<preform>Food & Drink notes</preform>

Hob-nobbing; knead to know; a royal spoil; the upper crust
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Indy Lifestyle Online



Crabtree & Evelyn is not all about scented soaps - its excellent jams and biscuits come in jars and packets that are an American's idea of the English pastoral idyll. The food is made in Britain, including butter cookies in hazelnut or cinnamon (200g, £2.99), traditional shortbread (250g, £3.50) and white chocolate and strawberry biscotti (250g, £4.50). Sold in Crabtree & Evelyn shops, some Waitrose and John Lewis stores and www.crabtree-evelyn.co.uk

Knead to know

Bin the bread-making machine. The Handmade Loaf (Mitchell Beazley, £20) is the latest book by Dan Lepard, artisan baker for several London restaurants. Lepard travelled around northern Europe, meeting and photographing bakers in Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Ukraine, Denmark, Germany and Sweden. The labour of loaf continued as he tested and photographed breads like lemon barley cob, linseed and wheat, and sweet blackcurrant crown, inspired by what he saw.

A royal spoil

It's actually quite easy to look like a professional cook if you've got the right raw materials - the best meat, fish and poultry from the people who supply the professionals and the Queen's household. Donald Russell also send their very fine gear, fresh and frozen, to more humble addresses. Chicken from Loue in France (£16), grass-fed Scottish beef including all sorts of steaks and a magnificent beef Wellington (£42) and a game bird box (£49) with pheasant, mallard, pigeon, partridge and quail fillets. Top quality preparation and butchery too. www.donaldrussell.com, 01467 629666.

The upper crust

All eyes are on Sophie Conran's pies. Well, who wouldn't want to know what another scion of the gastro clan has come up with? Daughter of the restaurateur and designer, and of the food writer Caroline Conran, Sophie has perfected five pies: spiced fennel and fish with saffron mash; beef with button mushroom and red wine; roast butternut squash, sage and goat's cheese topped with filo; chicken, olive and preserved lemon with cumin puff pastry; and pork, prune and cider with apple mash. Ingredients are top notch - the pastry's organic and buttery - and the pies come in smart white ceramic pots which you can bake your own pies in next time, and in pretty boxes. Sophie Conran Pies feed two and cost £9.95 from Harrods and London branches of Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.