From Lion King fruit to bursting seaweed balls, Laura Martin hunts down the latest crazes on the food scene
Just think, a few years ago we had no idea of the joy that salted caramel would bring, or how kimchi would improve everything it touched, and frankly I wouldn’t want to live in a world where there had been no gourmet burger revolution.
So with 2015 just around the corner, what are the next food trends going to be? I headed to a UK food show to find out.
Bursting seaweed balls
Not something I ever imagined would be gracing my dinner plate but, yes, bursting seaweed balls are a thing now. Ever had a bubble tea? They’re very popular in Asia and are essentially little sweet jelly or tapioca balls to be sucked up from the bottom of juices, milks and iced tea. These are similar, but more seaweedy (if that's a word).
The Tea Shed have developed Popaball Bursting Bubbles, balls made from seaweed extract and filled with five juicy flavours: lychee, passionfruit, strawberry, blueberry and green apple. They burst in the mouth and are bound to be a big hit for party people over Christmas and New Year, as Popaball recommends dropping them into cocktails for an explosive garnish.
Egg white crisps
We’ve had kale crisps, lentil crisps and fruit crisps … and now there’s one more ingredient that’s been crisp-i-fied: egg whites. Chirps (just launched by Two Chicks) are free-range egg white bites and come in a few flavours: sea salt and cracked black pepper, smoky jalapeño, or sour cream and chives. And the bonus? The makers say they're higher in protein than normal crisps and lower in carbs. Just don’t take that as an invitation to eat your own body weight in them, OK?
There hasn’t been a revolution in spices this exciting since the Spice Girls' Wannabe. Spice Drops are concentrated extracts of spices that make it easy to infuse flavours into foods and drinks without discolouring or adding weird textures. Essentially, that means no more surprises in your curry when you crunch down on a whole stick of lemongrass, and your hands will be garlic-free.
A spokesperson from Holy Lama told me: “We’re a family business that’s been running for 70 years in Kerala, India and the spices are cold pressed and extracted. You can drop them in to water for drinks or you can used them in place of dry spices, like our tikka masala drops into a curry.” Interesting.
Probiotic yoghurt is such old news. Sorry, Gok Wan, but I’m strictly going to be munching on frozen kefir from now on. Kefir originates from eastern Europe and is a fermented milk drink (stay with me) which balances your inner ecosystem.
Now, the fine folk at Lifeway have come up with frozen kefir: said to rival frozen yoghurt, it packs in 10 live and active probiotic cultures, is 99% lactose-free and also happens to taste pretty banging too. I tucked into the vanilla flavour and it was only the shame of eating so much the first time round that stopped me asking for seconds.
“Eh? What’s that?” I enquired. Thankfully Chandni Sanghani from Aduna is on hand to explain. “You know in The Lion King? Well, it’s the fruit from Raifiki’s tree,” she says Ahh, right. She continues: “It’s known as the tree of life and it produces baobab.”
The odd-looking brown fruit bakes in the sun on the branch for six months then its insides are powdered to make one of the most nutrient-dense foods there is. This is something they’ve known about in north Africa for centuries, but it's only just being launched in the UK.
I had a little taste of the powder and it sort of tastes like lemon sherbet – which must mean it’s going to be a hit with kids too. Chandni suggests: “You can mix it into porridge, muesli, yoghurt, smoothies, juices … ” Good idea – no wonder they’re on a mission to make it famous.