Food waste is at the top of the global agenda, and for good reason – as individuals we can each make a difference through mindful eating and reducing our waste at home. The simple act of not putting left-over or uneaten food in the bin will save an impressive amount of resources and energy and help reduce climate change.
It’s not often that our own small actions can create change and have a positive impact on the environment, but reducing our waste does make a difference.
Waste is not just the produce we see wilting in the fridge or in bins at the supermarket, waste includes all the resources, energy and human power that goes into making that food, and the emissions that are created by that food being thrown away. This is why, through our own small choices, we can have a huge impact on the environment.
To describe my love for food and ethical living, I’ve coined the phrase ‘root-to-fruit eating’ which means to eat mindfully, reconnecting with the value that we place on our food, the planet and the farmers who grow our ingredients, thus reducing waste. At my restaurant, Poco, we practice root-to-fruit eating, which has led us to use the best-quality products we can find and to become zero waste.
Tips on Root-to-Fruit Eating
By giving a little extra thought to your food habits you can reduce your waste and increase the quality of your diet
1) Eat for pleasure
Take time to shop, cook and eat for pleasure. Buy direct from farmers and producers and from shopkeepers who take pride in the quality of their produce. And, whenever possible, grow your own. Having a connection with your food will help you savour it all the more.
2) Eat seasonally
Choosing to eat seasonally improves the quality of our food while simultaneously reducing the cost of the ingredients. Seasonal food goes hand-in-hand with eating locally and eating more vegetables, all factors which reduce your impact on the environment and reduce waste in the food industry. A short, local food chain produces less waste through simpler logistics. Eating more vegetables reduces the resources that would have gone into producing meat.
3) Eat whole foods
Eating ingredients in their entirety, whether wholegrain or vegetable – skins, stalks, leaves and seeds – means we’re consuming the most nutritious parts. By eating food that we’d normally throw away we save in production costs and then have money to spend on higher-welfare foods.
Practical tips for reducing your food waste
Preserve food Make chutneys, jams and pickles with surplus food.
Eat less fish And eat abundant, undervalued species.
Eat less meat Choose the less common cuts of meat that offer better quality, lower impact and value for money.
Go local Locally-produced food often uses fewer resources than imported foods.
Eat chemical-free Fertilisers and pesticides waste natural resources and reduce soil quality.
Be creative Don’t follow recipes to the letter – use what you have.
Use your freezer If a food can’t be eaten before it perishes, freeze it for later.
Love your leftovers Leftovers save time and provide free meals.
Among chefs, it’s accepted wisdom that: ‘You eat with your eyes first’. That’s why, like anxious designers sending a collection down the catwalk, they fuss so much over the finished article.
Their aesthetic obsession with outré crockery, micro-herbs and sauces applied with a painterly eye is appreciated by diners, too – at some level. There’s a historical precedent for prettifying food, and even a scientific justification. Fundamentally, no-one wants to be served a slop of greige food. It looks lazy, unhygienic, and unappetising. That’s why the upper classes have always titivated their food in 101 fashionable ways. Think apples in the mouths of roasting hogs, glittering Parisian spun-sugar work, or that bizarre Victorian obsession (revived by the 1950s middle classes) of setting everything from sardines to strawberries in aspic jelly. This urge to finesse food is, it seems, natural to us. There were probably aspirational Neanderthals who served scorched haunches of giant elk with a scattering of juniper berries.
There is, moreover, scientific evidence (often from Oxford University’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory), that gussied-up dishes are perceived to be better. Chefs will tell you that an odd number of items on a plate always look more dynamic than an even number. But the boffins have gone further and begun to establish that neat, ornate plating adds perceived monetary value to a dish and that (get this!) foods with pronounced tips should be served pointing away from the diner, to stop the asparagus spears feeling threatening. The Crossmodal crew have even shown that complex, irregularly artistic plating (it served a salad mimicking a Kandinsky painting) heightens activity in the brain’s reward centres, making the dish a more pleasurable experience.
Perhaps you already knew that intuitively? Take Noma’s famous radishes buried in edible soil as an example. A perfect balance of concept, design and flavour, it’s a dish of breathtaking audacity. Which is why, for all its entertaining LOLZ, I cannot support @WeWantPlates. From warm bread served in felt bags upwards, there’s nothing wrong with novel serving methods. In fact, they can enhance food, as long as they’re practical. A world that used only round white plates (which, interestingly, are thought to heighten perceptions of sweetness) would be very boring.
The problem is that in professional kitchens, visual wow-factor is often prioritised over flavour and any practical consideration of how easy (or not) a dish is to eat. Dishes can be beautiful impenetrable confections and, consequently, muddled in their flavours.
Think of the towering stacks of the 1990s that toppled at the first fork prod. Or those elegant dots of gel, smeared sauces and cuckoo-spit foams that characterised noughties fine dining, and which frequently left you with scant lubrication for your neat, rectilinear tranches of sous-vide meat. At the same time, in Britain’s gastropubs, things which had happily functioned together on plates (pies, chips, vegetables, gravy), were suddenly split up and served in tiny brass pans, mini Le Creuset cookware or dinky frying-baskets. It was a trend that romanticised British working class food, in a hugely pretentious, over-complicated way.
The 2010s are all about (ostensibly) ceding control to nature. Plates are less angular now, there’s less phallic elevation, but problems remain. Dishes come hidden beneath forest-floors of (in)edible flowers and pine needles, banked in drifts of horseradish snow on plates – rustic, handmade – that don’t allow your cutlery to rest comfortably and are therefore regularly aren’t fit for purpose.
Such over-elaboration isn’t simply down to chefs being desperate to impress. It’s more cynical than that. To create food that thrills people in flavour is difficult. As a chef, it can take years of patient application to develop your craft. It’s hard work. By contrast, any chef with the right tableware and bought-in garnishes can create a pretty plate by copying what others are doing. That’s why so much restaurant food doesn’t taste half as good as it looks.
We domestic cooks are guilty of this, too. Blame Instagram (according to Waitrose, 39% of us take greater care over presentation than five years ago), but many of us now cook with visual impact in mind as much as flavour. We’re living in an #instafood era of MasterChef and Great British Bake Off-inspired display, where bright colours, fat stacks and photogenic bowls drive food trends. Would freakshakes exist without Instagram? Would doughnuts be this big? Are brown stews too ugly for a web 2.0 world?
Sure, a beautifully presented plate is a wonderful thing. I’ve had my mind blown by high-flown conceptual dishes. But too intense a focus on food’s appearance is, ultimately, shallow.
Fundamentally, food is about flavour. Focussing on cooking delicious, nourishing food from seasonal ingredients is more admirable (more mature even) than our ballooning obsession with beautifying it. In Italy, a country whose food we revere for its honesty, presentation is an afterthought (to an extreme degree: who wants to eat a cowpat-splat of dun risotto?). But, day-to-day, who’s eating better? Flashy food gives us a brief buzz, but it’s flavourful food that satisfies the soul. We should be as proud of our dumpy, delicious sausage ‘n’ mash as we are our dazzling cakes.
Good Brothers, founded by Graeme and Rory Sutherland, is bringing the natural wine movement to Stockbridge, Edinburgh alongside some outstanding Scottish cuisine. Yes, it’s all about the wine (there’s over 100 of them on the ever-rotating list) but that doesn’t overshadow the fantastic food.
Head chef Maciej Szczepanski has created a menu of classic Scottish cuisine with a twist to accompany the wine selection that includes organic, biodynamic or natural. Chef Maciej has spent the last ten years working his way up the chef’s ladder in the US, Europe and the Far East. His philosophy on fresh produce, seasonality and sustainability is shared with Graeme and Rory.
What are they cooking
Good quality, Scottish produce is the focus of the kitchen. And the short menu is divided between sharing plates, small plates, large plates and afters. You can make your way through their selection, sampling dishes tapas style or go traditional with a three-course meal.
We began our meal with the wild mushrooms – beautifully presented with a truffled confit egg yolk and plenty of Grana Padano on top. The intense umami flavours of the hard cheese and nutty truffle combination was full bodied and well balanced. Thai fishcakes paired with the house kimchi were equally flavoursome – it seems that Edinburgh is lapping up fermented vegetables at the moment and the kimchi here cut through the spicy fishcakes well.
Bavette of beef from Angus Limousin cross cattle from the Black Isle, was served with fat hand-cut chips. Yes, it’s simple. But, delivered medium rare, it tasted incredible and showed off the high-quality produce that Good Brothers are using.
Braised ox cheeks were just as good. Served with the creamiest celeriac puree and delicious bone marrow gravy, it was like winter on a plate. Both large plates were matched brilliantly with a 2010 Laurent Lebled Touraine Cabernet France, with lots of full fruity berry flavours.
What’s the room like/atmosphere
Previously Good Brothers was an outpost of Bon Vivant, which has several other bars and eateries in Edinburgh including the original Bon Vivant bar on Thistle Street, the Devil’s Advocate, a whisky bar on Advocate’s Close in the Old Town, and El Cartel Mexicana.
Good Brothers feels like a cosy drinking emporium, candle lit, peaceful and relaxing but with a brighter fresh décor than it’s previous incarnation. You feel very much at home but in the company of plenty of other wine-and-food loving locals.
Menu must-orders and misfires
Aside from the bavette of beef, the Pear Tarte Tatin with whipped citrus cream cheese and rosemary syrup is a true standout. The pastry had glorious crunch, and the pear and rosemary was a cracking combination.
If you’re in for dinner then go for a sharing plate while you’re checking out the menu. The bread and house oils crank the standard breadbasket up a notch. There’s a great selection of warm, homemade breads with an olive tapenade, pesto and dukkah infused oil to accompany them.
Booze is the main focus at Good Brothers. Both Rory and Graeme have spent years working in the wine industry.
The wine list covers fizz, white, red, pink and orange, while wines by the glass are written up on blackboards near the bar. The focus is organic and biodynamic, ‘natural’ wines that match brilliantly with the food.
All of the staff have a fantastic knowledge, imparted by Graeme and Rory, and they will expertly guide you through the list should you want them to do so.
The time is now for natural wine and Good Brothers are proving just that, alongside some quality cooking. With the menu changing seasonally that gives you just the excuse you need to go back again sooner rather than later.
Maria Julia Raffo hands me a helmet and we sputter off into Peru’s cloud- and traffic-cloaked capital by Vespa on a tour of Lima’s culinary highlights. Gone are the days when this coastal city, founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, was simply the jumping off point for Peru’s Inca sites. Today, it’s a magnet for foodies, the searing core of the novoandina gastronomic trail that blazes all the way from London’s Lima to New York’s Llama Inn via Tampu in Madrid and many more.
Our first stop is El Pan de la Chola, an artisan bakery and brunch spot in Lima’s chic Miraflores neighbourhood. Here, bakers knead dough beside a giant brick oven while, ouside, the city’s well-to-do tuck into jam jars of juice and scoop creamy avocados from their skins.
Revived, we set off again to gritty SurquilloMarket. According to Julia, this is where chefs come to buy their ingredients rather than at the chi-chi eco markets now peppering the Peruvian capital. Inside there’s an encyclopaedic array of produce from avocados to aji, maracuya to mandarin, banana passion fruit to tree tomatoes, papaya to prickly pears.
She points out lucuma fruit, cherimoya (custard apples), cacao pods and bags of chuño, a chalky, dried potato, rehydrated to make sauces – or mixed into a paste to soothe babies’ bottoms. Potatoes are Peru’s most famous export with a mind-boggling 3,800 types. Quinoa, its other staple, notches up a mere 2,000 varieties.
The country’s rollercoaster topography careers from coastal desert to high-altitude plain. From the teetering, thin-aired Inca terraces of the Andes it plunges down to the steamy Amazon jungle. The numerous ecosystems produce a bountiful natural larder while its tumultuous history and waves of migration have created a vibrant fusion cuisine.
The Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century bringing with them limes and onions. The African slave trade added peanut sauce to the anticuchos (skewers of meat cooked over wood), and the traditional lomo saltado (slivers of sautéed beef with onions, rice and potatoes) can be traced back to the Chinese immigrants of the 1800s. Then, at the turn of the 20th century the Japanese brought with them their love of raw fish.
Traditionally the fish in the national dish, ceviche, was marinated in lime juice for a couple of hours in the morning to ‘cook’ it. Today’s dish however, is raw fish tossed with lime juice, chopped chilli, onion and coriander and eaten immediately. This spicy marinade, known as leche de tigre (tiger’s milk), is also thought to be a hangover cure and aphrodisiac.
As we pass Surquillo’s fish section, ceviche stalls are setting up for the lunchtime rush. “Ceviche is eaten from around 11am,” Julia; tells me. “You never eat ceviche at night – it has to be fresh, the fish straight off the boat.”
Back on the Vespa we screech off to La Preferida (restaurantelapreferida.com) a 1940s bodega in Miraflores that’s now a Peruvian-style tapas bar. Grabbing a perch at the counter, Julia orders three ceviche tapas served in shells. Choro a la chalaca is a spicy mouthful of mussel mixed with onion, coriander, chilli and lemon – I scoop up the oniony juice with some crisp corn like a local. Next, scallop and avocado, then octopus in mayonnaise darkened with black olives to a pungent purple – drinking another purple concoction, chicha morada, with it. This non-alcoholic drink is made from purple corn, pineapple rind, cinnamon, cloves and sugar.
Careering on to bohemian Barranco, once a seaside resort for the Limeños but now a coastal suburb, we dip in and out of little huariques, hole-in-the-wall joints like La Canta Rana, tasting traditional dishes such as causa – a circular tower of yellow mashed potato topped with seafood and avocado, and tiradito (milder than ceviche and minus the onion). Afterwards we join the queue at Isolina for lunch: ceviche, of course, served market-style, the edge taken off its zesty sharpness by the mounds of sweet potato and a double dose of corn – fried and on the cob.
After our whirlwind tour Julia drops me back at my hotel and I reluctantly hand back the helmet. I’m staying at Hotel B(hotelb.pe) in Barranco where poems are placed on your pillow at night and Gregorian chants accompany a grand breakfast that stretches to quail eggs, delicate pastries and tiny cappuccinos in gold-rimmed cups and saucers.
My gourmet grazing’s not over for the day yet, however. I’m dining at Astrid y Gaston (astridygaston.com), the flagship restaurant of celebrity chef Gaston Acurio. Gaston flies the flag for Peruvian cuisine around the world and paved the way for chefs such as Virgilio Martinez and Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, whose Lima restaurant, Malabar, is the setting for some inventive culinary conjuring from the weird and wonderful roots and shoots of the Amazon. Gaston also founded Mistura (mistura.pe), a local food festival that takes place every September and is now in its 10th year.
In an elegant colonial mansion in the stylish San Isidro district, Astrid y Gaston is a warren of restaurants and bars, plus a food lab and kitchen garden. The restaurant’s 13-course tasting menu elegantly celebrates Peru’s cultural heritage with dishes such as Pekinese guinea pig, a Peruvian take on Peking duck with a hand-rolled mini purple corn crepe and a silkily sweet rocoto chilli and peanut hoisin sauce.
The next morning I’m in another market, this time San Isidro, with chef Penelope Alzamora.
A one-time colleague of Gaston, she spent seven years teaching Peruvian cooking in San Francisco before returning to Lima and offering cookery experiences in her Barranco apartment. We wander from stall to stall shopping for lunch ingredients, picking out scallops, flounder, thin-skinned limes from the northern province of Piura and tiny round orange chillies from the Amazon.
Back in her kitchen Penelope whizzes up a jug of frothy pisco sours, the national cocktail made with pisco (grape brandy), sugar syrup, lemon juice, egg whites and angostura bitters, then spoons pisco onto the scallops before sprinkling them with chilli, coriander, salt and pepper as an appetiser.
Next we make ceviche, first soaking the onions in water so they don’t overpower it. “Squeeze the lime by hand just until you feel resistance so you don’t get the oil from the skin and bitterness from the middle of the fruit,” she tells me. A sprinkling of chilli, sea salt, white pepper, garlic and coriander and we’re ready to eat.
Ceviche, I discover, is not just a coastal compulsion. The following day, a one-hour flight from Lima in the ancient Inca capital, Cusco, I try a delicate pink trout ceviche in Cicciolina(cicciolinacuzco.com) – along with oil-drizzled, pepper – and chilli-sprinkled alpaca carpaccio.
My base here is the new Explora hotel (explora.com), outside Cusco in the Sacred
Valley. A sleek wood and glass space cradled in 24 hectares of farmland, there’s no TV, radio
or WiFi in the rooms, just a window seat and a framed Andean tableau: fields of corn and fluffy-headed quinoa, clusters of adobe houses and peaks swathed in mist.
For breakfast, a porridge of quinoa swimming in hot orange juice with dried apple is surprisingly delicious. This protein-rich super-food, now a western staple, has been dubbed Inca gold and was eaten by the Inca army to sustain it as it marched.
The Sacred Valley takes its name from the Urubamba river which threads through it. The land here, with its cinnamon-coloured soil, is rich and fertile. Today, villagers still grow crops on ancient Incan terraces and use the irrigation systems and canals built by them.
Driving to the Sunday morning market at Chinchero I pass villagers ploughing with cattle and fields of blowsy purple-flowered potatoes. At Chinchero trading is still done the traditional way and I watch women bartering beans for bananas. At makeshift cooking stalls people huddle over bowls of steaming chicharrone (fried pork) with crispy potatoes and tutu haucha, an Andean dish of beans, greens, potato and corn dressed with a spicy sauce and seasoned with Maras salt.
Salt has been harvested on the mountainside at nearby Maras for over 500 years. All the work is done by hand as it was by the Incas. More evidence of the Incas’ agricultural innovation can be seen at Moray where a series of sunken concentric stone terraces, originally thought to be a giant amphitheatre, are believed to be one of the first food laboratories, where they experimented with crops at different elevations.
The Spanish also contributed a little innovation to the agricultural landscape here, introducing vines. Down near Ica, 300km south of Lima, Hacienda Tacama (tacama.com) claims to be the oldest winery in South America, having been founded by Francisco de Carabantes Tacama in 1540. Today the hacienda – candy
floss pink and frilled with flowers – is open for tours and tutored tastings. Owner Luz Maria ushers me in for a lunch paired with the estate’s wines and piscos.
To start we have a salad of local lima beans, tomatoes, onions and basil. Then lomo saltado, filet mignon sautéed with ripe tomatoes and onions and flamed with the hacienda’s Demonio de los Andes pisco to give it a charred fieriness. For dessert we try tocino del cielo, a heavenly custard flan (which uses up the leftover yolks after you’ve whipped up a batch of pisco sours). I go in for seconds and beg for the recipe. It’s her grandmother’s. She smiles with pride.
Pride in their cuisine has been a long time coming, but now, with the world applauding novoandina’s stratospheric rise, Peruvians are finally taking a bow.
HOW TO DO IT
Direct return flights from Gatwick to Lima start from £653 (ba.com). Peruvian specialists Aracari offer 10-day Peru with Flavour journeys from $4,847 per person including the Urban Eats tour of Lima but excluding flights (aracari.com).
More info: peru.travel
This week we rant about the foods we love to hate (and even fear), and take a welcome break from all the virtuous health food chat with a proper indulgent recipe wars with Gregor and Janine. Plus, we introduce newbie cookery writer Adam, who reveals how a recipe goes from idea to plate.
At stylish café La Cabra, in the Latin Quarter, they roast their coffee in-house. Pair a cup with a freshly made cinnamon bun or some avocado toast. Or join one of the café’s home brewing classes. lacabra.dk
2) Brunch spot
Enjoy the cosseting Danish concept of hygge by piling your plate with waffles, granola, salads, fresh fruit, cakes, crusty bread and roast salmon at Globen Flakket, a cosy canal-side restaurant. The hot chocolate is good too. globen-flakket.dk
3) Fish supper
An atmospheric cross between a British chippy and a French bistro, Oli Nico serves fabulously fresh fried fish (to take away or eat in) and great value three-course set dinners; think cured salmon, apple and fennel salad, beef bourguignon and blueberry and white chocolate cheesecake. olinico.dk
4) Off the rails
Set inside Godsbanen, a converted railway station that’s home to flea markets and pop-ups, Spiselauget is a relaxed, modern restaurant serving gastropub-inspired food: seasonal dinner options include trout with kohlrabi and smoked yogurt. spiselauget.dk
5) Danish pastries
You can’t visit Denmark without indulging in a buttery baked good or two. Langenæs Bageriet is a great bakery and stocks everything from rye bread to cinnamon horns and chocolate Danish. langenaesbageriet.dk
6) Posh dogs
Haute Friture is a Latin Quarter institution, known for its gourmet hotdogs; the Hot Duck features duck confit in a spring roll with chilli, mushrooms and cranberries, topped with chilli and soya mayo and a wakame seaweed salad, all tucked in a bun. http://ift.tt/2kxprvv
7) New Nordic
For exciting modern cooking with a delicate Scandinavian influence, book a table at Nordisk Spisehus. Every two months its set menus take on a new theme but typical dishes include ox with artichoke and sage or blackberries with marzipan and honey. nordiskspisehus.dk
8) To market
Near the station, Aarhus Central Food Market is the perfect lunch spot for indecisive foodies. Browse the stalls for classic smørrebrød (open sandwiches), organic juices, Asian street food and fresh seafood. Hip porridge stall Grød serves everything from chia seed porridge with peanut butter to dal and congee. aarhuscentralfoodmarket.dk
9) Ale house
A volunteer-run, non-profit café and bar that supports a range of charities Fairbar’s big attraction – aside from its regular live music nights – is its wide range of Danish and foreign craft beers. Look out for warming winter ales from local brewery Humleland. fairbar.dk
10) Elegant dining
At organic restaurant L’Estragon expect artistic and seasonal plates, such as cod with pumpkin, fennel and blackberry or local mussels with potato, spinach and apple. Go the whole hog and order wine pairings to match your chosen menu. lestragon.dk
HOW TO DO IT
Return flights from Stansted to Aarhus start at £30 (ryanair.com).
Double rooms at Hotel Oasia start at £107, b&b (hoteloasia.dk).
Whether you’re looking to wow your Valentine’s date with your culinary skills and a romantic meal for two, or simply want to avoid the formality of a restaurant setting, here at olive we have crafted perfect menus for every situation.
Left it to the last minute? Fear not! Our collection of quick romantic recipes will take you no time at all to rustle up. Or perhaps you’re embracing Galentine’s Day and hosting a girls night in? Look no further than these Valentine’s Day dinner recipes, featuring everything from grilled oysters and champagne cocktails to a romantic steak dinner, tear-and-share garlic bread and self-saucing chocolate pudding.
Looking to impress
Want to wow your Valentine with your culinary expertise and sophisticated style? Look no further than this classic menu, featuring oysters, steak and rich dark chocolate
Easy to prepare in advance, these white chocolate, orange and raspberry pots are given an unexpected twist with a dash of Cointreau
Fancy treating your guest to gourmet restaurant-style food but want to stay in the intimate setting of your own home? If you’ve got all day to prepare, take a look at these fancy recipes from restaurants around the country
Delight your Valentine with this elegant dessert from Bulrush in Bristol. It’s a bit of a challenge, but your hard work will pay off
Left it to the last minute
Somehow missed the stands of heart-shaped chocolates at the end of every supermarket aisle? Restaurant double booked? Fear not! Olive is here to save the day with our menu requiring as little preparation time as possible
A pretty and delicate dish, the salmon is presented on a bed of steamed broccoli, couscous and watercress, and sprinkled with pumpkin and pomegranate seeds. Nobody would guess it only takes 15 minutes to make!
Our favourite bolognese recipe, with pancetta, pork sausages and lots of herbs and veggies to really ramp up the flavour. Make it in a slow cooker to give yourself more time for family doughball production!
Arguably the best-known cookery course for vegetarians in the country, Demuths doesn’t rest on its laurels. From exploring the spice route to fast and delicious winter soups, they offer a wide variety of courses in different cuisines. Courses range from evening, half day or day depending on how long you want to spend learning the tricks of the vegetarian trade.
A lot of the focus at Demuths is on oriental cooking, be it Indian, Japanese or Chinese. You can spend a day learning how to create a Chinese New Year Feast, led by Lydia. Chinese food is often meat heavy, but Lydia will teach you how to make some of her mothers dishes such as Sesame Dressed Chinese Greens and Dim Sum Dumplings.After day spent chopping, stirring, mixing and frying, you’ll be rewarded with a late lunch that includes a glass or two of vegan organic wine.
Chinese New Year Feast: 28th January 2017, 10am-4.30pm, £165.00 per person (demuths.co.uk)
Our Lizzy cookery school, based in Malvern, is great whether you’re a novice or an expert. There are a wide range of courses on offer from a taste of Thailand to tasty tofu. On the taste of tofu course, all food is suitable for vegans, too. Tofu can be a tricky ingredient to cook with, as many vegetarians know. With this course, you’ll learn all about the different types and different ways of cooking it, from frying to braising.
The classes are small, meaning you get a lot of attention and time to ask questions. The day starts with you preparing a tofu brunch while in the afternoon you’ll watch demonstrations and make some tofu flans. By the end of the day, the meat-free alternative will be your best friend; you’ll be cooking it for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Tasty Tofu: 12th February 2017, 10am-3.45pm, £80 per person (ourlizzy.com)
Abbey Home Farm
Sign up for a one day cookery course, on a 1600-acre organic farm in the Cotswolds, and with the help of US-born vegetarian chef and cookery teacher Erin Baker you can expand your meat-free repertoire, using plant-based and farm-produced dairy ingredients. There are a variety of courses on offer, but the meat free meals course aims to help those reducing their meat intake, or those who have given it up all together.
You’ll spend the day learning how to make quick yet delicious vegetarian food, using vegetables that are grown on the farm. The recipes you’re making might include beetroot risotto, pumpkin tagine and parsnip, leek and cheddar gratin. At the end of the day, you’ll have been inspired with some veggie recipes that are easy to re-create at home.
If you want to spend more than just a day learning the techniques to vegetarian cooking, then the Vegetarian Society Cookery School, located in a Victorian mansion in Cheshire, is a great place to learn. The courses are hands on, with tutors on hand to help you through out your time there. Best of all you’ll get to eat the food yourself!
Over the two days, you’ll make over 20 dishes from soups and salads to dressings and desserts. By the end of your time there, you’ll be able to cook a variety of veggie dishes and confidently plan a vegetarian menu.
Dumplings are a symbol of wealth, so serve this light and impressive appetiser to celebrate good fortune. Filled with scallops and pork mince in an oyster sauce, these little parcels are a delicious burst of flavour.
If you love the bowls of Asian soup noodles you now find in restaurants on every high street, you’ll be thrilled to discover how easy they are to make at home. This Chinese chicken noodle broth is a great way of using up leftover roast chicken
The Copenhagen taqueria Hija (pronounced ‘ee-kah’) de Sanchez is the creation of Rosio Sanchez, the 31-year-old Noma alumnus from the south side of Chicago and one of the most exciting young chefs in Europe. It’s hard to think of a better version of Mexican street food anywhere on the continent. Its brilliance is the result of Sanchez’s pedigree as a chef and the importance she and her team place on importing Mexican ingredients – including the chillies and the corn, from Oaxaca, which they cook and stone-grind on-site to make fresh tortillas every day.
In March 2016, they opened at a second location where as well as tacos (carnitas, mole, queso fresco), paletas (ice-pops) and churros with liquorice salt, freeze-dried blackcurrant and cajeta (caramel), there are tacos al pastor (the Mexican version of a shawarma) – marinated pork basted with roasted pineapple.
“What we’re doing is extremely rare,” explains Rosio, “we make everything!” But it seems less a self-gratifying DIY effort or marketing shtick, and more out of necessity. “In the States or in Mexico, the quality of the products you can buy means that if you did it yourself, you’d be overworking, but in Europe there’s nothing around,” she says. Especially corn. And it’s all about the corn. It was something she tested rigorously, and found the masa (dough) made from European varieties consistently failed to produce a tortilla that met her expectations. Settling for second best is not something that Rosio does.
Her story starts in the USA, where she was born to Mexican parents. At 19, she attended the Cordon Bleu cookery school in Chicago to study pastry. Why? “I just love desserts, I love sweet things,” she says without hesitation. That love (and education) took her to wd~50, Wiley Dufresne’s Michelin-starred temple of molecular gastronomy in New York City where she spent three years as pastry sous chef. The basis of Wiley’s cuisine, she says, was technique
– a challenging culture that always asked, “What can we do that’s never been done before?”. Beyond that, Wiley encouraged curiosity in his chefs, to take inspiration from the outside. He granted them all access to his office library, and it was here that Sanchez first remembers encountering Noma, and René Redzepi’s seminal book, Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine.
The same spirit of curiosity took Rosio to Europe at the age of 23. “I wanted to explore, to have new experiences and to push myself with flavours that I’d never had before,” she says. She was in Spain when she learned of a vacancy at Noma, the kind of opportunity she had hoped her adventure would spring. And, after having pushed the boundaries of what was technically possible at wd~50, she relished the chance to learn the intricacies of an entirely unknown cuisine. (Albeit at a restaurant that was rapidly receiving the highest international acclaim.) Indeed, while Sanchez was there, it would become the ‘World’s Best Restaurant’.
Sanchez’s specialism in pastry meant that’s where she theoretically slotted in at Noma. But what she quickly realized, and relished, was the kitchen’s fluid approach to traditional ‘sections’. “Everyone helped everyone. Everything was interconnected which gave it an unique energy and excitement,” she says. This ethos of shared responsibility extended to the whole restaurant – a fundamental that Sanchez seems to cherish. “When as chefs you’re serving the customers, you begin to learn what the hell is happening in the restaurant!” You’re not just plating a dish and ignoring what happens to it, in other words.
She then says, seriously, “At Noma you pretty much learn how to run a restaurant.” I asked her, semi-jokingly, if it teaches you how to open a taco stall. She laughed before answering, emphatically, “Yes.” Given the many new ways people appreciate food – whether from an internationally-acclaimed restaurant or a hole-in-the-wall – all that matters and what earns an enterprise respect is whether or not it’s any good. Traditional signifiers – stars, tablecloths, song-and-dance – of what’s good matter less. The playing field has been levelled and it has liberated highly-qualified professional chefs like Rosio to cook whatever, wherever and however they wish. The way she puts it: “We’re not doing anything less; it’s just a different form of organising.”
Beyond re-connecting to her past and her first memories of tacos and paletas on 26th Street in Chicago, Sanchez has also found a sense of purpose in her new home. Though Copenhagen is now one of the best restaurant cities in the world, it isn’t necessarily one of the best food cities. Sanchez laments the dearth of ethnic food: “Fine dining is covered but there’s no good Thai food, for example,” she says.
It’s in this context that she imagined her own taco stand. And apart from wanting to sate a personal craving – “my fix is now dealt with” – she wanted to “do something that was so lacking and to provide for customers who might come back two or three times a week.” She’s proud of adding something that she says “was needed, and that’s really something that makes me happy.”
Her decision has been wholly vindicated. Since opening in June 2015, after nearly seven years at Noma, she has gained the approval not just of former employers (René, an apparently ever-present influence, encouraged Rosio to open her own taqueria), but of an international milieu of who we might call the world’s best chefs – from Massimo Bottura, to Alex Atala and Daniela Soto-Innes. All have appeared as guest chefs on her stall in the ‘Amigo de Sanchez’ collaboration series. Staying relevant, always learning and having fun. It’s this and the culture of shared knowledge that’s kept Sanchez in Copenhagen.
That’s not to say she’s sitting still. I spoke to Rosio from Tulum, where she’s on a research trip – “deciding how many ovens we need” – for the Noma Mexico pop-up which will open there in April. “Right now, rejoining and collaborating with my old team, I feel really lucky,” she says.To be in Mexico, steering one of the most influential chefs in a generation might seem like a career pinnacle. The sense with Rosio, though, is that there’s much more to come.
This week eco chef and restaurateur Tom Hunt comes into the studio to explain his root-to-fruit philosophy and gives the team tips on reducing food waste. Janine gets excited about plant-based cooking, and Laura and Sarah experiment with charcoal lattes and ‘turbo’ G&Ts. You’ll never guess the secret ingredient…