Delicious Things available anywhere!
Here's one for all of you, not just the people in - or coming to - London! ☺️
I’ve signed up for quite a few Substack newsletters lately. Mainly because of Substack Notes, which I wrote about last week leading me to discover lots of brilliant writers. [Notes is a friendlier version of Twitter!]
My bulging inbox has made me even more appreciative that you receive mine, and made me more determined that they continue to provide you with new, exciting and delicious foods to add to your list!
I am always open to hearing if there’s anything that would make these newsletters more useful/valuable/interesting to you!
This week, rather than my more common digest of bakeries or food show finds, here are some products available all over the UK, and possibly beyond.
First up, what I’ve been struggling to stop eating:
Or at least, would have struggled to stop, had running out not forced it upon me.
At the London Coffee Festival, Islands Chocolate co-founder Wilf gave me their new(ish) Cocoa & Hazelnut Spread to take home. It has the spreadability of Nutella (unlike lots of jars of gianduja, though I love them too), but it contains much less sugar and no added oils. It’s just the natural oil from the hazelnuts. It is SO GOOD.
Then they posted me their about-to-launch white chocolate buttons and they were gone within two hours of me opening the packet. If you think you don’t like white chocolate, you should probably try these. Keep an eye on their website for their official launch. Or you could buy 3kg of them now. You probably wouldn’t regret it. If you did I’d happily take them off your hands. 😁
Hot Chocolate at Home
The lovely people of Chococo also sent me their new hot chocolate. With four Chocolate Houses in their stable now (Swanage, Winchester, Exeter & Horsham), I think it’s safe to say they’ve perfected hot chocolate. It’s also the most environmentally sustainable packaging possible. I’m so impressed by the lengths that Clare & Andy go to, in making sure their business is as socially and environmentally responsible as possible.
Match-ado about Matcha
Also at the London Coffee Festival (OK, so maybe this is a bit of a food show round up) I tried matcha from Jenki and from Perfect TED.
Jenki have a cafe in Old Spitalfields with everything matcha you could possibly imagine, and you can buy their matcha online, too.
PERFECT Ted launched with lightly sparkling fruit drinks with 80mg of caffeine from matcha a few years ago. You might’ve seen them on Dragon’s Den. They now sell organic matcha powder too.
I tried both as an iced oat-milk matcha latte so couldn’t tell you for sure which (if either) was better, because I don’t know the ratio of matcha powder to oat milk each used, but maybe because they’re both ceremonial grade sourced from Uji in Japan. Etiher way, they were both great.
A Tale of Two Chais
I first encountered Prana Chai at The London Coffee Festival many years ago. The business was founded more than ten years ago in Melbourne by three mates. The commitment to spiced chai in Melbourne is strong. You’ll find lots of cafes there serving Prana’s - or a local competitor’s - sticky loose leaf tea, spice and honey mix ready to be brewed. (The vegan mix has agave syrup.)
Prana rapidly seem to be taking over the world, too and you’ll find them in many other countries.
At this year’s Coffee Festival I tried it cold brewed with oat milk and it was wonderful. I really hope some cafes start selling this when the weather heats up, and maybe some cocktail bars, too, with a shot of rum or whisky…
Chai Guys is a London-founded company serving up much more traditional Karak chai and other blends. They have a stall in Old Spitalfields and another in Seven Dials. The packaging on their make-at-home blends they pivoted to during 2020 is very cool. These are powders ready-to-mix, rather than loose leaf for steeping, and come with the more traditionally intense spice kick. I loved these, too. There’s a caffeine-free blend in the works and something else exciting that I’ll tell you about in a future newsletter.
Drinks from Hullabaloos
I’m not a big fan of soft drinks and juice; I find them too sweet. I know, me, who eats chocolate and/or cake and patisserie every day. 🤷🏻♀️
I was really impressed by the drinks from Hullabaloos though. They were really natural and less sweet than most. The founders started as growers which explains the fresh and unique flavours in the juice. The ginger beer reminded me of bottles I used to make with my late granny while I was her carer in my last year of school. They frequently exploded, a sticky mess left for me to clean up. Days later, invading ants would alert me to whatever gingery tackiness I missed in trying to mop up the beer’s violent trajectory.
A couple of other interesting drinks
A coffee kombucha by Momo, perfectly in balance.
Algebra Coffee Liqueur - a grown up, less sweet Kahlua. A decaf one is coming.
Rapscallion Soda - again, not too sweet, meant for drinking in bars or at BBQs
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Some cookbooks for your shelf
On the weekend I made banana bread to share with friends and used Richard Makin’s vegan recipe (I added, and topped, mine with toasted walnuts rather than bananas as he suggested, partly because I was making use of previously-frozen bananas, also known as ugly brown mush).
Just like every other recipe of his that I’ve made, it was excellent, and easy to follow.
Richard’s debut cookbook is out now and I cannot wait to get hold of it. As well as being the one of the loveliest people you might ever get to met, Richard, AKA School Night Vegan, is supremely talented and has worked so hard at creating recipes for all of the things that people who love meat, fish, eggs and dairy love to eat, but are really committed to eating less (or none) of them.
His book is called “Anything You Can Make, I can make vegan” and includes recipes for boiled eggs and fried eggs. I mean, don’t you just want the book so you can try making these and mess with some dinner party guests?
While you’re topping up your book shelves, did I ever tell you that the brilliant team behind Bao sent me their eponymous cookbook?
It is a BEAUTY. As it was always going to be, with two of the three co-founders having art/design backgrounds. I genuinely loved reading the history of their families and the business within the early chapters. It made me laugh how they spoke about how closely they guarded the recipes in the early days. Literally no one else was allowed to make some of the items, and now they’re publishing those exact recipes for you to make at home.
Manon LaGreve also published her debut cookbook last week. I haven’t seen it yet but I know her goal was to make baking super simple, the kind you can do alongside raising a baby/toddler as she had while writing it! 😮 It’s called Et Voila.
Any recommendations for Eastbourne?
Or between London and Eastbourne?
As is probably obvious by that, I’m off to Eastbourne for this long weekend and planning to stop at Halstead Bakery in Kent on the way (Cobnut Pain au Chocolat, I’m coming for you 😍).
If you know of any other great places to eat in or near Eastbourne, please let me know!
Hope you have a lovely rest of your week, filled with very happy eating,
Find details of my private food tours at https://chocolateecstasytours.com.
Please do more of this as we don’t all live in London! I also used to make ginger beer.
Many years ago, we were going to travel from Northampton to London on the train when we realised the ginger beer we were taking was way too fizzy. So we had to put it on the edge of the platform and release, retreating very quickly. It wasn’t going to explode as we were using Perrier bottles, but it sprayed spectacularly up under the station canopy. Sorry to the staff at Northampton station.