Pandora: Here's the proof that Sarah really can cook

Sarah Raven has won a well-earned victory in her battle against the bureaucrats at the National Trust.

Over the past few weeks, the writer has appeared in the BBC series Sissinghurst, in which she and her husband Adam Nicolson attempt to bring farming back to the family estate, once the home of Adam's grandparents Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson.

A theme of the programme has been Raven's strained relationship with the head of catering who, dismissing her as "nothing more than a domestic cook", has refused to allow any of Raven's recipes to be served in the estate's public restaurant.

Yesterday, however, Raven was allowed to trial three of them – and, naturally, Pandora deployed a mole to try them out.

"Two of the dishes had sold out by 12:30pm. There was a queue around the block for the food," says my spy. "All that was left was the smoked salmon pate which I had and it was delicious."

All down to deepest Kent, then.



June's political secret is out

Despite a romantic history with David Lammy, the Labour MP and memorable Mastermind dunce, June Sarpong has always refused to divulge her political allegiances, preferring instead to run her website Politics & The City from the admirable position of impartiality. But it seems that her stance doesn't extend to US politics.

In this week's edition of the magazine Star, Sarpong enthuses: "I secretly fancy Barack Obama. He has it all. He's smart, diplomatic, romantic to his wife and gorgeous." Well you don't say, June.



Hayward goes for another round

Some cheering news, now, for those fearing the final days of the cut-price pint.

Rob Hayward, the amiable head of the British Beer and Pub Association, is to make a return to politics.

Hayward has already spent several years as a Conservative MP, leaving after a humiliating by-election defeat in Christchurch in 1993. Since then, he has proven to be an outspoken critic of rising beer duties, blaming them for the closure of family-run pubs.

Sadly, Hayward wasn't available for comment yesterday evening – possibly too busy celebrating the Prime Minister's refusal to set a minimum alcohol price.



Dylan changes his tune again

With the release of his 33rd studio album just one month away, Bob Dylan has broken his customary silence and offered a rare interview.

In the wide-ranging chat with MTV's Bill Flanagan, the enigmatic singer discusses the various inspirations behind his new album – which will soundtrack a film by the French director Olivier Dahan – as well as his relationship with the legendary Chess Records and with his family.

It is a surprising development, since the singer has always been fiercely protective of his privacy, and it marks his second bit of uncharacteristic behaviour this year.

In January, Dylan outraged some of his more anti-establishment fans by allowing the Co-operative Group to use the famed protest song "Blowin' in the Wind" for a series of television adverts.



An audience with Joshi

There was one particularly watchful pair of eyes in the audience as Sadie Frost gave her penultimate performance in Touched For The Very First Time. I'm told that the actress had her lifestyle guru Dr Joshi watching ahead of Saturday's closing show. Afterwards, he was rushed backstage to give his opinion. Apparently, the pair are thick as thieves. Frost has certainly made a habit of singing his praises, describing him variously as "amazing" and "truly special".

pandora@independent.co.uk

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