This week I've been eating... Big Apple hotdogs
It was odd, this hotdog. A bit askew, off-kilter. In many senses it was an exemplary thing. Forearm-sized, salty, fatty and in the best tradition of in-your-face street food from New York City.
Abiye Cole's street-meat stall, Big Apple Hotdogs, has garnered a cult following over the last year or so thanks to its handy location in east London's Old Street and appearances at festival.
That's set to grow thanks to the fact that Big Apple is supplying Russell Norman's jewish (ish) deli Mishkin's. I say "ish" because, Big Apple's dogs are made from pork. Lots of people have got hot under the collar about this, but does authenticity in, this sense, really matter? No one is conned. Mishkin's website declares it to be "kind-of jewish". Mishkin's menu isn't elegant or refined, it's generous, huggable food – and Cole's Big Apple dogs complement that perfectly. mishkins.co.uk; bigapplehotdogs.com
January is a grim month. It's cold, wet and there's nothing in it to look forward to, bar its last days. It is not, then, a time to cut out the little treats. We may all be carrying a spot of extra podge after the Christmas eatathon – but that can wait until February. So keep your spirits up with some cheering baking using Lakeland's range of flavour extracts. On offer is vanilla bean paste, almond extract, orange, lemon and ginger. Unlike the wan little bottles of "flavouring" you get in the supermarkets these pack a real punch in terms of flavour. From £5.49, lakeland.co.uk
First there was Aldi's 40-year-old single malt, which, although not universally lauded, wasn't wholly slammed either. And now the discount German supermarket Lidl is making inroads into the luxury market with its own-brand magnum of champagne. If the pedigree of the makers it's teamed up with – Bissinger & Co – is anything to go by, it should be quite interesting. Though one can't help wondering what other champagne houses will make of a bottle that is roughly a third of the price of a usual 1.5 litre bottle. £34, lidl.co.uk
If you are one of those people who gets upset by fellow cinema-goers munching on crunchy sweets, you may want to give the new Odeon "Lounge" in London's Whiteleys a pretty wide berth. Rowley Leigh, the man who launched trail-blazing restaurant Kensington Place in 1987 and who is now a food writer for the FT, has gone into partnership with the cinema chain to create an in-seat food menu for the diners in the new cinema's small, 50-seat screens. From January 13. Odeon.co.uk
Choc and awe
Yes, £8.50 is a shocking amount to pay for a box of hot chocolate. But now I've tasted Prestat's velvety milk chocolate flakes (whisked into whole milk), I'm ruined – financially and physically – forever. It's rich, creamy heaven in a cup. The dark chocolate version is available online at prestat.co.uk, while the others (milk chocolate, orange and cinnamon) are available in-store. 020-7494 3372