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2017 - a year in food

Victoria Prever looks back on a year of foodie triumphs

    Stacey Hart made it to the semi-finals of the Great British Bake Off

    It’s been yet another delicious year for JC food, full of books, restaurant openings and tasty treats.

    Jewish and Israeli food continues to be on trend. The kosher dining scene is healthy, with modern menus and up-to-date décor, and more than one new opening. Soyo’s promised sibling finally appeared on a quiet street in Swiss Cottage. Delicatessen, headed up in the kitchen by chef Or Golan, opened to rave reviews. The upmarket, meaty menu full of colour and flavour shows off Golan’s Ottolenghi experience.

    Over in Hoxton, non-kosher eatery, Monty’s Deli moved from market stall to permanent premises in an area which would have been the original birthplace of UK Ashkenazi nosh. With Shabbat-style menus on offer it has been popular with local hipsters.

    The Palomar has also grown its empire. With The Barbary (opened in 2016) settling down nicely, the team, led by brother and sister partnership, Layo and Zoe Paskin, opened a bijoux daytime offer, Jacob the Angel, in Neal’s Yard near Seven Dials in London’s Covent Garden. Another Israeli is at the helm, this time the lovely Daniela Gattegno, whose colourful salads, sandwiches and pastries offer health and indulgence.

    Sadly I missed this year’s Gefiltefest, having fallen down the stairs that morning. The foodie fun I missed included a host of Israeli chefs and restaurateurs together on stage for the first time. Eyal Jagerman of The Barbary; Joel Braham, founder of The Good Egg; Uri Dinay of fast falafel restaurants, Pilpel, Eran Tibi, Or Golan and Edward Bergen of market research organisation Mintel discussed the Israeli “food boom” which has taken off worldwide.

    Another Israeli restaurateur finally got the recognition he deserved this year. Charismatic Eran Tibi won Tatler’s Rising Star award for 2018 for his first solo venture —  Bala Baya.

    Radlett mum, Stacey Hart, flew the flag for Jewish bakers everywhere during her time on the Great British Bake Off. Hart had missed selection for the 2016 show and worked her iced buns off to qualify for 2017. She did herself proud and got to the semi-final.

    Another talented cook who didn’t quite run off with the prize was Emma Spitzer. A year on from her TV outing in MasterChef, she published her tasty collection of Sephardi and Ashkenazi-influence recipes, Fress (Mitchell Beazley).

    (From the book "Sweet")
    Other books worth acquiring were Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Yeh’s long-awaited baking tome, Sweet (Ebury Press), a collection of cakes, cookies and puds, all well worth the calories. Another prolific cookery book writer, Joan Nathan, published her eleventh book, King Solomon’s Table (Knopf), which collects Jewish recipes from all over the world.

    Another collection of diaspora-donated recipes was the book It’s Always About the Food written and published by the MMCC — the Monday Morning Cookery Club — a group of Australian women who had already compiled two previous successful recipe collections for charity.

    Leah Koenig’s cute Little Book of Jewish Appetisers (Chronicle Books) is a 21st century collection of old favourites dressed up for dinner parties. If it’s bread that you fancy, then get Shannon Sarna’s guide to all things Jewish and doughy, Modern Jewish Baker: Challah, Babka, Bagels & More (Countryman Press), everything from bagels to babke with stops on the way for challah and hamantaschen.

    Not kosher, but worth a mention, Nigella Lawson added another of her books to the collection on my shelf. At My Table (Chatto & Windus) is already well thumbed and splattered with cake batter. The recipes, none particularly innovative, are full of flavour and great for entertaining.

    Some new kosher brands on the block have made life easier for the kosher diner. Eureka Cove’s ready meals launched in Tesco at the end of October with some meat and fish dishes. Providence Deli added to their lines of condiments. The wasabi mayonnaise has become a favourite with my husband, who slathers it on sandwiches and spoons it into tuna mayo. New snack packs of hummus and Israeli pretzel chips with hummus have gone down very well with my mini-Fressers.

    A trip to Bordeaux — yes, the one when I picked up my husband’s passport instead of my own — revealed a huge number of fantastic French kosher wines.

    With 2015 and 2016 being gold star years for Bordeaux wines, this should be the year you dip your toe — or better, your tongue — into some fine wines.

    If you want to try before you buy, it’s worth popping to Kedem’s Food and Wine Experience at the end of January to taste many of the available wines, especially as the entry ticket includes a chance to hoover up Arieh Wagner’s kosher buffet.

    Here’s hoping for an equally tasty year in 2018.

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