Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: new apple breeds and methane-audited sheep

The news, reviews and trends from November 30-December 1, including notable appointments at rising plant-based star Meatless Farms and a big question mark over CBD.

2 December 2019
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Food news

Meatless Farms employs new talent

The former boss of Lidl, Jesper Høje, has been hired to chair the board of plant-based company Meatless Farm, while Coca-Cola’s former head of media, Lone Thomsen, has been made the company’s chief marketing officer. “I have been following the market for meat alternatives for some time and The Meatless Farm Co has a great opportunity to be one of the global leaders in this fast-developing food sector,” said Høje. Meatless Farms currently makes meat-free mince, burgers and sausages, which are sold in Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and JD Wetherspoon pubs, among others.


New apple breed hits the market

A new variety of apple that can last over a year in the fridge is being debuted in the US. The Cosmic Crisp is a cross between the Enterprise and Honeycrisp, and has been carefully bred – at a cost of $10m – to have higher sugar and acidity levels, thus prolonging its freshness.


Will authorities get stricter on CBD sales?

After last week saw America’s Food and Drug Administration say it does not consider cannabidiol (CBD) products ‘generally recognised as safe’ (GRAS), the UK’s Food Standards Agency has confirmed it is also closely monitoring items made with the increasingly popular ingredient. CBD is treated as a novel food by the EU, meaning products containing the additive are required to undergo more strict safety assessments before being allowed on shelves – those that do not are subject to seizure. Sales of CBD-infused food, drink and cosmetics in Britain are predicted to reached more than £750m next year, but some industry players consider the area a risky investment.

image credit: Getty Images

New Zealand tackles methane emissions

Livestock farmers in New Zealand are in the midst of what is reputed to be the world’s first sheep-breeding programme focused on producing less methane. Within two years, it is expected that breeders will be able to buy rams that the nation’s peak industry body, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, have certified with a “methane breeding value,” meaning they release less methane than the average sheep. The initial impact on lowering greenhouse gases will be low – about 1% a year – but proponents have emphasised that the gradual transition will be cumulative and will avoid disruption of meat supplies or losses to farmers’ livelihood.


Another Chinese business in Chinatown is facing closure

Lo’s Noodle Factory, which has been supplying noodles throughout Chinatown for around 40 years, is set to close after losing a battle with property giant Shaftesbury, which hopes to turf it out in favour of an electrical substation. Figures such as Michelin-starred chef Ken Hom and Lord Wei, the first member of the House of Lords of Chinese descent, have voiced their discontent with the decision, with Hom saying: “Lo’s Noodle Factory is an important component in the Chinese food business, which is what makes London such a vibrant multicultural food oasis… Many small businesses are being closed in Chinatown, and I feel very sad that this tiny family business would be another victim.”


Domino’s perfecting its vegan pizza

Domino's has confirmed it is working on a vegan pizza, though the company declined to say when consumers will be able to order the new item. Competitors Pizza Hut and Papa John’s already offer a vegan-friendly option.


Food trends

Mutton, hogget and lamb

Hogget and mutton are returning to popularity with chefs and home cooks, according to The Telegraph, thanks in part to the more flavoursome flesh. Sheep meat in general has been a topic of conversation this week, thanks in part to the launch of the British Heritage Sheep initiative, which aims to promote the sale of traditional British breeds.

image credit: Getty Images

Cookie creativity

The Financial Times looks at the profitable world of cookie decorating, as kids, adults and even companies get on board with the creative – and delicious – pastime.


Food interviews

Giles Hurley, Aldi UK CEO

In the run up to Christmas, The Sunday Times sits down with Aldi’s UK CEO to discuss the retailer’s expansion into premium – its specially Selected range is now worth a £1bn. “Savvy shoppers are switching to us in their droves and I think people are quite smug about being in the know about saving money,” he said. “I think we’re in a climate where people are proud of saying they got a bargain – it’s cool to save. I don’t sense any hint of embarrassment and I get letters day-in, day-out from people asking, ‘When are you coming to a town near us?’”


Food reviews

45 Jermyn St, Fortnum & Mason, London SW1 6DN

“There’s nothing revelatory, but equally there’s nothing that’s not good,” writes Marina O’Loughlin of Fortnum & Mason’s new restaurant. She describes the menu as a mix of “culinary fossils” – Highland venison with sauce grand veneur; Dover sole à la meunière; calf’s liver with onions; British-style ‘curry’ – and slightly more contemporary dishes, like the tacos stuffed with raw mackerel: “crisp shells, fine, clean fish, a creamy dressing pulling the whole thing together.”

image credit: 45 Jermyn

The Leaping Hare, Suffolk IP31 2DW

Jay Rayner heads to a 25-year-old eatery and finds British “produce, given a proper seeing to with lots of classic French bourgeois technique and an emphasis on big, crowd-pleasing flavours.” As the name might suggest, there’s lots of game on the menu, including partridge breast that is seared and roasted, then set atop more partridge in the form of a “rich stew of white beans and lardons.” Venison, meanwhile, is “served rare enough for you to imagine you could test the blood type” and is accompanied by roasted shallots, savoy cabbage, clapshot (mash mixed through with parsnip) and a “rich game jus that’s so shiny you could see your face in it.”

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