Food news & reviews: Macarons; truffle oil; moose steaks; Betty's Tea Rooms; Christmas-flavoured treats


This week I've been eating... macarons

Dainty, smooth-skinned and airily light, these macarons are no relation to the weighty lumps of coconut and chocolate that go by the name "macaroon" in Britain. These are emphatically French, from the new range by France's most revered pastry chef (not a small field) Pierre Hermé, in fact. His winter flavours are more robust than usual, "dressed for winter", as Hermé himself describes them. So there's white truffle and roasted piedmont hazelnut slivers, and rose hip, fig and foie gras (not as bad as it sounds). But, best of the lot is the candied chestnut and marron glacé. Quite possibly the nicest macaron you could wish for.

You bite through the eggshell crust and the soft, smooth, almost oozy chestnut puré filling covers your tongue, with little chippings of sweet marron glacé following close behind. Superb; so good you almost forget they're £1.85 each.

Wow factor

Truffle oil divides foodies. For some it is a luxurious treat, for others an overpriced provision Gordon Ramsey once dubbed "the most pungent, ridiculous ingredient ever known to a chef". If you're a fan, however, you might be interested to know that Cotswold Gold has launched a white truffle oil using extra virgin rapeseed oil rather than olive oil, the traditional oil used. Having all the health benefits of rapeseed oil (low in cholesterol and less than half the saturated fat of olive oil) it is a fine way to add a bit of wow factor to your pasta. £12, 100ml,

Moose ruse

In a bid to head off the criticism it faced last year, Lidl has withdrawn reindeer steaks from its festive "premium range", and, instead, will this year be offering shoppers, er, moose. Packets of four leg steaks from the similarly antlered creature go on sale this week and are described as "succulent" on the packet and "outrageous" by animal rights campaigners, who accuse Lidl of culinary tourism. They join that other acquired taste: Lidl Argentine hare leg. £9.99,

Who's Betty?

Who was Betty? It seems even the family that owns the granny-standard cakery and tea room founded in Harrogate, north Yorkshire, in 1919, don't know who she was. So, they've decided to make it up. A gang of famous writers from God's Own County has been engaged to speculate, in verse and prose, as to who she was. Alan Ayckbourn, Jilly Cooper and the poet Ian McMillan are among those who have contributed to the whimsical book. The profits from it go to the Yorkshire Rainforest Trust. £5.99,

Crunch time

As sure as Christmas means Santa and teary John Lewis ads it also means frenzy in the food aisles. Supermarkets are lining up to turn standard produce into "Christmas-flavoured treats". So far spotted: Waitrose mince pie flavour ice cream, Yeo Valley limited edition spiced apple yoghurt. And, what no Christmas is complete without, Tesco mince pie flavour crisps.

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