The best white wines for the Christmas feast

Is there a quintessential Christmas white? Our wine writer considers the contendersIn an attempt to make life a bit easier over the festive season, last week I suggested focusing on a single type of red. But is there a quintessential Christmas white? Continue...

Tamal Ray’s winter warmers: plantain stew and slow-cooked oxtail – recipe

At this time of year what we most need is something warming and filling. There’s no better cut of meat for a stew than oxtail, while a vegetarian broth can pack a punch with plantainThere’s a stillness to this time of year. We wrap up and bed down to avoid the cold weather. What we want most of all is a warm and filling meal, something to reinvigorate both mind and body: a pot of winter vegetables or meat, slowly bubbling away for hours on the stove – a stew.If you were presented with a whole oxtail to cook, you might find yourself a little confused. It’s certainly a strange cut if your usual bovine encounters are limited solely to steak. But there is, I think, no better cut of meat for a stew. With enough time, the tough but flavoursome meat falls apart into a broth given depth and body by the bones. Inelegant perhaps, but delicious. The chicken livers in the recipe are a vestige of an earlier poultry-based experiment. Although the chicken breast I used in that was far too flavourless to ever be worth putting in a stew, the livers – finely chopped and dispersed throughout the sauce, gave it a great meaty and moreish quality. Continue...

Kitchen gadgets review: coconut opener – your basic vigilante cudgel

For an authentic castaway experience in your own home, buy a coconut from Asda and hack it open with this machete-like toolThe coconut opener (£6.99, Tomorrow’s Kitchen) is full tang steel straightedge, with riveted wooden handle. The tip can pierce the germination pore of a coconut’s shell, the blade fissures its circumference. Continue...

What is the biggest village or town in the UK with no pub or bar?

The long-running series in which readers answer other readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial flights of fancy to profound scientific conceptsWhat is the largest settlement in the UK without a pub, bar, or similar licensed premises? (For bonus points: both including and excluding “temperance towns” such as Bourneville.)Nick Wiltsher, Antwerp, Belgium Continue...