The Truffler

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The scent of apples is in the air this weekend. All the old hippies of Truffler's acquaintance have been spontaneously breaking into renditions of "John Barleycorn Must Die" when they hear about the Apple Day Food Fair at Borough Market in London. This weekend, as part of the Southwark Festival, Borough Market's usual food stalls are joined by all sorts of apples, trees, history and folklore of the fruit. Seasonal shenanigans include pedlars and mountebanks, story telling, apple bobbing and conker contests, ending with the execution of John Barleycorn tomorrow afternoon. Borough Market is on today until 4pm and tomorrow from 9am-2pm. Note to Southwark Festival organisers: they haven't actually got Cape all over them, but the horrid green apples on your leaflet don't look like Cox's, Russets, Worcester Pearmain or any other fruit from England's finest orchards.

The scent of apples is in the air this weekend. All the old hippies of Truffler's acquaintance have been spontaneously breaking into renditions of "John Barleycorn Must Die" when they hear about the Apple Day Food Fair at Borough Market in London. This weekend, as part of the Southwark Festival, Borough Market's usual food stalls are joined by all sorts of apples, trees, history and folklore of the fruit. Seasonal shenanigans include pedlars and mountebanks, story telling, apple bobbing and conker contests, ending with the execution of John Barleycorn tomorrow afternoon. Borough Market is on today until 4pm and tomorrow from 9am-2pm. Note to Southwark Festival organisers: they haven't actually got Cape all over them, but the horrid green apples on your leaflet don't look like Cox's, Russets, Worcester Pearmain or any other fruit from England's finest orchards.

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This weekend also sees the most intense concentration of appley activities in National Trust properties around the country. Beningbrough Hall and Gardens in York (01904 470666) is in the middle of an Apple Week, during which there are fruit displays in the walled garden and apple and fruit dishes in the restaurant. Today and tomorrow, there's a fruit trail and activities for children. In Gloucestershire, Snowshill Manor near Broadway (01386 852410) and Westbury Court Garden, Westbury-on-Severn (01452 760461), have apple days today. So does Ardress, Annaghmore, County Armagh (028 38851236) where there's a display of 150 (count 'em) Irish apple varieties. Coughton Court, near Alcester, Warwickshire (01789 400777), celebrates the fruit today and tomorrow. Tomorrow only, it's the turn of Calke Abbey, Derbyshire (01332 863822); Hughenden Manor, High Wycombe, Bucks (01494 755573), and Sizergh Castle, Kendal (015395 60070) which boasts 130 varieties of northern apples. Normal admission charges to most venues apply.

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Chain restaurants are falling over each other to open in Manchester, but it was the one-offs that won over the judges for the city's food and drink awards, announced earlier in the week. Paul Heathcote came away with an outstanding achievement award, and another for his Simply Heathcote's. A cheer went up for Mary-Rose Edgecombe, receiving chef of the year award for the Market restaurant which celebrates 20 years this year. Yang Sing was restaurant of the year, and mellow deli Love Saves the Day in the Northern Quarter was named coffee bar of the year. Greens got the gong for best provision for vegetarians. Palmiro, a little Italian restaurant in Chorlton, was named newcomer of the year, and predictably tables are now as scarce as parking spaces in Rome.

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Fresh from a commendation in the 2001 edition of The Good Food Guide, The Lemon Tree, in Oxford, sadly closed at the end of September. Hastily, in its place comes La Gousse D'Ail, "the dream of high-profile restaurateurs Jonathan and Jayne Wright ... with the goal of achieving a Michelin star within two years." Jonathan, who has worked at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons and Great Eastern Hotel, will cook at every service, insists the immodest press release, while Jayne will be "pushing forward an aggressive marketing strategy and responsible for brand extension into complementary areas." Sounds ominously as if you'll be asked repeatedly whether you would like more to drink.

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Good cause corner: Truffler's nothing if not a soft touch. The National Meningitis Trust has come up with the idea of a Great Sunday Lunch on October 29 to raise funds and awareness. Invite friends and rellies round and get them to pay for their lunch as a donation. The Trust's Great Sunday Lunch information pack will tell you where to send donations 01453 769015.

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This weekend, as part of its Food Fest, the market town of Abergavenny will witness the world premiere of Harry Mathews' Record of Solid and Liquid Foods Absorbed in the Course of the Year 1991. Mathews, avant-garde American literateur in Paris, is visiting Wales to read from his extraordinary taxonomy. Tomorrow at 1.30pm at the Hen & Chickens pub, Abergavenny he's joined by Peter Blegvad, cartoonist and songwriter, who will declaim his collection of quotations about milk. Truffler has wheedled from Harry Mathews an exclusive extract of his astonishing oeuvre, in which a year's ingestion is meticulously organised course by course, beginning with one New England bouillabaisse, proceeding through seafood, eggs, pasta and rice dishes and pizzas, sandwiches, fish, poultry, game, pork, veal, beef, lamb, offal, vegetables, cheeses, desserts, fruit, juices ("143 fresh grapefruit juice"), breakfast cereals, and finally to breads.

Each drink is also itemised: from nine Campari and sodas, via one Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1970 among many bottles of wine, to six teas.

Now read for the first, possibly the only, time his entry for eggs: "Thirty fried eggs, one egg roll, four hard-boiled eggs, four oeuf en gelée, one oeuf en gelée au saumon, one omelette, one omelette with basil, 17 omelette fines herbes, one mushroom omelette, two wild mushroom omelette, one omelette aux olives, one omelette aux truffes, one western omelette, three poached eggs, 25 scrambled eggs, one scrambled eggs with grated cheese, one scrambled eggs with ratatouille and Speck, one scrambled eggs with tomatoes, one brouillade d'oeufs aux morilles, one oeufs brouillés à la basquaise."

There's a speciality food market in Abergavenny today and tomorrow from 10am-5pm, and many other events. Call 01873 850805 for more information.

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