FOOD & DRINK / Gastropod

R & A BAILEY can't have known what it was starting when it first came up in the mid-Seventies with the idea of ready-mixed Irish coffee in a bottle. This year some 650,000 cases of cream liqueurs will be sold, most of them over the next fortnight. And more than half will be Bailey's Irish Cream.

Who drinks all that sweet, sticky stuff? Chris Sykes, the new product development manager at United Distillers, has a pretty clear idea. It is typically consumed by a housewife, he says, aged between 25 and 55, who doesn't ordinarily drink but enjoys a little tipple at Christmas. It is the taste, not the 17 per cent alcohol content of cream liqueur, that the typical drinker enjoys: she finds it 'delicious', 'indulgent', 'more-ish'.

Last year she was drawn by the brand name to Terry's Chocolate Orange Cream Liqueur, which United was test-marketing, but was more resistant to Brulee, a creme-brulee-flavoured liqueur in an 'Art Deco' bottle. Still, it could be just the thing to give your maiden aunt.

CELEBRITY cookbooks are not new, but Frances Leonard of Kempston, Bedford, must be congratulated for attracting an extraordinary list of contributors to the book she has assembled to raise funds for the restoration of her local church. The idea occurred to her when she was returning the Archbishop of Canterbury's enthronement robe - borrowed, no doubt, for a display - and was moved to ask his Grace for the secret of his chocolate meringue cake.

Over the past year she has written some 200 letters to well-known people, and most have responded with a recipe. Some suggestions are a bit blokey or jokey, but Betty Boothroyd's stewed oxtail and the Princess of Wales's watercress soup are eminently sensible. For a copy of Mrs Leonard's book, send a pounds 6 cheque (made out to 'All Saints Kempston Appeal Fund') to 31 Church Walk, Kempston, Bedford.

BORED with going to restaurants? Now the restaurants can come to you. A company called Room Service (071- 586 5800) is offering to bring meals from several dozen London restaurants - a hamburger from Ed's Easy Diner, perhaps, or a feast from Ken Lo's Memories of China - direct to your dining room. You pay full menu price for the food, packaged in heat-retentive bags. Orders (minimum price pounds 10) from any of three directories, covering central and north-west London and the City are delivered (for a pounds 4 fee) by a smartly dressed driver, who will also be happy to act as waiter.

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