Independent Plus Channel 4's 'The Taste': Judges Ludo Lefebvre, Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain

By Ellen E Jones

With Team Nigella already whipped into a state of expectant devotion by her court appearances, her show couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune moment. But The Taste, which began on Channel 4 tonight, is no ordinary Nigella Lawson cookery show and no ordinary competition, either. The contestants may come from the ranks of professional chefs or enthusiastic home cooks, but all will be judged, sight unseen, on the flavour of a single spoonful.

Pear tart

Serves 4

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Pears in perry

Serves 4

Stone's Fall, By Iain Pears

The 19th-century banking system is at the heart of Iain Pears's new historical thriller and, as you might expect, money and sex come intertwined. When a leading financier, John Stone, is found dead in mysterious circumstances, the fate of the money markets, and several nations, hang in the balance. His enigmatic widow, Elizabeth, hires a reporter to write her husband's biography and track down a long lost love child mentioned in his will.

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Magners slows slide in sales

The maker of Magners cider, C&C, predicted that its earnings would grow this year after it managed to slow a slide in sales volumes of its flagship brand in Britain. The Dublin-based drinks firm, which acquired Tennent's lager in September, said market conditions were still challenging but that continued resilience in off-licence sales and the launch of Magners Pear had helped trading.

Landed, By Tim Pears

Cracks show in family portrait

Tom Sutcliffe: The bitter ending

In what circumstances is it acceptable for a work of art to cheat us? Or, to put it another way, why is that we sometimes complain that a novel or a film has taken us for a ride ("colloq. to tease, to mislead deliberately, to hoax, to cheat") while at other times we celebrate the fact that we have been taken for a ride ("device on which one rides at an amusement park or fair"). I ask the question in the light of a localised cluster of twist endings – two of them in recently published novels and one at the conclusion of Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island. I might as well confess right away that I don't know what the twist is in the case of the Scorsese film, only that there is one and that it has provoked yelps of complaint from those who have seen the film. Comparisons have been drawn with The Sixth Sense – and they haven't always been flattering to Scorsese.

Mustard fruit

Makes 4 250ml/8 fl oz jars

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Derek Pain: Mears should have made me more than a few coppers

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