Food & Drink: The Trufflers

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The Independent Culture
DIWALI, THE Hindu festival of light, celebrated with vegetarian food, sweets and symbolic cleansing, takes place this Sunday. Two days later, the rather less spiritual Kingfisher National Curry Day is an excuse for spicy excesses involving Indian food. Sponsored by the Indian lager and with proceeds going to families on the Indian subcontinent, it may well pass you by unless you are stranded on any of a group of seven oil rigs, whose caterers will be putting on a special curry to relieve monotony. Restaurants from Flintshire to Kent will be competing to produce the world's biggest naan bread. Meanwhile, in blissful ignorance of National Curry Day, London's Zaika (0171-351 7823), a rather heavenly Indian restaurant whose specialities include crab masala and chocolate samosa (it's delicious), has a Diwali vegetarian lunch menu lasting until November 21.

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IN THE traditional pre-Christmas rush - not to buy presents but to open restaurants in time to cash in on the seasonal festivities, there's a slew of places opening in November. Just opened is Noble Rot, (aka the fungus Botrytis cinerea which shrivels grapes to give them the highly prized sweetness) in Mill Street, London W1 (0171-629 8877) with a room that "reeks of understated luxury", fairly high prices and a very good wine list. Isola (which I've mentioned ad nauseam) should now be open. Aurora (0171-618 7000) "modern Mediterranean fine dining", and Terminus Bar & Grill "informal and eclectic", open in two weeks, ahead of the bedrooms at Conran's Great Eastern Hotel. Hush (0171-659 1500), `"a new eating experience in Mayfair", has what looks like the usual Mediterranean and Oriental mix of dishes on two floors - restaurant and brasserie - and Roger Moore's son as a partner, Donatella Versace designing the uniforms, and what should be a lavish opening bash this Monday: Truffler cannot accept responsibility for inciting readers to gate-crash it. China House (0171-499 6996) a massive monument to Chinese and oriental food, opens in Piccadilly this December. And the 1,000-seat Sugar Reef (0171-851 0800) due to become London's biggest restaurant (can this be a virtue?) when it opens next week, has had an understandably sour reaction from the Sugar Club which fears customers could confuse the two. Perhaps sensibly, John Torode's Smiths of Smithfield has retreated from the fray and is not now opening until the end of January. One less meal for the Truffler to stuff under her belt before the end of the year.

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NOT A week goes by without news of an organic online shopping service. In the interests of fairness, it is Truffler's duty to report each one. This month it is the turn of SimplyOrganic Food Company plc, launched to be a revolution in organic food home delivery retailing. Based in New Covent Garden Market, it can deliver more than 650 organic products - fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, dairy and deli, grocery, wines and beers, and pre-filled boxes. Order from the catalogue by phone, fax or post (how quaint!), or from www.simplyorganic.net.

It says it is the first to offer an organic one-stop-shop across the UK. The FreshFood Co might disagree. Can we expect a battle of additive- free leeks at dawn to settle the claim?

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