It's been rather too exhausting, this prolonged hot spell. Gastronaut has almost lost the will to chew, let alone cook anything. How very grateful we are, then, that some 2,000 years ago Emperor Nero hit upon the idea of sorbet - a dish that gives maximum cool refreshment in return for minimum effort from the eater. Which is not to understate the toil involved in its conception: while Nero fiddled, his luckless slaves froze on the Appian Way, gathering buckets of snow and passing them back, hand-over-shivering-hand, to his kitchens, where the contents were flavoured with honey and wine. Things have got considerably easier since technology gave us the freezer and the gelato machine, and now we can try sophisticated flavours such as elderflower, cardamom, chocolate, rose and mint. Get your licks before the mercury dips again and we all start dreaming of treacle pud.
Where to buy:
Their raspberry sorbet has just won a gold at the Great Taste Awards and can be bought online at www.minghella.co.uk. For £39.95 you can have any six 500ml sorbets delivered to your door (01983 883545).
Its mango variety has a clean taste and natural velvety texture - very like a mango, in fact. From Rocombe Farm ice cream parlour, Torquay (£3.49 for 500ml; 01803 293996) and Harvey Nichols Food Markets across the UK (020-7235 5000).
Delicate flavours feature on the Al Fresco menu at Carluccio's: rose, orange and cardamom, and green apple. Eat-in only (£3.50 a bowl; 020-7580 3050).
Lemon sorbet is the classic palate cleanser, but hard to get right: supermarket versions can taste slightly chemical. Not so this one, which is piquant and refreshing but also smooth (£2.19 for 750ml; 0800 188884).
The strawberry and champagne variety is a Barbara Cartland of puddings: posh, pink and fruity, with a champagne "froth" and a subtle kick (£1.49 for 500ml; 0800 636262).
Marks & Spencer
Something sharper, perhaps? Cranberry and orange sorbet from M&S is a less sweet, more intense experience (£2.99 for 500ml; 020-7268 1234).
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies