FOOD SNOB’S DIC­TIO­NARY

Words by Max Olesker Il­lus­tra­tions by Char­lotte Knox

Esquire (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Ev­ery­thing you need to know to eat and drink well (with­out putting your foot in it) in 2018

AMER­I­CAN BAR, THE

The most beloved of The Savoy’s two bars (though spare a thought for the humble* Beau­fort Bar, a few cor­ri­dors away) and the long­est sur­viv­ing cock­tail bar in Lon­don.

Home to drinks pioneer Harry Crad­dock in the Twen­ties and Thir­ties, and one of Win­ston Churchill’s reg­u­lar haunts in the For­ties (he locked his own pri­vate bot­tles of whisky be­hind the bar). It’s been spo­ken about in rev­er­en­tial terms by hospi­tal­ity afi­ciona­dos for years, and in 2017, un­der the stew­ard­ship of head bar­tender Erik Lor­incz it fi­nally won the ti­tle of The World’s Best Bar. Why not cel­e­brate its suc­cess by or­der­ing a £5,000 Saz­erac, made from ex­clu­sively vin­tage in­gre­di­ents in­clud­ing an 1848 co­gnac. Or, al­ter­na­tively, lit­er­ally any other drink. It’ll be good. fair­mont.com/ savoy-lon­don

*Ex­traor­di­nar­ily glam­orous and pop­u­lar

AVO­CADO

Long thought to be merely an ubiq­ui­tous brunch sta­ple, the avo­cado was rightly outed last year as the rea­son mil­len­ni­als can’t af­ford to buy prop­erty. While the rest of the world might have thought the fruit’s evils ex­tended no fur­ther than “ripen­ing trick­ily”, thank good­ness for clear-sighted and good-hearted 36-year-old Aus­tralian lux­ury land­lord Tim Gurner, who can­nily iden­ti­fied “smashed avo­cado” (and its in­evitable bed­fel­low “cof­fees”) as the pri­mary thing hold­ing back young adults from home own­er­ship. With­out Gurner’s guid­ance, naive mil­len­ni­als might have at­trib­uted their difficulty in pur­chas­ing homes to the var­i­ous global fi­nan­cial crises, the ever in­creas­ing cost of ed­u­ca­tion, an un­sta­ble jobs mar­ket, wage stag­na­tion and, above all, the pro­lif­er­a­tion of wildly over­priced prop­er­ties such as those mar­keted by, uh, Mr Gurner.

BIRCH WA­TER

The limpid, slightly-sickly suc­ces­sor to co­conut wa­ter (it­self a suc­ces­sor to, er, wa­ter?), with its own raft of pos­si­blyle­git­i­mate health ben­e­fits. In its nat­u­ral sap state, drip­ping from the side of a birch tree tapped by a rugged Baltic farmer, the wa­ter is rich in man­ganese, key in bone de­vel­op­ment (the fact that ba­si­cally no one is ac­tu­ally de­fi­cient in man­ganese, and thus has any need to con­sume it, is nei­ther here nor there). Any­how, in its pro­cessed, pas­teurised, masspro­duced state, the man­ganese is neg­li­gi­ble and birch wa­ter’s main ac­tive in­gre­di­ent is xyl­i­tol (a sugar-al­co­hol sweet­ener used in tooth­paste and chew­ing gum). Is birch wa­ter a sexy way to stay healthy, hy­drated and young-look­ing? Pos­si­bly. Less sex­ily, al­most all of the ben­e­fits of drink­ing the stuff can be ob­tained at a frac­tion of its price by eat­ing oats. Good old oats.

BRAT (fig1)

The next move from To­mos Parry, pre­vi­ously head chef at the celebrity-stuffed Kitty Fisher’s in May­fair. The ti­tle of Parry’s new ven­ture due to open soon is not a ref­er­ence to his sta­tus as an ir­ri­tat­ingly youth­ful wunderkind on the Lon­don cook­ing scene, but rather Old English slang for tur­bot. Brat, in Shored­itch in premises above the fierce­ly­pop­u­lar Smok­ing Goat, is a seafood grill serv­ing qual­ity Welsh and Cor­nish fish cooked over an open fire, Basque style. Also: fresh, bur­rata-like cheese made in-house, and a wine list by No­ble Rot. You win this round, Parry. Again. bra­trestau­rant.com

BUL­LET­PROOF COF­FEE

Ba­si­cally, cof­fee with oil and but­ter in it. Also, ac­cord­ing to founder/evan­ge­list/bio­hacker Dave Asprey, it aids: weight loss; at­tain­ing a state of monk-like fo­cus; IQ lev­els; and pos­si­bly liv­ing for­ever. Thanks to his evan­ge­lis­ing, Bul­let­proof Cof­fee is raved about by Sil­i­con Val­ley in­vestor types (of which Asprey is one) and the sort of com­puter-lit­er­ate fit­ness ob­ses­sives who re­fer to work­out plans as “pro­to­cols” (again, Asprey). Bul­let­proof Cof­fee came about when a heav­ily over­weight Asprey was in

Ti­bet and spot­ted monks drink­ing yak but­ter tea. He devel­oped his own cul­tur­ally ap­pro­pri­ated take, be­came in­cred­i­bly slim and im­pos­si­bly healthy (al­legedly) and found his call­ing. Now, when you’re not drink­ing his cof­fee (which, you’ll be pleased to know, is full of Brain Oc­tane Oil, ev­ery­one’s favourite, def­i­nitely real in­gre­di­ent) you can read his blog and lis­ten to his pod­cast. Asprey is con­fi­dent Bul­let­proof Cof­fee will help him live to 180; you, too, or your money back. blog.bul­let­proof.com

AC­TI­VATED CHAR­COAL DRINKS Eye-catch­ing magic bev­er­age. Ac­ti­vated char­coal (ig­nore its in­do­lent, in­ac­tive sib­ling) is pro­cessed at very high tem­per­a­tures to make it more por­ous and suit­able to add to le­mon­ade, smooth­ies and your In­sta­gram feed.

It is pur­port­edly ex­cel­lent at ab­sorb­ing tox­ins (that most well-loved of vague health-food no­tions) and also great for detox­ing (which most health­care pro­fes­sion­als agree is not a real med­i­cal con­cept). While it is in­deed used in emer­gency rooms to treat drug over­doses and poi­son­ing, it’s not quite a cure-all. Ac­ti­vated char­coal’s mys­ti­cal pow­ers of ab­sorp­tion ac­tu­ally mean it will in­dis­crim­i­nately pre­vent any­thing en­ter­ing your sys­tem in­clud­ing, for in­stance, vi­ta­mins in a cold­pressed juice to which it’s been added. D’oh. Does pho­to­graph very well, though.

CHETIYAWARDANA, RYAN

Drinks maven be­hind the ac­claimed Dan­delyan cock­tail bar at the Mon­drian ho­tel. Prior to that, “Mr Lyan” (as he’s known by all) made his name at White Lyan in Beth­nal Green, cre­at­ing an au­da­cious no-per­ish­ables cock­tail bar in which ev­ery drink came pre-made (but was, nonethe­less, spook­ily fresh-tast­ing), a space he’s since re­launched as Cub, a state-of-the-art food/ drink/ex­per­i­men­tal-sci­ence hy­brid. At the Mon­drian, he gave free range to his imag­i­na­tion, col­lect­ing awards and con­stantly rein­vent­ing his menu: a re­cent it­er­a­tion, themed “The Vices of Botany”, di­vides the drinks list into Faith, Lust, Cur­rency and Rock ’n’ Roll. With global in­flu­ence, crit­i­cal ado­ra­tion and a Wonka-like fas­ci­na­tion with booze, could Mr Lyan be the next Tony Conigliaro? We’ll drink to that (from a glass con­tain­ing bar­relaged ver­mouth served as a gas, through a straw made of Nor­we­gian glacier-ice mixed with mac­er­ated dragon fruit liqueur. Prob­a­bly). mrlyan.com

CRÉMANT

The new Prosecco, god­damn it. Crémant (“creamy” in French), has the same bis­cu­ity notes as Cham­pagne, and its qual­ity and method of pro­duc­tion are sim­i­larly strictly con­trolled; it sim­ply does not need to be made with grapes from the Cham­pagne re­gion. Prac­ti­cally speak­ing, cheap Crémant, un­like bud­get Prosecco, doesn’t taste of hastily or­gan­ised of­fice par­ties and de­spair.

DE­CON­STRUCTED DISHES (fig2)

Lazi­ness dressed up as in­no­va­tion. Ex­am­ples of this re­fus­ing-to-die phe­nom­e­non have in­cluded: “white cof­fee” served in three sep­a­rate glass tum­blers con­tain­ing espresso, hot wa­ter and milk (just like mak­ing the drink at home but with a smug, bearded stranger star­ing at/through you dur­ing the process); smashed avo­cado be­ing served as, hor­ri­fy­ingly, an in­tact half of an avo­cado (pre­sum­ably on the ba­sis that smash­ing one’s own avo is the best way to give mil­len­ni­als some­thing akin to the thrill of a bit of

DIY on their un­af­ford­able, un­bought house). Pre­sum­ably, “peanut but­ter” will even­tu­ally come as a hand­ful of peanuts and a pes­tle. A “bagel” will be some flour and a roll of the eyes. It has to end.

ED­I­BLE IN­SECTS (fig3)

A per­pet­ual “next big thing” trend. A highly sus­tain­able food group, in­sects are also good for you (ap­par­ently) and also tasty (ap­par­ently). Wa­haca has tried out toasted grasshop­pers, ex­otic foods spe­cial­ists Ar­chi­pel­ago of­fers lo­custs and crick­ets with chilli and gar­lic, and speakeasy Night­jar serves buf­falo worms in its Inca cock­tail. So, if you’re not eat­ing in­sects, you’re out of touch; they’re part of the diet of 80 per cent of the global pop­u­la­tion. In­sect­cook­ery en­thu­si­ast Daniella Martin ad­vo­cates roast fly­ing ant (“tastes like but­tery pork rinds”), fried horn­worm (“green toma­toes, shrimp and crab”) and, dis­tress­ingly, sautéed cock­roach (“greasy chicken”). wa­haca.co.uk; ar­chi­pel­ago-restau­rant. co.uk; barnight­jar.com

FAST­ING / CALO­RIE RE­STRIC­TION

The new di­et­ing! Rats vastly un­der­fed by sci­en­tists lived far longer than their con­tem­po­raries so, of course, hu­mans ea­gerly started get­ting in on the act (be­fore any ben­e­fits have been sci­en­tif­i­cally proven, nat­u­rally), adopt­ing as­cetic, calo­rie-de­fi­cient life­styles as they op­ti­misti­cally at­tempt to bridge the gap be­tween “be­ing very old” and “liv­ing for­ever”. While it’s pos­si­ble per­ma­nently re­duc­ing daily calorific in­take by 25–50 per cent could lower meta­bolic rate, re­duce core body tem­per­a­ture, slow down

DNA damage and thus see you liv­ing to be­come a (no doubt per­pet­u­ally grouchy and fa­tigued) 150-year-old, why would you? Af­ter all, “You can live to be 100 if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be 100,” said Woody Allen (which seemed very witty, un­til we re­alised what he felt those things were).

FLAVOUR BAS­TARD

With a name so daz­zlingly ter­ri­ble it es­sen­tially crosses over into trolling, Flavour Bas­tard con­fi­dently swipes Sexy Fish’s crown awarded for “Lon­don restau­rant serv­ing as clear­est phys­i­cal proof that Nathan Bar­ley was noth­ing but a pre­scient doc­u­men­tary”. Are the plates small, and also not ac­tual plates, but rather hub­caps from vin­tage cars? Does the menu have six com­pet­ing “con­cepts”?

Is it shar­ing dishes, ex­cept you share with ev­ery­one in the restau­rant? Is the bar re­ferred to as “The Min­istry of Cu­ri­ous Li­ba­tions”? Prob­a­bly. Who cares? Per­haps most in­fu­ri­at­ingly of all, Flavour Bas­tard is, by gen­eral con­sen­sus, ac­tu­ally quite good. flavour­bas­tard.com

INFLUENCERS

As our frag­ment­ing me­dia land­scape sounds the deathknell of the all-pow­er­ful restau­rant re­viewer, gone are the days when the late AA Gill might have has­tened a place’s demise via a 1,000-word dispatch. Into this void in our col­lec­tive con­scious­ness march the influencers like Clerken­well Boy or Tun Shin Chang, whose im­pres­sive so­cial me­dia reach, eye for a well-com­posed top­down photo of food, and sense of per­sonal con­nec­tion with their au­di­ence, means they are in­creas­ingly ush­ered past the vel­vet rope of a hot restau­rant open­ing be­fore the likes of Coren, O’Lough­lin, Dent, Maschler or Rayner have even re­ceived the press re­lease. With no old-me­dia ex­pense ac­counts at their dis­posal, influencers glee­fully em­brace the mar­ket­ing free­bies, ped­dling #spon con­tent and art­fully fil­tered fake news in their unique, re­lat­able, mon­eti­s­able voices.

LATTE

The once com­fort­ingly-fa­mil­iar milky cof­fee is now a much­bas­tardised beast with in­fi­nite un­recog­nis­able per­mu­ta­tions. Turmeric, laven­der, mush­room and red vel­vet lat­tes jos­tle for at­ten­tion along­side in­fi­nite milk sub­sti­tutes; as Esquire went to press, lat­tes could be had in uni­corn, char­coal and avo­cado flavours. Mean­while, at House of Fraser, you can What­sApp a selfie to the barista and have it “printed” onto the foam top of a cof­fee — the “self­iec­cino”, no less. All crack­ing fun, and fur­ther proof the end times are fast ap­proach­ing.

MILK

Con­tentious liq­uid, pro­duced by squeez­ing. First cow’s milk be­came de trop, then soya milk was de­creed too bland (and bad for the en­vi­ron­ment), re­sult­ing in the great mylk wars of the late 2010s (it’s spelled with a

“y” when it’s non-dairy). Var­i­ous milk-sub­sti­tute fac­tions (the alt-white?) con­tinue to vie for supremacy. There’s turmeric, which is ac­tu­ally golden and thus looks cool, and pea, which has the ben­e­fit of be­ing so ob­scure even the ter­ri­fy­ing über-hip­ster barista prob­a­bly doesn’t stock it yet. As the bat­tle rages, and al­mond milk (also bad for the en­vi­ron­ment) is ditched in favour of cashew milk (few defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics), a grow­ing group of vi­sion­ar­ies is opt­ing for “raw milk”. This is, er, ac­tual an­i­mal milk, al­beit with the added fun risk of E coli poi­son­ing. Plus ça change.

NON-AL­CO­HOLIC DRINKS (fig4)

Grown-up tast­ing spir­its with no booze in them. Seedlip is the first ded­i­cated “new” spirit, dis­tilled — as is manda­tory — in a cop­per still ac­cord­ing to an­cient apothe­cary lore by a posh bearded man named Ben. It’s good stuff, though, which is why it’s now found on the back bars at The Clove Club, The Fat Duck, The Savoy’s Amer­i­can Bar and Ryan Chetiyawardana’s Dan­delyan. Seedlip cur­rently comes in two va­ri­eties; Gar­den, akin to gin, and Spice, like whisky. Nei­ther is a di­rect sub­sti­tute but if that’s what you’re af­ter, GinSin, Ron­sin (a rum sub­sti­tute) and even Versin (booze-free ver­mouth) are avail­able. seedlip­drinks.com

POKE

Nigh-on ubiq­ui­tous Hawai­ian fast food. Unob­jec­tion­able healthy in­gre­di­ents, usu­ally in­clud­ing rice, soy sauce, avo­cado, cu­cum­ber, sea­weed and chopped raw seafood (“poke” in Hawai­ian means

“to cut cross­wise into pieces”), served in a salad bowl for

£10 a pop lit­er­ally ev­ery­where you look. Dif­fi­cult to dis­like, im­pos­si­ble to truly love, faintly over­priced? Move over Leon, there’s a new king in town. (And it’s pro­nounced poh-kay.)

POW­DERED FOOD

From the same school of thought that brought you “wear­ing the ex­act same out­fit ev­ery day be­cause it saves you pre­cious sec­onds” comes an ar­ray of “to­tal meal re­place­ment” pow­ders, of­fer­ing ev­ery es­sen­tial com­po­nent of real food — pro­tein, carbs, nu­tri­ents, vi­ta­mins — apart from “gen­uine sat­is­fac­tion”. US com­pany Soy­lent kicked off the trend, swiftly fol­lowed by Huel, Sch­moy­lent, Am­bronite and Jake, all of­fer­ing to help elim­i­nate the need to go through the lengthy, tire­some daily rit­ual of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a va­ri­ety of tastes.

RAW WA­TER

Idiot-in­vented non-thing. US start-up Live Wa­ter col­lects un­ster­ilised wa­ter di­rect from an Ore­gon spring and sells it in packs of four 11.3-litre jugs for £46 a time, claim­ing “vast heal­ing abil­i­ties” from the wa­ter’s “pro­bi­otics”, backed up by “ma­jor sci­ence”. Mukhande Singh (born Christo­pher San­born) who founded Live Wa­ter claims that the first time he drank the wa­ter he felt an “en­ergy and peace­ful­ness”, al­though it’s con­ceiv­able he’d sim­ply mis­di­ag­nosed the symp­toms of cholera. livespring­wa­ter.com

THE SHED

Hugely suc­cess­ful fic­tional restau­rant, cre­ated by Vice’s Oobah But­ler. He flooded TripAd­vi­sor with pos­i­tive re­views about an ap­point­men­tonly restau­rant in Dul­wich.

His shed even­tu­ally be­came TripAd­vi­sor’s num­ber on­er­anked restau­rant in Lon­don, and But­ler was in­un­dated with peo­ple des­per­ate for a ta­ble. In the fi­nal set-piece, But­ler gen­uinely opened to the pub­lic, serv­ing Ice­land ready meals to a lucky few din­ers, many of whom were keen to come back.

SORGHUM (fig5)

The new quinoa, ap­par­ently. Which is ex­cit­ing. Pre­vi­ously only re­ally a sta­ple in old South­ern Amer­i­can cook­ing, chefs across the globe are now en­thus­ing about “the won­der grain”; pro­tein-rich, gluten­free, vi­ta­min-filled, easy to digest, ex­tremely fill­ing and hugely eco-friendly, re­quir­ing over a third less wa­ter to grow than quinoa (prov­ing what we’ve long sus­pected; peo­ple who eat quinoa are mon­sters). De­mand for the stuff is boom­ing; US ex­ports to China will soon ex­ceed one bil­lion bushels. Put it in your salad, use it as a sub­sti­tute for rice, or even pop sorghum in­stead of corn. But make sure it’s prop­erly cooked, oth­er­wise you will have “sore gums”. [You’re fired — Ed.]

THE SPORTS­MAN

De­scribed by its owner, chef pa­tron Stephen Har­ris, as a “grotty, run-down pub”, in 2017 The Sports­man in Seasalter, Kent, was crowned the UK’s num­ber one restau­rant in the Na­tional Restau­rant Awards for the sec­ond year run­ning. Though not ac­tively grotty, it’s cer­tainly un­re­mark­able to look at, but the food is some­thing else. The self-taught Har­ris main­tains an ob­ses­sive de­vo­tion to lo­cal in­gre­di­ents — ev­ery­thing on the menu is sourced from within 20 miles and he even makes his own salt by evap­o­rat­ing sea­wa­ter. Those who have tasted his salt-marsh lamb and poached rock oys­ters in­evitably re­turn. Is the gas­tropub back? Quite pos­si­bly, see “The Wig­more”. thes­ports­man­seasalter.co.uk

UNI­CORN TOAST (fig6)

Rain­bow-hued snack of night­mares which dom­i­nated foodie In­sta-feeds in 2017 and still hasn’t died. The in­ven­tion of Ade­line Waugh, an Amer­i­can food stylist (don’t sneer, food can hardly style it­self, can it?). To make uni­corn toast, sim­ply spread reg­u­lar toast with vi­brant-coloured cream cheese and a va­ri­ety of nat­u­ral food colour­ings, in­clud­ing beet­root juice, chloro­phyll drops and blue­berry pow­der. Al­ter­na­tively — and this is a very vi­able al­ter­na­tive — don’t. vi­bran­tand­pure.com

THE WIG­MORE

The posh­est pub in Lon­don if, in­deed, an ad­junct of the op­u­lent Lang­ham ho­tel on Re­gent Street counts as a pub. If so, then The Wig­more is with­out doubt a gas­tropub, fea­tur­ing as it does a menu courtesy of Michel Roux Jr. Ev­ery­thing is won­der­fully done, but look out for the pies with mash, a cheese­burger bet­ter than it has any right to be, and the Masala-spiced scotch egg. Six wines are on tap and The Wig­more’s own-la­bel beer is served by the bot­tle, plus some more ec­cen­tric Bri­tish historical cu­riosi­ties like punch served in pewter tankards and “hop­tails” — mix­tures of spir­its and beer. Pub or not, it’s a highly sooth­ing refuge from the ter­ri­fy­ing hordes on Ox­ford Street. the-wig­more.co.uk

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Food & Drink Spe­cial

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