Read August's 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. By Natalie Hardwick and Sarah Lienard.
Japanese and South American are two trends that seem set to stay in culinary circles, so it’s no wonder that magazine deputy editor Elaine leapt at the chance to try Nikkei cuisine, which combines the two far-reaching influences. Brazilian-born supper club host Luiz Hara recreated dishes cooked by his Japanese family in São Paulo, as well as the more traditional Japanese dishes he learned while working in Tokyo. At his London home, Luiz cooked an incredible menu that included leek & tofu gyozas with homemade teriyaki sauce and surf & turf Nigiri-Zushi, pictured right (blow-torched foie gras with garlic-teriyaki sauce, grilled scallop chifa-zushi and salmon with aji amarillo cream). Mains included a traditional family dish called Nikkei Tai Gohan - sea bream rice with yuzu & green jalapeño dressing, cooked in a donabe earthenware pot, made of special clay that can go over an open flame.
We can't resist... well most things really, so if an opportunity arises to act as chief guinea pigs for a new concept we're all over it. Brand editorial director Christine had the good luck to sample cookery writer and chef, Rosie Birkett’s new pop-up menu during a test-run at her house. These colourful canapés contained a secret ingredient, Chrain, to give them a delicate pink hue. Made from pureed beetroot and horseradish, this condiment can be found in Polish or Jewish delis – we’ll definitely be picking some up to experiment with. Rosie’s blini recipe will be on her blog next week, or if you just can’t wait, why not try our beetroot blinis with smoked salmon.
With ramen all the rage, food editor Cassie couldn’t wait to sample some at Shoryu, who have been singled out as specialists in the Hakata tonkotsu variety. Big bowls of piping-hot pork stock and thin, chewy noodles are topped with char sou barbecue pork belly, kikurage mushrooms, spring onion, nori seaweed and nitamago eggs – boiled eggs that are marinated in soy, mirin, sake and ginger, cooked to a soft-set orange yolk. The broth is slowly simmered for 12 hours, giving the soup a depth or flavour and richness that you just can’t rush.
New Yorkers are adamant that their bagels are the best, and it’s hard to argue with them once you’ve tasted these beauties by Bowery Bakery, which we picked up at Duke of York’s Square market last weekend. The hand-rolled recipe comes in varieties such as pumpernickel, rye, onion, sesame and ‘everything’, which made a scrumptious snack toasted and slathered with jalapeño cream cheese. The bagels are chewy, stretchy and, judging by the accents from the customers in the queue, authentically American. We also picked up a great tip to make your market buys last longer - simply slice in half before freezing, so you can pop them straight in the toaster. Obvious to those in the exclusive circle (pun intended) of the bagel elite, perhaps, but a handy hack for the rest of us.
Cheese? Been there. Ham? Done that. Mushrooms? So passé! The omelette filling of the moment is globe artichoke. Christine tried this ultra-chic breakfast at Ladurée Harrods tearoom this week when she popped in to buy its famous macarons. The four-egg omelette is filled with artichoke puree, and topped with artichokes and chervil - a simple idea for using up a glut. We’d wager it’s only a matter of time before someone makes an artichoke macaron!
What we ate earlier this month...
It's the time of year for stained and sticky fingers as we venture outside to harvest an abundance of blackberries. Our very own food editor Cassie, transformed her foraged fruit into a seasonal twist on a British classic - a blackberry Bakewell traybake. She based her seasonal showstopper on an almondy sponge cake, studded with fresh berries, and drizzled it with a blackberry icing and flaked almonds for a final flourish. Pass another slice please!
If the question 'a lump of coal with your coffee?' is enough to make you choke on your artisan roast blend, you might just be missing out on a trendy treat. Brand editorial director Christine sampled sugar 'charcoal' after dinner at Brindisa Morado Asado. This edible 'candy coal' is made from a base of thick meringue and black colorant, which is baked and dried - a play on the restaurant's main cooking appliances, a charcoal oven and open grill. Regular readers of What we're eating will know we love a play on words, but a 'play on food'? Sheer brilliance!
Done right, pastry is one of the most Instagram-worthy ingredients of the foodie world, and this week we uncovered the secrets Cassie and our cookery hub use to achieve such clever crusts. From fabulous fluting and perfect plaits, to a simple sprinkle of sugar, all these techniques are divulged in the September issue of Good Food (on sale 28th August). As we're gearing up to dispatch of late summer gluts, we can't think of a better way to practice our pie prowess than with fruit-filled pastry cases.
Ice cream sandwiches
backing the trend, it looks like ice cream sandwiches are here to stay.à ith first season Bake Off winner, Edd Kimber
Wagyu mince on toast
If 'mince' makes you think of disappointing childhood dinners, the concept of 'mince on toast' had us despairing for the future of food - but as Christine found out this week, our fears were unfounded. One of the brunch dishes served at Salt & Honey is this wagyu beef, slow-cooked for 6 hours in a rich Bolognese sauce and made a tasty topping for a slice of sourdough, with a perfect poach on top. We're betting we'll see more meaty morning meals on menus in the near future - fingers crossed!
There we were thinking burning food was a marker of cooking incompetence, only for our food team to pipe up with a rebuttal – whispers on the restaurant scene have it that super-charred ingredients are one of the hottest trends of the summer. Following Barney’s adventures in burnt brisket in last week's What We’re Eating, this week he’s waxing lyrical about brown butter-basted burnt cabbage hearts. The idea is to caramelise the surface of the ingredient rather than create a midnight-black, acrid layer of soot. With the American barbecue scene blazing strong and griddled alliums like leek, spring onion and Spanish-style calcots cropping up on our Instagram feeds, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this hot movement.
Sri Lankan breakfast
Druid Street Market in London’s Bermondsey is home to some of our favourite things – craft breweries, eclectic food stalls and artisan producers. Magazine deputy editor Elaine took a tour last Saturday morning and as well as grilled oysters and ice cream sandwiches, she sampled a Sri Lankan hopper. This traditional breakfast concoction is nestled in a pancake bowl made from rice flour and coconut that’s cooked in a specially shaped hopper pan. It’s then filled with... well, anything the Sri Lankan's can think of, but Druid Street’s Weligama pop-up served theirs with sambal, Maldive fish, pork belly curry and more. If the mere thought of spicy food before noon makes your throat dry up, we think coconut-spiked Sri Lankan dishes are a good place to start experimenting.
Beer and cheese
We’re not dogmatic about food and drink matching - every palate is autonomous after all – but we do believe some things are made to be paired, and booze and cheese are two of them. If you’re a lover of cheese and wine, we strongly recommend you try swapping your Pouilly-Fumé for pale ale (your wallet will thank you at the very least). Modern brewing styles are all about creating beer with epic, arching flavour profiles, making them an ideal match for punchy cheese. Assistant food editor Miriam got stuck into a pairing session at The Beer Shop London, where cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy were laid out ready to be washed down with innovative beers by Wild Beer Co, Anspach & Hobday and fellow craft breweries.
Banana and custard
We love it when restaurants give our nostalgic favourites a swish, slightly ridiculous, makeover (we’re rooting for someone to give a cheese and pineapple tin foil hedgehog the ‘foodie’ treatment) so we’re in full support of The Coach’s take on banana and custard. Cookery assistant Chelsie tucked into the banana-flavoured custard, topped with chopped dates, pistachio, crunchy honeycomb and dried banana slices and we can practically feel the contrasting textures having a merry jig on our tongue.
Regular readers of What We're Eating will be familiar with the concept of 'Christmas in July', the annual marketing push for the year's new batch of festive products. The madness continued apace this week as the BBC Good Food team spent five consecutive lunchtimes sampling dozens of supermarket festive dishes. Thanks to features writer Holly, product queen and the only woman to be able to type an email while simultaneously carving up a Christmas ham in 26°C summer heat, we ate our way through a slew of stollen, myriad mince pies and more roast meat than you can shake a gravy jug at. The result? Several afternoons spent recovering from acute sugar crashes, protuberant waistlines and a shortlist of products that'll feature in our November magazine. Our very own Christmas elf even emerged from his cave for the occasion (see photo).
British shores are brimming with interesting native shoals, so this week we’ve been rethinking our fish choices. Magazine deputy editor Elaine visited Kent, where the coast houses more than just Whitstable oysters. At The Sportsman in Seasalter she sampled thornback ray, a curious-looking flat fish that’s back in abundance in southeastern waters after years of overfishing. They head inshore in summer, ready to be netted and served fresh from the sea. Elaine’s wing was seared and served with brown butter, cockles & sherry vinegar. We’ll be sending our fishmongers on a ray chase before the summer is out…
For the Good Food team, summer holiday season is for more than just sunbathing with a lurid cocktail in hand – we have a good old snuffle for undiscovered local dishes, too. Digital assistant Sarah ate her way around Tenerife last week, and top of her list of things to recreate at home was a pasta paella called fideuà. The added ingredients and flavours were all in keeping with the traditional Spanish blueprint, but the rice was swapped for a short pasta that’s not quite macaroni and is similar to orzo. Confusion aside, the swap worked a treat.
Barbecued meat – check. Brioche bun – check. Hip and happening pickles – check. Must be another instalment of Barney’s carnivorous adventures. This juicy stack of beef brisket from London’s Austens isn’t your standard-issue street food burger though – it’s peppered with burnt ends, those intense, caramelised edges you get from searing meat that manage to be chewy, crispy and perilously delicious all at the same time. Strategically speaking, brisket is ideal for harvesting a healthy bounty of burnt ends as it can be bought as a hefty beefy sheet with lots of prime surface area, so if you want to try it at home, you know which cut to ask your butcher for...
We attended the book launch of former BBC Good Food kitchen dweller Gizzi Erskine this week. Her new release, Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite is billed as a collection of recipes that’ll “nourish the body and feed the soul”, and from the looks of the food served at her party, she’s ticked all the right boxes. As well as Korean fried chicken wings, caramel waffles and a rainbow cake in the shape of Gizzi herself (crowned with a nifty fondant icing beehive, naturally) the standout feature was a wall of multi-coloured meringue provided by London’s Meringue Girls. This is one woman who knows how to throw a shindig…
There we were thinking potted shrimp had a bit of an image problem (clarified butter is a bit tricky to glam up after all) only for Ollie Dabbous to prove us very wrong. We’re big fans of the London chef’s conceptual mind and featherlight touch with ingredients, and Cassie gave his take on the shellfish preserve a resolute thumbs up. The dish was served with a perfectly soft-boiled egg and new potatoes in a nest of verdant leaves and edible flora. Who needs a ramekin when you can create a meadow in a bowl?
What do you think of this week’s eats, and what have you been feasting on?