Our weekly food diary shares on-trend ingredients, fun foodie events, Instagrammable restaurant dishes and must-try street eats.
This week we tried...
Forget eggs Benedict and avocado on toast – we’re all about the Indian vegan ‘doffles’ when it comes to brunch these days. Dosa waffles, to use their full name, were invented by SpiceBox, a cheerful Keralan-inspired restaurant that recently made the move from street-food stall to a permanent spot in Walthamstow. Its brunch menu flips the traditional Indian dosa pancake on its head and pours the lentil and rice flour batter into waffle moulds instead. Go for the full Indian and you'll be served a double stack of doffles with jackfruit beans, Bombay potatoes, Indian guacamole and a coconut sambol. Add a side of KFC nuggets (Keralan fried chick’n, made from soy ‘chicken’ in a bhaji-like batter) and a boozy mango lassi and you've got a winning brunch formula.
Ever thought of having your head immortalised in chocolate? With the rapid advance of food technology, anything is possible! Retailer Smartech partnered with confectionary gift specialists Candy Mechanics this week to serve up a sweet, personalised Valentine’s treat. Using state-of-the-art 3D scanning and carving technology, visitors to Selfridges were able to watch their heads being turned into chocolate lollipop models in just five minutes. Curious to give this a go, we paid a visit to the Smartech innovation hub and posed for our own cranial cocoa recreation. The resulting gold-dusted replica was lifelike enough to either charm or slightly terrify your loved one. But this playful experience doesn’t just end at Valentine’s Day. You can order your very own delectable chocolate ‘Lolpop’ online by sending in a 30-second video of your face, easily filmed with a phone camera. With the advent of such personalised digital experiences, along with smart-appliances such as voice-controlled cooking and even robot baristas, it seems clear that the digital food age is set to revolutionise everyday life. Read more about how smart food tech may be shaping our kitchens this year.
Culurgiones (Sardinian dumplings)
January’s healthy virtues may still be lingering, but there’s only so long we can go without a decent plate of carbs. Following on from the success of artisan pasta restaurants such as Padella, Pastaio and Lina Stores, some exciting culinary twists on the simple Italian staple are cropping up. Take culurgiones, for instance – traditional dumplings originating from the Ogliastra region of Sardinia. We ventured to the stylish, newly opened Provisioners restaurant in Tower Bridge to sample this speciality. Created by sous chef Tiziana Brunzu, these soft and creamy semolina parcels evoke the fresh pasta made by generations of her Italian family. Similar in texture to gnocchi, culurgiones are traditionally served in a tomato and basil sauce; Tiziana's special twist on this dish involves truffle and winter pecorino. The wonderfully rich umami flavours complement the dumplings perfectly, making for a light yet comforting starter.
Last week we tried...
Heart-shaped truffle cheese
Fretting over finding the perfect foodie Valentine's gift? Chocolate, of course, has its place in the nation’s hearts, but this heart-shaped cheese will steal the affection of any fromage aficionado. It’s coeur de neufchâtel aux truffes, a smooth, creamy artisan cheese made from unpasteurised cow’s milk, in upper Normandy, France, and takes its name from the town where it is made, Neufchâtel. Similar to camembert in texture and taste, it has a richer flavour with a hint of mushrooms and a soft white velvety rind. For added luxury, black truffles mixed with creamy brillat-savarin cheese is spread between two halves of the coeur de neufchâtel. Available from all Paxton & Whitfield shops, it can be delivered for the big day. Get more romantic foodie inspiration with our Valentine's gift guide.
Caviar and condiments served in the form of pearls evokes images of Blumenthal-style fine dining. But this week, our favourite go-to sauce got this upmarket makeover. If you think tomato ketchup is the king of condiments, this news is for you. We attended a champagne breakfast at Fortnum & Mason to celebrate Heinz's 150th anniversary, where this ketchup caviar was served atop scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast. The dish will feature on their special ‘ValenHeinz’ breakfast menu in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. So, how did it taste? The pearls pop in your mouth for intense bursts of flavour, although the sensation is slightly odd. The verdict? Although you probably won't be seeing these on supermarket shelves anytime soon, we enjoyed the novelty factor.
As we predicted in our look-ahead to food trends for 2019, low- and no-alcohol options are popping up on menus all over the UK. At Hampstead bar Heads + Tails, low-alcohol drinks take centre stage in their own cocktail menu. The bar has two areas; 'Heads' is a light and airy space where fruity aperitifs are served, and 'Tails' is a cosy downstairs venue full of dark corners to enjoy boilermakers and other, stronger brews. Our favourite drink of the night was a delicate pink lemonade with low-alcohol Lillet Rosé, lemon sherbert and soda water. This refreshing tipple is perfect if you fancy a drink with friends, but want to avoid a heavy hangover the next day. Read our review of the best non-alcoholic and low-alcohol drinks 2019.
Missed an entry in our food diary? Find out what we've eaten previously...
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