With Christmas looming and the New Year soon to follow, I thought I’d write about my favourite and most memorable plates from the past year – essentially, my year in food! It’s been a really bizarre, chaotic year full of a lot of completely new experiences and it’s one I’ll definitely remember. Here are just a few snippits:
This year, food wise, has been a big one for me – I’ve started eating things I never thought I would, like black pudding and scallops, and I tried things that were just unspeakable, like snails. I have always been against seafood 100% and yet in the past year I have eaten prawns, scallops and squid! Outside the world of food it’s been a pretty big year too. I travelled to the other side of the world, I got a brand spanking new job and moved in to my own place – rented, not owned, I’m not rich!
So, in rough chronological order, here are my top plates of 2014 – and why.
Pork Knee Roast on Black Beer
It’s hard to believe this was actually in 2014 because it feels like a lifetime ago. As Sam’s Christmas present, we went to Prague in January where we had some absolutely amazing food, including my first taste of goose! The most memorable plate though was definitely at the Medieval Tavern, where we had a 4 course meal – one of the most fun nights we’ve had, it was so silly and touristy but we loved it. Sam ordered the ‘Pork Knee’ and what arrived was a massive hunk of delicious meat, eaten straight off the bone. It’s a Czech speciality and it is delicious so don’t be put off by the name.
Shepherd’s Purse & Pork Wonton
Back in April, my friend Vicky and I went to Australia and New Zealand together. While in Brisbane, we decided to go to New Shanghai, which we heard was really popular. It was my first taste of proper, quality dim sum. The wontons were steamed and then tossed in peanut butter, red chilli oil and spice. They were so yummy and every time I think about them, it just reminds me of the amazing time I had on the other side of the world!
Red Label Pepperoni Burger
I have to admit, it wasn’t until my third visit to Bread Meats Bread that I truly fell in love with it. I tried chicken and pork dishes from them on my first couple of trips which was naturally, a mistake. When I first tried the Pepperoni Burger though, I was sold. The red label meat with the N’Duja sausage through it is to die for and this burger is just the perfect combination of everything I want: garlic brioche, melty mozzarella, pomodora sauce and parmesan. Throw in a side of sweet potato fries and you’re onto a winner. This quickly became one of Sam and I’s favourite eating spots for a quick bite.
Chocolate & Coconut Cake
This is no ordinary cake, this is a Choccy Woccy Doo Dah cake – in other words, cake heaven. They only have cafés in London and Brighton, which is unfortunate, but if there were one nearby, I would be a lot heavier. The huge slice of cake came covered in fruit coulis and melted white, milk AND dark chocolate – it was absolutely heavenly. It’s a memorable plate for me because I visited the shop while on placement at the BBC Good Food mag – a dream come true for me – and that cake just reminds me of how much fun I had.
Slow Roast Pork Belly
As soon as I saw the Ox and Finch menu, I was desperate to visit and when I finally got around to it, I was not disappointed. My favourite plate by far was the delicious pork belly, with white onion puree, golden raisins and capers. YUM! Every time I see pork belly on a menu, I just can’t resist ordering it and I was really impressed with the presentation, the service and the overall experience – I wish I had the chance to sample some of their special festive dishes and I can’t wait to give their new breakfast menu a try!
Two Fats Grand Dessert
As a birthday treat this year, Sam took me to the Two Fat Ladies – a restaurant I had wanted to try for years! Not only was this memorable simply because it was my birthday, but also because I had one of the best desserts there I have ever had! We couldn’t decide which of the four desserts we wanted, so we ordered all four and before you ask, it is an actual menu option, we weren’t just being greedy! All four items were delicious and we devoured that plate of sweet treats!
Amy’s Venison Pie
After creating and testing this recipe three times, I was finally pleased with my own Venison Pie. I don’t create recipes very often, mainly because there are already so many great ones out there, but also because it can be so hard to just the quantities of things. All that being said, I was really proud of how this pie turned out and after testing it on Sam, my friends and my mum, it has now become my signature dish. It’s very rich and perfect for the cold winter months – you can take a look at my recipe here.
Peelham Farm Pork
Sounds pretty simple, but this was one of the most complex and beautiful dishes I’ve had this year. It was part of my adventures in the Edinburgh Restaurant Festival – for which the Dining Room at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society were offering a special discount on their set menu. The pork was in three different forms: pork belly, pork faggots and proscuitto. It was paired with pumpkin, walnut toast, kale and a delicious sauce. It was an absolute gem and I was not lying when I said I would happily eat it over again every day!
Scallops with Haggis and Black Pudding
If you had told me a year ago that I would eat a dish with those three things on it, I would have laughed in your face. Ever since I was a kid, I have hated black pudding, hated haggis and hated all forms of seafood – I know, that must make me the worst Scot, right? Then I went to Wild Cabaret a month ago and I ordered that starter. I didn’t really like the sound of the other starters and at this point, I was more or less on-board with black pudding, so I decided to be adventurous and it was honestly beautiful. The scallops had no fishy after-taste or smell, just a lovely, delicate flavour complimented by black pudding and crispy haggis. This is a very memorable plate for me because it was the first time I really enjoyed seafood.
Vanilla Panna Cotta
To round off my year in food and the most memorable plates of 2014, my perfect panna cotta. It’s always been one of my favourite desserts and I had never been bold enough to try making it until just over a week ago. I can’t tell you how pleased I was when those little panna cotta came sliding out of their moulds perfectly set and with a fantastic wobble. The recipe was, in all honesty, very easy, and I think they are a lot easier to make than I previously thought – probably based on the many panna cotta disasters witnessed on Masterchef. Anyway, I’m very proud of these little desserts and the memory of them on the plate will stick with me!
There you have it – a taste of 2014, a year in food! I’m looking forward to dedicating more time to my blog in 2015. I’ve got lots of plans and ideas up my sleeve including more recipes and fun, interactive posts! Thank you to my friends, family and followers for continuing to support me and Merry Christmas – I hope you all stuff your face with plenty of turkey and treats!