First off; I’ll explain the reasoning for my (once again) unacceptably long absence on here. 1) we have a new kitten. His name is Mo (short for Mowgli, Moses or Mohammed? TBC), and if I don’t fulfil a quota of belly scratching and kicking a small squeaky light-up mouse around the room for him, I will wake up with a turd on my desk. You think I exaggerate, but last night Mo was accidentally locked in Dad’s study overnight. Subsequently, by the morning there was a small, perfectly formed and impressively pungent poo sitting on his desk, aptly positioned on his tax return documents. Touché, kitten.
2) I am, once again, a working woman. A week into my apprenticeship at The Telegraph, I feel I’ve been assaulted with government documents, powerpoints on value systems and course outlines and health and safety briefings, and a functional English test that revealed I apparently have the equivalent skills of a D-F in GCSE. To all my English and Drama lecturers at university; I think I’d like my money back. In spite of this, however, it’s been the most exciting introduction and I genuinely can’t wait to see what’s in store for me in the coming weeks (apart from learning to write shorthand fluently; this I can wait for).
But, now that I’ve finally found the time to write something, I want to bring up a subject I discussed about a month ago; food trends. The dawn of 2018 has seen the usual influx of articles attempting to predict what the next big food trend will be, with candidates ranging from jackfruit (vegan meat alternative that has already been around for a while, discounting it as a ‘food trend’ and more of just a ‘food’), pasties (this is the Cornish equivalent to claiming that rice is ‘so hot right now’ in India), and jellyfish (this is not a trend, this is a mistake). As you may guess, these food trends do not fill me with anticipation of the culinary year to come, so I’m going to make my own trend list. An alternative list; a free radicals’ list; a fantasy list, nevertheless, because only in my dreams are restaurants going to revert back to those medieval times when they would actually let me make a bloody reservation instead of suggesting I wait an hour at the bar opposite and spend an extra £10 on an unwanted cocktail as I press my face up against the window and await the clarion call telling me that a table is ready for me.
So here it is; the 2018 (fantasy) food trends according to Pip:
- The rise of the reservation – As stated above, I would very much like to bring back booking. Please, this trend has been the plight of us regular, ho hum citizens – to whom spontaneity is straying from the house white to the next bottle down on the list and making the snap decision to order some olives – since 2014 now. Drop it. Queuing for your dinner is neither exciting nor trendy; it’s tedious. We line up for school lunch, for the coffee machine at work, for the toilet; we should not have to line up for date night too.
- Crumpets – I know I slated the claim that pasties are now an ‘on trend item’, but crumpets really don’t get the credit, nor the treatment, they deserve. They’re not just for groggily shoving into your toaster and jimmying back out with a knife (with a few swear words and half the crumpet left behind in the toaster) to be topped with a cloggingly lavish slab of butter, though this is of course still one of the best ways to have them. Topped with cheese and pickle, dunked in soup, torn and used in a bread and butter puddings or a strata; those little airy pockets elevate the bog standard bread-based meal to new heights of squeezy, oozy joy. Felicity Spector’s on board with me; she’s got her own crumpet collaboration with Good and Proper Tea – January’s special involves a giant crumpet topped with smashed chickpeas, green tahini and roasted carrots. This is next level crumpetting.
- The free bread basket – For a while now restaurants have been treating bread as much more than a simple filler to please the punter as they peruse a menu for a meal that they consequently won’t be able to finish. All sorts of sourdoughs and focaccia and ryes served with smooth globs of seaweed/chicken skin/beef fat butter good enough to scoop into my mouth like ice cream. But for £4? Please. Stop this. I realise profit margins are slim, but I’m paying a 300% markup on your house white, so give me a sodding piece of bread in return.
- On that note, a bottle of wine for under £30 – I once read an article stating that in the nature of hospitality it was customary for a restaurant to provide at least one bottle under the £30 mark. The past couple of restaurants I’ve visited have been far from hospitable, it would seem. When Noble Rot can provide a number of genuinely nice bottles of wine for as little as £22, why can’t a restaurant serve one? Large glass of pinot and a tap water for me, please. And a trip to Wetherspoons afterwards.
- People realising that eating a sweaty, limp pasty or box of pungently fish-saucy noodles on a train is pleasant for absolutely no one involved – I added this in today, when my commute involved sitting next to one particular city worker who thought it would be okay to whip out his tikka masala, pilau rice and onion bhaji next to me. I understand that on occasional necessity pushes you to eat on a train, but for the sake of everyone please choose an inoffensive Pret sarnie, or at the least a food that won’t leave me smelling garam masala on my clothes when I get home.
I could go on, but at the risk of putting you off visiting a restaurant for fear of queueing for two hours to pay for a £40 bottle of wine and £5 worth of bread, I’ll stop at the nicely rounded number of 5. 5 fantasy food trends, some of which are being practiced by a few very good, gimmick-resistant restaurants, but not nearly enough for my liking.
The recipe I want to share today is another great 15 minute dinner, as will most future recipes due to my office hours, impatient stomach and refusal to meal-prep for more than a couple of days a week. But who needs meal prep when you have this; a giant, buttery, crispy root vegetable rosti topped with a crunchy fried egg?
Root Vegetable Rosti with a Fried Egg for 2 or 1 very hungry individual
1 sweet potato, halved
1 carrot, grated
1 parsnip, grated
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
A few sprigs of chives, finely chopped
1 egg yolk (I didn’t do this first time round and the result was a slightly looser rosti, but if you don’t mind it as more of a hash, you can omit this)
Salt and pepper, to taste
- First, parboil the sweet potato for about 6-8 minutes until softened slightly. Drain and plunge into icy water to cool down, before grating into a bowl and adding the carrot, parsnip, onion, garlic, dried thyme and egg yolk. Mix everything together until combined and season.
- Heat a medium frying pan on medium and melt a good knob of butter. Don’t be stingy with the butter – this is what will help keep the rosti together. Once sizzling, add the vegetable mixture and lightly pat down with a spatula. Cover with a lid and leave to sizzle for 10 minutes.
- Place a plate or wooden board on top of the frying pan and flip the rosti onto it. Now put another knob of butter in the pan, wait for it to melt and sizzle, and slide the rosti back into the frying pan to allow the other side to crisp up. Leave, uncovered, for another 10 minutes.
- When cooked, flip the rosti back onto the board and set aside. If needed, add a tad more butter or oil into the pan before cracking an egg in and frying to your liking.
- Serve a big slice of rosti alongside a salad with a lemony dressing, topped with the egg.