It was the year I discovered new ways to enjoy food with pop-up supper clubs, a food tour, discounted fine dining and free organic breakfasts.It was also the year I discovered food markets to rave about in London and Lisbon as well as places to suit breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner in the great eating destinations of Brighton and London.
With little more to add, sit back and enjoy my list of personal favourites from a year of eating well in 2016.
Best Brighton Breakfast / Brunch
Long after my goodie bag of granola bar, muffins and fresh almond milk with turmeric had been consumed the memory of a cosy and comforting breakfast has stayed with me. On a dull morning last winter I joined a group of fellow breakfasters for a pop-up breakfast provided by One Supper Club at Pharmacie Coffee Roasters in Hove. The definition of hygge, healthy and hearty, food was in abundance with muffins, Nordic porridge, fresh juice and delicious coffee on the menu. Overall it left a warm hug of an impression and has given me a lasting obsession with making almond milk. This event was organised through the pop-up supper club website Tabl, who run lots of interesting nights in Brighton and London. Find out more in my blog post Foodie Friday - A Pop-Up Brunch
Best Brighton Cafe
This year my best cafe experience has got to go to the ever chic, minimal and muted colour schemed I Gigi in Hove. Once you have somehow managed to make it to the stairs without buying everything
in the homewares shop, you'll be faced with the dilemma afforded by a sideboard of delectable cakes. This is cafe culture at its best, beautiful cakes in a refined setting. If you're going for brunch I'd heartily recommend the warmed breakfast loaf with yoghurt and a flat white for £6.50. Find out more in my blog post Foodie Friday - The best Cafe in Hove.
Best Lunch in Brighton
If you are lunching in Brighton then it's best to head to somewhere in the centre of it all. A pedestrianised street for people watching and yet removed from it all in a wood-dominated interior for instance. In fact, one just like Grow 40 (not sure about the name, btw). Inside they serve freshly cooked simple dishes such as their omelette for £6.50, this is very much the cheaper end of their offerings. It's always nicer to go to an independent rather than a chain, you get more of a unique experience and there is a sense that there is a lot of pride that goes into all they do. I loved it and I intend to go back and try their rather tempting sounding lobster. Find out more in my blog post Foodie Friday - Why you'll love Lunch at Grow 40 in Brighton.
Best London View
Enough of Brighton and Hove for a while, while I take you back to the superb Barbecoa. Really to sell this place just on the view seems completely unfair, but then the view is of St Paul's Cathedral, my favourite building in London and I really love buildings, just take a look at my Instagram account to see what I mean. With floor to ceiling windows on the first floor and directly opposite St Paul's, the view cannot be beat. However, Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa also produces the goods when it comes to amazing dishes, such as tandoori prawns cooked in their own tandoor oven, plus a Bloody Mary that should win awards. They've even got their own distillery. This place is unique and I highly recommend booking a table. Find out more in my blog post Foodie Friday - Dine with a view in London.
Best London Fast Food
If you're thinking a smash and grab is more appropriate for your lunchtime requirements then look out for the Pod chain that I discovered this year. My absolute favourite choice is their lemon curd pud with chia seeds. I'm still thinking about it. Thanks to an invite to listen to a talk by Nutritionist Helen Money I found out that links have been made to greater creativity and eating more fruit. For more food news read my blog post Foodie Friday - What Bloggers should eat and more stories.
Best Brighton Curry
This is a hotly debated topic and quite rightly, because in Brighton and Hove we really do have an incredible selection. Since discovering Azaro, in particular their naan topped Biryani I have not stopped talking about it. Friends have taken friends and all have been equally impressed. There are some other great places to try, more central to Brighton, such as Curry Leaf that does the best chai tea and Chilli Pickle that top the charts with their amazing plain naan and desserts. Find out more in my blog post Foodie Friday - All About the Biryani at Azaro.
Best Organic Event
Wake Up to Organic is an event that I'm expecting to see grow in popularity and reach in the coming years, so keep a look out. Designed to spread the word about organic producers and suppliers, they come together at the beginning of June to offer free organic breakfasts nationwide. It's a chance to check out local cafes, shops and grocers that you may not have visited before or try new products and literally wake up to organic. In 2016 my stand out discovery was the smoothie shop in the Open Market on London Road. Go check out these guys with their truly fresh, affordable and healthy smoothies. I had an Echinacea Boost for £2.50. Find out more in my blog post Foodie Friday - Get your free Breakfast and Wake up to Organic.
Best Brighton Vietnamese
Milk No Sugar is currently doing a great job of posing as a coffee shop in easy reach of Brighton station. Step inside and you'll find yourself looking up at simple chalked lists of Vietnamese dishes at very affordable prices. I loved it. I loved the Ibiza vibe soundtrack and since then have tracked it down on Soundcloud and totally rinsed it (listened to it loads). I loved my chicken and rice dish and when I posted up about this on Instagram I found a lot of love coming back about this place. If you want a Brighton insider tip then this is the place for you. Find out more in my blog post Foodie Friday - Vietnamese Milk No Sugar.
Best Brighton Food Tour
It's the only Brighton food tour I've ever been on but that doesn't mean it's not the best, does it? This tour combines two great loves of mine, trivia and food. What a pleasurable way to discover food delights in the bustling hub of Brighton. My stand out favourites were the hot chocolate drink we had at Rainbow Chocolates (I've been back since) and oysters at English's. For the ultimate in sophistication stop at the bar of English's for a glass of wine and a couple of oysters. This really is a must experience. Find out more in my blog post Foodie Friday - Trying out the Brighton Food Tour.
Best Brighton Fine Dining
To be honest I have a lot more places to try before I can give you the ultimate fine dining experience, as there really are quite a few for me to try. That said and thanks to Wriggle for offering a discounted deal, my Welsh One and I had the chance to enjoy a marvellous meal at Isaac At. I loved the Bonobo soundtrack, I loved how the chefs took it in turns to introduce the dishes before all the diners commenced eating. I loved the care and creativity that went into every dish, the combination of flavours, the interesting cooking techniques employed and I loved the recommended white wine, we drank two bottles of the Davenport. I challenge you not to love this too. Find out more in my blog post Foodie Friday - What makes Isaac At so Great.
Best Brighton Burger
Really this could feature quite easily in my Best Brighton Breakfast and Lunch categories too. Organic, locally sourced and with ethical credentials by the sack full. Choose interesting burger toppings like fig jam and hazelnuts with truly gorgeous burgers. I remember being so impressed that I just kept muttering the word phenomenal to my Welsh One, whose recommendation it had been. Literally, everything we had was delicious and I always try everything that comes within a fork's reach. Find out more in my blog post Foodie Friday - Lucky Beach burgers.
Best London Lunch
Back to London I think and to the recently re-developed Kings Cross area. A lunchtime visit with the Sis and little Miss to Granger and co had us enjoying fine dining Ozzie style. My stand out was on Little Miss' plate, the creamed corn, although all our dishes were winners, combining unusual ingredients, such as siyez, zhoug and avocado poke in a totally tasty way. Find out more in my blog post Foodie Friday - Granger's in London for Ladies who Lunch.
Best Staycation in Surrey
Slightly off point, but oh! The pool. So warm it was like swimming in a bath (in a good way). Situated outside, the perfect place for a pool, surrounded by trees at the base of Box Hill in the North Downs and most importantly empty. Bliss. Combine that with a delicious breakfast. The quality of a hotel breakfast can be a deal breaker in my view and this one got top marks. Fresh orange juice, fresh fruit, fresh pastries. I was happy. Plus surprisingly good bar food and a picnic full of treats all emanating from the same kitchen run by Nick Sinclair and you've got a wonderful staycation at Mercure's Box Hill Burford Bridge. Find out more in my blog post Days Away in Surrey - A Mercure Summer Stay and Picnic.
Best Dining Room Experience
While on the subject of hotel dining I'll have to mention The Pig in Southampton. Visited on a sunny summer's night. It was as if we had entered a little haven of calm. A fabulous rum cocktail that was so good I had another straight away, a setting sun and boards with inviting looking pizzas. It was a proper relaxed date night that I'd recommend to anyone. Find out more in my blog post Days Away - Stay and Eat at The Pig in Southampton.
Best Food Market
I'd heard about Borough Market for years and unfortunately never been in the area when it was open. Well. What a great place. I bought cheese from the Bath Cheese company that went down a storm at a recent festive gathering. The cranberries I bought became the main ingredient for a Christmas chutney. My stand outs are quite numerous as is befitting of such an impressive establishment.
For starters, I seriously recommend the meat empanadas at Portena's plus the mulled wine with rum at Borough Wines. Next time I'll have to pluck up the courage to try a sea urchin at the Cornish Fish stall. Find out more in my blog post Christmas Days Out - London's Foodie Borough Market.
Best Overseas entry
A food hall so good it's worth visiting Portugal just to go there. This isn't any old food hall. Here top chefs jostle for prominence in Time Out's Mercado da Ribeira. I had chicken in a bap that turned my head. It's not just me who's going a bit crazy about this place. I pretty much loved Lisbon a lot too. Find out more in my blog post Portugal - 8 Great Discoveries in Lisbon.
Wishing you a full fat, organic and locally sourced New Year
Blogger, Modern Bric a Brac
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