Orlando Gough.

The highlight of our one and only trip to India was a hilarious, surreal, heart-warming visit to Fort Begu, a sprawling Gormenghast of a fort in the very south of Rajasthan, covered with peacocks, pigeons and pigeon poo. It had been partially restored by the Maharana, Rawat Sawai Hari Singh (M.Sc. Agron., ex-Minister, Rajasthan) and his son Ajay, to make a hotel. We were the only guests, and we were the epicentre of their epic hospitality. They showed us everything, told us everything, asked us everything. It was breathless – and breath-taking.

A memorably bizarre moment: we are in a huge unrestored wing of the fort, with a banyan tree growing through the walls; the Maharana orders up a bucket of water and a mug, chucks water casually at a plaster wall, and reveals some eye-wateringly frisky wall paintings. Religion and sex – there doesn’t seem to be much distinction round here. Another: we have ordered tea in our room, first thing in the morning. The two servants, Suresh and Deja (probably the most handsome man in the universe), tap on the door and bring it in. Two servants, one pot of tea. Wow. They are followed by the Maharana himself, who starts fiddling with the remote control for the air con, muttering ‘ Sixteen degrees, it’s got to be sixteen degrees, like England’. Another: as we are leaving, a protracted negotiation between the Maharana and Ajay about what kind of envelope the final bill should be put into. (They eventually settle on the fully crested version – very flattering.)

The Maharana has a gag of which he is understandably proud: ‘You conquered us with gunpowder; we conquered you with curry powder.’ On the face of it, this is unarguable…


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by TOAST ( 14.05.13 )

Seb Emina is the creator and editor of the London Review of Breakfasts blog, where he writes under the brilliant nom de plume of ‘Malcolm Eggs’. Reviews come in the form of poems, political musings and Freudian dreams, dispatched by Malcolm and a host of other contributors (all with equally ingenious aliases such as Tina Beans and Vita Bicks). Nobody knows breakfast quite as well as or is as passionate about the topic as Seb. Here, we present an extract and a recipe from his recently penned his debut book (co-written with himself), The Breakfast Bible:

TOAST

‘There is another kind of bread and butter usually eaten with tea, which is toasted by the fire and is incomparably good. This is called toast,’ wrote C. P. Moritz, a Swiss pastor, recounting a holiday to England in 1782. What’s surprising about the quote is that he seems to see toast as groundbreaking, when surely cooking bread until hot and crisp is blindingly obvious? Toast is one of the simple foods. This is why ‘toast and cereal’ are forever paired on breakfast menus in hotels, the ever-present footer with a slight air of flippancy. You can imagine a sarcastic hotelier adding, ‘and the rooms will contain beds and doors and stuff’.

When making a cooked breakfast, the simplicity of grilling bread shouldn’t be cause for complacence. Quite the opposite: toast can easily become an afterthought, and with grave consequences. For tragedy value, few things match the moment when toast arrives late, breathless, as the final bead of yolk is mopped up by that reluctant understudy, sausage. Or this: you’ve remembered to shoo it into the toaster and have removed it before it burns. Are you in the clear? No. At the very beginning, before you’d even started on the sausages, you failed to remove the butter from the fridge. Unscheduled minutes are lost as you scrape away despairingly with a knife, wondering where it all went so wrong in the world…


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by TOAST ( 10.05.13 )

The first of three Tales of the Wilderness, in anticipation of Wilderness Festival, where Toast will be curating the Lakeside Spa this August.

Extract from Wild: An Elemental Journey by Jay Griffiths.

Wild Earth: Feral Song

The wild. I have drunk it, deep and raw, and heard its primal, unforgettable roar. We know it in ourselves, for we are wild to the core. We know it in our dreams, when the mind is off the leash, running wild. “Outwardly, the equivalent of the unconscious is the wilderness: both of these terms meet, one step even farther on, as one“, wrote Gary Snyder. “It is in vain to dream of a wildness distant from ourselves. There is none such,” wrote Thoreau. “It is the bog in our brain and bowels, the primitive vigor of Nature in us, that inspires that dream.”

And as dreams are essential to the psyche, wildness is to life.

For the Native American O’odham people, the term doajkam, wildness, is etymologically tied to terms for health, wholeness and liveliness. “Life consists with wildness,” wrote Thoreau. “The most alive is the wildest. All good things are wild and free” and “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

We are animal in our blood and in our skin. We were not born for pavements and escalators but for thunder and mud. More. We are animal not only in body, but in spirit. Our minds are the minds of wild animals. Artists, who remember their wildness better than most, are animal artists, lifting their heads to sniff a quick wild scent in the air, and they know it unmistakably, they know the tug of wildness to be followed though your life is buckled by that strange and absolute obedience. (“You must have chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star,” wrote Nietzsche.) Children know it as magic and timeless play. Shamans of all sorts and inveterate misbehavers know it; those who cannot trammel themselves into a sensible job and a life in the sterile suburbs know it…


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by TOAST ( 03.05.13 )

The third dispatch from author, printer and dealer in ‘Vintage Fishing Tackle for the Soul’ John Andrews (a.k.a Andrews of Arcadia). John is one of the six working men photographed by Neil Gavin for our spring/summer menswear collection.

The coming of spring prompts a changing of the guard, an audit of the kit that has got me through another winter on the floor of the market. Usually, this is nothing more than a list of repairs given to the Empress, the sewing up of ripped sleeves, the re-tying of buttons, the strengthening of pockets and shoulder straps and perhaps the re-heeling of a pair of boots. In one year it was a call to the scrap merchant to tow away the car whose wheels had seized and whose seats had rotten. A ritual as bruising on the heart as the shooting of a horse. This year it was something almost as significant, a change of shoes…


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by TOAST ( 30.04.13 )

Seb Emina is the creator and editor of the London Review of Breakfasts blog, where he writes under the brilliant nom de plume of ‘Malcolm Eggs’. Reviews come in the form of poems, political musings and Freudian dreams, dispatched by Malcolm and a host of other contributors (all with equally ingenious aliases such as Tina Beans and Vita Bicks). Nobody knows breakfast quite as well as or is as passionate about the topic as Seb. He has recently penned his debut book (co-written with himself), The Breakfast Bible, based on his widely read and much loved blog. We caught up with him to find out what makes a good breakfast… To jam or not to jam?

Coming next week: an exclusive extract and recipe from The Breakfast Bible.

Bacon or sausage?

Yes please…


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by TOAST ( 25.04.13 )

Johnny Flynn is an actor, poet, musician and songwriter of extraordinary (but in no way boastful) talent.

Most recently he has played Lady Anne and Viola respectively in Mark Rylance’s all-male productions of Richard III and Twelfth Night – long and very successful runs, first at The Globe and then at The Apollo. His band Johnny Flynn and The Sussex Wit released their first album A Larum in 2008, catching the revived interest in folk at just the right moment; their second album, Been Listening, was released in 2010: their third will be released this summer.

Last year Johnny wrote and recorded the soundtrack for off-the-wall American comedy A Bag of Hammers. He’ll return to the stage at the Royal Court this May in Bruce Norris’s The Low Road, a fable of free market economics and cut-throat capitalism.

In person Johnny is quiet, self effacing, watchful; on stage, something altogether else – and always worth catching. He was born and brought up in Pembrokeshire and now lives in London with his wife Bea and son Gabriel.

johnny-flynn.com


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by TOAST ( 19.04.13 )

Dr Sally Bayley. 

Few teas are as pretty and pleasing to look at as S. Africa Redbush tea. Pour it into a glass and watch it glow amber-to-red.  Its natural sweetness makes it drinkable without milk, but it also tastes surprisingly good with soya milk (which doesn’t taste much good anywhere else), and the overall effect is faintly toffee-like without any of the cloying sugariness.  Redbush tea has crept onto supermarket shelves in the last few years as a better-for-you rival to our regular builder’s tea or English Breakfast.  Most popular tea companies are pushing their redbush brand; even Tetley has come out with some exotic packaging to promote their Redbush brand: a Turkish carpet design swirling across their red Redbush Tea box.

I want to defend Redbush or rooibos tea as an outstanding choice of alternative tea. Drawn from the South African herb, Aspalathus linearis, redbush is a rare and delicate plant whose brilliant yellow piney leaves harvested in the summer turns, during the Autumn months, a deep red colour…


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by TOAST ( 15.04.13 )

Nico Renson is a songwriter and producer for the likes of Macy Gray and Kelis. He began his life in a distant corner of Belgium, his career in a less remote corner – where he graduated as a film director – whence he moved to London to pursue his ambitions in music. In a pair of skinny jeans he fronted a punk-rock band and played every pub within the M25 at least twice, but became disillusioned with the reality of band life and began writing for a solo album. His debut album, Play to My Own Tune, was released under his stage name, Bunny, in the U.S. and Japan.

Nico is very tall, thoughtful, serious but ironical in a Flemish escapee way, and has startlingly blue eyes. His music can be heard on his website, nicorenson.com


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by TOAST ( 11.04.13 )

We’re very glad to have come across Veja, a company who combine high social and environmental standards with contemporary, everyday style. Founded in Paris in 2004 by Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion, Veja was born out a desire for a new kind of fashion – an ethically strong kind that would respect both the environment and human rights.

The company’s back-story is a fascinating one. Childhood friends Sébastien and François studied economics and management before beginning their careers at American banks. After just a few months, they realised that the world they wanted to shape was difficult to grasp from within these organisations. So they quit their jobs and instead offered their services to large French companies, travelling the world to audit corporate social and environmental projects. They visited Chinese factories, South-African mines and the Amazon rainforest looking for solutions to the problems of our times: massive deforestation, exhaustion of natural resources and labour exploitation…


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by TOAST ( 08.04.13 )

Sipsmith, established in 2009 by Sam Galsworthy, Fairfax Hall and Master Distiller Jared Brown, is the first copper-pot distillery to open within London’s city limits in nearly two centuries. Their distillery in west London is dominated by a gigantic, hissing but beautiful copper still known as Prudence, the fourth member of the Sipsmith gang. Their spirits are produced in small batches and the water used to distill them is collected from one of the sources of the River Thames in the Cotswolds…


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by TOAST ( 04.04.13 )
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