Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

RISE OF THE GOLDEN RAISIN; It's the Capital's Latest Hip Ingredient - Exotic in Origin, Versatile and a Favourite among Top Chefs at London Restaurants. All This Star Fruit Now Needs Is for Jamie, Delia or Nigella to Use It, Says Victoria Stewart

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

RISE OF THE GOLDEN RAISIN; It's the Capital's Latest Hip Ingredient - Exotic in Origin, Versatile and a Favourite among Top Chefs at London Restaurants. All This Star Fruit Now Needs Is for Jamie, Delia or Nigella to Use It, Says Victoria Stewart

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Stewart

IT IS the supermodel of the dried fruit family: blonde, sweet, a touch vain and ready to strike a different pose for whoever's cooking. If you thought raisins were just wrinkly grapes that sat among the mixed nuts on a supermarket shelf, think again. The golden raisin is London's latest hip ingredient.

Whereas the normal raisin is simply a dried red grape (sultanas being dried white grapes which have been oxidised), a golden one is more highmaintenance, treated with sulphur dioxide and oven-dried to give it a glowing golden amber colour.

In America, it is considered a staple baking ingredient, with tweeters comparing recipes for fruit loaf, carrot cake, cookies and even preserve every minute. But here in London, where the foodstuff has hardly hit the high street, top chefs at some of the city's exclusive restaurants are incorporating these crinkly companions into a la carte menus. Last month, Claire Lara's dish of goat's cheese ravioli with golden raisin puree helped her win Masterchef: The Professionals.

Camilla Grey, strategist at Moving Brands, explains that, like the blueberry and the acai berry before it, the golden raisin is really a designer food but that is no bad thing. "This is good -- the raisin has such bad press. Like fashion trends, which start with top designers, food is often experimented with among high-end chefs before being adapted by celebrity chefs. Before you know it, it is something everybody knows about," admits Grey.

So far it is only a precious few, as Lara agrees. "The golden raisin is underused. It is less sickly sweet than a normal raisin and lends itself to lots of things like cheese, scallops, spices and bitter chocolate."

If you have deep pockets and can frequent London's top restaurants, you could taste golden raisins any which way -- pureed, tea-infused or as part of a salad dressing. Jonas Karlsson, executive chef at Fifth Floor Restaurant, Harvey Nichols, says he uses a pureed South African variety to accompany his dish of halibut, leeks and watercress because "the golden colour looks good on the plate and it is sweet so it goes well in combination with sharper flavours". …

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