On The Menu: Dried fruit; The Silver Spoon; Heston Blumenthal; Suka; Fortnum & Mason
This week I've been eating... dried pineapple, banana and mango chips
I've gone through a small rainforest of Chiquita dried pineapple, banana and mango chips. Though, despite constant crunching coming from my end of the sofa and a few eulogies along the lines of "these are best things since...", friends and housemates remain unmoved. "They look a bit too vegan," said one, making eating only fruit and veg sound like a skin complaint.
Dried fruit gets a rum deal, all told. Fresh fruit is worthy of poetic reminiscence (think Keats and his "soft, pulpy, slushy, oozy" nectarine, which, incidentally, must have made a right mess). But anything lacking a bit of "ooziness" is for sandal wearers.
A shame, as Chiquita's little bags are that rare thing, healthy yet fun. The chunky cuts are thick enough to give a real snap and crunch and have a proper sweetness. In short, and hide your shock, they taste like real fruit. 97p, asda.com
If you buy one cookbook as a Christmas present, make it the new edition of The Silver Spoon. The weighty red book, a bestseller in Italy for the past six decades under the name Il Cucchiaio d'Argento, has been updated. And as well as 2,000 recipes for unfussy, authentic Italian food, there are chapters on the traditions of regional cooking, a handy glossary explaining everything from "barding" to what a "composta" is made of and several chapters of recipes created by celebrity chefs. £29.95, phaidon.com
With his Christmas puddings selling for over the odds on eBay and his ubiquity on the box, it would be pretty easy to tire of Heston Blumenthal. Yet he still manages to pull culinary rabbits out of his hat. The latest result of his partnership with Waitrose is a chocolate tart. The hazelnut-base dark chocolate and passion fruit tart is as heavy as it sounds. But pop it in your mouth and you're in for a surprise, as its chock-a-block with exploding candy. £16.99, waitrose.com
My lunchtime stop at the weekend was Suka in the Sanderson Hotel, which is in skipping distance of London's Oxford Street but discreet enough not to be packed out. Menu-wise it's Malaysian street food, incongruous in a five-star hotel maybe, but no worse for it. Go before 6.45pm and it's two courses for £19. The Malaysian roti and dhal sauce was warming and fun. But better was the Squid Sotong Goreng, which was well crisped, zingy and frankly massive. sandersonlondon.com
Royal grocers Fortnum & Mason seem to have succumbed to a case of red-carpet fever with their new marmalade. To mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee next year they will be selling a "Majestic Jubilee Marmalade", which is stud- ded with "diamonds of orange peel" and what all other marmalades lack: great chunks of gold leaf. £6.95, fortnumandmason.com
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