How we can dine like King’s on Michelin-star produce – at low prices
Small-scale producers and family businesses that once supplied restaurants are now delivering. Our expert gives her guide to the best by Hilary Armstrong.
Britain’s amateur chefs are keeping themselves busy in isolation. One minute, it’s sourdough, the next it’s a sashimi, homemade XO, a whole turbot à la Brat, or a handsome pie worthy of Calum Franklin. It’s not just that they have time, it’s also that, for the first time, they have the ingredients.
When the Covid-19 pandemic shut down restaurants last month, it left independent suppliers struggling to place their produce and fearing for their survival. With Michelin star chefs out of action, who would buy their hand-dived scallops, Himlayan salt-aged beef, gooey cheeses and glistening caviar? There followed an industry-wide pivot from supplying top restaurants to home delivery.
Suddenly produce that chefs always got first dibs – and the best prices – on is available to us at home, often at unheard of prices. The best part is, we can dine like kings knowing that we are supporting small-scale producers, artisans, generations-old family businesses and time-honoured regional food traditions for the future.
Cut-price caviar? We’re in. For those with the means, there’s never been a better time to buy caviar. Before the pandemic, Laura King of King’s Fine Food, the largest importer of caviar into the UK and longtime supplier to the likes of Le Gavroche and The Ritz, ordered in some 80kg of Imperial caviar for her Michelin-starred chef clients in Paris.
When the crisis took hold, she had no choice but to “slash prices to trade prices and under”. She’s now selling that very same caviar at £600/kg down from £1500/kg (i.e. from £30-£75 for a good-sized tin). Other offers include Oscietra (£900/kg, down from £1750/kg) and Siberian sturgeon caviar (£585/kg, down from £1500/kg). What’s been nice, says King, has been selling to new customers who wouldn’t be able to splash out on three different types to compare and contrast.
Start your weekend in style with a luxurious brunch of soft-boiled or scrambled eggs with caviar, or make your own blinis for a birthday or anniversary dinner in splendid isolation.
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