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
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
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

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor