You know you’ve got a good job when you find yourself with your boss and colleagues sneaking out of a park, climbing over locked gates (left), fondue fork in hand and having eaten your body weight in cheese. With two ravaged Vacherin rounds quivering in our wake, I can safely say that last week’s meal was a true success.
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man (or woman) in possession of good appetite must be in want of a cheese.’
Someone did say that didn’t they? Whether or not my literary accuracy fails me, there is some truth to the saying, or at least there was last night when we were guests at La Petite Bouchée, a unique dining experience in a Citroen HY van, in the depths of South London.
As night wrapped around the little van we tucked ourselves closer together (top right) and dived into the oozing rounds of cheese with lavender honey and thyme, the charming dishes of Baeckeoffe and the tartiflette speckled with home-cured, smoked bacon. Oh the bacon. Transported from a normal Wednesday work night in Sydenham to a sojourn in the French mountains, what more could we ask for?
The joy is in the experience. Next time you’re planning to go for a special meal just think; starched white table clothes, stiff waiters and dull fodder or being whisked away to the scenic landscapes of Europe and being plied with the regions’ most fruitful offerings? I know which one I would prefer… Merci beaucoup à La Petite Bouchée!
You learn more in defeat than in victory. I believe this to be true. I remember every product we’ve launched that hasn’t made it. Some were the right thing at the wrong time, some weren’t up to our usual standard and got what they deserved, some we knew were wrong all along but we couldn’t bear to cut our losses. In each failure, a lesson.
Victory is sweeter when you have tasted defeat. I believe this too. After we launched a bunch of olive lines that didn’t sell the same team, under considerably more pressure, worked harder and smarter the next time, learnt the lessons and launched some of our best selling products ever. It was satisfying.
You learn more from the mis-matches than the matches. I learnt this recently, at our wine mis-matching event. Light wine is demolished by heavy, full-flavoured dish. Obvious. Acidic wine plus sweet dish equals nightmare, time to rethink my wedding cake and Champagne plans! The clashes or drownings were much clearer to taste than the subjective differences between good, better and best. Consequently, we learnt more.
Our thanks to the team at Four to Eight and Patrick, our sommelier.
If you’d like to read more about the evening head over to the reviews by a few of our attendees:
- Helenka – iLovemyGrub – Become a wine matching expert in 5 minutes
- Rosana – Hot and Chilli – unearthed® new range and wine match
- Danielle – Foodepedia – unearthed® food and wine matching
Free wine tasting notes…
This Sunday, the world’s largest annual sporting event will once again take place as the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks lock horns in Super Bowl XLIX. Over 100 million people are expected to watch the event around the world and although it is very much a tradition in the United States, the event is still relatively niche in the UK, albeit gaining interest and more of a following each year.
In America when the game will kick off at “prime time”, people will start partying and celebrating from the moment they wake up until long after the final whistle has been blown and the confetti has fallen. In the UK, with kick off being at around 11pm, one of the big draws and appeals of the event is a great opportunity (and excuse) to sit in front of a TV for four hours with too much food and too much drink. It’s a day and an event when diets get put on hold and the core food groups become meat, cheese, crisps and dips.
So if this is the first time you’ll be watching the main event then what should you consider serving up for you and your friends? Ian talks through a few of the favourites that will be popping up in kitchens around the world on Sunday
One of the ultimate finger foods out there and as American as you can get! The humble chicken wing once cooked (ideally deep fried but perfect in the oven) and slathered in a hot sauce of your choice (I go for Frank’s the original hot sauce) becomes a food that anyone will enjoy. Depending on the heat of the sauce, ensure that you have a dip (blue cheese is a winner) on hand to complement the wing to perfection. To really nail this dish, make sure that’ve marinated the wings in their sauce (hot sauce, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and honey) for at few hours before cooking.
Slow Cooked Meat (Brisket, Pulled Pork, Ham Hock)
Take your pick! Each of these are winners and are so easy to prepare, so long as you give yourself enough time cooking. Take the joint of which ever meat you’re cooking (beef, pork ) and add it to a slow cooker. If you want to keep this relatively healthy, put four balls of foil in each corner of the cooker, then the joint on top. Then it won’t sit in its juices. Cook on a low setting for approx. 6 hours to get to a stage of shredding heaven. Feel free to add extra seasoning to the meat as it cooks. I go with BBQ sauce, Cajun Spices and Cayenne Pepper. It adds more flavour and a kick. Serve up with some coleslaw, corn on the cob, chips and bread rolls and you are on to a winner.
Not only is this a favourite, it is part of the burgeoning Southwestern cuisine scene, of which this year’s super bowl hosts, Arizona is part of. If you have a large group of people round who don’t like certain components of this classic dish then serve it up as a “build your own” nacho. Grill the tortilla chips on some foil, then add cheese and grill until it’s melted. Remove from the oven and place in a bowl. Then add other adds to nachos (guacamole, salsa, sour cream, jalapenos, olives, chilli, black beans etc.) in separate bowls and voila! People can build their own.
Boston Baked Beans
As a tribute to the New England Patriots, prep a British favourite with a New England twist. Cheat and get a can of baked bean, then add some pork or bacon. Or make your own for a really authentic dish.
If you aren’t partial to an energy drink then you’ll probably need to stock up on the black stuff to keep you awake in the small hours. Also, it’s homage to one of this years contenders, Seattle, the American home of coffee.
Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Candied Bacon and Maple Syrup
Continue the feast into the next day and cook up some American style pancakes with chocolate chips and maple syrup. Complete the breakfast by candying up some bacon. Use streaky bacon over back (it crisps up easier) and add some brown sugar to it. Bake and watch it sweeten up to a crisp. For the pancakes, create the batter and place onto a hot pan adding chocolate chips as you cook. Top both with maple syrup and you will have completed the Superbowl eating spectacle.
Then, book into the gym to work off all those excess calories!!
Each year it’s good to know what food trends and themes are being predicted, so unearthed® category insight manager Ian has picked out a couple that relate to unearthed® or the trends that we’re particularly interested in.
Consumers are becoming more and more interested in where certain foods are coming from and discovering more about the provenance and story behind the product. And this isn’t just the national origin of a product, but a local/regional level as well. Products from different regions are also providing a taste which shoppers are looking for.
unearthed response: Our Chorizo is named after the region in the North of Spain from which it originates – Leon. Sopressata Picante comes from Calabria in Italy and is spiced up with the peppers which grow in the region. But one of our most recent product developments has been to launch a cooking chorizo with manchego (see right) – the perfect way to combine two amazing Spanish products from different regions
Individuals are looking to experience food and drink in all new ways, be it through immersive dining experiences with the lights off or specialising in a certain occasion or meal type. People want to discover and push the boundaries in food and drink and no longer want to eat the same meals at the dining room table. Food is being developed to stimulate the senses in people beyond taste as individuals look to liven up their meals.
unearthed response: We enjoyed a pre-Christmas dinner to Gingerline where we loved the whole experience and the ‘secret’ nature of the event. We’re thinking about some unearthed experiences this year and kick this off with a blogger food and wine mis-matching event.
Although no longer the forefront of cuisine or a leading light in gastronomy, the presence and importance of Spanish as a cuisine cannot be questioned. The trend of using smaller dishes or sharing concepts originates from the Spanish way of dining and this has now infiltrated a number of other cuisines. An ingredient led cuisine, Spanish is being increasingly fused with other ingredients and flavours from other cuisines
unearthed response: We’re just as much in love with Spain as we ever were but why not pair it with some new flavours and cuisines. Olives with chipotle and manchego perfectly combine the spice of South America.
Despite the political turmoil, the region is proving to be a real hot-bed for new and exciting cuisines. Aided by chef’s such as Sabrina Ghayour, the likes of Persian, Lebanese, Turkish and Egyptian are becoming more common place in restaurants and in peoples homes. Flavours like Zataar, Sumac and Baharat are now being included in people spice cupboards while foods like Hummus, Babaganoush and Falafel are established as firm favourites.
unearthed response: This is definitely an area we are keen to discover and bring to you in the near future. In the meantime, our new smoked semi-dried tomatoes are all the way from Turkey. They’re smoked in the UK and are dressed with a lemon and zataar dressing, which brings out the smoky sweetness.
Tell us what food trends you’ll be watching/tasting in 2015…