Travel

Take your pick in Courchevel, Chamonix, Sainte-Foy, Megève, and Val Thorens

Inspectors found poor hygiene in the kitchen at Noma, run by Rene Redzepi. A meal at the restaurant will set you back hundreds of pounds

Noma, 'the world's best restaurant,' feels the heat after 63 diners get vomiting virus

It has been voted the world's best restaurant three years in a row, but is unlikely to be be winning any hygiene awards after dozens of diners fell ill with food poisoning.

Two Fat Duck chefs killed in Hong Kong

Two "uniquely talented" chefs at Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck restaurant were killed when their taxi was crushed between two double-decker buses in Hong Kong.

Luke Thomas: 'When I met Thomas Keller at the French Laundry pop-up it was like I was meeting my favourite pop star'

My Life In Food: Luke Thomas, Britain's youngest head chef

Before donning the head chef's whites at Luke's Dining Room at Sanctum on the Green, Berkshire, Thomas, who is 18, worked at Chester Grosvenor Hotel. He has done work placements at some of the most famous restaurants in the world, including The Fat Duck, Alinea in Chicago and the French Laundry pop-up at Harrods.

Travel Agenda: P&O Cruises; Fissure weekend; Bike the Bay; Bermuda; Heathrow to St John's; Jumeirah Emirates Towers; Spring Festival in Austria

Today: The Downton Abbey actor, Hugh Bonneville, is master of ceremonies at the naming of the latest addition to the P&O Cruises fleet, Adonia, in Southampton. The small ship will be for adults only ( pocruises.com). And in the Yorkshire Dales, Fissure is a weekend-long theatrical event that explores the region's natural terrain through walks based in and around Ingleborough ( artevents.info)

The Sketch: Watching television is overrated (even for the man at the top)

Chris Patten – Tory peer, ex-Tory party chairman, ex-Tory cabinet minister – has already been anointed and is now waiting to be appointed chairman of the BBC. These characters are usually smooth stooges whose final ambition is to schmooze a hostile government without giving offence to the 20,000 leftish metrosexuals who work for the organisation (or the 4,098 others).

The Sketch: A peer well qualified on pitfalls at the workplace

Tobias Ellwood said something interesting and that's got to be worth a quid. He's that nice, dim-looking Tory, with a bit of an undershot face, looks a bit like a clever Toby Perkins. He said: "Mr Speaker, you are an anecdote to verbal diarrhoea."

Foodies' favourites: Britain's top chefs and restaurateurs reveal where they dine out

We asked a selection to reveal their favourite eateries, from local gems to high-end hang-outs

The real masterchef: Ferran Adrià is closing El Bulli's doors but has vowed to keep experimenting

I first heard about Ferran Adrià from Gordon Ramsay in 2003. Ramsay is not a man to fling compliments around, but he spoke about the Barcelonan super-chef with something approaching awe. "The man is a genius," he said. "He's got three Michelin stars, and he serves Fisherman's Friend ice cream. It's cooking 20 years ahead of its time."

The day I cooked like the best restaurant on earth

Denmark's Noma has been named the finest place to eat on the planet. Unprepared to wait in vain for a table (or fly to Copenhagen), Christopher Hirst tried its recipes at home

Noma's ingredients and ambience are unique

Everyone can imagine the best restaurants in the world: incredibly luxurious surroundings, overly solicitous service, a general sense of opulence and wellbeing. Noma's model is different. The quayside warehouse is raw. As you walk in, the kitchen is in front of you. The walls are rough with age, colours are washed-out neutrals. It's a lovely space, but as spare as the cooking.

Bistrot Bruno Loubet, Zetter Hotel, St John’s Square, 86-88 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1

When I tell people what I do for a living, the question they most often ask is, do the restaurants know beforehand that you're coming? To which I answer, "No, but I always book in as Fay Maschler, just to keep them on their toes." The business of anonymity among reviewers is something of a red herring. After all, if the kitchen can't cook and the front of house is inept, just knowing there's a professional diner in the house won't make them significantly raise their game.

Davos Sketch: Curried rye bread, African scarves and the 'magic of Davos'

Easily the most incongruous sight in Davos this year is the proliferation of red-white-green-yellow-black-yellow-green-white-and-blue-striped bobble hats and scarves, as if a bunch of South African soccer fans had invaded the place – which in a way they have, as President Jacob Zuma himself, fresh from his recent nuptials (conducted in full Zulu regalia), leads probably the largest contingent of Africans to attend such a gathering. And there'll be plenty of talk about the World Cup. The scarves and hats were a gift from South Africa to every participant at the forum, and very welcome they are too in conditions that are slightly cooler and snowier than usual (good for skiing, they tell me).

The French Laundry, 6640 Washington Street, Yountville, California

The French Laundry, Thomas Keller's acclaimed restaurant in Napa Valley's Yountville, has been described by the New York Times as "the most exciting place to eat in the United States". It's impossible to get a booking at short notice unless you're an A-list celebrity, so when a friend tells me he has an "in", I gratefully join him and his American companion.

Super natural: A reverence for raw produce and simple cooking techniques heralds a new back-to-basics culinary movement

What happens when you get eleven of the world's best chefs, take them to a forest and make them forage for their ingredients? Terry Durack reports on the raw food, raw energy and raw passion of 'SuperNatural' eating

The Fat Duck counts the cost. But was Blumenthal right to close?

Chef banks on the all-clear after food scare, as supporters rally round
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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
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
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