There’s an article about me today in the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia! (I’ll be talking at the Sydney Food Festival in October.)
I’m in Manchester for the weekend for the end of the International Festival, and in particular for Sunday’s Festival Feast. I was invited to contribute a recipe for this feeding-of-two-thousand event, and offered the recipe for Zhong dumplings from Sichuan Cookery, which is being made up by the well-known local restaurant Yang Sing. I think I’ll be saying a few words as people sit down to eat.
Great fun to be here, anyway. I manage to catch a Bach cello concert at lunchtime in the Zaha Hadid pavilion, and have just got back to the hotel after seeing Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed at the Palace Theatre – amazing!
Quite a few people have been emailing me to ask if I do any cooking classes, so I wanted to let any readers of this website know that I will be doing at least one at the Divertimenti Cooking School in central London in November.
In October, I’ll also be appearing at the Sydney International Food Festival in Australia. I’ll be doing a demonstration of Sichuanese homestyle dishes myself, and a presentation with my friend Yu Bo, who is one of the most talented chefs I’ve met in more than a decade of eating in China. (He is featured in the ‘Rubber Factor’ chapter of my book ‘Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper’. )
On Monday night I went to the awards ceremony for Restaurant magazine’s annual survey of the ‘World’s Fifty Best Restaurants’. Predictably, and I think deservedly, El Bulli took the top spot for the fourth year running, and Ferran Adria and his brother Albert were there to receive the award. But once again the only Chinese restaurant on the list was Hakkasan – in London! I’m a great fan of the dim sum at Hakkasan, and I love the design, but the best Chinese restaurant in the world?! Come on…
I’ll be speaking at various events in China next month as part of the Bookworm Literary Festival. One of the highlights will be a lunch at one of my favourite Chengdu restaurants, Yu’s Family Kitchen (there is a chapter about Chef Yu Bo and his cooking in Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper). Click on the links for each city for more information.
These are my plans so far:
Friday 6th March 7:30pm Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, talk
Saturday 7th March 1pm Talk over a sumptuous lunch at my friend Yu Bo’s restaurant, yu jia chu fang
Sunday 9th March 7.30pm: Savoring Sichuan, talk
Tuesday 11th March 8pm: Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A discussion on memoir writing with Fuchsia Dunlop and MC Marika de Vienne
Friday 13th March 12.30pm: Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, talk
Saturday 14th March 2pm (at The Yin Yang Centre): Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, talk
The sixteenth-century Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo is best known for his striking paintings of human figures made up of fruits and vegetables. And as part of this year’s Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, (theme:vegetables), to my surprise I found myself trying to make similar pictures – but with real vegetables! This after-dinner experiment was the brilliant idea of the cultural historian Carolin Young and the artist Charles Foster-Hall, who had brought along basketsful of produce, wooden boards and frames, and hundreds of cocktail sticks for holding the fruits and vegetables in place.
Here is the result of a collective attempt by my Turkish friend Aylin, another emerging vegetable artist called Kathryn and me to make an edible portrait of the food historian Sami Zubaida (the photo was taken the following morning):
And below is a photo of the team of artists, with our model. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a striking likeness. One other symposiast said he thought it was ‘like a Lucian Freud in its merciless realism’.
I’ll talking at the Abergavenny Food Festival on 20th September. Tom Parker-Bowles will be interviewing me. I’m guessing this means that he has forgiven me for what I inflicted on him when we last met… He was interviewing me on the TV programme Market Kitchen, and I took along a jar of one of my favourite breakfast and midnight-feast staples, fermented beancurd. I forgot to warn Tom that fermented beancurd is best appreciated in very small quantities, so, while we were being filmed, he picked up a whole cube of the stuff in his chopsticks, put it into his mouth – and, horrified, immediately spat it out across the room! I was extremely apologetic afterwards, naturally. I just hope I didn’t put him off fermented beancurd for life.