the world-renowned Fat Duck shuts down over food poisoning scare

I can't believe it!  News alert.  I just went to see the latest news on The Guardian's website, and I couldn't believe what my eyes saw!  Yup, the Fat Duck has shut its doors until further notice.

Poor Heston (well he's not exactly poor), but he appears to be handling the situation really well.  Bless him (and the people who fell ill).


diabetic baklava?

Patisserie making at Gulluoglu in Turkey.

I am lame.  Very lame.  Busy with work.  And hence I have abandoned my blog posts.  In the meantime, please visit this website.  It will make you salivate.  My beautiful friend Aniqa, who's Turkish-American, says this company makes some of the most amazing baklava in Turkey (and can be found in markets in the States for purchase).  Gulluoglu is the name.  I found them because I was looking for a diabetic baklava.  Any ideas on that front?  I'm trying to come up with a delicious and sugar-free recipe, although I'm not a fan of aspartame. 


happy st. raphael's day

Red velvet cupcakes I will be making tomorrow (Food Network recipe)

Apparently the Catholic Church says Valentine's Day should bear the name of St. Raphael (that's what the BBC says).  Who knows.  What I do know is I'm jet-lagged from my recent trip to Montreal, hence the silence.  I had a lovely dinner with my friends Basak and her boyfriend Nathan here in Oxford at Carluccio's (where I picked up some semolina, white flour, and a bottle of white truffle oil after our meal).  A very strange Valentine's date (albeit early).  What can I say, we're pretty progressive in this intellectual capital.  Others would argue we're simply screwed up.  Incidently, I went to a great party hosted by my beautiful Italian friend Katerina.   The whole circle of friends (Markos et al.) where there along with a special guest appearance of our beloved housemate (well, former now) Georgios who's visiting from Paris.

But I digressed.  So, this past week, I had the privilege of attending a fantastic meeting on the latest HIV research called CROI (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections). I presented a poster, and had the opportunity to hear about some really groundbreaking work being done in the field.  Really enlightening experience.

I also ate very well in the Québécois capital.  Over the next few days I will be posting about some of my excursions in the evening after the meeting's events.  All I have to say is ravioli stuffed with lobster and white truffle oil. On that note, happy Valentine's (or Raphael's) day to all you beautiful people, and good night.  


no recipe but just food for thought on the bail-out plan in the US

I am really sorry for not having posted any recipes past few days.  Very busy with work. Just random food for thought.  I saw this great quote today.  Any ideas who said it?

'Allowing stockholders to reap the benefits during the good times... and to keep reaping them in the very bad times -- at taxpayers' expense -- isn't capitalism. It's lunacy.'


the struggling Greek farmer

Greek farmer from Crete being pushed back by a security officer in the Piraeus port today.

In light of the harsh winter and a drop in commodity prices, farmers in Greece have been protesting in recent weeks for a bail-out plan by the Greek state.  Motorways across the country have been blocked, and sections of the Bulgarian border. Today, farmers from Crete arrived in Piraeus with their tractors with hopes of making it to the city centre of Athens.  What erupted were clashes with police upon their arrival. This made the NY Times today. We all remember what happened in December of course.  The Motherland is not doing so well.  Not at all.  Imagine how bad it is for Greek farmers to be brought to the point of hurling their tractors on a ferry ship across the Aegean and into Athens port.

For more news in Greek, please visit To Vima, Kathimerini, and Eleftheros Tipos.


palestinians in Gaza short of food

A Palestinian boy cries as he stands beside his family in southern Gaza.

Καλό μήνα (happy month) as we embrace a new month in our new year.  I'm very excited about February.  We're hosting a great dinner this Thursday (we being the Oxford Gastronomy Society) at Christ Church College here in Oxford - with a 1920s gangster party theme, in the format of a murder mystery.  I cannot wait.  Next week, I'm off to Montreal for a scientific conference where I am presenting a poster, and then back to my base here in the UK.

On a more serious note, an important article in today's Observer magazine in the Guardian by Peter Beaumont on the situation in Gaza.  Palestinians are in short supply of food, and based on the article, sources including the World Food Programme, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and Palestinian officials, are reporting that between 35% and 60% of the agriculture industry has been wrecked by the three-week Israeli bombing and shelling.

The greatest destruction seems to be in areas where the farming was most intensive (sigh), and the implications for this are very grave for both the short term and long term.  What next?  We are lucky bastards here in Europe for all we have.  Let us never forget that.