Food & Drink: The Trufflers

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The Independent Culture
IT'S AN in-joke among those who have an organic vegetable box delivered to their doorstep that there are only so many things you can do with Swiss chard and swedes. Abel & Cole, which delivers within the M25 and will also send mixed boxes anywhere in the UK by courier, promises you can request changes to the box's contents until the evening before delivery. It also claims to be the only organic box company that takes payment automatically by debit or credit card, not on the doorstep. And if you want to stick with the chard and swede it includes recipes in the boxes each week. The boxes start at pounds 7. The mixed veg box is pounds 10.50 (pounds 14.95 including national delivery). The boxes can be ordered online from www.abel-cole.co.uk, or freephone 0800 376 4040.

TRUFFLER WONDERS whether some chefs should be electronically tagged so the eating-out public can keep tabs on them. I've just tracked down Richard Guest in Taunton. He's been head chef at The Castle hotel for the past few months after a summer spent looking for this dream job, which includes overseeing Taunton's Brazz and the second Brazz in Exeter, due to open early next year. The former head chef of Maison Novelli in London was last heard of at Gordleton Mill in Lymington, Hampshire, which his previous boss Jean-Christophe Novelli pulled out of buying in the spring, having installed Guest there as chef for a couple of months.

Meanwhile, Toby Hill, who earned Gordleton Mill accolades in 1998, has reappeared at the Halcyon Hotel in Holland Park, London, after an unexplained absence. Phil Vickery, Guest's predecessor at The Castle has gone freelance, promoting his book Just Food. Another chef worth following is Paul Merrett who has just joined The Greenhouse in Mayfair whither Gary Rhodes went from The Castle hotel a few years back. Perhaps all roads lead to The Castle.

NEVER MIND the size of your cheque book, is your freezer big enough to accommodate any of Scotch beef specialist Donald Russell's various meat selection boxes? If so, there's a roast box for pounds 115, which includes joints of beef, lamb and pork, pork loin steaks and medallions, and other meat for casseroles. The millennium box for pounds 250 includes two beef joints, a leg of lamb and loin of pork, steaks, rack and shanks of lamb, smoked salmon, gammon steaks and bacon. The game box for pounds 92 includes venison, duck, pheasants and partridges from Highland estates. All of these boxes can be delivered.

Donald Russell may be a traditional beef supplier and the holder of a royal warrant, but the company has a website (www.donaldrussell.co.uk). Or call 01467 629666 for a catalogue or to place an order.

NOT SURE if this is a treat or expensive childcare, but Leith's School of Food & Wine in Kensington has set up a pre-Christmas cooking day for 11- to 14-year-olds on 22 December. It costs a lot of pocket money (pounds 50) for hands-on demonstrations of twice-baked cheese souffles, pizza and fudge brownies. Then again, view it as an investment in any budding celebrity chef who can support their parents in later life. Leith's is also offering gift vouchers from pounds 38 which can be redeemed against its courses on topics such as dinner parties and matching wine and food. Leith's School of Food & Wine 0171-229 0177.

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