What we ate in March 2018

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

What we ate in March...

Goose egg

We all know eggs make a cracking (ahem..) breakfast. But what about a giant egg? That’s essentially what you're getting with a goose egg from specialist Clarence Court. The packaging promises ‘a more pronounced flavour (than a hen’s egg) but slightly milder than a duck egg’ and advises boiling for nine to 11 minutes for a runny yolk. We tried it two ways: simply poached, then in a more elaborate omelette. The first challenge was breaking into the thick ovoid shell; no mean feat. Several whacks with the back of a knife finally broke through, then confident thumbs released the inner liquid. We poached it just like a hen’s egg, but for eight minutes. Taste-wise, it was outstanding – rich and creamy and very ‘eggy’. But the amount was onerous. We felt full until dinner! For our next experiment, we whipped it into a classic omelette Arnold Bennett – a rich concoction of the semi-cooked egg scattered with flaked smoked haddock, coated in a creamy sauce, sprinkled with parmesan and Gruyère then finished under the grill until souffled and golden. Delicious, but again, egg-stremely filling (sorry).

 

Matcha waffles, fried chicken & pecan miso butter

Fried chicken & waffles has become a modern classic on trendy brunch menus, but Japanese restaurant Nobu has taken it up a level. Famous worldwide for its sushi, Nobu has recently launched a new breakfast menu at its Shoreditch branch, featuring classic brunch dishes like scrambled eggs and ‘full English breakfast’ but with the addition of punchy Japanese flavours including miso, matcha and soy. Crispy fried chicken is served with fluffy matcha waffles and a pecan miso butter with the matcha adding a slightly bitter note to the waffles, as well as a very Instagrammable green interior. Meanwhile the miso butter boosts the umami and pairs perfectly with a generous helping of maple syrup. We also tried their ‘not-to-be-missed’ matcha croissants – buttery, flaky pastry filled with a white chocolate and matcha ganache… They alone are worth the trip.

 

Lobster oil

‘Extra virgin olive oil is timeless. Truffle oil is decadent. But lobster oil is the ultimate luxury.’ So says the blurb for Groix et Nature’s new lobster oil, which had the Good Food team clamouring to try it. The ‘highest quality grapeseed’ oil is infused with 12kg of blue lobsters from the north-east Atlantic Ocean which is said to ‘add an extravagant Breton twist’ to all manner of recipes, including seafood risottos, Bloody Marys, salads, scallop and fish dishes such as tuna tartare, or simply stirred through hot pasta. And wow, does it pack a punch – in its aroma as well as its taste. Opening a bottle of this bright red liquid, you’re hit with a waft of pure fishiness – the kind of pungency you get from shrimp paste and fish sauce. But while its smell might be overwhelming, the flavour is excellent with a true and intense lobster flavour. We had ours drizzled over mac ‘n’ cheese and it became an umami sensation, elevating a creamy, cheesy pasta to another level of luxury. At £9.58 per 100ml, it isn’t cheap, but use sparingly (as you must!) and it will enhance many of your dishes for weeks to come. Fancy trying it yourself? Get your claws on it at Harvey Nichols.

 

Whisky cocktails

In the April issue of Good Food magazine, we talked all things booze with distillers, distributors and drinks experts, and while gin is still very much on everyone’s lips, distributor Stuart Ekins reckons "whisky is poised to explode". While it used to be thought of as a drink to sip on its own and enjoyed mostly by the older male demographic, we're now seeing it served in more exciting forms in bars across the country. We recently enjoyed a 'Golden Allure' cocktail at newly reopened private member's club Annabel’s in Mayfair, London. This blend of Hennessy Fine de Cognac and Annabel’s WhistlePig Rye with orange and cacao tincture is served alongside a delicious, dinky cone of roasted coconut and popcorn. That enhances the complexity and spice of the blended rye and cognac, complemented by tropical notes of coconut. Get inspired and check out our whisky cocktail collection for drinks you can mix at home.

 

Suckling pig 

Bringing the heat of the kitchen into front of house is nothing new. Pizza ovens came first, followed by charcoal grills and now the 'asador', a Spanish-style wood-fired oven to be found upstairs at Sabor, a London restaurant newly opened by Nieves Barragán Mohacho and José Etura. A row of copper pots is also visible behind the counter for cooking pulpo á feira (octopus flavoured with paprika) to silky tenderness, Galician-style. Meanwhile, the asador produces a tender and rich Segovian suckling pig with crisp skin. You can order half, whole or a quarter of one for £38, which is more than enough between four – especially after you've already eaten the octopus, frit Mallorquin (finely diced lamb offal), empanada Gallega (a slice of mahogany brown pastry stuffed with cuttlefish) and a portion of crispy fried pig's ears. We couldn't fit in the patatas fritas... But if you venture to Sabor, be sure to order the tomato salad made with a dark blackish-red variety from Spain. Extraordinary.

 

Syrian bakes

Despite opening very recently, Islington bakery Pophams is already making a name for itself. While the menu includes classics like the humble almond croissant, you'll also discover unusual and exotic pastries. Think PBJ, maple & bacon and cookie dough – and by the way, the pastry used in all these recipes is excellent. Excuse us while we digress and go a bit Paul Hollywood talking about the lamination with crispy layers that are buttery, light and flaky. The big news, however, is that for one month only, Pophams has created a limited edition Syrian-inspired pastry in aid of Bake For Syria, so not only can you enjoy a fabulous sweet treat, your money (£3.20 for this beauty) will go to Unicef and their campaign to protect Syrian children. The filling is baklava-inspired with walnuts, almonds and a gooey pistachio paste, plus floral notes of rose water and crushed pistachios scattered over. Grab one while you can. Available until 16 April.

 

Cherry blossom raindrop cake

Last year, the ‘raindrop cake’ exploded on social media when it arrived in London at Japanese ramen pop-up Yamagoya. You only have to look at it to see why… we defy anyone to see this unique-looking dessert and not have a flurry of questions – mainly, what on earth is that? how is it made? and of course, what does it taste like?! We tried this sakura (cherry blossom) raindrop cake at Yamagoya’s now permanent site in Waterloo. Launched for ‘hanami’, a Japanese festival celebrating the arrival of spring, the original raindrop cake has been updated with the addition of a preserved cherry blossom flower. Made from just water, a touch of sugar and agar (a Japanese, algae-obtained substance which makes things jelly-like), not only does the dessert look like a raindrop, but it actually kind of tastes like one too… in other words, like jellified water. Yes, the drop itself is surprisingly water-esque, but flavour comes from the slightly salty, floral cherry blossom in the centre, as well as the sweet syrup and soybean powder that it's served with. The syrup, which has notes of dried fruits, is poured over the raindrop and eaten together with the powder, resulting in a slightly malty flavour which adds a bit of depth to the refreshing jelly. Popular as a palate-cleansing dessert in Japan, we reckon it’s likely to split opinion among British diners…

 

‘Cheese-ter’ egg

Not everyone loves chocolate (strange, but true) which leaves an awful lot of us feeling left out at Easter. But delivered to Good Food came a possible solution – an Easter egg made of cheese, or a ‘cheese-ter egg’, if you will. Packaged like a traditional Easter egg (actually a little over-packaged – the cardboard box contained two moulds of protective plastic) the idea caused scepticism amongst colleagues. ‘An Easter egg? Made of cheese?’ Cue several wrinkled eyebrows. Unfortunately, what in fact it was, was rather disappointing. Instead of an egg-shaped cheese, what we got was a plastic mould full of spreadable Blacksticks blue cheese with a pack of mini-oatcakes and a sachet of sweet chutney to accompany it. To be fair, the spreadable cheese was delicious (Blacksticks just is!) and it went exceptionally well with the biscuits and chutney. So yes, it might be a great snack for blue cheese lovers, but the fact is... it’s not an egg. If you’d rather tuck into cheese and chutney than chocolate, you’ll find Blacksticks Blue Cheese egg in ASDA and Morrisons (£5).

 

Bali cuisine

Lemongrass is a flavour that can be used very badly – its powerful fragrance can come across far too industrial cleaner in the wrong hands. In the right hands it is sublime, a breath of flowery citrus that enhances rather than overpowering. The right hands belong to Kieran Morland, head chef of Merah Putih, one of Bali’s most celebrated restaurants. Bali came to 10 Greek Street in London’s Soho for two flavour-packed days during a collaboration with owners Cameron Emirali (chef) and Luke Wilson (wine maestro). Lemongrass along with other Indonesian flavours and a healthy dose of garlic danced through the dishes on offer. Esoteric ingredients such as taro, tapioca and banana leaves appeared alongside familiar beef and pork and seasonal razor clams in a series of small dishes ranging from these chive blossom fritters served with a peanut and dried shrimp based bumbu rujak to a shellfish broth heavy with turmeric and packed with noodle-like strips of cuttlefish. Indonesian cuisine isn’t mainstream, but it is available in this country and is well worth seeking out. A holiday to Bali might also be in order...

 

Goat’s cheese, fig & honey hot cross bun 

Not long ago, we suggested that 2018 would be the year of the fig, after seeing it appear in several new liqueurs and spirits, and we’ve received more evidence that this might be the case. Behold, a hot cross bun with the unusual but oh-so-delicious flavour combination of goat’s cheese, fig and honey. These super-sized buns come from Fortnum & Mason and, although they caused a few raised eyebrows from the team, most of those eyebrows immediately lowered once they tasted them. It doesn’t sound like the flavours would work, but it really does. The dough itself is great – not too sticky and not too dry and with herby notes of thyme and sweet, gooey hints of fig, offset by the subtle flavour of goat’s cheese, which perfectly complements the sweet fig. They’re delicious on their own, or you could spread with something sweet like honey, or pair with something savoury and salty, like Parma ham. If you’re intrigued, you can find them at Fortnum & Mason in-store and online (£6.25 for a pack of four).

 

Baest

If you’ve been watching Netflix’s latest foodie series Ugly Delicious, then you will have heard of Copenhagen’s Baest restaurant. It features in episode one of the series, where chef David Chang explores the world’s best pizzas. Among an impressive line-up of pizzerias from Naples to New York, Baest is up there in David’s list because of its dedication to using local, sustainable and organic produce. They have their own cows and a micro-dairy above the restaurant where they produce mozzarella for their pizzas, a bakery where the local flour is turned into bread and pizza dough and the meat for the charcuterie comes from nearby Hindsholm farm. Our cookery writer Ellie was lucky enough to try one of Baest’s pizzas on a trip to Copenhagen. Her verdict? ‘It was the best pizza I’ve ever had’. Apparently, the combination of wood-fired dough, creamy house-made ricotta, salty pancetta, fermented chilli and fresh ramsons (wild garlic) was the stuff of great dreams. The quality of the ingredients is the key to its success. If you’re ever in Copenhagen, a visit to Baest is a must.

 

Mushroom ‘scallops’

New-wave veggie and vegan food continues to dominate the food scene, and we’ve eaten plenty of exciting veg-centric food lately. The problem with some of these foods is accessibility. While ingredients like seitan, tempeh and tofu might be rife on menus now, some, particularly seitan, are still difficult to get hold of and cook with at home. We attended a plant-based banquet (a ‘planquet’, if you will) by Alpro and BOSH! to mark the first ever annual Plant Power Day (7 March) – a brand new national awareness day to celebrate the power of plants. Unlike some of the veggie dishes we’ve eaten lately, the three-course menu at the banquet didn’t contain any extravagant or difficult-to-source ingredients, just seasonal veg was used to create British comfort food inspired dishes. Our highlight was this vegan starter – mushroom ‘scallops’ with apple & parsnip mash and toasted hazelnuts. Trumpet mushrooms were used for the ‘scallops’, sliced to form a similar shape and texture to scallops, although not similar in taste. Served on a satisfying parsnip and apple mash and finished with a good crunch of toasted hazelnuts the result was an impressive, but easy-to-recreate vegan starter.

 

Vegan Mexican food

“If you’re looking for chickpeas and chia seeds, you’ve come to the wrong place!” Never has a company’s tagline spoken to us on such a deep level. Step through the doors of The Spread Eagle and you're not just entering an east London pub. With vegan 'doner kebabs', fried 'chicken' and all manner of indulgent vegan street food, this is a plant-based paradise. Mexican cuisine is the focus for London’s first 100% vegan pub, with a menu by vegan veterans Club Mexicana. Their tacos, nachos, burritos and burgers are bursting with spice and zing and use popular vegan ingredients like jackfruit and seitan. We loved the ‘al pastor’ and ‘carne asada’ tacos but the pièce de résistance is the Mexican fried 'chicken' burger, dripping with mustard mayo and crunchy pickled cabbage. The texture is satisfyingly meaty and it doesn’t leave you wanting. It is pure filth – in the best way possible. Try it with house twists on classic cocktails like the ‘Eagle old fashioned’. If you want a night out that both vegans and carnivores can relish, this is the answer. Written by Georgina Kiely.

 

Hot cross buns

It’s here – the annual Good Food hot cross bun taste test! We ate our way through 21 different supermarket and bakery buns to find you the best… because we’re good like that. Our findings? Well, we were on the hunt for the best traditional plus the best alternative bun, so we came across a wide range of different flavours from the slightly obscure (mango, pineapple & papaya anyone?) to more familiar combinations (apple & cinnamon), but this year the biggest trend is chocolate hot cross buns. Yes, as if Easter wasn’t choc-fuelled enough, we've tasted chocolate & sour cherry, chocolate & fudge and even chocolate & salted caramel hot cross buns, among others. To find out which were our favourites, check out our 2018 hot cross bun taste test, or if you fancy making your own, try our brand-new recipe for chocolate checkerboard hot cross buns.

 

Experimental cooking

We’re huge fans of thought-provoking, experimental cooking here at Good Food HQ, and this week we were lucky enough to experience an evening of some of the most awe-inspiring food we’ve ever tried, in a uniquely intimate setting. We’re talking about Aulis – Simon Rogan’s eight-seater development kitchen in the heart of London’s Soho. Here, guests are treated to a dynamic and interactive dining experience by head chef Rafael Cagali and sous chef Sean Sanders comprised of 14 courses, paired with wine and sake from around the world. Expect a level of dining closer to art than food and the rare opportunity to quiz the chefs on the ingredients and techniques used within each course. Our highlights include celeriac cooked in miso with whey and malt flakes, and monkfish basted in Marmite butter with Jerusalem artichoke purée and a crispy topping made from the dehydrated artichoke peel blitzed with crispy chicken skin (pictured). This is seriously clever, seasonal cooking that invites you to engage with food in a fresh and exciting way.

Missed an entry in our food diary? Find out what we've eaten previously...

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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