Our weekly food diary shares on-trend ingredients, fun foodie events, Insta-friendly restaurant dishes and must-try street eats.
This week we tried...
Elderflower season is upon us (from late May to mid-June) and while you might have enjoyed its fresh, fragrant taste in cakes, cordials and even gin, this one might be new to you: elderflower cheese. The idea of combining elderflower with cheese was something we were dubious about, but after tasting this one from Quicke's, we’re on board with this spring-summer special. The six-month matured cheese combines grass-fed cows' milk with elderflowers gathered by foragers around the Quicke’s Home Farm hedgerows in Newton St Cyres, Devon, to hand-make a smooth, yet punchy, aromatic cheese that really does taste of summer pastures. Great as an interesting addition to a cheeseboard or take it on a picnic and enjoy with a glass of prosecco.
Spiced kimchi mary
Kimchi has been gaining popularity in the UK and nowadays we just can’t get enough of the stuff. Not only does it tick the boxes of being salty, spicy and acidic, it’s also good for the gut as the fermented veg breeds probiotics. You might have tried it in typical Korean dishes like bibimbap but Korean-American chef Judy Joo uses this versatile condiment in so much more at her Soho restaurant, Jinjuu. In fact, it’s in everything from soup to tacos. Highlights are the genius Philly cheesesteak mandoo – crispy fried Korean dumplings filled with braised short rib, kimchi, sharp cheddar cheese and pickled jalapeños. And to drink, a delicous twist on a bloody mary. Not thought about using kimchi in a cocktail? Well, you need to try this, made with Jinjuu’s bespoke spicy kimchi mix, celery and black pepper-infused soju (a Korean liquor), gochugaru (chilli flakes) and tomato juice. It’s served with salty prawn crisps on the side for the ultimate drink snack situation.
With sustainable eating a hot topic right now, we’ve seen more restaurants put an emphasis on local, hyper-seasonal and foraged ingredients. London restaurant Native’s new eight-person chef’s table is a walk on the wild side, spotlighting British produce in dishes with wide and varied inspiration. The team will use only what comes in that morning, or has been foraged and preserved. We ate squirrel pasties with piccalilli (pictured), nettle and wild garlic borek, bacon dashi made with seaweed foraged from the north of Scotland, and drank wild mushroom white russians. Each meal is up to 15 courses and no two menus are ever the same. Chef Ivan Tisdall-Downes and co-owner Imogen Davies deliver an eating experience imbued with their infectious enthusiasm – it’s genuine, fun and delicious.
Last week we tried...
On a mission to show that Caribbean food is so much more than jerk chicken, rice and peas, Sham Mahabir of Limin restaurant in London’s old Spitalfields Market is bringing an exciting festival to London this bank holiday weekend (25-27 May). Jerk & Beyond will celebrate the diversity of Caribbean food, showcasing dishes from Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago, all washed down with rum cocktails. We went to a preview and tried fried plantain balls, chicken wings with scotch bonnet and mango jam, aloo pies (fried dumplings filled with potato), homemade saltfish dumplings and crispy lamb belly with a pomegranate hot sauce but our highlight was something we hadn’t had before: ‘doubles’. A common street food in Trinidad & Tobago, ‘doubles’ refers to a sandwich of fried flatbread with curried chickpeas. In this version by Limin, fluffed-up, fried flatbread is topped with spicy chickpeas and a range of accompaniments – refreshing cucumber, chutney and a pepper sauce. As for the drinks, we could sip ‘rumgria’ all day – a rum-based twist on the Sangria, it’s made with prosecco, Cointreau, grapefruit and Plantation 3 Stars rum with mint and strawberries.
If you’re the kind of doughnut lover who likes a strong filling-to-dough ratio then we have just the thing for you. Created by ex-pastry chefs Graham Hornigold and Heather Kaniuk, Longboys in Wembley’s BoxPark specialises in long, éclair-shaped doughnuts, designed as such so that they can be loaded with delicious, creative fillings. We tried the limited-edition tiramisu flavour – coffee caramel, coffee crème pâtissière, mascarpone cream, a dusting of cocoa and milk chocolate shards in a light, fluffy, malted brioche-meets-doughnut bun, rolled in cocoa sugar. Wow. This ‘flavour of the week’ has been so popular (and we can certainly see why) that it’s being extended a little longer, so get yourself down there if you can. Fear not though – if you can’t make it there in the next week, there are plenty of other delicious flavours to try.
Food: Bigger than the Plate
The V&A’s new exhibition Food: Bigger than the Plate kicks off on 18 May, taking visitors on a journey through the cycle our food follows, from production and transport to advertising and sale, and introduces ideas for making a more sustainable system. ‘Compost’ is a section full of products made from waste from astonishingly beautiful corn husk marquetry to leather-like fabric made with pineapple fibre. Waste can generate more food too, these mushrooms (left) grown on used coffee grounds from the V&A café go back to the café to be eaten. Both sobering and hopeful, by the time you reach the end you are in no doubt as to how the industry works and how it needs to change, while marvelling at the sheer inventiveness of the people who have already started on the road to our recovery. Buy a button badge on the way out, ‘may contain nuts’ is our favourite.
Earlier this month we tried...
Once an unsung hero and little-known ingredient here in the UK, tahini has seen a mammoth increase in popularity. Not only can you find this Middle Eastern sesame paste in all major supermarkets, we’re also seeing much more interesting uses for it, besides just an ingredient in hummus. We love it mixed with yogurt, lemon juice, a little garlic and some water to make a salad dressing; spread on toast, drizzled with honey and feta for breakfast and used in sweet bakes like cookies, cakes and even Eton mess (recipe coming soon to BBC Good Food). Its latest use in a martini might raise eyebrows though. As well as being gloriously fun to say, the tahini martini cocktail is on the bar menu at London’s Farmer J. Combining tahini, dates and vermouth, it's quite rich, certainly one to sip slowly, but it works, with the sweetness of the dates, nutty, smooth tahini and clean, dry vermouth balancing well together.
Wild garlic flowers
Here at Good Food HQ, wild garlic season is one of our favourite times of the year, and the whole team has been reaping the benefits of the haul of young leaves picked a few weeks ago by our Food editor Barney Desmazery in Wales. We’ve chopped it up and added to salted butter to make wild garlic butter (great for melting into pastas, risottos, scrambled eggs or used in wild garlic kievs); added it to an asparagus and goat's cheese frittata, stirred it into dhal and whizzed it into pesto. But if you’ve been out walking in the woodlands this week, you’ll notice that the wild garlic plants are starting to flower. At this stage, the older leaves lose some of their freshness and become a little waxier – they’re still edible but the younger leaves are definitely best, so we’ve turned our attention to the flowers. Usually seen in May and June, the star-shaped flowers taste just as good as the leaves – wilted into new potatoes with butter (as pictured), tossed into a salad with fresh peas and radishes, or even scattered into a salsa with capers and olive oil to sprinkle over fish, the flowers are just as versatile as the leaves.
Whole globe artichoke
Wild garlic isn’t the only ingredient we’re excited about right now. We’ve been celebrating the best of this bountiful season at newly opened restaurant and botanical bar Hello Darling in London’s Waterloo, which focuses on floral, botanical cocktails and simple, seasonal, tapas-style dishes that ‘celebrate the noble vegetable’. The kitchen is headed up by ex-MasterChef winner Natalie Coleman and our highlights include the asparagus with wild garlic, pearl barley, broad beans and peas – a glorious sea of green with lots of fresh flavours – and the crispy halloumi with slow-roasted tomato ragu. And to start, we had a sneak peek of the veg still to come this year. British-grown globe artichokes typically don’t appear until June, but we’ve noticed whole globe artichokes springing up on restaurant menus already, most imported from Italy, or Spain like this one. We had this one served with aioli for dipping. Spotted globe artichokes at your local greengrocer? Check out our guide on how to store, prepare and cook them.
Earlier this month we tried...
Tender, young nettle leaves (furry rather than in full stinging fury) are in season. That means green is the colour for pasta, soba noodles, gnocchi and gnudi, as well as being an alternative flavour in pesto, a filling for pies and used to add colour to soups and risottos. This vibrant green pasta dish is currently on the menu at Italian restaurant Trullo in London’s Highbury & Islington and its sister restaurant Padella in London Bridge. Spinach tagliarini (somewhere between spaghetti and tagliatelle) and nettles are flavoured with nutmeg and parmesan and served with an egg yolk to stir in. If you want to use nettles yourself, pick them carefully (wear gloves) from places where they will be clean and uncontaminated (beware dog-walking areas), and use them much like you would spinach. As soon as you cook them the sting will disappear. For more information on foraging your own, check out our beginner's guide to foraging.
If you’ve been to Peru, particularly to capital Lima, you may well have heard of ‘chifa’. The word given to the fusion of Chinese and Peruvian cuisines, ‘chifa’ (said to originate from the Cantonese ‘to cook rice’) emerged as a result of immigration from China to Peru from around 1920 onwards. Now, you can try it in London. Chef John Javier (ex Momofuku Seiobo) spent the last few years developing chifa dishes and techniques, and has brought them to his new menu at Pachamama East in London’s Shoreditch. Combining mostly Peruvian and Chinese as well as other world influences, the menu comprises dishes like this zingy seabass ceviche with sesame, soy and nori and Javier’s ‘duck on rice’, which he explains: ‘Arroz chaufa is another traditional dish that incorporates elements from Chinese and Peruvian culture. Essentially, it's a fried rice using Peruvian ingredients like turmeric and cumin. In flavour, it's similar to a paella but has the texture of its Chinese counterpart. Fried rice has always been one of my favourite things to cook and I'm really proud of the version we serve.’ And he should be, it’s delicious, served in a smooth saffron sauce and topped with crispy duck. Other Cantonese-inspired dishes on the menu include prawn toast and mapo tofu, as well as the classic chifa dish, Lomo Saltado.
It’s not just the Italians who excel at pasta. We’ve been at modern Turkish restaurant Kyseri in London’s Fitzrovia, which has become arguably most known for its pastas, and we can see why. You may have already heard of manti, the Turkish pasta dumplings traditionally filled with spiced minced lamb and served in a yogurt sauce. Well, the manti at Kyseri slightly veers from tradition – filled with deeply savoury beef and beautifully contrasting tangy, slightly-sweet sour cherries, these satisfying pasta parcels come in a pool of creamy yogurt sauce and tomato-chilli butter, sprinkled with toasted pine-nuts. And it’s so good that it took extreme self-control not to lick the plate clean. Perhaps lesser known but equally delicious is erişte – a Turkish egg pasta, shaped in short strips, a little like broken up taglietelle. At Kyseri, it’s cooked just enough to remain al dente, then served with braised greens, sage and walnuts, then topped with Tulum cheese (a Turkish goat's milk cheese) and an egg yolk. The result is a dish that tasted to us like a pasta version of spanakopita. In other words, dreamy. Can’t make it down to Kyseri? Find head chef Selin Kiazim’s recipes (including the manti) in this month’s magazine, on sale now.
Meal provided by Pachamama East.
Missed an entry in our food diary? Find out what we've eaten previously...
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