A Year In Review | 2015 on Kavey Eats

13 days off from work has been blissful. I started the holidays full of determination to tick things off my To Do list – as always, I have a long list of posts I’m eager to write and share. In the end, I did far less than planned – quickly succumbing to the realisation that I just needed to rest and relax.

It’s been a tiring year, with some tough times but of course, there have been many positives too, and as always, lots of great food, drink and travel.

Before I get too far into 2016, here’s a look back at 2015 on Kavey Eats.

January

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I started off the year with my handy guide to visiting Borough Market, Maltby Street, Bermondsey & Bankside.

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In 2014 I launched a series called Meet The Blogger, interviewing the bloggers behind some of my favourite blogs. I carried this into 2015, but let it fall by the wayside somewhat as the year progressed. One of my goals for 2016 is to resume the series as a regular feature.

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I continued my love affair with Japanese food, visiting Kouzu restaurant in Victoria.

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I reported back on my trip to the beautiful city of Vilnius in Lithuania.

I shared a killer recipe for the richest, densest dark chocolate ice cream ever – simplified to make in a power blender. Pour it into ice lolly moulds for the best ever fudgsicles!

February

Despite it being the shortest month, I crammed a lot into February!

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I started by sharing all the reasons why I love my microwave, asking fellow food writers, bloggers and chefs for their input too.

You may also enjoy my recipe for Easy Microwave Salted Caramels.

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I shared more about the phenomenon of Super Tasting, from a personal perspective.

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One of my most popular posts was this guide on which cuts of beef are best for which kind of recipes, including a few lessons from a master butcher.

There were more restaurant visits – including Japanese yakiniku at Kintan and delicious cocktails and food at Old Tom & English.

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And a warming cider braised pheasant with shallots apples and thyme.

March

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If you don’t already read Fig Jam & Lime Cordial, you should – it’s a wonderful blog written by my friend Celia, who lives in Sydney. Celia has been spreading good cheer, good bread and good friendship by way of deyhdrated portions of her super sourdough starter, Priscilla. In March I introduced you to Pussy Galoaf, as we called our Priscilla offspring. She makes amazing sourdough!

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My Japanese addiction was catered to by way of a Japanese afternoon tea, an umeshu (Japanese plum wine) tasting event and a matcha masterclass by Lalani & Co.

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I absolutely loved the Peruvian-inspired cocktails and food at Pachamama restaurant in London.

Also on the dining out front, I had an incredible supperclub experience at my friend Jason’s Peranakan Palace and tasty Moroccan food at Le Menar.

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My personal favourite recipe of the month was my grandfather’s spicy tomato ketchup, a recipe I’ve been making for several years using tomatoes from our garden. But there was also a lot of interest in this chocolate and coconut dairy-free ice cream, rum optional and my Chorizo, Cod & Pea Fish Pie.

April

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I started the month by sharing some recent instagrams including a visit to the Sky Garden, some juicy lychees, being a judge for the International Chocolate Awards again and a delicious tea tasting wit Momo Cha Fine Teas.

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I swapped my enormous sous vide water bath with a nifty, space-saving and affordable Codlo sous vide adaptor. Codlo is priced at £119, available here.

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This month, my travel piece was a staycation in glorious Glazebrook House Hotel, a luxurious hideaway on the edge of Dartmoor.

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On the recipe front, it was a really simple idea that caught readers’ imaginations this month: I’m not one for green smoothies – the kind featuring kale, spinach, wheatgrass or other green vegetables – but I do like to add matcha into a regular fruit smoothie – for flavour, caffeine and L-theanine – believed to boost concentration.

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By the way, the single best thing that happened last year was nothing to do with food or travel; my gorgeous baby nephew was born! He’s grown up so much as the year has progressed. All of us absolutely adore him!

May

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After a few weeks of play, I published my review of the new Huawei Ascend G7 smartphone. There’s a lot to like, especially at the price point, but a fair few frustrating niggles too.

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Having been a bit remiss in sharing more of our 2014 Iceland trip, I wrote a few more postcards from Iceland for you in May and June.

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2015 has seen me turn more and more often to my trusty Froothie Optimum power blender. Read here for a summary of why it’s so great.

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When Pete and I eat lunch out locally, we tend to favour Japanese. Sushi Mania is a relatively new local restaurant with great food (but frustratingly, consistently poor service).

June

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One of my favourite cookbooks this year has been Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand. This Chicken with Pumpkin, Cream & Gruyère recipe has quickly become a regular weekday supper.

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This month’s travel post is a visual report on our fourth trip to Islay, a beautiful island off Scotland’s West Coast, best known for it’s numerous whisky distilleries.

July

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My most popular post this year has been this guide on how to make pour-over coffee in a Chemex coffeemaker. This beautifully elegant glass jug coffee apparatus looks modern but was invented back in 1941!

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I’m delighted that you’ve also given a big thumbs up to both July’s recipe posts too – Lebanese-inspired Carob Molasses & Tahini Chocolate Brownies and Eton Mess Ice Lollies (strawberries, cream & meringue on a stick, what’s not to like?)

August

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We enjoyed eating out this month. Jamie’s Italian really surprised us; we loved it! We were similarly impressed with Lobos Meat & Tapas next to Borough Market. And the modern Filipino food we tasted at Luzon left us keen to try more.

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Images from
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Since our first visit to Japan back in 2012, I’ve been trying to learn more about sake and to develop my palate and understand my own tastes. In this guide, I’ve shared everything I’ve learned about sake, and given you some handy information about classifications, different varieties and some recommendations too.

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Two key recipes this month. The first is another summery ice lolly, roasted banana and cream paletas – the roasting really intensifies the banana. The second is Lizzie Mabbott’s Chinese Spag Bol from her excellent book, Chinatown Kitchen.

September

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Pete and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary this month. That’s weird mostly because in my head we’re still the barely-adult youths we were when we met!

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Of course, I was still loving Japanese food, this time at Shoryu’s Liverpool Street branch, with proper robata grill.

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I’ve been gradually sharing my experiences in Canada since my September visit, with many more still to come. The first was this delicious sticky buns recipe which we learned from Chef Anna Olson when visiting her and husband Michael Olson’s home in Welland, Niagara.

We also loved dining with a view over London, in the Sky Garden’s Fenchurch restaurant.

October

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I published my first Markets of Canada post, on Montreal’s Marché Jean-Talon.

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My favourite meals out were at newly opened Viet Food in Chinatown.

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Pete and I developed a few new recipes this month, including this absolute winner: quick golden-baked peri peri chicken, yoghurt & rice cake, not only a showstopper but very quick and easy to make too.

November

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The second home-developed recipe was a potato rosti pizza base, not only delicious in its own right but also a great alternative for gluten-free diets.

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From the Canada trip I wrote about my fine dining experience at Toqué restaurant and enthused about another market, Quebec City’s Marché du Vieux-Port plus nearby Île d’Orléans. For a preview of the entire trip, check out the overview I shared.

It was a month of books with reviews and recipes from NOPI: The Cookbook, Wild Drinks & Cocktails and Nikkei: Japanese Food the South American Way.

December

Little Moons Tsuki Mochi on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7671 Little Moons Tsuki Mochi on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7684

You can tell that Japan is never far from my thoughts. I loved telling you about the Japanese legend of the mochi-making rabbit in the moon.

Cookbooks fans will hopefully enjoy my pick of favourite cookbooks from 2015.

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I finished the year with another travel post from my trip to Canada, this time learning about First Nations food and culture at Wendake’s Huron-Wendat Museum.

 

Many thanks to all my readers for visiting Kavey Eats, and especially to those of you who leave me a comment on a post you’ve enjoyed. I appreciate every single one, and love hearing your reactions to recipes, reviews and travel experiences.

Wishing you a happy new year!

Kavey’s 2015 Cookbook Collection

For the last couple of years I’ve been writing the cookery book review slot for Good Things magazine (amongst other series and one off pieces as well). That means I’ve been reviewing lots of wonderful newly published titles, but not always sharing them here on Kavey Eats. So my picks for 2015 include my favourites from those commissioned pieces, plus others I’ve reviewed at home.

I’ve included an Amazon link for each book, but of course you can pop into your local bookshop to pick these up for Christmas presents.

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Undoubtedly, this has been one of my top two books of the year.

I’ve long followed author Kate Doran in the guise of Little Loaf, her popular food blog full of recipes that often make me salivate. The title comes from an old family nickname given to toddler Kate ‘by a great aunt who noticed [her] appetite for bread was bigger than [she] was’. Over time, Kate noticed that the recipes which resonated most strongly with readers were the ones ‘which evoked powerful food memories’. Reading her reminisces about things she loved to eat as a child, readers were reminded of their own childhood memories as they followed the recipes she created. In Homemade Memories Kate distils that nostalgia factor into a truly captivating collection that includes a handful of favourites from The Little Loaf plus over 80 new recipes. Her inspiration comes from two key sources – classic comfort puddings her mum and granny used to make – cakes, crumbles, buns and jellies, and homemade versions of shop bought favourites – Angel Delight, Fruit Pastilles, Jaffa Cakes, Milky Way Bars and many more. Recipes are ordered into chapters covering Crumbs (biscuits), Sticky fingers (handheld treats that will surely leave your fingers covered in sugar, chocolate, icing or syrup), Cakes, Puddings, Ice Creams, Midnight Feasts (chocolates and sweets worth staying up late for) and Drinks. The last chapter is where Kate shares her favourite bread recipe and some handy extras including homemade peanut butter, lemon curd, fruity jam, hot chocolate fudge sauce and vanilla extract. Nearly every recipe has a gorgeous photograph and it’s hard not to bookmark virtually every page. Recipes are accurate and delicious; the Real Bourbon Biscuits – given a grown-up twist by the injection of bourbon whiskey into the filling – were even better than we expected and straightforward and fun to make. This book brings a bit of childhood magic back into your kitchen and is definitely one of my must buys.

Homemade Memories: Childhood Treats With A Twist by Kate Doran is currently available for £15.90 (RRP £18.99). Published by Orion.

 

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Milkshakes just got drunk.’ So says Boozy Shakes author Victoria Glass as she tells us why we should give the milkshakes of our childhood an adult makeover. This books is all about harking back to childhood, getting your retro on and bringing it back to the future! Adding ‘a hearty measure of hard liquor’ to a milkshake offers the best of both worlds and Victoria shares 27 tempting recipes based on sweets, cocktails, desserts, even on music! At the beginning are a set of basic recipes – here you’ll learn how to make ice cream, sorbet, sauces such as chocolate fudge, whisky butterscotch and cherry, Swiss meringue, fruit compote and flavouring syrups. Then it’s on to the shakes themselves, divided into chapters The Candy Bar (based on sweet shop favourites), The Cake Shop, The Cocktail Shaker and Shake Rattle and Roll (where ideas are inspired by classic song titles).

Boozy Shakes by Victoria Glass is currently available for £9.99. Published by Ryland Peters & Small.

 

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Turkish-Australian restaurateur Somer Sivrioğlu and food and travel writer David Dale combined forces to create a book that would help readers understand the food of Turkey and show them how to create classic dishes at home. The result, Anatolia, is a hefty tome bound in beautiful blue fabric and full of vibrant, eye-catching images of Turkey, its people and its food. The generous introduction includes the history of the region, dating back 5 millennia, as a key to understanding the culture and cuisine, familiarisation with core ingredients and equipment and a range of cooking techniques. Then come more thn 150 recipes, each one prefaced by an engaging tale – the origins of the dish and its place in folklore, an anecdote from the authors, a passage about a traditional producer. Incor uyatmasi (sleeping figs) is introduced with a delightful poem that provides the backstory to this simple pudding. Recipes are organised by time of day, from breakfast and lunch through afternoon tea and sweets to dinner. This book is particularly appealing as an insight into the culinary traditions, culture, ingredients and techniques of Turkish cuisine.

Anatolia by Somer Sivrioğlu and David Dale is currently available for £20.40 (RRP £30). Published by Murdoch Books.

 

Cooking for Geeks Jeff Potter

A revised edition of the 2010 original, Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food by Jeff Potter is part cookbook, part science primer as the author investigates the science of food and why ingredients and recipes work the way they do. It’s not only informative to read but educational in a practical sense too though I’d say it’s geared most strongly to those who want to understand the how and why of a recipe or technique more than those who simply want to cook. Don’t expect to find lush colour photographs of delectable recipes – instead most illustrations are appealing hand-drawn sketches, a range of graphs and diagrams and small (and frankly amateurish) black and white photographs but don’t let that put you off; this book is enormously fun and genuinely a joy to read. I am only a couple of chapters in but have particularly enjoyed the passages on the history of recipe writing, medieval cooking and even an interview with Myth Busters’ Adam Savage. One amazon reviewer postulates that “Jeff Potter must be the love child of Julia Child and Albert Einstein” and that’s right on the nose. A great gift for the curious and geeky cook.

Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food by Jeff Porter is currently available for £18.02. Published by  O’Reilly Media.

 

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Another book from a blogger I’ve been following for many years, Chinatown Kitchen is written by Lizzie Mabbott, also known as Hollowlegs. For her first cookbook, Lizzie draws upon her amazing heritage; she is Anglo-Chinese, born in Hong Kong where she spent her formative years growing up not only on Chinese food but also exposed to the many cuisines of South East Asia. At 13 she was transplanted to England, where she has been ever since – albeit with some judicious globetrotting to feed those hollow legs! To describe the book as simply another tome on South East Asian cooking is to put it into a box that it doesn’t neatly fit into. It’s much more than Chinese – or even South East Asian – food made easy; rather it’s a very personal collection of recipes that represent Lizzie’s personal food story. There are classic Chinese and South East Asian dishes, sure, but there are also a fair few of Lizzie’s own inventions including some excellent mashups such as this Chinese Spag Bol recipe and an Udon Carbonara. At the heart of the book is the idea of seeking out ingredients in the food shops of your nearest Chinatown – or indeed any oriental supermarkets or groceries you can find – and putting them to delicious use. To that end, the book is not just a set of recipes but also a shopping and ingredient guide. Add to that an introduction to key equipment and techniques and you are all set to get cooking. Both recipes we’ve made so far have ended up on the repeat list – her Chinese Spag Bol is a simple pork mince dish that is absolutely full of flavour. The Roast Rice-Stuffed Chicken is marinated and basted in an incredible paste which is utterly delicious and we now use this for a quick Sunday roast, without bothering with the more time-consuming rice-stuffing. Also on the wishlist to make are Grilled Aubergines with Nuoc Cham, Chinese Chive Breads, Banana Rotis, Spicy Peanut and Tofu Puff Salad, Mu Shu Pork, Steamed Egg Custard with Century and Salted Eggs, Xinjiang Lamb Skewers and Red Bean Ice Lollies!

Chinatown Kitchen: From Noodles to Nuoc Cham by Lizzie Mabbot is currently available on Amazon UK for £10 (RRP £20). Published by Mitchell Beazley.

 

Spice at Home jacket (sized)

One of Britain’s most celebrated Indian chefs, Vivek Singh has been executive chef at the Cinnamon Club since it opened and also oversees sister restaurants Cinnamon Kitchen and Cinnamon Soho. He’s also a regular face on the TV cookery show circuit and has published several popular cookbooks about his contemporary Indian restaurant cooking and exploring ‘curry’ from India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. In Spice At Home, he changes tack and shares the kind of cooking he enjoys at home. Weaving together ingredients, flavours and techniques from around the world, these recipes are a modern global approach to cooking, predominantly Indian but with many fusion influences. He is inspired by the global larder available in London, ‘a melting pot of different cultures’. At the core of this book is Vivek’s grouping of spices into three clusters, the basics, the aromatics and the rare and he shares good advice on storing and using spices effectively. Recipes are divided by when they are best enjoyed, breakfast, lunch, dinner or for entertaining and there are chapters on sides and sweets plus a final section on basics, additional spice blends and core ingredients and techniques. There are plenty of authentic Indian recipes here but the ones that catch my eye are the fusion ideas – chorizo and cumin potatoes, bangla scotch eggs, pasta moily or lamg rogan josh pithivier.

Spice At Home by Vivek Singh is currently available for £18.00 (RRP £25). Published by Absolute Press.

 

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Coming from three generations of chefs, Jeremy Pang didn’t initially plan to work in the industry; first studying biochemical engineering and then working in marketing. But the pull of cooking was strong, and after studying at Le Cordon Blue Institute he worked and travelled across South East Asia to learn everything he could about the cooking of this vast region. I first met Jeremy Pang at School of Wok, the popular and successful cookery school he launched on his return, initially out of his home and then in a dedicated location in the heart of London. Years of developing classes for the school, working out just how to unravel recipes and present them to students in an easy-to-learn way whilst retaining the authenticity and essence of the dishes, provided the perfect material for his first cookbook, Chinese Unchopped. First are Chinese Kitchen Essentials, selecting and caring for equipment and techniques for preparing ingredients. Then comes an introduction to the Chinese Pantry; level 1 ingredients are those that are essential to Chinese cooking (most of which are readily available in British supermarkets); level 2 items are those suggested for cooks ready to delve further into the cuisine (and which may require a visit to specialist oriental grocery stores). The recipes themselves are presented by technique, with chapters on stir-frying, deep-drying, steaming, poaching and braising, roasting and double cooking. Last is a collection of salads, pickles and sides. The dishes come from across China, and there are a few that show influences from Thailand and Malaysia too. Chinese takeaway staples such as Cantonese duck and sweet and sour pork sit side by side with more adventurous (and less familiar) recipes such as lionhead meatballs, five spice lotus leaf chicken and yam with hoisin. There is a tendency for books on specific cuisines to end up as a somewhat daunting encyclopaedic tome, but Chinese Unchopped is a refreshing change, imparting the essentials by showcasing cooking methods, each with an edited selection of recipes. As you’d expect from a teacher, the recipes are really well written, clear and easy to follow. A nice feature is the ‘swapsies’ provided in many recipes, letting you know when an alternative for one or more ingredients would work well.

Chinese Unchopped by Jeremy Pang is currently available for £16.59 (RRP £20). Published by Quadrille.

 

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Back in 2009 I was still an avid watcher of Masterchef, the cooking challenge for amateur chefs dreaming of a career in food. From early days, I cheered on cheerful kiwi Mat Follas also known as Ming and was thrilled to see him win the series. (Since then, I confess, I’ve grown steadily less of a fan of our two UK judges not to mention the formulaic format of studio kitchen, pro restaurant, mass catering and round and round again, so I’ve switched allegiance to Aussie Masterchef which is so much better – and the three judges are amazing too!) Anyway, back to Ming: Winning the competition gave Mat the confidence and publicity to launch his own restaurant, making the permanent switch from corporate IT to food and hospitality. Wild Garlic in Beaminster received rave reviews and it was a sad day when it closed its doors a few years later, but Mat is now feeding happy diners at The Casterbridge Hotel in Dorchester on Friday and Saturday nights. From the start, Mat has had a strong affinity with seafood, and is a strong proponent of making good use of the local catch. In his first cookbook, Fish, he shares recipes adapted from his time on Masterchef, plus customer favourites from The Wild Garlic and a summer seafood restaurant he ran on Chesil Beach for a few months before opening at The Casterbridge. Every recipe is modified for a domestic kitchena and uses only ingredients that are readily available to home cooks. Aware that ‘many people are scared of seafood because of bones or the complexity of filleting fish’ Mat has included guidance on both, but reminds us that, in the same way we expect our butchers to prepare and portion our meat, we can ask fishmongers to prepare fish too. Organising chapters by types of fish makes it simple to find a recipe to suit the catch (or purchase) of the day, and makes it easier too to work out which fish can successfully be substituted for each other. A few recipes need time and are best suited to a leisurely weekend of cooking but many are perfect for a quick midweek supper – 25 can be made in half an hour or less.

Fish: Delicious recipes for fish and shellfish by Mat Follas is currently available for £8.94 (RRP £19.99). Published by Ryland Peters & Small.

 

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My other top cookbook this year is Diana Henry’s A Bird In The Hand, which I reviewed in June.

We eat a lot of chicken in the UK – it’s such a versatile meat; good roasted, grilled or barbequed, fried (pan or deep), poached, cooked in a stew or casserole… and so adaptable in terms of flavours and cuisines. Diana Henry shares over 100 chicken recipes that range from quick and casual to impressive and celebratory. And as is my wont when flicking through books that are destined to become favourites, the first time I read it I bookmarked so many recipes I may just have well have opened the book at random to find one! Some, like Baked Chicken with Tarragon and Dijon Mustard, Chicken Forestière, Thai Chicken Burgers, Soothing North Indian Curry and Japanese Negima Yakitori are similar to recipes we have made and enjoyed before; a good reminder to make them again soon. But others are ideas we’ve not tried before – Spanish Chicken with Morcilla and Sherry, Vietnamese Lemongrass and Chilli Chicken, Bourbon and Marmalade-glazed Drumsticks, Chicken with Shaoxing Wine, Crisp Radishes and Pickled Ginger, Tagine of Chicken, Caramelised Onion and Pears, Chicken Legs in Pinot Noir with Sour Cherries and Parsnip Purée, Roast chicken stuffed with black pudding and apple and mustard sauce, Ginger beer can chicken, Chicken Pot-Roasted in Milk, Bay and Nutmeg, Pot-Roast Chicken with Figs. I mean, that’s a long list and it was hard to narrow down to just that! The dish that’s quickly become our favourite is Chicken with Pumpkin, Cream and Gruyère and we make this at least once a month, usually with butternut squash. This is a great reference book to have on your shelf and a good prod to try something different instead of the usual rut.

A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry is currently available from Amazon for £6.99 (RRP £20). Published by Mitchell Beazley.

 

NIKKEI_JACKET Wild Drinks & Cocktails

You may also like to read my recent reviews of Nikkei Cuisine by Luiz Hara and Wild Drinks & Cocktails by Emily Han, both of which include recipes extracted from the books.

Nikkei Cuisine is currently available from Amazon UK for £19.99 (RRP £25). Published by Jacqui Small.

Wild Drinks and Cocktails is currently available from Amazon for  £14.99. Published by Fair Winds Press, a member of the Quarto Publishing Group

 

For more food book suggestions, check last year’s recommended books guide.

 

Prices correct at time of publication. The Amazon links above are affiliate links (please see sidebar for more information), which means that I will receive a small commission for any purchases made. Kavey Eats received review copies of most of these titles.

Farewell to 2014

I’m wont to extremely long and rambling annual round ups, when it comes to the end of the year. When I start looking back, I get so excited about so many things I saw, did and ate that I struggle to narrow it down. This year is no different!

JANUARY

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My recipe for Yakitori Chicken Hearts turns out to be the most popular one of the year, which I find encouraging, given how many people I know turn their noses up at offal. I posted this at a time when my culinary heart was still yearning for Japan (which we visited for the second time in late autumn 2013).

I also had fun learning all about cooking sous vide.

FEBRUARY

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The older (and more experienced I get) the better I become at adapting recipes to suit our tastes. There have always been some dishes I have been able to cook more instinctively, but when I was younger, I didn’t have the confidence to make changes that might improve upon the recipes of others. Making a few minor adjustments to this Baked Chorizo, Cod and Potato dish elevated it into a firm favourite that we’ve made again more than once.

Much of the content I published in February harked back to the second Japan trip, including several photo essays, a review of Burger King’s Kuro Ninja and a visit to Suizenji Joju-en Park in Kumamoto.

MARCH

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My most popular recipe this month (and one that continues to garner praise from those who make it) is my Mum’s Lucknowi-style Lamb Biryani.

March was definitely a recipe-lead month, with my primer on sous vide steak, our Japanese yakiniku at home experiment and cheese, ham and chilli jam pancakes for pancake day.

I was also surprised and fascinated by the responses to my little survey about ready meals versus home cooking.

APRIL

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There were two recipes I loved sharing in April – my Sous Vide Southern Fried Chicken and this unusual Smoky Paprika Coleslaw recipe featuring, of all ingredients, condensed milk! It really works! I also made a home made Mr Whippy ice cream; it worked superbly well but is a bit of a faff.

MAY

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The filming was earlier in the year, but May was the broadcast date for Heston’s Great British Food Chocolate episode, to which I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest. An incredible experience!

Individual Marzipan Cakes

These Individual Marzipan Cakes, a tweaked Nigella recipe, are definitely overdue to be made again.

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Salivating as I think of it, I had one of the best Lebanese meals I’ve had in the UK, at Warda restaurant in Southgate (North London). We’ve been again several times since and love it so much we’re taking my mum there for her birthday next month.

JUNE

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More inspiration from Japan this month in two of my recipes – Green Beans with a Tofu, Miso and Sesame Dressing (Saya Ingen Shira-ae) and Quick & Easy Yuzu Ice Cream.

I also had great fun filming a recipe video for vouchercodesuk. You can view the video but also access the written recipe for my Chorizo, Spinach, Onion & Potato Frittata, here.

Another recipe I posted in June must surely be my simplest ever, with just a single ingredient! But readers and friends have let me know they have been delighted to learn about the slow cooker method of cooking jacket potatoes.

JULY

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In July, I shared a mammoth travel post, rounding up all my favourites from a city break in Brussels.

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The recipe of the month was definitely these deceptively simple, beautifully bling Brazilian Brigadeiro Chocolate Bonbons but a second runner would be Little Orange & Lime Cakes, also from Brazil.

AUGUST

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In August I shared some great recipes made using my new Optimum 9400 Blender by Froothie. This smooth-as-silk White Chocolate Vanilla Ice Cream was one such recipe, as was this Quick Courgette & Blue Cheese Soup.

Our garden and allotment began to reward us with lots of delicious courgettes. Unlike some, I relish the glut and shared a long list of courgette recipes including fabulous Sausage-Ragu Stuffed Globe Courgettes.

This month, I also launched my Meet The Blogger series, in which I introduce readers to some of my favourite bloggers by way of an interview.

SEPTEMBER

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The undisputed highlight of my summer was attending my sister and brother-in-law’s wedding in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Sharing images from the day, not to mention our dining highlights, was a lovely way to relive the occasion. I can’t wait to go back when it’s less searingly hot!

Pete and I also had a great experience attending the Billingsgate Seafood Cookery School’s evening class on smoking fish.

OCTOBER

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This tasty month included a recipe that turned out even better than I hoped; this Burnt Apple & Bourbon Ice Cream plus a taste of Iceland, after our 20th wedding anniversary trip to Iceland in August and September.

I was also very happy with my Chorizo, Pumpkin, Spinach & Giant Couscous Salad.

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Celebrating my end-of-September birthday with lunch at Kurobuta restaurant was an excellent choice, one that still has me dreaming about some of the dishes. My review went up in October.

NOVEMBER

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I shared more from our trip to Iceland, with my Reykjavik Postcard full of our favourite sights, food and drink.

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Having been reworking the recipe since I first posted a version last year, I finally posted an updated recipe of my Easy Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon Brittle.

DECEMBER

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First, another postcard from our late summer visit Iceland, the fantastic Viking Sushi Boat Excursion.

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More travel, but this time in the form of an educational visit to Almeria and Murcia to learn about their agricultural Green Revolution.

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And my latest recipe, a choice of two recipes for lemongrass and coconut ice cream and decorative dried pineapple flowers with chilli.

 

Alongside all of that has been a steady flow of restaurant reviews, lots more Meet The Blogger interviews, some cookery book reviews and recipes featuring home grown produce from our garden and allotment.

This year I finally also joined instagram which I’ve really been enjoying, sharing the little food experiences (and wider life ones) that don’t make it onto Kavey Eats. This has proved particularly food fun during my travels, with friends kindly letting me know how much they’ve appreciated travelling along with me via the images and captions.

To readers old and new, thank you for taking the time to visit Kavey Eats. If you enjoy a post, a recipe, a tip or a story, do please leave me a comment with your thoughts or feedback. I love hearing from you.

Wishing you all the best for 2015!

Favourite Fives for Five Years Blogging

Today is Kavey Eats’ 5th Birthday! Where did the time go? Over 800 posts shared, and I’m still learning, still bubbling with ideas, still enjoying the process and still feeling like a newbie in so many ways. Thank you for visiting, for reading, for commenting and for sharing my content with your friends. I am so grateful!

To celebrate, I thought I’d share some Favourite Fives with you. Click on the links to go straight to any section or settle in for a long scroll down!

Five Favourite Kavey Eats Recipes
Five Favourite Travel Posts
Five Favourite Cookery Book Reviews
Five Favourite Lessons on the History of Food
Five Favourite Recipes by Pete
Five Favourite Hotel Stays
Five Favourite Random Lessons
Five Favourite Restaurant Reviews
Five Favourite Gardening & Allotment Moments
Five Favourite Cookery Classes
Three Favourite History Lessons

 

Five Favourite Kavey Eats Recipes

Many of the recipes I blog are by way of reviewing a cookery book, but here are five of my own that I’m particularly proud of:

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A chicken tarragon pasta bake that turns leftover roast or poached chicken into something special.

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Candying (confit) clementines is surprisingly easy, as is making rich, sharp-sweet lemon posset.

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Although I love boston baked beans, Pete was never keen on the belly pork that is a common accompaniment. I created a culinary handshake between America and Britain with these British Bangers & Boston Baked Beans. Leave soupy or cook longer to reduce to a thicker, stickier mass.

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I won first prize for chutneys in our local allotment show with this apple, date, ginger and chilli chutney so I’m very proud of it, especially as I had to be encouraged to enter by an allotment friend!

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I adored my stout (beer) and salty roasted peanut ice cream – the representation of a pub in a sweet frozen treat. I wrote this as a guest post for my husband’s blog, Pete Drinks.

Other recipes I really like are my chicken liver and port pâté, these fun bacon pancakes, coffee and rum walnut brittle ice cream featuring home made walnut brittle, and a home made strawberry vodka liqueur that turned out wonderfully thick, sweet and fruity.

 

Five Favourite Travel Posts

I love to travel, especially when there’s also great food involved!

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The day we spent talking za’atar with Abu Kassem was a highlight of our trip to Lebanon.

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We had great fun spending a weekend eating and drinking our way around Amsterdam. There was so much to eat, so little time!

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I can’t pretend the Falklands Islands are a dream foodie destination but we ate well and spent lots of time appreciating the local wildlife.

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Our latest visit to Islay for the Islay Whisky Festival 2013 saw me eating fabulous fresh seafood as often as I could, which turned out to be every day!

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It’s been so hard to pick just one of my many Japan posts to include here, but I’ve chosen a little place in Kyoto selling Japanese specialities, amazake and warabi mochi.

Also in my shortlist was a really old introduction to eating in Morocco, that I originally wrote for a short-lived travel blog I abandoned almost as soon as I started!

 

Five Favourite Cookery Book Reviews

I own far far far too many cookery books!

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The book I was probably the most excited to see was Leon Book 4, featuring three of mum’s recipes, photos of mum with her parents and with baby me, and an explanation of how Mamta’s Kitchen came into existence.

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Saraban, by Greg and Lucy Malouf, is enchantingly beautiful. The recipe I shared, Tahcheen-e morgh, proved very popular, and more recently it inspired my Persian Peri Peri Fusion version.

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I’m a big fan of Angela Nilsen’s approach of taking a classic recipe, researching it, sourcing tips from a range of experts and then creating the ultimate recipe and she shares 50 such recipes in this book. Here, I make her Ultimate Quiche Lorraine.

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My friend Uyen Luu’s book is a visual feast, full of beautiful images, evocative writing and delicious recipes. We made several recipes, including her Caramelised Sardines in Coconut Water.

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My last choice is a book I wish I had on my own shelves, the wonderfully named Please To The Table, full of Russian recipes. Pete made Cheese Vareniki and Meat Pelmeni and they were mighty fine!

A few that didn’t quite make the top five but offer tasty treats include a fabulous smoked cheese gnocchi from The Amalfi Coast, Gastrogeek’s Roasted Aubergine Macarone Cheese and Billy Law’s Coca Cola Chicken.

 

Five Favourite Lessons On The History of Food

Sometimes a topic really catches my attention; when that happens, I love to read as much as I can to learn all about it and then pull everything together into an essay-like post!

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Our visit to the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale last year was fascinating. We learned a great deal about the history of the collections from our super guide, Mike, and I was inspired to do more research about the history of the apple in the UK, when I got home.

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These days, turkey is relegated to little more than a Christmas staple, but a visit to the Kelly Bronze farm prompted me to look more closely into the history of turkey eating and breeding in the UK.

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This post had been simmering for several months, the majority of it written after our first trip to Japan in autumn 2012 but not completed until after our second trip in 2013. I only just got round to posting it! It gives a history of yakiniku in Japanese cuisine.

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A press trip to Parma allowed me to discover the origins and methods of making parmigiano-reggiano (parmesan cheese) and prosciutto de Parma (Parma ham).

 

Five Favourite Recipes by Pete

Pete does so much of the cooking in our house. Here are five of my favourite recipes he’s created.

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I’m always begging Pete to make his Chocolate & Porter Cake. Most recently, he made it for an afternoon tea, and it went down very well!

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Pete’s Cheesey Potato Bake is simplicity itself but so very tasty. It’s also a great way of using up the remnants of a varied cheeseboard.

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Home made bread is one of Pete’s fortes and I loved this Cobnut Bread he made using British cobnuts and oil.

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I dubbed this invention of Pete’s Courgette-Saka, in a reference to Moussaka, though I’ve come across similar dishes called courgette lasagne. It’s made by layering ragu, slices of courgette and bechamel before baking.

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Pete’s Crumpet recipe is a winner. Nothing like hot, freshly made crumpets oozing with melted butter for a fantastic weekend breakfast!

 

Five Favourite Hotel Stays

I guess this could come under travel, but in these posts I’m focusing on the beautiful places we stayed.

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We stayed in Ryokan Kankaso in Nara on our first trip to Japan and it remains one of my favourite experiences in Japan. They served us an amazing kaiseki ryori feast.

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Sometimes when you visit a place, it seems to have been designed with your personal tastes in mind. So it was at The Scarlet in Cornwall.

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London’s Syon Park Hotel is shiny and new, and the exterior isn’t particularly attractive, but I really appreciated what it offers inside.

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I didn’t particularly love our hotel in Abisko in Sweden’s Lappland but its location and the surrounding views were spectacular!

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Yes, two ryokans make it into the list – we also had a wonderful stay at Shiraume Ryokan in Kyoto’s historic Gion district.

 

Five Favourite Random Lessons

A little mix-bag of miscellaneous topics!

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I had a great time attending a food styling photography workshop by one of the best in the business, Alastair Hendy. I’ve shared lots of his tips in my post.

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In a rare departure from the food and travel content I usually post, I created a framed artwork of heart shaped maps of places that hold special meaning to Pete and I. Here’s the tutorial on how to make your own digital heart maps collage.

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I’ve been happily making jams, jellies, pickles, chutneys and ketchups and storing them long term in sterilised jam jars and glass bottles. But before I embarked on my first canning project (where the food is heat treated inside the jar) I did some research on the various methods of preserving food at home. This post shares what I learned and was followed by my instructions on how to can apple pie filling.

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I found the temples and shrines in Kyoto and across Japan utterly fascinating and wrote this article to help visitors to identify a Buddhist temple from a Shinto shrine and to understand and appreciate what they are seeing. Here too are 6 earlier posts in which I shared information and images from several shrines and temples we visited.

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This one isn’t so much a lesson as our experiences running a food market stall for just one day, in Covent Garden’s Real Food Market.

 

Five Favourite Restaurant Reviews

I love to eat in and I love to eat out. Here are restaurants I particularly enjoyed.

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It’s probably not a huge surprise that one of the most memorable meals I’ve written about is Heston’s Fat Duck. My sister took me there for my 40th (and her 37th) and it was a great experience.

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Given the distinction of being the only place I’ve written about where we ordered one of the dishes a second time during one meal, I must mention Club Gascon, which we visited when they were offering a special menu to celebrate their thirteenth birthday.

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Tristan Welch is no longer at the helm of Launceston Place, but he and his team made another birthday very special for me and my friend Chaundra

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History was always one of my favourite subjects at school (and indeed I studied it at uni too) so I was happy that my added content covering the history of Bombay Cafes and Thums Up Cola were of such interest to readers in my post about Dishoom.

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The Sportsman in Kent reminds me of myself, but is altogether far tastier!

This was probably the hardest category to narrow down to five! I wanted to share Hida Beef, Tempura, Yuba and Yakiniku from Japan, enjoying a Nutter Genius’ kitchen table, crying over the loss of the Oriental City Food Court, my addiction to Kookoo Sabzi, the wonderous oddity of mac’n’cheese sushi style and a most wondrous meal at Pierre Koffmann’s rooftop popup.

 

Five Favourite Gardening & Allotment Moments

We’ve been growing our own fruit and vegetables in the back garden and, for the last three years, at a nearby allotment too.

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We spotted this fox fast asleep one morning, nestled amongst the tomatillos and gourds in the back garden. He woke after we’d admired him for a while.

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I’ve never been a fan of regular broccoli but discovered that I do really like purple sprouting broccoli varieties.

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Wanting to make the most of the yellow raspberries and blackberries from our allotment, I made a fruit tart. It features my homemade plum jelly, made from allotment plums, too!

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Some confusion on my part lead me to make this redcurrant and port jelly but it turned out so well (despite being a little runny because of too much port) that I’ve since been eking out the remainder!

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Tomatoes are one of my favourite things to grow. I adore the sweet taste and beautiful colour of Sungolds, and decided to preserve some in this lovely spicy yellow tomato ketchup.

 

Five Favourite Cookery Classes

It’s always a pleasure to learn new skills.

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The impact of our single cookery class at Billingsgate Seafood Training School cannot be underestimated! Not so much in the frequency with which we cook fish at home, but in the way it’s helped to change Pete’s eating habits to the extent he will now happily eat fish on the bone! That increase in his fish eating habits helped give me the confidence to finally book our first trip to Japan!

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Pete’s the bread baker in our house but we both hugely enjoyed this comprehensive two day course from Master Baker Tom Herbert, held at the Bethruthan Steps Hotel in Cornwall.

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I love the warm, friendly and very hands on nature of cookery classes at Food at 52, and this Flavours of Italy class was no exception.

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To celebrate ten years of running Mamta’s Kitchen (back in 2011), we decided to run some Mamta’s Kitchen Cookery Classes, to raise funds for various charities. Feedback was super and the experience was very rewarding.

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I’ve grown ever more interested in Japanese food over the last few years and have now attended a few of Reiko’s Japanese sessions, which showcase traditional dishes with a modern twist.

 

Just Three Favourite History Lessons

I always loved studying history, and with these three posts, I took a little step back to my academic days.

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At school, college and university I studied history, with a focus on the 20th century. For Remembrance Day 2010, I shared a history of the Battle of Britain.

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More history, this time in the sinking of the Titanic, and the stories of some of those aboard.

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When The East India Company name was resurrected, I wrote a piece explaining the history of the original East India Company.

 

Oh and for those eagle-eyed readers who’ve noticed that the archive dates back to 2006; after I started the blog in 2009 I copied across bits and pieces I’d written and shared via email and online discussion boards in the previous few years. That’s the time I describe as my “stealth blogging” period – I had the enthusiasm you’d expect from a blogger to record my thoughts about food, cooking, restaurants, equipment but no actual blog!

Thanks for joining me on my slow stroll down memory lane!

Farewell to 2013 from Kavey Eats

When I was a child, I never could understand grownups telling me that time seems to pass faster the older you’d get. “Another year has whizzed by”, they’d say, as I furrowed my head and thought, “no it hasn’t!” What’s more, I couldn’t foresee that I would ever come to feel the same way or say those same things. And yet here I am, marvelling bemusedly at how fast another year has whizzed by and, hang on a second, wasn’t it just a few weeks ago I was trying to remember to write 2013 rather than 2012?

And yet, when I look back through the posts I’ve shared through the year, I can say that it’s been another wonderful year, regardless of how quickly it seems to have sped past.

 

January

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Japan2012-2810 Japan2012-2197 BillyColaChicken-3947

On the recipe front, I loved Billy Law’s Coca Cola Chicken and was delighted with my Walnut Brittle.

The Apple, Date & Ginger Chutney I made went on to win me first prize for chutneys at our local allotment show later in the year.

I also enjoyed reliving some of our first trip to Japan the previous year, with a post on Mitarashi Dango and an incredible Kaiseki Ryori meal at Kankaso Ryokan in Nara.

February

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I was thrilled to be able to share my favourite food photographs on the back of my new Moo mini blog cards.

For Christmas 2012 I made a strikingly colourful Beetroot and Lemon Zest Cured Trout, finally sharing the recipe I used just in time for Valentine’s day. If that sounds too time-intensive, I also made some really quick No Bake Mini Lemon Ricotta Cheesecakes. Probably the recipe that excited me the most (and has kept on giving us pleasure as we work our way through the jars) was How To Can (Bottle) Apple Pie Filling. We’ve made variations of the simple King Oyster Mushroom & Cream Pasta a number of times since.

On a more gadget-focused note, I reviewed a spice and nut grinder from Cuisinart.

March

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I wouldn’t usually include a giveaway in my annual roundup but the chocolate badger from Bettys really caught readers’ imaginations and I’ll be sharing further news from that later this year.

Still reliving the holiday to Japan, I posted the last of my six posts about Japanese temples and shrines we visited and took you on a Meander through Kyoto’s Nishiki Market. Back in London, I found a taste of Japan at Bincho Yakitori in Soho.

Things were quiet in my kitchen, but the No Churn Jelly Belly Ice Cream Recipe was fun!

April

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GastrogeekMacCheese-0125 ChickenKatsuCurry-4901 Skrei FishPie-5073

You’re probably realising right about now that I remained obsessed with Japan for the rest of the year! In April I wrote about Yuba and Japanese Kit Kat flavours.

There were more recipes on the blog including Butter, Sage and Lemon Roasted Chicken, Cheat’s Chocolate Cherry Baked Alaska, an incredible Roasted Aubergine Macaroni Cheese recipe by Gastrogeek, tasty Japanese Chicken Katsu Curry Rice and a Billingsgate Fish & Egg Pie.

May

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Pinterest and I are good friends. I explained why I love it and how I use it, here.

I sneaked in another post about Japan, sharing our little rest stop for Amazake and Warabi Mochi at Bunnosuke Jaya.

And there was lots more cooking including a Chicken Tarragon Pasta Bake I urge you to try, a Simple Miso Cod which we served with pak choi and rice, a delicious Home-made Tomato Soup and classic Garlic & Rosemary Roast Lamb.

June

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That roast lamb made a delicious leftovers meal of Lamb & Spring Onion Hoisin Lettuce Wraps.

There were fabulous 3D Safari Cookies. I tasted the best ham in the whole world.

Supperclubs have been steadily growing in number and popularity for the last few years, but I don’t get to many. I did have a lovely evening at a Japanese supperclub hosted by The London Foodie.

Oh and I got a new Samsung S4 phone, which I still love!

July

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In late May we returned to Islay for the whisky festival, our third time attending. I loved up some Squat Lobsters and Crab.

We had some grand days out to Bettys in Harrogate and to Edible Ornamentals near Bedford.

I experienced the shock of finding great food a stone’s throw from where I was working in Watford.

My favourite recipe was a feather light Smoked Cheese Gnocchi, another we’ve made again since. You could follow that with a refreshing Lemon, Limoncello & Thyme Sorbet.

August

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PeachTarteTatin-1365 Frittata-1420 BaconPotatoSalad-1583

I never did write up the lovely weekend I spend attending the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery. But I did share an excellent guest post on the basics of Cooking a Stir Fry, written by my friend Diana, who I met over the weekend.

We had a lovely meal out in Naamyaa Cafe in Islington.

Recipes this month included Flat Peach Tart Tatin, a simple and very versatile Pea, New Potato & Goat’s Cheese Frittata and a Heart Attack Potato Salad laden with bacon and gherkins.

September

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AVBakedRice-4392 ButternutSoupCandiedBacon-1838 teabagspice (1 of 1)

A quiet month on the blog, as I was immersed in planning for our second trip to Japan.

I wrote all about the history of apples and our educational visit to the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale.

September recipes included a Persia Meets Mozambique Peri Peri Baked Chicken & Yoghurt Rice, Spicy Sungold Tomato Ketchup and Easy Butternut Squash Soup with Candied Bacon.

And a little tip on using DIY teabags to immerse spices into one’s cooking!

October

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Another winner in Watford (who’d have thunk it?) was Grandpa’s Sushi in the covered market. I also wrote about dim sum and tapas restaurant visits.

In the kitchen, I made some quick Bacon Baked Eggs, a chef-inspired salad and a classic Apple Pie, with home-grown apples.

And just before we headed back to Japan for our second trip, Pete spent the day with the London Brewing Company in The Bull in Highgate, creating a collaboration Coffee Porter.

November

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I enjoyed hot chocolate and fudge at Camden market.

My friend Diana wrote another guest post, this time sharing some comprehensive tips on making Egg Fried Rice, with many variations. Pete made a really tasty Pork and Apple Stroganoff Pie with Cheddar Crust.

I enjoyed some excellent food at The Sportsman in Kent and Duck and Waffle, in the City.

And I wrote a letter to my beautiful niece.

December

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This month has been altogether more Christmas-focused with my 2013 Gift Guide full of ideas for the best presents, my recommendations for bottles to buy for a sweet-toothed alcoholic celebration and a review of marzipan fruits.

I also introduced Cocoa Runners, a great way to buy the very best bean-to-bar chocolate from around the world.

In a fit of nostalgia, I did a restaurant review of childhood favourite, a Beefeater restaurant.

And my last recipe of the year was a really old classic – Mrs Beeton’s recipe for scones, served with home made black cherry jam.

 

That’s it, the year is done. Hope you’ve had a great one too!

Wishing you happiness, health and success in the new year.

Farewell to 2012

2012 has been busy for Kavey Eats, with over two hundred posts shared over the last year!

Here’s my pick of posts from each month:

 

January

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The year started sweetly, with several tasty cookie, cake and dessert recipes. A cracker was the Confit Clementines and Lemon Posset I made for the previous year’s Christmas day lunch.

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The savoury eating had a good start too, with my review of a magical celebratory meal with my sister at The Fat Duck.

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I also had the pleasure of cringing at myself on the telly when the BBC food quiz, A Question of Taste aired.

 

February

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Still in the grips of winter, I shared my recipe for Beef Cheeks Bourguignon, a hearty classic with a Kavey Eats twist.

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But the recipe which garnered far more attention was these Bacon Pancakes, an idea I picked up from American food bloggers and had to try myself.

Towards the end of the month, I re-launched Kavey Eats, having moved from Blogspot to WordPress and created a completely new look and layout.

 

March

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March saw me post another hearty recipe, this time my culinary handshake between America and Britain – Boston Baked Beans and British Bangers.

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A Clafoutis Black Cherry Pudding made a great winter warmer dessert.

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Memories (and photos) of childhood abounded when I made Knicker Bocker Glories as part of my second ever BSFIC challenge.

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Pete and I amused ourselves by Making Triangular Omelettes in a Sandwich Maker, just to see if we could!

 

April

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We had fun checking out the new Hawksmoor Spitalfield Bar.

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I got wrapped up in the history of the loss of the Titanic, after a tasting at Berry Bros & Rudd.

Chicken Savoyarde was utterly delicious, though not very photogenic!

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I was bowled over by Satong Sumbat (baby squid stuffed with spiced minced chicken) and other dishes at Umami Restaurant, all the more surprising given that it’s a hotel restaurant.

 

May

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Pete and I had a fantastic weekend in Amsterdam during which we did nothing but eat and drink our way around the city. I shared a comprehensive list of local specialities to look out for, some delicious places to find Coffee, Cake and Snacks in Amsterdam and lastly our tips for Amsterdam Restaurants & Bars.

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Several eager panellists joined me to carefully cogitate over as many brands of Jaffa Cakes as I could find, which resulted in the Great Jaffa Cake Taste Test. The winner surprised all of us as it was neither the best known brand nor the most expensive, by a long shot!

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I shared a non-food project I was very proud of – a collage of heart-shaped maps of our significant places, which I made for Pete as a gift for our 20th anniversary of being a couple.

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I was a very proud wife when Pete won Saveur magazine’s Best Wine or Beer Blog 2012 after only 6 months blogging at his own site. Go visit, have a look around, leave a comment or three and add him to your RSS reader!

 

June

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I learned and shared a recipe for Easy Dauphinoise Potatoes. They’re delicious and have become a regular feature in our house!

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Pete and I went to Dublin’s Bloom In The Park, and encountered many wonderful Irish food and drink producers.

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We tried Club Gascon’s amazing Marmite Royale & Toasts shortly before it was launched at Taste London.

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Pete made the most delicious Cobnut Bread. The recipe would also work well for hazelnuts or walnuts.

 

July

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We enjoyed a superb dinner at Paul Merrett’s pub, The Victoria in East Sheen.

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I had fantastic fun attending The Flavours of Italy cookery class at the new Food at 52 cookery school.

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Discovering how easy and tasty the condensed milk and double cream no churn ice cream base recipe is has made it even easier to make ice cream at home. This honeycomb ice cream was fabulous.

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I gorged myself on crawfish at Bea’s Crawfish Boil.

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This year I enjoyed visiting many more Indian restaurants, including Cinnamon Soho, for a family Sunday brunch.

 

August

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My genius came to the forefront (or so I maintain) when I came up with the idea for these Pickleback Ice Lollies – yes, that’s bourbon mixed with pickled gherkin brine and frozen!

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The view and the food were both pretty amazing when we attended Claude Bosi at The Cube, located on top of Royal Festival Hall.

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I may have confused redcurrants and cranberries, but my home-made Redcurrant and Port Jelly made an appearance on Christmas day, regardless!

 

September

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I talked about my tips for organising the freezer.

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After attending two wonderful fish and seafood cooking classes with Lee Groves, I posted an interview and his recipe for Ray Wings In Pepper Brown Butter Sauce.

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I was thrilled with how well this Sichuan Pepper Ice Cream came out. Delicious!

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I’m not one for hero worship but I have long admired Atul Kochhar so I was delighted to not only meet him but attend a mini cooking class in his restaurant kitchen, before sitting down to a lovely meal in the dining room.

 

October

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After another great visit to Abergavenny Food Festival, I enthused about my favourite exhibitors.

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I enjoyed getting my chops around a Tongue n Cheek ox heart burger.

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This Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with a Stout Honey Glaze was absolutely fantastic. It’s long past due for another outing!

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A residual memory from summer came to the surface when I shared the photos from our day at a Kentish Hop Farm.

November

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In October, Pete and I spent a truly wonderful 2.5 weeks in Japan. In November, I started writing up our experiences – there are so very many I want to share. First, an introduction, itinerary and resources list. On to eating, I posted about the challenges of Japanese vending machines, a delicious meal at Tempura Tsunahachi Honten and being intimated by Piss Alley before finding delicious Ramen for dinner.

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Probably the post that garnered most attention was my Guide to Staying in a Japanese Ryokan.

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Mum and I were very excited to finally see Leon Book 4 because we contributed a few recipes to it, not to mention some photos from the Gupta family album!

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I enthused about one of my favourite cookbooks of the year, Jekka’s Herb Cookbook.

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This year, I’ve discovered some fantastic teas. I reviewed my favourites for my Fantastic Teas 2012 Great Gift Guide.

 

December

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After an eye-opening (not to mention palate-opening) visit to the Kelly Bronze Turkey Farm, I wrote about the history of turkeys in the UK and about the difference between intensively raised white birds and Kelly’s bronze ones.

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For once, this dessert-wine drinker was given matching wines for all courses, at The Vineyard in Stockcross.

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Ever keen on quick and easy recipes I shared two this month. The first was for Chocolate, Amaretto and Amaretti Ice Cream. The second was an impressive Speculoos and Mascarpone Pancake Cake.

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More from Japan, in the form of Hida Beef and Owara Tamaten and a very photo-heavy meander through one of Takayama’s morning markets.

And there you have it! Believe it or not, that’s only a small selection of what I’ve posted on Kavey Eats this year. I hope you enjoyed my monthly picks. Happy New Year and see you in 2013!

Kavey Eats 3 Today!

Today I’m celebrating three years since I launched Kavey Eats, on April 2 2009.

Sharp-eyed among you may have noticed that the archive goes right back to August 2006. That’s because I started the blog as I came to the realisation that I’d been stealth blogging (as I call it) for years… sharing my food thoughts in online chat rooms, on food discussion boards, at LiveJournal, via email and even in the comments sections on other peoples’ blogs! I wrote rambling restaurant reviews, thoughts on favourite ingredients, reports about food festivals I’d attended, notes about kitchen equipment we’d purchased, feedback on recipes we’d tried and enjoyed… much of the same kind of stuff I share on the blog today.

Despite that, when I started the blog, I feared I’d never keep it up, that I’d run out of things to say, that I’d get bored or that the enjoyment would simply fade away over time.

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for those who’ve been asking for a picture of me without the specs, post eye lasering

But three years on, I’m still loving my tiny corner of the web, still enjoying the act of recording my food thoughts and experiences both for myself and sharing with others, still getting a kick out of the relationships I continue to build and maintain with readers, fellow bloggers and people in the food and drinks industry. I’ve met so many wonderful people, and been given such wonderful opportunities, through writing this blog, I am very thankful.

I’m really happy about the new look too. How can I describe the pleasure of going from using a template, the same one used by so many bloggers all over the web, to a design that’s all my own and reflects me so well? Do you remember those strap-on roller skates that you used to buckle onto your regular shoes as a kid? Did you ever upgrade to proper roller boots, which quickly came to mould themselves to your feet, so the skates felt like an extension of your body? Or how about finally buying your very own home and stamping your identity on it, after living in magnolia rentals for years and years? Or finding the perfect fit of jeans after pair after pair with a slightly loose waist or thighs that pinch or legs that are an inch too short or long?

Somehow, even if it’s superficial, the new look makes Kavey Eats feel more like home and gives me even more motivation to keep going, not that I often run short of things to say!

Many thanks to all of you for reading, especially to those of you who take the time to share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Here’s to the year to come!

Which Recipes Were Top in 2011?

For those less interested in my restaurant round up than in the cooking, here are the 12 recipe posts which received the most views during 2011.

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Chicken, Bacon, Mushroom & Crème Fraiche Pasta

Braised Ox Cheek Bordelaise

Chocolate & Chorizo Chilli Con Carne

How to make Strawberry Vodka Liqueur

Persian Baked Yoghurt Rice with Chicken (Tahcheen-e morgh)

Lemon Posset, Candied Peel & Cordial

The Ultimate Macaroni Cheese Challenge

Homemade Terrine de Foie Gras Mi-Cuit

Chicken Liver & Port Paté

Perfect Burger & Ultimate Burger Bun Recipes!

Pete Bakes: Chocolate & Porter Cake

Choux Buns With Coffee Custard Filling

 

Enjoy, and if you make any of these, leave me a comment letting know how you get on!

Kavey Eats Favourite Eats 2011

Inspired by annual restaurant roundups from fellow bloggers, many of which have resulted in yet more additions to my ever-burgeoning restaurant wish list, I thought I’d share some of my highlights from eating out in 2011.

Follow links to read the full reviews for each restaurant.

 

Best Starter (Joint Winners)

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Now and then I talk about ordering a much-loved starter again for dessert. It’s not often I do it. But we both loved the Warm Flan of Foie Gras Bordelaise at Club Gascon‘s 13th birthday so much, we actually did order a second one later in the same meal. It’s a light but incredibly rich savoury custard packed full of foie gras flavour in a slightly sweet red wine reduction sauce. So fabulous we grinned at each other over every single mouthful.

 

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Souffle Suissesse at Chez Roux in Inverness is described as Albert Roux’s twice baked floating soufflé with Mull cheddar and Gruyère cheese.  It’s one of the best cheese dishes I’ve ever eaten. So light I dreamt I was eating a cloud, it was served in a cheese sauce that packed so much cheese flavour it was cheesier than solid cheese! And yet, thin and light, not thick and oily and gloopy. Truly a delightful dish.

 

Best Lamb

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I’ve dined in a fair few hotel restaurants this past year. My meal at the Waldorf Astoria London Syon Park’s restaurant The Capability stands out, in good part because of one truly magnificent dish. My hay baked Cornish mixed lamb with pan haggerty and green sauce included slow baked belly, fried tongue, sweetbread, cutlet and kidney all of which were perfectly cooked, as was the cheesy, pan haggerty, something I’d not had before. The two sauces, a fresh and vibrant green herb sauce and a sinfully rich reduced wine and stock sauce, were also excellent.

 

Best Seafood

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I’ve enjoyed the enormous Hot Roasted Shells platter at Bistro du Vin twice, once at the Clerkenwell branch, and again at the Soho property. Served on a platter, but unlike the traditional fruits de mer, grilled under the Josper and served hot. It’s a feast of epic proportions and I loved every messy, juice-spurting moment of it!

Sadly, it seems to have been taken off both menus, which is hugely disappointing.

 

Best Vegetarian Dish

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Everything we ate at The Mall Tavern was fabulous – it’s not for nothing I call Jesse Dunford Wood a nutter genius. But, to my surprise, it was his red-wine poached eggs with chestnuts, cipollini onions and mushrooms on smoked mashed potatoes which really blew me away.

Also in the running was the Braised Crispy Bean Curd in Brown Sauce at Pearl Liang.

 

Best Burger

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My Lucky Chip Sheen burger was fantastically good – juicy, full of flavour and very satisfying. Well worth the journey, the cold winter weather and the outdoor seating.

Also enjoyed during the year were a few visits to ThaT Burger, just before it closed its doors and the ever popular Byron.

 

Best Sweets

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image courtesy of Chancery Court

I’ve not blogged this one yet, but I can’t not include the patisseries which form part of the help-yourself chocolate afternoon tea served in The Lounge, at Chancery Court. Sandwiches, scones and tea are served to your table but the rest of the sweet goodies are laid out for your delectation. As well as two chocolate fountains with fruit or marshmallows to dip, there are cakes, brownies, cookies and meringues, chocolate coated nuts and then the rather fantastic patisseries. The only word for these is magnificent and the Blackforest gateaux (a light reinterpretation of the classic cake), raspberry chocolate macaroon stack, the coffee panna cotta with baileys profiterole and the one that tasted like an extremely posh jaffa cake are firmly embedded in my mind.

 

Best Never-had-it-before Experience

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Pumpkin koroke (croquettes) don’t, on the face of it, sound that appealing even to someone who likes bread-crumbed deep-fried things and sweet soft pumpkin flesh. But having ordered them once, at Sushi Japan, they’re now the item I most often start dreaming about, and which prompt our regular return visits.

 

Best Sharing Plates

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I can’t round up the year without mentioning the wonderful platters of Parma ham and Parmesan cheese served as part of every meal the group enjoyed during my visit to Parma and the surrounding region. Also in the photos above is culatello, another delicious local product.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my roundup of some of my favourite eats of 2011. I can’t wait to get my teeth into 2012!