Food & Drink: Gastropod

LAST WEEK on these pages Michael Jackson was enjoying a seven-year-old single-grain whisky. Today the Gastropod can go three better - at breakfast time. The Fourgrain Egg, which has already been available in other parts of the country, has arrived in the London and south-east branches of Asda. The fourgrain was developed by Stonegate Farmers (the largest egg producer in the UK) and is laid by hens living in large barns and fed on wheat, barley, maize and oats. The kinder conditions and cereal diet are said to improve the flavour of the end product; certainly the two boiled ones that made a Gastropod's breakfast proved exceptionally eggy. It is also the only egg to bear the seal of approval of the Guild of Conservation Grade Producers, who aim to produce food from less intensive farming systems.

TOMORROW, from 9am to 5.30pm, the Anglo-Thai Foundation is hosting its first Thai Food Festival in the glorious four-acre grounds of The Buddhapadia Temple at 14 Calonne Road, Wimbledon, London SW19. About 20 stalls set up by restaurants representing every region of Thailand will be selling their specialities and taking part in a culinary competition. Admission to the temple grounds is free, but no provision will be made for cars.

NEXT FRIDAY, the end of the month, is the deadline for nominations for the Guild of Foodwriters' new prize for writings on British food. The Michael Smith Award is named for the stout defender of British grub (and founding member of the guild) who, when he died in 1989, bequeathed his cookery book collection to be sold to endow an annual prize. It is co-sponsored by The Macallan whisky and is worth pounds 1,000.

The Gastropod's favourite is the 1992 Glenfiddich Special Award Winner Arabella Boxer, for her Book of English Food (Hodder & Stoughton, pounds 17.99), but Rosemary Stark, the vice-chair of the guild, insists that the contest is not a foregone conclusion.

Sadly, its Friday deadline clashes with that of the much more prestigious Gastropod award, which offers two dozen free memberships (each worth pounds 60) of Les Routiers' new dining club, Bon Viveur, to those readers writing in with the most entertaining eulogies or wittiest dissertations on gastropods, or the most revolting recipes for them. Write to the Gastropod, Weekend, The Independent, 40 City Road, London, EC1Y 2DB.

IN THE spirit of entente cordiale, Boutique Bagatelle, the exquisite French patisserie in South Kensington, London (071-581 1551), has created a cake to tickle the British summer palate. Green and red and topped with jelly, it is made of fresh strawberry mousse with dices of melon on a sponge base flavoured with Pimm's. Superbly light in texture and tangy on the tongue, sensational is too slight a superlative to describe Le Royal Pimm's.

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