Alan Coxon – ‘Food Archaeologist’, TV Chef, presenter and writer – tells us what would be on his menu of gourmet dishes and ingredients from around the world that you must try before you die!
France: cepe cream
I could have easily given an extensive list of delicious items that I have eaten around France over the years, ranging from a flash fried foie gras flamed with calvados and served with caramelised apples, or the perfectly cooked roasted poulet noir with such an exceptional taste of chicken that I had never previously experienced before, or for that matter, ever since!
However, I have selected one of the most memorable mouthfuls that has ever crossed my lips; a cepe cream from the restaurant Apicius in Paris.
This cepe cream had the colour of milky coffee and a mild woody aroma with gentle hints of smokiness; my silver spoon gently glided into the little pot, slipping through an unctuous mixture that had the density of clotted cream.
The texture on the tongue was a mix of silk and velvet with such clean distinct flavours of the cepe, simplicity married with genius and most certainly an indulgence to try before you die!
Grab flights to Paris to sample a cepe cream now!
Japan: matured wagyu beef
The list here could be endless and the fresh giant abalone baked under a crust of seaweed and salt came close, but the winner by a nori leaf has to be the matured, aged wagyu beef cooked at the small and private tepanyaki restaurant located at the Shangri-La hotel in Tokyo.
This incredibly tender meat perfectly seasoned and cooked, melted on the tongue, a dish that halted all conversation in its tracks only to be replaced by gentle moans and groans of indulgent ecstasy. Ooishii yo!
Hop on flights to Japan to enjoy some wagyu beef.
USA: Pastrami sandwich with truffle oil and parmesan fries
Whilst it may appear relatively strange to find such an offering on my top list of items to “try before you die”, the pastrami sandwich with truffle oil and parmesan fries has been as memorable as any of my dining experiences!
It was a restaurant between Soho and Chelsea in New York called the Chelsea Deli where I sampled this most sumptuous of sandwiches. It was typically rather large by European or even global standards; oozing with the most tender and superb tasting hand-carved meat, layered between warm, fresh, sourdough bread and thickly layered mustard mayonnaise, it was certainly enough for two!
The crisp golden fries cooked in truffle oil filled the summer air with a warm musty aroma given off by the revered dark black fungus, and topped with finely and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Whilst I had only intended to eat half of both the fries and sandwich, I couldn’t resist these quality ingredients and the winning combination that makes it a must to try before you die!
Want to try this sandwich for yourself? Grab flights to New York now.
Turkey: Turkish delight filled with clotted cream
Turkey has a wonderful cuisine and ingredients but one of its most famous exports has to be Turkish delight. Whilst many people have tasted a version of this confection, I urge you to visit Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir in the old quarter of Istanbul. The shop has been making and selling Turkish delight since 1777 and very little has changed either in the shop or with the recipes. Whilst all types of Turkish are very good, the delight you must try before you die is a gently rolled lokum filled with clotted cream.
I must admit that when offered the confection I initially thought that this may be a little over the top, but the moment it went into my mouth, the combination of smooth sensual textures, richness and delectable flavours had me gasping for more, unlike any other sweet I have ever tasted, whilst possibly being one of the naughtiest!
Want to enjoy the delights of Turkey? Grab flights to Istanbul now.
South Africa: Butter Fish
South Africa is a country of diversity and needless to say its vast influence shows within its cuisine. It is a country that lies close to my heart and I have been fortunate to visit and film cookery shows across this vast nation for nearly 12 years now.
Needless to say I have enjoyed or at least tasted some very interesting food items along the way, from the wallpaper paste known as “pap” to roasted Giraffe (which tastes like roast beef). I have also enjoyed some stunning and simply cooked spring bok, kudu, ostrich, alligator and warthog to name but a few, but moving from land to sea, the butter fish is certainly the one to try before you die. This firm but tender fish is called butter fish for a reason; it simply melts in the mouth; as they say in SA – it’s divine!
Butter fish sound good to you? Find flights to South Africa now!
UK: Old English Ale-Gar
This will appear totally self-indulgent and biased beyond belief, but if I can’t shout about it – who can? I have created an ultimate and unique ingredient called “Mediaeval Old English 15th century Ale-Gar”.
Ale-Gar has won 5 gold innovation and superior taste awards to date and is the biggest ‘ale-ternative’ to a Balsamic vinegar in history, in fact pre-dating it by nearly 150 years.
Ale-Gar is created from an ancient ale-based recipe which was soured and used as a preservative. It was once enjoyed by Queen Elizabeth 1st but disappeared into oblivion around the 17th century when it was replaced by imported French vinegars.
Ale-Gar has flavours reminiscent of a wet Christmas pudding, hints of chocolate malt, cinnamon and warmth exuding from oak and smoke from the aged maturing barrel.
It can be used instead of a Balsamic, Worcester sauce or soy sauce. Add a splash to a meat pie or beef casserole; use it as a marinade or drizzled over oysters; or add a dash to your bloody Mar. The unique flavour of Ale-Gar means you really need to try it before you die!
__ __With three cookbooks, an historic food range, along with numerous radio, magazine and live appearances to his name, Alan has cemented his place among cookery’s broadcasting elite. Read more at AlanCoxon.com