Here we are, 2011 is looming and another year almost over. The clichés beckon, “Where does the time go?”, “what happened to the year”, “what have I actually achieved this year?”, “What will next year bring?”. And of course there’s the numerous programmes on TV that will review the year too and oh how I soon get bored with those, especially when they start that in November (sure that was the BBC). So I think with just over two days of the year left I am safe to do my own review. Well I did make a few food related resolutions at the beginning of the year so I should let you know how they went.
My first resolution was to have a lesson from a real Chef, yes I managed that three times. One at Braxted Park Cookery School with the very talented, and may I say funny, Chris Jagger. The next was at Corrigans where we got to cook with head chef Chris and some of the team, with Mr C casting his experienced eye over us. The last was again with Chris Jagger in his own Kitchen to get some real professional experience. All fantastic, all taught me so much and to Chris and Richard and his team I say a heart-felt thanks, you were all truly inspirational.
Second resolution was to make a curry from scratch and I just scraped that in toward the latter end of the year. Using Atul Kochhar’s recipes I made a great meal which I have to say I was fairly impressed with myself. A lovely coconut curry, stuffed aubergine and some spiced fried okra. I have experimented with the left over spices many times since.
The third was to try something I had never eaten before. I have done that a few times this year but the most memorable has to be at Glavin La Chapelle where I had brain and sweetbreads for the first time. I’m not too sure about the brain but the sweetbreads I will eat again and have. Love them. Not sure why I’ve been so scared of them really.
The fourth resolution was to be more adventurous and experimental. Well I think with the uses of spices I have gone for this year and the meal at Galvin La Chapelle I have more than kept that resolution. There have been successes like my first ever venison carpaccio made with my own invented marinade, cooking pehasant for the first time and disasters which never even made the plate.
It’s been a great year in all, made some more great twitter friends and project Obsession really lifted off with now having 10 of the 54 signatures I need which to complete the book. Considering I only started in August I don’t think that’s too bad. That’ brings me to one fo the most memorable evenings of the year, the Obsession dinner at Hix. A feast by four top chefs which has inspired me to do a four course meal for New Year’s Eve and I also plan a meal suing recipes from the Obsession book in the New Year.
The highs of the year also include several meals at Galvin Café a Vin, a birthday dinner at The Blueprint Cafe, last night at The Boxwood and getting to have a chat twice (yes twice) with the witty charismatic gentleman that is Olly Smith. Oh and let’s not forget the Chefs I have had the pleasure to meet this year, Michel Roux Jr, Richard Corrigan, Mark Hix, Brian Turner, Nigel Haworth, Gary Rhodes, Stuart Gilles, Tristan Welch, Theo Randall, Fergus Henderson, Chris Jagger, Chris Galvn, Jeff Galvin and a glimpse of Michael Caines. A special mention to a few other food related people whic were so friendly that we met on our journeys ; Sara Galvin, Matthew Fort and Tom Parker Bowles.
The lows, I sort of thought not to mention these but it wouldn’t be a really review if I didn’t. There is the arthritis in my hand that started this year which kept me out of the kitchen for two months and feeling very down. The other is having the Flu twice. One of those ruining a meal at Gidleigh Park, to the point that I could only manage four out of seven courses. The second bout of flu almost caused me to miss an evening at Corrigans too.
I have got over this though, hand recovered and doing well, cooking a lot to make up for the missed time. The Gidleigh Park experience still gnaws at me though, I am really really annoyed at that, especially when I then found out Michael Caines was in the Kitchen. Anyway, life goes on and with Project Obsession going on, I think there will be enough experiences to make up for it.
I would like to thanks a few people for tips, advice and help but I know I will miss someone out. So to everyone who has answered my queries, questions, talked to me on twitter, commented on my blog and messaged me or replied to posts on Facebook, I thank you all. You are a great bunch of people and friends. So at midnight on the 31st December 2010 I will raise my glass to you and wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year. Look out 2011, here we come.