You see them in some of the smartest British restaurants, tall preserving jars full of the kind of bottled fruits that our grandmothers would have recognised. Both practical and elegant this is a useful store cupboard resource and ensures that an impromptu pudding is never a problem. Forman & Field started life as one of London's top salmon smokers, but they have recently expanded to offer many different foods via mail order great cheeses, premium butchery plus the famous smoked salmon... also these large Kilner jars filled with bottled fruit. They look good enough for you to pass off as your own handiwork. 1.5 litre re-usable Kilner jar of poached pears in a liquor pepped up with cinnamon, star anise, orange peel and brandy.
By mail order from Forman & Field Stour Road, Fish Island, London E 2NT 020 8525 2352 www.formanandfield.com
Claude Bosi and his wife have just moved their two Michelin starred restaurant from Ludlow to London's Mayfair to approving murmurs from the critics including our own John Walsh. One of his signature dishes that has made the journey to the big city is a deeply delicious warm chocolate tart with a runny, fondant chocolate filling. I wonder what he thinks of one of the latest offering from the adventurous chocolate pudding makers G. Their "Chocolate Fondant Torte" is built along similar lines and just needs the addition of a dollop of clotted cream and possibly a few chopped hazelnuts.
It is available in supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose and costs just 3.99 for 500g. Even with Christmas approaching it is hard to envisage a situation where you can have too much chocolate
There is a long list of people who have tried and failed to improve upon the scotch egg, granted there is also a shorter list of people who have had some success granted the first chef to make a canap scotch egg by wrapping fine sausage meat around a quail's egg deserves a pat on the back. Crumbs is a young food company that has taken up the challenge and developed "Sausage Bombs". These one bite wonders put the emphasis on the meaty aspects of the scotch egg and abandon eggy component entirely. Instead the crumb covered sausage meat sphere has either tomato sauce or apricot chutney hidden within. Both versions deliver a good belt of flavour (and should carry a shirt warning due to their tendency to explode at first bite) but the apricot option is the winner by a short head. They are by no means large, but they are tasty.
Sausage Bombs two for 99p from Waitrose
Mull it over
Mortimer & Bennett is one of those small shops that seems bigger inside than it is outside, it's located in West London but does a good trade on the web. Small independent shops should be cherished for their eccentric choices, a refreshing change from the mainstream. With Christmas and the New Year wassailing season hoving in sight it is good to see products like Feuer & Glas Fire Roasted Cinnamon Apple Spices. This is a small drum containing the cider equivalent of those pre-packed mulled wine spices. If you are wary of the intoxicating effect of hot cider this spice mix works just as well with hot apple juice to make a very grown up drink for children. If you yearn for the intoxicating effects of hot cider this will give help it on its way.
Feuer & Glas Roasted Apple Cinnamon Spices 3.95 160g. From Mortimer & Bennett 33 Turnham Green Terrace, London W4Reuse content