It’s that time of year again when I like to share some of the best food experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have over the past year. 2018 has been incredible and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to travel to some fantastic places like Durban, Bruges, The Hague, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Some of these foodie moments have been during those trips, but some have been on home turf too.
10. Ostrich Steak at Moyo, Durban
This beautiful restaurant on the pier of Durban’s uShaka Marine World was one of my favourites during my time in South Africa in February. Moyo serves a range of local dishes including the famous Durban Bunny Chow, fantastic Dombolo curry/stew, but the highlight was tasting their beautifully tender, perfectly cooked ostrich steak.
Read more about my trip to Durban here.
9. Chicken Confit at London House, Battersea
Gordon Ramsay’s relaxed and cosy Battersea restaurant was probably always going to deliver something impressive, but it was the simplicity of this dish that struck me. To be able to create such perfection from essentially meat and two veg shows just how serious the talent is in this kitchen and how much they respect the ingredients they’re cooking.
8. Hot Chocolate at The Old Chocolate House, Bruges
Chocolate was, as you’d expect, a significant feature of our long Easter weekend in Bruges, Belgium. I spent a fair amount of time researching and creating a self-guided chocolate walking tour of Bruges’s best chocolatiers, which culminated in a visit to the Old Chocolate House for a bowl-full if decadent hot chocolate.
Read more about our self-guided chocolate walking tour of Bruges here.
7. Chocolates from BbyB, Bruges
The Chocolate Line attracts the big crowds in Bruges for its big name Chocolatier and wacky flavours, but I found that I was more impressed by the chocolates at BbyB. The combinations are just as innovative, but are more subtle, classy and very, very delicious.
6. Swordfish Tataki at De Dagvisser, The Hague
My birthday meal at De Dagvisser was definitely the highlight of our visit to The Hague in May. This dish in particular stood out for me. The delicate spice on the swordfish married so perfectly with the sweet-savoury accompaniments.
Read more about our food & drink highlights in The Hague.
5. Maitre Choux, London
I finally made it to Maitre Choux with some friends to try their Insta-famous Eclairs and I wasn’t disappointed. They have a great range of flavours, classic and seasonal, and all of the ones we tried both looked and tasted divine. My favourites were Pumpkin Spice (a seasonal special), Tahitian Vanilla & Pecan, and Hazelnut & Milk Chocolate Treasure (the gold one).
4. Bream Starter at Hotel Dukes Palace, Bruges
Yet another from Bruges! We enjoyed a really special Easter menu at Hotel Dukes Palace, the highlight of which, for me, was the starter of bream with mango, wasabi meringue, soy marshmallow topped with sesame, yuzu, and yoghurt.
Read more about some of the great food & drink in Bruges.
3. Beverage pairing with Fire & Wild, UK
Our open-air woodland dining experience with Fire & Wild was enjoyable from start to finish. The weather was lovely and the food was impeccable. I was particularly impressed with the beverage pairings, especially the oaky Chardonnay paired with the beautiful grilled pigeon with smoked walnuts.
2. Everything at Pidgin, Hackney
The menu at Pidgin in Hackney changes weekly and celebrates the best of the season. I loved every dish that was put in front of me – every combination was innovative and mind-bending, every small detail meaningful. The fact that they come up with a menu that good each week is beyond my ability to comprehend.
Read the full post about our meal at Pidgin here.
1. Everything at Paste, Luang Prabang
It takes something pretty outrageously good to pip Pidgin to the top spot here, but Paste at the Apsara Hotel in Luang Prabang was exactly that. The newly-opened restaurant by award-winning Chef Bee Satongun is all about Lao food inspired by the writings of royal chef Phia Sing, but with a fair few modern twists. Every dish used local ingredients that to me were new and exciting, and everything tasted phenomenal. From coconut cream wafers topped with delicious spiced relish, to tamarind cheesecake for dessert, it was a meal I will never forget.
Read more about our meal at Paste and other great places to eat and drink in Luang Prabang here.
Choosing just ten top experiences from an entire year is no easy task, and there were a couple of dishes that still make my mouth water just thinking about them that I really should mention.
Pulled Pork Mac n Cheese at Cambridge Folk Festival
I know times have changed, but I still remember when festival food and food trucks in general were limited to greasy burgers and chips. This pulled pork mac and cheese at Cambridge Folk Festival was so good that I had to give it a mention here. The combination was so so good and the pasta itself was perfectly cooked. It definitely hit the spot.
Vegan “Meatballs” at Lu-Ma Cafe, Wimbledon
These “meatballs” tasted so good! They had everything you want in a regular meatballs, and the tomato sauce was fab.
Man, writing this has made be super hungry. Roll on 2019! I’m already so excited about what’s to come…