The WordPress fairies reminded me of the New Year by sending a little summary of how this blog fared in 2010. They offered to put it up as a post, but the stats don’t seem to tell the story of the year very well, so I’m going to have a go myself.
The year kicked off in Mexico, where we went for a holiday in February while our back garden was being renovated.
It was a great break, and the best food was eaten on the beach, with pelicans diving in front of us. Tortillas for breakfast, lunch and dinner is a seriously underrated diet. When summer and my birthday arrived, I got hold of Thomasina Miers’ Mexican Food Made Simple and had a go at tacos at home. The main problem seems to be finding good tortillas in the UK – although apparently Thomasina is working on that problem too. I also bought masa harina this year, but haven’t found the time to try making my own tortillas yet. A project for 2011 instead.
It seems that there has been more eating out this year – maybe having a new job, and a bit more time has helped. I also have access to a huge amount of great lunch food in my new location. Following the mexican theme, I have had many good burritos this year, but Daddy Donkey is still the favourite. Konditor & Cook and Fleet River Bakery are other great lunch spots in EC4.
As far as restaurants go, I particularly enjoyed the vegetarian Vanilla Black, the all-booth, all-day dining at Bob Bob Ricard, traditional hotel dining at Hix at the Albermarle, the pizza bianca at Polpo, gelato from Gelupo and a family dinner at Middlethorpe Hall in Yorkshire.
This has been a very chocolatey year, and I have found a whole new group of fellow twitterers to share this with. I saw demos by Paul A Young, William Curley, Micah Carr-Hill and Angus Thirlwell. All really inspirational and passionate people, who are really excited to be working with this strange material every day. The biggest eye-opener was probably William Curley’s raspberry ganache, made from just raspberry puree and melted chocolate.
I’m looking forward to trying lots more chocolate baking in 2011 with my stash, and maybe extending the repetoire beyond brownies…
This year is the first one in which I’ve had a proper garden, rather than narrow borders and pots. I took full advantage by planting a Rocket Garden, with tomatoes, beans, courgettes, chard, spinach, strawberries, lettuces and peas. I’ve learnt a lot about how the plot works, which I’m hoping to put into practice this year. I’ve also learnt that, despite good intentions, I just don’t pick or eat lettuce, so I should stop growing it.
The four courgette plants were very enthusiastic, giving a glut, as they always do (I saw in a seed catalogue today the words ‘heavy cropper’ next to a courgette variety, as if this was a good thing!). It did mean that I was able to make Clotilde’s eponymous Chocolate & Zucchini cake this year, which was really good, and will be coming out again.
Other baking adventures included making a lot more bread at home than I remember doing in previous years. I think this comes partly from finally adopting a more relaxed attitude to it, and an acceptance that using dried yeast, not massively wet dough and not kneading it is all fine, and even beneficial. For this, I have the wonderful Dan Lepard and also Azelia’s Kitchen to thank.
I also got to grips with macarons, caramels, many muffins as well as marmalade, jam and chutney.
Well, that’s about it for 2010. Further posts to come on my Christmas truffle making exploits, and plans and challenges for 2011. Happy New Year!