Ascot 2012 in the Parade Ring Restaurant

Dining at racecourses can be a bit of a hit and miss affair, and is a very difficult thing to get right. Over the years I've eaten in many different courses, and at many different levels - from the sandwich stalls to lobster, and everything in between.  For the last couple of years we've used the Parade Ring restaurant at Ascot, and I continue to be impressed by their commitment to innovate, titivate, and more importantly facilitate dining between races.  This is much harder than it sounds, and the task falls to the in-house management team and to Sodexo, who are the main caterer at Ascot.

Manhattan's Union Square Greenmarket

In one of Manhattan’s few green and open spaces lies the world-famous Union Square Market. Established 36 years ago, the farmer’s market runs four times a week and is a must for local shoppers and foodies. Open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, there’s ample time for a visit in even the briefest of schedules. It’s also open all day, but jet-lagged Europeans can head there early to see the stallholders setting up - it’s the perfect way to start your day. It’s also just one of dozens of markets run in the city by the non-profit New York Greenmarket initiative.

dines at Aqua Grill in Soho, New York...

I'm in New York - hurrah! City to some of the finest restaurants in the world, and a mecca for foodies everywhere.  Every street corner boasts a diner or deli, and with produce coming in from all over the country and overseas, it's no surprise that it also has restaurants like Aquagrill.

On the day that we visited, Aquagrill had no less than 27 kinds of oysters available on its huge ice-packed counter... And that's just the oysters. There were also countless kinds of fish, produced in a myriad of different ways.

lunches at the Harwood Arms...

The Harwood Arms is the perfect kind of local pub.  Set in a nondescript street in Fulham, it looks completely unassuming and decidedly local. People were popping in and out all afternoon, and from what I saw, the majority appeared to be on foot and knew the staff well.  The interior is all stripped down wood and feels airy, and light.  However, a quick glance under the bonnet reveals a much racier engine - Harwood is actually a joint collaboration between Mike Robinson, chef patron of the Pot Kiln pub out in Berkshire, and Brett Graham of the Ledbury.

dines at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal...

I felt somewhat apprehensive about booking a table at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal - it feels as though everything that can be said about the experience, has been said.  Yet as a technical cook any Blumenthal offering surely had to be on my list to try.  So at the prescribed hour I duly rang, got straight through, and very quickly made my booking.