On 30 November last year, Oliver Dowden, our MP, announced on his web site that he’d secured a promise from the Department of Transport that the Oyster scheme would be extended to Radlett and Potters Bar (both in his constituency, of course – but the extension will also take in St Albans and go out all the way to Luton Airport). This is, of course, unreservedly good news. It’ll make it easier and cheaper to get into town and it’ll give commuters an alternative to costly season tickets.
But – forgive us – we’re sceptical. We’ve heard this before (in 2016, for instance). In fact we’ve heard it several times before. And on each occasion, of course, it’s not actually happened. Our MP is presenting this as a ‘victory’ and the Minister has apparently promised that it will happen this year (2019) but, having followed this story for years, now, we’re going to believe it when we see it. And, in the meantime, we’re going to run a countdown on our Twitter account. Or rather a count-up. It’s been 41 days since we heard that Oyster is coming to Radlett. We’ll keep counting until it actually arrives. Let’s see how long it takes.
Gefiltestfest is seven years old. The quirky festival of Jewish food returns to JW3 in Finchley Road on 26 June. I spoke to the festival’s Lisa Helpern for the low-down.
1. What’s the origin of the festival? Who’s idea was it?
It was founded by publisher Michael Leventhal as a charity to explore Jewish heritage through the medium of food.
2. In London in the Summer you can’t move for food festivals and pop-ups. What’s going to make hungry people come down to JW3?
We offer something quite different – aside from our fabulous pop up market there are 40 sessions to choose from throughout the day – workshops, demos, learning sessions, all with the common thread of Jewish food and culture, led by Jewish Chefs, food writers, restauranteurs and so on. We are also kosher under the auspices of the SKA (Sephardi Kashrut Authority)
3. Is Gefiltefest just for Jewish foodies? Or for hungry people in general?
The festival’s for everyone! It’s part of the fabric of London’s cultural diversity.
4. Is Jewish food thriving and evolving? Or is it all about fading traditions?
Most definitely thriving – reinvented and renewed and very in vogue. Take Palomar, the award winning Soho restaurant; Emma Spitzer, last year’s MasterChef runner-up and Aron’s Deli in Bristol – all contemporary success stories in Jewish-inspired cuisine.
5. Who are the superstars at this year’s Gefiltefest? Who should I rush to see?
Everyone! Take a look at the programme (and there are two wine tasting sessions too).
6. What are the big trends in Jewish food you’ll be covering?
Babka, rainbow doughs, kosher prawns, and seasonal eating in line with the jewish calendar.
7. Can I learn to cook at Gefiltefest?
Yes – plenty of workshops and demos (your admission ticket also covers the workshops).
8. Is there anything for the kids to do?
We’ve got drop-off sessions for 5-11 year old through the day and supervised drop-in sessions for 2-11s. There are craft activities through the day, face painters and plenty of tasters in the food market.
9. What are you looking forward to most? What’s got your mouth watering?
Nof Atamna Ismaeel – Israel’s MasterChef winner from 2014 – she’s a microbiologist and an Arab citizen of Israel. Her dishes combine Arab and Israeli traditions in a really exciting way (more about her on the festival web site).
10. Will there be rainbow bagels?
One step beyond, natch – rainbow doughs in hamantaschen!
If you buy tickets in advance there are reduced prices for children and family groups.
All ticket holders will be entered into a draw to win Monarch flights to Israel and sponsor KFH will be holding a draw to win £300 of John Lewis vouchers. There’s also a competition to win a meal cooked for you by UK Masterchef runner-up Emma Spitzer.