Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: the sugar tax is coming for milk and Ocado's value surpasses Marks and Spencer

All the news, reviews and trends from May 19-20.

21 May 2018
restaurant openingdairyocadoM&Splant-based

Food news

Ocado’s value makes 43% leap

While the royal wedding dominated news coverage over the weekend, there were still a few column inches to spare to analyse Ocado’s deal with American grocery company Kroger. The Telegraph notes that as a result of the tie-up, Ocado’s shares rocketed 43%, meaning the online retailer is now worth more than M&S. The agreement also delivered CEO Tim Steiner a £110m bonus. “Steiner’s smartest move was to reshape the company,” according to the Telegraph, “realising that there was far greater value supplying state-of-the-art logistics and technological know-how to rival retailers than trying to compete in the brutal online grocery market.”

 

Milk dud

The sugar tax will be applied to milk and nut-based drinks if they do not contain a minimum level of calcium, reports the Times. Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said: “For reasons of clarity, an amendment to the legislation will be brought forward in this year’s finance bill to impose a calcium threshold within these exempt categories.” It will be permissible, however, for companies to add calcium to their products to help them to meet the threshold.

M&S food down 0.2%

The Guardian looks ahead to M&S’s imminent store closures, which will include 100 locations and affect 900 jobs. “The City is expecting M&S to report a second year of falling profits with analysts pencilling in pretax profits of £573m, down from £614m in 2017,” writes the paper. Food sales dropped by 0.2% in 2017.

 

Food trends

Bleeding love

Do consumers want bleeding meat-free burgers? With plant-based alternatives gaining steam, the Guardian looks at the state of play: Tesco has just launched the UK’s first plant-based steak, soon to be followed by Beyond Meat’s products; Waitrose intends to expand its vegan aisle with more goodies from the Vegetarian Butcher; Sainsbury’s has intimated it hopes to join the fray as early as June; and Iceland will build upon the success of its No Bull Burger. However, the paper quotes Evie Calder, founder of the ethical brand Atlas & Ortus, as calling these meat-imitative items “totally unnecessary,” questioning whether flexitarians (a more lucrative market than strict vegetarians or vegans) will want their meat to bleed, since most of them are moving away from animal products due to ethics concerns. The Vegan Society, though, is of the opposite view: “A number of vegans believe we should move away from the idea of imitating animal products and simply consume plant-based dishes. This is great in theory but, in reality, many people still want to indulge in fatty, satisfying foods.”

 

Getting saucy

Barbecue season has arrived, and the Telegraph is taking a look at which branded condiments taste best with a burger or hot dog. Hotel Chocolat’s cocoa ketchup gets top marks (“a bold but elegant blend of sweet, spicy and smoky flavours”), while the “deep, earthy beetroot flavour and rich texture” of the Foraging Fox’s smoked beetroot ketchup (sold at Sainsbury’s) and the Sauce Shop’s “intensely mustardy and tangy” South Carolina BBQ (sold on Ocado) also get plaudits. More unusual options include Encona’s Jamaican jerk BBQ sauce (sold at Asda) and World of Zing’s chipotle and pasilla chilli BBQ sauce (sold on own site).

Food reviews

Hide, London W1J 7NB

Kathyrn Flett praised its “ special kind of genius”; Grace Dent said it was “ridiculous, but I like ridiculous things”; now, Marina O’Loughlin has also dined at what has to be London’s most reviewed restaurant at the moment – and found it wanting. Mainly, however, this is down to the over-moneyed atmosphere and not to the “intoxicating menu,” which includes starters such as the “dumplings filled with almost liquid chestnut cream in a deep, dark duck broth” and “chilly, shelled langoustines on a rosemary branch, powdered ‘sea truffle’ (pepper dulse) adding bracing salty bitterness.” As for mains, the “improbably perfect” lamb comes with a “single fibrous leaf scattered with garlic blossom; blackened wedge of aubergine; dollop of dried kelp-dusted labneh (I think); and little pot of green herb salsa.” Turbot is “pale and subtle with its lemon verbena scent,” accessorised with “sauce made from the fishes’ bones, oyster leaves breathing their namesake brininess and slivers of pickled garlic.”

Heinz Beck at Brown’s, London W1S 4BP

It’s more bad reviews for this spot by Italian hotshot chef Heinz Beck, as Jay Rayner pooh-poohs his starter of spaghetti cacio e pepe, adorned unnecessarily with lime-marinated langoustine tails that add “absolutely nothing to what should be the warm, even hot, piquant embrace of the pasta. Except this version seems terrified of piquant.” Red mullet sandwich (“two fillets, with black olive mush between them, then wrapped in thin dough and fried”) is described as “high-end processed food.” The only light spot for the Guardian critic is the “light, bubbling, custardy gratin of fresh raspberries with candied pistachios, a spidery web of pistachio sponge and a little scoop of soft, milky ice cream.”

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