Read our weekly food trends update to discover right-now ingredients, fun foodie events, Instagramable restaurant dishes, exciting street eats and exactly what you should be eating to stay ahead. Written by Anna Lawson.
This week we tried...
There’s no doubt that the humble chickpea is having a moment. We’ve moved way past houmous (although still extremely dear to our hearts, of course) to all kinds of dishes from roasting them in spices for a healthy snack to using the water they’re canned in (aquafaba) to make delicious vegan meringues. They're also ground into flour to use in pizza bases, pasta and our new favourite snack: panelles. From Sicily, these are crispy fritters made with chickpea flour, water and seasoning, then deep-fried. We tried these ones at newly opened Smoke & Salt, a restaurant in Pop Brixton, London, specialising in seasonal small plates. Served with a spicy house ketchup for dunking into, these crunchy bites are a seriously moreish appetiser.
There’s only one word for these biscuits: cute. In fact, kawaii is the Japanese translation and it's now used to describe pretty much anything adorable – normally with a little face drawn on it (think Hello Kitty and Miffy). Kawaii has even been added to the Oxford dictionary as the concept takes hold in the UK. While it also applies to clothes, toys and emojis, it’s kawaii food that's got us cooing, naturally. We were at the launch of Juliet Sear's latest cookbook, Kawaii Cakes, featuring all kinds of adorable bakes inspired by Japanese culture, from cloud and avocado cookies (pictured here) to rainbow swirl cupcakes. It seems the general rule of thumb is: if it's colourful and adorned with a smiley face that makes you say ‘aww’, then it’s kawaii! Fancy trying the trend yourself? Juliet’s book is on sale now.
In case you hadn’t heard, seaweed is bang on trend right now. After a few years gathering momentum, last year saw sales soar as its health benefits became more apparent – not to mention its lovely umami flavour profile. No longer just reserved for Japanese cuisine, we’ve seen seaweed turning up in all kinds of foods recently like biscuits and bread. But here’s something new: seaweed gin. We tried this one from Isle of Harris distillery at the launch of G & Tea at the Soho Hotel – an afternoon tea inspired by and infused with gin. The Isle of Harris brand contains hand-dived sugar kelp, along with eight other botanicals, creating a smooth gin with sweet and salty notes. Served with dehydrated mango, fresh vanilla and tonic water, we sipped it alongside a range of treats including salmon cured with gin botanicals and seaweed & cheddar scones. G & Tea will be running until 3 September at the Soho Hotel, or if you want to buy seaweed gin, you can find a number of varieties online including Isle of Harris, Da Mhile and Edinburgh seaside gin.
Last week we tried...
Minted pea Scotch eggs
Packing a picnic? It wouldn’t be complete without a Scotch egg now, would it? A long-standing favourite at pubs and picnics, recent years have seen the rise of a new wave of amped up, gastro versions of this classic snack. Still featuring the crispy breadcrumbed exterior and oozy egg interior, chefs are swapping the traditional sausage meat layer for a whole host of new variations. We’ve seen venison, black pudding, chorizo and even haggis, but the latest to catch our eye are these stunning minted pea Scotch eggs by chef Alex Head from Social Pantry. In collaboration with Anthropologie, Social Pantry put on a supper club this week, with a menu focused on fresh, seasonal dishes. These picture perfect morsels were served as a canapé. They boast a soft-boiled quail’s egg encased by crushed peas, mint and lemon for a taste of summer. Served with a dollop of tarragon mayo, these are a lighter, fresher alternative to the meat-based original. Veggies should also check out our falafel scotch eggs and spicy tiffin eggs.
Apple pie cider
What happens when you cross a classic winter dessert with a popular summer tipple? No, it’s not the start of a bad joke but an exciting drink from Turners Cider. We met with founder Phil Turner to sample the drinks range (it’s a tough job, but…). The highlight? This apple pie cider. Sweet (though nowhere near teeth-curling) and gently spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice and vanilla, it has all the flavours of apple pie but still tastes like a cider — win-win! Delicious served cold in summer, it would be equally nice gently warmed and served in winter instead of mulled wine. We also tried pear, elderflower and rhubarb flavoured ciders, and a new product made with maple sap, called ‘What Sap’ (genius), as well as a champagne-style cider which was on a par with good quality sparkling wines — and in our opinion, better than prosecco (shhh!). Getting thirsty? Turners drinks are available in pubs across Kent and London, or buy online.
Barbecued leeks with onion ash
Forget overcooked bangers in shop-bought buns, this is barbecue food with a difference. We’ve been on the Isle of Eriska in Scotland, visiting the Michelin-starred restaurant at the Isle of Eriska Hotel. Here, there is a huge emphasis on local produce, using foraged ingredients, vegetables from the garden and venison from the island’s deer population. Among a menu of delicious, seasonal dishes from haggis bonbons to a fricassee of foraged mushrooms, it was this barbecued leek dish, served with spring onions and sheep’s cheese, that had us intrigued. Inevitably, it has a smoky flavour that works brilliantly with the natural sweetness of leeks and which, in turn, contrasts beautifully with the creamy, slightly sharp tang of sheep’s cheese. But the really unusual element? Onion ash. It's a growing trend, even in this far-flung corner of the country, but it does add an extra depth of flavour that sets off the freshness of the green vegetables. For more tips and recipes on barbecued dishes, pick up our July issue, on sale now.
Earlier this month we tried...
Black isn't how you’d normally want your toast to be served, but this unique dish from XU is a pleasing exception to the rule. Specialising in Taiwanese cuisine with a modern twist, XU is a new restaurant in London’s Soho, from the team behind the hugely popular BAO. Among the starters and small plates, it was this cuttlefish toast that really made an impression. An imaginative play on prawn toast, this innovation goes above and beyond the Chinese takeaway staple. Cuttlefish and prawns are pounded together, along with squid ink for its jet-black colour and inky flavour. The result is a light and bouncy, deeply savoury layer that sits on top of a crisp toast slice, served with a taramasalata-style whipped cod’s roe for extra fishy flavour.
Christmas in July
Elasticated waistbands at the ready... it’s that time again. While most people are thinking about barbecues, summer salads and ice cream, the Good Food team have been tucking into turkey, mince pies and Christmas puddings! Yes, it’s ‘Christmas in July’, the time of year when retailers showcase their festive offerings for the Christmas ahead. We’ve been scouring the shows, which began last week, on the lookout for this year’s top trends. So what can you expect in food and drink this Christmas? Well, you’ll certainly be seeing a lot more gin (surprise, surprise) but this time, it won’t just be in your glass — so far we’ve tried it in cakes, Christmas pudding and even cheese. Traditional mince pie haters can rejoice as this year there’s a whole host of new varieties on the market, from chocolate-orange to lemon. Plus, canapés continue to get more and more inventive, from mini brunch-inspired stuffed croissants, to prawn tempura lollipops.
Ever heard of apple marigold? We hadn’t either, but the leaves of this herbaceous plant, also known as Mexican marigold or tagetes minuta, have an intense apple flavour, with leafy notes. A favourite among the team at Michelin-starred restaurant Fera at Claridge’s, it’s often found in their food, but this week we tried it in their gin. (Yep, another week, another gin!) The guys at Fera have spent two years creating their own bespoke bottle, combining botanicals from classic juniper and angelica to the more unusual apple marigold resulting in a smooth gin, with unique vegetal flavours and apple notes. It'll be available to buy from the restaurant as of Monday 3 July and on their drinks menu, too.
In June we tried...
We clearly can’t get enough of avocado – even the recent threat of an avocado shortage hasn’t fazed us. It's appearing in different forms on dozens of restaurant menus, but the fact that it’s turned up in a cocktail is worthy of special note. This week, we’ve been at Scandi-influenced bar & restaurant The Harcourt in London’s Marylebone for the launch of its new cocktail menu. Among the seasonal cocktails, it was the abacàtchy that caught our eye. The drink is made from avocado, honey and orange purée mixed with grape syrup and cachaça, and just to make it that little bit trendier, it’s finished with a frozen avocado popsicle made with honey and lime and dipped in coconut flakes. Our thoughts? What a surprise! We expected a thick, heavy consistency, a bit like a boozy smoothie, but it was light and refreshing. The flavour was wonderfully balanced and the avocado added smoothness.
Forget bowl-food, how about ball-food? We’ve noticed a huge increase in spherical food at restaurants, food events and bars lately. From meatballs to mac 'n’ cheese balls, croquettes and arancini, these days if it’s a boule, it’s cool. Don’t believe us? We’ve been at newly opened Curveball in Balham, London, where most dishes on the menu take a globular form. Inspired by a love for the humble meatball and grown through a collective passion for travel, the founders of Curveball have created a menu of internationally-themed tasting plates, featuring all kinds of meat and veg-balls. Lovers of the traditional meatball might opt for the (already highly instagrammed) Tony Soprano – beef and pork balls in short rib ragu with rigatoni and melted cheese. But our highlights were these crispy fried chicken balls, swimming in hot sauce and topped with punchy blue cheese, skewered lamb balls with preserved lemon relish and harissa yogurt and vegetarian crushed pea, mint and parmesan croquettas with a crispy exterior and hot oozy centre. The verdict? Amaze-balls (naturally).
If you haven’t already noticed, watermelon is SO HOT RIGHT NOW (if not, then where have you been?)! Traditionalists eat it by the slice, but these days there are endless incarnations — watermelon lollies, watermelon slushies, watermelon vodka jelly shots and you can even buy toasted watermelon seeds for snacking or sprinkling on salads. It was only a matter of time before someone had the genius idea to combine watermelon with beer. In fact, there are a number of watermelon wheat beers out there, mostly from America, but we found this one from Tailgate beer at Craft Tooting, London. A fun summer drink, it has that refreshing watermelon sweetness and isn’t too heavy. You'll only find watermelon in wheat beer because it lends itself better to the soft, fruity flavour that might get lost in a pale ale or bitter. You’ll find watermelon wheat beers in craft beer shops across the country. And for more watermelon recipe inspiration, make sure you pick up a copy of our July issue, on sale 6 July.
Earlier this month we tried...
Vietnamese street food – Banh trang nuong
Vietnamese street food has really taken off in the UK recently but our editorial assistant Anna has been in Vietnam for a taste of the real deal. The streets of Da Lat are literally lined with food, whether it's mountains of fruit and veg or small carts selling the Vietnamese street food we recognise here, including banh mi, noodle soup and fresh spring rolls. But here’s one you may not have heard of – banh trang nuong, often referred to by Westerners as ‘Vietnamese pizza’. Popular among the younger generation in southern Vietnam, particularly Da Lat, it’s cheap and incredibly quick to make (and eat!). Although each vendor has a signature way of topping theirs, the base is made up of the same essential ingredients. The seller puts a disc of rice paper on a small grill over hot coals, cracks over a chicken's or quail's egg and then sprinkles over spring onions, chilli and dried shrimp before whisking it up on the rice paper, like a thin layer of omelette. She’ll add a drizzle of chilli sauce (and in some cases, a range of intriguing extras, from whole shrimps to Dairylea cheese!) before rolling it up like a tortilla for eating on the go. It’s super simple, full of flavour and the best bit is…it was only 35p!
Miso apple turmeric kimchi
Spotted at the BBC Good Food show in Birmingham this weekend is a brand new product that ticks all the boxes on the trend-o-meter. In fact, it combines four of the hottest food trends in one little jar: fermented food, miso, turmeric and kimchi. More to the point though, it’s absolutely delicious. As fermented food, particularly kimchi, becomes increasingly popular, it was only a matter of time before we saw more creative variations on the Korean staple cropping up. British producer Barrel & Bone specialises in handmade, live fermented foods and their latest creation is a stroke of pure genius. Where standard kimchi provides a spicy umami punch, this miso, apple and turmeric version is far more complex in flavour – earthy turmeric, salty miso, and sweet apple results in an incredibly well-rounded flavour sensation. We can’t get enough of the stuff!
Duck confit kibbeh
What happens when Middle Eastern meze meets classic French cooking? Well in this case, something truly delicious. Yes, this is fusion food at it’s very best and one of our standout dishes at this year’s Taste of London. The festival in London’s Regent’s Park takes place 14-18 June and is a celebration of London’s best chefs, restaurants, food & drink. This epic morsel came from Taste Makers of London restaurant stand where food Instagrammer Clerkenwell Boy has teamed up with Melissa Hemsley, Laura Jackson and Rosie Birkett to serve a menu of their favourite dishes. This duck confit kibbeh was chosen by Clerkenwell Boy from the #CookForSyria recipe book, so £1 from every dish sold is donated to the cause. The original dish was created by The Good Egg and combines succulent duck confit with crisp, sesame-crusted kibbeh and is served with a creamy, smoked aubergine labneh. If you’re going to Taste of London this year, we recommend heading to the Taste Makers tent. Our regular contributor Rosie Birkett will also be there serving up popcorn cheesecake… Need we say more?
Jerusalem artichoke ice cream
With the weather finally heating up (hooray!), we’re all screaming for ice cream. We'll pass on the vanilla, strawberry and chocolate though. We love to seek out the UK’s (and in this case Europe’s) most unusual ice cream flavours like last week’s black coconut and last month’s coffee & chicory. So, can we top those this week? We certainly can. Senior writer Sarah has been staying at the Hotel Relais Villa Del Golfo & Spa in Cannigione, northern Sardinia, and dining at the MiraLuna restaurant. The menu focuses on taking locally sourced ingredients and transforming them into fresh, modern takes on traditional Mediterranean cuisine. The star of the show? Jerusalem artichoke ice cream (yes, you read that right). It’s not a traditional Sardinian dish, but this interesting flavour, also seen at Noma Copenhagen, really works. The artichoke adds a delicate, mellow note to the ice cream, which pairs beautifully with the intensity of the dark chocolate mousse that it's served alongside. This has got us thinking: which other vegetables would make delicious ice cream?
Earlier this month we tried...
It seems not a week goes by without some twist on a gin & tonic gracing our tables. We’ve seen gin & tonic with cucumber and coriander, ginger and even cherry tomatoes but here’s a new one – plankton G&T. Yes plankton, the microscopic organism found in the sea, also known as microalgae. Intrigued? It’s still yet to kick off as a trend in the UK, but chef Angel Leon has been cooking with plankton at Aponiente restaurant in Cadiz, Spain for some years now, and even farms it on site. We visited the two-Michelin-starred restaurant last week for a truly inspiring meal. With four marine biologists working at the restaurant, these guys take the sea very seriously. And it shows. We tried such unique and interesting dishes as cuttlefish doughnuts, ‘sea sausages’ and crispy shrimp fritters, and to drink, this plankton gin & tonic made with Gin Mare, the all important plankton and some tonic water. The plankton is freeze-dried into a fine green powder, which is then reconstituted in water to use in the cocktail, resulting in a vibrant green drink. There's even plankton added to the ice-cubes too. So what does it taste like? Well, somewhere between spirulina, spinach and nori – earthy-tasting, with a hint of the sea. Could plankton be the next big thing...?
Goth ice cream
Sick of the unicorn food craze? Well forget pink, sparkly and rainbow-coloured food and start channeling your inner goth because the latest trend to emerge is all about BLACK. While black food isn’t a new concept (think licorice and squid ink pasta), using charcoal or black sesame to colour foods has become more mainstream recently, with black ice cream (often referred to on social media as ‘goth ice cream’) set to be a big trend this summer. In fact, the trend began last year in New York (duh) when the coconut ash ice cream from Morgenstern’s creamery became an insta-sensation. This year, LA-based Little Damage ice cream has caused a similar stir with its almond charcoal version and, here in the UK, Jude’s has followed suit with a black coconut offering, available at Pear Tree Café in Battersea. We’ve been experimenting here at GF HQ but instead of using charcoal or coconut ash, we used black tahini, mixing it with honey, greek yogurt and cream. Admittedly, our choice of sprinkles isn’t very goth…perhaps we’re still hanging on to the unicorn trend after all! If you fancy giving goth ice cream a go, watch this space... Recipe coming to BBC Good Food soon.
Kimchi & stilton gougères
You may have heard of gougères – the light, fluffy bites of cheesy choux pastry from France, often served as a canape – but chances are you won’t have ever experienced gougères like this. These little delights were served at The Laughing Heart in Hackney as part of a special collaboration with pop-up project Snackbar for London Food month. Chefs Seb Myers and Freddie Janssen created an informal, Asian-fusion style snack menu which included unusual dishes such as crispy pork dumplings in eel broth, a mortadella banh mi and these totally epic kimchi & stilton gougères. We’ve long been fans of the cheese & kimchi toastie, seen at Antipode, London, and now these morsels of joy have taken the combination to another level. The lighter-than-air choux pastry, rich, creamy stilton and notes of spicy, umami-rich kimchi make these salty little bites a heavenly bar snack.
With a boom in newfound superfoods like teff, Ethiopian staples are starting to hit the mainstream, and we couldn’t be happier. Watch this space for more emerging Ethiopian food trends. These injera flatbreads made from teff flour are spongy, slightly sour and perfect for mopping up delicious meaty stews, spiced lentil mixes and crunchy salads. Until recently, the Ethiopian government had placed a ban on exports of teff for almost a decade. This was to combat domestic costs rising in a repeat of what happened in Bolivia when ‘quinoa fever’ gripped the UK. However, as teff production has doubled over the last five years, the ban has been partially lifted and the trickle through of this gluten-free grain has begun on a small scale. Why not try creating your own Ethiopian feast with these fabulous flatbreads and your favourite dips and spicy stews?
Bí Mật Tomato
The UK is embracing the next generation of Asian food trends, with Vietnamese and Filipino dishes becoming more commonplace. We’re all about exploring emerging cuisines with plenty of exciting herbs and spices. At Go Viet, a polished offshoot of Jeff Tan’s restaurant Vietfood, we were treated to these baby tomatoes. They might look simple, but don’t be deceived. These tomatoes have been marinated in 12 herbs and spices for 10 hours to give a refreshing, complex flavour on the palate. Some of our favourite traditional Vietnamese flavours like lemongrass and pandan leaves are blended with some more unusual flavours such as slightly bitter wild yam and hot Vietnamese mint. We reckon these chilled, bright red beauties would be perfect with a cool vodka martini, shaken or stirred.
Coriander and mint choc chip gelato
Following on from last week’s chicory and coffee treat (see below), this week we continued our search for unusually addictive ice cream flavours. This coriander and mint choc chip scoop is a blend of traditional creamy gelato and modern flavour touches from Vico at Cambridge Circus, an Italian eaterie that also boasts the award-winning Gelupo gelateria and café. We enjoyed the blend of classic mint and chocolate chip with earthy coriander, perfect for a refreshing afternoon pick-me-up. These innovative flavour combinations are the brain-child of chef Jacob Kenedy. He cites a dense, creamy texture as being key to a good gelato, with a huge dose of flavour, undiluted by sugar or water, and a clean finish. Grab yourself a cone and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.
Missed the last food diary? Find out what we ate last month, or visit our 12 month compilation to get fully up to speed...
What we ate in May
What we ate in April
What we ate in March
What we ate in February
What we ate in January
What we ate in December
What we ate in November
What we ate in October
What we ate in September
What we ate in August
What we ate in July
What we ate in June
What we ate in May
What we ate in April 2016
One year of food trends