News articles

Tracey Bellow - our London based foodie fashionista... with her keen eye on trends and a finger on the pulse of gastro fashionables...

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

"It's been a rather disappointing Summer. I stayed put in London to make the most of the capital's calm as the masses went off in search of a break from the madness. But somehow this wonderful city failed to inspire. The weather never really reached its potential, and the food scene followed suit. It was a dreary repeat of 09 with predictable food markets, samey products and the obligatory cupcakes studded sporadically with an odd whoopie pie.

Then I spotted a shining light from within my bleak bubble. A light so bright and strong that it drew me back to the happiest of childhood memories.

Jelly and ice cream.

Never were two things more irretrievably linked to the happy nostalgic British psyche since Morecambe and Wise. The re-emergence of these two gems has hit the zeitgeist of food. Whilst politicians talk of austerity and we cast our minds back to the misery of the 70's, we know that jelly of all things can't be bad. It is not expensive, or overly ostentatious and yet it is happiness wobbling on a plate. And best of all, I have two lovely young men to thank for bringing this joy back into my jaded life. Sam Bompas and Harry Parr.

Named last year in Dazed and Confused magazine as one of the 15 most inspiring and creative entrepreneurs, they were interviewed more recently on Radio 4 food programme, featured alongside the genius that is Heston Blumenthal. And whilst I have to applaud Heston's jellied creations such as the whisky gums course at the Fat Duck (do you think it was illegal for my 13 year old nephew to have taken that whisky tour with me?) there is something just a little more mad about Sam & Harry.

Bompas and Parr brought the jelly revolution to the masses this year with their inspirational, and very yellow, book 'Jelly'. Beautifully shot and passionately written, this book puts jelly firmly back on the menu. Interesting shapes, colours, flavours and stories inspire. It makes you want to get out there and just create something today.

They followed that June publication with a Complete History of Food in July. This was quite something. Blurring the edges between food and art, the evening walk-through dining experience inspired and delighted us along the historic periods of food, ending on a high with their creations in the Renaissance dessert room.

The culmination of the jelly journey will take place on 25 September at the inaugural experimental Food Society Spectacular Exhibition and Banquet. (http://www.experimentalfoodsociety.com/society.html). The jellies will be joined by a plethora of interesting items to explore. Tickets are still available.

As impressive as the Bompas and Parr creations are, no jelly can be totally complete without a dollop of ice cream. Once again, London did not disappoint. Whilst some have persevered with the more worthy frozen yogurt (such as Yog, Snog and other provocative names ending in og) I am still a purist. The two who win my prize this Summer are Dri Dri in Portobello Road and Gelupo from the team at Bocca di Lupo in Archer Street.

Harking to classic Italian gelato methods the indulgence of creamy smooth ice cream has been complemented by vibrant sorbets and zesty granitas. Deep intense fruity flavours have pervaded the market with citrusses like grapefruit and blood orange making a come back along with new fruits such as watermelon. In the heat of the city this Summer, they were a welcome and refreshing relief.

Ice cream also held up their side of the bargain with some interesting flavours: liquorice is replacing salted caramel as the flavour of the moment, but my particular favourites were fennel and pine nut from Gelupo and the signature crema from Dri Dri, which is made with caramelised sesame seeds.

By far the most exciting ice cream discovery of the Summer must be awarded to The Chin Chin Laboratorists in Camden Market who opened Europe's first Nitro Ice Cream parlour this July (http://www.chinchinlabs.com/). Here, husband and wife, Ahrash and Nyisha, deploy the molecular gastronomy process of making creamy ice cream to order using liquid nitrogen. Each week they introduce a quirky special flavour (victoria sponge when I went) to sit alongside their classic ones and the piece de resistance are the toppings. You can choose from indulgent sauces, fun toppers such as popping candy or architectural shards of flavoured sugar candies. The future of ice cream has definitely landed in this space age site in Camden.

Topics: Tracey Bellow