This week I have been pondering the latest fashion in restaurant offers to help shape a project that I am working on.

The whole seasonal, local sourcing remains front of mind for most food innovation and is still cited by many as the trend but the truth is that it should now simply be a way of life for anyone worth their weight in the food world.

The Meatball Shop, NYC

Most menus now read like an essay with locally sourced precursors added to each & every item listed and I find myself slightly bored by it all. I tend to be drawn to restaurants that specialise in a unique cuisine or one key dish I like such as roast chicken or meatballs rather than the more generic menus simply because I can’t get excited by these any more….and I can’t guarantee a good meal.

So where does local, seasonal go from here?

I think the next iteration of that fashion is regionality. Not just regional ingredients but regional recipes made with seasonal, local, regional ingredients. I think at times of hardship, when we are watching the pennies, and feeling a little bit sorry for ourselves, we want comforting food. This inevitably harks back to our upbringing and local homely dishes that our mothers, or grandmothers made.

Heston’s Meat Fruit

The best example of a restaurant harking back to recipes of old is Dinner. You can always depend on Heston Blumenthal to be at the forefront, but what is so reassuring is that he thinks that it is indeed these recipes that are the ones to take us into the future. You only have to see the almost iconic status that his Meat Fruit recipe has achieved to think there must be something in all of this.

I was specifically looking at the North East region for my latest project and it is interesting that the more isolated parts of the British Isles are those that have the really big signature recipes. Cornish Pasties….Lancashire hotpot….Yorkshire pudding….they all have a history in their roots and a place in our hearts.

Inevitably it is the baking elements that are the most embedded in our psyche and I guess that is because of the romantic notion of Mum baking at home and the sensory memory that evokes. It’s why I am not surprised at the success of the Great British Bake Off and all those classic dishes they make. In the North East they have the stottie and that will definitely be featuring in my new project.

This week I also went to the Real Bread Festival at the Southbank. Those Real Food people have extended the now permanent Real Food Market under the Royal Festival Hall awnings to include other specialist markets on the calendar including bread, chocolate, tea & coffee and cheese & wine. Sadly there wasn’t the range of bread specialists that I was expecting, rather a tiny handful of passionate bakers selling their wares. It all felt a little sad and left me wondering how these people really make a living.

So let’s resurrect the Mrs Beeton in us and go back to those home baking recipes that conjure up memories of old. Instead of croissants and brownies, how about scones and eccles cakes? The cupcake is evolving into the fairy cake for some bakers so there must be hope for us all.

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