Tag Archives: 1001 foods

Good Eatin’ – Maroilles from Champagne + Fromage

One of the many benefits of a new job (aside from enjoying the new job and my new colleagues immensely) is new surroundings. Being London, this means a new batch of shops and restaurants that I now have easy access to.

Thanks to Champagne + Fromage, a cheese shop near Covent Garden, I have been able to procure the penultimate French cheese from the food list…. now I just need to find some Brocciu to complete the set.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 731/751Food item: Maroilles

Here’s the thing with Maroilles, it has a strong smell. This isn’t exactly news, but it did make things interesting in the office. Since Champagne + Fromage also do amazing filled baguettes I thought it would be a good idea to buy the Maroilles at the same time as my lunch. Little did I realise that, as the afternoon progressed, the smell would begin to spread around the pod… and so quickly too.

The smell persisted on the train home and stunk out the fridge before I had a chance to eat it. And yet despite the lingering smell it wasn’t that strong a cheese. Sure it had a strong taste, but this also came with a springy and creamy texture… which isn’t what you tend to find with stronger cheeses. Also, this didn’t have the bitter aftertaste that you tend to get from aged cheeses.

If I had to liken it to a past cheese from the list it would be either taleggio or reblochon. Considering the taste and the decent price, maroilles is a cheese that I could see myself buying for future use. I’ll just need to bring some sort of tuppaware in order to counteract the far reaching odour.

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Good Eatin’ – Lamb’s Brain at Barrafina

I love my new job. I am two weeks in and I am loving the challenge, the people and the fact that (due to London real estate weirdness) I am now in the same building as the hub. Due to this, and the shift in his working hours, we’re now able to do the London thing and take better advantage of the many restaurants the city has to offer.

Today we are finally visiting Barrafina on Adelaide Street, the only place in London where I’ve been able to find lamb’s brains on the menu.

Of course this is no flying visit to try lamb’s brain. It feels weird enough to order and eat lamb’s brain in public. After all, Barrafina is one of those restaurants that always has a massive line – it’s just that we can go there mere minutes after it opens and have our choice of seats. So we picked one in front of someone that we deduced to be the head chef and just enjoyed watching food being made as we waited for our order – which included a huge stuffed courgette flower and pan con tomate.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 730/751Food item: Lamb’s Brain

The lamb’s brain arrived after we’d finished everything else, not that you could tell that was brains… until you cut it open. It sounds a bit pathetic to be both excited and squeamish at the same time – but eating brains feels like crossing some sort of gastronomic line, similar to the first time you cook live shellfish or cooking a bird that still has its feathered head attached.

In terms of taste there really is not that much to brains. It has a very vague protein taste, much like the white albumin you get after cooking a fish fillet, that is incredibly mild. As such it makes sense that Barrafina decided to serve it topped with tapenade on top. Together the brains, tapenade and the tomato-celery sauce made for a good plate of tapas.

One thing that did live up to expectations was the texture. As a science student I remember stroking an embalmed sheep’s brain like a Bond villain, but then being told how a brain’s texture is more like porridge. This lamb’s brain fritter really did have the texture of cold porridge, but with the creaminess of quark.

Good Eatin’ – Rau Ram and Sapodilla

Time for some more things from the Asian food box that I got the culantro from. There is still plenty more to come, but they’re all longer lasting things that I can properly research for later. Unlike today’s herb and fruit, which are both perishable.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 728/751Food item: Rau ram

Much like the culantro, rau ram is noted for being similar to coriander. It’s one of those weird things that I have found whilst following this food list – when it comes to trying these new and different foods there is nearly always a known food to relate it to. The only thing that comes to mind where I had real trouble linking it back to something concrete was the feijoa I had four years ago. However, even then I made a vague attempt. I guess it just speaks to the diverse selection of food available instead of there being a limited combination of chemicals.

Anyway, since rau ram is also known as Vietnamese coriander it makes sense to make use of this herb in the same way you would regular coriander. After a bit of searching around I found this recipe for a fish stew that used rau ram.

Compared to the culantro I found the rau ram really disappointing. It did say in the recipe that the end result could be soapy… and it was soapy. The reason for the soapiness was the rau ram and that’s something I could taste in the raw leaves. There was a hint of the coriander aroma there, but it was weak compared to the championship knockout of the culantro.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 729/751Food item: Sapodilla

I was going to write up the sapodilla a week ago but, as you may be able to see from the picture, it wasn’t completely ripe yet. You know what happens when you try to eat an unripe sapodilla? Well, it’s like one of those scenes from Looney Tunes cartoon where they eat so much alum powder that their mouth seizes up. It just takes all the moisture from your mouth to the point that you can feel individual taste buds screaming for water.

So, I wrapped the cut sapodillas in clingfilm and waited until they ripened. Four days later and we had nice squishy fruit that didn’t want to kill us. Instead the flesh was so so sweet and I could easily scoop it out with a spoon. For me the taste was like if you saturated a pear with honey and then added some condensed milk – worlds apart from the taste of the unripened fruit.

Good Eatin’ – Roasting a Woodcock

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 727/751Food item: Woodcock

Right so I have been dancing around cooking this woodcock for nearly 4 months now. I guess I just didn’t want to deal with decapitating and eviscerating a small bird, especially one where I couldn’t help but feel just how soft the feathers on it’s head were. Still, this is all part of cooking and getting to know where your food comes from – both things that were not in my head when I started stroking the head feathers and feeling the urge to apologise.

Once I took the biggest knife I could find, lopped off the head and stuck that in the compost bin – everything was fine. I snipped out the spine with some scissors and removed the entrails with my fingers. This may be the second time where I have seen real life intestines; the first time outside of a science classroom.

Following the advice from Game-to-Eat, I fried the sides of the woodcock before roasting and resting the bird. The whole time I was cooking this, I really understood why so many websites talk about having 1-2 woodcocks per serving. This really is a little bird with not too much meat on it so, much like with the teal, I went Henry VIII on the carcass.

All the meat on this bird is dark meat, however the gaminess isn’t too overpowering. Like a number of these other game birds, the taste has a livery quality to it and the meat is actually quite dense on the bone. If I was to make this in the future, I would definitely make some sort of sauce for it. Since I only had one of these birds I didn’t see the point of doing something other than roasting it.

It might be a while before I get my hands on more game meat seeing how, as I write this, I am six months away from the beginning of the next season. Hopefully I’ll be able to find snipe next time around; I’d hope for ptarmigan and golden plover, but I don’t want to be too greedy.

Good Eatin’ – Culantro Pesto

Another week, another box from a food website. I’m not going to make too much of a habit of these because it would get a bit too expensive, but it means that I’ve been able to get some authentic ingredients together for my next world cooking country (which will be going up in a few days).

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 726/751Food item: Culantro

Culantro is probably one of the more annoying herbs to search for online because phone auto-correct always changes it to cilantro (or coriander leaf to the rest of us in the UK). This similarity in name is no accident. Not only do culantro and cilantro belong to the same family of plants (Apiaceae – also known as the parsley family), but they also taste remarkably similar.

The key difference between the taste of culantro and cilantro is potency. When eaten raw, the culantro has a very strong cilantro taste. However, I’m not going to just eat a plate of chopped culantro leaves – so let’s get to cooking.

Another key difference between culantro and cilantro is how well culanto can last through the cooking process. I didn’t actually cook with the culantro, but ended up making a culantro pesto with some pecorino and a fair bit of garlic.

Having eaten this pesto I really wish that culantro was more widely available –  I didn’t exactly have enough for this recipe as it is, so I had to really cut down on the spaghetti. It feels like this really is one of those herbs that could catch on in the UK if a celebrity chef really got behind it – then again there are so many things on this food list that would be worthy of wider renown.

Good Eatin’ – Bael Fruit Tea

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 725/751Food item: Bael

After a unsuccessful Little India fruit search I was wondering how I’d be able get my hands on a fruit like bael without having to fly to the other side of the world. Leave it to Amazon Marketplace to surprise you with random products from (I’m assuming) a Thai food company.

There are many ways to eat bael, which is fruit from a tree sacred to Hinduism. Since I couldn’t get my hands on fresh bael (which is fine with me as I don’t have a machete to peel it with) this pack chock full of dried slices really was the perfect compromise.

I followed a guide I found online that said to use 2 cups of water for every slice of dried bael fruit, then boil for 5 minutes before serving. Personally I think I could have done with some more fruit in the pan to get a proper idea of the taste… but that’s something for the future. Also, I read on the same page about how bael leaves can be used to induce an abortion, so I figured I might as well play it safe on my first tasting.

The tea itself was a bit weak, but I could get a real idea of the taste of the bael fruit. There is a refreshing sourness to the bael tea that was really quite pleasant. Apparently it’s used as a herbal treatment for colds due to the high levels of vitamin C, so it’ll be worth keeping this around for the winter.

World Cooking – Russia

Here we are christening this new list and, despite being a Brit, I thought it would be cool to start off with Russia. There are two Russian things in the 1001 foods list that I have wanted to make for a while and I thought that this would provide me with the perfect opportunity.

List Item:  Cook something from every countryCountry: Russia
Progress:
1/193

Russian cuisine, like the country, is vast. If it was not for the 1001 foods list providing me some focus I would have had a lot of trouble narrowing it down to one or two dishes. I might have made some of things in GentleWhispering’s ASMR video on traditional Russian cuisine, although there is no way I could have made as pretty a block of gingerbread as Maria did.

This huge variation in dishes does bleed into a lot of the surrounding countries, which means I have somewhere to start from when I plan my meals for the likes of Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. For example, I know I am going to make plov at some point – it’s just that I need to assign a country.

So… what did I make?

Main Dish: Kulebiaka

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 723/751Food item: Kulebiaka

Kulebiaka (or coulibiac) is one of those things that I have wanted to make ever since I first saw the recipe for it in my copy of the Samarkand cookbook. On the surface of it, kulebiaka looks like it would be a difficult thing to make. However, once you decide to get premade puff pastry instead of making your own, it is deceptively easy to make.

What we essentially have here is two layers of a rice mix (containing mushrooms, rice, onion and various herbs and spices), one layer of sliced hard-boiled eggs and a layer of flaked salmon. All this is wrapped in puff pastry and then baked in the oven after giving it a good eggwash.

I cannot begin to describe how proud I am of this and it tasted so good. I did wonder about the inclusion of three hard-boiled eggs, but they really took on the flavours (and colours) of the turmeric, cardamom and cumin – so I shouldn’t have worried. The smell as we cut this open was something else as well.

This will not be the only thing I end up making from the Samarkand cookbook and it probably won’t be the last time I make a Kulebiaka. Now that I have the confidence to make it, I think I might start experimenting with flavours to see how I can pull it in different cultural directions.

Dessert: Pashka

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 724/751Food item: Pashka

As we were eating this for lunch on Easter Sunday (yup, I’m more than 6 months ahead now) I thought that this would be the perfect time to try and make pashka. This is a creation traditionally made for Easter to be served with kulich (a pannetone-style Russian loaf) and is made from curd cheese, dried fruit and cream.

Technically, this dessert is meant to be turned out of the dish and decorated with dried fruit, but I didn’t trust this enough to not completely collapse over the table. So, I took this picture and just went to town on it with a spoon and spread it on chunks of kulich that I had bought from a Russian bakery in Borough Market.

I got the recipe for this from Great British Chefs and, aside from my blender breaking halfway through, this was really simple to make and taste delicious. It’s incredibly rich and, the version I made, really reminded me of the filling of a rum-raisin cheesecake. Again, this is something that I would want to make again and, maybe, have the nerve to turn it out and decorate it in the traditional style before eating it.

Extras

Being the first country (and as we did this for Easter), we thought it would be cool to also have a Russian style appetiser and what’s more Russian than caviar and blini. This is my first time eating something labelled as caviar (please note that this is lumpfish caviar because I am not made of money) and I really liked it. Especially with the blini and creme fraiche.

List Item: Try caviar
Progress: Completed

The next country will probably not be as extravagant as this, but I had to start this list off with a bang. At the moment I have no plans for what the next country will be, so I guess I need to see where the recipe searches take me.

So, until next time, prijatnogo appetita!

Good Eatin’ – Smokey French Sausages

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 722/751Food item: Andouille de Vire and Figatellu

Two more things from that French box; six items left to go. Now, I confess to only clocking at the final moment that the figatellu (the sausage on the left of the picture above) needed to be cooked. So I followed some instructions online, which involved the construction of a makeshift bain-marie, and completely forgot to prick it before cooking… which could have exploded the sausage a lot more than it actually did.

Whilst the figatellu cooked, I sliced the andouille as thinly as possible and started to construct a basic serving plate:

The ducks seemed to enjoy the dinner tonight. Since it didn’t feel right to just have smokey meat and bread, we bought some Brillat-Savarin to act as a bit of a creamy palate cleanser. It worked. That cheese really is the best.

So, cooking misadventure aside, the figatellu was my favourite of the two sausages. It’s an extremely meaty sausage with a course texture that reminds me a lot of morcilla, just without the extra non-meat packing materials. This Corsican sausage, however, is not a black pudding as it lacks blood. Instead what you have is a sausage where the main component is pork liver, which gives the sausage a rich slightly irony taste. As well as the liver taste there is a light smokiness and a richness (which comes from whine) that both really compliment the meat.

The other sausage, the Andouille de Vire, looks beautiful when sliced. There is a pleasing swirly marbled look to the sausage, which is almost pretty enough to distract from the incredibly smokey aroma. For me, the smokiness of the casing was a bit overpowering (in both taste and smell), so I enjoyed it a lot more if I peeled half of the casing off.

With only half the smokiness you can really taste the meat of the sausage, which is barely smokey at all. In fact the main bulk of the sausage has the clean meaty taste of a brawn without the jelly. It wasn’t as good as the figatellu, but I have quite a bit of this sausage left and I am keen to try it out in a toastie.

Good Eatin’ – Pumpkin Ravioli and Microgreens

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 720/751Food item: Amaranth, Sorrel and Tortelli Di Zucca

Happy, belated, Good Friday! I cannot overstate how happy I am that the extended weekend has arrived and, to celebrate, I took a trip to my favourite place in London: Borough Market. Including today’s post, I have found 92 different items from the 1001 food list at this market, and I am sure that this will become an even 100 well before I reach 800 food items eaten in total.

Today’s selection makes use of some fresh spring produce… and me fully realising what tortelli di zucca actually is, so I was able to make use of a fresh pasta seller! Tortelli di zucca is essentially a pumpkin ravioli so that’s what I got!

I really liked the contrast in colours that I got with this selection of food. The sheen that it got with a light drizzle of Cretan olive oil was also rather pleasing. I just wish I had better lighting in my kitchen so my pictures didn’t always look so amateurish. Oh well.

Whilst an amaranth and sorrel salad probably isn’t a normal combination, I think that it worked really well. The amaranth gave the salad a nice earthiness that is somewhere between beetroot and spinach; it also gave this salad a beautiful splash of my favourite colour.

The earthiness of the amaranth is counter-balanced, weirdly, by the sourness of the sorrel. I definitely did not expect for this salad lead to be sour, well the stems were sour… there wasn’t too much flavour in the leaves themselves when compared to the sour stems.

Of course, the highlight of the plate was the pumpkin ravioli (aka tortelli di zucca). I get that this is something traditionally eaten in the winter, when pumpkin is properly in season, but I was loving the sweetness of the pureed pumpkin mixed with the fresh creaminess of the ricotta. It probably could have done with some more nutmeg being added, but this is small potatoes. This was truly delicious.

Good Eatin’ – Verjuice Salad Dressing

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 717/751Food item: Verjuice

It’s good to already be using another thing from my big box of French goodies. It feels like the proportion of food posts in the coming weeks is going to skyrocket, which I am not going to complain about. I mean, it is distracting me from cooking the woodcock I have in my freezer… but that’ll keep, right?

Verjuice (or verjus in French) is a condiment that exists in the space between fruit juice and vinegar. Traditionally it is made from unripe grapes and can be used in any number of recipes that calls for vinegar or lemon juice. As the title of this post states, I decided to use it as a vinegar substitute in a salad dressing alongside some garlic-infused olive oil.

The result was a far subtler and fresher salad dressing than you would have gotten with a cider or sherry vinegar, which is still full of flavour. On it’s own, by which I mean the taste after I properly swigged it from the bottle like a lush, is a cross between grape, lemon and a tart apple. It’s actually really delicious and this will be the base of most of my salad dressings until the bottle runs out.