Private members’ clubs? They’re where the bores can be themselves | Abi Wilkinson

The likes of Soho House do us all a favour by keeping their dreary, self-important clientele out of the places the rest of us drink inI’m still waiting for someone to explain to me the particular attraction of private members’ clubs. I’ve visited a couple as the guest of a member and left on each occasion feeling that my money would be best spent avoiding the kind of people who seem to frequent them. Celebrity spotting can be fun, but even that depends on the celebrity. Never would I wish to replicate the evening I spent at the Shoreditch House club, practising my rictus grin as an ageing, leather jacket-clad marketing executive hinted at the possibility of a menage a trois with his suspiciously youthful girlfriend. Related: Soho House struggles to maintain appeal for 'magic people' Continue...

Ministers reject calls for charge on UK’s disposable coffee cups

Therese Coffey claims 5p charge is not warranted as industry and chains are already doing enough voluntarily to reduce wasteMinisters have rejected calls for a charge on the 2.5bn disposable coffee cups thrown away each year because they believe coffee shop chains are already taking enough action to cut down waste.Therese Coffey told the Liberal Democrats, who have urged the government to impose a 5p charge similar to that levied on plastic bags, that industry and chains were already doing enough voluntarily. Continue...

Anna Jones’ recipes for quick polenta bakes made two ways | The modern cook

Whether baked slowly or finished off under the grill, polenta loves subtle spices, creamy butter and cheese and it’s perfect with earthy mushrooms and bitter radicchio ...Every household has a food that’s divisive. Round my way, it’s polenta – I love the stuff, while my husband has never understood the appeal. I’ve converted him with these recipes though, so it’s polenta for dinner every night in our house until spring.Originally, polenta was used as a wider term for anything vaguely grain-like, boiled and bubbled to a smooth porridge and spiked with spices and cheese. It was something I learned to make early on. My first few years as a cook were almost solely in Italian kitchens and a big pot of bubbling polenta was almost always on the stove. I cooked it in massive batches in deep heavy pans that bubbled and boiled and spat like a delicious buttery geyser. It was almost meditative to stand and stir it and then anoint it with butter and so much parmesan that my arm would go numb grating it. Continue...

Hong Kong shopping guide: the markets of Mong Kok

Vibrant market stalls still thrive in Hong Kong, on streets dedicated to selling everything from toys and trainers to flowers, fish – dried and live – and caged birdsAt weekends, the vibrant, crowded streets of Kowloon intensify in Mong Kok to a point where the footfall outpaces London’s rush hour. In the heat and high humidity, it occasionally seems difficult to breathe. Weekdays are busy, too. By rights, the markets here should be extinct, gone the way of rickshaws and shophouses thanks to gentrification, air-conditioned malls and the internet. Instead, they thrive.Two years ago, Mong Kok made international news when the “umbrella revolution” arrived, student-led occupations and protests aimed at bringing the city to a standstill. Weeks of stand-off followed, then violence erupted as police clashed not only with the students, but traders and triad gangsters frustrated by gridlocked traffic and political deadlock. Today, despite supermarkets eclipsing many of the food stalls, hordes of Hongkongers and visitors still descend on this Kowloon district in search of a bargain. Continue...

Leone Exton Beale obituary

My aunt, Leone Exton Beale, who has died aged 94, was the restaurant and catering director at the Westminster theatre, London.She came to the role as the daughter of Leo and Grace Exton, who owned five hotels in Bournemouth. Leone was born and brought up in the town, along with her younger sister, Valerie, and brother, Clive. Continue...