What we ate in February 2017

Read our weekly food trends update to discover right-now ingredients, fun foodie events, Instagramable restaurant dishes, exciting street eats and exactly what you should be eating to stay ahead. Written by Anna Lawson.

In February we tried...

Picanha with bone marrow

If you go down to Lobos today, you’re in for a big surprise. Bone marrow, the most macho of meaty dishes, is even butcher in the Soho restaurant’s incarnation, baked with parsley, garlic and breadcrumbs and teamed with grilled picanha. Roberto Castro Cachon, executive chef, explains: ‘This a South American cut, from the top of the rump, and we use super high quality Uruguayan meat’. Team it with Lobo’s green salad – spiked with preserved lemon, it cuts through the richness of the marrow, and reminds us of the famous parsley and shallot salad with bone marrow at the classic British restaurant St John in Farringdon, London. Awesome.

 

Speculoos cookie beer

If there are two things that Belgium does exceedingly well (chocolate aside), it’s beer and biscuits. Add them together and you get something quite genius. This surprisingly boozy beer, brewed in Belgium (of course) is flavoured with speculoos, those cinnamon-spiced biscuits we all know and love – just think of the instantly recognisable taste of Lotus Biscoff spread. It’s the ideal after-dinner drink: malty, with plenty of cinnamon, a hint of vanilla, and a sweet aftertaste. We think it would work perfectly in a boozy beer float with a scoop of creamy vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.

 

Crapaudine beetroot

We’re big fans of the farm-to-fork philosophy, and this week we sampled a very special dish at the Michelin-starred The Black Swan at Oldstead in North Yorkshire. Here, the focus on local produce and self-reliance really shines through on the plates, curated by acclaimed chef Tommy Banks. A thick slice of crapaudine beetroot is cooked slowly for four hours in beef fat, turning once an hour. Nestled on top is goat’s curd, smoked cod’s roe, thin slices of pickled beetroot and crisps made from linseed that Tommy’s dad grows on the family farm. Crapaudine is one of the oldest varieties of beetroot and has a vibrant, dark red flesh with a strong, earthy taste. Fancy growing your own? Buy some seeds and try it for yourself – sowing season is between April and May. 


Hot cold-brew coffee

Think cold-brew coffee has to be served, well, cold? Think again. Award-winning bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana from Dandelyan Bar (aka Mr Lyan) served it up hot at the Chelsea Physic Garden, while introducing his new plant-inspired menu, The Vices of Botany, at the Mondrian Hotel. He added malt for sweetness, chai spices and a splash of Seedlip (non-alcoholic distilled spirit). The flavour profile of cold brew is different to hot coffee and by using a similar concept to a mulled wine, the coffee doesn’t become stewed or overly bitter. It is wickedly caffeinated though, so go steady if you try this at home!  

 

Soft & salted eggs

That a salad is the standout dish in a restaurant specialising in pizza and gelato is a mark of just how fantastic it is. We tried this at Hai Cenato (which means ‘have you eaten yet?’ in Italian), the new NYC-inspired Italian restaurant from chef Jason Atherton. The dish, comprising crisp Castelfranco lettuce, salty prosciutto, shaved fennel, yogurt, soft egg and grated salted egg yolk, is a modern Italian take on ham & eggs. Head chef Paul Hood explains how the eggs are made: "For the soft egg, we slow cook an Arlington white egg at 72C for 16 minutes. When we serve it, we warm the egg, crack it out of the shell and drain it, before covering it with grated cured egg yolk to give a texture and intense flavour that lifts the dish. The egg yolks are cured in equal amounts of sugar and salt for up to 48 hours and then air-dried." Curing egg yolks gives a salty, umami flavour, perfect for topping pasta, pizza and salads – a bit like a grating of Parmesan. To try it yourself, check out our recipe for homemade salted egg yolks.

Marmite & cheese garlic bread

This week saw the opening of Yard Sale Pizza’s new Walthamstow branch. Yard Sale specialises in the super-size Italo-American pizzas that have taken the UK by storm. Gone is the deep-pan ham and pineapple. Instead, bases are made in the thin, Neapolitan style, while toppings are non-traditional and inventive. Take their popular side dish as a prime example. Garlic pizza bread is topped with fior di latte mozzarella and the iconic and ever-popular Marmite. It’s not for everyone, and definitely not nutritionally viable if eaten all the time, but the umami flavour the Marmite lends is beautiful. It was used sparingly but to powerful effect. Delicious!
 


Hot cross buns

This clever dessert, ‘hot cross buttered buns & tea’, uses the flavourings of hot cross buns through its different elements including the ice cream, brulee and tuile. Created by chef Dan Doherty for a special hot cross bun themed dinner for Marks and Spencer, it was a great end to a full meal of clever creations, from seared mackerel with hot cross bun chermoula to hot cross bun-crusted lamb rump (something we’ll be trying at home!). M&S sell an astonishing 42 million hot cross buns per year, with Maundy Thursday (the day before Good Friday) the peak day for sales. The buns have evolved over time and, while the classic flavours are still bestsellers, you can find additions ranging from chocolate orange through to cheese and even curry (jury’s out on that one...)! There’s plenty of time between now and Easter to try as many as you can. Fancy baking your own? Try our most popular hot cross bun recipe from Paul Hollywood, our lemon & marzipan variety, or go savoury with a cheesy version

 

Basque brunch

Basque brunchEggs Benedict and bottomless Prosecco for brunch? Too obvious. How about Gernika beans and cava? We tried this Basque brunch at Eneko where cooked pinto beans from Gernika in the Basque region are served with piparrak (mild green pickled peppers) and Savoy cabbage. It's part of a menu of small plates that challenge the usual brunch classics, there are also street-food inspired bites like slow-cooked oxtail-stuffed milk buns with Idiazabal (sheep's) cheese; txistorra, the spiced Basque sausage cooked in cider, and a soft corn talo (bread-tortilla hybrid) with anchovies, Idiazabal and tomato compote - guaranteed to perk up a jaded, Sunday morning palate. 

Apple aubergines

Apple auberginesOur cookery team have been at Thai restaurant Som Saa for a cook-along with head chef and ex-Masterchef contestant Andy Oliver. On the menu? Zesty som tam (green papaya salad) and a fragrant Thai green curry, featuring an ingredient little known in the UK - apple aubergines. Round and green, their appearance is somewhere between an aubergine and an apple (hence the name), only smaller. Found cooked in Thai curries and tom yum soup, and eaten raw in salads, they have a firmer, crunchier texture than standard aubergines and a slightly peppery flavour. Fancy cooking them yourself? Ask in your local Asian supermarket. We love them added to shredded crunchy veg, tossed in a punchy dressing of fish sauce, palm sugar, chilli and lime juice for a flavour-packed Thai salad.

Lemon ketchup

Lemon ketchupForget tomato, there’s a new sauce on the block and it’s all you’ll ever need on your fish & chips: lemon ketchup. This brightly coloured condiment was created by Graham Ainsley, who founded The Hastings Ketchup Company after craving a lemon sauce for his fish and chips one evening. When it came to light that no such thing existed, he set about making one himself. Months and many recipe trials later, Hastings Lemon Ketchup was born. Made from lemons, vinegar, root ginger and a secret blend of spices, its sharp, zingy flavour is a great accompaniment not only to fish, but also meat and grilled halloumi. It can also be used as an ingredient in dressings, soups and sandwiches. The company stock to 90 different stores, cafés and restaurants across the UK or you can buy it online… We know what we’ll be having with our Friday night fish.

Pandan

Coconut pandanWe’ve noticed a rise in green desserts lately. The craze for infusing sweet dishes with matcha and green tea may go someway to explaining it but there’s another Asian ingredient gaining popularity: pandan. A fragrant, grass-like leaf found in South-East Asia, pandan has an intense green colour and an aromatic, almost vanilla-like flavour, which is released when bruised or boiled. It’s commonly used in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia to add flavour to rice dishes and desserts but we tried it at School of Wok during a recent Good Food reader event. This pandan and mint infused coconut crème was set using agar-agar, a vegetarian alternative to gelatine, and had an incredibly smooth texture. Sweet and aromatic, it was served with caramelised pineapple to bring a complementary sharpness.  

 

Chocolate crumpets

Just in time for 14th February, we’ve found the ultimate treat for Valentine’s Day breakfast-in-bed: chocolate crumpets. Sent by Selfridge’s food hall from one of London’s best artisan bakers, Knead, the concept really divided opinion, with some people believing crumpets should be savoury (they’re wrong). But the proof was in the tasting – with 70% chocolate in the mix, the flavour was rich and deep and the texture slightly gooey when heated. We served them slathered with Moose Maple Butter for a taste reminiscent of American pancakes. Win win. The range, created especially for Valentine’s Day, also includes chocolate & orange and chocolate & cinnamon and is available from Selfridge’s food hall, £4.79 for 4.


Fusion sushi

Say bonjour to the latest trend in sushi – French haute cuisine. Japanese restaurant chain Sushi Shop has collaborated with Michelin-starred chef Kei Kobayashi to create a mash-up menu, blending French and Japanese cuisine, and we were lucky enough to attend the launch. Kei is a Japanese chef who trained in France and his eponymous restaurant opened in Paris in 2011. He serves high-end French cuisine, including a stunning dish of crisp garden veg, gravadlax, rocket mousse, lemon emulsion, tomato vinaigrette and black olive tapenade. This has now been re-interpreted in one of the new range of sushi rolls for Sushi Shop. Topped with a crunchy crumble topping, the roll is filled with gravadlax, veg, rocket, fresh mint & dill and a rich, salty black olive sauce. The super-fine sliced cucumber and single pearl of salmon roe add elegance and another nod to sushi.
 

Miso caramel

These days, a dessert menu isn’t a dessert menu if there’s no salted caramel involved, but we’ve noticed a more complex, umami-rich version is now doing the rounds – miso caramel. We tried it this week at new Japanese bistro Anzu, which fuses great British ingredients with Japanese technique and flavours. There’s nori (seaweed) fries and sake-steamed mussels as well as this fusion take on an ice cream sandwich – miso caramel ice cream sits between two thin layers of chocolate Guinness cake which is then topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a scattering of miso toffee popcorn. Elsewhere, we’ve spotted miso in other sticky dessert sauces, with Elizabeth Allen adding it to butterscotch sauce during her recent residency at Carousel and Jikoni doing the same, pairing theirs with banana cake, Ovaltine kulfi and peanut brittle.
 

Squaffles

No longer content with courgetti (courgette ‘spaghetti’) and ‘boodles’ (butternut squash ‘noodles’) or even sweet potato ‘toast’, this week we’ve tried a new way to substitute carbs with, yes you guessed it, more veg. So what do you get when you turn butternut squash into waffles? Squaffles! OK, it might just be butternut squash cut into waffle-shaped pieces, but it’s a novel way to serve your veggies (and might even win over some picky eaters in the process). We brushed ours with oil and liberally sprinkled them with salt, pepper & chilli, but we reckon they’d taste great with a herby coating too. Although a different texture, they make a good alternative to chips for those who are trying to cut down on carbs. Find them in all major Sainsbury’s stores.

White millefeuille

This whiter than white cube is the most talked about dish of the week. Layers of puff pastry and jasmine jelly are encased in vanilla flavoured cream with a whisper of royal icing on top. It looks impossible, like it’s all hard edges waiting to be shattered by a fork, but no, the perfectly flat sides are creamy soft and the interior alternately crisp and yielding. The puffs of foam are flavoured with voatsiperifery pepper, a wild pepper from Madagascar. Anne-Sophie Pic’s eponymous restaurant is her first in London. Back home in Valence, France, Maison Pic holds three Michelin stars. The menu features elegant, refined dishes with interesting flavour additions - butter comes flavoured with coffee and the 'berlingots' pasta parcels are matcha green with tonka bean flakes. Très smart.
 

Dabba

While us Brits are no stranger to a boxed-up sandwich for lunch, the tradition in Mumbai is (quite literally) a world away. Every day, almost 200,000 Mumbai office workers enjoy a dabba – a three-tiered tiffin carrier filled with home-cooked food. The meals are traditionally prepared at home before being collected by a dabbawalla – a special delivery man who will attach up to 60 dabbas onto his bike for distribution right across the city. Now, popular Indian small plate restaurant Talli Joe is bringing this tradition to London with the launch of its new dabba lunch menu. Reflecting the impressive time-keeping of Mumbai’s dabbawallas, the restaurant vows to make sure your £10 dabba reaches the table in just 10 minutes or else it’s on the house! Now that’s service. The menu, served between noon and 3pm, will include options from North, South, West and East India. Highlights include a rich lamb curry served with roti, poppadoms and lime pickle and a Keralan-inspired vegetable curry with coconut milk, ginger and curry leaves, served with string hoppers.
 

Pork-stuffed squid 

Good news for seafood lovers! Sustainable seafood stall CLAW has just extended its residence at Soho’s The Sun & 13 Cantons until the end of February. CLAW claims to be ‘all about the crab’, with sustainable Devon-caught crab a popular item on the menu, but it was the Vietnamese-inspired pork-stuffed squid that we liked best, thanks to its dramatic appearance and punchy but clean flavours. For those who can't make it down, we reckon this could be easily recreated at home – fry shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger and red onion and, separately, sauté pork mince. Combine the two and add coriander, parsley, lime juice, fish sauce as well as cooked vermicelli noodles. Finally, stuff the mixture into whole squid bodies and brown on the stove, before putting in the oven for 9 minutes. For an added element of texture, serve with breaded, deep-fried squid tentacles.

 

Missed the last food diary? Find out what we ate last month, or visit our 12 month compilation to get fully up to speed... 

What we ate in January
What we ate in December
What we ate in November
What we ate in October
What we ate in September
What we ate in August
What we ate in July
What we ate in June
What we ate in May
What we ate in April
One year of food trends

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