Spring brings out the most beautiful Flavour
Depending on where you’re getting your greens from, you might’ve noticed the quality and diversity ramping up in the past weeks. The fennel’s crunchier, lettuce more pert, maybe the appearance of a few handfuls of magic emerald broad beans or sugar snap peas. Even things that haven’t disappeared like zucchini and broccoli suddenly seem reenergised as an ultimate quick dinner go to. And that means the spring harvests will only gather pace.
It gives that much needed spark of renewal, adding a sense of anticipation, energy and freshness to eating. We've just added a range of convenient Fruit & Vegetable packs to the store.
And don’t let’s get started on fresh and stretchy cheeses to add into pasta and salads. Such marvellous culinary gifts of colour, texture and sound.
And if gifts are on your mind, we’re a little bit excited about the fact that there’s another book on the way from the prolifically delicious mob at Ottolenghi. They’ve generously been sharing their brilliant creations all throughout this time on Instagram, then spoiled us midyear with Falastin. Now it’s Ixta (like ‘Easter’) Belfrage’s turn, teaming up with Yotam on Flavour due out Thursday 3 September. Pre-order from our city block friends at Hill of Content and they’ll include postage on it. Get in quick and you’ll have it in time for father’s day.
We chatted with Ixta about life in London right now, being the daughter of a 'Master of Wine' and also her favourite Melbourne dining experience on her most recent trip to Melbourne, last Christmas.
Enjoy, and we hope you’re all cooking something nice!
Congratulations Ixta on co-authoring this new book with Mr Ottolenghi! We've loved watching your Instagram with great anticipation. You're probably inundated with questions, like "What's your favourite recipe in the book", so we're more interested to ask, What's next for you ?
Ixta: I’m asked what my favourite dish is in every interview, and it honestly changes every time I open the book, so this is a much more interesting question! No set plans as of yet, and I plan to remain at Ottolenghi for the foreseeable, but a little idea in the making... My grandmother wrote a book called ‘Round the world with an appetite’ in 1936. It’s a memoir of her travels with recipes. Each chapter is prefaced with a story of the circumstances that led her to be eating that particular dish, in that particular place, with that particular person (or people). The recipes are pretty questionable (she couldn’t cook to save her life) but each story is so brilliantly written, full to the brim with the kind of energy and quick wit that characterised her as a person. I’m thinking of ways that I can relive that journey, either by following in her footsteps or by going on my own journey ‘round the world with an appetite’. Whether that idea will manifest itself as a blog or a book or a show, well, who knows...?
We have some pretty passionate wine people here in our group... and it didn't take long for us to join some dots! Forgive our excitement and imposition, but we are quite humbled to make the connection that your dad is in fact Nicolas Belfrage, (one of the foremost experts on Italian wine on the planet). He must be so proud you have taken up an Epicurean career. Tell us, what does he think of the Natural wine movement we know you're so fond of?
Ixta: My obsession with food has a hell of a lot to do with my time growing up in Italy, visiting the producers that my Dad worked with and being cooked for by them, so I have to say I’m incredibly grateful (and proud!) that he’s my Dad (for many other reasons as well as the food and wine-connect!).
With regards to the natural wine question, I had to go straight to the master for his answer. Here are his thoughts..
‘I am indeed proud of the way that Ixta’s palate has developed over the years and fascinated by her willingness to take on wines which I would quite possibly have rejected, earlier in my career. In that sense maybe it is I who have learned from her, rather than the other way round. For me, the cardinal requirement of a wine is that it be good to drink, and the more a wine reflects its origins in terms of terroir/grape variety/ traditional practises the better -certainly the more interesting- drinking it is likely to offer. So-called ‘natural’ wines with their reduced or even eliminated sulphites; their developed vineyard practices (e.g canopy management) and their new/old reversion to bottling without filtration are no doubt here to stay, whether I or anyone else likes it or not. That said, I am confident that the wines of my world and of hers will continue to thrive.’
You were spotted around Melbourne last Summer (ahh the good old days when we could drink and dine, fancy and free). Did you have any stand-out food and wine experiences during your visit?
Ixta: Melbourne is hands down one of my favourite places to eat and drink on earth, so it’s hard to narrow it down to a short list of the best experiences because we ate SO much. Some of the highlights were Old Palm Liquor, Neighbourhood Wine, Embla, France Soir, The European, Cibi, Tipo, Chongqing Noodles…. Ahhh the list could be so long. I can’t wait to get back to Melbourne when all this craziness is over.
Thank you so much for chatting with us Ixta, and a special thanks to your Dad for weighing in! We can't wait to pore over our own copy of the new book so soon and discover our new favourite Flavour recipes.