Cooking with attitude: The burning question

At a dinner party recently, we were astonished to find scented candles and joss-sticks burning in the dining room. As we all were about to tuck in to some serious nosh we resolved to deliberate on the smouldering debate. Is smoke an inconsiderate oversight, or, a retro statement and therefore seriously trendy?

Food & Drink: CFN

This week's highlights on Carlton Food Network:

Win a Christmas hamper

Carlton Food Network is giving away three festive hampers (each worth about pounds 60), packed full of ingredients featured in the channel's Twelve Chefs of Christmas series. To win one, send your name and address to: London Eye comp, CFN press office, 45 Foubert's Place, London W12 2DN

Cooking With Attitude: Bubbling down under

Arguably champagne is the most elegant drink in the world, but the wonderful French protect the name fiercely. But now, at last, there are good alternatives from around the globe

Recycled Westbourne Grove: a call from Bjork

From the shops of Queensway, past cheap Indian restaurants, designer furnishers, run-down grocers, video stores - through the nightmare, five- way Chepstow Corner where the buses terrify the bravest cyclist. This is Westbourne Grove, where poverty and wealth exist side by side as nowhere else in London.

Could you feed desperate men on pounds 1.52 a day? hy

The daily diet of an inmate in one of Britain's jails costs just pounds 1.52. Benjamin Todd examines a new report on the quality of prison catering and asks a leading chef to devise an alternative menu.

Cooking with attitude: Carlton Food Network

This week's highlights on Carlton Food Network include:

TONIGHT: Preview of Stir Fry

Stir Fry (8.30pm C4) Should bad food in prisons be part of the punishment? Chef Antony Worrall Thompson (he of capital eateries Dell'Ugo and 190 Queensgate) doesn't think so - and also believes that the meagre daily food ration of pounds 1.37 per inmate can be spent on something more interesting and nutritious than spuds and porridge. To that end, he knocks up lunch for some of the luckier lags at the category "C" Wymott prison. Heaven knows what it all proves, but Lisa Harney's film is an interesting primer on nosh in the nick.

Dosh of the day

Celebrity chefs see the world as their kitchen, but in business they can get their fingers burned. By Michael Bateman

A little treasure from Alastair

ALASTAIR LITTLE LANCASTER ROAD; 136a Lancaster Road, London W11 1QU. Tel: 0171 243 2220. Open for lunch Mon to Fri from 12.30 to 2.30 and Sat from 12.30 to 3, and for dinner Mon to Sat from 7.30 to 9.15. Three courses, pounds 20. Major credit cards acce pted

Chefs roast restaurant chains

The culinary invasion from across the Channel is meeting resistance from some of Britain's leading chefs, who yesterday condemned standards in French-style concept restaurants as "junk".

A booming good night out

EATING OUT DRONES 1 Pont Street, London SW1X 9EJ. Tel: 0171 259 6166. Open daily for lunch from 12 to 3.3.30 and for dinner from 7-11.30. Average three-course menus: cafe lunch pounds 15; dinner pounds 30. All credits cards accepted

THE ULTIMATE GIFT GUIDE

So where do you find that special pair of socks,some truly sybaritic bath essence, or a tie that really is just what he always wanted? Nicole Swengley asks the experts; Sometimes, the most obvious present is the only one that will suit.

TRIED & TESTED / Power dressings: How good are the fast finishing touches to salad days? Our panel samples a medley of ready-to-use blends of herbs, oils and vinegar

WHILE hardline foodies shudder at the thought of anything but making one's own salad dressing, the market for ready-made dressings is booming. We asked an expert panel to try out 10, many of which had more exotic ingredients than the usual basics of oil, vinegar and mustard. You can buy either fresh dressings, found in the chiller cabinet at the supermarket, or long-life dressings. We tried five of each and found that, perhaps surprisingly, fresh is not automatically better. Often the panel couldn't even tell which was fresh and which was not and some long-life dressings were rated more highly. Several of the dressings were very creamy and were closer to a mayonnaise than a vinaigrette.

Food and Drink: Look who's turning the tables: Restaurants come and restaurants go. Emily Green visits two that may stay - if the food improves

GUIDE BOOKS classify restaurants by cuisine, mood, amenities, district and price. Yet the most telling breakdown is never done, even though most of the restaurant-going public must be acutely aware of it. Restaurants fall into two basic categories: solid and ephemeral.
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