Just Above Sunset
April 24, 2005 - Beyond Shepherd's Pie and Bangers and Mash

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Ah, from Reuters in an item dated April 19, 2005 we learn this - "The Fat Duck, an English countryside former pub, has topped an annual list of the world’s best restaurants, marking a new gastronomic triumph for a country once known for, well, other reasons besides its food."

Say what?  These folks at The Fat Duck are the folks who serve sardine-on-toast sorbet.

Well, they do.


So who are these people at Restaurant magazine who compile the annual list of the world’s best restaurants and just pronounced The Fat Duck the best in the world?

They are from the UK – and specifically you can find them at Kilburn House, Manchester Science Park, Lloyd Street North, Manchester M15 6SE - if you are in town.  You won’t find much trying their web site.  This magazine is a trade publication - £50 per year for twenty-four issues.  They don’t publish on the web.  So you have to trust Reuters.

But is there a bias at work here?  Reuters tells us that British restaurants won four of the top ten spots and fourteen of the top fifty, beating countries like France and the United States – but adds that the magazine’s selections “are based on the opinions of more than 500 industry experts around the world.”

Well, maybe these five hundred industry experts are really British, just living abroad.  On the other hand, Reuters quotes the magazine’s editor, Ella Johnston, telling us the results are quite fair and honest and right – “It shows just how far Britain has come in terms of culinary output and the range of experiences we offer.”

And what are those experiences?  Try “smoked bacon and egg ice cream” and “leather, oak and tobacco chocolates.”  Ah!  This is far, far beyond Shepherd’s Pie and Bangers and Mash.

And who is responsible for this revolutionary cuisine?


The Fat Duck, run by chef Heston Blumenthal, beat out El Bulli in Montjoi, Spain and The French Laundry in California --previously voted world’s best two years in a row.

Blumenthal, a self-taught chef, has pioneered “molecular gastronomy” …

That has turned The Fat Duck in Bray, west of London, into a magnet for food enthusiasts.



Note: For a discussion of the science involved in Molecular Gastronomy see this:

Doctor Food
Wednesday April 20, 2005, The Guardian (UK)
This week Heston Blumenthal was crowned the world's best chef thanks to his unique marriage of science and cooking. But how did he discover his winning formula? Leo Hickman went looking for the men in white coats who helped develop his distinctive style. Meanwhile, Dana Bickford, describes the joys of working for him.


This probably much more than you wanted to know.

By the way, you might want to check out this - an insider view of this world from someone who worked at El Bulli in Spain and now works at the Hôtel de Crillon.


I wonder what she thinks of this British place.  It's a whole other world.


But the food news back here in America is all litigation these days. Reuters also tells us that fast-food chains are hopeful that Congress will pass the Cheeseburger Bill.

Oh, THAT bill.

In short, there have been some potential suits against fast-food chains claiming this or that fast-food company is specifically responsible for the litigant’s obesity and should pay damages.  Thus we get this -


Fearing a flood of such cases and lobbied by the restaurant industry, more than 20 states have enacted or are considering legislation that bars or limits obesity suits against restaurants and food manufacturers.

Nation's Restaurant News, a trade publication, said restaurateurs nationwide remain hopeful that Congress will pass a federal "cheeseburger bill" limiting such suits. The House of Representatives passed such a bill last year.

In the meantime, the landmark 2002 suit against McDonald's is the only pending U.S. action blaming a restaurant chain for obesity.


There was only ONE real case – the rest is just hypothetical - and they want legislation for protection?

Well, in matters of law once cannot be too careful.

Some folks see this as silly.


"Nobody forces you to go into McDonald's," said Anthony Sabino, a professor at St. John's University Law School. "I just had a quarter-pounder with cheese and nobody held a gun to my head. Even in this litigious-crazed society ... even the most ambitious of trial lawyers throw up their hands and say this does not fly."


Well, we may get the legislation anyway.  This congress is odd.

But if McDonalds severed sardine-on-toast sorbet, and smoked-bacon-and-egg ice cream and “leather, oak and tobacco chocolates.”  Ah!  The problem would be solved.

Want fries with that?


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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