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This was a post we meant to make last year but didn’t get round to. Part of the principle behind Dinner Diary is to post every meal even if it’s dull or we’ve made it a lot before or it doesn’t come out right. This doesn’t always make for the most interesting read but it’s great for us to have something to look back on at the end of the year. A summary post seems like a good way of keeping everything in one place so here we present the ups and downs.
Favourite picture – the Indian herby lamb chops picture above, which was also one of the first Indian dishes that we cooked together.
Favourite dishes – rabbit papperdelle and slow roast shoulder of lamb. The rabbit papardelle was actually made up of leftovers and, as is often the way, the leftover dish was better than the original. We created this without the aid of a particular recipe and it came out perfectly the first time. We’ve not attempted it since, largely because finding rabbit isn’t that easy. Also, recreating runs the risk of spoiling the memory of something so great.
The slow roast shoulder of lamb should win the prize for tastiest dish with minimal ingredients and effort. It’s so simple to make yet tastes as if you’ve used lots of ingredients and fussed over it for hours. The long and slow cooking produces wonderfully tender meat that is crunchy on the outside and full of flavour.
Most frequent appearances – roast chicken, puttanesca and green curry. Roast chicken is probably our favourite meal. We’ve cooked it so often we can do it when we can’t be bothered/are sick/hungover/tired, it’s always delicious, it feels like a treat and provides leftovers which we both love. It’s also become a tradition to eat when we return from holiday which, although we eat it a lot, gives us something to look forward to when we get home.
Puttanesca was a new dish for us in 2008 and instantly became a favourite, it’s simple and quick to make and never fails to fill us up or make us go “mmmmm”.
Green curry is another favourite although making the paste is fairly time consuming so we don’t eat it as often as we’d like, it does mean it’s a real treat when we do though.
Biggest disaster – partridges with rosti. This was a fairly recent disaster and although there have been many things that haven’t gone to plan or could have been better this year, I can safely say this was a Complete Fail. To the point where it was completely inedible and went into the bin. In fairness, it wasn’t a dish we’d planned and we had consumed a fair amount of wine by the time we came to cook it.
Most clicked – cauliflower cheese. 1119 unique hits, by far the busiest day in the history of Dinner Diary! It did make its way on to both Tastespotting and Foodgawker which undoubtedly accounted for the spike in traffic, still surprising that something so simple could double our hit rate though.
Biggest regret – sausage casserole. Every year I say I’m going to perfect this and every year I make it once, am unhappy with the outcome and give up. Perhaps I’ll give it one last try in 2009.
Most memorable food experience – the Fat Duck restaurant. We didn’t blog the Fat Duck as we didn’t have our camera with us but it was definitely an experience that will stay with us both. Stephen had been before so knew what to expect, I’d read a fair amount about it but as it was a surprise visit I wasn’t prepared for what was to come. So much has been written about dining there that it’s hard to do the place justice without resorting to cliches so I won’t try.
Favourite ingredient – krachai. This is one of those ingredients that makes Thai restaurant food taste different from home-cooked Thai food and can be hard to put your finger on if you don’t know what it is. It’s an earthy, “wild” tasting version of ginger that we first used in jungle curry and then in a few other Thai dishes too.
Mon Plasir will always remain one of our favourites although we’ve only visited once this year and, sadly, we didn’t have time for cheese which is one of the real highlights.
Busaba Eatthai is well-known but I visited for the first time this year and ate very good Thai food for very little money. Closer to home we’ve been to the
Blue Elephant a few times which can do pretty good food (but has its ups and downs unfortunately and of course always costs the same, which is quite a bit) but is better known for its amazing interior and faultless service.
We also discovered Budsara which does consistenly good Thai food almost as cheaply as you could make at home.
Worst restaurant – we’ve been fortunate enough to not experience many bad meals this year but undoubtedly the worst food I’ve eaten was at Memories of China in Kensington. I did visit as part of a large party but the food was cold, tastleless, oily and over-priced. The restaurant was completely lacking in character and atmosphere.
Most requested – cheesecake. This isn’t actually our recipe but it’s definitely the one that’s been requested most often. It’s a versatile dish that can easily be adapted depending on what’s in season and (I’m probably jinxing it now) works perfectly every time.
Biggest achievement – pesto. We don’t eat this as often as we used to but it’s a really useful dish as it’s so quick to make and can be varied depending on what you have available. It seems like a small thing to be so proud of but our previous attempts have been completely disastarous and this is a great example of “if at first you don’t succeed…”
Funniest search terms – our blogging software comes with an inbuilt software package that allows you to analyse who is visiting your site and how they are getting there. As sad as it may seem, one of our favourite things to do is to look at the search terms people have entered into Google and have then been directed to Dinner Diary. Two recent favourites were: “food not suitable for vegetarians” and “what’s the name of that plastic thing that comes in the takeaway pizza box”.
We seemed to have waffled on for ages but it would be great to read everyone else’s experiences of 2008 too. Happy new year!