This week: something to watch (an artisan at work); to read (cocktail controversy); to celebrate (the world’s first solar-powered restaurant); and to cook (rice and peas, please).


I’m a huge fan of gazing at a fire in the fire-place, watching the waves come rolling in on a sandy beach, and Slow TV, in which things happen calmly, gradually, glacially.

So watching the Olympics has been difficult, as you can imagine. All those fast people. All those races over in 46.3 seconds. Make mine a marathon, thanks, and run it slo-mo.

If you are not like this, and seriously require instant gratification, then do not watch this beautiful – and slow - documentary on the making of makgeolli, Korea’s sweet, fizzy, slightly sour fermented rice alcohol, at South Korean brewery Boksoondoga. “It didn’t taste very good” says Park Bok-soon, when she first tried the drink she was making. “But after a while, it made me happy.” He he.

From the Hand-Made series for


Does the cocktail industry have a nostalgia problem? You’re ‘damned if you do Manhattan, and damned if you don’t’ according to this thoughtful story on Punch by Scott Hocker, illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

Are we fetishizing the 1930’s with our classic cocktails and mustachio’d, waistcoated bartenders? And is that a bad thing? Yes, if blackness and femaleness are ignored when we celebrate America’s Golden Age of cocktails. Read on ( still got that drink in hand?)


Meet the world’s first solar-powered restaurant. This is a good reason to be cheerful, as most restaurants are big energy crunchers, with their cooking, refrigeration, lighting and heating (one estimate claimed restaurants use about five to seven times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings, such as office buildings and retail stores).

As Peter Yeung writes on Reasons To Be Cheerful, Le Présage in Marseille in sunny (key to the story) southern France is a sign of things to come. It’s very, ahem, rustic, at this stage, as it seeks more support, but ‘from little things, etc’. Especially with added sunshine.

Reasons To Be Cheerful is itself a reason to be cheerful, billing itself as a self-help magazine for those who hate self-help magazines. Founded by artist and musician David Byrne, it continually comes up with “stories of hope, rooted in evidence”. Subscribe to their newsletter here.


Something really, really simple to cook, please, that still delivers comfort, goodness and lightness of spirit. My rice and peas, then, because it’s gentle on the stomach, but not so gentle that you can’t have a glass of wine with it.

Rice and Peas, Please

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

2 leeks, trimmed and finely sliced

180 g arborio rice

1 litre chicken stock, brought to the boil

200 g frozen peas

2 zucchini, finely sliced

2 tbsp chopped parsley

2 tbsp grated parmesan

Cracked black pepper

  • Heat the oil and butter in a heavy pan and cook the leeks for 5 minutes.

  • Add the rice, stirring well to coat.

  • Add the hot chicken stock, stirring well. Cover and gently simmer for 15 minutes until the rice is almost tender.

  • Add the peas, zucchini, parsley, sea salt and pepper to the rice and cook for a further 5 minutes until all is tender and lightly soupy. (It isn’t soup and it isn’t risotto, it’s just rice and peas.)

  • Scatter with parmesan and cracked black pepper and serve hot, with a pat of butter for a little, um, butteriness.

Tip:  Crisp a couple of slices of pancetta in a hot, lightly oiled fry pan, place on top, or break up over the top to serve.

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Thanks for reading (and liking, commenting, subscribing, knock yourself out).

I would like to acknowledge that I live, work and play on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and wish to pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. I fully support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to be enshrined in Australia’s Constitution.