ELIZABETH DAVID, the doyenne of cookery writers who died in May, is to be commemorated next Thursday, 10 September, at 11.30am in a public memorial service at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, a church of which she was particularly fond. The woman whose books did so much to inform an English-speaking audience about foreign food will be celebrated with excerpts from her work read by two close friends: Jill Norman, her editor and literary trustee, and Rosemary Hanson.

Speakers will include the actor Leslie French, who knew her as a glamorous young actress before the war; Hugh Johnson, the wine writer, who got his start in the field through Mrs David; and Gerald Asher, a wine merchant now resident in California, whom she visited for annual holidays.

Sally Clarke, proprietor of Clarke's restaurant in Kensington Church Street, will read a piece she has co-written with Alice Waters of the Californian restaurant Chez Panisse, which explains Elizabeth David's influence on the chefs now working in what is loosely described as a 'Mediterranean' style.

MARTIN LAM, who is leaving his position as head chef of L'Escargot in Soho, wrote an appreciation of Elizabeth David in the newsletter of the Academie Culinaire (Filiale de Grande Bretagne), the most prestigious organisation of professional chefs, in which he mentions her last great unfinished work - one that preoccupied her for the last decade of her life. Initially the book was intended to be about ice-cream and sorbet making, but it grew into a scholarly history of ice and the civilising influence of refrigeration. It exists as a 1,200-page manuscript which will be revised and edited for publication.

Doubtless Mrs David would be fascinated by Mr Lam's new restaurant, Ransome's Dock in Battersea, south London (071-223 1611), which was formerly an ice factory. The restaurant will not open until the week after next, but Mr Lam gave The Gastropod a tour of the cavernous cellars where the ice was once made, remarking that this is where he intends to incarcerate customers who find themselves unable to pay. Certainly there was a distinct frisson in the air down there; perhaps it is haunted.

ONE of the highlights of The Gastropod's year takes place next Wednesday in Stringfellows nightclub, when half a dozen talented mixologists will compete for the title of Campari Bartender of the Year. Finalists are required to demonstrate the proper way to mix a Campari soda (harder than you might think; the correct proportions are 50/50 and the soda should be squirted in vigorously) and prepare a couple of classic Campari cocktails, Americano and Negroni.

The crucial second phase of the contest, which for the past two years has been dominated by Scotsmen, is freestyle shaking. Last year's winner, Buchanan Aitken, the proprietor of Wayfarer's bar at Croftamie, north of Glasgow (0360 60358), concocted his Camparaoke, a blend of peach schnapps and passion fruit nectar with Campari, garnished with a slice of peach, which he reckons makes the drinker want to burst into song. In 1990 the winner was Jonathon Lumber of Keynotes piano bar at the Scandic Crown hotel, Edinburgh. This year there is only one Scottish entrant and he was trained by the aforementioned Mr Lumber, so he must be the hot favourite.

THERE IS once again an 'r' in the month and that most delicate of all gastropods, the native oyster, is back in season. The Gastropod was dismayed, however, by news of giant Japanese killer whelks threatening British oyster beds. Apparently they emigrated to Britain on the hulls of Japanese ships via the Black Sea, where they wreaked havoc on the local shellfish. Now they have taken up residence in the North Sea, where fishermen are pulling them up in their catches.

The whelks are 10 times the size of our domestic variety and feed off the oysters by drilling through their shells and sucking out the flesh. Neville Copperthwaite, of Abbotsbury Oysters at Ferry Bridge in Dorset (0305 788 867), said he was not too worried by murderous whelks, since his oysters are grown in finely meshed bags placed on metal tables two feet from the sea bed and are therefore impervious to such crude attack. His problem is a more subtle predator known as a 'pingle'. It is small enough to insinuate itself through the mesh, where it clamps on to the oyster and dissolves a hole in the shell through which it inserts its stomach and ingests the oyster slowly. Damn cunning.

ANOTHER sure sign that autumn is here is Sainsbury's declaration that its stores anticipate stocking 25 types of English apple again this year, from the familiar Worcester Pearmain eater and Grenadier cooker, to the more recently developed Fiesta, Gala and Gloster 69 varieties.

Names to watch out for in September are James Grieve (named for the Edinburgh gardener who crossed a Pott's Seedling with a Cox's Orange Pippin in 1893) and, later in the month, Lord Lambourne (raised in 1907 by the Laxton Brothers of Bedford from a cross of James Grieve and Worcester Pearmain).

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