HOME COOKED DISH OF THE YEAR: CREAMY CURRY PRAWN PASTA
Following a trip to Rome this summer I became somewhat obsessed with perfecting my pasta sauce making skills at home (I have not gone quite as far as making my own pasta but hey a goal for 2018). This recipe may not be the most authentic with it’s addition of curry spice but the end result is one of the most comforting, fragrant and luxurious dishes I have ever cooked and has been an instant crowd pleaser, with me even going as far as preparing it as the main course for my family’s Christmas dinner. For all you veggies and none fish eaters simply replace the prawns with some courgettes or mushroom, chucked in with the onions to sauté and enjoy! Trust me this one will surprise you and you will cook it time and time again. It only takes 30 minutes to make but will instantly make you the hostess with the mostest!
Creamy curry prawn pasta:
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon mild curry spice
1 tablespoon flour
¼ litre vegetable broth
250g double cream
250g raw prawns
1 bag of spinach
- Heat the butter in a pan and fry the diced onion until translucent.
- Add the curry powder and flour and cook for another 3-4 minutes on a medium heat.
- Add the vegetable broth and double cream and increase the heat to high and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile boil your pasta.
- Add your raw prawns and make sure to cook them through to a nice pink colour. Season well.
- Bring down the heat and add the spinach until it’s wilted.
- Drain your pasta and add to the sauce, making sure everything is mixed together properly.
- Enjoy with a chilled glass of white wine!
NEW FOOD OBSESSION: POKE BOWLS
I mean what is not to love here - poke bowls come with amazing sushi inspired raw fish toppings, tropical flavours (they do after all originate from Haiwaii) and allow you to customise to your heart’s content. They are indeed like the pimped up salad full of sunshine flavours that you have always dreamt of and have become my to go to hangover cure in 2017! Island Poke and Ahi Poke are my favourite spots in London as they let you customise your bowl, whether you fancy salad or rice as base or go for tuna or salmon, and for around a tenner you can run wild and get a pretty decent sized, filling and most importantly incredibly tasty bowl! If you haven’t had one yet I highly recommend that you loose you poke bowl virginity in 2018!
BEST PIZZA: VIA TRIBUNALI, HELSINKI
Helsinki might not strike you as the most obvious place to find amazing pizza in and yes, I of course also had some stellar pizza while in Rome, but on balance Via Tribunali’s expertly made Neapolitan sourdough pizzas with simple yet high quality seasonal toppings came out on top of the many, many pizzas I ate my way through this year. Of course half of Helsinki knows this by now and waiting times generally exceed an hour but here it is totally worth it. If you find yourself visiting Finland’s capital in 2018 make the trip here, it’s as close to pizza perfection as you are going to get without making the trip to its birth place in Naples!
BEST NEW LONDON FOOD DISCOVERY: PADELLA
You will have heard of Padella this year, it quickly gaining a reputation for serving the best pasta in London at incredibly good prices, and in a way I wanted to hate it with all the hype that has surrounded it since opening. Not that it is easy to even sit down and eat at Padella, it being near impossible to get a table unless you go at a ridiculous time, which meant I ended up going for a VERY early dinner at 3pm on a Sunday. Once i did sit down to eat however I couldn’t help but adore the place. It reminded me of my favourite hole in the wall restaurants in Rome with its few simple pasta dishes on the menu and emphasis on letting the ingredients used here shine (the burrata is a must order). Dishes are cheap, made for sharing and full of that dolce vita feeling that inevitably leave you and your fellow diners with big smiles on your faces. This is simple Italian fare cooked to perfection. Not poncy but showcasing a real love of flavours as if a real Italian nonna was at work. London needed a place like Padella and if you queue for one place in 2018 make it this one.
BEST BRUNCH: LITTLE COLLINS, AMSTERDAM
I’ve been lucky enough to go to Amsterdam twice this year and have fallen in love with this canal city more and more with every visit. As I discovered it is not only beautiful to look at and filled with super friendly locals but also has a vibrant eating out scene and it was hard for me to pick just one local foodie highlight. One place really stood out though: Little Collins, bang in the middle of De Pijp, Amsterdam’s answer to East London, making some of the most imaginative, fresh and tasty brunch fare I have had in years, blowing its London competitors out of the water. My French toast with plum compote, rosemary and halloumi was a sheer flavour explosion and everything on their menu sounded so uttlery brilliant that it took more than a bit of deliberation to pick just one dish. The vibe inside is very New York East Village and the staff from all over the world, reiterating the modern, fresh and experimental vibe of the place. A must visit for any brunch fiend and a place I wish was a little closer to and not a plane ride away from my home!
BEST DINING EXPERIENCE: G WIE GOULASH, BERLIN
G Wie Goulash offered me without a doubt the most warming and unforgettable dining experience of the year. Stumbling across it by accident as I was planning where to eat during a long weekend in Berlin this summer, this little spot not only serves the best goulash in town but it’s owner Levi will make you feel like you have been invited to an evening of food and drinks in his house, chatting to you about everything and nothing while he single handily makes the dishes from scratch in the tiny open kitchen right by your table. Indeed this place only has about four small tables and the whole place feels like you’ve been transported into a Berlin home of the 20’s, with the most wonderful host you could wish for. Dishes are seasonal, the goulash, whether you go for the meat or veggie version, an absolute delight and you won’t want to leave when the evening draws to the close. A one of a kind gem I was very happy to discover.
BEST MEAL OF THE YEAR: DA ENZO, ROME
What can I say other than that Da Enzo, located in Rome’s cool Trastevere neighbourhood and family run for many decades, served me the best pasta of my entire life. Not only that but we had equally fantastic seasonal starters including their out of this world artichoke and washed it all down with the finest house wine, a mere 9 euros a carafe. Everything was just perfect here and what was even better we got to skip the queue of eagerly waiting diners that this place draws in everyday as we had booked ahead. Rome is full of fantastic food but this place is hard to beat. It offers to me what Italian food and life is all about and I won’t even try to recommend you a single item on the menu because, if you can, just order everything.
BEST IN VALUE: 3 COURSE DINNER @ SHACKFUYU
For £22 you not only get a taste of one of London’s best Japanese fusion restaurants but also get to try three utterly brilliant courses PLUS a glass of house wine. Go early (before 6pm) or late (after 10pm) and not only avoid the crowds that usually flock to this Soho hotspot but get a real taste of the amazing flavours they come up with here and to finish things off snap one of the most instagrammed desserts in London, their french toast with matcha soft serve, which I can vouch for not only looks fantastic but tastes amazing too!
Here is to 2018 with many more foodie highlights to come!