Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Tesco expected to announce profit and plastic bottles are biggest freshwater polluter

The news, reviews and trends from April 6-7, including why blue is the new green in health food circles and an assessment of online grocery sites.

8 April 2019
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Food news

Heston’s business slows to snail’s pace

Acclaimed chef Heston Blumenthal is not immune to the downturn that is affecting the wider restaurant industry: accounts filed for his company Snail Porridge Limited – parent of Michelin-starred The Fat Duck, gastropub The Hind’s Head and other business interests – show post-tax losses increased from £700,000 to £1.7m in the year to May 31, 2018. Brexit, national living wage increases and rising food prices were cited as affecting profitability, according to The Observer, which notes that a new project that received £500k in investment has been abandoned in light of the difficult trading situation.


Tesco profits predicted

Tesco is expected to reveal a 28% increase in operating profits on Wednesday when CEO Dave Lewis reveals the retailer’s full-year results. This rise will largely be the result of the acquisition of wholesaler Booker, reports The Sunday Times, which also revealed that the UK’s largest supermarket has plans for a new loyalty scheme that will mimic Amazon Prime.


Plastic bottles eclipse bags in European rivers

Plastic bottles are the most common pollutant in freshwater, followed by food wrappers and cigarette butts, according to a new report by Earthwatch Europe and Plastic Oceans UK. Initiatives to cut down on single-use bags appear to have been successful as these only made up 1% of plastic rubbish found in waterways. The research comes as compostable cup, cutlery and container maker Vegware finds itself under scrutiny from the Scottish Parliament, with Green MPs saying such products should be included in future latte levies because they cannot be recycled through normal channels. Vegware’s sales have grown by more than 50% to £31m in 2018, according to The Guardian, with the company’s founder predicting sales of £40m worldwide this year.

Fungus in the lungs

The emergence of drug-resistant fungi that can affect the lungs is being blamed on the overuse of antifungal sprays on crops by farmers, writes The Sunday Times. In particular, the mould aspergillus is considered a contributing factor in up to 400,000 UK asthma cases a year and 3,600 lung infections.


Food trends

Blue is the new green

“Blue and purple superfoods are now thought to have greater health benefits than dark, leafy-green vegetables,” nutritional expert Gabriela Peacock tells The Telegraph, which claims that kale and spinach smoothies are giving way to beverages made from honeyberries and spirulina algae.

Online shopping wars

Which supermarket offers the best delivery experience? The Telegraph digs into the various options available to try and answer that question for consumers. It praises the broad selection on Ocado and the Waitrose web interface, but ultimately concludes that the combination of eco-friendly offering, low minimum spend and variety makes Sainsbury’s the optimal choice.


Crisp and clean

The Sunday Times picks five vegetable crisps to try that claim to be healthier than the traditional spud-based version. Highlighted are Other Foods' Crunchy Shiitake Mushroom Chips (£2.69 for 40g), Off the Eaten Path’s Pea and Bean Crunchy Sticks (£2.25 for 100g), Spare Snacks’ Beetroot and Apple Cider Vinegar Crisps (£1.09 for 22g), Sweet Potato Sticks from Emily Crisps (£2.60 for 120g) and Sea Salt & Vinegar Seaweed Snack from Selwyn’s (£1 for 4g).

Food reviews

Locanda Locatelli, London W1H 7JZ

“There’s something here for every carbphile,” writes Marina O’Loughlin, as she digs into all manner of pasta dishes at Locanda Locatelli. For regional specialities, pizzoccheri – a Lombard dish described as “like thick, truncated tagliatelle made from nutty buckwheat” – comes served with savoy cabbage, leeks, sage leaves, black pepper and “just-molten” Bitto mountain cheese. More familiar (but equally praiseworthy) dishes include the ravioli del plin (“little parcels of veal both delicate and meatily robust, the traditional sage and butter saucing boosted by an intense veal jus”) and tagliatelle in a rabbit ragu.


Seveni Bar and Restaurant, London SE11 6NL

Those looking to go on an adventure should journey to this Chinese barbecue spot for an array of undereaten animal parts and multifaceted sauces. Jay Rayner gamely tackles everything from lamb brain in chilli broth with bamboo shoots to quick-fried pig kidney, as well as Sichuan-style deep-fried chicken “hidden in a heap of red chillies” and lamb skewers coated in a spice mix of cumin, ground chilli, salt and sugar. Also of note are the tabletop barbecues, which eschew electricity for burning charcoal.

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