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Gentle reader, it is summer here in the United Kingdom, well summer one day winter the next, and that's why we love it! Fruit and vegetables in the market have been fabulous though, sweet, sweet juicy nectarines, the mainstay of my breakfast along with fleshy watermelon sprinkled with spearmint and basil. All eaten in the bathtub, just like mangoes, of course.

I've had my first crop of cherry tomatoes from my balcony garden and for the first time my coriander is growing. I soaked the seeds in hot water before I planted them this time, I don't know if that helped but my plants seem to be flourishing. If only the pigeons would get lost....

With the weather being weird my usual summer tipple, Pimms has taken a back seat. With all the punchy flavoured BBQ's and fiesty fiesta food I've been having, my tastebuds have been drawn to chilled Pinot Noirs and red wine in general.

One red I've been enamoured with is by Australian producers, Some Young Punks , Passion Has Red Lips,the coolest label, great tasting so who could resist?? From the Clare Valley in South Australia, it's a blend of Shiraz/ Cabernet Sauvignon, on the lean side of chunky but berried and elegant and great with seared meat and copes with full on- dressings.

I've been using it to saute prawns with caramelised onions to toss over feta and basil salads.

And lamb's kidneys with red wine, garlic, Dijon mustard, flash fried and served on toasted sourdough, a perfect little starter.

Had a wonderful meal of Mexican tiny tacos at Taqueria in Westbourne Grove this week along with a magnificent duck egg omlette with smoked haddock and bottle of Simonet-Febvre French Pinot Noir at the jazzy Boisdale of Belgravia.

Next week I'll be raiding my local market for bulk seasonal produce that I can preserve for the chilly months ahead.



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There's always an avalanche of articles published in the new year with predictions of the food and drink that will be  "trending"  and what we should be adopting to remain cool .

Frankly, as much as I love to try new ingredients, the hunt for a bit of strange, in these "interesting times", I'm comforted by something familiar and that reeks of ol' Blighty .  And it's the old stuff, the classics, that await the younger generation to hunt down. Here's a few of my favourites from the 19th Century to get things started.

At first whiff, Gentleman's relish was an instant flashback to my school packed lunches, Peck's Anchovette paste on spongy white bread, served at school bag temperature of around 29 degrees celsius. Them were the days. Patum Peperium, the Gentleman's relish is another paste not for the faint hearted. It is made from salted anchovies, butter and some very punchy herbs and spices. A little goes a long way and as recommended, a …