Our weekly food diary shares on-trend ingredients, fun foodie events, Insta-friendly restaurant dishes and must-try street eats.
This week we tried...
Celeriac was something of a star in the world of vegetables this year. Back in January, ‘ugly vegetables’ were touted as a trend for 2019 in the Waitrose Food & Drinks report, and celeriac took the limelight when chefs began serving it in innovative ways, such as the famous celeriac shawarma (by René Redzepi, Noma and Ottolenghi, Rovi). Now, just when we thought we’d seen celeriac in all its possible guises, we find a new one, and a seriously impressive one at that. One of the first dishes of an exceptional eight-course tasting menu at Lake Road Kitchen in Ambleside, this is a taco, but not as you know it. The team has created the taco wrap entirely from celeriac. The versatile vegetable is foil-wrapped and baked until it reaches a core temperature of 70 degrees, so it becomes flexible. It’s then peeled, finely sliced and dry-cooked in a sandwich press to create the slightly toasty edges you’d find on a tortilla. Genius. The taco is almost always on the menu, but the fillings change regularly. When we visited, it was succulent duck leg in a sweet homemade plum sauce glaze, topped with zingy pickled cabbage and koji mayo.
Irish Black Butter
While its name might suggest otherwise, this Irish black butter doesn’t contain a drop of dairy. It’s made from Armagh Bramley apples, cider, brandy, brown sugar and treacle, with a hint of liquorice, but acquired its name because of its spreadable consistency (and the fact that it’s delicious on toast). We came across it at the BBC Good Food Show, where Portrush-based owner Alistair Bell explained, ‘Over the years I had been aware of black butter and how it was said to date from medieval times. It's an old, traditional recipe that's been in use here on the island of Ireland.’ Wanting to create ‘a new taste of Ireland’, he teamed up with award-winning chef Paul Clarke, from En Place Foods, to create a recipe for the very first Irish Black Butter product, and even pitched it to the entrepreneurs on BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den. The dark, rich spread can be used in a variety of ways – it’s ideal as an accompaniment for cheese and cold meats, used as a glaze on ham, spread on toast or even scones and cream! We’ll be using ours to coat sausages for an easy, satisfyingly sticky, sweet-savoury party snack. Keen to try it yourself? Buy it online at Irish Black Butter.
All-you-can-eat cheese parties
Cheese lovers, let us introduce you to the supper club of your dreams. Homeage2fromage is a cheese club created by a pair of fromage-loving friends, bringing all-you-can-eat cheese events to the nation. That’s right, ALL YOU CAN EAT CHEESE! The premise is simple – each Homage2Fromage party has a theme (the one we attended celebrated cheeses of the British Isles); eight cheeses are presented whole; the cheeses are numbered, not labelled; then everyone fills their boots with cheese along with local bread, chutneys, crackers and fruit. It's not until the end that the cheeses are revealed, and their unique stories are told. Homage2Fromage began as a conversation between cheese fans Nick Copland and Vickie Rogerson on Twitter back in 2011. Their first event took place in a tiny deli in Leeds, attended by 15 people, but it soon grew, with parties of as many as 80 ‘turophiles’ (aka cheese connoisseurs) across Yorkshire and Manchester. The duo’s first event into London took place recently at The Bull in Westfield shopping centre, Shepherd’s Bush, and monthly events are planned for 2020. Themes include Scottish, Irish, Welsh, French, Spanish and Portuguese cheese parties. Sign us up! For tickets and information, visit the Homage2Fromage website.
Last week we tried...
Next level baked potato
Ah, the humble baked potato. We might associate it with comforting midweek dinners and quick canteen lunches rather than fine dining, but chef and BBC Good Food contributor Tom Kerridge has just upped the game. The menu at Tom’s new Manchester restaurant The Bull & Bear features plenty of examples of what he does best – taking comforting classics like chicken kiev, burgers and chilli and elevating them to something truly special – and this baked potato is exactly that. Rotisserie-baked to create a really crispy skin and hot, fluffy interior, the potato is then spread with a creamy, chive-heavy crème fraiche and a scoop of incredibly melt-in-the-mouth beef tartare, dressed in a punchy, mustardy marinade and dotted with capers and cornichons. And as if stuffing a baked potato with steak tartare wasn’t cheffy enough, Tom finishes the dish with a cured egg yolk to add extra richness. We won’t look at a baked potato the same way ever again.
There’s a new cheddar in town and it deserves a place on your Christmas cheeseboard. Pitchfork has only been around for two years but has got people in the world of cheese talking. The organic, unpasteurised, traditional cloth-bound cheese from Somerset-based Trethowan won Best Traditional Cheddar at the 2019 British Cheese Awards and scooped three prizes, including Best British Cheese, at the Guild of Fine Food’s World Cheese Awards in Bergamo, Italy. Golden in colour with a smooth, closed texture, it has clean bright flavours, which range from savoury and mustardy to hints of honey. Pitchfork cheddar is made by brothers Todd and Maugan Trethowan, who produced another award winner – Gorwydd Caerphilly – before branching out into cheddar. They started making Pitchfork in 2017, using milk from a pedigree herd of Holstein and Jersey cows. Looking to stock up for Christmas? Find it for around £8 per 250g online at Paxton & Whitfield, Neal's Yard Dairy and Fine Cheese Co.
Fried cacio e pepe raviolo
Cacio e pepe, literally ‘cheese and pepper’, is an Italian dish from Rome made with just three main ingredients. Most commonly made with spaghetti or tonnarelli pasta, a sauce is created by mixing lots of the finely grated pecorino cheese with pasta water (and sometimes butter) until it becomes silky and deliciously cheesy, before it’s seasoned with a kick of black pepper. The dish has become popular here, seen on the menu at lots of Italian restaurants including London’s Trullo, Padella, Pastaio and Bancone. This week, we’ve been at newly opened pasta restaurant Officina 00 in East London, where cacio e pepe features on the menu, but not as we know it. Behold, our new favourite snack: fried cacio e pepe raviolo. Head chef Elia Sebregondi explains, ‘The idea behind our cacio e pepe raviolo began when we were experimenting with the classic Italian recipe. We wanted to reinvent the ingredients (pasta, pecorino romano cheese and black pepper) to become something our guests can experience in one perfectly portioned bite.’ And it's a hit. Plump, hot, crispy-edged and oozing with peppery cheesy goodness, what better way could there be to kick off a meal?
Earlier this month we tried...
Korean-style Brussels sprouts
Still a sprout hater? This might just change your mind. Declared by our managing editor Lulu Grimes as ‘probably the best Brussels sprouts I’ve ever had’, these are on the menu at Pacific London, the latest restaurant residency at Mayfair’s 10 Heddon Street. The menu, by Australian chef Shaun Presland, is largely Japanese but ‘with Australian attitude’ and includes such trending treats as a monkfish katsu sando, seabass sashimi with white soy dressing and this, our favourite new way with seasonal sprouts. These Brussels sprouts are tender in the centre but super crisped-up around the edges, giving a delicious charred flavour. They are then tossed in a punchy Korean-inspired vinaigrette and topped with edamame beans, chilli and lime, for added zing. Need more sprout inspiration to convert the haters? Try them charred with chilli or Marmite butter, grated into a fresh remoulade or baked into a cheesy gratin.
Already planning your Christmas cheeseboard? We are! And this week, we tried a cheese accompaniment that we hadn’t seen before. Featuring on the cheese course of a ten-dish tasting menu at Xier London in Marylebone, these so-called ‘fizzy grapes’ were created by the restaurant’s chef-owner Carlo Scotto, by accident. After leaving fresh red grapes in dry ice overnight (eight hours), he thought the result was so good that he put them on the menu. The dry ice gives the grapes a much sharper taste and an almost fizzy texture, which makes them perfect for cutting through the flavour of creamy cheeses, like the Swedish Wrångebäcksost (pictured) – a rich, fruity, complex cheese with a unique sourness. Along with the grapes, the cheese is also served with three sweet jellies (spiced red wine, white wine and a nutty chutney) and spicy gingerbread biscuits. That’s it, we’re ready to get experimental with our festive cheeseboard!
Mo is a pop-up, currently at Legs Eleven coffee shop in Funchal, Maderia with hyper local eating and bread at its heart. Now, those are two things we can really get behind. And with the variety of fresh produce available in Madeira so bountiful, it’s the perfect place to be able to eat entirely locally-grown food. We tried the ‘golden slice’ made with butter-fried sourdough bread (baked from scratch using local grains); local farm-raised eggs and fresh milk; a sauce made from tamarillo (a locally grown fruit that tastes like a cross between passion fruit, tomato and guava), plus macerated apples, crunchy walnuts and a refreshing scoop of guava ice cream. All the fruit, and even the nuts, are sourced from the Island and the result is a delicious amalgamation of flavours and textures and a great example of how to make the most of your surroundings.
Earlier this month we tried...
Truffle lovers, rejoice – white truffle season is here! For the next two-three months, these most prized – and one of the most expensive – ingredients in the world are available in the UK, and chefs across the country are showcasing them in an array of dishes. Costing around £1,000 for 500g, they are revered for their rarity and unique earthy pungency that elevates even the simplest of dishes to a higher level. We tried them at Italian cuisine supremo Theo Randall’s eponymous restaurant at London’s Hotel Intercontinental, where he has created an exclusive white truffle-based menu: shaved wafer thin over fresh taglierini pasta, baked fontina cheese soufflé, creamy risotto and veal-stuffed cappelletti (pictured). The aroma is high, the taste mild and mushroomy. Theo sources his truffles from Alfredo Romani in Umbria, where the fungi are sniffed out by dogs (not pigs – they eat them!) then sent to Britain, where they have to be used within three-four days, after which they go soft and mushy. Theo says, ‘There are many types of truffle throughout the year, but the most prized is the white truffle. In Italy, there’s an annual festival that celebrates the new season and every restaurant around will serve fantastic pasta, risotto and other subtle dishes that complement the truffle’s distinct aroma.’
Have we piqued your interest? Because when we saw the words ‘chocolate curry’ on the menu at Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar’s Indian restaurant, Kanishka, we were certainly intrigued. It’s not as unusual as it may first sound though. You’ve most likely heard of adding dark chocolate to beef stews or chillis to add depth of flavour. The same theory is applied to the sauce on Atul’s venison steak dish, which is served with grilled apple, raddichio and wild mushroom kedgeree, along with the all-important ‘chocolate curry’. Atul explains, ‘Dark chocolate is used in the sauce to enrich its flavour, colour and texture. Chocolate works incredibly well with turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon and chillies – which are essential ingredients of this sauce.’ Our other must-order? Atul’s signature chicken tikka pie with perfectly crisp, spice-studded puff pastry and a tikka masala filling. If you like the sound of a comforting curry in a pie, try our creamy one-pot paneer curry pie.
Tarte tatin millefeuille
What happens when two classic French desserts are combined? Utter deliciousness, that’s what. Ending an eight-course tasting menu at The Pass restaurant in South Lodge Hotel, Sussex, this dessert by head chef Tom Kemble combines the best parts of a tarte tatin and a millefeuille. Tom explains, ‘Layers of Pink Lady apples are caramelised with sugar in the oven. This is placed in the millefeuille, topped with a Madagascan vanilla creme patissiere and served with cinnamon ice cream.’ This means you get the super crisp, buttery puff pastry layers and smooth vanilla creme patissiere of a millefeuille and the caramelised apples of a tatin – a match made in heaven and a perfect dessert idea for apple season! The restaurant focuses on seasonal dishes, using lots of produce from the hotel’s walled kitchen garden. Other highlights on our visit included cured trout tartare with crème fraîche, pickled cucumber, lemon confit & nori seaweed; delica pumpkin agnolotti with roasted cep and a mushroom consommé and another delicious dessert of chocolate cremeux with yogurt sorbet, verdemanda olive oil and feuilletine.
Earlier this month we tried...
You’ve heard of purple sprouting broccoli (or PSB), but there’s a new kid on the broc: burgundy broccoli. With long stems and deep purple florets, it looks an awful lot like PSB, and is, in fact, part of the same family. The main difference is that burgundy broccoli is harvested whole and is more tender than PSB, meaning you can eat the entire thing – leaves, stalks, florets and all. This broccoli variety has been developed by Staples Vegetables Ltd, one of the largest vegetable producers in the UK. It grows the burgundy broc in the Lincolnshire Fens from June through to November. Grower George Read says, ‘Burgundy broccoli has been developed through a labour of love. It’s a unique product that's deliciously tender throughout and boasts a superior taste, and the fact it is harvested whole means no more waste!' We simply braised it for a couple of minutes and served it with butter, but you could use it in any recipe where you would use regular or purple sprouting broccoli. Find it in selected Co-op, Waitrose & Partners and Morrisons stores (£1 per 200g pack).
Savoury pain perdu
Seven floors up with views over the city, Allegra is east London’s newest, swankiest restaurant. Chef Patrick Powell keeps the menu – which is both serious and fun in equal measure – hyperlocal where possible, playing on sweet and savoury combos. The pistachio choux puff filled with chicken liver parfait & preserved kumquat is a mouthful of sublime pleasure, while the savoury pain perdu with mushrooms, daikon, miso & egg yolk (pictured) is a rich hug in a bowl. You might think of pain perdu – or French toast – as a sweet dish, but we’ve spotted several savoury versions lately, such as Nadiya Hussain’s ham & cheese pain perdu in her latest book and series, Time to Eat. Watch this space for two new savoury French toast recipes coming soon to BBC Good Food.
Still drinking beer with Indian food? It's time to try something new. Whisky is an increasingly popular pairing in both India and the UK, and this week we visited Indian restaurant Brigadiers in London to try it. It's not about necking neat whisky, though – Brigadiers has partnered with Scottish whisky brand Johnnie Walker (hugely popular in India) to create a bespoke menu of whisky sodas designed to complement their spicy food. The verdict? These aren't your average Scotch & sodas! The sodas are made by the restaurant using unusual ingredients such as pandan, sandalwood and chaat masala, so the finished drinks are complex and interesting. Delicious in their own right, the sodas are even better when mixed with the whisky, and they complement the food excellently. We love the sandalwood sharbat, made with Johnnie Walker Green, amontillado sherry, sandalwood and banana soda. Fancy trying something different with your Friday night curry? Try making one of our best ever whisky cocktails.
Earlier this month we tried...
Halloween might be over but here’s a scary statistic: according to Unilever and environmental charity Hubbub, out of the 15 million pumpkins grown in the UK, we throw away a staggering 8 million after Halloween, with over half only being used for carving. To put that into perspective, that would be enough to serve 360 million slices of pumpkin pie, or provide every single person in the country with a bowl of pumpkin soup. On a mission to reduce waste, London-based fruit and veg subscription company Oddbox is rescuing surplus pumpkins, or those that ‘don’t conform to supermarket specs’, from farms. The rescued gourds are being included in subscriber’s veg boxes before, during and after Halloween. Oddbox co-founder Emilie Vanpoperinghe explains, ‘Last year we rescued 1,800 pumpkins, taking them in just one week for Halloween. If we do the same this year, we'll likely rescue closer to 7,000.’ She adds, ‘To get the most out of your pumpkin, we recommend baking a pumpkin pie, cooking up a hearty soup, roasting the seeds, and making pumpkin purée for drinks. If all else fails, use the stringy flesh for composting and the pumpkin itself as a planter.’ For more pumpkin inspiration, check out our best pumpkin recipes.
You’ve heard of nose-to-tail meat-eating, but now fish is under the spotlight. This month, Australian chef Josh Niland launched his book The Whole Fish Cookbook, championing use of the entire fish, from skin to eyes, in novel and seriously impressive ways. We visited newly opened Lyons Seafood & Wine Bar in London’s Crouch End which has a similar concept. Led by Anthony Lyon (Hix, Wolseley), and head Chef Talia Prince (Le Gavroche, Fat Duck), the restaurant offers elevated neighbourhood dining by way of creative 'fin to tail' British seafood. The daily-changing menu focuses on overlooked catch-of-the-day cuts. On our visit, this included outstanding miso fish collars with seaweed butter; extra crispy buttermilk-battered cod cheeks, and sashimi-buttery stone bass tartare with yuzu and tobiko (fish roe) – proof that sustainable can be utterly indulgent. The fish crackling (a marine version of pork scratchings, pictured) is hugely flavoursome with a dip that unapologetically evokes a gentleman’s relish. Select meat and veggie dishes, a couple of simple yet artful desserts (like the thyme ice cream sandwich with wafer-thin honey-soaked filo), plus oysters from Wright Bros, means Lyons has all bases covered. Along with its small-batch wine list and experimental cocktails, this smart little venue should draw custom well beyond its N8 postcode.
Cow’s whey butter
Dairy lovers know that cheese is made by separating the thick, springy curds from the watery whey. The curds are pressed into moulds and, whey presto! Usually though, the whey gets flushed away, or fed to pigs – what a whey-st! (Sorry.) But a new initiative by Devon-based cheesemakers Quicke’s and Gail’s bakery has produced the perfect sustainable marriage with bread and butter, using whey as a key ingredient. Quicke's makes the butter by retrieving any fats left in the whey after the cheese-making process, then churning to produce a remarkably creamy result with a very slight lactic note. The rest of the whey is then used by Gail’s to make multi-seed sourdough bread, with flour from nutritious einkorn wheat, which has been grown and harvested by farmers since around 7000 BC. And, in a further salute to sustainability, grated cheddar offcuts have been added to Gail’s super-crunchy buttermilk crackers. Gail's einkorn & whey sourdough is available from Ocado (£4.20 for a 525g loaf), while Quicke’s cheddar and cornish whey butter is available on their site.
Earlier this month we tried...
The World’s Best Cheese
For the first time in 32 years, an American cheese has been named the best in the world. The organic blue cheese, produced by US cheesemaker Rogue Creamery, was given the title of World Champion Cheese 2019 at last weekend’s World Cheese Awards, organised by Britain’s Guild of Fine Food and held in Bergamo, Italy. Rogue River Blue beat a record-breaking 3,804 entries from 42 different countries. Made annually with organic cow’s milk from Southern Oregon's Rogue Valley, the cheese is cave-aged for nine to 11 months and hand-wrapped in organic Syrah grape leaves that have been soaked in pear liqueur. Judge Bruno Cabral described it as a ‘taste party’, applauding its ‘different sensations, balance, sweet and spicy notes’, while Academy of Cheese expert and Good Food contributor Charlie Turnbull says, ‘It’s beautiful – unlike any other cheese in the world. Its texture is unusual – wet, like a Roquefort – and it has an amazing complex flavour from the perry-washed vine leaves it’s wrapped in. A worthy champion.’
How do you make apple cider even more autumnal? By adding pumpkin, of course! Sucker for Pumpkins is the brand new and seriously seasonal cider from Hawkes Cidery, London’s first ever urban cidery, which launched three years ago under one of the railway arches on Druid Street, Bermondsey. The cider is made with pressed dessert apples and infused with warming spices such as nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and cloves, before pumpkin juice is added for a seasonal twist. The result is a nutty, aromatic and sweet cider, which our magazines editor described as tasting ‘like autumn and Christmas combined!’ Hawkes Cidery owner Simon Wright and his team are committed to using as many surplus and donated apples as possible in their craft cider range. Its successful Apple Donors scheme sees a free bottle of cider go to donors for every 3kg of apples they hand over at the cidery. For more information, visit the Hawkes website.
Disgusting Food Museum
Would you eat cheese with live maggots in it? How about fruit bat soup or a dessert made with milk, sugar and boiled chicken? These are just three of the dishes on display at The Disgusting Food Museum in Malmö, Sweden. Of course, in many cultures these aren’t considered disgusting at all, quite the opposite, but the museum is a fun and interesting look at some of the most divisive foods around the world. Among things like fried tarantula (commonly eaten in Cambodia), foul-smelling durian fruit (popular in Thailand and South-East Asia) and the fertilised duck egg ‘balut’, (eaten in the Philippines), are plenty of foods that we love, including steak tartare, haggis and various stinky cheeses. Visitors can read about the foods, their origins and what makes them ‘disgusting’, and even smell and try some of them, if their stomachs are strong enough. If not, don’t worry, your museum entrance ticket is also a sick bag! Planning a weekend away in Malmö? This is a fun way to spend a rainy day, but if you prefer to eat something that hasn’t been described as disgusting, we recommend lunch at the fab Saltimporten Canteen or Spill, a restaurant that makes delicious lunch dishes from food that would usually be wasted, and head to Lyran restaurant for dinner.
Missed an entry in our food diary? Find out what we've eaten previously...
What we ate in October 2019
What we ate in September 2019
What we ate in August 2019
What we ate in July 2019
What we ate in June 2019
What we ate in May 2019
What we ate in April 2019
What we ate in March 2019
What we ate in February 2019
What we ate in January 2019
What we ate in December 2018
What we ate in November 2018
What we ate in October 2018
What we ate in September 2018