Ravida extra-virgin olive oil has, for the second time, won the l'Orciolo prize for the best in Italy, beating 70 other oils and passing through 26 tasters and three blind tastings. This may put a few Tuscan noses out of joint, as it is Sicilian.
Organic production, from a blend of three local varieties of olive, results in an exquisitely elegant oil with the fragrance of meadow grasses and just the right amount of pepper. It is available from independent delicatessens, at pounds 14.50 for 750ml (mail order + pounds 3 p&p, 081-740 1335).
But Europe will need to keep on its toes during the next few years as Australia, New Zealand and California join the olive oil race. To date their oils have not been a huge success, having been pressed from eating varieties of olive planted by Italian immigrants some 40-50 years ago.
The Australians are now planting many thousands of new olive trees - and, sensible chaps, they employed Italian consultants to advise on the right varieties. Harvey Nichols already have small stocks of Joseph extra- virgin olive oil, at pounds 10.95 for 375ml.
If you want something to splash around with more abandon, then look out for Tesco's Fattorie Toscane, pounds 5.99 for 500ml, and Sicilian Bronte, pounds 5.99 for 500ml. Waitrose stock a distinctive olive oil from Vaucluse (Taylor and Lake, Oxford), at pounds 6.35 for 500ml, and there is a Marks & Spencer own-label Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil at pounds 3.89 for 500ml.
Marco Pierre's latest
Just how many of London's famous restaurant sites does Marco Pierre White have his eye on? Perhaps he's been taking tips from his new landlord at the Restaurant, Hyde Park Hotel, about takeover bids.
Since acquiring Les Saveurs in Curzon Street, Mayfair, where, in a whirlwind switch, chef Joel Antunes was replaced by Richard Stuart, Marco Pierre is about to complete on the Mirabelle with hardly a pause to say "vichyssoise of oyster, caviar chantilly".
This 150-seater, also in Curzon Street, was once one of London's most fashionable restaurants. More recently it has been a Japanese restaurant, and this will continue under the new management for the present.
But don't linger too long over your noodle soup. In autumn MPW will be up and off to what is now Leonis Quo Vadis, soon to be Marx, where he will join forces with Damien Hirst who is doing the interior. Anyone for confit?Reuse content