I had quite a different eating experience in 2015. After years of stuffing myself with butter, cream, cake, chocolate, crisps, pastry, burgers, cheese, bacon….well, you get the picture, I suddenly felt the need to eat a little ‘better’. As much as I loved my diet of fat, my body didn’t seem to. I’d put on weight, I felt sluggish and lethargic and I found what little exercise I did, a real chore.
It kicked off last Christmas when I got a NutriBullet. I decided to try out juicing as a way of injecting lots of fruit and vegetables into my system. I took a break from crisps, chocolate and cake and try eating a little healthier. By the end of January I realised I hadn’t had meat since Christmas! And that was without even trying, I just hadn’t fancied it. I decided to carry on until I fancied eating it again and I actually went for 6 months without it and without missing it. Of course that changed when I was in Louisiana in June and couldn’t possibly leave without trying some authentic Southern Fried Chicken and I’m so glad I did as it was delicious. Especially when served on waffles with maple syrup.
Anyway, the healthy eating paid off. I lost a stone and a half (21lbs/9.5kg), my skin improved, my insomnia stopped and I was sleeping like a log plus I had bags more energy during the day. Exercise wasn’t a chore anymore, my body felt powered by the food I was eating and I was actually enjoying it for once.
Towards the end of 2015 I’ve introduced a bit more meat, cake, chocolate and crisps back into my diet because life is too short to deprive yourself of anything you fancy. So really that was a very long winded way of saying that the first half of 2015 was spent cooking very healthy meals whilst the second half was spent eating out a lot more. And in that time, I have had some fantastic dishes. When I think back to the meals I’ve had, quite a few stand out. I was going to pick my top 10 but looking through my favourite meals, I just couldn’t reduce it to 10 so here’s a much larger list!
Clockwise from top left…Buttermilk biscuits with Peat Smoked Trout, whipped miso honey and crème fraîche at Fields | Spicy scrambled eggs with plump pau buns at Dishoom | ‘Turkish eggs’ from Kopapa | Pancakes with Brûléed bananas, Pecan brittle, Maple syrup and Coffee cream at M1LK | Black Rice & Quinoa Porridge with Banana, Coconut Milk and Honey at Foxcroft & Ginger.
Clockwise from top left: Poached Duck Egg and crispy Serrano Ham on Brioche from Barrafina Drury Lane | Sea Trout with Pickled Flowers, Rhubarb, Green Apple Sauce & Bergamot Emulsion at Grain Store Unleashed | French Onion Soup with a tonne of melted Gruyere at Cafe Boheme, Soho | Sweet Potato Tacos with Sheeps Milk Cheese, Pomegranates and Pumpkin Seeds at El Cartel, Edinburgh | Crab Tagliolini at Brawn, Bethnal Green| Black Dahl and Mahi Tikka at Dishoom.
Cherry wood roasted Peking duck served 3 ways at HKK, Shoreditch | The Veggie Fritter Burger at Honest | Cornish Crab, Barbequed Cucumber, Sill & Seaweed at Kitty Fishers, Mayfair | the most incredible Fried Shrimp Po’Boy purchased at the back of a convenience store on Rampart, New Orleans | Southern Fried Chicken with Waffles & Maple Syrup at Five Bar in Athens, Georgia | Pumpkin & Toasted Barley Stew with Ceps & Sage at Piquet, Fitzrovia.
Bone Marrow Varuval & Roti at Hoppers, Soho | Lobster & Saffron Arancini at Crabshakk, Glasgow | Yellowfin Tuna with Watermelon, Black Olive and English Mustard on a Himalayan salt slab at Duck & Waffle in the City.
Red wine and Pear Tatin at Piquet | Kinako French toast with soft-serve matcha ice cream at Shackfuyu | Vanilla Custard Cream filled Doughnut from St John Bakery | and finally, one of the best things I have ever eaten… a Brioche Doughnut with elderflower and vanilla custard at Crema, Nashville.
Here’s hoping 2016 holds even more culinary delights, I’m already planning a trip to foodie haven Austin, Texas. Whatever happens, you can be guaranteed it will all be on Instagram!