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London Restaurant Menus Run Red for Annual Duel Between Blood Oranges and Rhubarb

Choose your seasonal, pretty, pink fighter

Rhubarb and blood oranges in composite, two of London restaurants’ favourite seasonal ingredients Getty Images/Eater London

Welcome back to Insta Stories, a column examining the London restaurant scene through the often-problematic medium of Instagram. This week’s filter is edible ASMR.

News of the week

It is said that when Alexander the Great beheld the breadth of his empire, he wept, because there were no worlds left to conquer. Perhaps a similar sentiment has inspired the team at Bao to compete not against other operators, but themselves, after the best part of a decade bossing the innovative street-food-inspired small plates game. That could explain launching the Battle of the Bao at the Soho location; perhaps it’s just a really nice way of allowing every member of a growing team to feel invested in the business’ ongoing success. Either way, hungry Londoners are the undisputed winners.

Old news of the week
More like enforced rhubarb! Folks? Folks?!!

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Pretty in pink

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R H U B A R B P I C K L E / Forced rhubarb shows up exactly when we need it. These neon-pink stems, the colour of Brighton rock, are forced from the ground in dark sheds in Yorkshire and cheer me on in the kitchen until the first greens of spring. Recently, I’ve eaten this piquant pickle with breakfast, lunch and dinner, it keeps for weeks and works tossed through a salad, on top of roast veg or whenever you might use a chutney or a pickle. Recipe below, click save to try it at the weekend. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Prep 20 min Pickle 2 days Makes 1 litre ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 500g forced rhubarb, stalks separated and washed 1 small thumb fresh ginger (about 10g), peeled and chopped into thin matchsticks 2 bay leaves 2 tsp black peppercorns 2 tsp black mustard seeds 250ml red wine vinegar 150g golden caster sugar ½ tsp salt ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 〰️ Cut the rhubarb into 1cm pieces and pack it into the jars with the ginger, bay leaves and spices. In a small saucepan, bring the red wine vinegar, 250ml water, sugar and salt to a boil, whisking to dissolve. Once the liquid has come to a boil and the sugar has dissolved, take the pan off the heat ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 〰️ Leave the liquid to cool slightly for just a couple of minutes, then carefully pour it over the rhubarb; it should cover it completely. If you are short, top up with some boiled water. Close immediately with sterilised lids ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 〰️ Leave to cool before storing in the fridge. Let the rhubarb pickles cure for at least 48 hours before eating, then enjoy within three weeks of opening.

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Of course it’s rhubarb crumble and cream. On tonight

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New rhubarb of the week

Also pretty, also tart, also so winter it hurts: Welcome to blood orange season.

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Blood orange is back baby.

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Showstopper of the week

Some issues with the scale here, although in fairness goals the width of most of the pitch would at least reduce the risk of Monday night football ending up with a drizzly nil-nil draw away at Stoke.

Cursed image of the week

Three lads, three pints — sure. But one cod and chips between them is distinctly fishy, as is the presence of definitely contextually inappropriate condiment Tabasco. Where are the mushy peas, too? If they’re going for a ‘British classic’ #lewk, why are they drinking lager? Come to think of it, why are they all wearing variations on exactly the same outfit? And, holy shit, why is the sign in the wall written SDRAWKCAB? The Mayfair Chippy: you can get the bill whenever you like, but you can never leave.

Storm-proofing of the week

Bring it, Bernard.

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pork chop, january king cabbage | @antonrodriguez

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Innovation of the week

Britain’s fancy sandwich renaissance is now the matter of public record, so it’s high time that things moved on again before stagnation sets in. Might inspiration come next from across the Atlantic, in the form of the mighty French dip? Just imagine the stuff a British kitchen could do with any number of its ambrosial native liquids — dripping, Welsh rarebit topping, et al. Does dipping a sandwich into a bowl of bread sauce sound dangerously like overkill? That might just mean it’s exactly what London needs.

Factoid of the week

No, really: did anyone know that beetroot is one of the most popular vegetable ingredients?

Dish of the week

This is your brain on mushrooms.

Shot of the week

Hang it up in the Tate.


83 Rue De La Gauchetière Ouest, Ville-Marie, QC H2Z 1C2 (514) 875-1388