Read September's dispatch from the world of food to discover new trends, hot ingredients and what you should be eating to stay in vogue. By Natalie Hardwick and Sarah Lienard.
Held in London's Tobacco Dock, Meatopia is a foodie festival dedicated to (you guessed it) all things meaty – and the congregation of some of the hippest meat masters in the capital didn’t disappoint. Top picks included the pibil, which despite being a spice sensation, was so delicately flavoured it still retained a really meaty, savoury taste, as well as the jerked rib eye thrown directly onto the coals, then tossed with jerk seasoning and served on beef dripping new potato salad. The festival’s ethos for using every part of the animal means that some of the most interesting dishes are not for the faint-hearted - duck hearts with a crisp apple salad anyone?
Cinnamon Club lamb's brain
Bheja fry is an Indian street food found in major cities like Delhi and Mumbai. It can be quite heavy, with the main ingredient being cheap yet filling lamb’s brain. We tried this far daintier version at chef Vivek Singh's new-look Cinnamon Club, where it is served as a canapé or side dish. Here the brains are coated with kadhai spices and coriander chutney then fried using panko breadcrumbs. The concoction is then served on a rustic, street-style lamb mince cooked with onion, tomatoes and spices. Dipped into more piquant coriander chutney spiked with chillies, lemon juice and a little sugar, it’s sublime.
The main ingredient in the Amante, a version of a classic Sidecar, is limoncello, but far removed from the sickly sweet versions we’ve got languishing at the back of the booze cupboard. The invention of bar manager Lonut Narcis-Tiprigan of new Italian restaurant Bernardi’s, it features on-trend, grapefruit liqueur Stellacello Pompelmo (made in London's Bethnal Green) mixed with an Italian brandy from Emilia Romanga called Villa Zarri, plus fresh grapefruit juice and a twist of grapefruit zest. Stellacello takes its influence from traditional limoncello recipes, fusing the best of British and the best of Italian – as does the menu at Bernardi’s. The Italian classic starter of vitello tonnato is made with Cumbrian veal, and the cicheti menu (small bites perfect with cocktails) features classic British veg such as pea and watercress mixed with pecorino in arancini and a beautifully light pizzette topped with confit leeks, celery and taleggio.
It’s about time Scandinavian cuisine finally shook off the association with stress-filled, flat-pack furniture trips. We tried a plate of delicate baked goodies at the launch of the Scandi Kitchen Cookbook by Bronte Aurell, including 'Semlor' Lent buns, which are cardamom-scented and filled with almond paste and whipped cream, 'Kladdkaka' chocolate cake which is rich and gooey, similar to a fudgy brownie, and chocolate and oat treats.
Fried chicken oysters
With a glamorous reputation and an astounding number of A-listers gracing the tables since opening in 2013, it’s no surprise that Chiltern Firehouse doesn’t do fried chicken the conventional way. Cookery assistant Chelsie had the enviable opportunity to try out a few new dishes devised by head chef Patrick Powell and head pastry chef Adam Degg, including tender chicken oysters. After being soaked in buttermilk for 24 hours, they are deep-fried, topped with crème fraiche and caviar, then wrapped in lardo (a thin slice of fat.) The result? A crunchy, dreamy sensation.
Last week we were eating...
Anyone worth their Maldon knows beef dripping chips are going the way of the ark. It’s all about beef chips these days - as in chips made from actual beef. Rejoice! This feat of culinary wonder is achieved by slow cooking beef shin in shallots, beef stock and red wine for 12 hours. The cooking liquid is poured off and reduced, added to the shredded meat and seasoned with tarragon, confit shallots and mustard. The chips are then rolled in polenta for the requisite crunch then deep-fried. We tried them at the Truscott Cellar in north London where they were served with pickled cucumber, capers and Truscott’s own take on HP sauce. If you look up 'umami' in the food dictionary, this is what you’ll find…
It’s taken us a while to get used to sour beer like Belgian Lambic or rustic Saison, so the idea of drinking something explicitly vinegary was almost a step too far. But then we listened to the story behind it. Somerset’s experimental Wild Beer Co is all about fermentation and extreme yeastiness – behold their sourdough and wild Champagne beers – and their gherkin-based brew was a continuation of their cucumber beer, the souring process giving it its moniker. We spent 2014 necking picklebacks, so it stands to reason the beer scene would come up trumps and create something to complement the food world’s obsession with submerging things in vinegar. We tasted Cool as a Gherkin in London’s The Taproom, accompanied by one of their kabanos-style ‘beer sticks’, as you can't have a pickle without a side of meat.
Food from the next generation
This week we headed out on a very taxing research trip to the Young British Foodie Awards and enjoyed a night of dazzling culinary creativity. Sugar sculptures by The Bakery Lounge and trees made from chocolate by Lucie Bennett caught our eye, while our tastebuds were enamoured with standout dishes like gnocchi with ham hock and truffle, smoked trout, salted caramel canelés and gelato beer floats. We’ll be keeping an avid eye on the talented winners to see what they surprise us with next, so stay tuned to be the first to know about the next big thing.
Uncooked hake might not be much of a looker, its dour, downturned mouth making it look particularly frumpy, but when filleted into chunky white slabs, it’s fast becoming our new favourite fish. Given we’re seeing it absolutely everywhere at the moment, we think the food world is with us too. The serving choice at London’s Kricket is exemplary – the hake hunk is served with a coconut milk malai sauce with red onion puree, cumin, turmeric and ground cardamom, finished with lime, coriander salt and sugar. Sprinkled on top is something new to What We’re Eating, roasted poha - flattened rice that’s the basis of many fast food dishes in India. Britain is becoming ever more exposed to ultra-authentic, regional Indian cuisine thanks to game-changing chefs, so the poha revolution may be on its way.
Try saying that after one too many Aperol spritzes… This mash-up dish sees classic Italian lasagne rolled into arancini-style balls and fried into further deliciousness. It’s the must-order at Vico, a covered market space that aims to bring Italian street food to the UK masses. Food is sold by weight and designed to be eaten with your hands while standing up. It might, however, be a trend too far for us Brits – apparently so far punters have demanded cutlery and stools. But they've been no complaints about the pizza, salads, fish, gelato, beer and spritzes on offer, not to mention their more traditional saffron arancini with rice filling flavoured with pork and beef ragu, casually making the world a better place one deep fried sphere at a time...
Last week we were eating...
Is it time to return to retro? Food editor Barney jetted off to America this week where these spicy canapés have been experiencing a revival as a bar snack. He tried these creamy, spice-dusted devilled eggs topped with shards of crispy bacon. As us Brits love bacon and eggs, we predict we'll be seeing these appearing on hipster menus across the UK very soon.
Would you? Could you? Those with an adventurous disposition might risk it. We love this starter as tried at Antidote in Soho. The monkfish is caught by daily fish boats in Cornwall. Chef Michael 'Hazle' Hazlewood roasts the liver in lots of foaming butter until the internal temperature is 40 degrees then rests it. The texture is creamy and if pushed to describe flavour, we'd say it's akin to salmon. The on-trend broth is made from dried & fresh seaweed (from Scotland), dried mushroom trimmings and white soya sauce. Served with cauliflower roasted in butter and seasoned with lemon.
Pressure Drop yuzu beer
Craft brewers have a habit of experimenting with flavours - we've seen everything from heather, honey, chipotle and chocolate being added to beer recently - but one particularly interesting choice has been yuzu, an Asian, grapefruit-like fruit that's used in lots of Japanese and Korean cooking. Pressure Drop's Nanban Kanpai beer was brewed in conjunction with Tim Anderson, one of our favourite maverick chefs. We've also seen yuzu brews from Beavertown, Gipsy Hill and Mikeller. Long may the liquid wizardry continue!
Savvy consumers are increasingly looking for healthier alternatives when it comes to sweet treats, so we're excited to see life-enhancing whole foods popping up in indulgent restaurant desserts! A recent addition to Clapham, Mommi serves Peruvian-Japanese ‘Nikkei’ cuisine. Digital assistant Sarah sampled this pot of rich chocolate and dulce de leche mousse, honey quinoa and a sugar-dusted churro. Sweet, smooth, crispy and crunchy all in one bite! Back in April, Martin Morales made a quinoa cake for the launch of Ceviche Old Street, too. Are we set to see more whole food desserts in the near future? We certainly hope so.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in-between – is there any meal that isn't improved with a waffle topper? The expansive menu at The Waffle House in St Albans offers savoury flavours including a full English breakfast, BBQ pulled pork and hummus and avocado, plus wholesome options of wholemeal and spelt waffles are available, too. Cookery assistant Chelsie kept it sweet and simple with a butterscotch sauce, chopped hazelnuts and vanilla ice cream.
Festival food has seriously upped its game in the past few years. It’s safe to say the days of eating a dubious, sweet and sour chicken ball at 2am in a field in Yorkshire (mentioning no names) are behind us. Senior writer Natalie’s favourite pick, amongst very stiff competition, at Green Man Festival in Wales was this frumpy-looking flatbread pouch, stuffed with bacon, cockles and laverbread, a seaweed farmed in Wales, from the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company. We’re seeing seaweed all over the place at the moment – in salt, as a healthy snack, staining spaghetti an alluring khaki green – and when it comes to native stocks of this super-saline edible algae, you don’t get much better than Wales’ finest seaside haul.
Nutella French toast Brooklyn sandwich
Is there a dish that ticks as many food trends in one go as this? The world has gone so mad for Nutella, there’s even a man in Australia who invented a lock designed especially to protect his jar! You’re practically an outcast if you’re not sandwiching your dessert these days – ice cream and cookie stacks being just one uber-Instagrammed example – and as for the American food thing, it's less a trend, more a pandemic. So, well done Spuntino, your alluring stack of chocolate and fried bread (as enjoyed by food editor Cassie) wins the prize for finest form of edible zeitgeist we’ve seen all summer....
Mac and cheese burger
...ok scrap that – we have a pretender to the throne. Assistant food editor Miriam visited the Gipsy Hill Brewery last weekend whereupon she found herself delving into another on-trend mash-up meal – a deep-fried mac and cheese burger. Now, we’re not advocating making mac and cheese even more indulgent or anything, but we're agog at the creativity of some of you pasta-tweaking rascals out there – so far we’ve seen a mac and cheese served in toasties, croquettes and pies, so it stands to reason its next natural habitat was to be a brioche bun. Miriam’s burger was served with barbecue sauce made from Gipsy Hill’s very own Dissident beer – we’re hoping to see more posh condiments coming our way, too.
Next stop on our brunch tour – indigestion. The concept of an endless, non-stop, all-you-can-eat brunch fills us with dread and excitement in equal measure. Flowing Bloody Marys, sparkling Prosecco, all the avocado you can lay your mitts on – we’re not sure our feeble self-control could handle it. Thankfully, Miriam is one of the more disciplined Good Food staffers so she made it through a bottomless brunch session at London’s Jones & Sons in one piece. She managed three rounds of food and several deliveries of booze (we didn’t press her on the exact figure, but as it was her birthday, we imagine she got her money’s worth).
It takes culinary might to surpass the brilliance of an unadorned, classic mojito, but our cake queens Cassie and Chelsie managed it with this incredible stacked birthday cake, made for Miriam’s weekend of celebration. Another hybrid dish to finish off a week of many mash-ups, this combination of citrus, berries and sweet buttercream turned our favourite cocktail of the summer into a sponge sensation. With Great British Bake Off soothing our Wednesday evenings like a toasty buttercream blanket, baking season has well and truly begun, and we’ll be rooting for cocktail cakes to become the next big thing. Mark our words, this time next year we’ll all be raving about the Long Island iced slice and Blue Lagoon brownies.
What do you think of this week’s eats, and what have you been feasting on?
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