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THE BREAKFAST UPGRADE: Harry’s Nut Butter
I discovered this fun Dublin-made nut butter in Earl of East’s dangerously well-stocked Redchurch Street shop. Harry's Nut Butter began as a humble, yet delicious, jar of peanut butter designed to be spread on toast or as a porridge topping. Now, alongside founder Harry, the team comprises cooks, baristas, musicians, letterpress printers and engineers – and there are four different jars all packed with spices and big flavours. I love the Original, which is an ideal balance of sweet, salty and spicy and tastes amazing in Asian dishes and with cheese on toast; and ‘Coco Buzz’, a blend of peanuts, hazelnuts, cacao nibs and coffee extract, which Harry recommends serving with ice-cream.
THE COOKBOOK: Otsumami by Atsuko Ikea
Atsuko is a Japanese chef, writer and food photographer who was born in Kyushu, and moved to the UK in 2008. She is founder and owner of Atsuko’s Kitchen on Columbia Road, which offers catering and sell-out classes in Japanese cookery. In her third collection of recipes, Atsuko shows readers how to impress guests with otsumami: Japanese drinking food. Alongside 70 recipes, she’s included a section on party planning, a basic guide to Japanese drinks and how to serve them, plus some inventive cocktail recipes. Ideal for anyone looking to mix up their entertaining repertoire.
THE DRINK: Akvavit
Akvavit uses dill, fennel, anise and clove to create a spirit that’s firmly rooted in Scandinavian food and drinking culture. Now East London Liquor Co has created a barrel-aged release, which is available to buy exclusively from Pantechnicon, the Nordic and Japanese-inspired restaurant and bar in Belgravia. In honour of Scandinavian summers, the team has amplified the floral characteristics of the distilled dill flowers and aged the spirit in a red wine cask from Switzerland’s Germanier winery for six months. The result works excellently as a gin replacement in cocktails. Or simply do as the Swedes do and sip it neat – preferably outdoors.
THE RESTAURANT: Fallow
Chefs Will Murray and Jack Croft launched Fallow as a 12-week pop-up at 10 Heddon Street in March 2020. Post-lockdown, the pair have opened a permanent spot in shiny St James’s Market. The newer site is a far bigger prospect – there’s a huge dining room, bar, wraparound terrace and seven-seater chef’s counter overlooking the open kitchen – but the menu still focuses on sustainably sourced, sharing-style dishes. One packed night, I tucked into an excellent fallow deer tartare; whole cod’s head with sriracha butter sauce; and a pleasing pile of delicate crab topped with artichoke and hazelnuts. My menu highlight? The wobbly Chelsea tart, made using leftover whey from Kappacasein Dairy in Borough Market.
THE VEGAN LAUNCH: Nojo
Nojo means ‘farm’ in Japanese, and these Great Taste award-winning vegan sauces are all made using fresh, natural ingredients. The boldly designed range includes six flavours: White Miso, Teriyaki, Yuzu Salad Dressing, Sesame, Tahini Noodle and Orange Poke. Each one is really versatile and they can be used as dipping sauces, marinades, salad dressings and flavour enhancers. My favourite is the tahini noodle sauce, which helps make a simple dinner of udon and wok-fried vegetables extra tasty. Come BBQ season, I can see the punchy yuzu dressing and teriyaki marinade becoming even more essential.
THE BAR: Kol Mezcaleria
Santiago Lastra and the team at Mexican hotspot Kol have created a range of house mezcals – and the bottles can be enjoyed in the Marylebone destination’s dedicated mezcaleria. Each of these distinctive, terroir-driven spirits has been sourced directly from independent mezcaleros in Puebla and Oaxaca, with excellent label designs inspired by traditional ‘La Loteria’ Mexican playing cards. As for the bar itself, it’s an atmospheric, friendly spot that serves incredible cocktails and ‘antojitos’ as good as the Michelin-starred fare served in the restaurant upstairs. Expect to sample the likes of Orkney scallop ceviche with rhubarb; octopus tostada; and churros with chocolate mousse and pork scratching (yes, really), paired with a martini made with Volcan blanco tequila, Dolin dry vermouth, pine distillate and cucumber.
THE MORNING BOOST: Artisan Coffee Co
This coffee brand has been a hit on the SheerLuxe editorial desk ever since a box showed up last month. Artisan Coffee Co was founded by Heston Blumenthal’s right-hand man of 20 years Ashley Palmer-Watts last year and now features six characterful coffee blends. The best bit? They all come in a coffee bag format. Like a tea bag, the bags offer a cup of fresh, filter-style coffee but without the associated mess of a cafetière. New to coffee bags? Order one of the signature boxes, which comes with 60 assorted bags and chocolate discs each partnered to the different blends.
THE HOMEWARE LAUNCH: Bao X Hightide
Steamed bun specialists Bao has launched a collection with Japanese brand Hightide, designed by co-founder and creative director Erchen Chang. Available on Bao’s digital supermarket Convni Store, the collaboration includes an illustration of the brand’s ‘Napping Man’ on a tenugui, a thin Japanese hand towel made from cotton that can be used in multiple ways, including to wrap bottles or lunch boxes. Unsurprisingly, I’ve already purchased the Tea Kit, which comes with the tenugui, a ‘Napping Man’ mug and a box of the bakery’s signature sweet buns, including its Sad Face salted egg custard variety, plus a packet of noodle-themed stickers.
THE TREAT: Fatso
Dark isn’t the first type of chocolate I tend to reach for, but new brand Fatso might just switch things up. Launching with three 150g sharing bars all made with single-use cocoa from family run Luker’s Farm in Colombia, this personality-packaged collection is a gamechanger. Morn’n Glory is a breakfast-inspired combination with 60% Colombian dark chocolate, crunchy cornflakes and chunks of toast and orange marmalade; Home Run contains pieces of salted pretzel, whole almonds and honeycomb; and my favourite – Nan's Stash – contains 70% cacao packed with crunchy peanuts, chewy toffee and buttery digestive biscuits.
THE CONDIMENT: Gulp Sichuan Chilli Oil
Having recently cleared my kitchen ahead of a renovation, I can safely say my collection of chilli oil is getting out of hand. While my staples include Poon’s Extraordinary Chilli Oil and White Mausu’s Black Bean Rayu, newcomer Gulp is my latest favourite. Made with Erjingtiao chillis, Sichuan peppercorns, soy sauce and black rice vinegar, this is a half-paste, half-oil hybrid which works wonderfully drizzled over scrambled eggs, stirred through rice or added to a noodle dish at the last moment for a dash of heat and a big hit of umami.
THE EVENT: Fiend & Friends
Described by Giles Coren as a “chef who comes along only once or twice in a decade”, Chris Denney has made waves with his recent restaurant launch, Fiend on Portobello Road. Having visited last week, I can confirm it’s well worth a visit – from the service to the 48-hour slow-cooked wagyu short rib and lamb heart agnolotti with sea onions, this was a special meal me and my fellow diners praised the whole way home. This summer, Chris is inviting some of his high-profile friends to cook for one-night pop-ups. On 17th May, Ollie Dabbous – the Michelin-starred chef and co-owner of Hide – will cook a spring-focused menu alongside Chris. On 30th July, he’ll be joined by Gareth Ward, head chef and co-owner of Ynyshir which, with two Michelin stars and five AA rosettes, is the most highly awarded restaurant in Wales.