Tuesday 1 January 2013

My ten favourite meals of 2012

I ate a lot of food last year, bad and good. Here are my ten favourite meals from 2012, many of which were a DISH OF THE WEEK, and would no doubt all qualify as a SUPER-DISH if consumed in 2013!

The seafood platter at The Company Shed is simply amazing, and of course it is very famous with many appearances on TV over the years. They only sell fish, shellfish and a single salad. Everything else you have to bring yourself (wine, bread, butter and mayonnaise are on my list). For £11.50 I genuinely don’t think you can buy a better dish anywhere. Equally good are the oysters and the rollmops. I will definitely write a fuller review of this excellent place in the coming months.

The John Barleycorn PH is a staple in my house, always good; the ham hock starter was a high point for me and the homemade piccalilli (something I detest out of a jar) was immense.

The Smokehouse (from Mark Sargeant) in Folkestone is my favourite fish & chip shop and the salt & pepper squid is to die for. I very nearly cried on my last trip when they had run out!

Le Blanc Nez in Sangatte, France is a regular haunt and never, ever fails to disappoint. The seafood platter here is great, especially the way it is served in a little boat! A great day-trip destination, only 10 minutes drive from both the Eurotunnel terminal and the port of Calais.

I spend a lot of time in Dublin for my job and like to stay at The Fitzwilliam Hotel on St. Stephens Green whenever I can. The full Irish breakfast is a great way to start the day, with both black and sublime white pudding.

I was lucky enough to visit Australia on business last year, and managed to squeeze in lunch at Doyle's, which is something of a Sydney institution. Fantastic oysters (Australian oysters seem small, more like our own native variety than the bigger, more common rock oyster) and a great view!

When it comes to bar snacks, Benelux countries have it sorted! The bitterballen at the Taverne Central in Ypres, Belgium were great. I know that my Dutch friends will be shocked that a Belgium bitterballen dish was chosen over one from the Netherlands!

I love a pie and The Newman Arms PH in Rathbone Street does the best in London. Steak & kidney pudding is my recommendation for lunch in a pub that was once frequented by George Orwell.

Germans do sausages at least as well as we do here, albeit in a very different way. The currywurst in the raucous Bavarian Beerhouse on City Road (just next to Moorfield's) is a great accompaniment to all those steins of beer. They also sell some great spirits with a sort of sherbert powder that you drop in and mix. Dangerous!

Amsterdam seems to be full of steak restaurants. The entrecote and the sirloin steak at Rancho Argentinian Grill was the best I had all year.

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