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Is Winchester becoming the food capital of the South?

First Jamie Oliver (although he's now left), then Raymond Blanc - it seems Winchester is the place to be for celebrity restaurants.

Now chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has been in the city to open a new River Cottage Canteen.

It is the latest in a line of new eateries. Soon, Rick Stein is also moving in, making Winchester one of the food capitals of the South. Juliette Fletcher has more:

Health warning after 84 people fall ill from mushroom poisoning

Mushrooms can provide rich pickings - at a cost Credit: Meridian

People setting out for autumnal countryside walks have been urged to take care if they are planning to forage for mushrooms after dozens of people fell ill from poisoning. The New Forest is one of the main areas for mushroom pickers.

Public Health England (PHE) said 84 cases of mushroom poisoning have been reported so far this year and the foraging season is only just under way. Last year, PHE's National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) recorded 237 cases of poisoning across the UK, with many involving children under the age of 10.

The health body warned that some varieties that grow wild in the UK can cause serious illness, with some even being fatal.

The dangers of foraging for mushrooms were highlighted in 2008 when the author of best-selling book The Horse Whisperer was taken to hospital. Nicholas Evans and three family members had to be put on kidney dialysis after eating toxic mushrooms they had gathered on a woodland walk.

"As the weather starts to change many people will soon be heading out to the countryside to seek out wild food which can be a really fun thing to do," said Dr John Thompson, director of the NPIS. "But when it comes to wild mushrooms people really need to be aware of the very real potential dangers involved."

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Hampshire village will be transformed this weekend

Local traders are all set for the food festival on Sunday Credit: Wickham Food Festival

A group of eager volunteers is gearing up for the first ever Taste of Wickham festival to be held in Wickham’s famous medieval square on Sunday 14 September from 10am-4pm.

Local produce, barbecues, tasters and cookery demonstrations are all on the menu.

The Square will be closed to traffic from 6am to 6pm on the day with a special park and ride service operating from Westlands Farm from the start of the event at 10am.

A helping hand from the National Lottery Credit: Wickham Food Festival

Visitors will be able to enjoy music and shopping as well as food and drink, and entertainment for children.

Led by Winchester City Council’s Market Towns Development Officer, the group first met back in January to discuss the idea of holding a food festival. Several meetings later, and the event turned into a celebration of everything that is great about Wickham, not just the food.

  1. Sarah Saunders @SSaundersITV

Growth of farmers' markets in Kent as consumers choose local

Farmers Markets are booming, as ever more families re-discover the alternative to supermarket shopping. The Kent Farmers Market Association says 6 new markets open up in the county every year, many of them run by community groups.

In Whitstable Sarah Saunders spoke to the farmers' market founder Becky Richards, stallholders Toby Schwenn and Cath Blanfield and shoppers.

Pizza containing cling film nearly chokes children

A takeaway in Reading has been fined after two young children choked on cling film found in their pizza.

The 12" chicken and sweetcorn pizza had cling film embedded in the fast food that was then eaten by the purchaser's children.

The cling film was embedded in the 12" pizza Credit: Reading Borough Council

The owners of Star Takeaway pleaded guilty to four offences under the Food Safety Act 1990 and have been fined over £4000.

They have also been ordered to pay another £5000 in costs.

Reading Borough Council's Environmental Health department visited the premises after the purchaser of the cling film pizza complained.

They found that staff were untrained in food hygiene principles, there were no food safety management systems in place and lettuce was at risk of contamination due to raw chicken defrosting nearby.

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The top 16 restaurants from the South East

Below are South East restaurants that appear in The Sunday Times Food List:

  • Artichoke- Amersham, Buckinghamshire.
  • Chapter One- Locksbottom, Kent.
  • Drake's- Ripley, Surrey.
  • Gingerman- Brighton, East Sussex.
  • Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons- Great Milton, Oxfordshire.
  • L'Ortolan- Shinfield, Berkshire.
  • Read's- Faversham, Kent.
  • The Bingham- Richmond, Surrey.
  • The Fat Duck- Bray, Berkshire.
  • The French Horn- Sonning on Thames, Berkshire.
  • The Latymer- Pennyhill, Surrey.
  • The Pass- Horsham, West Sussex.
  • The Sportsman- Whitstable, Kent.
  • The Vanilla Pod- Marlow, Buckinghamshire.
  • The Waterside Inn- Bray, Berkshire.
  • Wheelers- Whitstable, Kent.

16 of 100 top restaurants in Britain are in the South East

Heston Blumenthal outside his restaurant, The Fat Duck in Berkshire Credit: Press Association Images

The South East is home to 16 of Britain's best restaurants according to The Sunday Times Food List.

One of the highest ranked restaurants from our region is Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire.

Brey in Berkshire also has two of the most expensive restaurants in the top 100.

The Fat Duck, owned by Heston Blumenthal, costs £237 per head for a typical meal and you can expect to pay around £201 each if you eat at The Waterside Inn, run by Alain Roux.

Restaurants that are new to the list, with good grub and at a more reasonable price, include The Pass in Horsham, The Bingham in Surrey and Gingerman in Brighton.

A typical meal at these establishments will set you back £50 per head.

Two of the lowest priced restaurants in the top 100 are in Whitstable in Kent.

Wheelers and The Sportsman cost £46 and £51 per person respectively.

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