Charles Campion: Food & drink notes

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A lot of waffle

Never mind the old chestnut “Can you name five famous Belgians?”, think about Belgian gastronomy, and chocolate springs unbidden to the front of mind, closely followed by chips with mayonnaise and a big pot of mussels. The Belgians also make rather good waffles, so chocolate waffles seem like a pretty sensible development. Doves Farm have introduced two different varieties – Belgian chocolate waffles and spelt wholegrain waffles. Both have Fairtrade status and are certified organic. The spelt waffles go very well under a fried egg with a little crisp bacon, while the chocolate ones are very nice on their own.

Doves Farm chocolate waffles £1.99 for pack of five; Doves Farm spelt waffles £1.69 for pack of six, available from branches of Waitrose

This little piggie...

Don’t judge this book by its wipe-cleanable plastic, fake pink gingham cover – somehow these strange design excesses just add to the inherent Frenchness of the whole tome. This is a book about a family of pork butchers and a great many pigs. For the home cook it is both a good read and a useful reference book. The 150 recipes range from traditional ways to use black puddings to home-made pâtés and terrines – if inspired you can finally nail down the difference between rillons and rillettes. The recipes are well set-out and have a genuine feel to them – like “Grandmother’s pig’s cheek Bourguignon”. Even when the cutesy pig drawings start to grate, the photography still makes you drool.

'Pork & Sons’ by Stéphane Reynaud is published by Phaidon at £24.95

Turning over a new leaf

It’s hard not to feel a rosy glow when reflecting on those long-ago school projects that involved growing mustard and cress seeds on an old flannel, and then mowing them down with a pair of scissors for that tea-time sandwich. It is certainly true that fresh-cut salads taste better and retain more of their natural vitamins, which is why “Living Salads” sounds like a jolly good idea. These little trays contain salad leaves for growing on the kitchen windowsill and are designed so that you can cut-and-come-again. If you remember to water them they will last for up to 10 days. Each pack contains a selection of a flat Chinese cabbage called tatsoi; red and green pak choi; red mustard; rocket; red frills (a leaf with a mustardy kick); golden streaks (a feathery mustard leaf); and red chard.

Living Salads, £1.49-£1.79 per pack, available from most supermarkets

Red-hot and racy

They are small and fire-engine red. They come in two styles: hot and less hot – but always “piquanté”. There are posh recipes for using them in cookery and they do make a decent snack with drinks if you pack them with some cream cheese. But what is really sinister about Peppadew “whole sweet piquanté peppers” is that once you start to eat them from the jar it is impossible to stop, one inevitably leads to another. The blurb has it that as recently as 1997 a South African farmer called Johan Steenkamp discovered a bush in his garden with miniature red peppers on it, tried them, liked them and became the first person to get addicted. Now Peppadew has become a thriving business.

Peppadew peppers: 375g jar costs between £1.70 and £1.90, available in most supermarkets