Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: boom time for exotic mushrooms and raw-milk cheese

Catch up on the food news from 8-9 February, including a new food finance chief for M&S and a report into plastics in the delivery sector.

9 February 2020

Food news

M&S appoints new food finance chief

Marks & Spencer has appointed N Brown’s Craig Lovelace as the firm’s new finance chief for its business arm, replacing Nick Hewitt who announced his departure last week. His start date has yet to be confirmed.


War on plastic

According to The Sunday Times, Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats are generating more than a billion trays, lids and bags every year. The food delivery market has more than doubled in size since 2011, with Brits ordering approximately 200 million meals annually from the three giants of the sector. In other plastics news, Food Drink Ireland has reportedly lobbied finance minister Paschal Donohoe urging him to oppose an EU plastic levy.


Promise looks to the US

Gluten-free bread company Promise is reportedly looking to complete an acquisition in the US, with the Irish business “reviewing a number of acquisition targets”. An estimated 3.1 million people in America are believed to coeliacs, and Promise said in its annual report that an acquisition would be “a key enabler” to accelerate its growth plans across the pond.


Steaks for ladies?

A restaurant in Liverpool is facing criticism for selling smaller steaks specifically for “ladies” alongside its traditional steak menu. The 8oz “ladies fillet” of steak, a £18.95 dish at Manhattan Bar and Grill, was spotted by food critic Vicky Andrews.


Food trends

Mushrooms on the rise

Mushrooms are the focus of a deep dive in The Telegraph, which interviewed mushroom farmer Tim Livesy as the rise in meat-free diets has led to a boom in demand for the “meatiest of alternatives”. According to the Mushroom Bureau, sales of exotic mushrooms increased by a third from 2018 to 2019, with Tesco revealing a 240% per cent boost in sales of the likes of king oyster and brown oyster cluster mushrooms. 


The future of raw-milk cheese

Is there a growing appetite for raw-milk cheese? The Financial Times believes so but claims makers are “fighting for their future” due to a wall of bureaucracy and food-safety requirements. “Raw-milk cheese is something many of us celebrate because you have such a rich diversity of aroma- and flavour-giving bacteria in the milk,” says Jason Hinds of London cheese shop Neal’s Yard Dairy.


A brief history of fine dining

Stephen Harris, chef and owner of the Sportsman in Seasalter, reflects on the history of the fine dining experience, with Harris claiming we are now in peak “new Nordic”. “Everybody is fermenting and foraging away, while chefs serve dishes in an attempt to break down barriers between kitchen and dining room,” he says. “It uses ingredients native to northern Europe and challenges the dominance of the Mediterranean.”


Waste not want not

Earlier this year, Food Spark ran an article looking at the potential health benefits of offal, and in The Guardian this weekend the newspaper talks up the flexibility ox heart. “Delicious and nutritious, as well as cheap”, the author writes, who also provides a recipe for ox heart kebabs.


Meet your (plant-based) meat

The Guardian takes a look at the substantial growth of the plant-based meat market after McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC all recently launched their own ranges of animal substitutes. According to the article, the global demand for plant-based protein has grown from £2.9bn in 2015 to an estimated £4bn this year.


Food reviews

The Harwood Arms, Walham Grove, London, SW6 1QP

Is the Harwood Arms the best gastropub in Britain? This is the question The Telegraph asks this weekend after the London pub came first in the Estrella Damm 50 Best Gastropubs list last week. Keith Miller raves about the game, as well as the cod (“timed to the second so it juddered into pieces under the fork but retained a lunar pallor” and the lamb sweetbreads (done popcorn chicken-style and perched on a mess of wild mushrooms and pearl barley; herby venison faggots, perfumed with marjoram and sweet with chestnut”).


Angel Lane Chippie, 17 Angel Lane, Penrith, Cumbria

It goes without saying that fish and chips is one of the nation’s favourite dishes, but chippies rarely warrant the attention of a full review in the national press. The Guardian’s Grace Dent, however, puts Angel Lane Chippie in Penrith under the microscope this weekend, describing the establishment as “a shining example of British brilliance”.


Casa do Frango, 2 King John Ct, London, EC2A 3EZ

“The best chicken and chops in town” is how The Times’ Marina O’Loughlin describes this Shoreditch restaurant. O’Loughlin praises the simplicity and the “superb chicken and chips, plus a handful of other dishes, all with a flavour of the Algarve.”

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