This week I've been eating... Trof Hot Dogs
Trof is a bar-cum-pub spread across three levels in Manchester's northern quarter. It's a hip place in a cool bit of the city. You can tell this because all the waiting staff have excessive beards and it brews its own beer (as well as serving some old familiars such as Brooklyn Lager, Duvel and Goose Island IPA). There was once a Trof wine – but that's best forgotten.
It one of the bar-dining restaurants that has led the casual-dining pack in the city and absorbed the foodie trends kicking off elsewhere. So it has burgers in various guises (pulled pork, loaded cheeseburger, etc) – and one hell of a hot dog (£7.50).
It's a dog of considerable proportions with a bratwurst centre and cushiony white brioche bun, on top of which, in gluttonous quantities, has been added caramelised onion chutney, ketchup mustard and cheese. It's like an emigré from a Saints game. A very haute dog indeed.
Books should not be judged by their covers, nor booze by its bottle. Well, that's the usual rule.
But then some bottles, such as Stolichnaya Elit, are just so beautiful that they draw you in. You want them on your shelves. Like the Noma cookbook or the tome from Mugaritz, they are an advertisement of your sense of style.
But that said, the spirit within has to match the bottle without. It can't be all fur coat, no knickers, to employ a Northern phrase. Certainly the Elit certainly has knickers. It's smooth as satin, with an absence of throat burn, and a modest tinge of aniseed.
These salted anchovies are what one might call a Christmas treat. They'd have to be at this price and, anyway, a luxury overindulged ceases to be much of a luxury – and you wouldn't want that with these salt-cured Sanfilippo anchovies. They're bloody gorgeous. Rather than the mushiness and astringent saltiness – the staples of cheap anchovies – you get something that is meaty, firm and ever so slightly sweet.
You could use them in a salad, of course, but much better to put them on some sourdough with unsalted butter and serve with a nice chilled chablis. Indulge yourself.
There's a new fruit on the shelves in time for Christmas: finger lime. Budgens in London's Islington is the first major shop to stock the fruit, which hails from the US and is known as citrus caviar.
It is a peculiar-looking thing, the size of a cocktail sausage with a waxy skin, which, when broken, releases a little flurry of small, caviar-like spheres that break in your mouth releasing a little ecstasy of spiky lime.
On the pisco
Barrio, the Latin-flavoured, micro-bar chain, has landed in Shoreditch in east London. Like its brother and sister in Islington and Soho, it serves a simple South American menu (think taquitos and empanadas). But don't go for that, go for the Chilean pisco drinks.