Monthly Archives: May 2011

Selfridges launches Project Ocean

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Driven by the unthinkable prospect of the world’s major fisheries collapsing by 2050, Selfridges has announced an interesting new partnership initiative with The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), to raise awareness of the increasing damage we are causing to the ocean as a result of our ever growing consumption of fish.

Dubbed Project Ocean, the aim is to highlight that unless we change the way we fish and the seafood we choose to eat, global stocks will disappear before our eyes.  It will challenge us all to imagine a world with “no more fish in the sea” and in turn hopes to increase awareness, inspire change in consumer habits and raise funds.

The project will be running from 11 May – 12 June, and will involve international marine protection campaigners, 22 environmental NGOs, as well high profile activists from the worlds of art, fashion, culinary arts, and entertainment.

For five weeks, the Selfridges’ Ultralounge will be the epicentre for Project Ocean activity, including talks on the most pressing issues related to our oceans, film screenings, Guerrilla Science for families and cookery demonstrations by celebrity and aspiring chefs on how to cook sustainable fish.  On Friday evenings, the Ultralounge will emerge as the Dive Bar, hosting musical acts and performances as a means to raising awareness and showcasing up and coming talent. (See the calendar of events).

There is an informative Selfridges Fish Guide on the website providing useful information and recipes, and they have even launched a natty little (free) iphone app that you can turn to to find out which fish to eat and which to avoid.

Part of Selfridges Fish Guide, indicating endangered species and alternatives

Jonathan Baillie, co-creator of Project Ocean and Director of ZSL said, “Project Ocean signals the biggest-ever retail activism campaign designed to ‘sell’ and engage public mind-sets on overfishing, an issue that needs mass support.  We hope that this innovative partnership with Selfridges makes the public understand the issues around overfishing, and measurably leads to more fish in the sea”.

It’s a worthy cause, so if you are interested in donating, please follow the instructions below.

How to Donate: You can donate to Project Ocean to help the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) create new, and maintain existing, marine reserves around the world.  These safe havens for fish to breed, grow and migrate will help the future survival of our ocean environments and all that lives within them.

What your donation could buy:

£10 – underwater paper to record fish species and numbers; £30 – marker buoy to show boundary of reserve; £30 – mask and snorkel for diver to check fish & corals; £40 – air tank for diver; £60 – underwater torch; £100 – dive computer to record fish numbers; £150 – wetsuit for diver; £300 – dive training for local conservationist; £1,000 – annual salary of a fish warden; £3,000 – guardhouse to protect the reserve; £3,000 – patrol boat to protect the reserve; £4,500-7,000 – annual salary for developing country community worker … *estimated costs for a marine reserve in the Philippines

All donations to Project Ocean will go to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to help set up and maintain existing marine reserves around the world ZSL is a registered charity in England & Wales, no: 208728

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Benares pops-up in Soho’s Meza

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Fine dining Indian restaurant Benares has just launched an exciting new pop-up in Meza, which will be open for four weeks, until 28th May.

Michelin starred chef Atul Kochhar has transformed the modern grill menu of Meza into the Benares pop-up, bringing some mouth-watering examples of modern British Indian cuisine and Indian street food to the heart of Soho.  The menu includes some of the Benares signature dishes and some funky new additions.

After finishing my exquisite mango and chilli kaipiroska, we tucked into an assortment of vibrant dishes, each of which left me salivating for more.

What a far cry from your average curry house meal! Wok tossed prawns with spring onion, pineapple and soy; kadhai cottage cheese with coloured peppers and little gem; crisp soft shell crab with lemon grass mayonnaise; chicken tikka with red onion salad and mint chutney; and ‘Achaari’ duck supreme with vanilla beetroot.

The prawns were utterly fantastic; delightfully succulent and coated in sweet, spicy, juicy, chilli, ginger and pineapple yummyness.  The chicken tikka was tender and bursting with flavour, and the crab was simply to die for – deliciously soft and melting in the mouth. The duck was good, but my least favourite, mainly because the flavour of duck just didn’t shine through, (and I prefer my duck to be pink,) but having said that the bed of beetroot and vanilla that accompanied it was sublime.  Having never been a fan of paneer, the kadhai cottage cheese on little gem was a real surprise, an exciting and inventive combination of textures and flavours.

Not that I had any space after that, but next came the curries…chicken tikka masala and kashmiri style lamb roganjosh, accompanied by black lentil daal, pulao rice and bread.

As expected they did not disappoint, the chicken was cooked to perfection, juicy portions drenched in a sweet, tomatoey sauce; deliciously meaty lamb that fell apart in the mouth and coupling this with the aromatic rice, the robust lentils and naan just made the meal complete.

While my stomach was bursting out of my jeans, I just couldn’t resist sampling one of Atul’s puddings – pannacotta with cardamom…divine, need I say more!

To top it all off, once the waiter had cleared the table, he bought what looked like two white fluffy marshmallows on a plate, and proceeded to pour boiling water on top, transforming them into little hand towels – genius!

As well as superb food, the service we received was spot on, polite, helpful, friendly, attentive…what more could you want!

The pop-up will be open for dinner only, Monday – Saturday and Benares restaurant will be operating as normal.

For reservations please call 020 7314 4002  www.atulkochhar.com / www.benaresrestaurant.co.uk  www.meza-bar.co.uk