This week I've been eating... Heap's sausages
A recent mailout from Waitrose began with a challenge. "Do you dare," it read breathily, " try the hottest sausage this bonfire night?" It was anti-climactic, sure, but also a challenge. And a challenge is a challenge, so I ordered a dozen.
The supermarket really built things up in the press release. Describing "maybe the hottest sausage around", the ingredients, apart from being 80 per cent pork, were scotch bonnet chillies and lots of paprika – so that looked promising. Under the grill they went, looking all red and fat like the devil's tongue, which may be why they are called The Lethal Lucifer and makers Heap gave them the recipe number 666.
After the requisite grilling, out they came and in to my willing jaws – and barely a wimper. They had a zing of chilli, but no more. A disappointment – but also a success, because they were juicy, dense and warming in an unobtrusive way. Not hot, but very fine. £2.79, waitrose.com
When Jay-Z hosted a recent fundraiser for President Obama, he served 350 bottles of Armand de Brignac champagne. The rapper is obviously a fan. Perhaps he is the target audience of the champagne house's new offering: the Trilogie. It contains three bottles of cuvée de prestige, named by FINE Champagne Magazine as the best in the world, all contained in their own polished wood chest adorned with pewter labels. With a price tag of £1,295, it won't be troubling too many Christmas lists, though Jay-Z may have put in a rather large order after Obama's win. Harveynichols.com
We all have our favourite pub. I like the Seven Stars off London's Chancery Lane because the landlady has pink hair and the cat wears a Tudor ruff. I also like the Royal Oak on Columbia Road, which benefits from a good cured-meat selection and close proximity to my house. If you want a broader view of things, though, the Michelin guide to eating out in pubs – just out – is worth a look. Michelin's restaurant guide is often said to be a little stuffy, but this is light-hearted, encyclopaedic and fits in a glove compartment. £14, viamichelin.co.uk
You can tell when cakes are a hit at The Independent. There will be the sound of my colleague Simon striding about, making repeated sorties on it and various prolonged vowel sounds that are only made here and by Homer Simpson. Both boxes were ticked by the Caracoli almond and pistachio cake. £4.95, caracoli.co.uk
Feeling under the weather? Follow the advice of cocktail maker Joe McCanta, who gave me the recipe for a fantastic pick-me-up: mix the juice of one and a half lemons, add a 15g knob of peeled ginger, 2 or 3 teaspoons of cayenne pepper (depending on what you can take) and then sweeten with a teaspoon of honey. Decant to a large mug, dilute with boiling water and allow to steep. Sip, and feel better.