I don't know about you, but my iPhone has over 37,000 photographs of food, 5 selfies, and around 500 photographs of people and dogs. These photographs were all taken between 2014 and 2017. So, on average I take 9,000 photographs of food per year and that is food in the broadest sense of the word. Ingredients such as meat and fish (dead or alive, I do enjoy taking photographs of cows and pigs), cheese, vegetables, or anything related to food, like kitchen tools, pots and pans, knives, and of course wine. The bulk of my food photographs, though, are of restaurant dishes, ranging from brasserie food to multi-Michelin starred food. I don't just go into a restaurant and order two dishes, take a few bites and few photographs and leave. No, I actually do the whole shebang. For me it's always about the full experience, the full menu, after all, this is the only way to form an honest opinion about a restaurant.
Apart from filling up the storage on my phone, weight gain is the depressing aftertaste of going through all those multi-course meals, sometimes twice a day. In the first couple of years after starting my blog in 2010, I managed, with a lot of exercise to keep off the weight, but it all got a bit out of hand since 2015 (2014 if I'm honest). In August this year, I decided things had to change and that I had to lose weight. I won't bore you with the details of my diet plan. Nobody wants to read about that, right? And please, no diet tips, thank you.
So far I've lost just over a stone and a half (10kg) with excercise and obviously with cutting back my restaurant visits by one third. If you look at my Instagram feed I don't think you would notice, but believe me it has been a huge change for me. But hey-ho, the results are there, and I should be able to get back to my old restaurant schedule in Summer 2018. Hurrah!
For now, let's talk about the restaurants I did go to this year.
January was a good month with a number of excellent meals in the Netherlands, including Perceel in Cappelle aan de IJssel (1 Michelin star), Bolenius in Amsterdam (1 Michelin star, see my review here), and Kasteel Heemstede in Houten (1 Michelin star). The most memorable meals this month were at BAK in Amsterdam and De Lindehof in Nuenen (2 Michelin stars, see my review here). My most disappointing meal was at Lastage in Amsterdam (1 Michelin star) with bizarre dishes that lacked finesse and elegance, and often with unnecessary frills. A meal I did enjoy, however, was the one at Daalder in Amsterdam. The new chef there is Dennis Huwaë, previously chef de cuisine at Samhoud Places in Amsterdam (2 Michelin stars). Even though I felt it was still a work in progress, I do believe Dennis Huwaë is a very talented chef. Sadly I didn't get to revisit his restaurant this year, but I will definitely go back in 2018.
February started of well with another superb meal at Sergio Herman's The Jane in Antwerp, Belgium (2 Michelin stars). In the Netherlands I revisted two of my favourite restaurants, Ron Gastrobar in Amsterdam (1 Michelin star, a lovely meal as always), and the consistently brilliant De Librije in Zwolle (3 Michelin stars). I also had an excellent meal at De Bokkedoorns in Overveen (2 Michelin stars).
A true highlight this month though, was my trip to Barcelona, were I had a number of great meals, including Disfrutar (then 1 Michelin star, now 2 - see my review here), Dos Pebrots (see my review here), Dos Palillos, Espai Kru, and I took a day trip to Girona to revisit Celler de Can Roca. Not so great in Barcelona were my meals at Lasarte, which had just been awarded 3 Michelin stars (see my review here) and the much hyped Hoja Santa (1 Michelin star). Back in the Netherlands I had pleasant meals at La Provence in Driebergen and Moon in Amsterdam.
The most exciting part of March was my trip to Germany, although it started with a rather dreadful meal in Heidelberg at the Mensurstube. 24 hours later, though, I possibly had one of the best meals of the year at Atelier in Munich. Atelier held 2 Michelin stars at the time, but this was by all means a convincing 3-star level meal (see my review here). In November 2017 Atelier was awarded 3 Michelin stars in the 2018 guide for Germany. In Munich I also visited Esszimmer and Geisel's Werneckhof, both restaurants hold 2 Michelin stars, but I found Geisel's Werneckhof to be the most convincing of the two.
The next stop in Germany was Geisenheim in the Rheingau, because it is here, after a 2-year period of absence, that renowned chef Nils Henkel has returned to cooking at Burg Schwarzenstein. Nils Henkel used to work at Gourmetrestaurant Lerbach in Bergisch-Gladbach (see my 2013 review here). For more than a decade he was the righthand man of 3-star chef Dieter Müller, whom he succeeded in 2010. Lerbach closed its doors at the end of 2014. When I visited Schwarzenstein Henkel only had been in charge of the kitchen a little over six weeks, but he was already at full speed and had put together an 8-course menu that could easily be served in one of Germany's finest two-star restaurants (see my review here). Three stars in the making, if you ask me. My German trip ended as it started, with a dreadful meal at Hackbarth's in Oberhausen. Avoid, except for the wine list.
My restaurant visits in the Netherlands this month ranged from excellent to average. Excellent were the meals enjoyed at De Nederlanden in Vreeland (1 Michelin star), Aan de Poel in Amstelveen (2 Michelin stars), Zarzo in Eindhoven (1 Michelin star), and Choux in Amsterdam. Good but not great was my meal at Cucina del Mondo in Heerlen (1 Michelin star). That leaves average. Average were my meals at Jacobsz and Arles in Amsterdam, two lovely restaurants but both let down by the execution of the dishes. My review of Arles can be found here.
In April I continue to explore the Dutch dining scene with revisits to some Amsterdam favourites, including Breda, Rijks and Auberge Jean & Marie, but also a visit to a new and exciting restaurant, Parc Broekhuizen in Leersum. My meal at Parc Broekhuizen was one of the best meals in the Netherlands this year, but unfortunately chef Marco Westmaas left the restaurant just a few months after my visit.
Also worth mentioning are very enjoyable meals at the relocated Le Restaurant in Amsterdam (just awarded a Michelin star in the 2018 guide for the Netherlands), Restaurant Apicius in Bakkum (1 Michelin star) and De Nederlanden in Vreeland (1 Michelin star).
The second half of April I undertook trips to province of Zeeland in the Netherlands and Paris in France. In Zeeland I visited De Kromme Watergang (2 Michelin stars) and the (relatively) new and promising Meliefste in Wolphaartsdijk. In Paris had a number of great experiences, highlights being being Kei (2 Michelin stars), Guy Savoy (3 Michelin stars), Taillevent (2 Michelin stars), and La Cave des Climats (a delightful wine bar & shop). Underwhelming were my experiences at Papillon by ex-Le Meurice chef Christophe Saintagne and Frederic Anton's Le Pré Catelan.
April also saw the publication of a new edition of the Amsterdam Heatmap on www.eater.com (see link), with 13 hot (new) restaurants selected by yours truly.
May kicked off great, with a fantastic dinner at De Kas in Amsterdam. Since March 2017 Wim de Beer and Jos Timmer (both ex-Rijks in Amsterdam) are the new head chefs of De Kas, and I was impressed with the 6-course tasting menu they served me. Not one but two chefs to watch. Later that week I had a wonderful lunch at De Burgemeester in Linschoten, the Netherlands (1 Michelin star), an exemplary 1-star restaurant.
May was also a month of a number of return restaurant visits in the Netherlands, including De Librije in Zwolle, Auberge Jean & Marie in Amsterdam, Tribeca in Heeze (2 Michelin stars), Fred in Rotterdam (2 Michelin stars), Rijks in Amsterdam (1 Michelin star). New htis month was Latour in Noordwijk (1 Michelin star). Latour is an often overlooked restaurant in the Netherlands, but the cooking is outstanding. In fact, based on this meal, I'd say it would give some of the Dutch 2-star restaurants a run for their money.
In the period between 2011 and 2016 I made numerous visits to London, sometimes up to 8 times a year. During those years the London dining scene was at the height of its powers, but at the end of 2016 I felt that the exponential growth of the London dining scene was past its peak. That said, London is still an exciting place to visit with a profusion of restaurant choices, but this year I decided to focus more on restaurants outside the capital, and I only visited London once this year (October 2017).
In June and August 2017 I planned extensive trips to the UK. For June I selected a broad range of restaurants:
The West House in Biddenden (1 Michelin star, see my review here) - The Hinds Head in Bray (1 Michelin star) - The Fat Duck in Bray (3 Michelin stars and as extraordinary as ever) - The Crown in Bray - The Woodspeen in Newbury (1 Michelin star) - Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Great Milton (2 Michelin stars, an unmemorable experience, see my review here ) - The Wild Rabbit in Kingham (1 Michelin star, see my review here) - The Kingham Plough in Kingham - The Buthers Arms in Eldersfield (1 Michelin star) - Salt in Stratford-upon-Avon (see my review here) - Gidleigh Park in Chagford (2 Michelin stars, a somewhat disappointing meal, see my review here) - Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac (2 Michelin stars, a brilliant meal) - Appleton's at the Vineyard, near Padstow - The Seafood restaurant in Padstow - Rojano's in the Square in Padstow - The Mariners in Rock, St Tudy Inn in Bodmin - Paul Ainsworth in Padstow (1 Michelin star, a terrific meal, see my review here) - The Pony & Trap in Chew Magna (1 Michelin star) - The Hand & Flowers in Marlow (2 Michelin stars, a much better experience than a couple of years ago, see my review here) - The Crown at Burchett's Green (1 Michelin star) - The Goods Shed in Canterbury.
You'd think after my UK trip I'd be done for this month, but I did manage to squeeze in a little trip to Germany to visit to Victor's Fine Dining by Christian Bau in Perl-Nennig (3 Michelin stars), still the best table in Germany, Steinheuers Restaurant "Zur Alten Post" in Heppenheim (2 Michelin stars), and L'Escalier in Cologne (1 Michelin star), an unconvincing and inhospitable experience.
Last, but by no means least this month, was a long and wonderful lunch at De Librije in Zwolle (my third visit this year).
July started with a lovely meal at Rosie's in Amsterdam, a brand-new restaurant by chef Tom Barrett (formerly of 1-star Bridges and BAK in Amsterdam) and Rachel-Ann Moestadja (formerly of 1-star Ron Gastrobar and Bridges). Dinner later that day at ML in Haarlem (1 Michelin star), didn't really rock my boat. I had enjoyable meals this month at De Heeren van Harinxma in Beetsterzwaag, the Netherlands (1 Michelin star) and 't Zilte in Antwerp, Belgium (2 Michelin stars), not to mention another terrific meal at BAK in Amsterdam. Best of all though, was my lunch at Inter Scaldes in Kruiningen, the Netherlands (then 2 Michelin stars). A sensational meal that convinced me once more that Inter Scaldes is consistently cooking at 3-star level, and I'm happy to report that in December 2017 Inter Scaldes was finally awarded a third Michelin star in the 2018 guide for the Netherlands.
The final week of July was mainly spent in Amsterdam restaurants, including Ron Blaauw's Ron Gastrobar Paris and Escobar, Bar Centraal, De School, and Restaurant Wyers
As mentioned August was the second leg of my UK trip. On my way to the UK (by car) I made two pitstops in Belgium, first in Antwerp at the lovely seafood restaurant Dôme Sur Mer and next in Bruges were I enjoyed dinner at Kobe Desramault's new restaurant Chambre Séparée in Ghent. An excellent meal, although not as impressive as my meals at his previous restaurant In De Wulf. But it's still early days. When I visited the restaurant it had only been open for 2 months and I will definitely go back in 2018.
Once in the UK my first stop was at Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham (2 Michelin stars, see my review here), followed the next day by a lunch further north at The Man Behind The Curtain in Leeds (1 Michelin star, see my review here). The next day (it was a Saturday) I went even further north to have lunch at The Black Swan in Oldstead (1 Michelin star, see my review here). On Sunday I had lunch at The Pipe and Glass Inn in South Dalton (1 Michelin star), followed by a light snack later that afternoon at The Pig & Whistle in Beverley. After a couple of days in the north east I travelled to the north west, were I enjoyed meals at the always lovely Northcote (1 Michelin star), Sticky Walnut in Chester, and I had a most memorable lunch at the delightful Parkers Arms in Newton-in-Bowland, a place that had been on my list for a long time.
So far, so good. Unfortunately my next meal was at a restaurant called Where The Light Gets In in Stockport, my worst meal of this trip and of the year (see my review here). Luckily the next day I could put myself in the incredibly capable hands of Simon Rogan at l'Enclume in Cartmel (2 Michelin stars). On my way back south I had dinner at The Dining Room at Whatley Manor in Malmesbury. You can read all about it here. After a final stop at The Crown in Bray it was back to the continent for me.
Based on my extensive trips to the UK in 2017, but also on many visits in previous years, I feel that the UK dining scene has shifted up several gears. I don't think many people realise how exciting and mature the UK dining scene has become, both in and outside of the capital. You can find established restaurants all over the country that offer you excellent to outstanding meals .... with some exceptions of course. But more importantly, there's a whole new generation of (young) chefs that are pushing the envelope. A hugely talented group of chefs, some innovative, some old-skool, but all ambitious and trying to raise the bar of British cuisine. Unlikely as this may seem to some, the UK has become quite a culinary destination.
The end of August was also the beginning of you-know-what (whispers: diet), but have no fear, plenty of restaurant visits in September, starting with a wonderful lunch at Kasteel Heemstede in Houten, the Netherlands (1 Michelin star). In September I also checked out a couple of (new) places in Amsterdam, including Little Collins (great for breakfast/brunch), Frank's Smoke House (at the time still a work in progress), and Café Caron, an instant favourite and I have been back twice since.
Return visits were paid to Rijks (1 Michelin star) and the always amazing Bord'eau (2 Michelin stars). Around the same time it was announced that Bord'eau's executive chef Richard van Oostenbrugge and his sous-chef Thomas Groot are leaving Bord'eau to open their own restaurant in Amsterdam. The new place called 212, a 24-seat kitchen counter, is due to open in January 2018. The start of a new chapter for the Amsterdam dining scene, if you ask me.
In the second half of September I travelled to Bordeaux, France. Apart from the obligatory visit to La Tupina, which was lovely, I also had very pleasant meals at Le Flacon and Garopapilles, and an exquisite meal at Gordon Ramsay's Le Pressoir D'Argent in Bordeaux (2 Michelin stars). Also worth mentioning is renowned cheese shop Fromagerie Deruelle, were I bought some lovely Beaufort and a very special Salers Tradition AOC cheese. Not worth mentioning was my lunch at Le Quatrième Mur, a cheerless and rushed affair.
On the first day of the month I travelled to Germany to revisit Nils Henkel's Restaurant Schwarzenstein in Geisenheim. This time I thoroughly enjoyed a combination of dishes from both the normal and the vegetarian tasting menus, a series of impeccable dishes, and perhaps even a better meal than the already impressive one in March this year.
Apart from an outstanding meal at Librije's Zusje in Amsterdam (2 Michelin stars), the first half of October was a relatively quiet period, but this was more than made up for by an exuberant trip to London. First stop, straight from the airport, was Jamavar in Mayfair, an Indian restaurant that had just been awarded a Michelin star earlier that month. When it comes to Indian food I'm far from being an expert, but I had a wonderful meal at Jamavar, and I particularly enjoyed the well-balanced spicing of the dishes. Dinner that same day was at Anglo, a small restaurant in Farringdon, that served me a terrific tasting menu. The following days I had lunch at Core by Clare Smyth (see my review here) and Noble Rot, fabulous martinis at Duke's, a disappointing breakfast at Dishoom, a delicious late-night snack at Meatliquor, and a fantastic dinner at A. Wong, a modern Chinese restaurant which had just been awarded a Michelin star. Highlights of my London trip though, were my meals at Bibendum (see my review here) and Petrus (I still need to write my review). A bizarre Instagram highlight of this trip was a video of opening a wheel of 6-month Mimolette at Fortnums, a video that has been shared/regrammed countlessly, and therefore has had more than 7.5 million views! Move over Beyonce.
Overall a brilliant month, however it did not end on a high note. Back in the Netherlands I visited Restaurant De Rozario of young and promising chef Jermain de Rozario. I had high expectations but ultimately it was just an ok meal. The main letdown however, were the ridiculously long waiting times between courses, and in the end I left the restaurant before dessert. I must have caught them on a bad day.
November was spent in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Let's start with the Netherlands, were I had good meals at 't Raedthuys in Duiven (1 Michelin star), Vinkeles in Amsterdam (1 Michelin star), Yamazato in Amsterdam (1 Michelin star), and Breda in Amsterdam, although I would love to see the latter pushing a bit more for the next level.
In Belgium I had an outstanding 2-star level meal at Boury in Roeselare (1 Michelin star, but later that month Boury was awarded a 2nd Michelin star in the 2018 guide for Belgium and Luxembourg), and a simple but pleasing meal at Kobe Desramaults' De Superette in Ghent. On my way back to the Netherlands I returned to Meliefste in Wolphaartsdijk, were I enjoyed another terrific meal. Chef Thijs Meliefste perhaps still needs to cross some t's and dot some i's, but he's definitely one of the most promising and creative young chef of the Netherlands, and I mean potential beyond 1-star level here. But these things can't be rushed.
France was all about Lyon, including Paul Bocuse, and a visit to the relocated Maison Troisgros in Ouches. In Lyon I had excellent meals at Jérémy Galvan (1 Michelin star), Café Comptoir Abel, Café Sillon, and I had a wonderful time at Lyon's famous food market Halles De Lyon Paul Bocuse. Lunch at Maison Troisgros was an underwhelming experience. The new location is absolutely stunning, the food on the other hand, not so stunning. From a gastronomic point of view the food was fine, but it didn't thrill me as much as the meal I had at the old location in Roanne in 2012, and most of the dishes fell short of 3-star level. I will explain all in my review, which I hope to publish soon. The real showstopper turned out to be Paul Bocuse, one of the best meals of the year.
For December I planned one extra trip to the UK, namely Edinburgh and Auchterarder. Auchterarder had to be included, since I desperately wanted to visit Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Scotland's only two-star restaurant, and it was definitely worth the detour. In Edinburgh I had very good meals at The Kitchin (1 Michelin star), Martin Wishart (1 Michelin star), Castle Terrace, not to mention The Scran and Scallie.
I returned to the Netherlands the day before the release of the Dutch 2018 Michelin guide. The results this year were perhaps not the most exciting, but to be honest, the only thing that mattered to me this year, is that Inter Scaldes finally got its third star. Who knows what next year will bring. New guide, new chances. Anyway, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with a lunch at Inter Scaldes that same week, which turned out to be their first three-star service. Obviously this was a most memorable meal in many ways.
Concluding this year was a special 10-course lunch on the day before Christmas at BAK in Amsterdam.
Here are my 15 best dishes of 2017. Enjoy!
15. Bavette au Poivre Vert @ Café Caron in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (September 2017)
I can be brief about this. Perfectly cooked bavette with a perfectly made Poivre Vert sauce. Classic French cooking doesn't get much better than this.
14. Scallop, risotto & chorizo @ The Dining Room at Whatley Manor in Malmesbury, UK - 1 Michelin star (August 2017)
A lush and sticky sushi rice risotto, complemented by a rich and sharp chorizo dressing, topped with raw Orkney scallop tartare, and garnished with grated dried scallop roe. Powerful flavours coming from the risotto and the dressing, the spiciness of the chorizo soothed beautifully by the sweet and cool scallop tartare. A magnificent interplay of textures and temperatures. Head chef at the restaurant is 25-year-old chef Niall Keating, who previously worked at two Michelin starred Sat Bains in Nottingham, three Michelin starred Benu in San Francisco, and Michelin starred Kong Hans Kælder in Copenhagen. My meal at Whatley Manor was a last-minute decision, but it turned out to be one of the most surprising and exceptional meals of this year's UK trips.
My full review of The Dining Room at Whatley Manor can be found here.
13. Scallop and Cevenne onions @ The Wild Rabbit in Kingham, UK - 1 Michelin star (June 2017)
Ultra-fresh Orkney scallops, lightly caramelised, and beautifully paired with grilled Cevenne onions, English teardrop peas, pickled shallots, buttermilk crème, thinly sliced Morteau sausage, and finished with a drizzle of Cevenne onion honey. Dazzling scallops, which had a terrific velvety and fleshy texture and their incredible sweetness combined wonderfully with the distinct and lush sweetness of the Cevenne onions. Lovely crunch and balance from the pickled shallots and fresh peas, and the sausage offered a nice, salty and smoky, counterpoint. An outstanding dish with exceptionally balanced flavours. Head chef of the Wild Rabbit at the time was Tim Allen, but shortly after my visit it was announced that he would leave the restaurant in August 2017. Tim Allen will open a joint venture restaurant in Manchester in 2018. Best of luck to him!
12. Beef rendang @ De Lindehof in Nuenen, the Netherlands - 2 Michelin stars (January 2017)
I had had this dish for the first time in March 2015, when I found it astonishing. In fact, I remember ordering a second serving there and then. Encore! It's a truly distinctive and exuberant dish of beef rendang, served with a little quenelle of ginger beer ice cream, kimchi, savoy cabbage roll, potato and turmeric mousseline and a concentrated white soy sauce. An authentic beef rendang but then served in its most refined form, the warmth and spiciness of the rendang soothed by the ginger beer ice cream, which also made for a great temperature contrast. I could eat this all day.
My full review of De Lindehof can be found here.
11. Palamós praws @ Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain - 3 Michelin stars (February 2017)
Palamós prawns with crispy legs, and a rich and intense sauce made with the heads, which had a beautiful palate-coating velvety texture. Hidden underneath the sauce was an elegant seaweed veloute, lending balance for the richness of the prawns.
I've had Palamós praws many times before, and never really understood what all the fuss was about. I often wondered if people were only lyrical about these prawns because it was the trendy thing to do. Anyway, this magnificent dish has changed that. I guess the prawns used here are the epitome of Palamós prawns, and for me therefore the clearest expression of this stellar ingredient.
10. "Opperdoezer Ronde" potatoes fried in bottarga butter @ BAK in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (July 2017)
Dutch "Opperdoezer Ronde" potatoes, fried in bottarga (turbot) butter, served with a wild garlic emulsion, oyster leaves, preserved wild garlic stems, and a foamy buttermilk whey sauce. The Dutch Opperdoezer potato, grown around the village of Opperdoes in the northwest of the Netherlands, has had PDO status since 1996. The season usually runs from June through September. Exceptional seasonal produce put to striking use here.
9. Cornish chap @ Restaurant Paul Ainsworth at No 6 in Padstow, UK - 1 Michelin star (June 2017)
An impressive feast of three different preparations of pork (Saddleback) served in a pretty little cast-iron Staub sauce pan. At the bottom of the pan were two pieces of pork cheek (aka chaps), nicely coloured on the outside and with beautiful soft fork-tender meat. Then there was a slice of rolled, pork belly, skillfully cooked to succulent perfection, but perhaps best of all was a piece of exquisite pork crackling decorated with dots of apple jelly and fresh thyme leaves. Served on the side for balance was a little dish of umami-sweet pickled cherry tomatoes, seasoned with dried seaweed, dots of roasted onion puree, and a delightful garnish of pieces of smoked eel.
My full review of Paul Ainsworth can be found here
8. Tomato Tartare Espai Kru in Barcelona, Spain (February 2017)
A brilliant and luxurious tomato tartare, prepared and seasoned like a classic steak tartare. The seasoning was spot-on, striking a beautiful balance between sweetness and spiciness/sharpness, but also delivering wonderful umami notes. In a blind tasting this tomato tartarte could easily be mistaken for beef. Complexity, purity and vibrancy captured in one dish. (PS: I'm aware that Tickets/Bodega 1900 does one too, sorry. Instagram habit - to avoid predictable comments).
7. Beef tendons @ l'Enclume in Cartmel, UK - 2 Michelin stars (August 2017)
A phenomenal dish of slow-cooked beef tendons served with fresh peas, marjoram (herb & flowers), and a perfectly clear and concentrated beef broth. An extraordinary dish that was beautiful to the eye, but more importantly a magnificent display of imagination, creativity and skill. The beef tendons are used to marvellous effect here, wonderfully tender, with an almost gnocchi-like pillowy texture.
6. Red gurnard with Porthilly sauce @ Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac, UK - 2 Michelin stars (June 2017)
A superb piece of gurnard served with a truly sublime Porthilly sauce made with Porthily shore crabs, fish stock (cod and turbot), and seasoned with tomatoes and a touch of butter. The sauce had a gorgeous, luxurious and silky mouthfeel with intense flavours, the kind of sauce you become drunk on. And not too rich, the gurnard could take on the sauce easily. Simplicity in the most superior form.
5. Sweetbread @ Atelier in Munich, Germany - then 2 Michelin stars, now 3 (March 2017)
A visually dramatic plate with a spectacularly glistening veal sweetbread in the middle, surrounded by a bright green and foamy chive sauce, that had wonderfully elegant onion notes. The sweetbread was pan-fried/butter-basted and then lacquered with a sticky and rich veal demi-glace sauce, and garnished with some crisp pearl barley and with some salad leaves. Hidden in the chive sauce were little cubes of tender veal's head and pieces of chopped gherkin, and the sauce was also partly covering a sublime beurre noisette emulsion. A dazzling dish with great ingredients, collectively packing a mighty rich punch, but balanced by the clever use of gherkins. Beautiful cooking on all levels.
My full review of Atelier can be found here.
4. Celeriac @ Inter Scaldes in Kruiningen, the Netherlands - then 2 Michelin stars, now 3 (July 2017)
My full review of Inter Scaldes can be found here.
3. "Bauernsalat" (Farmer's salad) @ Restaurant Nils Henkel in Geisenheim, Germany - then 1 Michelin star, now 2 (September 2017)
Various types of beans, including a large runner bean filled with some rice salad, cucumber sorbet, pickled cucumber, pickled shallot filled with sheep's cheese crème, little sheep's cheese balls, courgette flowers, olives and cucumber juice. An awe-inspiring and intricate dish, delivering a symphony of clean and pure flavours, but equally impressive was the painstaking execution of the dish. If anyone could persuade me to become a vegetarian, it would probably be chef Nils Henkel.
My full review of Nils Henkel can be found here.
2. Salade de Homard à la française @ Paul Bocuse in Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or, France - 3 Michelin stars (November 2017)
Immaculately cooked lobster, the tender claws generously covered with cocktail sauce, and the body meat served on top of a classic Macedoine salad, a vegetable salad of identically cut little cubes of turnip, potato and carrot, mixed with chopped green beans, and dressed with mayonnaise. Surrounding the lobster was ring of cocktail and balsamic sauce. All the other bits and pieces of the lobster were elegantly integrated in the dish.Also on the plate were little dots of basil oil and a delightful truffled and jellied artichoke puree bonbon. This dish has been on the menu at Bocuse for many, many years, although it was a first for me. A timeless classic, like a Chanel 2.55. The kind of dish that gives you an adrenaline rush of pure pleasure.
1. Brittany Rabbit and langoustines at Bibendum in London, UK - 2 Michelin stars (October 2017)
Rabbit (saddle and leg) and langoustines, complemented by a highly decadent langoustine bisque sauce and a concentrated rabbit jus, and accompanied by artichokes à la Barigoule, and compressed apple flavoured with tarragon oil, the latter garnished with fresh sorrel and tarragon. Served on the side was a piece of crisp toast with langoustines and a spread of the rabbit's offal (liver, kidney and heart). Superb, skillfully cooked rabbit, the saddle divided in three immaculate pieces of loin and two rosy pink racks, but just as impressive was the beautiful preparation of the leg meat (the larger piece in the photograph). The taste of the rabbit was magnificent, mildly gamey, and with gorgeous roasting flavours, and the combination with sauce and langoustines made for an exceptional and lavish flavour experience. The pairing with the Provençal artichokes Barigoule worked equally well, the artichoke's sweet smokiness intensifying the natural flavours of the rabbit and langoustine. Simply a faultless and dazzling dish. It could fill a stadium.