Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Jamie Oliver seeks further funding and Ocado defections predicted

The news, reviews and trends from March 9-10, including fake Italian ingredients and the £15 coffee that everyone is talking about.

10 March 2019
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Foods news

Jamie Oliver restaurants seek further funding

Fresh fears over the future of the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group have arisen, according to an article in The Telegraph, which alleges that the company is seeking fresh investment to keep the business afloat, despite previous site closures, job cuts and a CVA.


Ocado will see mass defection

A survey of 250 Ocado customers has found that 22% will leave the online grocer when it stops selling Waitrose products. The research by HSBC also found that 17% would not use the company if it swapped Waitrose items for Marks & Spencer ones, while 37% thought Ocado was owned by Waitrose, according to an article in The Times.


Balsamic vinegar fraud may affect quality

Inferior grape must (juice) may have made its way into the balsamic vinegar products of several well-known Italian vinegar specialists, reports The Guardian. Quality certification documents were allegedly forged by fraudsters, who were passing off their low-quality product as much-valued sangiovese and trebbiano – two of seven grape varieties that are legally allowed in true balsamic vinegar. Around 9,000 tonnes of crushed grapes were seized by Italian police as part of the investigation.


Mozzarella pizzas are more cow than buffalo

In other news about Italian imperfections, a study published in Food Control has found that the UK’s five largest supermarkets all sell margherita pizzas topped with mozzarella that is at least partially made from common cow’s milk, despite being advertised as featuring buffalo mozzarella, according to The Times. In foodservice, two of the seven pizzas tested had a mix of milks, while two didn’t contain a trace of buffalo. The premium nature of buffalo mozzarella means more can be charged for products containing the ingredient, though it is difficult to know where in the supply chain the falsification is taking place.

image credit: Getty Images

Salt is not the enemy

Current salt targets set by the WHO and the NHS may be too strict, according to Professor Andrew Mente, the Principal Investigator of the Population Health Program at the Population Health Research Institute. He said that his research suggested that recommendations for maximum salt intake (5-6g), and the essential sodium nutrient contained within, are not only too low but also unachievable – though he notes that processed foods do tend to contain too much, reports The Telegraph.


£15 coffee gets thumbs up from coffee connoisseurs

A number of the national papers are obsessing over Alain Ducasse’s £15 coffee, sold at his new spot in Coal Drops Yard. Arguably the Financial Times sums up the hype about this brew best: “Mr Ducasse travelled the world for his beans, which can be harvested in quantities as small as 17kg each year (to buy 100g of the Yemeni beans will cost you £59). They are roasted in Paris by a two-time French roasting champion. The sugar is sourced from La Réunion island in the Indian Ocean, and the milk is imported from Normandy for ideal fat and protein content. Two different mineralities of filtered tap water are used, specific to the tenth particle per million. Almond and hazelnut milk is made bespoke in Montpellier, France, with nuts sourced from Sicily.”


Latte levy sees significant decrease in use of disposable cups

The stick is better than the carrot when it comes to latte levies, according to a spokesperson for the University of Winchester, which is one of a number of places to find that a surcharge on hot drinks served in disposable cups decreases usage more effectively than offering discounts to people bringing in reusable cups. While Winchester saved 86,000 single-use vessels over two years after introducing a fee, the University of Sussex saved 100,000 in the past six months from a similar arrangement, while the Foreign and Commonwealth Office saw people bringing in a reusable cup rise from 7 to 42% over the same length of time. The figures come as the government is considering whether to introduce regulations on disposable coffee cups into law, notes The Times.


Commercial breeding of non-native oysters leads to public inquiry

Whitstable may be a hotbed for oysters, but some locals are questioning whether the commercial cultivation of the bivalve is affecting other usages of the coast. The Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company will be under the spotlight next month, when a public inquiry will begin into whether the company has breached planning permission with the structures it has erected to farm non-native Pacific rock oysters, reports The Guardian.

image credit: Getty Images

Corporate US agriculture threatens UK farming

The Guardian takes corporate farming in the US to task, looking at how smaller operations have been pushed out of business by large businesses and how something similar could happen in the UK if animal-welfare standards are dropped to allow American imports.


Food trends

The possibilities of the pop-up

The Sunday Times looks at the rise of the pop-up as it has morphed from independent supper clubs to effective corporate strategy.


Food reviews

Jin Go Gae, New Malden KT3 4NL

Keith Miller travels to New Malden for a taste of this Korean restaurant’s kwae jang, “a show-stopping starter of raw marinated crab in chilli sauce.” Everything after this is anticlimactic, from the bulgogi (lightly marinated steak) and dak kalbi (chicken thigh meat in sweet soy) cooked at the table on a hotplate, to the yuzu, chocolate mochi and black sesame ice creams.

image credit: Jin Go Gae

Passyunk Avenue, London W1T 6NE

Gorging on a bit of “American vernacular,” Jay Rayner dives into a quintessential example of the Philly cheesesteak: “The beef has been sliced and sliced again, properly seared, then mixed in with their own version of Cheez Whiz, or as the server put it ‘a kind of cheddar fondue’… The bun, made by an outside bakery to their own recipe, is the perfect soft-yielding vehicle for the filling. Is it cheesy oniony beef?” Naturally, this is devoured alongside an iceberg wedge salad and buffalo wings.


So LA, Glasgow G1 3LA

Another bit of Americana, this time claiming to have a distinctly Californian twang, “What transpires is a recherché catalogue of ingredients stoating merrily between Mexico and Japan, India and Thailand, with a side order of good old steak and chips,” writes Marina O’Loughlin. Created by husband-and-wife team Rusk & Rusk, the meat fails to live up to its reputation, with the critic assuming most of the investment has been spent on creating a certain ambiance rather than quality eats.

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