Food & drink notes

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Choc stop

The eccentric sounding Booja-Booja company is based in Norfolk where it produces delicious organic chocolate truffles. Hand-made, they come in elegant poplar-wood boxes similar to those used by élite cheesemakers and are dairy-free, gluten-free and wheat-free. The three varieties are "Around Midnight Espresso truffles", "Cognac Flambéed Banana truffles" and "Ginger Wine truffles". The latter contains chunks of stem ginger, and although they're gluten-free and whatever, they don't taste the worse for it.

Booja-Booja truffles, available at smart independent food shops, or buy them online from www.boojabooja.com: an 80g box costs £4.20

Sharp practice

Like many home cooks, I have a kitchen drawer so crammed with gadgets it is almost impossible to open it. Within, there are patent fish-scalers; knives for obscure hard cheeses; those multi-wired guillotines for slicing hard boiled eggs ... Elsewhere in the kitchen, there are drawers containing kit that actually gets used. This Swiss Innovation peeler from Zyliss is likely to end up in the "useful" rather than "fanciful" category. It is described as a tomato peeler - and the serrated and wickedly sharp blade means that it works almost as well as blanching the tomatoes. Where the peeler really comes into its own, however, is for peeling knobbly stuff like ginger root or Jerusalem artichokes. It has a large and solid handle and comes with a five-year guarantee.

The Zyliss tomato peeler is available from good cook shops, £7.50

It's a wrap

Wild Weed Pie is a large and glossy cook book written by Janni Kyritsis, a Greek/Australian chef who wowed restaurant-goers when he set up the iconic Sydney restaurant MG Garage. This is an important book because it allows European cooks to get a handle on Australian cuisine. The dishes are light and bright with assertive flavours: a good way to cut through the gloom and bring springtime forward a little. Kyritsis is also fascinated by wrapping food in order to trap all the flavours inside, and dishes like leg of lamb wrapped in paper - a slow-cooked parcel with pickled lemons - works implausibly well; as does the spatchcock poussin baked in a salt crust with parsley sauce. The desserts are also fun - try the delicious pink grapefruit peel and almond tart.

'Wild Weed Pie' by Janni Kyritsis is published by Penguin, £25

Fishy business

Although The Pilchard Works is a "Heritage Museum" in Newlyn, Cornwall, it is also a museum that works for a living, and now it has collaborated with the world's oldest sardine cannery, in Brittany, to produce some rather splendid tinned fish. The pilchards come from Cornwall and they are canned in France. You can choose between Cornish pilchard fillets in olive oil and smoked Cornish pilchard fillets in sunflower oil. Ever alert to a sales opportunity (it turns out that there are avid collectors of sardine tins all over the world), the Pilchard Works tins are beautifully designed, featuring paintings by Walter Langley. So as well as enjoying eating them, perhaps it's worth laying down a few tins by way of an investment.

Pilchard Works tinned pilchards, on sale from major supermarkets at £1.19 per 100g can, or order them via www.pilchardworks.co.uk or 01736 332112 at £1.50 per tin plus p&p

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