List Item: Try 500 of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Okay, so we are a long way from Christmas, but each of these foods were checked off in the lead in to Christmas 2014 so it makes sense to group them all together. Thanks be to the season since it does lend itself to the sweets and the baked goods.
For some reason I have found myself making a lot of improvised stir-fries lately. Leftover list foods (such as hoisin sauce, banana ketchup, pimenton de la vera and Tabasco sauce) are all finding a new lease of life in these sauces. The first one of this series of impovs DID feature the Chinese Five Spice but I figured I would rather wait until I could pair it with some mushrooms from the local Morrisons.
A few years ago shiitake mushrooms could only be found at high end supermarkets here in the UK, now they are rather commonplace should you get there before they have all been bagged and nabbed. In a stir-fry without anything related to meat they do add a nicely meaty flavour and texture which goes well with the pronounced earthy-liquorice flavour from the five spice.
Ah Christmas, the time where you can not escape from the mince pie. Great thing here is that this is a homemade pie brought into one of my work meetings the week before Christmas (further strengthening the love I have for the sector I work on). I am not usually the biggest fan of mince pies because it’s hard to get pastry the way I like it… but I have to say that these were really nice. Perfectly buttery shortcrust pastry balanced out by the warmth of the spicing within the mincemeat. Made me wish for some single cream.
The best stollen I have had was on a visit to the Netherlands during New Years. We don’t seem to be able to get the density correct over here. Stollen should be fruity, very dense and have a seam of marzipan running all the way through… something we tend not to do as well. It’s still nice with some butter (or some cheese) but go for one less supermarket and more Germanic.
A short one here since I am not sure how to describe this other than sweet, smoky, sticky and strangely good with bacon. Like a lot of things on this list I have had this before, mostly in the US, but since it it’s expensive to buy a bottle thought it would make sense to wait until I could steal some from my partner’s plate when we went to a restaurant.
On December 22nd I paid a visit to Borough Market with my mumas part of some last minute Christmas food shopping additions (but mainly to get some more of that delicious pate to eat alongside out traditional watching of Gone With The Wind). One thing we came across was a Croatian food stand which had free samples of different fig jams. In order to be thorough I tried two of them (regular fig and dried fig). Whilst the fig jam was smooth and sweet it was the dried fig jam that was far superior. Why? Because they left the seeds in the dried fig jam which made for a nuttier jam with a good crunch. It reminded me of the smyrna figs I had a while ago.
Another find at Borough Market was one of the more interesting looking (visually) cheeses from the book. Selles-sur-Cher is an unpasteurised goats cheese from the Centre region of France. It’s a firm cheese that with a little bit of pressure (or heat) becomes remarkably easy to spread. As with many cheeses the experience differs with the surrounding moulds and without. On its own the cheese is mild with a fairly long lasting after-taste that you tend to find with goat cheeses. The rind adds the taste of charcoal to the cheese (apparently this is used to stimulate the growth of the mould) which makes it a whole lot more interesting, and tasty. It is nice on its own, but spread on some bread fresh from the market is a whole lot better.