Archives for October 2006
To appease foodies and out of a certain amount of guilt for being food free for a time – I blame bloody freebox, still waiting on the DSL activating…. grrr…. les escargots… – alors… here are a bunch of great food links I happened across in the last few days.
- The Observer Food Monthly secret foodie map of Britain
- Pakistani food vendor wins the New York Vendy Awards.
- Oysters in a steak and kidney pie? A history lesson in British food.
- AA Gill rips his way through Scottish cuisine with more history lessons.
- The Daily Telegraph’s podcast food map of Britain.
I promise a food post next week, but there are a few bloggy/mediary posts coming up – avert your eyes NOW if the paints peeling/drying etc… The Daily Telegraph, the UK’s largest clever clogs national, is quietly revolutionizing the way it produces the newspaper. New premises, new methods, new, new, new, it’s all so new. Unfortunately, the quiet and the secrecy surrounding the opening of the new office is relative. It’s a murmur compared to the cacophony of editorial changes, sackings and (possibly) strike action.
A couple of weeks ago, I phoned a contact at the Telegraph about a story I was writing. In passing I asked if I could take a peek inside Starship Telegraph – as I call it, not them – I mentioned I was in London and fancied a look around the starship. Columnist Peter Preston, media twitcher Roy Greenslade and the Press Gazette had already pawed their way through the swing doors, but as I arrive at 111 Buckingham Palace Road I’m told I’m the first outside media/blog person to visit the starship under working conditions. I was there last Tuesday afternoon. It was only the second working day at the new premises adjacent to Victoria station. And only the second day the newspaper was produced from this spot.
I was politely, but firmly, asked to keep my camera in my bag and most of our discussion was off the
record – alors, there’s not an awful lot I can tell you here. However, the newsroom is far more lively than the (photoshopped) photos that leaked out(?) would suggest. I was expecting a paperless, clutter-free office, but I found books, files, papers strewn around much like any other newsroom – journalists aren’t by nature the tidiest of animals. However, I was told the "spoke and wheel" layout is "designed to be paperless" and the shelves had yet to arrive. The best view is from above as in the picture… errr…. above and to the right a bit.
Along one side of the newsroom floor are studios for TV and podcast output. I talked to the Telegraph’s podgod Guy Ruddle. He’s been training print journalists in podcasting techniques. He told me they plan to broadcast audio reports from embedded journalists in Iraq. He also told me of plans to ‘rebrand’ the podcast end of the Telegraph and call it "Telegraph Talk" – I think they are the only ‘exclusives’ I’m allowed to reveal 🙂 At least I think I can reveal them… Oh well… too late.
A couple of things struck me as innovative, although a bit gimmicky too. The paper offers a downloadable ‘click and carry’ 4pm pdf newspaper with embedded video. Looks great – far better than The Guardian’s G24 thing – more on The Guardian tomorrow – but when I asked if the video was iPod compatible I was told by the tech guy that it was not – bang went my visions of picking up my Telegraph video on my iPod and watching it on the way home. (NB: here’s a great video and you can get onto your iPod in a jiffy… I digress)
At the centre of the starship – as I wrongly describe it as it’s not *that* futuristic – is a large round desk for meetings. The keyboards are hidden Bond-style under the beige wooden table and rise up when pressed. The screens, visible in the shot above, were not yet installed but will appear above the desk. Two massive plasma screens will also grace the wall opposite the visual/audio studio. They will show news channels and (I think) some in-house production work going on.
Clearly the new office is still a work in progress – the canteen was a buidling site with just a soup kitchen style trestle table offering up sarnies, pastries and snacks – and this is probably part of the reason why they didn’t want some blogger snapping willy-nilly all over the place. I’ve no doubt the starship will be a great working environment.
The newspaper has "lots of plans" and "plenty of ideas" of where they’re going and what they want to change. They have the very young and, seemingly, very driven head of Will Lewis – who politely grilled me about photography on the escalator as I entered the building – to steer a course through this period of unprecedented change at the paper.
I do work as a journalist – but I didn’t ask to see inside the Telegraph offices for work. I wanted to see the newsroom purely out of personal interest and I was open with them about that. OK – so they were cagey, perhaps a bit *too* wary about snaps and we had a lot of "off the record" moments, but they let me in and they really didn’t have to. I’m not sure I would have let me in. My wife often doesn’t let me in. But they did and for that I’m grateful. They also know I sometimes write/blog for the opposition and I don’t doubt this clouded some of our discussions. I did get to chat briefly with Shane Richmond who has some very keen insights into all this media changing thing. Shane gases emminently well about one area that particularly fascinates me at the moment – the embryonic journalist as blog brand movement.
I learned yesterday that, since my visit, the shit has hit the proverbial. There’ll no doubt be a lot more pain coming the paper’s way. That said, there can’t be a more exciting (and terrifying) time to work in the British media industry. Meanwhile more photos of the outside of an office building.
I get a lot of mail through this ‘ere blog. Much of it interesting, some of it odd and yet more I can’t help out with, but maybe you can. I spent a lot of time guzzling down Saigon’s top street sarnies. It appears I didn’t spend an equal amount of time considering what goes inside a Vietnamese banh mi pate. Can someone please help frustrated reader Lorna who just wants to get her pate on,
"Have you in your travels run across a recipe for the pate they spread on their banh mi? (I’m afraid I never have) I am trying one this week that I found on Egullet, for a Vietnamese-flavored pate, but am not sure if this is it. I have learned from several Vietnamese markets that sell banh mi that the pate uses both pork and pork liver (that sounds about right to me…), but when they make the sandwich the pate is very spreadable, not like a pate de campagne. (Absolutely. It’s rather pastey, kinda catfoody) Got any info about this? (Zip…)
Also, the mayonnaise-like spread on the bread. (Huh?? Warm margarine or cheap butter, no?) I have heard that it is simply homemade mayonnaise from some purveyors, while others say it is flavored with garlic, like an aioli, and others claim it is flavored with more nuoc mam. (Oooh Yum, that sounds like a yank twist, no?) Any ideas there about the classic combo? (Not here, but hopefully in the comments…)
I have given up on figuring out how to make the rice/wheat flour combo of bread, as the only recipe out there appears to be a flop (made with ingredients here in the states, at least), but the pate and mayo are still somewhat of a mystery to me.
I sense the Vietnam pangs are kicking in. I live in France. I have two Chinese/Vietnamese/Asian supermarkets very near my gaff, but… they just ain’t the same. In fact all those pre-prepared, plastic boxed, cellophane covered ‘authentic’ Vietnamese specialities are a total turn off. And then there’s the dark mornings… my first cold weather experience in about a decade… broadband installation purgatory and the pavement. At this particular moment in time I would wrestle a medium sized mammal, or a large fish with small teeth for one of these.
In London last week I talked to a whole bunch of media/blogging folk, many of whom I was fleshmeeting for the first time – more on that later – the one question at least five of them asked me within five minutes of meeting was,
"Why did you leave?"
I’m starting to ponder the wisdom of the contents of my answer 🙂
"Although the restaurant provides its guests with innumerable Asian dishes, from Vietnamese to Singaporean to Chinese, the dish that Si Phu’s owner Do Thi Bich Hanh boasts of is the hot pot. Before entering Si Phu for a friend’s birthday party, I did know that we would be having lau (hot pot) at a luxury restaurant, but when I sat down everything was far from my expectation: in front each of us was a single hot pot squeezed into a hole on the table, a plate of Australian beef, a plate of seafood (shrimp, oysters, and a piece of salmon), and a plate of assorted vegetables (corn, pumpkin, quash, cabbage, vermicelli and mushroom). All of us, including me, the group glutton, underestimated our ability to finish such a big portion," writes Le Lan Huong in The Vietnam News.
"Little Hanoi Drinks & Food is a diamond in the rough. A paradise for the palates of foreigners, this medium sized cafe serves up some tasty meals, bringing a reminiscent familiarity back to the average expat or tourist looking for a little taste of home.
From the outside, this cafe appears similar to most others in the popular Hoan Kiem Lake area, with a small open counter to the street in front serving up coffee, pastries and the like to passers-by lured over by the fragrant aroma of freshly brewed coffee. But for those who venture inside, a more rewarding treat is sure to be dished out," writes Karen Merlin in The Vietnam News.
More links than you can throw a chapati at today. Mallika, not only has an ace name, but also writes Quick Indian Cooking. It’s a new(ish) self explanatory blog from the home of Indian cookery, London. It includes some of those ultra-handy ‘best of’ local’s posts. Here we have Maillika’s 5 best London Indians. She’s rather nifty with a spatula and a pot of yoguhurt and proves that not all bloggers have an expense account at the dermatological counter of Boots, but we’ve known that for donkeys. Bonuslinks – get’em while they’re hot: my favourite online Indian recipe finds.