal amounts of garlic and ginger add to the chutney-like effect: rather than crushing them to a paste, however, slice them into thin rounds and strips as Singh suggests, so they don’t get lost in the whole.

Already a place for chefs, bloggers and blaggers

24 Jan

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On entering Roganic, it was clear I needed a new false name for booking tables. “Mitford”, after my beloved Nancy (not her Hitler-loving fruitcake sister Unity) had lasted exactly four critical ambushes before being sussed and spread across hospitality’s intelligence network. Actually, that makes the chef grapevine sound far too chic and diligent. In reality, it’s just chefs lying about at 3am in mildewed underpants screaming, “That bitch!” into WhatsApp group chats.

But I live for this mayhem. I pitched up at Roganic on a Saturday night to find the staff suspiciously alert, with several of them huddled behind reception like the cast of Meerkat Manor sensing a Kalahari thunderstorm. Well played: it’s their job to find stuff like this out, after all. This restaurant, which is both the Second Coming of a much rhapsodised former pop-up and a spin-off of Michelin-bestowed Cumbrian mecca L’Enclume, opened just a month ago. Due to chef/owner Simon Rogan’s rep as a scene leader and striver for high standards, it’s already one of those places that chefs, writers, bloggers, blaggers and miscellaneous food chunterers are expressing vocal intention to visit in 2018. They yearn, they’ll tell you, to experience Rogan’s seaweed custard with caviar, his millet pudding laced with Stichelton and his scallop with gooseberry.

Well, that’s what they’ll say. My industry, like this column, thrives on hot air. My experience of reviewing ornate, long-haul, multi-course, Michelin-teasing, 50 Best-flirting dining is that few people truly want to spend their free time in them. Oh, they claim to, but that’s a lie. It’s not uncommon in any 14-course tasting journey to glance at the gargantuan task ahead and feel a bit like Terry Waite during his extended Lebanese sojourn: your captors are treating you reasonably, but you’d rather be home with a pleasant stew.

Not that Roganic’s staff are not joyous; in fact, they’re so affable, I’d let several of them move into my house. Or that the opening canape of a teensy preserved raspberry tart was not utterly gorgeous: it tasted just like a Robertson’s jam tart. A small, croquettish bundle of pork with eel blobbed with sweet hay cream was a delight, similar to a bunny rabbit version at Fera, Rogan’s previous joint in the capital. That was followed by a neat, palm-sized parcel of pickled kohlrabi stuffed with raw mackerel and wreathed with lovage. All faultless.

Still, after an hour, we still had 10 courses ahead, a task that felt all the more arduous because Blandford Street attracts some of the biggest tosspots in London. It has gorgeous restaurants – Jikoni, Carousel, Trishna and so on – but terrible people painted into a corner of blandness by their own spare cash. This isn’t the eccentric opulence of Chelsea, geed up by Russian and old British money, or Shoreditch, still riding on lost 1990s notions of hipness. This is Marylebone, where rich Harley Street neurologists eat dinner like Trappist monks, then go home to buy Mark Knopfler tickets.

Dinner has highs and lows, but then Rogan’s food is always a deeply subjective experience. It excites and then, minutes later, repulses. Perhaps that’s the point. A ramekin filled with an inch of cold, set seaweed custard appears. What fresh hell? But then a plate of salt-baked celeriac with spindly enoki mushrooms in puddles of whey is fantastic. (I spend the next day researching enoki, and conclude that celeriac with enoki should be on every vegan menu by 2019.) A porridge of millet thick with blue cheese and a clump of bone marrow comes in a mercifully tiny portion. But a small plate of butter-poached halibut with brassicas turns out to be quite wonderful.

Oddly for someone who lacks a sweet tooth, puddings were the stars of the show for me. A mini caramelised douglas fir tarte tatin was a bewildering work of apple architecture: what felt like a million tiny, dainty slivers somehow arranged into a coherent, edible artwork. A notably unpretty gathering of burnt milk ice-cream with a jus of blackcurrant resembled something unsightly that you might find on a pavement, but had us in raptures over its depth of fruity sweetness. It felt churlish to eat it, rather than put it in a glass box and charge a fee to behold it.

Eat (lentils) as the Romans do

9 Dec
 
Rachel Roddy’s one pot, two meals residency continues next week, when she instructs in the art of making ever-versatile Roman meatballs, followed by a masterclass in the even greater art of eating them. Photograph: Elena Heatherwick/Guardian

When I first moved to Rome nearly 10 years ago I lived in a third floor flat above a bread shop and shared a courtyard with a trattoria. After a month or so, the smell of baking bread and the clatter of plates and pans had become the everyday backdrop to my life.

Similarly familiar was the sight of laundry shunting past my window on lines strung across the communal courtyard – eeck, eeck, eeck – as they ran through the rusty pullies. My neighbours at the time were two elderly sisters who’d lived all their lives in the building and had laundry-hanging down to an art. The sequence began at about 7am when rugs were hung, thwacked and reeled back in. Cloths, clothes and sheets followed and, once a month, I was reminded that I’d never washed a seat cover in my life, as a set of them shuddered, like a surrealist photo, into the frame. I’m sure the sisters noticed my neglect. They certainly noticed that I never polished my front door, because when I did, they said: “Brava, finalmente.

Watch Rachel prepare lentils cooked two ways.
Rachel Roddy, Cook’s latest chef in residence, demonstrates the wisdom of her one-pot, two meals philosophy with a rustic Roman braised lentils recipe. Video by Michael Thomas Jones, Marissa Keating and Mina Holland.

Washing done, the sisters would set about the daily task of making lunch and the smell of pancetta in a hot pan and greens or beans (Romans eat a lot of greens and beans) rolling around in boiling water would meet those swirling up from the trattoria below. In my own kitchen, door open on to the courtyard, I did my best to join in.

Ten years on, I no longer live in that building. I am close-by, though, and still visit the bread shop on the first floor, friends on the second and the sisters on the third, usually with my three–year-old half-Roman son. Inevitably, we pause on one of the narrow balconies above the communal courtyard; Luca to kick the railings, me hoping to catch a nostalgic sound or smell. It has been a while since we ate at the trattoria, but I still feel affection for a place that provided the background clatter to my kitchen life for six years, the place in which I ate many traditional Roman dishes for the first time: carbonara, amatriciana, oxtail stew, braised artichokes and bitter greens, and then later, the minestra: thick, pulse-based soup-stews reinforced with pasta.

I say later, because I noticed and ignored all of these dishes – now my staples – on plasticised menus and daily specials boards (which I thought ironic, as they sounded anything but) for quite some time. Too dense, too beige, I’d think, before ordering the pasta with clams.

I wish I could say I came round to the satisfying pleasure of minestra by myself, but I didn’t. It was my partner Vincenzo, who, like many Italians I know, is happily devoted to these unassuming dishes. He ordered; I tasted. My conversion was slow but sure – a taste of rosemary-scented chickpea soup with ribbons of tagliatelle; another of fresh borlotti blushing with fresh tomatoes and quills of pasta; a spoonful, then two, of braised lentils, dotted with tiny tubes of pasta called ditalini or “little thimbles”.

The first minestra I made at home was the beige-sounding but reliably delicious pasta and potatoes, finished with a blizzard of grated pecorino cheese. The next was pasta and lentils, for which I sought and received a lot of advice, ranging from scant and impressionistic, to opinionated and precise instruction. I tried and tested until I found a way that worked for me and suited how I like to eat.

True to Roman traditions, these days it’s mostly simple, unfussy, nutritious food that tastes good. I like good value too. I also enjoy not cooking as much as I do cooking, so the prospect of a pan of food that provides two or three meals is very appealing. This is why a big pan of lentils, braised with a soffritto of extra virgin olive oil, onion, carrot, celery and garlic is one of the dishes I rely on most, half to be served with some pasta or rice, the rest the following day (when the lentils are even tastier) with grilled or pan-fried sausage or a frilly-edged fried egg.

These days, with no shared courtyard and no sisters, there is no-one to notice the (in)frequency of my laundry. No sisters either to notice my annual door polishing or that I’ve mastered the weekly minestra. However, I’m pretty sure that if they knew, they would approve.

Lentils served two ways

Cook all the lentils, then serve half of them for the first meal, and the remainder for the second.

residency lentil recipe
A big pan of lentils can be the base ingredient for two quite different, yet simple, meals. Photograph: Elena Heatherwick/Guardian

Serves 8
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 rib of celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
500g small brown lentils
2 bay leaves
Salt and black pepper

To serve
250g rice or pasta, or 4 pork sausages, or 4 large free-range eggs

1 Cover the base of a large, heavy-based frying or saute pan with olive oil over a medium-low heat, add the chopped vegetables and cook very gently until they are soft, but not coloured.

2 Pick over the lentils to check for gritty bits, then rinse thoroughly and add them to the pan along with the bay leaves, stirring for a minute or two until each lentil glistens with oil. Cover with 1.2 litres of water to about 2.5cm above the lentils, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook the lentils, stirring occasionally, adding a little more water if needed, until they are tender, but not squidgy – they should still have lentil integrity. Ideally not all the water should be absorbed andthe lentils should be just a little soupy –. This will take 25‑50 minutes, depending on the lentils. Season them generously with salt and pepper.

First meal

Gently reheat half the lentils. Cook the pasta or rice in plenty of well-salted, fast boiling water until al dente and then drain, reserving some of the cooking water. Mix the lentils and the cooked pasta or rice, adding a little of the reserved water to loosen the consistency, if you think fit. Serve with more extra virgin olive oil poured over the top and a bowl of grated parmesan cheese for those who wish.

Second meal

For the second meal, just reheat the lentils, then top with a grilled or pan-fried sausage or fried egg.
For the second meal, just reheat the lentils, then top with a grilled or pan-fried sausage or fried egg. Photograph: Elena Heatherwick/Guardian

Gently reheat the rest of the lentils, adding a handful of finely chopped parsley and a couple of spoonfuls of olive oil for shine. Divide between four bowls and top each one with a grilled or pan-fried sausage or fried egg.

Should I try the alkaline diet?

7 Jul

Should I try the alkaline diet?

Following the alkaline diet means eating mostly plants, limiting meat, skipping dairy, sweets, alcohol and caffeine and banishing processed food. Sounds like a healthy move, right?

Not so fast. Most of the touted health benefits of the alkaline diet aren’t research-backed. The theory behind it is that our Western diet (rich with saturated fat, simple sugars and sodium and lacking in potassium, magnesium and fiber) produces acid, driving our body’s pH down slightly, making it more acidic. So the thinking goes that having an acidic pH fuels chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and obesity and promotes ailments like bloating and chronic fatigue. Eating a diet that makes your body more alkaline staves off those health problems. Nice theory. The reality is that your body, especially your kidneys and lungs, maintains a steady pH regardless of what you eat.

Another rub: the alkaline diet isn’t intuitive. For one, some acidic foods—lemons, apple-cider vinegar—are actually considered alkaline-forming because of the way they’re metabolized. And, as with many fad diets, some healthy foods are discouraged—in this case, navy beans, peanuts and whole eggs—because of their “acidic” properties.

However, the main tenet of eating the alkaline way—to fill your diet with plants—is great. Loads of research supports a plant-focused diet for a healthy weight and better health. Plus, some alkaline diet claims like preventing muscle loss and quelling chronic lower back pain have preliminary research supporting them. The diet may also help prevent kidney stones (your diet can affect the pH of your urine and more-acidic urine can increase your risk).

Bottom line: The foods of the alkaline diet are healthy, but the diet’s purported benefits still lack scientific support.

Healthy Diet For You – Corn Soup

2 Dec

Do you want a healthy diet for your family? Well,it is a common desire for all.A healthy diet consists of different food item.Soup is a must for a nutritious diet.Include soup in your regular diet chart.You can go for both veg soups like broccoli soup,mixed vegetable soup,sweet corn soup,sweet potato soup and so on. Chicken corn broth is very popular and there are western versions of this dish as well as eastern ones. This is a very economical recipe to make and it is easy to prepare too, making it a good choice for novice cooks. Poultry and corn go together really well because the sweetness of the corn complements the mild taste of the chicken. When the fat solidifies on top of the soup, take it off. You should be left with about two and a half quarts of soup. Split the corn cobs lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape off the kernels. Put the soup and kernels in a big pot over a moderate heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for twelve minutes or until the corn is tender.

You can also add some water if needed. The next things to add are basil and salt as per taste.As soon as it starts boiling remove the vessel from the gas.Now let the soup cool.Strain it when it cools down.Now keep the vessel on the gas again and add cream.Stir it a little and your tasty and healthy Cream Tomato Soup is ready. I had most of the other vegetables in the food supply all safely packed in the number 10 storage cans but now needed corn. Upon research the corn I discovered is was a type of corn which has the highest starch content of any corn. I later found out that there are many applications for this variety of corn for both human as well as animals. Incidentally, dent corn is one of the most grown crops in America today. Another name for dent corn is field corn so that it is differentiated from the usual table corn.

It is a simple recipe with very few vegetables, some shredded pork and a clear broth. In the original recipe you would find no milk products such as cream or cheese, no seafood or chicken what so ever. Concluding this article I would like to present to you two versions of this soup. The first recipe being the original Native American recipe while the second is t4eh modern, updated version. I now give you the Navajo Corn soup recipe. Once you see it boiling, add the quinoa and reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Make sure the pan is covered. Uncover and then add the water and corn, add the spinach leaves and soy sauce. Let it simmer for a few minutes and add salt and pepper according to your taste. You can serve this quinoa soup as is or with a poached egg on top. In the meantime brown the meat slightly and add the garlic and onions to the pan. Sauté together until the combo is tender. Drain off any of the excess fat and add the pork, oregano, salt, pepper as well as the remaining 6 cups of water. Simmer over the stove for about 1 hour or until such time as the corn and meat become tender.

Foods for Fall

12 Nov

Fall – or more specifically, the autumnal equinox – marks a unique point in the year when daylight and nighttime become equal again in length after the long, light-filled evenings and early mornings of summer. After the autumnal equinox, day becomes shorter than night, and in anticipation of this change, the plant world starts to move inward during the fall. Grasses turn from green to brown, with their energy moving downward and inward toward their roots. Fruits, leaves, and seeds start to fall from trees and bushes as these plants start to close up and prepare for the drop in temperature. The expansive green leaves of lettuce give way to the final maturing of the root vegetables and their much more densely-packed sugars and starches.

Autumn is also a season marked by increased cooling and drying. The extremely watery fruits of summer give way to the drier carrots, and potatoes, and seeds of all kinds. And the cooler temperatures give an edge to foods that stand little risk of freezing in comparison to the water-rich fruits and vegetables.

All of these natural changes in the world around us give us clues about the best foods to eat during the fall. We too will need more concentrated energy in the cooler autumn weather, and the denser foods of the autumn harvest – the root vegetables (including garlic, onion, carrot, potato, sweet potato, yam, and burdock), as well as the dense above-ground squashes and gourds (including winter squash, acorn squash, and pumpkin); and the dry, energy-rich nuts and seeds (including walnuts and sunflower seeds) are all part of the fall’s best food choices.

A final natural trend in the fall would be increased cooking and baking in the kitchen. In contrast to the light and cooling foods of summer that help to counterbalance the season of highest heat, autumn begins to initiate that transition into cold weather that makes us eager for a bowl of hot soup or steeped tea. Autumn is therefore a time for celebrating warm moist odors pouring forth from the kitchen, providing a perfect balance for the cooler and drier fall nights and drier fall harvest. This increased time in the fall kitchen is also a good perfect time for getting well-organized in preparation for the winter meal plan. Canning, drying, freezing, and pickling of foods harvested during late summer and early fall are perfect activities for a time of year when nature itself is getting ready for the upcoming months. In contrast to summer, when there can be an almost chaotic abundance of foods popping up everywhere you look, fall marks the season when you have to start thinking in a more organized way about your kitchen and your upcoming winter meal plan. Of course, most of us have year-round access to the foods of spring and summer during the winter and fall. However, this doesn’t mean that we should ignore the natural passage of the seasons and adapt our meal plan accordingly. It can also be fun to transition our meal plan to traditional autumn foods, and it can make us feel much more at home with the seasonal transformation going on around us.