On The Menu: Koya; Evan Williams; Unearthed; Women's Institute; Waitrose

 

This week I've been eating... cold udon noodles with hot broth

I think I've caught it. That strange affliction that was first seen in New York at the end of the Noughties. The one that makes you stand outside noodle restaurants trying to swap your great aunt for an entrée to the front of the queue, which is, invariably, block-curlingly long.

Over there it was Ippudo and Momofuku; here it's Koya the no-reservation udon restaurant on London's Frith Street. Opening last year, it immediately gained a cult following, and a queue, both of which have yet to subside. The queue is a pain but we were at the front in about 15 minutes, noodles being quick to eat, if slow to make (the process involves kneading the dough using your feet). It's worth twice, three times that wait. The buta miso hiya atsu – cold noodles on one plate, hot broth of miso and pork in a bowl for dipping – was sensational. The noodles doughy, long; the miso broth slightly sweet, offset by the savouryness of the pork. It's food that brightens a day.

Taste of honey

Purists will cringe at the new Evan Williams honey-infused bourbon. "An insult to Kentucky's finest," will be the charge. But for the rest of us who enjoy a glass without reverencing the stuff, it's an interesting proposition. The well-known American producer has created a thick, glass-coating golden liquor by adding a little honey to its 70 per cent proof bourbon. So expect tooth-coating sweetness then, right? No, the aroma and flavour veers towards lemon with touches of vanilla. The only quibble is the price: it's twice as expensive as it is in the US. £27.50, harrods.com

Dip into these

Unearthed, the purveyor of speciality French and Italian food, has released a new range of party products. Along with a few meat and cheese platters – Umbrian, Tuscan and Mediterranean – that are essentially larger versions of its other products, it has also launched some new dips, two of which are real crackers. The unusual pomegrante houmous with green harissa dip is great with veg sticks, while the earthy broad bean number is lovely smeared on bread. £1.49, discoverunearthed.com

Bit too jammy?

Is it lèse-majesté that the Women's Institute is selling mass(ish)-made biscuits and jams on its new website? Sure, their ginger biccies are nice and chunky, with a high-kicking ginger flavour. Its shortbread and cookies may outshine Nairns, Duchy Originals and that lot by some way, and be as close to homemade as you are likely to get. And its jam's a treat.

But still, I can't help thinking this goes against some stone-inscribed WI rule. But, I suppose, after those calendars, anything goes. wifoods.co.uk

Large portions

I know we're not all as virtuous as Jamie Oliver and lots of us miss our daily five pieces of fruit and veg target. But I can't help feeling that Waitrose's answer, the 5-a-day fruit pack, isn't quite the answer. Not only does it cost £2.99 per day (that's £89 a month) the packet is so large you'd be hard pressed to get it into a backpack, let alone a lunchbox. waitrose.com

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