THE Gastropod was unable to attend the grand launch of Tesco's Flavourtop tomato, held recently at Quaglino's and, having heard all about it, is rather relieved. Such was the response to Tesco's invitation from free-loading food writers, all thrilled at the prospect of being entertained at what is currently the most fashionable restaurant in the universe, that Tesco had to hold the tomato tasting in two sessions.

More than 100 hungry hacks trooped along, but many were dismayed to find that the event was held not in the main restaurant, but in Quag's remote salon prive. Furthermore, although canapes were served, there was nothing else to eat but Flavourtops, unaccompanied by salt and with no other tomatoes for comparison.

The Flavourtop is the result of several years' research and development by boffins at Britain's largest tomato grower, VHB, which applied advanced biological control techniques to refine the flavour of a variety previously known as Eloise. Having successfully test-marketed its tomato last year, Tesco is hoping that the Flavourtop's healthy colour and superior flavour will set a new standard for domestic salad tomatoes.

In June, Safeway will respond with the formal launch of its Flavour Grown range. The first variety is a large, succulent tomato called Momatara, available now.

Later in the season, Safeway will introduce a foreign beef tomato and a new British-grown type that is slightly larger than a cherry tomato but which has not yet been given a name. With Marks & Spencer already prominent in the field, it seems certain that Tomato Wars will run all summer.

RICHARD CAWLEY, the famously unflappable Supermarket Supersleuth who appears on GMTV's Top of the Morning programme on Fridays, was one of those who did attend the Tesco tasting. Asked for his opinion, he said

diplomatically: 'It's frightfully admirable, the trouble they take growing these tomatoes, but what's astonishing is that the supermarkets are finally using flavour as a sales gimmick.'

WHEN SCOFFING angulas (elvers) cooked with guindillas (tiny chillis) in the tapas bars of southern Spain, the only thing to be seen drinking is a copita of manzanilla, a pale and delicate sherry that has become de rigueur among Andalusian bar flies. In the hope that this trend will extend to the ersatz tapas bars of not-so-sunny Britain, Gonzalez Byass has launched its Manzanilla El Rocio into Thresher and Oddbins at pounds 6 a bottle.

El Rocio is named in honour of the cult of the Virgen del Rocio, of which the Gonzalez family are fervent enthusiasts. Each Whitsun they sponsor a pilgrimage to the deserted village of El Rocio, where a mass is said in the main square and vast quantities of manzanilla are consumed in an event that epitomises the unique Andalusian spirit of sanctified revelry.

Although the weather over here may never get hot enough to appreciate El Rocio properly, the Gastropod is keeping a bottle on ice just in case.

SHOULD YOU eat out in Covent Garden in the next fortnight, prepare to be aurally assaulted. Opera singers will be giving impromptu performances in restaurants as part of the BOC Festival, which promotes young vocal talent in unusual venues at reasonable prices.

Laurence Isaacson and Neville Abraham, the restaurateurs who operate Bertorelli's in Floral Street, among others, are joint chairmen of the festival committee and have enlisted the support of several dozen local restaurants, where any customer flourishing a copy of the festival leaflet and paying by American Express will be offered a free bottle of wine.

Tuttons Brasserie, on the corner of Covent Garden piazza, is sponsoring a twice- nightly show in the Paintings Gallery of the adjacent Theatre Museum, entitled Don't Sing With Your Mouth Full, which runs for the duration of the festival. The Swell Party Company will perform what its director refers to as 'the food repertoire', including such gems of the musical theatre as Irving Berlin's 'Meat and Potatoes', Harry Champion's 'Boiled Beef and Carrots' and Nellie Wallace's unforgettable lament, 'I Don't Like My Mother's Piecrust'. Tickets cost pounds 6 and are bookable through First Call on 071-497 9977.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas