Our weekly food diary shares right-now ingredients, fun foodie events, Instagrammable restaurant dishes and trendy street eats. Written by Anna Lawson.
In July we tried...
Eastern-style hot dogs
Did you know that Wednesday (19 July) was National Hot Dog Day? So where else to celebrate than at Bubbledogs, London’s only restaurant to specialise in hot dogs and champagne, darling! These weren’t just any hot dogs though, this was a special collaboration. For one night only Carl Clarke of fried chicken restaurant Chick ‘n’ Sours took over at Bubbledogs to create Eastern-inspired hot dogs. On the menu: the Chengdu chilli dog, topped with sloppy 'kimcheese' and pink kimchi, and the Thai dog with fermented som tum salad, topped with Thai ranch dressing and crispy crack noodles. And then, there were the sides... Hot, crispy tater tots drenched in Korean chilli sauce (so good we ordered it twice), smacked cucumber with seaweed and explosive chilli and Tenderstem broccoli with seaweed mayo, pickled egg and bonito flakes. The verdict? Not the neatest meal to eat but oh, so delicious. If that’s got you salivating, look out for the next event on 20 September when Bubbledogs' chef Sandia will be taking over at Chick 'n' Sourz (it’s like Wife Swap for restaurants!) Or, if you fancy making your own, check out our next level hot dogs video and browse more ideas in our August issue, on sale 3 August.
Bloody Mary chips
Still putting salt and vinegar on your chips? You may want to rethink. These days it’s all about flavoured salts for giving your fries extra oomph, like these Bloody Mary chips sampled at the opening of The Wigmore in London. It's a modern makeover of the Great British Pub with a menu overseen by Michel Roux Jr who is on board with the current trend for innovative bar snacks. Forget dirty bowls of peanuts and think epic cheese toasties, re-invented Scotch eggs and top-notch charcuterie. And then, there are the chips... Let’s talk about those golden beauties – super crunchy on the outside, hot and fluffy on the inside and coated in that flavoured salt which combines sharp dried tomato, a hint of celery salt and lip-smacking savouriness. In short, all the delicious flavour notes of a Bloody Mary but in chip form. (Yum!) We were also impressed by the homemade crumpets with crab and the fried green olives with veal and oregano. Fancy flavouring your fries? Check out our guide to making flavoured salts including chicken, seaweed and smoky chilli varieties.
Black garlic truffles
Black garlic blended with chocolate… No, we're not making this up. Chef Gonzalo Luzarraga has put these truffles on the menu of his new restaurant RIGO' which opened this week in Fulham, London. The food here reflects his culinary journey, from a childhood spent in Piedmont (a region of Italy bordering France and Switzerland) to time spent in various restaurant kitchens across Europe. His passion for unusual flavour pairings can be seen across the menu, but it was these black garlic truffles – sent by RIGO' to Good Food HQ – that really got us talking. The verdict? Well, the first bite tasted (only slightly disappointingly) just like chocolate, but sure enough, definite hints of black garlic then started to come through. And it works! Why? Gonzalo explained that he loves black garlic for its hidden aromas of liquorice and vanilla that, when combined with a specific type of dark chocolate (porcelana), are enhanced. The fermentation process involved in making black garlic softens the raw garlic taste as well as aiding digestion. Surprisingly, it also cleanses the palate rather than lingering. That's why these truffles make the perfect end to a meal.
There’s no doubt that the humble chickpea is having a moment. We’ve moved way past houmous (although still extremely dear to our hearts, of course) to all kinds of dishes from roasting them in spices for a healthy snack to using the water they’re canned in (aquafaba) to make delicious vegan meringues. They're also ground into flour to use in pizza bases, pasta and our new favourite snack: panelles. From Sicily, these are crispy fritters made with chickpea flour, water and seasoning, then deep-fried. We tried these ones at newly opened Smoke & Salt, a restaurant in Pop Brixton, London, specialising in seasonal small plates. Served with a spicy house ketchup for dunking into, these crunchy bites are a seriously moreish appetiser.
There’s only one word for these biscuits: cute. In fact, kawaii is the Japanese translation and it's now used to describe pretty much anything adorable – normally with a little face drawn on it (think Hello Kitty and Miffy). Kawaii has even been added to the Oxford dictionary as the concept takes hold in the UK. While it also applies to clothes, toys and emojis, it’s kawaii food that's got us cooing, naturally. We were at the launch of Juliet Sear's latest cookbook, Kawaii Cakes, featuring all kinds of adorable bakes inspired by Japanese culture, from cloud and avocado cookies (pictured here) to rainbow swirl cupcakes. It seems the general rule of thumb is: if it's colourful and adorned with a smiley face that makes you say ‘aww’, then it’s kawaii! Fancy trying the trend yourself? Juliet’s book is on sale now.
In case you hadn’t heard, seaweed is bang on trend right now. After a few years gathering momentum, last year saw sales soar as its health benefits became more apparent – not to mention its lovely umami flavour profile. No longer just reserved for Japanese cuisine, we’ve seen seaweed turning up in all kinds of foods recently like biscuits and bread. But here’s something new: seaweed gin. We tried this one from Isle of Harris distillery at the launch of G & Tea at the Soho Hotel – an afternoon tea inspired by and infused with gin. The Isle of Harris brand contains hand-dived sugar kelp, along with eight other botanicals, creating a smooth gin with sweet and salty notes. Served with dehydrated mango, fresh vanilla and tonic water, we sipped it alongside a range of treats including salmon cured with gin botanicals and seaweed & cheddar scones. G & Tea will be running until 3 September at the Soho Hotel, or if you want to buy seaweed gin, you can find a number of varieties online including Isle of Harris, Da Mhile and Edinburgh seaside gin.
Minted pea Scotch eggs
Packing a picnic? It wouldn’t be complete without a Scotch egg now, would it? A long-standing favourite at pubs and picnics, recent years have seen the rise of a new wave of amped up, gastro versions of this classic snack. Still featuring the crispy breadcrumbed exterior and oozy egg interior, chefs are swapping the traditional sausage meat layer for a whole host of new variations. We’ve seen venison, black pudding, chorizo and even haggis, but the latest to catch our eye are these stunning minted pea Scotch eggs by chef Alex Head from Social Pantry. In collaboration with Anthropologie, Social Pantry put on a supper club this week, with a menu focused on fresh, seasonal dishes. These picture perfect morsels were served as a canapé. They boast a soft-boiled quail’s egg encased by crushed peas, mint and lemon for a taste of summer. Served with a dollop of tarragon mayo, these are a lighter, fresher alternative to the meat-based original. Veggies should also check out our falafel scotch eggs and spicy tiffin eggs.
Apple pie cider
What happens when you cross a classic winter dessert with a popular summer tipple? No, it’s not the start of a bad joke but an exciting drink from Turners Cider. We met with founder Phil Turner to sample the drinks range (it’s a tough job, but…). The highlight? This apple pie cider. Sweet (though nowhere near teeth-curling) and gently spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice and vanilla, it has all the flavours of apple pie but still tastes like a cider — win-win! Delicious served cold in summer, it would be equally nice gently warmed and served in winter instead of mulled wine. We also tried pear, elderflower and rhubarb flavoured ciders, and a new product made with maple sap, called ‘What Sap’ (genius), as well as a champagne-style cider which was on a par with good quality sparkling wines — and in our opinion, better than prosecco (shhh!). Getting thirsty? Turners drinks are available in pubs across Kent and London, or buy online.
Barbecued leeks with onion ash
Forget overcooked bangers in shop-bought buns, this is barbecue food with a difference. We’ve been on the Isle of Eriska in Scotland, visiting the Michelin-starred restaurant at the Isle of Eriska Hotel. Here, there is a huge emphasis on local produce, using foraged ingredients, vegetables from the garden and venison from the island’s deer population. Among a menu of delicious, seasonal dishes from haggis bonbons to a fricassee of foraged mushrooms, it was this barbecued leek dish, served with spring onions and sheep’s cheese, that had us intrigued. Inevitably, it has a smoky flavour that works brilliantly with the natural sweetness of leeks and which, in turn, contrasts beautifully with the creamy, slightly sharp tang of sheep’s cheese. But the really unusual element? Onion ash. It's a growing trend, even in this far-flung corner of the country, but it does add an extra depth of flavour that sets off the freshness of the green vegetables. For more tips and recipes on barbecued dishes, pick up our July issue, on sale now.
Black isn't how you’d normally want your toast to be served, but this unique dish from XU is a pleasing exception to the rule. Specialising in Taiwanese cuisine with a modern twist, XU is a new restaurant in London’s Soho, from the team behind the hugely popular BAO. Among the starters and small plates, it was this cuttlefish toast that really made an impression. An imaginative play on prawn toast, this innovation goes above and beyond the Chinese takeaway staple. Cuttlefish and prawns are pounded together, along with squid ink for its jet-black colour and inky flavour. The result is a light and bouncy, deeply savoury layer that sits on top of a crisp toast slice, served with a taramasalata-style whipped cod’s roe for extra fishy flavour.
Christmas in July
Elasticated waistbands at the ready... it’s that time again. While most people are thinking about barbecues, summer salads and ice cream, the Good Food team have been tucking into turkey, mince pies and Christmas puddings! Yes, it’s ‘Christmas in July’, the time of year when retailers showcase their festive offerings for the Christmas ahead. We’ve been scouring the shows, which began last week, on the lookout for this year’s top trends. So what can you expect in food and drink this Christmas? Well, you’ll certainly be seeing a lot more gin (surprise, surprise) but this time, it won’t just be in your glass — so far we’ve tried it in cakes, Christmas pudding and even cheese. Traditional mince pie haters can rejoice as this year there’s a whole host of new varieties on the market, from chocolate-orange to lemon. Plus, canapés continue to get more and more inventive, from mini brunch-inspired stuffed croissants, to prawn tempura lollipops.
Ever heard of apple marigold? We hadn’t either, but the leaves of this herbaceous plant, also known as Mexican marigold or tagetes minuta, have an intense apple flavour, with leafy notes. A favourite among the team at Michelin-starred restaurant Fera at Claridge’s, it’s often found in their food, but this week we tried it in their gin. (Yep, another week, another gin!) The guys at Fera have spent two years creating their own bespoke bottle, combining botanicals from classic juniper and angelica to the more unusual apple marigold resulting in a smooth gin, with unique vegetal flavours and apple notes. It'll be available to buy from the restaurant as of Monday 3 July and on their drinks menu, too.
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 June
What we ate in May
What we ate in April
What we ate in March
What we ate in February
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 2016
One year of food trends