Food finds, from a microdistillery in rural Japan to new openings in Ibiza, Vienna and Avignon.
Hiroshi Eguchi is in his garden in Otaki, Japan. “Smell this,” he says, holding out a leaf. “It’s Ceylon cinnamon. Normally you use the bark. I want to use the stems and leaves.”
Eguchi’s 1.5-hectare property is the backdrop for Mitosaya, Japan’s only micro-distillery of fruit and botanical brandies. Since moving here with his family in 2017 he has identified more than 500 plants on the property, most by smell and taste. In this former botanical garden, everything is a potential ingredient: sansho, sweet osmanthus, tachibana orange. Almost everything, that is. “I’ve been to hospital twice: for sucking on an ephedra plant and eating herb of grace,” he says.
It’s early days for Mitosaya, which is named after Eguchi’s two daughters. He only got his licence last November but what he’s produced so far is excellent. Each batch is a fragrant expression of the persimmons and citrus fruit from nearby orchards.
The 47-year-old never thought he’d start a distillery. He just wanted to do something creative that didn’t involve Utrecht, his Tokyo bookshop, or organising the Tokyo Art Book Fair, which he co-founded. A magazine article provided the hint. “I read about Christoph Keller’s Stählemühle distillery in Germany and later tasted its eau de vie. It was so good – and the label was beautiful.”
When chef Christina Nasr and wine buff Andreas Schwarz decided to set up on their own, they had more than 20 years of friendship and collaboration behind them. As a result Alma, their bistro-cum-wine bar in Vienna’s up-and-coming fourth district, feels more like an extended living room for them.
“It’s a private space where we make our guests feel like our friends,” says Nasr. Seating about 30 people, Alma offers natural organic wine selected by Schwarz, as well as Mediterranean-inspired sourdough tartines and other snacks with a focus on regional produce. With whitewashed walls, tiled floor and veg-centric creations, the pair have created a clever concept that feels a world (and a century) ahead of some of the more traditional Viennese haunts in the vicinity.
150g plain flour
125g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 medium eggs
50g candied orange peel, chopped into 5mm pieces
1 orange, peel grated
75g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
30g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
80g chocolate (your choice of milk/dark), roughly chopped
1 espresso, to serve
Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan).
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs until the mixture comes together.
Mix in the candied orange, grated orange peel and pistachios. Stir in the dark chocolate but don’t over work.
Shape the dough into a 30cm-long log (approximately 5cm wide and 2cm thick) and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven, slide the paper and biscotti onto a wire rack and cool for 20 to 30 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 150C (130C fan).
When the biscotti is cool enough to handle (but not completely cooled), cut it into 2cm-thick slices with a serrated knife.
Place the biscotti slices back on the wire rack, cut side up, and bake for a further 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool on the wire rack.
Place the remaining chocolate into a glass or ceramic bowl. Bring a small pan of water to the boil over a medium heat. Reduce the heat and place the bowl of chocolate on top of the pan until the chocolate melts.
Drizzle the chocolate over the biscotti and leave them to cool on baking paper. Serve with an espresso. Keep the biscotti in an airtight container to store.
Le Violette is in the stone ramparts of Avignon and housed in a pair of 18th-century mansions containing La Collection Lambert: an impressive project by gallerist and art collector Yvon Lambert. Chef Nicolas Samurkas, formerly of Paris’s Palais de Tokyo, has developed a menu where the Med meets east Asia; try the Argentinian prawn tempura and spicy mayonnaise. Everything tastes better in the sunlit courtyard but if there is a chill in the air, move inside for 1960s furnishings. collectionlambert.fr
Veteran Toronto chef Joe Kim opened his fast-casual counter Hawk & Chick to serve the Korean and Japanese dishes he grew up with. “A lot of the influences are from the city itself,” he says of the Little Portugal takeaway spot he runs with his wife and parents. “I didn’t think there were enough fast-food options in the city that were refined and focused.”
1426 Dundas Street West
Danish chef Boris Buono often sends his friendly staff down the cobbled streets to fetch customers searching for his semi-hidden restaurant. The two-storey space is tucked away in Ibiza’s old town and provides refuge from the island’s trademark revelry. But if the dancefloor beckons, the organic cocktail menu can help.
Charlie and Harry Nissen experimented with preserving vegetables, brewing beer and curing meat before friends nudged them to explore chocolate. “We couldn’t find a product that had responsibly sourced ingredients and tasted how we wanted,” says Harry. So in 2012 the duo founded bean-to-bar chocolate factory Hunted + Gathered and opened a café in 2017. The monochrome packaging is a precursor to the pure, premium chocolate contained within: the bars are made from just three to five ingredients. All organic, of course.