Quiche lorraine taste test: should you be a fan of supermarket flan? | Tony Naylor

The original is all crisp pastry, lardons, cream and eggs. Off-the-shelf versions are often flabby, depressing pretenders, but some can stand proudQuiche transcends fashion. In 1982 it was being derided as a symbol of masculine confusion in Bruce Feirstein’s Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche. Thirty years later, it would take on a brief online life as a kind of ironic slang for “cute”, thanks to Australian comic Chris Lilley’s TV show, Ja’mie: Private School Girl. But, enduringly – in its periods of popularity and in its phases of quaint naffness – quiche is always with us. It is a key picnic and party food, served at weddings, christenings, family dos and, sadly, funerals, and, therefore, it is exactly the kind of thing you might suddenly find yourself bulk-buying in the supermarket.Not that native Lorrains would acknowledge the modern mass-produced quiche lorraine. Originally a flan with just smoked bacon, cream and eggs, it was first augmented by Parisians, who started adding gruyère, and later we Brits, who threw in various cheeses. This is not new. Elizabeth David was flagging up this evolution (or sacrilege) in 1962. Continue...

The alt city guide to Cambridge

Cambridge’s food, drink, music and arts scenes are thriving, with an underground ethic energised more by town than gownYou might imagine that in a university city as renowned as Cambridge, the student population is pivotal to its cultural life. “Not remotely,” says Cambridge-based arts journalist, Harry Sword: “It’s bizarre; they live a closeted existence. Cambridge University is a boiler room in terms of the amount of work they’re given, and they have sophisticated entertainment networks in each college so it’s a very self-contained world.“People forget that over 100,000 people were born and live here, regardless of the university,” Swords adds. From the independent enclave of Mill Road to the annual (sponsor-free) Strawberry Fair music festival, a dedicated minority of those locals work doggedly to maintain the city’s bohemian edge. Continue...

Freemasons: why England’s best restaurant swears it’s just a boozer

It’s Asian-influenced menu has put the Lancashire pub on the foodie map, including a big win in the AA’s 2017 Hospitality Awards. But its owner says it’s still just a local for the villagersWhen is a pub not a pub? Probably when, as the Freemasons in Lancashire has just done, it wins the AA English restaurant of the year award. True, like Kent’s Michelin-starred Sportsman or Tom Kerridge’s two-star Hand & Flowers, this rural inn near Blackburn may serve real ales and runs “chippy tea” nights (three-courses, £26). But sitting upstairs in its Georgian-styled dining rooms, eating artfully arranged plates of local grouse – served with yakitori livers, sweetcorn, foraged mushrooms and blueberry hoisin sauce (£32) – this is, self-evidently, no boozer.Not that chef-owner Steven Smith will readily relinquish his pub status: “The food’s far removed from pub food, but it’s a village pub. We embrace that.” Downstairs, in the genteel-rustic, flagstone-floored bar and dining room, he says: “My Thursday regulars come in and have chips and mayonnaise at the bar and a good drink. Sunday nights, there could be 30 locals in.” Continue...

How to eat: fried chicken

This could get messy, How to Eat is ordering the fried chicken. With chips of course, what else is there? Except kimchi. And ketchup (but never together)Attempting to identify Britain’s national dish is a mug’s game. It is a question too wrapped up in history, culture and emotion, rather than straight sales. There is no objective metric. But, by any criteria, fried chicken must surely be a frontrunner? “The chicken shop is London,” declared Munchies earlier this year and, with over 8000 in the capital – roughly one for every thousand Londoners – who could argue? Other cities may lack an identifiable scene star like Elijah Quashie, aka. the Chicken Connoisseur, or a dedicated chicken shop app, but there is a similar hunger for fried chook across the UK. Continue...

The alt city guide to Leeds

With a capital of culture bid in the works now is a great time to explore Leeds’ DIY and underground scene where friendly music, art and food venues flourish and the nightlife is among the best in the country‘Leeds is quite modest,” insists Bryony Bond, creative director at the Tetley gallery. “It doesn’t market or push itself, which is endearing – but the stuff going on here is brilliant.”That may be changing. Leeds is, after all, bidding to be a European Capital of Culture in 2023. But compared with Manchester or Liverpool, Leeds has been reticent about celebrating its creativity. Historically, it has preferred to sell itself as a glitzy shopping-and-dining destination. Perhaps such modesty is rooted in an inferiority complex. Leeds has never had a seismic pop-culture moment – a Merseybeat or Madchester – and its big bands (Sisters of Mercy, The Wedding Present, Kaiser Chiefs), are also-rans in the grand annals of rock history. But at a far grittier, more chaotic, underground level, there is always plenty happening here. Continue...