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Brace for an Ottolenghi vs Nigella Cookbook Face-Off This Autumn

Two huge book announcements from national treasures, and everything else going down on Instagram this week

Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi side-by-side in a composite photo
Nigella and Yotam, together
Nigella Lawson: Getty Images; Yotam Ottolenghi: Getty Images

Welcome back to Insta Stories, a column examining the London restaurant scene through the often-problematic medium of Instagram. This week’s filter is anarchic.

News of the week

Magicicada is a genus of North American insect with an interesting evolutionary quirk: it only emerges from its underground hiding place to feed above-ground every 13 or 17 years. Entomologists have proposed several explanations for this bizarre behaviour, the most plausible of which is that a lifecycle geared around prime numbers makes it highly unlikely that the cicada will emerge at a time when predator and rival cicada populations are at their peak. For an example of what happens when species don’t follow the Magicicada principle, look no further than the nation’s bookshelves, which are about to host a battle royale between Yotam Ottolenghi and Nigella Lawson. Other cookbook writers should probably find a nice cosy basement and hunker down.

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Exciting news! I am thrilled to announce my new book, COOK EAT REPEAT, which is to be published this October. I’ve enjoyed hugging this secret project to myself over the past several months, but it is a deep pleasure, too, to share it with you. I think many of you have suspected there might be a new book in the works, and you were right. Subtitled “Ingredients, recipes and stories” (and yes, I know that lovers of the Oxford comma might be a little perturbed here), it’s a book that’s very close to my heart. It focusses on the rhythms and rituals of the kitchen, most particularly my kitchen, and intertwines recipes with narrative essays about food and stories from a cooking life. There are over 50 recipes, and many more delicious suggestions, that make the most of my favourite ingredients. Just to give you a taster, chapters include A is for Anchovy (a celebration of the bacon of the sea), Beetroot and Me, How to Invite People for Dinner without Hating Them (or Yourself), incorporating A Vegan Feast, a loving defence of Brown Food, and plenty of new ideas for Christmas. It’s so hard to pick out just a few recipes, but let me tell you some of my favourites that are in COOK EAT REPEAT are my Burnt Onion and Aubergine Dip, Wide Noodles with Lamb Shank in Aromatic Broth, Brown Butter Colcannon, Spaghetti with Chard, Chilli and Anchovies, Beef Cheeks with Port and Chestnuts, Butternut Squash with a Chilli Ginger and Beetroot Yogurt Sauce and - not forgetting the desserts - Rhubarb and Custard Trifle, Rice Pudding Cake, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake and Cherry and Almond Crumble. Update: a limited number of signed books are available through the link in my Instagram stories! #cookeatrepeat Cover design by @cazhildebrand Published by @chattobooks @vintagebooks #cookbookcorner

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Seasonal delicacy klaxon of the week

So close, and yet so far. Just when it looked like it was possible to go a whole week without another arcane foodstuff to get hyped for, along comes the hot cross bun. Expect savoury versions, grotesquely over-stuffed versions, multicoloured versions, sourdough versions. It’s going to be a long Lent, people.

Black metal album cover of the week

[Devil’s horns emoji]

Iconography of the week

Four Legs, producers of arguably London’s best burger, have now produced one of London’s most recognisable stickers — a highly appealing shot of the dish in question that is now being liberally festooned over the residency’s Islington neighbourhood. The Byrons, Guys Five and Burgers Honest in the area had best beware: one of these above their door is a Mafia-style warning that someone is aggressively trying to drink their milkshake.

Caption of the week

Someone tell Tracey Emin she missed a trick.

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My bedroom after spontaneous sex.

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Cursed toothpaste of the week

The smoked cod’s roe supremacy reveals its latest weapon.

Teaser of the week

In the time it takes to process a single Instagram post, Anna Tobias at Café Deco jumped towards the top of any right-thinking food dork’s wish list for 2020. And where other chefs might be tempted to bait Instagram hypebeasts with a drip-feed of architectural creations purpose-made for the ‘gram, Tobias went with… a plate of ham and some remoulade. It’s a low-key flex that in other hands might be seen as being on the cutting edge of Instagram-based marketing, given the increasing preference for “authenticity” in social media content (see: the proliferation of highly personal captions offering candid revelations about the poster). In Tobias’ case, it’s more likely to be… just a plate of ham and some remoulade, the sort of no-frills, unaffected fare that makes Café Deco such an exciting prospect. Perhaps time will tell – although it’s a safe bet that her menu is unlikely to feature deliquescing tiramisu jizz-cakes.

Heartwarming victory of the week

It’s got a bit dusty in here suddenly, hasn’t it?

Winter tomato of the week

A new category, saluting how chefs are using this season’s most under-the-radar signifier of impeccable sourcing: a genuinely edible winter tomato. Juicy.

Presentational flourish of the week

Rockpool mania shows no sign of abating — and is this the first domestic use..?


Dish of the week

Just add buttered toast.

Shot of the week

It seems bizarre to be heralding the arrival of spring when it doesn’t really feel like we’ve had a winter yet, but… has spring sprung?

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Falafel, green tahini

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Four Legs

4 Compton Avenue, , England N1 2XD 020 7354 8473 Visit Website


287 Upper Street, , England N1 2TZ 020 7288 1454 Visit Website