What’s the secret new doughnut this Norwich chef has created?
First there was a crab doughnut which proved to be a major hit, then came a meat one and now... make way for a veggie version for 2020.
One of the biggest successes of the year for Iain McCarten, head chef at the Last Brasserie in St George's Street was his zany idea back in September of stuffing a home-made sourdough ball with crab meat drizzled with a lemon puree. Along with the re-opening of the brasserie, the unusual appetiser became a culinary masterpiece with people booking meals purely to get a taste of one.
Then, last month, Mr McCarten had to take the drastic step of removing it from the menu when locally sourced crab went out of season. But diners weren't disappointed when he came up with a heartier, meaty version made from oxtail and beef dripping soaked in gravy and served with a chilli and oyster mayonnaise. That's currently also going down a storm but the secret is out as Mr McCarten has dreamed up yet another doughnut foodie delight for the New Year. However, you won't see it on the menu as it forms part of the 'secret' dishes being offered by chefs across Norfolk from January to March as part of a local gastro scheme.
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Available from January will be the Norfolk Shiitake Doughnut, a vegetarian option made with the same sourdough base filled with shiitake mushrooms, native to East Asia but specially grown in Norfolk, a mushroom custard, Marmite powder, truffle mayonnaise and garlic chives. It's nearly all Norfolk produce but just with a little vegetarian version of Italian pecorino cheese shavings on the top.
"I'm doing a vegetarian doughnut after the huge success of the crab and then the oxtail and oyster doughnuts," said Mr McCarten. "People have been asking me to do a veggie version so this has been perfect timing."
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To order the veggie doughnut, you simply have to say 'Secret Menu Norfolk' as part of a county-wide scheme whereby restaurants offer 'under the counter' food items not listed on their menus. The scheme was devised by Love Norwich Food, which celebrates food and eateries across the county.
But what next for Mr McCarten? The now famous crab doughnut will return in April but will he also come up with a good old-fashioned jam doughnut as a dessert? Watch this space.