Just when you thought that street food pop-ups, build-your-own-tasting-menus and fish cooked with nothing but lime and love was enough, that crazy culinary world has thrown another trend into the pot. The brainy dinner.
Now before we get our offal in a twist, I'm not talking about eating actual brains (don't care if this makes me a terrible food writer, just cant) but adding an intellectual element to the dining experience. From what I have found out thus far, this can vary - from a prolific photographer talking snappy snaps to an expert in farming masticating over the meat industry - but it basically involves tucking in whilst you learn something.
My first experience of this was at the upmarket Covent Garden curry house, Moti Mahal. Under Head Chef Anirudh Arora, the restaurant (which opened in 2005) has been much praised for its menu, which focuses largely on Arora's passion for the cuisine of India's famed Grand Truck Road. On the eve of my visit, I was not only treated to some pretty spectacular spiced fare but a talk by Tim Smith - photographer for the Observer and enthusiast for all things along the trunk road.
Part of a series, which will focus on different elements of the Grand Truck Road's history and its relation to the cuisine that Moti Mahal serves, Tim's talk focused largely on his tour of the famous dirt track. Whilst we supped champagne and nibbled on crispy balls of cumin-laced deliciousness, he took us through a line up of mouth-dropping photographs and the stories behind them.
Not only was Tim a lovely chap, but what he had to say about getting a compelling shot was, well, genuinely compelling. He also knew when to put a cap on it, meaning by the time the food came our attention spans were still spinning enough to take in the food. Or should we say feast... deep-fried jumbo chillis and fat golden aubergine slices, a Dahl of black lentils oozing with ghee, stretchy rounds of fresh naan, lamb biryani slick with meaty flavour, tandoor-browned poussin, a rich stew of wild boar balanced with a dash of vinegar paraded themselves one by one. Then creamy mini-milk shaped kulfis in pistachio, mango and gulukand and honey.
Next up for foodtellectuals (yep, just made that up) is The Future of Meat on 5th April - the newest event from the Young-British-Foodie-Nominated TOAST. They are teaming up with Hawksmoor and The Ginger Pig for a brunch with a difference, delving into the future of the meat industry.
Debating horsemeat burgers, grasshopper canapés and mince grown in petri dishes will be - The Ginger Pig owner Tim Wilson, Hawksmoor's Group Executive Chef Richard Turner and CEO of Compassion in World Farming and Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat author Philip Lymbery.
These three massive members of the meateratti (yep, that one too) will debate the issue at Hawksmoor Guildhall, whilst those who have purchased a ticket (£40) sup on expertly blended Bloody Marys from the bar. And once they've got to the heart of the matter, everyone will sit down to a hearty brunch designed to show how meat can be used sparingly to create a sumptuous feast. This will come from the Hawksmoor kitchens using The Ginger Pig products, so expect the pig cheek scrapple with grits, short-rib bubble and squeak and homemade baked beans to be of the highest quality.
Like the idea of chewing the cud whilst chewing? Tickets for The Future of Meat are on sale now at http://www.eatdrinktoast.com/events or check out http://motimahal-uk.com/ for information on upcoming talks.
So there you have it, a trend for the thinking glutton. I predict big things.