Sunday, 22 August 2010

Leiths Meat Bible

The Leiths Meat Bible by Max Clark and Susan Spaull launched last month. Inside is a chapter dedicated to exotic meats, with recipes for crocodile wantons, bison burgers, llama stew and python nuggets.

Clark says she expects to see these protein rich, low fat meats making their way onto restaurant menus and into shopping baskets over the next decade. With the increased availability of these rare and exciting meats, London restaurants are incorporating them into their menus, giving an exotic twist to their standard fare.

The night of the launch Clark was on hand at Leiths cooking a number of the wild things. I tried antelope and zebra. Both were surprisingly tender, and while the antelope was very beef-like, the Zebra had a distinct venison edge. I felt slightly guilty about eating a zoo animal, something so wild and beautiful, but it was delicious.

London diners are in constant search of new culinary thrills. A chicken breast won’t cut it anymore – we want our food to have been (ethically) sourced from the Australian Outback.

South African restaurant Vivat Bacchus in Farringdon was one of the first in on the trend – their crocodile tail spring rolls are ludicrously popular. Archipelago in Whitfield Street pushes the envelope even further, offering Bushtucker Trial style locust salad and chocolate covered scorpions, which, incidentally, have been fling off the shelves at Fortnum & Mason, along with oven-baked tarantulas and Thai curried crickets.

Across town, The Commander in Noting Hill serves the safer sounding springbok carpaccio, while newly-opened South African haunt Shaka Zulu – a subtle as a vuvuzela Zulu kingdom in the bowls of Gilgamesh in Camden, plates up springbok, kudu and ostrich terrine. London’s restaurants have heard the call of the wild.

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