Hipster hamster food?
Not exactly. Maybe. OK, yes.
No. That’s not fair. This is a book about the Holy Trinity of preserving, namely fermenting, pickling and drying. Three related but very, very different processes.
Kool kids love kimchi?
Kool kids do indeed love kimchi. And rightly so.
Yes, it’s fashionable right now to ferment anything that doesn’t move fast enough, but there’s good reason for that, because a lot of fermented or otherwise preserved food is both delicious and versatile, so maybe the Kool Kids are onto something here. More …
In my quest to crack the ongoing puzzle of eating well at lunchtime when lunchtime slips to about twenty minutes at most, I’ve started to experiment.
This all began when this article popped up on Facebook. It reminded me of something Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall had done a few years ago, that thing I’d made a note to have a go at and then promptly forgot about.
The idea here is that the base ingredients for an excellent noodle soup are packed into a jar, the top screwed tightly on, transported spill-free to work, and finished with water from the kettle.
Imagine the humble Pot Noodle, but made with fresh ingredients, and better tasting.
To begin with, you need a jar, something fairly wide-mouthed that you can get your ingredients into easily, and more importantly, that you can eat from. I found a couple of glass mason jars for about £2.50 each, and figured that a fiver invested would be recouped if I avoided buying just one sandwich at lunchtime. These are really preserving jars, and they come with a tight-fitting screw top lid, so no leakage expected.
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I often struggle with lunch.
Sometimes, there are too many meetings and it just slips by unnoticed, and other times, I fail to prepare and end up grabbing another mediocre sandwich here or there.
Other times, my planning and effort collapses as I stare down dismally into a plastic box full of whatever was left after yesterday’s dinner, repurposed carelessly as something that just about passes for ‘lunch’.
My two recent successes on the lunch front are the discovery of homemade sauerkraut and kimchee, which make a simple salad of a few tomatoes and some cucumber explode with flavour, and tinned sardines that my colleagues detest for smell-related reasons, but which give a huge boost of protein at a time of day when its much-needed. I stockpile cans in my locker, like some sort of office-bound survivalist. It’s a point of great amusement to others.
This leads me to Savage Salads, the break-out book by Davide Del Gatto and Kristina Gustafsson written on the back of their influential street food business, which takes the idea of a ‘salad’ and gives it a serious shake up.
The new entrance to Leeds Station, the one that looks a bit like Kylo Ren from Star Wars if you look at it from a certain angle, has suddenly connected the waterfront area around Granary Wharf a little more successfully with the city. The trail down under the underpass and past the roar of the Dark Arches has gone if you’re heading city-bound by train, and you end up right in the heart of the Wharf.
That area was something of an alternative haven way, way back, packed with stalls selling crystals and Native American paraphernalia that had an uncertain use in West Yorkshire, but that part has disappeared, and the focus is on the waterfront, with new bars and restaurants emerging all the time, cocooned in the old railway arches, facing the canal.
It’s been renovated and developed well, and investment has attracted a string of new venues, Bilbao Bar among them.
Open for a couple of years now, Bilbao Bar is the closest thing to a Basque style pintxo bar in West Yorkshire. It’s like stepping into somewhere in the back streets of San Sebastian. There’s a big, broad counter, designed to be loaded up with food, and intended for use by people casually propping it up, glass of Rioja in one hand, slice of octopus on toast or whatever in the other. It’s an excellent space.