A Pimm's picnic hamper


This week I went...to the Pimm's summer picnic

Being long on Astroturf and short on grass, the Pimm’s Summer Garden is a surprising plot. But considering the capricious weather (it makes Zsa Zsa Gabor look decided) it’s probably a good idea to house it at 5 Great Newport Street in London’s Covent Garden. Rain can’t interrupt your game of swing bat then.

Anyway, here’s how it works food-wise: you book yourself a picnic blanket, settle down among the flowers (all real) to order yourself a Pimmlet (Pimm’s, Gordon’s Gin, lime juice and sugar syrup) and then you get stuck into the picnic menu.

There are miniature pasties of beef, and of prawn and seaweed. An airy goats’ cheese tart and a Cumberland scotch egg, which comes in its own potato-chip nest, which appealed to my sense of silliness. Apt because this is a whimsical, silly place. And a fine spot to escape the bustle of Covent Garden – especially if it raining. pimmsblanket@grayling.com

Sage Multi Cooker by Heston Blumenthal

When I had an email inviting me to try “Sage by Heston Blumenthal”, it did cross my mind that the bespectacled chef might have taken a stake in a plant nursery. But no, he’s teamed up with the kitchenware makers of that name to produce, among other things, a Multi Cooker. It looks to all intents and purposes like a slowcooker but is much more besides. The 3.7-litre machine will sauté and sear, steam and cook your rice, whip you up a risotto and has a “keep-warm” setting so your stew never gets cold. It’s a kitchen-top wonder and makes some of the fluffiest rice I’ve ever eaten at home. £99, lakeland.co.uk

Truffled chocs

Seldom has a piece of chocolate cleaved opinion on The Independent’s food desk like this. Returning from a holiday a friendly colleague on the gossip column bought us back a bag of Urbani Tartufi chocolates with truffle. No, not chocolate truffles, but balls of chocolate with real pig-snuffled truffles in there. To me, the aroma, the slight pungency of the truffle mixed with the white chocolate is a confectionary triumph akin to, say, Alexander conquering Asia Minor. To other friends here, they were fit only for the bin. urbanitartufi.it

Teroforma Whisky Stones

Some people say you shouldn’t ruin good whisky by diluting it with water or ice – but to them I say it’s your whisky and you can do what you want with it. One way to keep the whisky purists happy, though, is to pour your spirit over these new Teroforma Whisky Stones. They’ll chill it like any ice cube but leave the rich, complex flavours completely unaltered with melted water. £19.95, masterofmalt.com

Asian Curry Awards

The Asian Curry Awards have just opened, so send in nominations for your favourite Indian restaurant. The ACA welcome suggestions for chef of the year (among other categories). A shortlist will then be drawn and those who’ve demonstrated their skill in the heats will go through to the grand final. asiancurryawards.co.uk