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News & Views

Restaurant lands Mayor Boris Johnson with £90k bill for Olympic losses

In an article in the City A.M. newspaper Strauss called on Johnson to person- ally pick up the tab.

Neleen Strauss of the High Timber res- taurant near St Paul’s Cathedral said turnover is down 80% in the last fort- night as workers stay out of the city during the Olympics.

“This is – give or take a few hundred pounds – what the Olympic Games have cost me in turnover since they began. And I have asked Boris Johnson to pay the bill personally, not from the seem- ingly limitless coffers that supported London 2012,” she wrote.

“I squarely blame Johnson for my lack of customers because, time and again, he warned Londoners to leave room for

How cutlery can affect your food ©Zoe Laughlin 2012

A study by scientists into the links between metals and taste has pro- duced some interesting results, which should lead to restaurants and dinner party hosts putting more thought into the cutlery they serve with their meals.

Dr Zoe Laughlin and Professor Mark Miodownik, co-directors of the Institute of Making at University College London, and their colleagues carried out a series of experiments, testing the ways that spoons covered in different metals can affect the taste of food. They found – amongst many discoveries - that while copper and mango make for a great combina- tion, the metal does not work well with grapefruit, and that you should avoid pairing cod with zinc.

A recent tasting event held by the pair to show off their discoveries attracted experts from the worlds of science, psychology and gastronomy, including

Spice Business Magazine 4

Heston Blumenthal and Harold McGee. Guests were handed spoons engraved with the period table symbol of the metal they were plated with and asked to explore the variety of combinations. Held in a private room at Quilon, the London Michelin-starred restaurant, seven courses of delicately spiced southwest Indian food were on offer with seven different, freshly polished spoons: copper, gold, silver, tin, zinc, chrome and stainless steel.

Blumenthal, who has been known to serve edible cutlery, commented: “I can imagine a spoon being part of a dish… I’ve been surprised at the range of metal flavours we’ve tasted, and at the way some sit quite well with cer- tain sour notes in food, like the zinc and copper with mango. I’ve always been sensitive to metallic tastes and had thought of the cutlery as interfer- ing with the food; but here, the metallic

the millions of visitors he said would come to the capital.

“It’s been a travesty of miscalculation and scaremongering.”

Strauss, who opened the High Timber restaurant three years ago, concluded, “I have included the ludicrous 20% VAT imposed on my diners. And I can assure Johnson I will continue to promptly pay the £106,000 business rates collected every year.”

note can, with some flavours, be more enjoyable than otherwise.”

As anyone who has eaten at a Blumenthal restaurant knows, a multi-sensory culinary experience is nothing new, but what is a revelation is the science that is helping us to under- stand the complexity of our percep- tions. Another member of the research team, Professor Charles Spence of the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, has shown how the crunching sound of a crisp can make it tastier and that the heavier a spoon, the better and sweeter the food it carries will taste.

Laughlin and Miodownik hope even- tually to produce a set of spoons designed especially for stirring coffee or eating crème caramel, and for them to be accompanied by tasting notes and recipes. “It would be a kind of spoon piano,” says Laughlin, “to play the food and make your own music.”

Sept/Oct 2012

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