2010 in review

Forgive me for feeling a little retrospective at this time of year and looking back, misty eyed over what has been before knocking back a few glasses of champagne and heading into 2011.

Glass of champagne looking out over London at Vertigo 42, in Tower 42
1. Best meal in London in 2010. Buffalo milk curd with a broth of grilled onions served with truffle toast at The Ledbury. It takes longer to list the ingredients in its name than it took me to eat this spectacular but still super tasty dish. The highlight of a meal at The Ledbury which was full of highlights.
2. Best meal outside London in 2010. Eggs scrambled with truffles and served with jamon and toast. This was our lunch after a morning of truffle hunting thanks to Hotel Crillon le Brave in Provence. Despite the simplicity of the supporting ingredients this was truly a meal where the prized truffles shone and the whole experience combined made the meal incredibly memorable.
Truffled scrambled eggs and jamon in Provence
3. Worst meal in London in 2010. Shish taouk as a pre theatre dinner at Noura. The problem here wasn’t the food which was fine, instead it was the incredibly poor service which nearly made us miss the play we had booked to see. One of the few times I have refused to pay London’s “optional” service charge.
4. Worst meal outside London in 2010. There were a few contenders for this from my trip to Norway. Norway has to be one of the most breathtakingly beautiful countries I have ever been to. However food has a tendency to be mediocre and over priced. There were a few notable exceptions such as Sott og Salt in Bergen, but my reheated lasagna at Vangen cafe was really beyond redemption.
Roasted vegetable tart made using a recipe from Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty
5. Cookbook of the year. I have come to love so many great new cookbooks this year. Special mention must go to the brilliant David Thompson’s Thai Street Food which is part book part coffee table, Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion which is inspiring me both indoors and outdoors and Mark Hix’s Hix Oyster & Chop House for the great recipes and helpful sections on cuts of meat and types of oysters. There can only be one winner though and this year the best of the bunch was Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty which is both inspiring and practical. It has also helped in my aim to eat more vegetables and have more meat free meals.
6. Total number of posts this year: 159. A little less than the year before but hopefully it is all about quality and not necessarily quantity.
7. Most far-flung reader: hello to Hanoi, Vietnam.
8. Weirdest search term used to get to Gourmet Chick: naked chick cooking pancakes. This is a bizarrely popular search term. Sorry but this is just not that sort of blog!
Since it is that time of year, here are a few aims for the next year.
Wish list for 2011 in London
  • Dinner – Heston Blumenthal’s new restaurant which opens in February. I have a booking for the first week so it looks like this is one wish that is going to get fulfilled.
  • Viajante – This restaurant seems to divide people into a love or hate camp. American in London seemed to like it which is enough to make me want to try it. Anyway, I would like to go and make up my own mind while enjoying Nuno Mendes innovative cooking.
  • Fernandez and Leluu – 2010 has been the year in which supper clubs really took off and so I would love to attend Fernandez and Leluu’s supper club which the guru of supper clubs, The London Foodie, routinely raves about.
  • Vinoteca Marylebone – I love the original Vinoteca in Farringdon so am delighted the lovely people behind it have decided to open a second outpost much closer to my house. I just wish they took bookings in the evening.
  • 101 Thai – I have had this on my wish list every year. Surely it should not be so hard for me to get to Hammersmith?
  • Phoenix PalaceMr Noodles has flagged this up as his favourite place in London for dim sum. Mr Noodles knows his dim sum so I am going to make my way there pronto.
  • The Fat Duck – This has been on my wish list for three years now. Hopefully I will get my act together and actually make it there soon. Just realised I have two Heston Blumenthal restaurants on this list, not very creative of me is it?
Looking out over Bologna’s old town, Italy
Travel wish list for 2011
I was lucky enough to visit some amazing places in 2010 including Lebanon, Norway, Umbria in Italy, Provence and Bordeaux in France, the crazy little island of Ibiza, two trips to Berlin, trips to Ireland and Australia to see family and friends, adventures in the UK itself and of course a brilliant honeymoon in Sri Lanka.
Anyone for reindeer steak? In Flam, Norway.
This is my wish list for 2011:
  • Brazil: For some beach time, caipirinhas and churrascarias.
  • Puglia, Italy: I haven’t made it down to the heel of Italy before and it is about time I did.
  • Israel: For the history and the hommus.
  • Andalucia, Spain: To go horse-riding, reacquaint myself with the sun and to eat tapas.
You might like to compare notes against my hopes, memories and ambitions at the end of 2009 and 2008. It seems some things (like the length of my wish lists) have not changed much! A girl can only hope.


  1. This makes me all reflective and nostalgic for 2010 already. Sounds like it’s been a great year for you – I particularly envy you your travel itinerary and will try to match it in 2011. Happy New Year!

  2. 2011 is supposedly the year I have to go to Brazil (Sao Paulo) a lot for work so I will keep you posted on my schedule…

  3. Great review, hope the wishes come true.

    One comment stuck to my mind: Worst meal outside London in 2010…reheated lasagna. Instantly I think – order lasagna is Norway and one is bound to go wrong. I ordered chicken tikka masala at a cafe/coffee house in Stockholm – same story. Looking back I realised how stupid I was. My friend ordered spaghetti bolognese in a pizza place – it was swimming in something resembling dishwashing fluid. But then the best pizzas I had was not in Italy but in Samoa, Fiji and Kyrgyzstan out of all places:) The lasagna could have turned out to be a superstar…at least you tried.

  4. Wowza, what a packed year you’ve had! Here’s to a great 2011.

  5. Excellent post! You’ve done so much, and I love your plans for 2011. I absolutely cant wait to read what you have to say about Dinner. Please take loads of pictures.
    I am going to check out the Ledbury, I want that scrumptious sounding dish!
    Happy New Years!
    *kisses* HH

  6. What a lovely round up Cara, and plenty to look forward to in the NY, particularly Brazil, we need to talk about that again soon. Thanks for the mention, hope you will make to F&L in 2011. Have a wonderful start to the new year wherever you are!

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  7. Nice to see I’ve had your top dishes numbers 1 and 2! As for 2011, my wish list keeps growing at a faster rate than I can eat. Which is saying something! Happy new year, GC!

  8. That is such a lovely roundup. Think 2011 will be an even greater year. The popular ‘naked chick cooking pancakes’ is bizarre but amusing. 🙂

  9. Thanks for the mention, and I hope that Phoenix Palace doesn’t disappoint. I hope you also get round to sampling 101 Thai; in a city where Thai food is often mediocre, it really does shine.

    ATB for 2011 and I hope many of your wishes come true!

  10. I came here looking for a naked chick cooking pancakes but I can’t seem to find any!

    Happy New Year and I hope you get to fulfil everything on your wishlist for 2011!

  11. Gin and Crumpets – It is always nostalgic looking back at the end of a year…

    Krista – We are booked for Rio in Feb – does that fit in?

    Three Cookies – there were literally no Norwegian alternatives it was either lasagna or a horrible looking burger!

    Lizzie – You too

    HH – You must go it’s fantastic.

    The London Foodie – Yes I need to get some tips off you for sure Luiz.

    Greedy Diva – Now all I need to do is make it to your no 1 – Per Se!

    Kay – I know so weird!

    Mr Noodles – Oh good to hear you are another 101 Thai advocate.

    Helen – Sorry to disappoint you! Best wishes for 2011 to you too.

  12. Happy new year- hope that there are many fabulous adventures in store for 2011- have to thoroughly endorse two on your shortlist- both Fat Duck and Viajante manage to bring a much needed sense of whimsy to fine dining…can’t wait to see what you make of Dinner…

  13. Tori – Good to hear an enthusiastic recommendation for them! Will report back on Dinner.

  14. Great round up, much more interesting than a month by month review. I share your wish to visit Puglia, those white houses in Alberbero or wherever it is have been on my wish list for years.

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