Unusual Fruit Review: Blood Nectarines

One of the brands you can get through Ocado is Natoora fruit and veg, a range of wanky rare varieties that typically cost more than your average supermarket produce. Although I’m by no means rich enough to live exclusively off Natoora products, I have occasionally bought their blood oranges in the past. Other than that, I tend to wait until I’m tempted in by an offer.

So it was with these blood nectarines. I was never going to spend the full £3.80 to get just two nectarines, but a half price flash sale convinced me to spend a less ludicrous £1.90, in the hopes of being able to get an unusual food review out of it. The question is, was it worth it? Continue reading

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Unusual Food Review: Duck Eggs

duck and egg donburi

A few years ago, I used some fresh duck eggs in baking, and was enchanted by the bright, rich yolks. With that in mind, I decided to investigate duck eggs in other contexts.

For the experiment, I purchased a box of six Clarence Court duck eggs. I’d been warned that duck eggs were a lot more delicate than chicken eggs, and therefore to handle them accordingly. Indeed, these ones have calciferous white shells that do seem a bit thinner than a chicken egg shell. That being said, inside the shell there’s a tough membrane, so actually breaking into the egg (or the egg breaking open accidentally) does require a bit of effort. Continue reading

Unusual Veg Review: Purple Sweet Potato

I can’t remember when I became quite so obsessed with purple sweet potato. It probably started when I first tried these sweet potato Kit Kats, and, contrary to all expectations, found them so tasty that I even bought an entire box of them. Later on, I enjoyed a slice of purple sweet potato Swiss roll from the Japan Centre, and became intrigued by the idea of ube in doughnuts.

All that being said, purple sweet potatoes didn’t seem to be available here in the UK, so further investigation proved impossible for a while. Eventually, as with most random foodstuffs, they showed up on Ocado, and I bought a pack.

Purple versus orange: the showdown

I pitted purple sweet potato against the more common orange variety in a taste test showdown. Here are both varieties before cooking:

Raw sweet potatoes.

Both are a nice, bright colour – all it needs is for someone to invent a turquoise sweet potato to complete the set. The purple variety has some white streaks through it, and seems woodier in its raw state.

I steamed both types of potato for around twenty-five minutes, and then seasoned them with sea salt and lime juice. Here’s what they looked like straight after steaming:

Steamed sweet potatoes

Texture-wise, the purple sweet potato is denser and claggier than its orange cousin. This meant it soaked up the lime juice better, but also that it was just a chore to eat. The orange sweet potato is a lighter and more pleasant experience.

In terms of taste, orange sweet potato definitely lays a greater claim to the ‘sweet’ part of the name. It is sweeter, but pleasantly so, rather than being overpowering. The purple sweet potato has a more muted flavour, somewhere between orange sweet potato and regular potato.

I also used some of the purple sweet potato to make a chiffon cake. This was much more successful – the cake was light, fluffy and again with a muted sweetness. My tasting companion was not so enamoured of it, but I would definitely bake this again.

purple sweet potato chiffon cake

In conclusion, I don’t think I would bother using purple sweet potato in savoury cooking again – I didn’t enjoy it that much, and orange sweet potato is both nicer and cheaper. It might be interesting to try making crisps out of purple sweet potato, but that’s a project for a while in the future. I will definitely be using it in sweet baked goods again, however.

Unusual Fruit Review: Yellow Raspberries

SAMSUNG

A long-planned but heretofore unseen feature on this blog, the Unusual Fruit (and Veg) review section will take a look at some of the out of the ordinary produce available to buy in the UK. From the formidable dragon fruit to the golden kiwi, I’ll be taking the plunge and spending my monies to determine whether they’re exquisite delicacies or best left alone.

First up in this new series is the yellow (or, to be properly middle class, amber) raspberry, available in selected branches of Waitrose. Slightly more expensive than the regular red variety (and also the only ones in the shop when I visited), the packaging promises a distinctive and delicate flavour experience.

Unfortunately, it turns out that ‘delicate’ is actually just a code word for ‘more bland and less flavoursome’ than a regular raspberry. Combining them with chocolate sauce and cake certainly helped (when doesn’t it?), but on their own, they were hardly a stand-out taste experience. A novelty and a talking point, perhaps, but unlikely to supplant regular raspberries on anyone’s favourite fruit list.