From insects to ferments
Food trends are fleeting, and in amongst all the forecasts, it can be tough knowing just what’s going to stick. We’re not big believers in putting all our eggs in one basket and predicting what the next big hit is going to be. We do, however, have a passion for produce, and a keen interest in discovering innovative new flavours and textures with which to pleasure our palate.
Rather than just talking about what’s making waves in the food scene, we wanted to bring the experience to life. So, at our French Renaissance tasting at The Ritz this month, we’re doing just that. We’ve tasked Executive Chef, John Williams, with creating a menu to incorporate some of the ingredients and movements we’re most inspired by.
The movement to cut out meat, dairy and eggs from diets hasn’t happened overnight, but has proliferated particularly in the last few years as restaurants, cafés and supermarkets have begun responding to consumer demands. And with good reason too – more than half a million people in the UK identify as vegan, according to The Vegan Society.
No longer confined to the fringes, London has welcomed vegan pubs, doughnut shops and fast-food chains to the fray – even Jason Atherton at Pollen Street Social has launched a plant-based menu. Whether it’s a political, environmental, ethical or health-based decision to eschew meat, dairy and eggs, we think it’s safe to say veganism is here to stay.
On the menu: Avocado Roll with Apple and Chili.
Kombucha, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut – the craze for gut-loving concoctions is showing no signs of abating, with ferment-focussed restaurants opening all over town, and home-brewing and pickling books making it a DIY paradise.
Popular across cultures for centuries, fermenting has made a fashionable comeback as a provider of good bacteria that contributes to a healthy digestive system. The fermentation process, which results in a distinctive and slightly sour flavour on the palate, also produces probiotics, which help with digestion and the immune system, to name just a few.
On the menu: Sweetcorn Pancake, Kimchi Rice.
Perhaps the most far-fetched of all the trends is the one with creepy crawlies involved. It might make you squeamish, or wary of our sanity, but in the world of food there is a real conversation ongoing about the role of insects in our meals. It mightn’t be so common to find a worm on your plate in the UK, but around the world nearly 2,000 species are consumed by around two million people. As we look for more sustainable sources of protein, whilst reducing our carbon footprint, insects are looking increasingly appealing.
Responding to this niche in the market, London’s first pop-up insect bar, aptly named ‘Eat Grub,’ has opened with a menu including mealworm canapes, bug ice-cream and chocolate brownies made from cricket flour, among other insect-based recipes. Not only could eating insects benefit the environment – cows eat 12.5 times more food and 35 times more water than crickets to produce the same amount of protein – but it could also help your wallet as meat prices continue to rise.
On the menu: Cricket Flour Blini.