Our weekly food diary shares on-trend ingredients, fun foodie events, Instagrammable restaurant dishes and must-try street eats.
What we ate in June...
Here are two words you want to hear in the middle of a heatwave: gelato + festival. In June, the Gelato Festival – an annual event that travels across Europe in the summer months – came to London’s Covent Garden. Now in its ninth year, the festival sees gelato makers from around Europe compete against each other to create the best flavour. Visitors vote for their favourite, and the winning chef continues on to the Gelato Festival World Masters, which takes place in Italy in 2021 – a big deal in the world of gelato! We tried all 19 flavours on offer, from Italian classics like pistachio to those taking inspiration from further afield, such as this Indian-inspired saffron and cardamom-spiced gelato with khoya gulab jamun. Khoya is an Indian evaporated milk used in gulab jamun – balls of deep-fried khoya, soaked in a sweet, lightly spiced syrup.
From homely homemade sourdough crumpets at Flour to the people and Good & Proper Tea to the impossibly fluffy versions at Ask for Janice (so tall they're served halved and buttered), crumpets have been in fashion for a while. More recently though, we've started seeing them used in smarter savoury dishes like the mini versions topped with crab at The Wigmore and this fabulous crumpet piled with potted shrimp, kohlrabi and gherkin at Cornerstone. It's time to move away from butter and jam and start thinking of new and exciting ways to top your crumpets. Try making your own with our crumpet recipe.
Doughnuts are seriously on trend right now, with specialist doughnut shops popping up across the country, from Doughnut Time and Crosstown Doughnuts in London to the popular Tantrum Doughnuts in Glasgow and Dum Dum Donutterie in Brighton. In June, we tried some doughnuts with a difference. These are Greek doughnuts, or loukoumades (pronounced loo-ka-math-es). Smaller than the doughnuts we’re used to in the UK, loukoumades have a crispier exterior but are still hot and fluffy inside. We tried these ones at Greek restaurant The Athenian, which put on a special loukoumades festival to bring this Greek treat onto the London food scene. As well as the traditional topping of honey and cinnamon, there was also the option of a chocolate and hazelnut sauce for those after something a little more indulgent.
Cornish new potatoes
If you love Jersey Royals, then you’ll love these Cornish new potatoes. Creamy and fluffy, they’re the first UK mainland crop of the year – but you need to be quick; their season is very short, available only from June to August. So what makes them so special? Grown in the rich, fertile Cornish soils close to the sea, the climate offers generally warmer, frost-free conditions. It means growers are able to plant – and harvest – earlier than other UK mainland crops. The skins are so soft there’s no need to peel, so you can use them whole, roasted (perfect with fish or chicken) or in a potato salad. They’re available in Tesco in 750g packs and as a loose option, both online and in-store.
Frozen cocktails were the on-trend drink of summer 2017 and it's still going strong this year. Well, why not? Combining the nostalgic slushies of youth with your favourite grown-up tipple is a winning combo, plus they're perfect for cooling down in hot weather – and next week is set to be a scorcher. Yes, the UK is all set for a heatwave so there'll be no better time to be sipping on prosecco slushies from Pastaio restaurant in London’s Soho. Think all the flavours of prosecco but satisfyingly cold, refreshing and thirst-quenching. In fact, it’s almost a bit too easy to drink, so be responsible. Try making your own frozen cocktails with our video guide.
A staple of Caribbean, South American and African cooking, chances are you’ve probably heard of, if not tried, plantain. This starchy banana-lookalike is a versatile ingredient used in both sweet or savoury dishes, roasted, fried or mashed. Although it’s been available in the UK for decades, we’ve noticed a surge in its popularity and in different forms. Plantain-based snacks are popping up in our supermarkets and on more restaurant menus, including high-end cuisine. We tried it at Venezuelan eaterie Arepa & Co where it’s sliced and fried as a side, and at West African restaurant Ikoyi, fried, dusted with raspberry powder and served with Scotch bonnet mayo (pictured).
The perfect balance of sweet and savoury, this week we've been nibbling on slices of quintessentially Scandi cheese. This delectable Norwegian treat gets its distinctive caramel colour from boiling milk, cream and whey until the sugars caramelise. It has a rich dulce-de-leche flavour, although certain varieties use goat's milk to cut through the sweetness. You can try it topped on sandwiches, crisps or biscuit and most indulgently, on top of fresh waffles. Anyone for brunch?
Looking for an exotic way to keep cool this summer? Try an icy Japanese dessert topped with fresh fruit and homemade syrups. We sampled this mango kakigori in Soho at Honi Poké, the first spot in London to start offering this delicate treat. It's made from delicately shaved ice with the texture of fluffy powdered snow, topped with your choice of fresh syrups – strawberry, matcha, mango or guanabana (also known as soursop, a kind of custard apple). Refreshing, light and not overly sweet, we predict you'll be seeing more of this cool confection on the streets of London.
Experimental craft gins are still going strong, with brands exploring sweet, savoury and everything in between. We sipped an aromatic acorn gin from Sabores Extremeños based in Extremadura, Spain – using acorns in the distillation process gives the gin a deliciously nutty, slightly sweet aroma and adds a creamy vanilla taste to the juniper base. Try this delicate Spanish spirit to add elements of toasted hazelnut and cinnamon to your standard G&T. You can buy it online from Lunya, or visit their delis in Liverpool or Manchester.
Sheep Rustler cheese
You’re looking at the best cheese in Britain. Beating over 1,000 entries at the British Cheese Awards, this semi-hard ewe’s milk cheese, Sheep Rustler, from Somerset-based White Lake was named the overall Supreme Champion. And we can see why – it tastes fabulous! Mellow, slightly nutty and with a hint of caramel, it’s made with heat-treated, unpasteurised ewe’s milk and aged for three months. Now in its 25th year, the competition boasted entries from 147 cheesemakers in 54 British counties and each entry was judged by a panel of 77 people, including French chef and restaurateur Michel Roux, who holds three Michelin stars, and Good Food’s magazines editor Keith Kendrick.
Planning a trip to Finland? We visited Patisserie Teemu & Markus, a small, unassuming-looking café in Helsinki’s city centre. It sells sandwiches, coffee and pastries, including French-inspired patisserie treats like croissants and macarons, as well as traditional Finnish bakes like this rahkapulla. Pulla is a Finnish cardamom sweet bread – usually baked in a plaited loaf, it can also be found as smaller buns, sometimes with a curd filling like this one. The “rahka” in rahkapulla refers to quark, which is traditionally used in the filling, sweetened with sugar and vanilla so it almost resembles crème pâtissière. The bun we tried was a twist on the traditional, with the addition of a sharp burst of passion fruit and a sprinkling of desiccated coconut – a delicious contrast to the creamy sweet filling and subtly cardamom-flavoured bread.
Broad bean leaves
Broad bean season has begun, so you’ll no doubt start to see these little green pods gracing menus in restaurants across the country. But did you know you could also eat the leaves? This starter, on the current menu at The Marksman pub-restaurant in Hackney, London, is made with broad beans and their leaves. Chef and co-owner Tom Harris explains how the dish is made: ‘The broad beans are podded, peeled and served raw, having been briefly brined to season them. They’re dressed with lemon oil and salted lemon, and served with their leaves and a soft cream of sunflower seeds and sunflower oil. The dish is then finished with a bright herb oil – lovage this week, but we also use mint or chervil – and toasted sunflower seeds for texture.’ Like the beans, the leaves have a slightly nutty flavour, and they add great crunch as well as added grassiness to the dish.