Inheriting a thorny heritage
Heritage Secretary Stephen Dorrell was received politely as guest of honour at the Tourism Society's annual dinner. He should be thankful for that, as his speech was a bland affair, promising to listen to industry's views, warning that there are limits to what Government can do and hoping to turn aspirations into action.
This was a wasted opportunity: gathered for the dinner was a cross-section of people who make things happen in the tourism industry, from hoteliers and tour operators to tourist board chief executives.
If they were expecting some fiery oratory, they had to wait for the response from their chairman, Ken Robinson: "Our industry was selected for exceptional cuts in the Heritage budget, in the face of the fact that our industry offers employment potential. It can't be acceptable to leave matters entirely to market forces and watch from the sidelines."
In a deft challenge disguised as a compliment, he added: "I hope that with hindsight the most significant new move will be the arrival at the Department of National Heritage of our new Secretary of State, Stephen Dorrell."
Still listening, Mr Dorrell?
A toothsome duo extract profits
Richard Ebanks and Tony Auger, dentists in Rochester, Kent, have opened the Limehouse Café Bar and Restaurant close to their surgery. So of course, when they needed music for the opening party last Thursday, they brought in a band called The Dentists. Ian Smith, who was once the band's drummer, is now the restaurant manager. It's obviously just the place for a filling meal.
Drink a toast to da vid le vin!
Table Talk joined fellow scribes for dinner at Le Metro, the recently refurbished restaurant below the Capital Hotel, London. Proprietor David Levin imports wine - called Le Vin de Levin - from his own estate in the Loire, and the party wanted to try it.
They enjoyed it, and decided the patron should change his name to Da Vid Le Vin.
Turning down the belly volume
Barnet Council has decided that London's Golders Green will survive the arrival of belly dancing to live music. Latiffe Djahit originally planned to offer the exotic entertainment at his Antalya Turkish Restaurant a year ago, but the council stepped in when a resident complained about the noise potential.
After an investigation by environmental health officer Peter Jones, Djahit was told he could go ahead, without even installing soundproofing.
Check salmon for its Scottish accent
If you're planning to offer Scottish smoked salmon as a starter for your Christmas lunch menu, make sure it is Scottish, or the Scottish Salmon Smokers' Association will be after you. The association reports that smoked salmon purporting to be Scottish is coming from as far afield as the USA, France, Italy and Singapore, as well as England.
The association's vigilance is paying off. It has challenged advertising copy and successfully persuaded importers to stop passing off their produce as Scottish. Result: exports of the genuine article grew by 14% last year, in a market growing by 9%.
Venture encounters twinning problems
You think it's difficult to find the right staff? Spare a thought for Lisa and Debbie Ganz, twin sisters who opened Twins restaurant in New York last weekend.
To qualify for a job as a waiter or bartender, you have to apply with your identical twin. That gives us an idea - surely it's an opportunity for a niche recruitment agency...