Linguine with Crab, Garlic, Parsley & Tomato
inspired by Hide
This blog post is a little different to my usual ramblings about cooking. Truth be told I don’t want to talk about cooking today. I want to talk about shopping.
Like many of us, I’m becoming more conscious of what I eat. Where it comes from, and the effect it has on the planet. I am paying more attention to the food I buy.
After discovering my Crab Risotto was made with crab from the Pacific, I haven’t bought crab meat from the supermarket since. But now Sainsburys finally stocks crab meat from local waters, and so it’s back on the menu!
That’s one tiny step closer to sustainable eating.
But our shopping habits shouldn’t just help us eat more sustainably. This Christmas our shopping habits need to help sustain the hospitality industry.
Whether its the office party, the family gathering or the reunion of friends. Christmas Eve drinks or a New Years Eve blow out, this year the festive season is looking very different. For us, and for hospitality.
We may not be able to gather in pubs and restaurants as we would like to. You may prefer to spend more time at home with your bubble. But if we ignore hospitality this year, chances are that some of our favourite places won’t be there next year.
Here are some ways we can all support restaurants this Christmas. Including Hide, which has provided the inspiration for my crab pasta.
(For those of you that actually want to know how I made it, the recipe is at the bottom. This is meant to be a cooking blog after all!)
Meal Kits (let someone else do the hard work…)
So how do we help restaurants this Christmas? Well the simplest, and perhaps most obvious solution is to let them do the cooking. Even if you can’t go to them, let their food come to you.
Kicking off with Hide At Home. This Michelin starred restaurant near Piccadilly has been offering this amazing delivery and collection service during lockdown. Surely there is no better time to treat yourself to some amazing food at home than at Christmas? For those less keen to spend every waking hour in the kitchen, you can even get a full Christmas spread delivered (if you live within 7 miles of the restaurant). But even if you are popping into Central London to do your Christmas Shopping, and don’t fancy carting a stuffed roast turkey home, I bet you can find something at Hide. More on them later.
Another Central London restaurant that will be missing the crowds this year is Soho’s Andrew Edmunds.
Their Christmas feast can be preordered for delivery just before Christmas Day. Contents include everything from smoked salmon and pate, through to turkey and trimmings, pudding, mince pies and cheese. Delivery of their Christmas selections is only within London, but their other meal boxes are delivered nationwide.
How about a Gift Voucher?
The most portable, or email friendly, present there is. For those that don’t want to spend hours wrapping presents or in a post office queue.
I know, I know, some people think a voucher is a cop out. A gift that says no time or effort has been put into it.
But this year a voucher doesn’t mean that. A voucher to a restaurant is a promise of a future meeting. A commitment to a catch up with someone you love. It’s a ray of hope looking beyond face masks and social distancing. A gift voucher for a restaurant is something to look forward to. I think we all need that this year.
The restaurant that inspired my Crab Risotto, 1251, is selling gift cards online. This is where I want to go with friends when we can all meet up again. A gorgeous meal to make up for a year where we have all pretty much lived on zoom.
Salt, Stratford’s first Michelin starred restaurant, is the other place I would buy a gift voucher. I won’t be travelling back to my home town this Christmas, but if I could eat anywhere with my family right now this is where it would be. Not only can you purchase vouchers for dining at Salt, you can also give vouchers for days at their cookery school.
Which leads us nicely on to…. Cookery Schools
There are also so many amazing restaurants that offer cookery classes, either in person or on zoom. As you will know, from this post and others, I’m a complete pasta addict, so a pasta making workshop would be my choice.
Not your average pasta making workshops, Officina 00 in London offers in person sessions on making unusual types of pasta, including pasta made with white wine and coloured doughs.
Or if you want to stay at home, you can learn pasta making skills from the Head Chef of Pasta Nostra.
Don’t forget Cook Books
If you would rather learn about food from a book then buy a restaurant cook book. Not one by a famous TV chef, influencer or celebrity. There are so many to choose from, written by people who work in brilliant restaurants. I can’t pick just one. But three that are definitely on my Christmas list this year are from Stark, Moro and Oklava.
Food Glorious Food
Food can be an incredible Christmas gift if we get a bit more imaginative than just a chocolate orange or a selection of jam.
A bottle of spicy Sriracha sauce from Fallow or Laksa paste from Nasil would both be a welcome change from rich and sugary festive fare. For those who can handle a bit more heat then a bottle of Spinach & Agushi hot pepper sauce is a must.
If you’ve not had enough banana bread this year then check out the Chocolate & Rye offering at Spring. One of many treats you can buy from this sustainable restaurant. Yes, they even have jam (if you must).
But if I could have any food under my tree to unwrap this year (although admittedly it would be better in the fridge…less smelly) then it would be cheese. As well as supporting our restaurants we need to support their suppliers. So instead of getting your cheese board from the supermarket, buy some amazing British cheese from Neals Yard. For someone special you could even buy them a cheese subscription!
My favourite food producer that I’ve discovered this year is Cobble Lane Cured. Amazing British charcuterie delivered to your door. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, they now are offering charcuterie filled Christmas cards. Perhaps not one for your vegan friends, but I would be delighted to receive some ham in a Christmas card. Postable but not predictable.
If you can’t be bothered to pick out produce for yourself then loads of restaurants are offering festive hampers. Not only will you get some of their restaurant prepared food, but you will also get selections of ingredients from their producers. So supporting multiple businesses all in one purchase. That really is stress free Christmas shopping.
10 Greek Street, for example, make the truffles, terrines, chutneys and pickles that go into their hampers. Plus all sorts of wine and other delicious produce.
If you’re lucky enough to live near Trullo, pop by their shop for amazing hampers including their own cookbook (which I have and highly recommend).
Finally, let’s not forget a Christmas Tipple
Check out amazing wine bar Lady of the Grapes, which champions female wine makers. This is where I’ll be getting my Christmas fizz this year, and they deliver!
Chef Tommy Banks is selling a selection of pre mixed cocktails through his Made In Oldstead website. These are not your average cocktails. How about a marigold martini or a rhubarb negroni? Or both? All delivered nationwide.
Finally we are back where we began, with Hide at Home. If their warm gin punch doesn’t get you into the festive spirit, then nothing will.
So after all that shopping, all that eating, and perhaps a glass too many, you will want to cook something simple. Something quick. Something delicious.
This is where a crab pasta comes in. Tis the season for eating sustainably, and sustaining our hospitality industry.
Linguine with Crab, Chilli, Garlic, Parsley & Tomato
- 200 g linguine (or spaghetti)
- 100 g white crab meat
- 50 g brown crab meat
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp sundried tomato paste
- 1 pinch dried chilli flakes
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 handful parsley
- ½ lemon
- olive oil
- Add the pasta to a pan of salted boiling water and cook until al dente.
- Meanwhile chop the garlic and the parsley stalks. Heat olive oil in a wide pan and add the chilli flakes, garlic and parsley stalks. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add to the pan. Once the tomatoes have started to soften add the tomato paste and a splash of the pasta cooking water.
- Just before the pasta is ready stir the brown crab meat into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
- Drain the pasta and add to the sauce along with the white crab meat. Toss together, drizzle over some olive oil and squeeze in the lemon juice. Sprinkle with parsley leaves and serve.