Friday, November 23, 2007

The Michelin man disses Spain

They are spitting tacks here that the new Michelin guide to Spain has failed to up the star number count in any meaningful way.

There are no new 3* restaurants beyond the six already established (three in Catalonia and three in the Basque country). Quite what 'El Celler de Can Roca' in Girona has to do to get a third star is unclear. It would also appear that the wonderful Cinc Sentits in Barcelona is not pressing enough wonga under Bibendum's ample rump as it remains starless.

Abac's second star is merited but it seems a rum time to do it as it prepares to move house, while Commerc 24 deserves its star, although I doubt it is any better this year than it was last year or the one before.

But as my brother, who knows a bit more about this than I do, says 'Michelin are hugely unreliable outside France and no one should take them too seriously.' And right now Michelin wants its focus to be on Japan where it has just published its first guide with all the astonishing lateness of an England defender. A drastic uprating of Spanish stars at the same time would have thrown the spotlight off Tokyo. Or am I being too suspicious?

And boy has it worked. The multitude of stars showered on Tokyo's eateries had the cretinous end of the food writers such as the awful Jay Rayner slavering in awe at what a clever dick Mr Michelin is.

'Do the math' as they would say in Didsbury. As Nick points out:

'If Tokyo has roughly 12 times more restaurants than New York, London or Paris then if what Michelin is claiming is true it should have proportionally the same number of starred restaurants. But this is not the case either for the total number of stars or the number of three star restaurants.'

So bugger Michelin. Look instead at how many French cars cross the border into Spain (many on Michelin tyres) in search of great food at astonishingly low prices, served with grace rather than Gallic attitude, and how few are heading in the other direction. And look at the wonderful new restaurants opening in Barcelona over the next six months as listed in La Vanguardia last week.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Who would be Frank Rijkaard?

After two very comfortable and impressive wins, Barca took a terrible dive on Saturday and lost 2-0 at Getafe.

By all accounts they were dire, but to judge by today's local papers you would have thought they had just lost their 10th successive game.

Fans calling for Frank Rijkaard to go, to change things, to get a grip, sell Ronaldinho etc. I'm sure the radio chat shows had very much the same.

The place has gone mad. It will doubtless all reverse again if they win their next game but you have to have some sympathy with Rijkaard for this constant climbing up and down the outrage scale.

If he's bothered, he hasn't let on. Win or lose, he sounds so laid back he's horizontal, as if he's had a calming walk round the streets of Amsterdam with a nice joint and a bottle of Heineken. Sure, it might be better if he wielded the big stick a little more often, but it's a technique that has done pretty well so far.

Long live the king!

My admiration for King Juan Carlos knows no bounds. His compassion and dignity compared with the bunch of stiffs who head the British crown has been recorded here already.

This weekend though his stock rose hugely in my estimation when he told Hugo Chavez 'Why don't you shut up?' when the pompous and autocratic populist leader of Venezuela continually interrupted Spain's PM José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, at the Iberamerican council meeting. You can't imagine Queen Elizabeth doing that.

The vile Chavez compared Zapatero's predecessor Jose Maria Aznar to a snake and described him as a fascist. Zapatero politely pointed out that he had been elected twice by the Spanish people.

He might have added that Aznar never mounted a coup d'etat, refused to renew the licence of the nation's most popular television station or called for an end to presidential term limits, all of which Chavez has done. He might also have pointed out, as La Vanguardia did today, that Chavez once regarded Aznar as a buddy and rolled out the red carpet for him when he visited Caracas in 2000.

The left adore Chavez because he stands up to 'the man' i.e the great Satan of the United States and is in some way 'right on' even when he speaks for seven hours at a time outlining his tedious philosophies. But you start with Chavez and you end up with Robert Mugabe, usurping and clinging on to power no matter the consequences for your country.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

its songtime

happy birthday to dad
happy birthday to dad
happy birthday to da-ad
happy birthday to dad


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ben did it!

After six months of hard work, Ben heard today that he had got in to University College School in London. He'll go there in September 2009 when he is 13. It's an incredible achievment and we are all very very proud of him.