In this issue, new Defender is put through its paces by two inspirational young adventurers as they prepare for an expedition to the South Pole. We also celebrate 50 years of Range Rover by taking a journey of discovery to Dubai. As well as looking back, we look to future as a group of visionaries explain the technologies that could change the future for all of us.
My journey begins at
My journey begins at Native, with Davis and Tisdall-Downes proffering a generously filled bowl of ants, and inviting me to take the leap. “We were sent them by our forager and they just blew me away,” says Davis. “It’s like a pop of lemon sherbet. The formic acid that’s their defence mechanism gives them this natural zing.” Eating an ant is a jolting, pleasant blast of sharp citrus that far outstrips its diminutive size. It’s like a magic trick – and even more impressive, later on, working against the creamy sweetness of a mushroom crémeux pudding dotted with ants that you could probably mistake for nigella seeds. Davis and Tisdall-Downes – who have had glowing notices from the likes of Nigella Lawson – acknowledge that ‘the surprise element’ is part of the appeal of the wood ants in their desserts. But, just as with the pickled snails they have deployed to bulk out steak tartare and the squirrel meat they worked into a lasagne, the impetus comes from a pragmatic desire to work with native ingredients and be less wasteful. “The ants have that acidic element that we struggle to get with British produce,” says Tisdall-Downes. “And, compared to an imported lemon, their carbon footprint is minimal. So it’s about bringing more foraged and wild ingredients into our larder, not turning it into a gimmick.” For European restaurants such as Native and Mana – Noma-trained Simon Martin’s “FRIED CRICKETS HAVE BEEN THE GATEWAY DRUG FOR BUDDING INSECT GOURMETS” Dier Makr’s beetroot and cricket theatrical Manchester establishment, which earned the city a first Michelin Star with a pine cone and wood ant dessert – insects are an attempt to reconnect Western food culture with fragments of its lost past; something to be filed alongside voguish menu items such as kelp, sea buckthorn and beeswax. This motive also partially applies to Dier Makr in Hobart, Tasmania: an internationally renowned operation where indigenous grubeating traditions and a New Nordic sensibility combine in dishes such as spiced cricket paste served with carrots and allium purée. But, of course, in many countries entomophagy isn’t some daredevil novelty to be exhumed from the history books. It’s estimated that two billion people worldwide regularly eat bugs – whether it’s the hot bags of fried weevils at Thai hawker markets or dry-roasted termites in Kenya. Mexico is an exemplar in this respect; it’s thought that more than 500 types of insects are consumed in the country. The enduring popularity of Mexican cuisine has led to various bugs infiltrating menus as far and wide as New York (in the famed grasshopper taco at The Black Ant) and Madrid (at Michelin-starred Punto MX, where ground flying ants have adorned monkfish aguachile). Which, in a roundabout way, is how I have ended up in Ella Canta – Mexican chef Martha Ortiz’s clubby, luxury outpost in London’s Mayfair – staring down a bowl of guacamole, studded with two crispy, gold-sprayed grasshoppers. “The idea was that it would be like a Mexican jewel,” explains Ortiz, spurring me on. “I knew it would evoke curiosity. But, when I was a child, we would often have insects on the table like salt and pepper. And I’ve seen some guests fight over who gets to have the grasshopper.” I pick up one brittle bug carcass, scoop on some avocado and pop it in. It has a welcome, barbecued musk and an echo of porkscratching flavour. It’s easy to see why fried grasshoppers and crickets have often been Avocado tartare with ants at Quintonil the gateway drug for the world’s budding insect gourmets. So does this all mean that – buoyed by the nose-to-tail movement and the intrepid influence of try-anything celebrity figures such as the late Anthony Bourdain – diners in the West are getting less squeamish? Tisdall- Downes isn’t so sure. “I’ve had things like mealworms and, even for me, biting them feels crazy,” he says. And it’s worth noting that most startups in the booming edible insect industry (predicted to be worth £1.2bn by next year) are focusing on aesthetically vague flours, pâtés and energy bars that don’t require you to bite down on exoskeleton. But, in an age when food delivery apps are threatening the world of traditional dining, insect gastronomy gives restaurants a silver bullet of irreplicable excitement. “A month ago, a woman who had our tasting menu didn’t actually realise she’d eaten ants,” says Davis. “And when I told her afterwards, she just squealed in both delight and horror.” That kind of exhilarated reaction is an ingredient most chefs will struggle to resist. So make no mistake. Perhaps fittingly, this is a movement with legs. Lamb brain with mealworms at Alchemist 66 67
Land Rover Magazine showcases stories from around the world that celebrate inner strength and the drive to go Above and Beyond.
In this issue, New Defender is put through its paces by two inspirational young adventurers as they prepare for an expedition to the South Pole. We also celebrate 50 years of Range Rover by taking a journey of discovery to Dubai. As well as looking back, we look to future as a group of visionaries explain the technologies that could change the future for all of us.