Next weekend the estimable Henrietta Green brings to London the rural producers she has found, nurtured and brought face to face with food enthusiasts. Her Food Lovers' Fair in Covent Garden, London, starts on Friday, 2 November, when the 100 stallholders will be showing and selling the best farm produce and artisan foods. There will be cheeses made on farms, rare-breed meats, chocolates, and some tinsel-tinged edible gifts for shoppers able to resist eating the goodies they've bought as presents for someone else. Admission to the fair is free, and it opens next Friday at 11am and at 10am on Saturday and Sunday.
You can't eat any of it but there's a last chance to see what groceries used to look like. Trolley loads of the boxes, packets, bottles tins and cans of food and drink past have been preserved by ephemera collector Robert Opie. But his collection at the Museum of Advertising & Packaging in Gloucester (01452 302309) will be packed up after 17 years when the museum closes at the end of the month. For some nostalgic window shopping, and a return to the days before food and drink packaging came without lists of ingredients, calorie and fibre content and E numbers to decipher before buying, go there before Wednesday – it's open daily from 10am to 6pm.
Also marking the end of an era is Michel Bourdin, the chef of The Connaught for 26 years, who retires at Christmas. Until then, the hotel restaurant has valedictory menus – so typically grand, anywhere else would have "wave bye-bye to Michel" menus. Next month will be dedicated to lunch – La Chasse – with game dishes making their presence felt. In December the menu will feature some of Bourdin's signature dishes such as oysters Christian Dior, and sole Jubilée. The Connaught's menu has always been peppered with celeb names which tell you nothing about what you're about to eat – sherry trifle Wally Ladd (who he?), or perhaps poulet Audrey Hepburn (I made that one up, but it could easily have existed). The menus will be available in both hotel restaurants, the Connaught Restaurant and the Grill Room at £58 for lunch and £68 for dinner. M Bourdin will be replaced by Jerome Ponchelle, who has spent almost a decade working with him. So plus ça change after the chef's departure. The Connaught, Carlos Place, Mayfair, London (020-7499 7070).
Experimenting with the latest cookbooks means obscure ingredients to source; the local butcher who doesn't stock tripe, the carob molasses you can't find anywhere. Sichuan cooking provides the shopper with some particular challenges, so when Fuchsia Dunlop was writing her astonishing and authoritative Sichuan Cookery (Michael Joseph), the Cool Chile Co found and now imports some of the essential heat-imparting ingredients she needed. They sell Sichuan peppercorns, which have an almost anaesthetic effect on the tongue as well as a gorgeous aroma. Add them to a stir-fry oil or roast and grind them. Chiles are equally important in Sichuan cookery, and Facing Heaven Chiles – flaming red and just as hot – are used to make oil to go in sauces and add to noodles. The Cool Chile Co also supplies Sainsbury's Special Selection with mole poblano powder, achiote, caribe, crushed green jalapeños, wild Mexican oregano and yellow masa harina. Cool Chile Co mostly supplies mail order and that's how you'll get hold of the Sichuanese ingredients. Cool Chile Co, PO Box 5702, London W11 2GS (0870 902 1145) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.Reuse content