Do try this at home


Fans of Naked Chef Jamie Oliver must surely covet his collection of chunky pestles and mortars. These are essential tools for the serious cook and pretty good- looking on the work top too.

The mortar, being the bowl, needs to be extremely heavy so when you pound the contents - fresh basil, pine nuts and olive oil for pesto for instance - it doesn't slew around.

The pestle needs to be heavy enough to pound away at the hardest seeds and nuts. It might sound like hard work when there's a food processor standing by, but think of how therapeutic it could be to bash away to your heart's content. More importantly, when it comes to delicate leaves like basil, the pestle and mortar does an infinitely better job since processor blades can turn the leaves a nasty dark colour.

A good big pestle and mortar, with capacity to make pesto sauce for six, say, is hard to find. The smaller ones may be handy for tiny batches of herbs and spices but if you plan to buy just one, make sure it's generous.

We tracked down this black beauty in Barkers of Wexford town. The basalt-like bowl is a dead weight, as is the steel-tipped pestle. It is smart enough for your open shelves. Just don't drop it on your foot.

Pestle and mortar by Typhoon is]£24.99 from Barkers, 36/40 Sth Main Street, Wexford, 053 23159