2008 Food ChallengesOn the 1st of January 2008, I set myself some 45 challenges to undertake throughout the year. They were quite tough and although I didn’t complete them all, I managed to do 32, many of which included multiple recipes.
Feel free to find out what these 2008 Food Challenges included. Those that I didn’t finish, I’ll carry over into 2009.
The Winners of 2008
2008 was a year of many changes in my kitchen. Either I discovered, rediscovered or somehow grew to love flavours that had never occurred to me before. Here are some of the stand-outs.
Palm hearts (palmitos)I had eaten them before, but this year I became obsessed with these delicious and expensive vegetables. Tasting like a cross between asparagus, artichoke and the sweetness of scallops my favourite way to eat them is simply sliced lengthways with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of olive oil and vinegar.
I’m a big fan of gin, but when it has been steeped in gorgeous sloe berries it’s even more incredible. My favourite quick and easy drink is sloe gin shaken with lemon juice and a nip of Cointreau. Perfect. Add a little apricot brandy and it’s even better!
Who would have guessed it, but suddenly I’m enjoying chicken. Usually I go for big, gamey flavours so venison, lamb and beef are my top choices and then pork always came before chicken too, but in 2008 I found a myriad of ways to cook chicken wonderfully. My favourite is the so-called dark meat and I prefer thigh fillets over breast meat any day!
What a wonderful discovery this was! I had heard of this vegetable, and seen it on menus, but I’ve never been able to buy it myself. When we were in Sweden I saw it for sale in the supermarket and jumped at the chance to try it. Crunchy and salty, it’s best served with seafood and prepared simply with lemon juice and olive oil or butter.
Earl grey teaUntil recently I abhorred early grey tea. Jonas would make it and I would wrinkle my nose in disgust. Halfway through 2008 something changed dramatically and I literally woke up with a new love for this fragrant tea. I can’t get enough of it, although I will not abide milk to be added. What sacrilege! If you must add something, a slice of lemon or a teaspoon of sugar will suffice.
Albariño and Grüner VeltlinerThese two white wine varieties became my new favourites. Albariño grapes come from Galicia in Spain and make wines with strong stone fruit aromas and light, acidic flavours. Grüner Veltliner is grown primarily in Austria (Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal) and also in the Czech Republic. It has an ability to match easily with many foods and can take on an interesting green aroma including lentils, asparagus and green beans. It is quite bold in flavour, yet somehow also very light, and good quality bottles have herby, fresh scents with rich peppery flavours.
My favourite recipes of 2008Avgolemono (Greek chicken & lemon soup)
Coco y Crema (coconut cocktail)
Es Timun Aceh (Indonesian cucumber & lime drink)
Lemon & Garlic Broccoli
Nectarine & Rooibus Punch
Orange Slices w Earl Grey Syrup
Galinha à Africana (spicy Portuguese-style chicken)
Jin Cheung Fun (Chinese fried noodle rolls w peanut sauce)
Potato Breakfast Curry w Poached Egg
Quince, Pomegranate & Rosewater Martini
Roast Chicken w Lemon & Thyme
Glasört & Smör (Samphire w Butter)
Sloecar (sloe gin & lemon cocktail)
Smoked Salmon Spoons
Steamed Blueberry Puddings
Strawberry Schnapps Spider
Sumac Scallops w Pomegranate Molasses
Yoghurt & Orange Blossom Cupcakes
The Losers of 2008Just as chicken and earl grey tea made it onto my “like” list after years in exile, 2008 saw a decline of many old favourites. Pinot noir and sauvignon blanc fell from favour, mostly due to over consumption and palate fatigue, and interestingly I started to dislike mushrooms, especially strong types like shitake. And, although I will never stop loving them with all my heart, my lemon intake reduced drastically (perhaps to one third of 2007 levels).
Stayed tuned in a few days time when I announce my 2009 Food Challenges.