Eating is fun, but is cooking more fun? I’m lucky enough to enjoy both equally. So it’s not a question that enters my mind. For me the two go hand in hand. Here’s a rundown of my favourite cooking in 2015. My favourite dining experiences can be found on my companion blog.
They say the stomach has a separate brain, neurones that control it independently from your actual noggin. If it could speak then maybe it would disgorge this stream of wonderful culinary memories from the year gone.
Here is a list of my top dining experiences. See what I’ve been cooking up in 2015 in my companion blog.
I’ve never seen The Bridge nor any of the other Scandi TV noir that is voguish right now. So when at least half a dozen people asked if I went the bridge after coming back from Copenhagen I was bemused, what bridge? There are lots of bridges in Copenhagen, the only one that came to mind was the unfinished bridge that would link Nyhaven to Christiana. It would have made walking from our hotel to noma
a five minute stroll instead of a ten minute taxi. You can see it on google earth, it’s a short footbridge with a Knievel sized gap caused by funding wrangles. They’ve been trying to close the gap for years now, we were told by Stuart, sous chef at noma and chief the day we ate there. We’d been planning all year to go to noma with our friends, sisters YKL and YSL
. Without their special contacts we’d never have had the experience of dining at four of Copenhagen’s finest restaurants. In dining order; Amass, Relae, Noma and Bror. So special thanks to you both for taking us around and making it such a brilliant experience.
Collage de l’Enclume
If you ask me what my favourite restaurant in the country is I will not hesitate to say L’Enclume in Cartmel. We first went in 2010 and tend to revisit it every year or so, usually in different seasons. Last week was our fifth time and even though in the interim the baton has been handed to a new head chef there’s still that seemingly effortless perfection to the cuisine. At its core are the ingredients, all taken from the lush Cumbrian land and coast. Every bite is a reflection of the season and locale, the essence of every ingredient amplified using cutting edge techniques but naturalistically presented with simple grace on the plate. There’s a sense of whimsy in the way the food is almost too beautiful to eat, but when you get over this the flavours actually hit you between the eyes.
Finding your feet
Can you remember the first macaron you ever ate? I can’t. It was probably 10 years ago in a Pierre Hermé concession in one of Tokyo’s depachika. In all likelihood it would have been sublime but I honestly can’t remember because the best depachika are like Harrods’ and Selfridges’ food halls combined with Borough Market and a Taiwanese streetfood market. That macaron would have been followed by a Sadaharu Aoki matcha opera cake, baumkuchen, kouign amann, kabayaki unagi and take home sushi that spoils you for sushi for the rest of your life. I do remember eating my first macaron in Paris, that was in the Pierre Hermé shop on Rue Bonaparte and I’ve been trying to recreate that moment ever since.
Standing in line in the baking Texas sun, slowly turning into lizards, necks getting redder. The free beer gets absorbed and sweated out in seconds. But you’re not alone, the line is around the block. All for a taste of some of the best BBQ in Austin. If queue length is testament then the 4 hour waiting time for Franklin BBQ makes it the best in town. Thankfully Franklins was closed when I visited Austin and the 2 hour wait in line for La Barbecue seemed like a cinch in comparison. We had 2 days or 36 hours to eat and experience as much BBQ as possible and had no time to waste. Continue reading
My buddy Nick “Professor Brisket” Loman and I started the Backyard Brummies 4 years ago in an unusual fit of bravado. It went something like “Let’s do a BBQ competition, I mean how hard is it to cook competition BBQ?” It turns out it’s pretty straightforward to do, all you have to do is turn up with the right equipment and drink lots of beer. But to do it well takes some luck, determination and a plan. The plan this year was to keep doing what we do with ribs and brisket and try not to mess up too bad on chicken and pulled pork. Here’s how the plan went down. Continue reading