Life and Style

Modern London is a city in turbulence, a cosmopolitan cauldron in which more things change than stay the same, where all the world comes to throw a tantrum, get rich through property and complain about schools. Its restaurant scene has generally kept up.

Caponata, 3-7 Delancey Street, London NW1

The Caponata opened in April on the site of the old Café Delancey, in the heart of trendy Camden. I remember the Café from years ago, mainly for the crepuscular gloom of its candlelit dining areas, regularly filled with whispering couples planning some act of colossal infidelity. At lunchtime, light would pour in like a blessing on to the heads of more innocent eaters, but the evenings were mostly devoted to spicy romance and low, urgent voices.

Woodland mushrooms with chestnuts

Serves 6-8

Dom Joly: Conkers, my secret weapon in the war on spiders

Apparently it's going to be a bumper autumn for spiders. Oh dear. I am a committed arachnophobe, and run screaming like a girl from any room in which the presence of one is even suspected. It's a true phobia –irrational, and totally without cause. And it's only spiders – I don't mind snakes, for example. (Well, I wouldn't say I like snakes but I'd leave a room containing one a tad slower than I would one with a spider in.)

An old chestnut recycled: Miss Earth

It may seem odd to combine a traditional beauty contest with a green agenda, but not to the 62 contestants gathered in a hotel outside Coventry, hoping to win the chance to represent Britain at the world's third-largest beauty pageant

Album: Loudon Wainwright III, High, Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project (Proper)

Charlie Poole was a roguish, semi-literate banjo-playing minstrel of the 1920s prohibition era, a rapscallion entertainer whose intemperate worldview is succinctly summarised in Loudon Wainwright's title-track to this 2-CD tribute to his enduring influence.

The Sketch: Of laws and wars – the battle to avoid responsibility

Now there's an Autism Bill. They're going to make a law (or "put on a statutory basis") to define how the authorities should deal with autistic people. This is absurd. This is insane. This is politics.

Hit & Run: Don't call them autocuties

Peter Sissons took a swipe at young, pretty newsreaders last week, suggesting they lacked "front-line reporting experience." Mary Nightingale, co-presenter of ITV Evening News, retaliated yesterday, "It's a bit of a tired old chestnut that if a woman is pretty than she can't be bright." Is it? Are female newsreaders now less bright (or prettier) than when Sissons was a pink-faced ITN hack?

Christmas mess

Serves 8

Spiced pear and chestnut-crumble muffins

Makes 12

Cleve West: Walking tall at Kew

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