2016 was a year of great eating, from Myanmar to Stockholm and everywhere in between!
Here, in no particular order, is what I have eventually narrowed down to be the best things I ate in 2016.
The Flying Elk, Stockholm
Vendace Roe From Kalix On Cauliflower & Spelt Langos With Sour Cream, Pork Belly & Brown Butter
In all honesty I could have done a “Top 10 Dishes From Stockholm” blog post we just ate so incredibly well there! Swedish food just seems to have such, fresh, clean flavours and the seafood is quite unlike anywhere else. I ate fish or shellfish every day of our holiday there and could not have enjoyed it any more than I did.
This was my appetiser from our second meal at Bjorn Frantzens “The Flying Elk” Gastropub in Gamla Stan. Originating in Hungary, “Langos” is a deep fried flatbread that has found popularity in Sweden and is often paired with seafood as a sort of open faced sandwich. It was topped here with sour cream, Roe of the Salmon like Vendace fish from Kalix in the North of Sweden, wonderfully nutty brown butter and crispy pork belly lardons. The flavour combination was absolutely heavenly and although they were only bite sized they left a lasting impression on me!
Pizzarium Bonci, Rome, Italy
N’djua & Fior di Latte Pizza Romana
Another City that I ate exceedingly well in was Rome which edged out Naples as my Italian inclusion partially as I couldn’t narrow down my favourite Neapolitan Pizza, but also because the pairing of creamy, light Fior di Latte and fiery N’djua is a match made in heaven and I mean really – have you seen that pizza base? Simple perfection – so good in fact that Gabriele Bonci himself took a photo of my pizza as I was about to start eating it!
The Bombay Canteen, Mumbai
“Desi Tacos” Methi Thepla with Goan Pulled Pork Vindaloo
Bombay Canteen was one of the restaurants I was most excited to visit – hell I made a diversion from Delhi to go to Mumbai specifically so I could eat there! My friend arranged for me to sample several small dishes from the menu whilst I decided what else to order and I enjoyed this so much that I ordered another one!
Methi Thepla is a Gujarati flatbread made with fenugreek and controversially topped here with a perfectly spiced Goan Pulled Pork Vindaloo and Crackling. I say controversial as Gujarat is of course predominantly vegetarian, so taking a famous vegetarian dish and adding pork to it is something it takes a lot of guts to do, but the talented trio behind TBC have this in spades and have made a huge impact on the Mumbai restaurant scene in just a few short years. I’m definitely looking forward to visiting again and trying some more of their incredible cooking
Mum & Dads House, Harpenden, UK
Homemade Scones, Jam & Cream
My mum is the most amazing cook and we had some delicious meals whilst I was visiting in the summer but sitting on their terrace with a cup of tea and a freshly baked scone is about as good as it gets. None of us, me especially, needs the extra calories so these are with whipped cream instead of clotted (still so good) and I don’t care what anyone says, there is something about eating them off this beautiful afternoon tea set just makes them taste even more delicious.
Ladhu Samrat, Parel, Mumbai
I tried several Vada Pav when I was in Mumbai but nowhere came anywhere close to the highs of the Ladhu Samrat version which was why I thought I should include it here
A small local sweet shop and cafe, Ladhu Samrat is famous for its Maharashtrain snacks like Vada Pav, Misal Pav and Sabudana Pav amongst many others, the Vada Pav however is the top selling item, both for their unique spiced potato vada recipe and also their top secret chutney. The spiced vegetable and mashed potato mixture is coated in batter and fried before it is topped with a fiery green chilli and coconut chutney and crispy spiced onions and enveloped in a freshly baked bread roll.
The dish was born out of necessity at a time when Parel was filled with cotton mills and workers would often leave work in the early hours of the morning before anywhere was open & serving food. This cheap and easy recipe was said to have been dreamt up by a canny restaurateur who could use up the leftovers from the night before to create a hearty, cheap and filling supper for the mill workers before they headed home to sleep.
Sanon Restaurant, Bagan, Myanmar
River Prawn and Catfish Curry with Apple Eggplants & Acacia Leaves.
I seemed to have been sick for weeks before I visited Bagan, and wasn’t in fact fully recovered until almost a month afterwards, and this curry was the first thing I ate that I was truly able to appreciate. My first mouthful of curry sauce took me by surprise with the deep intensity of the flavours, quite unexpected but totally delicious and something would happily eat again tomorrow given the opportunity.
L’Arlequin Gelati, Nice, France
Persepolis & Wild Fig Ice-Cream
My friend D absolutely raves about the ice-cream at Arlequin and I knew I couldn’t visit Nice without checking it out. They have around 20 different flavours of homemade ice-creams available, from more classic flavours like Chocolate, Pistachio and Salted Caramel to Seasonal Fruits, like my Wild Fig, and the wonderful Persepolis that they make with saffron, rosewater, pistachio & pistachio ganache.
The Persepolis was so scented and fragrant, it was quite unlike anything else I have eaten & I enjoyed the ice-cream so much that I intended to visit again the next day although sadly I had booked myself on an early morning flight and it wasn’t to be. You don’t need to take my word for it – apparently the owner has won awards for being the best ice cream maker in France on multiple occasions so you know it HAS to be something special!
Lucky Seven, Yangon, Myanmar
Seeing as this is the dish I have probably eaten most frequently this year, I thought it only fair to include the exceptional Mohinga at Lucky Seven. Friends tell me that there are in fact better versions to be found in Yangon, something I shall endeavour to investigate further in 2017 but for the meantime this spicy, lemongrass fish noodle dish is with a doubt one of my absolute favourites and at less than a dollar a bowl who’s to argue with that!
Pizzeria La Notizia 53, Naples, Italy
Literally meaning a “small bite”, this little pocket of pizza dough, filled with grated pecorino, pork belly and pepper was probably the culinary highlight of my trip to Naples (I really can’t narrow down which was my favourite pizza either!) Such a simple dish but one where the quality of ingredients really shone through. I loved the combination of the fiery black pepper, salty pecorino and the wafer thin slices of fatty pork belly that just melted in the mouth, it really was the perfect marriage of flavours.
Fem Sma Hus, Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden
6 Crayfish Served “The Traditional Swedish Way”
We had a wonderful dinner at Fem Sma Hus, a stunning restaurant housed in a series of 17th century cellar rooms, for my parents Ruby wedding anniversary.
I have never eaten crayfish “in the traditional Swedish way” this meaning that they are boiled in salt water and served whole, in their shells with “Crown Dill” which is harvested after the dill has flowered. The idea is that you suck the juices out of the crayfish before shelling them, something I attempted, but I made a bit of a mess of!
This was such an exceptionally simple dish but the crayfish were just so sweet and delicious, so different to just eating prawns or lobster, I can understand why they are so popular in Sweden and I can imagine nothing better than marking the long awaited arrival of Swedish summertime with a traditional crayfish party!
So there you have it. My extremely subjective Top 10 of 2016! What were the best things that you ate over the past year? Were they new discoveries or old favourites? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! I hope everyone had a happy new year and wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017 wherever you are!