Read our dispatch from the world of food as the roving BBC Good Food team hits the scene to discover new trends, hot ingredients and what you should be eating to stay in vogue. Here's what we ate in April...
Last weekend, our deputy editor Elaine visited San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque Country where markets were flowing with a pallid version of a favourite spring ingredient – asparagus. Despite their deceptively anaemic hue, white asparagus spears pack as much flavour as their green siblings – they’re white as they’re grown completely underground and it’s sunlight that changes the spear from pale to green. If you manage to find them in the UK, enjoy them as Elaine did – served simply with vinaigrette or blitzed into soup.
Coconut milk yogurt
In the health world, you can’t swing a cat without hitting a coconut product, so it was only a matter of time before someone turned classic storecupboard coconut milk into something modish. Our health editor Roxy sampled the range of COYO pots and loved the product’s vegan credentials and health-conscious fruit and raw cocoa flavours.
We’re totally up for an emergence of a sweet pizza trend. If the idea makes you wince, bear with us and throw all notions of cheese out the window – we’re talking brioche-style pillowy bases, lots of sprinkled brown sugar and a delicious saucy topping. Our senior food editor Barney enjoyed a fruit version topped with stewed rhubarb, but we’re hoping for versions with chocolate spread, dulce de leche and sweetened mascarpone in future. The gauntlet has been laid…
You’ll have to act fast if you want to sample this fleeting seasonal special – hop shoots only stick around for a matter of weeks every spring. Barney grows them in his garden and harvests a small but satisfying yield each year. His 2015 crop was served simply sizzled in brown butter with a light shaving of Parmsesan, although he recommends serving them in frittata or risotto, too.
Things that we crave
So we’re not technically eating this, but one notable food entry in our diary this week was the Cravings exhibition at the Science Museum in London. Our brand executive Natasha went on an educational voyage to discover why we crave the foods we do and found out that we’ll automatically like yogurt more if we eat it from a white spoon, that textured spoons enhance the flavour of any food and much more beyond… Far out!
On Monday, our health editor Roxy roamed the aisles of the Natural and Organic Product Show in London and spotted something we’ve been seeing a lot of recently – posh salt. Granules are out and crystals are in, but not just any old crystals; For your sodium to be truly in vogue it needs to be flavoured. The Falk Salt range features flavours including red chilli, wild garlic, rosemary and, to pile trend upon trend, smoke.
Oreo and Nutella milkshakes
A slumber party isn’t complete without a heady dose of saccharine, and our senior food editor Barney duly delivered to his daughter Maisie and her pals. His turbo triple-chocolate blend included Oreo biscuits and Oreo ice cream, plus a few tablespoons of Nutella. The personalised jars were an Easter gift but sadly the in-store Selfridges service is no more.
Afternoon tea with a floral twist
Life was rosy for our cookery assistant Chelsie this week – she took a spot of char at a Chelsea Flower Show-inspired afternoon tea party at the Rose Lounge in the Sofitel Hotel. Among the seasonal sandwiches, obligatory scones and pastries were floral-tinged bakes like raspberry rose macaroons, plus a raspberry and hibiscus pot with edible flowers, something we’re enthusing over since foraging is hot on our spring agenda.
Wild garlic rack of lamb
There are only a few more weeks of wild garlic season left, so we’re chowing down on it while we can. Barney created a springtime stunner by blitzing his wild garlic leaves with breadcrumbs, some cheese, oil and lemon and adding it to a rack of trimmed lamb. Seasonal cooking doesn’t get much better than this…
They’re back - the kingpin of the potato world has emerged from its soily blanket for its annual tenure. Barney was first in line to sample the new season’s crop, and served his boiled and tossed in butter and wild leaves and scattered with edible primroses.
Last weekend, GF.com editor Hannah was in Barcelona and found herself in front of one of the finest things ever to emerge from a deep-frier (and there’s some stiff competition out there) – the bomba. This Spanish sphere of tapas wonder has an inner core of spiced mince, a mantle of creamy mashed potato and a crispy breadcrumb crust. If you didn’t get the geological reference, the subtext is this – the bomba is stratospherically delicious. Especially when smothered in mayo and spicy ketchup. We’ve been scratching our heads wondering why this hasn’t been picked up by a nouveau streetfood vendor yet – it’s surely ripe to be the new arancini.
Our food editor Cassie is a fan of Sunday mornings and big breakfasts in equal measure, so last weekend she knocked up a quick morning pizza. When it comes to concept dishes, they don’t get much better than this. She topped her dough with quail eggs, tomatoes, prosciutto, spring onions and basil and served it to her hungry and very lucky fiancé. To that I say – ditch him and marry me. We spotted a Nutella pizza on Instagram this week, too. It’s enough to make a nonna shudder, but we’re not ones to fight progress.
Our senior food editor Barney regularly holidays in Wales, and a recent Easter visit bred his latest obsession - wild garlic. And when I say obsessed, just take a trip to his Instagram feed. A gold star for enthusiasm, Barney – let’s get this whole #wildgarlic thing viral. He gifted a sack of the surprisingly mellow spring leaf to Cassie, who, knowing its limited shelf life, whizzed it into butter to stash in the freezer. She recommends stuffing into chicken breasts or serving with fish. Barney wrote a feature on wild garlic in our April magazine, too - try not to dribble over the image of the wild garlic kiev. If you want to try cooking with it, you have until around June to pick some up.
On Tuesday, I visited the opening of the St JOHN Bakery Rooms. For the uninitiated, St JOHN Bar & Restaurant was set up by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver and pioneered a ‘nose to tail’ approach to cooking which has inspired today’s offal-loving chefs in a big way. The party menu included Welsh rarebit, Middlewhite tongue on chicory, mini beef pies and the star of the show – St JOHN’s famous doughnuts, filled with seasonal rhubarb, plus chocolate, custard and lemon curd. We doff our hats to this British take on a classic American dish.
On Wednesday, Cassie dined at Martin Morales' Ceviche. Named after a traditional Peruvian dish of zesty, citrus-cured fish, the East London restaurant serves lots of different versions of ceviche, plus grilled beef heart skewers, tender octopus and this delicious quinoa and coconut cake. And there we were thinking quinoa was for salad. Cassie says this is her favourite dessert of the year so far, quite the accolade coming from Good Food’s cake queen.
Pulled pork sausage rolls
Our digital assistant Sarah made her own jumbo pulled pork sausage roll at M&S’s summer showcase not long ago – and we’ve been pondering the concept ever since. Pulled pork truly is the trend that keeps on giving, but we’re not complaining. And wrapping it in puff pastry? Knock us sideways. We’ve been dreaming up other streetfood mash-ups ever since. Mac & cheese pasty? Get me Greggs on line one, pronto…
What do you think of this week’s eats, and what have you been feasting on?