According to everyone, 2016 has been a stinker of a year. There have been very few highs, a great number of lows, and bad surprises lurking at every corner – shock exits and the rise of a certain powerful oompa loompa, just to name a few. But if I crawl into my rosé-tinted, food-filled bubble of a world, according to me, 2016 has been quite scrumptious and a most fitting way to see out my twenties… yep, today is my birthday and yours truly is officially thirty!
Contrary to the sexist self-help magazines and old wives tales, I’m not cowering in the corner lamenting the loss of my twenties, nor am I looking up the closest botox clinics for my first nip/tuck of the new decade… I’m feeling content, happy, and hungry. Just the same as I was yesterday, when I was only a baby at twenty-nine. I started the last year of my twenties in Madrid, and here I am in Spain again, marking the start of my thirties in Seville… but where else did I dine when I was twenty-nine?!
Favourite Michelin Star Experience
This year we’ve dined at seven Michelin star restaurants (not including tonight’s birthday meal at Abantal) in Spain, Ireland, and England. All were excellent experiences, but after much deliberation, a certain someone and I both agreed that The Pony and Trap in Chew Magna was our favourite. We timed our visit for their 10 Year Anniversary Menu and were treated to a huge tasting menu of their greatest hits. This is probably what tipped this meal over our very close second, the Raby Hunt in Darlington which this year received its second Michelin star. Both are restaurants worth going out of London and out of your way for!
Most Memorable Foodie Experience
I’ve been lucky enough to attend a range of masterclasses this year, teaching me the ins and outs of everything from cocktail making to food styling, but my favourite of the year was the Pork Masterclass at Provenance Butchers. After a lot of hint dropping, a certain someone gifted me a class for Christmas last year, but due to their popularity, I couldn’t get slicing until much later in the year. During the class we each sawed through different parts of the pig, then trimmed and rolled our own porchetta – it was so delicious, I’ve made it several more times now!
Favourite London Restaurant Discovery
This blog has forced me, usually with a certain someone in tow, to traipse all across London in search of a decent meal; a chore, I know. We’ve discovered so many great restaurants we probably would never have stumbled upon on our own which is a win in itself! However, the highlights have been the surprisingly good pan-Asian restaurants which have almost completely eliminated my distain for that genre of restaurant… here’s looking at you Pan Chai, Chi Kitchen and Yuu Kitchen!
Best Home Cooking Experiment
We’ve become more confident in the kitchen this year, and as a result have tried a couple of new cooking techniques we had previously reserved for watching on Masterchef only. A certain someone has taken to the confit and experimental baking, whilst I have been sharpening my knives a lot and spending time rolling, stuffing, roasting or waterbathing various cuts of meat!
Most Delicious Travel Destination
After spending three weeks reacquainting myself with the incredible cuisine of my beloved Malaysia, I was convinced that would be my most delicious destination of the year but… after umming and ahhing about it… I think the title needs to go to Copenhagen! I knew the food in Malaysia would be fantastic, but the quality of the food in Copenhagen really blew me away. Just as rich in flavour but in stark contrast to the melting pot that is Malaysian cuisine, I loved the clean, distinct flavours in each of the Danish dishes.
Favourite Travel Destination Discovery
When we told people we were going to Sofia, we got a lot of blank stares… the Bulgarian capital is definitely not on the tourist route just yet, but we absolutely think it should be. During our weekend in Sofia, I was challenged by Travelex UK to find luxury experiences for less and I can confirm, we didn’t find it too challenging. The city has an interesting history and enough sites to keep you occupied, but it’s also the perfect place to treat yourself to a spa treatment and some fine dining, all for a fraction of the price of other European cities!
Looking Ahead to 2017…
And that’s a wrap! After another great year of wining and dining around the world with a certain someone… we’ve got some changes and new adventures lined up for 2017 so stay tuned to Connie Consumes to see what and where we’re consuming next!