As a child I saw absolutely zero merit in any dessert than didn’t contain chocolate, and was baffled by anyone who would be so crazy as to order anything fruit-based. The insanity! How times have changed, and after a decade or so of ‘progression’ (depending how you look at the evolution of my palate towards an obsession with oysters and offal), I have arrived at a point where desserts are best containing fruit (rhubarb), some kind of acidity (the lemon juice) and contrasting textures of crunch, coolness (ice) and creamy smoothness (in this case, meringue).
Either I’m suffering from a bout of Baader-Meinhof or artisanal tinned fish (no, not the John West variety) is having its moment. Case in point, in the space of 10 days, Nuno Mendes’ new Spitalfields market wine bar and restaurant Taberna do Mercado opened with a section exploring the gastronomic potential of oily conserves of the ocean variety. Days later in Lisbon, I spot pretty little branded tins all over the place and the Rough Guide is imploring me to visit a tin-tastic shop tucked away in Alfama exclusively selling these conserves. Then fast forward to the following thursday at trendy natural wine bar Septime La Cave in Paris, they peeled back the silver lid of a tin of sardines, presented it on a white plate with a wedge of lemon, then chucked us a basket of bread and a fork for scooping up said sardines and soaking up the lovely Mosse.
If you haven’t been given enough reason by now to be taking advantage of the quantity of gorgeous wild garlic currently on offer; let this sauce be one. It was actually the result of a boxful that I was trying to use up while at its best; if you whizz it up with heaps of oil, you’ll be able to prolong the joy for a further few days.
When a colourful plate of crunchy pickled vegetables hit the plastic tablecloth in a no frills – but full of thrills – Nonya restaurant in Singapore a few months ago, I had a feeling a love affair with this Malay-Chinese cuisine (often known as Peranakan) was due its moment. What followed was a flurry of new-to-me dishes; fish head curry, a fragrant brothy prawn number, dollops of fiery sambal to accompany them all, but the most memorable of the lot was this colourful condiment that kick started the taste buds into submission.
A couple of years ago I had the ‘arduous’ task of travelling around a handful of French regions researching Rachel Khoo’s My Little French Kitchen. Among the highlights of our epic gastronomic tour was an extended stay in Provence, where we later returned in the spring to shoot the recipes in a beautiful villa in the Luberon, just outside Cucuron.
Brussel sprouts are allegedly the new kale. Or so claim the gazillion articles published on the subject of the fashionable foods of 2015. If this is indeed the case, suits me. I seem to be in the minority of people not obsessed with kale chips, which makes me marginalised in my east London hood.
These sushi rolls are a nifty way of using up some odds and ends from the fridge. Here I have used a selection of veg, but you could easily add some strips of tofu, shredded roast chicken or a bit of tuna or salmon – customise as you wish! These make a great lunch on the go – a pretty awesome and wholesome alternative to a soggy sandwich.
I rarely spare a second thought for shopping for breakfast supplies; I’m generally too busy thinking about what’s for dinner. But boasting a pantry stocked with every type of grain under the sun allows major leeway in creating a healthy and wholesome brekkie without ever having to think too far ahead.
When my boyfriend lived in Stoke Newington, we instigated ‘Turkish Tuesday’, which was essentially an excuse to try out a different restaurant along the Stoke Newington High Street to Dalston Kingsland stretch once a week and pretend it was a tradition. The Turkish restaurants in East London and Green Lanes offer some of the best value food in London, costing little more than about £15 a head for a full on feast (I’d recommend sharing a main and ordering just 3 mezze to start – portions are generous to say the least).