Red wine

You have to be truly incompetent to eat badly in Paris

Paris has enough great restaurants to maintain its claim to be the world capital of gastronomy. That said, Parisian residents insist that these days, it is possible to eat badly in their city. Yet I still think that this would require especial incompetence. In Brussels, a strong second in the pecking order, it would be even harder. There is a splendid establishment called Comme Chez Soi. Almost 100 years old, it has established a worldwide reputation without losing contact with its roots. The last time I was there, I observed a couple of ladies-who-lunch, Brussels fashion. There was no question of a watercress salad on a bed of lettuce leaves,

A perfect slice of Calabria 

The Romans wrote the history, or at least the myths. But long before Romulus murdered Remus, the Mediterranean – the Great Sea – was the principal conduit of civilisation. The Greeks spread their wings across the wine-dark seas, to the extent that even later Romans accepted that much of southern Italy was actually Magna Graecia. The Greek settlements included the city of Sybaris. Although it was destroyed around 2,500 years ago, it has passed into the language. Sybaritic – the very word is expressive – denotes ease and pleasure, the beauties of nature amid the adornments of art and architecture: champagne and dancing girls. Sybaris is in Calabria, the toe

What wine should you serve to a matador?

We were talking bulls. A friend of mine, Alexander Fiske-Harrison, is a remarkable character who can claim at least two distinctions. First, he must have been about the worst-behaved boy in the modern history of Eton College. He claims that this is an understatement and that he heads the role of infamy since the days of Henry VI. He was certainly put ‘on the Bill’ – that is, for a disciplinary interview with the headmaster – on 68 occasions. So he was fortunate that corporal punishment had been abolished before he arrived, though his career of rapscallionry was possibly not the strongest argument for its demise. A great wine, drawing

The joy of red wine

Everything is happening so fast. First we were put under a night curfew. A few days later M. Macron announced another lockdown. Then, pretty much overnight, I developed a taste for red wine. The Damascene conversion was a bottle of Clos de l’Ours, a local vineyard. It was pricey admittedly, even when bought direct from the vigneron’s shop, but it was a gateway. Now I’m guzzling red. It’s like finally liking sausages after a lifetime’s aversion. The suddenness and completeness of the conversion I can only put down to an organic deterioration in the brain. Old age, perhaps. Or years of drinking this unpretentious, paralysing brand of gin that is