What they ate this month: Mintel analysts’ food adventures – March 2020

March 23, 2020
7 min read

In this series, Mintel analysts share their recent food adventures – highlighting the exciting, delicious,  intriguing and the not-so great food and drink they’ve tried lately.

While these food adventures took place before COVID-19’s impact on the foodservice industry, we hope this gives you a little kitchen inspiration as we wait for our favorite restaurants to safely re-open.

Cheese ice creams before dinner – Bologna, Italy

Kate Vlietstra, Global Food and Drink Analyst, UK

My colleague took me to the famous Trattoria Da Me in Bologna to sample some of chef Elisa Rusconi’s innovative dishes. The Italian television show 4 Ristoranti propelled Da Me to fame in 2018 so we were lucky to get a table. Upon reading the menu, I was immediately intrigued to try the cheese ice cream starter. The platter of three ice creams, fig marmalade, hazelnuts and wafers arrived with a recommendation from the waitress to try the ice creams in order of strength, much as you would with a regular cheese board. The mildest option, the sheep’s milk cheese ice cream, was pleasant and inoffensive; I polished off my portion without trouble. The goat’s milk option was reminiscent of a goat’s cheese left at the back of a fridge that had been accidentally frozen. The gorgonzola ice cream, however, was fabulous. Creamy and rich with the distinctive blue flavour, it was perfectly paired with the richness of the sweet fig marmalade.

I would definitely eat this option again but I’d prefer it as a hybrid dessert/cheese board option rather than as a starter. Consumers around the world are looking for less-sweet options in a bid to wean themselves off sugary snacks. Savoury innovation in a sugar-dominated category such as ice cream therefore has the potential to offer an indulgent treat to these consumers.

When in Mexico, do as the Mexicans do – Mexico City, Mexico

Jenny Zegler, Associate Director, Global Food and Drink, US

Vicky Chamoy, a beer from Grupo Modelo’s Victoria brand, that is said to reflect the unique flavor of Mexican culture. The top-billed flavors are tamarind and Chamoy, a Mexican sauce often made from pickled fruit.

I found the sour and slightly spicy beer to be surprisingly refreshing, almost like a kombucha. Chamoy is a Mexican sauce that has a unique blend of sweet, salty, spicy and sour flavors, and that sensation was in every sip of this low alcohol 2.5% alcohol by volume beer. While a reflection of Mexican culture, I think the flavor could appeal to people who like the complex fermented flavors of kombucha or sour beer.

I would love to try this again, especially on a hot summer day – hopefully alongside some delicious Mexican food.

Jammy eggs for dinner! – London, UK

Trish Caddy, Senior Foodservice Analyst, UK

Eggs aren’t just for breakfast. The jammy yolks of soft-boiled eggs are breaking into contemporary British menus as eggy starters, small plates and main courses. British-Thai restaurant Smoking Goat’s use of a just-runny-enough soft-boiled egg to cover its smoked aubergine salad with chili, served as a cold vegetarian starter.

Even fish dishes are getting in on the “egg-tion”. Restaurant and wine bar Two Lights has made it a delicacy for diners to sop up a runny yolk with its grilled cornish squid, pickled turnips, cabbage and bacon broth.

Instead of dousing beef in gravy, some restaurants are using the super-flavourful jammy yolk as a substitute for sauce. For example, British small plate restaurant Duck Soup’s rare hanger steak served on a bed of agretti (monks beard), with anchovy vinaigrette dressing benefits from a runny egg.

It’s unusual to find eggs in other mealtimes beyond breakfast and it is refreshing to see greater use of this versatile ingredient in more recipes. I like knowing that I can have eggs for dinner if I’m feeling fancy.


A 75-minute, 17-course sushi omakase (chef’s choice) meal – Chicago, US

Amanda Topper, Associate Director of Foodservice Research, US

My meal at Sushi Suite 202 was one of the most memorable and entertaining meals I’ve had. Sushi Suite is a permanent sushi speakeasy housed inside a hotel suite (located inside Hotel Lincoln in Chicago). The sushi bar only seats six people and there are six seatings per night. Diners with a reservation grab a room key from the hotel’s front desk and make their way to room 202. Inside is a small bar, a lounge area, and the intimate sushi bar. After enjoying a drink from the bar or the self-service sake machine, you’re seated at the sushi bar for 17 courses of nigiri prepared in front of you. The menu changes often based on ingredient availability including fish flown in from across the globe and wagyu beef. From tuna belly and salmon to uni (sea urchin) and scallops, each bite was even better than the last.

Sushi omakase experiences can often feel pretentious or stuffy. The Sushi Suite 202 experience is meant to be fun, casual and interactive. I loved being able to watch the chef methodically make each piece of nigiri and ask him questions about what we were eating. In such an intimate setting you really get to know the restaurant staff and your fellow diners as well. In 2020, restaurants need to be more than just a place to eat; Sushi Suite 202 is a great example of a restaurant creating a unique and hospitable experience to appeal to diners.

Cereal milk ice cream, with unique nostalgic flavor – New York City, US

Ana Paula Gilsogamo – Food and Drink Analyst, Brazil 

The cereal milk ice cream has a special indulgent and nostalgic flavor.  Not that sweet, almost a little bit sour, topped with non-sugared corn cereal that gives it an extra crunch. Its nostalgic flavor comes from the milk, which is basically the milk that’s left in the cereal bowl from the cereal remnants. And how do I know that? Because I (and every other person in the store that day) watched Milk Bar’s story on Chef’s Table pastry episode on Netflix. The store, with its decoration, sweets and deserts, is very Instagramable, and capitalized on consumers’ desires to post on their social media that they ate in a place made famous by Netflix.

I would definitely love to visit again. All the other deserts are very beautiful and colorful, but too sweet for me, so I will stick with having the ice cream.


Indulging in the perfect South African comfort food – Cape Town, South Africa

Jill Failla, Foodservice Analyst, US

I ate this Cape Malay Muslim meal called ‘Bobotie’ in Cape Town, this past January. It’s a baked turmeric rice dish with minced beef and egg custard, flavored with warm seasoning like curry, coriander, ginger and cinnamon. I found it incredibly tasty, and pretty much the definition of comfort food. Apparently it was also one of Nelson Mandela’s favorite meals. I would love to see it appear in more US cities in the coming years.

A classic Jewish food in a taco – New York City, US

Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, Global Food Analyst, US

They’re doing some amazingly creative food at Empellon, blending American dishes with Mexican influences and ingredients to create something remarkable and brand-new. Case in point: the pastrami taco. This dish transforms a classic Jewish food into a taco and somehow manages to retain the tradition of the original dish into something that feels intentional and not gimmicky in any way. There’s still mustard, but it’s made into a salsa. The rest of the menu is full of similar transformations, from the nachos with uni “queso” and the queso fundido served with steak tartare.


Mintel News

For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel’s team of global category analysts.

More from Mintel
  • Mintel Store
    Mintel Store
    Get smart fast with our exclusive market research reports, delivering the latest data, innovation, trends and strategic recommendations....
    View reports
  • Mintel Leap
    Mintel Leap is a revolutionary new AI-powered platform that will transform your research process....
    Book a demo
Subscribe to Mintel Spotlight
Related articles
May 21, 2024
Innovations in texture were a break-out trend from the Sweets & Snacks Expo 2024 hosted May 14-16 in Indianapolis, Indiana. From freeze-dried candy to melty baked goods, texture was a…
May 13, 2024
Who wants ice cream? Well, if we look at global ice cream consumption, the answer is: almost everyone! According to Mintel’s consumer research, nine in ten UK consumers enjoyed an…
May 10, 2024
As Indian consumers become increasingly health-conscious, the salty snacks market is undergoing a significant transformation. The traditional reliance on palm oil as a key ingredient in snacks is being questioned.

Download the Latest Market Intelligence