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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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The carrot. To some people, the most pedestrian of vegetables. Not me, I love 'em. Wild carrots, purple ones were originally found in Afghanistan and a yellow variant of it, migrated to the Mediterranean during the 11th to 14th century. They reached China, India and Japan between the 14th and 17th century. The Chinese were particularly impressed by it's nutritional value and called it "little ginseng". The Dutch, those well known funsters, bred from the pale variants and brought us the familiar orange variety. Perhaps driven by chefs wanting to deliver new flavours and textures, a resurgence in the cultivation and availability of heirloom carrots benefits us all. Even the big supermarkets had purple ones last year for Halloween, so give them a try when you see them. Organic carrots are available widely in the UK now at a very affordable price, worth spending the extra few pence.

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