Evolution takes place at an almost Darwinian pace in ‘Treme’. As we return to New Orleans for a third series, few of the characters seem to have moved on much. Maybe that reflects the pace of real life, but in David Simon’s drama it’s becoming a drag.
Davis’s schemes are getting wilder, with his latest wheeze being an opera of ‘Verdi meets rhythm and blues’. Annie and Delmond’s careers are on the rise. Antoine’s still conning cabbies and getting into scrapes with the cops. Toni’s still fighting the good fight. Nelson’s still on the make, this time sizing up a real-estate deal on a National Jazz Centre – ‘a chance to monetise culture in a very smart, very civic way’. And on it goes.
The love and dedication put into this series continues to impress, there are occasional moments of greatness and the music is a ceaseless delight. But none of it’s enough to compensate for the glacial narrative or what’s looking increasingly like an overpopulated cast: too many characters with too little to say.
This Greek spot in Marylebone didn’t exactly hit the ground running. In Opso’s first month it took me three visits to find the kitchen in full tilt. Visit one had a partial menu. On visit two the restaurant was unexpectedly closed. A stoic third attempt was rewarded with some excellent meze dishes. Opso blends its modern architectural look with a contemporary menu of small plate dishes – mezédes – that are pimped up almost beyond recognition. ‘Taramas cream’ (taramasalata) was a world away from bright pink supermarket tubs. Served with crisp olive crackers, the pale, untinged cod roe was delicate and fresh. Served as a dessert, tsoureki – a brioche-like bread usually eaten at Easter – was like a panettone in appearance and lightness. This, like all the other baked goods, was made in house. It came flavoured with mahlab and mastic, traditional Greek spices made from cherry kernels and tree resin respectively, giving it a distinctive, almost bitter almond or cedar aroma. Served with clotted cream and sour cherry jam, it was like an Attic afternoon tea. Not all dishes were improved by modernisation, though. Pastitsio is usually a lasagne-like slab of macaroni baked with ground beef and béchamel sauce: comfort food. But here the elements were deconstructed and swapped around, then plated in a mound, ‘MasterChef Greece’-style. Although the allspice flavours in the beef were good, tagliatelle-style pasta was a fiddle too far. The simpler dishes worked best, such as the dakos,