Here are my 10 Best Dishes of 2015:
10. Turbot at Elkano in Getaria, Spain - May 2015
A full review of my meal at Elkano can be found here.
9. Lobster at In De Wulf in Dranouter, Belgium - May 2015
Poached lobster (from Audresselles, France), coated with a lobster head sauce enriched with butter, and finished with some coral powder. An outstandingly pure dish with exceptional lobster flavours, particularly the sauce which had great complexity.
A full review of my meal at In De Wulf can be found here.
8. Trout with grey shrimps, tomato broth and Mangalitsa pork fat at De Librije in Zwolle, the Netherlands - October 2015
Fresh and tender brown trout served with grey shrimps, crunchy shrimp heads, martinated cherry tomatoes, a few dots of kaffir lime leaf mayonnaise and two little cornets made with marinated radish, one filled with smoked olive oil crème and mustard seeds and one filled with trout roe. The dish is finished with a clear tomato broth (flavoured with kaffir lime leaf), and cubes of lightly fried Dutch mangalitsa pork fat. An exquisite dish, executed with great precision and with beautifully layered flavours. With each mouthfull there's the freshness of the trout, a touch of pleasant sweetness from the shrimps and tomato, some citrus notes from the kaffier lime, and finally the warm uncteousness of the pork fat. Great textures too, especially the crunchy shrimp heads.
A full review of my meal at De Librije will be online soon.
7. Guinea hen at l'Enclume in Cartmel, UK - June 2015
An extraordinary wonderful dish of guinea hen breast and leg, and guinea offal puree, accompanied by charred spring onions, gooseberry puree, broad beans, a fabulous guinea hen jus, and some fresh elderflowers. Expertly cooked guinea hen, tender, perfectly moist and with great caramelisation, especially on the breast; the offal puree adding a nice gamey touch to the dish. The guinea hen jus was flavoured with elderflower vinegar, which, together with tangy gooseberry puree, balanced the richness in this dish perfectly. One of the finest guinea fowl dishes I have had in recent memory.
A full review of my meal at l'Enclume can be found here.
6. Beef tartare at Kitty Fisher's in London - July 2015
Beef tartare on grilled toast sprinkled with a mixture of dried black olives and onion seeds, and served with some peppery watercress. The tartare was marvellously seasoned with fresh horseradish, tomato and red pepper, making for a rather wet but exceptionally delicious and smooth beef tartare with a lovely long aftertaste. The kind of dish that is so good that you don't want it to end.
A full review of my meal at Kitty Fisher's can be found here.
5. Bone marrow, caviar and smoked crème fraîche at Atelier Crenn in San Francisco - April 2015
An epic dish of a lightly charred bone marrow "log" with Oscietra caviar, and nasturtium crumbs, accompanied by thin and crisp buckwheat crackers and smoked crème fraîche. The bone marrow is first cooked, "set" overnight and then charred right before serving, resulting in a slightly less wobbly texture (which I liked very much), but maintaining its characteristic flavour and unctuousness. Once combined with the crackers and smoked crème fraîche you get an unique, exhilarating combination of flavours, opulent but ever so light at the same time, and the crackers provide perfect crunch with every little bite.
A full review of my meal at Atelier Crenn can be found here.
4. Sea buckthorn, mandarin, and white chocolate dessert at Hof Van Cleve in Kruishoutem, Belgium - March 2015
A visually stunning dessert of sharp sea buckthorn sorbet, accompanied by a banana and passion fruit sorbet, delicate mandarin segments, a mango-vanilla flan, white chocolate crumbs/crunch, a thin ribbon of marinated citron, and garnished with a few baby basil leaves. Best of all was a pure and vibrant bright-orange mandarin sauce. A perfectly executed, seductive dessert with delightful textures and knock-out sweet and sharp flavours; pure magic for the senses.
A full review of my meal at Hof Van Cleve can be found here.
3. "Damping through the borough groves" at The Fat Duck in Bray, UK - November 2015
A stunning composition of pickled beetroot - beetroot jelly - mushroom consommé jelly - cep shavings - truffle butter - cep butter - white truffle shavings - black currant jelly - lovage puree - beetroot powder - cep powder - a crunchy potato starch tree bark dusted with mushroom powder - some crisp fried "meal worms" - fresh leaves (wood sorrel, mizuna, among others). A spectacular dish with staggering aromas, textures and intricate earthy flavours, the latter being pure umami magic for the taste buds.
A full review of my meal at The Fat Duck can be fond here.
2. Sea urchin on liquid toast at Saison in San Francisco - March 2015
The sourdough (from San Francisco's iconic Tartine Bakery) is toasted on one side, and the other side is soaked in a mixture of brown butter, egg yolks and some soy sauce. This is topped with sea urchin roe. A sensational, almost haunting, flavour and texture combination, that you just don't want to end. First you get the crunchiness from the bread combined with the creaminess of the roe, followed by the fabulous, caramel nuttiness from the soft bread, and then the fresh sea flavours from the sea urchin hit you again, and linger on the palate. The warm toast and the cold sea urchin roe delivered a brilliant temperature contrast. You would wish you had a whole loaf of this instead of a two-bite piece, so obviously I requested seconds, which the restaurant (generously) served later on in the meal.
A full review of my meal at Saison can be found here.
1. Scallops and Périgord truffle at The Clove Club in London - February 2015
Let me start with a confession. I prefer the black Périgord truffle to the white Alba truffle. There, I have said it. There's nothing like the intoxicating aroma of white Alba truffles, but for me this is where the magic ends. When it comes to flavour (aroma and taste), the intensity and complexity of the black Périgord truffle is hard to beat and The Clove Club serves it in all its natural beauty. Sliced raw scallops, covered with roughly ground, toasted hazelnuts and clementine zest, are placed on a layer of concentrated black truffle puree/sauce, and topped with miso jelly, matchsticks of Perigord truffle and thinly sliced white mushrooms. An exquisite dish with wonderful ingredients, which all tasted great on their own (the intense and pure truffle sauce in particular), but when combined they delivered an extraordinary flavour experience. Great textural contrast too; there's the delicate creaminess of the scallop, the toastiness and crunch of the hazelnuts, the smoothness of the miso jelly, and finally you get the bite of the truffle matchsticks.
A full review of my meal at The Clove Club can be found here.