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 Sarah Lienard and Anna Lawson.
In November we tried...
November 27th is Lancashire Day, celebrated since 1295 and a big deal locally. To mark the occasion the county came to London in the form of a pop-up restaurant run collaboratively by five of its award-winning chefs. They brought with them famed local ingredients including Capra goat's cheese and Crossmoor Farm honey which Maurizio Bocchi from La Locanda used to make tortellini bathed in Gazegill raw milk butter; Steven Smith from the Freemasons at Wiswell cooked Ormskirk potatoes and Goosnargh duck with hen of the woods from Wiswell Moor. Chris Bury of The Cartford Inn revealed where the Morecambe Bay shrimps, seabass and Jerusalem artichokes he used could be found; and Stosie Madi from ParkersArms made a cracking pie using Cockerham salt marsh lamb and Lytham cockles. Lisa Goodwin-Allen, head chef of Michelin-starred Northcote, ended the meal with this gorgeously clever apple dessert based around several different varieties from Brockhall Village. If this is what Lancashire tastes like, then get us a one-way ticket!
For years we’ve been matching wine with food but beer pairings are becoming increasingly popular, as the drink continues to undergo a renaissance. There’s A Beer For That is a campaign that celebrates beer and dispels myths surrounding it. Miriam went to a special dinner run by the campaign, where each course was served with a specially-selected beer. The highlight was dessert - a pear poached in white wine served on an orange & malt cake, decorated with hops. This paired perfectly with a porter - the bitter hops on the pear contrasting with the sweet maltiness of the brew - an irresistible combination!
Say hello to the latest hybrid vegetable. Kalettes have the appearance of mini purple-stalked cabbages but they’re actually a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts. The idea was to create a Brussels sprout with a milder flavour so it could be more versatile and appeal to the sprout haters out there. A success? We think so! Kalettes are much less bitter than sprouts and have a sweeter, nuttier flavour. Like kale, they can be eaten raw or cooked. We enjoyed them in a stir-fried rice dish. Intrigued? Kalettes are in season now (until March) and you can pick up a bag in most major supermarkets.
In the backstreets of East London, Phil Landers creates single origin, single bean chocolate bars, using unique bean varieties found in South American countries, mostly Nicaragua, Venezuela and Honduras. With Pressure Drop brewery right around the corner from his Bethnal Green workshop, Phil was encouraged to pair his Honduras 65% dark bar with malt barley. The result? A smooth dark chocolate with coffee notes, which perfectly balances the sweetness of malt barley. Launched in October this year, these bean-to-bar chocolates are now available online at Land Chocolate and Craved.
Mirror glaze cakes
Since appearing on this year’s Great British Bake Off, mirror glaze cakes have taken the internet by storm, with #mirrorglaze reaching nearly 25,000 hits on Instagram. Professional and amateur bakers up and down the country are creating bakes so shiny you can see your own reflection in them. We're sure that Paul Hollywood would be proud. The craze for glaze has caught on at Good Food HQ too, and we’ve been at the BBC Good Food show this weekend showing you how it’s done. Keen to try it yourself? Have a go at our assistant food editor Miriam’s recipe for a lemon mirror glaze mousse cake.
Move over maple, there’s a new syrup in town. Richer in flavour than maple, birch syrup is produced from the sap of the yellow birch tree. Tipped by Sous Chef as the hottest new ingredient to infiltrate the cheffing scene, we were keen to give it a try. The dark syrup is rich, acidic and sweet, but the mineral and slightly metallic undertones give a unique flavour. With such intensity, you only need to add a tiny amount to dressings, marinades and glazes – probably a good thing when it takes a whopping 130 litres of yellow birch tree sap to produce just 1 litre of the stuff (compare that to around 40 litres of maple sap to make maple syrup). Sous Chef founder Nicola Lando also recommends adding a dash to cocktails. Try this version from Canadian producer Escuminac, available online at souschef.co.uk.
Crispy pig tails
After three years working at festivals and London street food space StreetFeast, David Carter, founder of Smokestak, has opened his first permanent site. The new restaurant in Shoreditch features favourites from the stall, including brisket bun with pickled red chilli and burnt-end beans, as well as new dishes like smoked girolles & beef dripping toast and crispy beef shin with anchovy mayo. If that wasn’t enough to get you salivating, wait until you hear about the bar snack. Possibly our favourite item on the menu, these crispy pig tails in a sticky soy and honey barbecue sauce were the perfect blend of sweet and smokey. Using the tail means you get 360 degree crackling – the whole circumference is super crisp, giving way to melting pork belly-like meat beneath. We're firm fans.
Jersey curd parfait, roasted pineapple, sesame seeds
Following the success of James Cochran’s pop up at B.Y.O.C Soho this summer, he’s now opening his first permanent site in East London, James Cochran EC3, featuring an entirely new menu. Our favourite dish at the launch? This jersey curd parfait, with roasted pineapple and sesame seeds, inspired by James’ childhood memory of staying on a milk farm in Jersey. The dessert was delicious and complex, with every bite having many different aspects to it; the generous sprinkling of sesame seeds added a savoury dimension, with the sharp-sweet tang of roasted pineapple contasting with the creamy parfait. To give it its unique, semi-frozen texture, James uses olive oil. He explained: ‘Oil can’t freeze so adding a few drops raises the temperature of the dish by 10%! This means it will still look frozen to the eye, but when you eat it, it’s incredibly delicate to taste.’ The result? An unusual yet refined dish that we couldn’t get enough of.
Steamed bun club sandwich
This week saw the opening of Street XO London, sister restaurant to DiverXO, Madrid’s only three Michelin starred restaurant, owned by celebrated Spanish chef David Munoz. Set in a club-like basement restaurant, the chefs create dishes in an open kitchen - the counter seats are the most sought-after for foodies who like to watch the action. David’s playful fusion menu is made up of sharing style dishes including his take on a Club Sandwich. Not your typical chicken, bacon & lettuce combo, this is a steamed bun filled with ricotta cream, spiked with shichimi togarashi for a nice fiery kick and finished with a fried quail’s egg. The chefs advise flipping the eggs over to avoid it oozing out as you eat it with your hands. Other dishes include Pekinese dumplings with crunchy pig's ear, strawberry hoi sin, aioli and gherkins and kimchi croquettas with tuna steak and burnt butter.
Laotian crispy riverweed
Introducing our new favourite snack: Laotian crispy riverweed with sesame seeds, or Kaipen. The name isn't that catchy, but the taste certainly is – slightly sweet and bitter, similar to Japanese nori seaweed. Riverweed (otherwise known as green algae) is harvested from the Mekong and other rivers in northern Laos. It is shaped into thin sheets, flavoured with garlic, tomato and sesame seeds, then sun dried. We sampled some in the town of Luang Prabang, where it was flash fried and served with jeow bong, a sweet, spicy chilli paste. It goes perfectly with another local favourite – a chilled Beerlao. Laotian food is getting big in the UK with Lao Café, by Saiphin Moore (founder of Rosa’s Thai), due to open in Covent Garden this month. Riverweed is set to be on the specials menu from time to time, depending on availability – try it when you can.
Clementine & Szechuan sour
Clementine season is upon us! Not just a stocking filler or desk-side snack, we’ve seen the juicy citrus fruit used in new and exciting ways. This week, we’ve been checking out the new winter additions at Homeslice, which include this clementine & Szechuan sour cocktail. A seasonal take on a classic whisky sour, it contains whisky, aperol, a clementine and Szechuan peppercorn syrup, a dash of orange bitters and egg white, finished with a hit of spicy ground Szechuan pepper and a slice of clementine. Try it for yourself at the Fitzrovia and Shoreditch branches of Homeslice. For other innovative ways with clementines, check out our spiced blackened prawns with clementine salsa or our latest cover recipe – eggnog trifle with clementine slices.
Crab apple doughnuts
Doughnuts get an update with a crab apple jelly filling at our contributing editor Rosie Birkett’s pop up at Carousel. The perfectly-formed, generously-filled bites were served on a silky crème anglaise infused with meadowsweet - a flowering herb renowned for its sweet aroma and subtle almond flavour. Rosie has returned to the restaurant for her second residency with a menu focused around foraged and wild food, with ingredients influenced by her recent travels. Japanese-inspired dishes include smoked eel in dashi and octopus dumplings with kewpie mayo and bonito. For us, though, dessert was the star of the show – we’ll be foraging under wild apple trees so we can make our own crab apple jelly.
If there’s one trend from this year that looks set to stay over Christmas and well into 2017, it’s gin. We’ve seen small distilleries pop up all over the UK, and this week we sampled a small-batch specimen from Macclesfield Forest. The aptly named Forest Gin is made with foraged wild bilberries, raspberries and blackberries, Peak District moss and ferns, with a sprinkling of wild flowers, bark and pine. This results in a complex flavour that has earned the gin two Double Gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirit Awards.
From the cronut to the chouxnut, the crookie to the dougsant, it seems hybrid bakes are being cooked up faster than Mary Berry can say soggy bottom. Now, Marks & Spencer have got in on the action, with the launch of the croloaf (croissant loaf). M&S bakery expert Sadia Usman was inspired by Chicago bakery Beurrage, where the chef uses leftover croissant pastry to form a loaf. Sadia explains “it’s perfect for those who like the convenience of grabbing a slice of toast for breakfast but love the delicious buttery taste of croissants”. The draw? Unlike croissants, the loaf doesn’t need to be eaten that day, as it tastes good toasted a few days later.
Yuzu mulled wine
Is it too early for mulled wine? With the temperature hitting a bleak 3 degrees this week, we think not. Thankfully South London start-up space and street food haven Pop Brixton have now winter-proofed their outdoor area, meaning we can still enjoy food from the likes of Made of Dough (insane wood-fired pizzas), Mama Jerk (authentic jerk chicken) Bhangra Burger (Indian style burgers) and more, without having to wear a scarf and gloves. Vendors have also added winter items to their menus, and we went along to check them out. Our first taste of the new additions was mulled wine with an Asian twist. Served at Vietnamese-inspired stall Viet Box, this one contains yuzu, fresh mint and clementine. The verdict? Delicious - not too sickly sweet and just as warming and Christmassy as mulled wine but with a slightly fresher flavour from the mint.
Missed the last food diary? Find out what we ate last month, or visit our 12 month compilation to get fully up to speed...