Missed our recent Instagram takeover with the lovely Felicity Spector? Don’t panic! Here she describes the best dishes she’s tried this year, so far…
It’s almost impossible to choose just five dishes which exemplify the best of British food, the quality of our produce and the skill and imagination of our chefs. In the end, I narrowed it down to the ones which told a story – whether it’s sustainability and zero waste or a magical memory of a meal which took my breath away.
So, let’s start with breakfast. I could have picked the sweet potato pancakes by my favourite Americans in town, David and David at Outsider Tart. Or the beautiful homemade rhubarb compote with thick Cotswolds yoghurt and granola at Thyme. In the end I picked the light, fluffy, pancakes with (yes, more rhubarb!) by Oliver Rowe from his Konstam popup in East London which echo the dishes he used to cook at the ethical, seasonal restaurant he ran in King’s Cross. Ollie is not just an exceptional cook; he’s passionate about seasonality and simple, honest ingredients which haven’t traveled half way across the world – plus, he makes an excellent pancake!
Another brilliant chef whom I’m so lucky to have as a friend is Josephine O’Hare. She creates the most magical veg-centric and vegan food that’s absolutely vibrant and full of flavour. At her popup collaboration with Le Bab, I had the most beautiful charred asparagus and wild garlic hummus flatbread with pickled cucumber, maftoul risotto with sheep’s curd and pistachio and herb falafel… utterly delicious.
I’m slightly obsessed with desserts; we’re so fortunate to have some brilliant pastry chefs and bakers in London – and one of my favourites is the new Dominique Ansel bakery. I love their delicate rhubarb orange blossom tart. It’s pretty as a picture, has perfectly biscuity pastry and a smooth ganache which is all lifted by a touch of orange blossom and the natural tartness of the fruit. Head chef Ryan and his team are perfectionists in the best possible way!
I’m very lucky to enjoy so much outstanding food in restaurants, pop-ups and supper clubs night after night. One of the most memorable adventures this year came thanks to Simon Rogan and Land Rover – who created a one off, one day only pop-up restaurant in a field on top of the South Downs. With his team from L’Enclume, Simon produced a succession of incredible dishes (the turbot with black garlic, sprouts and truffle was beyond delicious) in front of a breathtaking view. I later managed to travel to L’Enclume itself for a dinner which was full of amazing, beautiful dishes which I’ll remember for the rest of my life. They all used produce from the farm Simon has painstakingly built up from scratch; what a tribute to British food.
And finally, a custard tart. I’ve had two of the best custard tarts of my life this year; one by pastry chef extraordinaire Adam Degg and his friend Tom Shephard at their Development Kitchen popup and another at the fabulous Hispi restaurant in Manchester which is crowdfunded by Gary Usher of Sticky Walnut – a brilliant place with good value, consistently excellent food. I’ve backed all his crowdfunding ventures including the latest, Wreckfish in Liverpool. Here’s to Gary and all of the kitchen teams out there who work so hard to make British food, and British restaurants, some of the best in the world.