Shopping News: In a Jam

IN BRITAIN we feel it is a sorry jam which will not set. So most commercial jam-makers achieve rigid jam by adding pectin (from apples). Since the more pectin added, the less pure fruit needed, these jams often end up tasteless and dull. But what's so wrong with a runny jam if it tastes superb? The most expensive in France, Les Merveilles from Provence, is runny and sells alongside the best-selling quality jam, Bonne Maman, at twice the price.

Porters, a specialist wholesaler, has started to import the Merveilles range, selling them as 'soft-set' jams, under the label Vergers des Alpilles. They have sensational flavour, and the range includes rich black fig, sweet-sour wild bilberry, apricot and plum; and runny orange and lemon jams which are nothing at all like marmalade. They cost around pounds 3 for a 340g (12oz) jar at specialist grocers and delicatessens. For local stockists ring Porters' head office on 0423 322323 or the London office on 071-403 5857.

HAAGEN-DAZS has launched a new range of ice-creams called Extraas. The company will have to change its advertising campaign for the new flavours, as anyone trying to smear Extraas over their lover's body will run into problems with lumps. The Cappucino Commotion is full of great chunks of almond crunch and chocolate fudge chips, the Cookie Dough Dynamo with raw dough and more chocolate fudge chips, and the Caramel Cone Explosion with almond crunch and biscuity clusters.

An impromptu office tasting produced mixed reactions. The Cappucino Commotion was universally criticised for a lingering cinnamon flavour. The other two were more popular. 'Delicious; like scraping out the bowl when your mum made a cake,' said one taster about Cookie Dough Dynamo. But Caramel Cone Explosion was the favourite. The Haagen-Dazs Extraas cost pounds 3.49 per 500ml tub - expensive, but, barring external application, a little goes a very long way.

EUROPE'S largest Japanese supermarket has just opened in Edgware, north London. Among the goodies at the Yaohan Plaza are Japanese fast food, sashimi (raw fish), sushi, yakisoba (noodles) and okinomyaki (a cross between a pancake and an omelette) - and 100 kinds of sake. The shop was devised to service the 30,000 Japanese in London, but curious Britons make up half the visitors.

Yaohan Plaza, 399 Edgware Rd, London NW9 (tel: 081-200 0009).

(Photograph omitted)