Life and Style

Amol Rajan finds bad upholstery undermines good food at Eric Chavot's newest spot

The Dorchester is one of more than 100 outlets suporting Citizens UK

Dorchester pledges to help feed needy

London's poverty-stricken elderly citizens could soon be enjoying swapping meals on wheels and soup for Michelin-starred food straight from the kitchens of one of the capital's most luxurious hotels.

A little of what you fancy: Can losing weight and delicious dining co-exist?

The foodie Kate Rowe, fed up of crash diets, is determined to eat well without denial

How to beat the queues at the Eiffel Tower

When the Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889, it was originally – like the London Eye – intended to be a temporary installation, the entrance to the Exposition Universalle in the French capital. Once the magnificently tapering structure was complete, it quickly became the biggest draw in Paris. Plans to dismantle it were overturned, and for the next 41 years it was the highest structure in the world (until superseded by the Chrysler Building in New York).

New York Times publishes treasure trove of American food

From chilled corn soup to key lime pie, Christopher Hirst cooks the book

Travel Agenda: The Big Scuba Show; Hogwarts Express; South Beach Food and Wine Festival; Rio de Janeiro

Today: The Big Scuba Show is at London Olympia until tomorrow. Visitors to the exhibition can expect question-and-answer sessions with experts, try-dives, a photography display and virtual free-diving, as well as stalls selling scuba kit, plus competition giveaways ( thebigscubashow.com).

Baumann’s Brasserie, 4-6 Stoneham Street, Coggeshall, Essex

For three sweaty hours, we'd been crawling north in bank holiday traffic. Another two hours, at least, lay ahead of us. We would have to break our journey to eat. Once, our only option would have been the nearest service-station cafe. But thankfully we live in the modern world. A quick search on the Blackberry, a phone call and a sat nav-guided escape route later, and we were happily installed in a dreamy little bistro, feasting on braised pork belly and pan-fried brill. Also, this being the modern world, charred antelope steak in goat's cheese sauce, but we'll come on to that later.

Home cooking has come off the boil in France, says Ducasse

Chef believes working women are failing to pass on their skills to daughters

Served at a rush - the latest Michelin star news

Alain Ducasse’s opulent restaurant in London joined the elite of dining establishments today, becoming only the fourth in Britain to be awarded three Michelin stars.

How We Met: Hélène Darroze & Apollonia Poilâne

'I go to her place for dinner, but I've never cooked for her – that would be far too intimidating'

French connection: Why it's emotion rather than technique that drives Hélène Darroze's cooking

It's 18 months since Hélène Darroze came over from Paris to set up her own restaurant at the venerable Connaught Hotel in the heart of London's Mayfair. A fine bloody time, everybody said, to introduce extra-super-fine dining to the bruised tycoons and trust-fund kids of the metropolis, whose investments had just plummeted by 40 per cent. Ms Darroze clearly wasn't bothered. There was something positively cheeky in the way she served up her oyster tartare with Aquitaine caviar jelly with a tiny, edible gold leaf on the top.

Grand fromage: Alain Ducasse flies the flag for classic French haute cuisine

For a man who is, by general consent, the most distinguished French chef in the world, who holds 15 Michelin stars, has published 16 cookbooks and inspired no fewer than 27 restaurants, Alain Ducasse is a strangely low-key figure. World-famous as a brand, he is virtually anonymous as a person. Gourmets who could talk for hours about his Pithiviers de canard et foie gras would find it hard to identify him in a police line-up. He may have trained a generation of chefs who run key London restaurants (Hélène Darroze at the Connaught, Claude Bosi at Hibiscus, Alexis Gauthier at Roussillon) but you'll never see him on reality TV shows, like his countryman Raymond Blanc.

Bites: Nothing says 'I love you' like a blindfold

Valentine's Day has long been a licence for restaurants to unleash horrifying gimmicks on customers. Aphrodisiac menus, petals on the tablecloth or, in the case of London's Met Bar this year, a scary-sounding silk blindfold embroidered with the words "when Romeo met Juliet". At least the Dorchester has come up with something a bit more useful: an invite for anyone booked in on the 14th to go into Alain Ducasse's kitchen during the day and prepare macaroons to serve to their loved ones that evening.

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
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The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
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Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

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Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'