What we ate in March 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 March we tried...

Strawberry sushi

Salmon and strawberries – would you eat them together? We weren’t convinced at first glance either, but there was only one way to find out. This special roll is on the menu at Design Sushi, the restaurant at Farol Design Hotel in Cascais, Portugal. This crispy, deep-fried California roll is filled with fresh, raw salmon, dried bonito flakes (dried fermented tuna shavings) and topped with strawberry slices. An unusual combination, but oh does it work. The strawberry is super-sweet, making it the perfect contrast to those salty bonito flakes. Add to that the freshness of the raw salmon and crunch from the coated California roll and it’s a real treat for the senses! The perfect pool-side snack, we’ll take another please.


Cereal chocolate

Cereal for breakfast? That is so old hat. Right now, cereal seems to be everywhere but the breakfast bowl. Whether it's cereal milk ice-cream, cereal milkshakes or even cereal doughnuts, this versatile ingredient is snap, crackle and popping up in all sorts of sweet treats. The latest to land on our desks is this ‘spoon of cereal’ chocolate bar from Creighton's chocolate - smooth marshmallow flavoured white chocolate studded with crunchy cereal hoops. What’s not to love? We reckon we’ll see more chocolate bars getting the cereal treatment soon. Keen to try it? This brand-new bar is available online from 1st April, (£3.75 per 100g bar). If you fancy creating something sweet with cereal, try our rice pop doughnuts or Chocolate Krispie chick, just in time for Easter!
 

Cricket bread

We've been talking about eating crickets for years. High in omegas 3 and 6, they are a sustainable and substantial source of protein, given the amount of space, feed and water they need for production compared to cattle and other livestock. Yet, many of us are still too squeamish to eat them in their whole form. The answer? Cricket flour. Made from ground crickets, cricket flour is a great way to introduce protein into food, without having to come face to face with a whole dried insect, legs and all. We’ve been experimenting with it at Good Food HQ. This is a sourdough loaf, with 10% of the flour substituted for cricket flour. The result is a delicious loaf with added protein, but no impact on flavour. Fancy experimenting? You can buy cricket flour online from Gathr or Crunchy Critters.

 

Monk’s beard

Close your eyes and picture monk’s beard. If you’re thinking long, grey and attached to a monk then chances are you may not have tried agretti, the Tuscan vegetable most commonly known as monk’s beard (after the monks who traditionally grew it). These green shoots are similar to samphire in appearance, but less intensely salty in taste. Intrigued? You’ll need to act fast if you want to try it - the season is incredibly short at around five weeks. Although monk’s beard can be eaten raw, it’s best lightly steamed. We tried it at Michelin-starred Kitchen W8, Kensington, in a starter of salt cod croquettes with peanut, blood orange and seaweed. It’s also on the menu at London's Perilla, cleverly used in place of spaghetti in a cuttlefish ‘bolognese’ – the slightly salty, al dente shoots make a great alternative to pasta and work brilliantly with the cuttlefish.
 

Olive oil cocktails

Olive oil fever is catching – last week we raved about olive oil in desserts, this week it’s found its way into our drinks. In fact, the bar at London's Union Street Café has been turned into an olive grove for spring in celebration of the olive. Alongside a bar menu of olive-oriented snacks, bar manager Davide Gagliazzo has teamed up with Martini to create a list of cocktails that all feature (yes, you guessed it) olive oil. Among them is this Oliver Spritz – a refreshing mix of Martini bianco, cachaca, lemon juice, sugar, Prosecco and Leccino olive oil. A take on the classic spritz, Davide uses Leccino olive oil for its light, fruity qualities, resulting in a unique, fragrant drink. Feeling thirsty? The Olive Grove will be open for the next three months, or try making your own olive oil inspired cocktail. Our Med Red Snapper is a Spanish take on the Bloody Mary, finished with arbequina olive oil.
 

High-end poke

Last year saw an explosion of poke (poh-kay) hit the UK food scene. A Hawaiian raw fish salad with Japanese influences, it certainly ticks a lot of boxes – healthy (tick), easy to eat (tick – it’s the ultimate bowl food) and delicious (TICK). A year on and the poke trend shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, this month saw the opening of a new poke bar in Soho, Honi Poke. The idea: To take poke to the next level. Coya development chef Richard De La Cruz (formerly of the three-Michelin-starred Quique Dacosta) has created the menu, which combines high-grade tuna, salmon and octopus with rice or veg and a huge variety of flavour-packed toppings and sauces. The highlight? Watching the chef whip out a blowtorch for the signature Octo Poke bowl – tossed in a sticky sauce, the octopus is blow-torched for a caramelised finish and served with punchy kimchi, pickled cucumber and a flavour-packed red chilli and kimchi sauce. For a lighter option, try the tuna, with fresh salted mango tossed in chilli garlic sauce and served on spiralised veg. 

 

Olive oil desserts

Newsflash: Olive oil + crème brûlée = game-changer. This olive oil crème brûlée tart comes from pâtisserie Poppy & Sebastian. Not an ingredient usually associated with sweet dishes, we’re seeing olive oil used much more in bakes and desserts lately. Why? Pâtissier Poppy explains: ‘Olive oil complements vanilla amazingly and adds a savoury, slightly bitter note to the sweet custard. I use Gay Farmer olive oil for its fruity, nutty and peppery flavour profile. It also makes the custard deliciously rich and satisfying as it emulsifies with the egg yolks, like in a mayonnaise.’ The result is the smoothest and most unique custard we’ve ever tasted. Want to taste it for yourself? Find Poppy’s bakes at Postcard Teas, Mayfair. Olive oil works well with chocolate and citrus too – we spotted it last week at Perilla in their blood orange custard and olive oil dessert. 

Reindeer meat

It’s fair to say that the idea of eating reindeer still raises a few eyebrows in the UK, but in northern parts of Scandinavia, it’s very popular. We’ve been at a five-course Nordic feast at the Dead Doll’s House in Islington, the first of a series of monthly Sunday ‘Bacchanalian Feasts’ by chef Joe Hill (formerly of Soho house and the Gordon Ramsay Group). First on the menu was this barbecued reindeer meat with salted blackberries, rye bread and pickles. Reindeer tastes similar to beef but slightly gamier, like venison. Still not convinced? It’s also a healthier choice of meat, with a much lower fat content than beef and high amounts of vitamin B12 and iron. If you fancy trying reindeer yourself, specialist Scandi delis and online retailers sell it. Try Stockholm deli, Tucker-exotics and Keziefoods.


Hops in cocktails

With the rise of craft beer, we're becoming accustomed to the citrusy, herby aroma of bold American hops, so it's no surprise they've started to appear in spirits and cocktails too. Last summer we tried Mikkeller's dry hopped vodka and gin and later in the year we saw hops sprinkled on desserts to add fruity bitterness. This pretty in pink cocktail from the Dandelyan bar at The Mondrian Hotel called ‘Mmm Hop’ (a nod to both hops and 90s boy band Hanson...) is a real herbal hit, made up of gin, tree sap cordial, bitter hibiscus and fizz and finished with a hop flower. Keen to try it yourself? Hop to it (sorry) – it’s on the menu now at the Dandelyan bar.

 

Fairtrade afternoon tea

This afternoon tea hosted by the Fairtrade Foundation had one unique touch – everything on the picture-perfect display of finger food was made using Fairtrade ingredients, including the sugar, flour, cocoa and bananas. On the menu was miniature lemon meringue tarts, gooey chocolate brownies, banana cake and peanut butter tarts, plus finger sandwiches and warm scones with jam and cream. And to drink? Fairtrade tea and coffee, of course. With talks from the Fairtrade Foundation and our contributing editor Rosie Birkett (fresh back from a trip to some of Malawi’s Fairtrade tea plantations), the event was a reminder that many producers are still unfairly paid and living in extreme poverty. 

Lamb fat butter

Lamb fat butter… sound appetising? No? Taste appetising? Oh yes. Served as an accompaniment to homemade seaweed bread at Perilla, Newington Green (London), this butter is not for the faint-hearted. Imagine all the flavour from the very best part of a roasted lamb chop, whipped into a light, creamy butter and spread on warm, crusty bread. The bread is a little soda-like in texture, with a slight saline tang from the seaweed, but it's a subtle note – this dish is all about that lamb. Whipped, flavoured and cultured butters have been big on the restaurant scene for a while, and with the rise in popularity of lardo (cured pig back fat), this invention seems like a natural progression into the world of ‘nouveau fats’. 

Waste

This week, we ate an entire menu made from food industry waste, created by New York chef Dan Barber. Following a season at his restaurant Blue Hill Farm (New York), Dan is in London for WastED (as in wast-education) – an eye-opening six-week pop-up on the roof of Selfridges. Dan spent months sourcing UK food waste and uses everything from Sharpham Park spelt bran (leftover from the milling process) to Burger King lettuce butts with gastronomic flourish. These succulent nuggets were made with veal rescued from the dairy industry and came served with smoked tomato ketchup (using bruised and misshapen tomatoes), mango scraps and ginger chutney and ash mayonnaise. A third of all food grown or manufactured in the world is wasted - that’s enough to feed 70 million people. Of all the trends, we’re hoping this one will go mainstream.For information on cutting down food waste, see our online guides and look out for our eco-issue, on sale 4 May.

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 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
One year of food trends

 

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