A slice of the action

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Watching the World Cup on telly used to mean a few (or a lot) of beers and maybe a couple of bags of salt and vinegar crisps for sustenance, but now restaurants and supermarkets are getting in on the act. Football food is becoming a whole new ball game.

In the last few weeks nearly all the supermarket chains have launched their own suitably named ranges of ready meals ("Feast of Football" - Sainsbury's, and "Football Fever" - Marks and Spencer) that can be prepared in those all-important 15 minutes of half-time.

Tesco have even come up with a pizza specially designed for fans who may be worried that goals will be scored while they look away to pick up another slice. Their super-sized slice is six times bigger than normal and they claim it can be held and munched continually, thereby eliminating the risk of missing any of the action!

Restaurants like Mezzo and Novelli EC1 don't want to miss out on the action either. Throughout the World Cup, chef Jean-Christophe Novelli will be opening the private dining room at his Clerkenwell restaurant so customers can enjoy a meal and watch the matches on a big screen at the same time.

At Mezzo, the two floors mean they can hedge their bets and cater for both fans and non-fans alike. On the ground floor they will have TV screens, but downstairs in the restaurant they will have live music (presumably to drown out the moans, groans and maybe even the euphoric cheers).

But if you want a totally World Cup free zone another Conran establishment, Zinc, in Heddon Street is keen to attract customers, particularly women. They are offering a free bottle of champagne to every table of four girls throughout the tournament.

"It's the one place where we have a female manager and she decided it would be nice to have somewhere where everyone wouldn't be talking about football," says a spokeswoman.

PLAYING HOME AND AWAY

AWAY...

Novelli EC1, 30 Clerkenwell Green, EC1 (0171-251 6606) Groups of 4 upwards (maximum 80) can book dinner during World Cup matches - three courses, including a glass of champagne, from pounds 24.50 to pounds 45.50

Mezzo 100 Wardour St, W1 (0171-314 4000)

The idea is that once World Cup games are over the fans upstairs and the non-fans downstairs can mingle and dance the night away until 3am (Thurs, Fri and Sat only)

HOME...

Whilst most supermarkets have England squad gingerbread men (above) and football shirt-shaped nuggets, Asda is in a league of its own when it comes to themed snacks. As well as a Pitch Cake (pounds 7.99), complete with players and a ball, they have Hat-trick cakes (three iced sponge footballs at 99p) and football lollies (6 for pounds 1.49). But if this is all too unhealthy for a true football fan they have also introduced "Half-time Oranges" specially packaged into bags of 11 (pounds 1.49)

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