The Truffler

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For the next 10 days Manchester's Food & Drink Festival - in a city with a range of restaurants that must be second only to London - will be in full swing, ending on October 16 with the dishing out of a dozen awards to its best bars and restaurants. Among the many toothsome events before then are a banquet with Ken Hom at the Yang Sing on 11 October (ticket price of £45 includes a copy of his latest book, from 0161 832 0424); guided tour of Chinatown, champagne reception and dinner at Pacific for £22.50 on 12 October; champagne dinner at The Lincoln for £60 on October 13. The Farmers' Market in the Northern Quarter next weekend celebrates its first birthday, Barbakan bakery is producing two special breads - parmesan and pistachio - and Marble Brewery in Chorlton is launching organic and vegan ales for the associated Chorlton Fringe Festival. New restaurants have been opening thick and fast in Manchester. Recent arrivals - outnumbering high-profile closures like the sad demise of Mash

For the next 10 days Manchester's Food & Drink Festival - in a city with a range of restaurants that must be second only to London - will be in full swing, ending on October 16 with the dishing out of a dozen awards to its best bars and restaurants. Among the many toothsome events before then are a banquet with Ken Hom at the Yang Sing on 11 October (ticket price of £45 includes a copy of his latest book, from 0161 832 0424); guided tour of Chinatown, champagne reception and dinner at Pacific for £22.50 on 12 October; champagne dinner at The Lincoln for £60 on October 13. The Farmers' Market in the Northern Quarter next weekend celebrates its first birthday, Barbakan bakery is producing two special breads - parmesan and pistachio - and Marble Brewery in Chorlton is launching organic and vegan ales for the associated Chorlton Fringe Festival. New restaurants have been opening thick and fast in Manchester. Recent arrivals - outnumbering high-profile closures like the sad demise of Mash - include Gaucho Grill with the largest Argentinian wine list in the UK, Conran's Zinc and snazzy fish diner Livebait. Before it officially opens, Le Petit Blanc is having an afternoon's wine training and tasting during the Festival. Information on 0161 445 9904.

This was the week guides came out. We're not talking about the women's wing of Baden-Powell's organisation, but the annual crop of restaurant guides which try to drum up interest with earth-shattering findings such as: The Ivy is still the most popular, but Le Caprice falls to 6th place. First (and with this insight) was Zagat (£7.99), based on a survey that reflects well-heeled and American tastes in eating out. The majority of diners named roast beef as the quintessential British dish. Doh! Next Harden's (£7.95), a publication in a remarkably similar vein, also using survey results, and also concluding that The Ivy is its respondents' favourite restaurant, and Gordon Ramsay the city's top chef. The Good Food Guide (£15.99), based on reader reports and inspection meals, covers the whole country with more authority and style than any other. It, too, awards Gordon Ramsay top marks of 9/10 for cooking (no one gets 10/10), and names Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck, Bray, chef of the year. The Time Out Eating & Drinking Guide (£9) which claims to be Europe's largest and best selling, is 18 years old. London's ethnic eating out scene has always been its strong suit, but it reviews all the top end too without being star-struck or afraid to take issue with prevailing opinion. Though the food was perfect, Gordon Ramsay's hospitality is questioned, and its reviewer had a lousy experience at Mirabelle. Indispensable as the latter two guides are, the Truffler reckons it's the restaurateurs themselves who'll be rushing out to buy them. If only they'd then take what they read to heart, drop their prices and brush up their service.

It sounds like everyone's escape-from-it-all dream. Alastair Brown has set up a small factory in south west Spain to process chestnuts locally and organically grown on 500-year-old trees. (Sounds like heaven for trufflers, too.) The first in the Sierra Rica range are now available at Sainsbury, Cromwell Road, London and Richmond branches. They'll be in all Waitrose stores later this month, and in Planet Organic.

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