Bringing the fun back into food!

22 Feb

For the past few years, food has been developing in ways that has been incredibly exciting to watch. New food technology meant a rise in molecular food and the events of the past couple of years have really helped to shape the dishes that have been popular on our tables or at our events. Food could be split into two distinct categories: nostalgic ‘homely’ food and the more gastro, high end cuisine.

This year the line between the two has blurred and we’re seeing a massive increase in foods being served that are fun, fast and hinting to past days but produced in high-end, sleek ways giving the consumer a totally different experience to what each alone can offer.

The perfect example of this is the haute dog, rising in popularity in fast new style fast food establishments as well as high end eateries. Hot dogs of the past used to be off-cuts meats not wanted anywhere else. Not so anymore, as now you’ll find a variety of quality, high end sausages (not just your typical Frankfurt) with a selection of breads to choose from, instead of just a white bread roll, making the favourite snack food a rather stylish treat. Bubbledogs provide an excellent opportunity to sample delicious gourmet hot dogs whilst sipping refreshing glasses of champagne.

Other more unusual collaborations between food and drink are popping up. Crab and beer parties are also on the rise, becoming the little black dress choice over Oysters and Champagne. Its fun, looks colourful and reminds one of being at the seaside catching crabs in a net whilst your dad supped on a good old ale. You might have grown up a bit since then, but the opportunity to let your inner child run amok will always go down well.

Talking of beers, just pop into any of the inner city pubs and you’ll see that ciders, lagers and wine are making room for the return of English Ale. Perhaps our taste palettes are calling for traditional, earthier flavours or perhaps the opportunity to support our local breweries as a sustainable choice is playing more on our minds – whatever the reason this is a great chance to try some fantastic ales with the variety available rising. We recommend Dorset’s Badger Brewery’s Golden Glory or Meantime’s London Pale Ale. Alternatively, why not get down to the Great British Beer Festival (13-17 August 2013) to work out what your favourite is and support our British breweries.

From the sweeter side of things, we’ve all been waiting eagerly to hear what the next sweet craze will be. The last couple of years was all about the macaroon; giving us macaroon lollipops, macaroon cakes, giant or small and all in a rainbow of colours. Before that was the cupcake craze (which in my mind will live forever) and cupcake shops popping up on every other street corner. Now it seems, the humble brownie has had a bit of a make-over, coming out as a glamorous blonde, otherwise known as the Blondie. They’ve actually been around for quite a few years but expect big things with Blondie this year, re-issuing that old question of which are more fun: the Blondies or the Brownies!

Ingredients are also getting an over-hall. Chefs are looking to quirkier components to make or finish their dishes off with. This year you’ll see popcorn being revamped and used in fresh ways. How about sticky chicken thighs coated in a goat’s cheese flavoured popcorn crust? Or hearty beef stew topped with crunchy caramelised onion flavoured popcorn? It is an ingredient than can replace bread, panko coatings and traditional crusts bringing a fun and fabulous tasting element to any dish!

Cocktails are also jumping in and putting on their 1980’s outfits as you see high end cocktail bars push delicious flavours and spirits through the soda streams of our childhood. Just ordering one makes us want to don our roller-skates and baggy jumpers, blow bubble-gum bubbles and act like a teenager again. Try for yourself at the Purl bar in Marylebone.

This year, food is encouraging us to be daring; to go that extra mile or meter and use creative ingredients to waken up our dishes; to re-invent and modernise our well-loved classics. What an opportunity to put the fun factor back into our food!

Go on, I dare you…