Nature Queen's Blog

News from the world of Food and Beverages

Japan’s Yanagiya – is this the best restaurant on the planet?

This invitation-only restaurant near Nagoya holds the No 1 spot on Tabelog, Japan’s most popular dining website. And no wonder: the skewers of fat-cloaked duck, boar and venison are grilled to perfection

Anointing the “best restaurant in the world” has become a mini-industry. Last week, the Black Swan – a country pub in North Yorkshire – was given the accolade based on TripAdvisor ratings. But humour me for a moment because I think I have the answer. If we accept that Japan is the greatest food nation on Earth, with the most discerning eaters and the most advanced restaurant culture (Michelin, for what it’s worth, agrees, as do all of the chefs I’ve ever met), then it seems at least arguable that the very best restaurant in the world might also be in Japan.

What does the world’s 50 best list say? For many years, according to its voters, the best Japanese restaurant in the world was not even in Japan, so let’s not waste any more time with them. Perhaps, in this day and age, it is to the hive mind of a user-generated restaurant review sites that we should turn. Japan’s most popular restaurant website is It is used by 60 million visitors every month, and more than 20 million diners have placed a review grading restaurants from one to five. Interestingly, considering the petulance, lies and score-settling that plague user-generated review sites in the UK, Tabelog’s contributors tend to be well-informed, with a clear focus on the quality of the food.

Continue reading...

Anna Jones’s easy one-pot suppers | The modern cook

Simple dinners made in a single pan are the essence of home cooking. Here the hearty heft of crisp butterbeans is lifted by citrus-laced kale, while beetroot, thyme and orange lend their earthy notes to a serving of orzo pasta

I read a restaurant review this weekend in which the writer talked about the head chef being “the rarest of creatures”: a chef without ego. The idea of ego in food has come up in conversation a lot recently. It’s often thought to be what distinguishes home cooking from restaurant cooking, though there are exceptions: you’ll certainly find ego-driven cooks in home kitchens and the most gentle, generous cooks in restaurants.

Related: Anna Jones’s autumnal recipes for roast squash | The modern cook

Continue reading...

Nigel Slater’s golden autumnal recipes

Celebrate the cooler evenings with warming cheddar and cider soup, roast pumpkin with date dressing and poached pears with fudge sauce

There is, I suggest, no better time to be in the kitchen than now. The ingredients of the season – new hazelnuts and walnuts, the first pumpkins, locally grown pears and cider – are beckoning and the cooking goes into another gear. The cooler evenings bring with them requests for deep bowls of soup, roast vegetables and warm grains and, in my house at least, the need for a cake on the table. This collection of recipes celebrates the welcome return, the golden glow, of autumn cooking.

Continue reading...

Chipocalypse: potato shortage in New Zealand sparks crisp crisis

Fears grow of ‘potatogeddon’ after up to 30% of the crop are hit by heavy rains blamed on climate change

A year of heavy rains has devastated New Zealand’s potato crop, causing a shortage of crisps – aka chips – that has been dubbed the “chipocalypse”.

The rainfall, which included two “weather bombs” and two serious floods in both the North and South Island, has wiped out 20% of New Zealand’s annual potato crop, and 30% in the regions most affected, with the “crisping” varieties taking the biggest hit.

Continue reading...

Supersized chocolate bars and sweet bags banned from hospitals

Stepping up fight against obesity, NHS CEO instructs hospital shops not to stock confectionery with over 250 calories

Supersized chocolate bars and “grab bags” of sweets are to be banned from hospitals as the NHS ratchets up its fight against obesity.

Simon Stevens, the NHS chief executive, has warned that obesity will bankrupt the health service and has stated his determination to do what he can on hospital premises.

Continue reading...

Mary’s Household Tips and Tricks by Mary Berry – digested read

‘When baking, don’t use any of Prue Leith’s cookbooks. She really doesn’t have a clue what she is doing’

I’ve had a lot of time to gather tips and hints about cooking and how to run a home because I’ve lived in a house for quite a long time. This book is a collection of some of the ones you’ve probably already thought of yourself.

Continue reading...