What we ate in August 2018

Our weekly food diary shares on-trend ingredients, fun foodie events, Instagrammable restaurant dishes and must-try street eats.

In August we tried...

Pistachio & macadamia shrub

pistachio shrub cocktail Shrubs are having a moment. We’re not talking gardening here but one of the hottest new drinks trends. A shrub is a drinking vinegar, usually made by preserving fruit syrup with vinegar, but at newly opened Alphabet in Islington, London, the net is cast wider. Operations manager Chris Edwards explains, "Shrubs are a versatile vehicle for transporting flavour across a range of drinks. As well as fruit, we like to infuse wildflowers, herbs, vegetables and nuts." For their Hide & Seek cocktail, pictured, there's a shrub base that consists of "equal parts white wine vinegar, sugar and water, which is heated up then left to cool a little. Toasted macadamia and pistachios are then added before being left to cool again for 24 hours."The shrub is mixed with gin, lemon juice, orgeat (almond syrup) and egg white and finished with a rim of crushed pistachios, resulting in a cocktail that's satisfyingly acidic without being overly sour, but also creamy and slightly nutty. 

Damson crumble

damson crumble

The weather has turned, and while some of us are praying to the weather gods to bring back the sun, others are embracing the slightly cooler climate and diving into some good old-fashioned comfort food. Did someone say crumble…? Since we’re slap-bang in the middle of damson season (August-September), we’ve just added three brand-new recipes using this sour fruit to our website, including this damson crumble. The tart fruit is sweetened with brown sugar and apples, and a splash of sloe gin is added before the crumble topping goes on. If you have a damson glut, you could also try making damson gin or damson jam.


Late summer tomatoes


Still clinging on to summer? This dish is sure to transport you to a sun-soaked terrace. Making the most of some of Britain’s best produce, this was on the menu at the preview event for The Falcon, a brand-new restaurant opening in Buntingford, Hertfordshire this winter. The menu, devised by chef Kieren Steinborn-Busse, will focus on seasonal British food, such as this starter. He explains, "Last year in France I ate a beautifully ripe Charentais melon. When I got home, I tried it with some tomatoes from the Isle of Wight and English feta cheese called Graceburn, from Brockley in south London. The saltiness and tart flavour of the cheese balanced perfectly with the sweet melon and ripe English tomatoes – a great combination!"


Cheese doughnuts

cheese dougnuts, cheese donuts, savoury donuts Two years ago, chef Adam Handling visited the GF test kitchen to give us a masterclass in how to make his crab doughnuts, one of the most popular dishes at his restaurant The Frog. Fast-forward to 2018 and Adam has just opened Iron Stag, a bar in London’s Hoxton with plenty of Scottish influence (a nod to Handling’s Scottish roots), including an impressive array of whiskys, fun whisky cocktails and a bar menu that features haggis bon bons and deep-fried mars bars. But our favourite dish on the menu has to be the new savoury doughnut. A more indulgent twist, we think these cheese doughnuts might just be the best bar snack around – soft, warm and surprisingly light dough with a gooey rarebit-like sauce inside. And if that wasn’t cheesy enough, the doughnuts come sat on a puddle of cheese sauce and, mimicking the classic sugar coating, they’re covered in a cloud of finely grated cheese. An excellent start to a whisky-fuelled evening, they’d also be brilliant with an IPA or Belgian Dubbel. In other words, can we petition to get cheese doughnuts on all pub menus?



gooseberry millefeuille Like beetroot and rhubarb, gooseberries are a bit marmite. You either think of them as deliciously tart, fragrant and a real treat when in season (which is right now) or sour, full of pips and not worth the effort! If you fall into the latter camp then take a chance on trying them one more time. We had this delicious twist on the classic French patisseries staple ‘millefeuille’ at Neptune, London. The gooseberries are cooked and sweetened gently, then paired with smooth, creamy custard (creme patisserie) and crisp puff pastry. A scoop of gooseberry ice adds an extra hit of temperature and texture. For more gooseberry inspiration, check out our recipes.


Celeriac shawarma 

Instagram went mad earlier in the year when Noma served up a celeriac shawarma, but as good as it looked, it didn’t come wrapped in bread. At ROVI, Yotam Ottolenghi’s newest outpost, the shawarma looks more like a kebab shop special, but tastes out of this world. As well as slices of celeriac roasted to an earthy sweetness, there’s a smear of dark green bkeila, a Tunisian staple made by cooking spinach for hours in olive oil. Before working at Rovi, head chef Neil Campbell spent the last four or so years at Grain Store and has a way with veg. Also tucked into this particular shawarma, and adding another layer of flavour, is fermented tomato. We think the celeric shawarma has many more iterations to come, our hot tip for a 2019 trend, but we doubt they’ll taste as good as this one. 


* Afternoon tea week special * 

High Chai

If you still think afternoon tea has to mean uniform cucumber sandwiches, scones with jam and classic cakes washed down with a cup of tea, then think again. While you can still find plenty of traditional afternoon teas, there’s been a huge rise in the popularity of alternative versions which put a twist on the classic. We had this ‘High Chai’ at Zindiya in Birmingham, which injects Indian flavours into its afternoon tea. Choose your pot of freshly brewed masala chai or a floral Earl Grey to sip alongside several courses of savoury skewers and spiced sweets. Savoury offerings include a crisp samosa, crunchy bhel puri and a choice of chicken tikka or chunky paneer, while sweet options include Indian spiced carrot cake, macarons and soft homemade cardamom scones with lashings of cream.


Vegan afternoon tea

As veganism continues to rise in popularity, you can now find a vegan-friendly version of just about anything, from burgers and fried ‘chicken’ to cakes and desserts. This week we tried the afternoon tea at Café Forty One, a brand-new, entirely vegan café at Hotel Suite West in Bayswater, London. The afternoon tea features a selection of vegan-friendly sandwiches and scones with jam and a coconut-based cream, but the highlight is the French patisserie tier. As it’s notoriously rich in butter and cream, making French patisserie vegan-friendly is no mean feat, but French-born head chef Clarisse Flon has done just that. The sweet treats change daily – on our visit we enjoyed the mini marble loaf cake, topped with praline buttercream, and the lemon meringue slice, with super zingy lemon curd and sweet, fluffy aquafaba meringue piped neatly onto a rectangle of pastry. 


Black Forest twists

Christmas trend alert. It might be the middle of August, but here at Good Food HQ, we’ve been looking into trends for Christmas 2018 and one flavour combination we’ve seen plenty of in cakes, bakes and desserts at Christmas previews is Black Forest gateau. Yes, from what we’ve seen at supermarket and restaurant menu previews, there’s a retro revival going on, with old school classics like jelly and gateau back on the dessert menu – sometimes with a modern twist. This week our cookery team have been experimenting with Black Forest flavours in the test kitchen, including this chocolate and cherry loaf cake and a decadent Black Forest trifle. Look out for the full recipes in our Christmas issue, on sale 25 October.



Figs are at their best right now – plump, sweet and jammy. No wonder we’ve seen them on so many menus recently, as well as in several new products including fig balsamic vinegar, fig relish and even fig crackers. Our favourite fig dish of the week? It has to be these gorgeous juicy figs paired with creamy burrata, peppery rocket, red onion and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar – part of a special vegetarian menu created by Phil Howard at Elystan Street to celebrate the 25th anniversary of one of London’s finest grocers, Andreas in Chelsea. Fancy getting figgy with it? We have plenty of recipes to choose from. 


Sweet hummus

Hummus has become such a favourite in the UK that two in five households are said to have a pot in the fridge. These days you’ll find plenty of variations of the chickpea-based spread in supermarkets, from red pepper to caramelised onion, but have you ever seen sweet hummus? A UK first, this hummus from Hou is made using chickpeas (of course) and flavoured with ingredients like cocoa (for its choc-o-chick flavour), caramel and banana (banoffee pie) and fruit (mixed berry). The idea came about after co-founder Harry Tyndall was forced to change his diet for health reasons. Hummus became a staple in his diet but he couldn’t shake his sweet cravings, so decided to try making a sweet hummus with friend and chef Jake Finn. The verdict? It received mixed reviews here at Good Food HQ, with some going back for more and others finding the texture too grainy.  

Whisky fruit cup

Although whisky isn’t a drink you’d usually associate with hot weather, London-based Scottish restaurant Mac & Wild has given it a makeover. Named Highland Solstice, this drink (pictured on the left) is a Scottish twist on the summer fruit cup. It’s made with Copper Dog whisky, sweet vermouths and triple sec, macerated and flavoured with verbena, cucumber, bergamot and strawberries. Topped up with either lemonade or ginger ale (or both) and finished with fresh strawberries, cucumber and mint, it’s like summer in a glass. Sound good? Mac & Wild is selling pre-bottled Highland Solstice online at Master of Malt

Hyderabad brunch 

Brunch has come a long way from poached eggs on toast. As the trend continues to spiral, more restaurants and cuisines are jumping on the brunch bandwagon and you can now satisfy just about any craving you might have, from Mexican to Middle Eastern. We tried the brand-new Hyderabad brunch menu at Soho’s Dum Biryani in London – along with its famed dum biryani, the restaurant has added a huge range of exciting dishes to its brunch menu, showcasing the regional flavours of south-eastern India. Highlights include toasted sourdough smothered in a punchy fenugreek sauce, topped with spiced stir-fried lamb and fried quail’s eggs; a crispy-coated banana chilli stuffed with potato and paneer, served with tamarind chutney, fried puffed rice, peanuts and coriander chutney; and tender, roasted stuffed aubergine with peanuts and poppy seeds, plus dhal and steamed rice. Washed down with a cocktail and set to a hip-hop playlist, this might be our new favourite way to brunch.


Lemon drop chillies

Bright yellow, hot and with a spritz of citrus in their flavour, lemon drop chillies are common in Peruvian cuisine, where they're called qillu uchu. They’ve been featuring on the menus of the Peruvian Ceviche restaurants in London, where they add colour as well as flavour to ceviches, but now lemon drop chilli is popping up in other guises. Single Variety Co makes a popular lemon drop chilli jam that they recommend serving with cream cheese to cool it down; several brands of sauce are available (we like the Fruity Dog made with mango from Chilli of the Valley); Solkiki Chocolatemaker have a white chilli mint chocolate bar (pictured here) that has quite a kick; and the newest flavour of Manomasa tortillas is queso blanco & lemon drop chilli – so expect to see more of it. The heat dies down after you’ve eaten these chillies, leaving a sweetness and recognisable lemon flavour which lingers. Overcooking them will lessen the flavour, so if you have fresh ones use them raw or add at the end of cooking. Find dried whole chillies and powder at Chilli Britain, as well as chilli plants (so you can grow your own next year).

Plastic-free tea

If, like us, you’re on a mission to reduce single-use plastic in your household, you’ll be disappointed to find out that many of the UK’s most popular teabags contain polypropylene, a sealing plastic which is used to hold the teabags together. Right now, we’re sipping our tea with a clear conscience thanks to We Are Tea, whose teabags are plastic-free. They’re made from a material called soilon (a by-product of corn starch) and sealed with ultrasound rather than glue. When you’ve finished your cuppa, just put them in your food waste collection bin and they’ll break down in the industrial composter. We Are Tea is also the first premium tea company to remove paper tags from its entire range to save paper, as part of their campaign #treesbeforetags – talk about sustainabili-tea! Want to do your bit for the environment? There are other companies providing high-quality tea in plastic-free teabags too, including Pukka and Teapigs. Some of the bigger brands, including Yorkshire Tea and PG Tips, also recently pledged to switch to biodegradable bags by next year.


Missed an entry in our food diary? Find out what we've eaten previously...
What we ate in July 2018
What we ate in June 2018
What we ate in May 2018
What we ate in April 2018
What we ate in March 2018
What we ate in February 2018
What we ate in January 2018
What we ate in December 2017
What we ate in November 2017
What we ate in October 2017
What we ate in September 2017
What we ate in August 2017
What we ate in July 2017
What we ate in June 2017
What we ate in May 2017
What we ate in April 2017
What we ate in March 2017
What we ate in February 2017
What we ate in January 2017
What we ate in December 2016
What we ate in November 2016
What we ate in October 2016
What we ate in September 2016
What we ate in August 2016
What we ate in July 2016
What we ate in June 2016
What we ate in May 2016
What we ate in April 2016
One year of food trends

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