Wine: orange is the new white

Orange wine is beginning to make a real mark on our drinking scene

We pride ourselves in this country on our openness to new influences, but when it comes to orange wine, Canada has the edge. I’ve just spent a few days in Montreal, where practically every restaurant (OK, not Tim Hortons) lists orange wines; one place I went to, Nora Gray, had 10. The quality-control board in Ontario has even drawn up regulations for skin contact wines – wines where the grapes are left in contact with the skins; it’s the first in the world to create such a code.

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A Ferrante feast: a night out in support of global literacy

Elena Ferrante’s books evoke Naples in all its drama, and inspired a Neapolitan fundraising feast for Worldreader, in the heart of urban London – testament to the power of food and literature to do good

See the photo gallery here!

A group of clamorous punters gather around a table on the cobbles. They’ve come to the pavement to escape the heat of the kitchen. Dodging crates of tomatoes, waiters dole out dishes piled high with fried things – mozzarella, prawns, courgette flowers – and bruschetta. The voice of Fred Buscaglione crackles from a speaker, just-heard over calls for Campari and the clatter of plates.

You’d be forgiven for thinking we were in Italy. Yet this is east London, just off Columbia Road. We are at Campania & Jones, a southern Italian restaurant housed in a 19th-century dairy, which, like the wardrobe to Narnia, feels like a magic gateway to Naples. This evening, the restaurant, Cook editor Mina Holland, columnist Rachel Roddy and myself are collaborating on a dinner (see gallery) celebrating the transformative power of books and food in aid of the Worldreader charity.

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In pictures: A Neapolitan dinner, with Rachel Roddy

A southern Italian restaurant, along with Guardian Cook columnist Rachel Roddy, puts on a dinner themed on the books of Elena Ferrante, celebrating the transformative power of books and food in aid of the Worldreader charity. Read more about it here…

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‘I feel like a hunter-gatherer when I barbecue’ | Comment

Surrounded by urban sprawl, where can you get your fix of flame-grilled fodder? Why, the local park of course, if they haven’t banned them there too …

I am not, by instinct, a summer person. I see the benefits: the sunshine, the smell of hot pavements after rain, daylight in the morning and the evening, and so on. But the problem is that summer is, ultimately, a time best enjoyed on holiday, and that most of us have to spend the majority of it in an office. Apart from teachers, who spend it rocking back and forth and muttering things like “Class 9D, man. You weren’t there. I can still hear the shrieking …”

Our working days in the summer tend to be spent feeling sweaty, sluggish and irritable – or at least mine do. The summer months are only really any good on our days off. And the crown of the season is, surely, the barbecue.

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A cry for kelp – is seaweed really a superfood?

Jamie Oliver reckons it helped him lose two stone – and Heston Blumenthal says it should be used instead of salt. But should this ‘slimy flotsam’ be called a superfood? In the second in her new series on food fads, Felicity Cloake finds out

It wasn’t so long ago that the only seaweed that passed most British lips was deep fried, heavily sugared … and made from that distinctly less exotic landlubber, the spring cabbage. Although as an island nation we’re well stocked with the stuff, we’ve never embraced this particular maritime bounty with the same wholehearted enthusiasm as the far east, and Japan in particular, where seaweed is an important part of the daily diet.

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Sausages and greens Napoli-style from Rachel Roddy | A kitchen in Rome

Elena Ferrante’s novels evoke the Neapolitan city in all its drama, including the food, and inspire a charity cucina povera feast of succulent greens and juicy sausages typical of the region

“Sometimes we saw him climbing up the scaffolding of new buildings that were rising floor by floor, or in a hat made of newspaper, in the sun, eating bread with sausage and greens during his lunch break…”

Even though it is the first of four Neapolitan Novels, finishing My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante left me bereft – or, as my nine-year-old self once said, “end-of-book lonely”. Also it left me feeling guilty: I galloped through the last 60 pages in much the same way I often eat food – greedily and not really chewing properly. What happened between Fernando and Silvio Solara? Why was Marcello wearing the shoes Stefano bought? Answers – and no doubt more questions – would come with book two, which could be bought from the English bookshop near the Spanish steps… It was only 4:30pm: I had more than enough time to get there. Or was that hasty? I would read the last 40 pages again. On the train to Naples.

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Why do worms like apples but not oranges?

The long-running series in which readers answer other readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial flights of fancy to profound scientific concepts

In a long life I have never encountered a maggot or worm in an orange or banana, but have quite often come across such wildlife in an apple or blackberry. Why are some fruits susceptible to infestation, but others not? Is there any rule?

alexandra smithies

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How to cook Swedish-style baked leeks and beef rydberg on an open fire | Book extract

Nordic cooking is simpler than you think. As this Swedish chef says, all you need is a wood fire and an iron pan to make these recipes from his book, Food From The Fire

Before the arrival of the electric cooker, fire, wood and iron were the holy trinity of the Swedish kitchen. I grew up in Järpen, a small village in the north of Sweden. My parents would take us to the mountains, and we’d cook over a fire pit. As a young chef, though, I became passionate about Italian olive oil, French braised chicken and molecular gastronomy – serving dishes, in my first restaurant, such as “asparagus clouds”. I could hardly have got any further away from the rustic slow cooking of the Jämtland forests.

And then I spent the summer of 2011 with my family in a cabin on the island of Ingarö in the Stockholm archipelago. My wife Katarina had just had our first child, our son Vinston. I wandered around on the island and pondered, like a gloomy character from a Bergman film staring at the trees, and remembered the open-fire cooking of my childhood. I chopped down some of the birches I had stared at and made a fire pit. For the whole summer, it was our family kitchen – it never went out. Most of the time we grilled in the usual way, on a grate, but one day I didn’t have enough patience and just whacked a cast-iron pan straight into the flames. The fire sizzled and sparked around the pan; the force of the heat knocked me back; and the flavours of the food … what depth! The image of an analogue fine-dining restaurant developed in my mind, a place where everything was cooked over fire, like in the old days.

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Kitchen gadgets review: Swan Vintage Teasmade – liquid is sluicing in the direction of my head

It’s 6.30am and I’m woken by turbulence and shrill peeping. Should this maid really still be in domestic service?

Swan Vintage Teasmade (£49.99, Argos). Alarm-rigged, immersion-heated tank plumbed into adjoining chamber. When activated, steam pressure forces boiling liquid via duct into a positioned jug.

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Ditch the wicker basket and wash your fruit and veg: how to picnic safely

Traditional hampers are bad news for outdoor eating, according to advice from the Food Standards Agency – and it’s not the only peril picnickers may face

Ah, the joy of picnics! The luscious grass, the fragrant breeze, the seductive crunch of carrot batons loaded with warm supermarket hummus. Inside was always overrated. But, wait, have you considered the myriad dangers lurking beneath your never-cleaned fleecy blanket with handy Velcro straps? Well, roll it up and read this first. It might even save your life.

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Cocktail of the week: little dragon

This is two drinks in one: a refreshingly herby aperitif, or top with tonic for a proper summer cooler

Tarragon has a glorious lemony aroma with anise and basil tones, and its name derives from the French “estragon”, meaning “little dragon” (hence the name of this drink). Serve as it is for a light pre-dinner refresher, or in a tall glass over ice and topped with tonic for a glorious summer evening drink. Serves one.

50ml London dry gin (I’d use Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray)
20ml fresh lemon juice
20ml sugar syrup (made with 50:50 water: caster sugar)
Three long tarragon leaves

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