Cauliflower and Lancashire cheese soup

Serves 4-6

Bites: The king of offal extends his empire

First it was Borough's down-to-earth tapas palace Brindisa; now everyman's offal altar St John is making its glittering West End debut. The cult eaterie from Fergus Henderson (pictured) is rumoured to be opening a branch in Chinatown later this year.

Brussels sprout crumbles

Makes 6

Minor British Institutions: Paxton & Whitfield

The best thing about Paxton & Whitfield is the smell. Like the best cheeses, the best cheese shop has a rather heady aroma, an olfactory precursor of caseophiliac delights to follow. In other words, they sell very tasty cheese, and, for such a posh establishment in the heart of St James's in London, are a friendly, unpretentious lot. It has plenty of royal warrants, and was a favourite of Winston Churchill, who once said that "a gentleman only buys his cheese at Paxton & Whitfield". Indeed so.

Alex James: Middle of nowhere: the best place to be

Rural Notebook

Leek and Roquefort pizza bread

Serves 4

Parmesan biscuits

Makes 12 biscuits

Saint-Nectaire with grapes and local honey

Serves 4

Alex James: Laughing cow, pouncing tiger

Rural notebook

Notes on a small island: The things that really make Britain great

From rolling hills to rolling cheeses, morris dancing to readers' wives, our nation has a host of endearing pecularities to celebrate. In an extract from his new book, Iain Aitch takes stock of the sights and sounds that truly make us who we are

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