This week I've been eating... Borscht and Blinis
Give me borscht and blinis, and a happy man you will find me. To my own surprise, as much as anyone else’s who might care, I have become a one-man cheerleading team for the joys of Georgian food.
Blessed with a Mediterranean climate and a large Jewish population of many centuries standing, it has a culinary heritage to drool over.
Of course, their food doesn’t begin and end with the “two bs”. But that’s what I ordered at Little Georgia off London’s Broadway Market.
The beetroot soup comes warm, with little slices of sausage, and two olives floating on the surface like boats on the Black Sea. It is as light as a kiss. Blini are served as big as crepes, whisper thin, with a minced pork centre to which has been happily added some garlic and coriander, and a touch of chilli. As happy a summer lunch as I have had in a long time.
The sun is shining (or at least it was at the time of writing) and we’ve all started to buy those stupid single-use barbecues.
For most of us in cities, without the luxury of a garden, you have to adopt a Scout-ish make-do attitude when it comes to cooking over the coals.
Ever tried carrying marinades and a pile of meat for a two-mile walk to the park? It doesn’t make for a happy time.
Instead, I’ve been indulging in the pre-prepared marinated pork steaks from Donald Russell. Four packs with three steaks in each and little hassle. £16, donaldrussell.com
Indian Sparkling Wine
It seems India is soon to get its own sparkling wine. Moet-Hennessy has unveiled plans to release a wine grown in the Nashik region north-east of Mumbai.
The exact release date has not been confirmed, though early 2014 has been touted as a likely time. The winery will have a capacity of 50,000 cases a year (current demand runs at about 94,000 cases on the sub-continent).
It, nonetheless, seems a shrewd move on the part of the company, which has also invested in China, as externally-grown sparkling wine currently retails at an eye-watering and prohibitive £71.
The Leftovers Handbook
This week, feeling the pinch after a holiday, I was happy to have an advanced copy of Suzy Bowler’s The Leftovers Handbook.
The book is an A-Z of leftover ingredients you are likely to find in your kitchen, and gives top-notch ideas on how to turn them into tomorrow’s lunch or supper. There’s everything from ideas on how to use up old slices of bread – panzanella, skordalia etc – to making the most of your last slice of bacon. Bacon salt anyone? £12.99, Spring Hill
Man cannot live by bread alone, but a newspaper features desk can live on miso soup. Or so it seems here at The Independent. Itsu’s original and vegetarian soup pouches – which are full of paste, not powder – have been proved the hit snack of the week here at Derry Street. Quite delicious. £2.25, itsu.com