In a blatant rip-off of the Observer Food Monthly's 'The best thing I ate in 2016' we have asked each member of the DR Collective what the best thing they ate in 2016 was.
Thanks to everyone for their contributions, here's to plenty more interesting dinners in 2017!
Emma Gordon - Austells
"Seared scallops at Austells, Carlyon Bay. The meal was back in January (which doesn’t mean I ate terrible food for the rest of the year!) and all three courses were outstanding but I am a total sucker for seafood and those scallops were possibly the best I’ve ever eaten!"
Sean Gee - Appleton's at The Vineyard
"Without doubt the pan fried red mullet, with smoked mussels, fregola sardi and brown crab aioli was a highlight of my foodie year"
Elly Jahnz - somewhere in Japan
"The best thing I ate all year was wild mountain vegetable tempura, which I ate while staying in a zen temple in the Japanese Alps. I went out with a Buddhist priest one afternoon to gather 'sansai' which is the generic term for mountain vegetables. We were armed with sickles on long poles, and he had a bell to scare away any bears that might be foraging for humans. We were looking for 'warabi' which is the still curled up fronds of a type of fern, and the young buds and leaves of a spiky tree whose name I've forgotten. After an afternoon gathering wild greens, we turned them into tempura - coated with a very light batter so as not to obscure the fresh taste. The vegetables tasted earthy and every so slightly bitter but that helped cut through the richness of the tempura. Delicious, or as they say in Japan, oishii!"
"I can't pick between a meal at Paul Ainsworth at No.6 or the delightful, I want to say street food but I feel I should say "country" food of The Wild Food Kitchen.
All the courses at No.6 were perfection as always but the "lamb (Tamar Valley), sweetbread ~ salt baked celeriac ~ mutton ham", the vagueness of the description hides the multitude of techniques and flavour balance this dish serves up all accompanied by deep fried creamy sweetbreads. This was after having been treated to an extra fish course by Paul and his amazing team, I was left utterly sated by this long lunch! (Pictured below)
Secondly but by no means second place was the equally delicious wild sourced food from Matt Comley and his wild food kitchen, all his offerings are amazing but it was the Seared Wood pigeon breast with slaw and homemade blackberry sauce in a granary roll, this was the talk of Padstow Food Festival, it squared up with food I tried from Michelin starred chefs over three days and came out on top! Local sourced wild food and its naturally incredible flavours shone through!"
Mike Hayes - dinner with seals in Scotland
Ok it wasn’t great food, it was pasta, tuna and cheese but it was cooked over a meths burner on a remote beach in the Outer Hebrides. I have a strong connection with the islands of the Outer Hebrides for various reasons that probably don’t belong here.. but suffice to say that along with a couple of friends I had made a 3-day sea kayak journey south along the chain of the islands to the remote southern tip of the archipelago - to the tiny, uninhabited Isles of Mingulay and Barra Head. We camped for a few nights on a stunning white sand beach on the east coast of Mingulay . Every night great flocks of puffins wheeled in off the ocean to spend the night in their burrows while both golden eagles and white-tailed sea eagles soared high overhead. Best of all however were the seals. The beach on Mingulay has a large colony of grey seals, and with the island being fully exposed to the wrath of the north Atlantic they suffer little interference or contact from humans so are a wonderfully inquisitive bunch, at times coming up the beach to inspect the new arrivals to their island. Now a seal colony of any size is quite a stinky thing but happily our camp was upwind and hence dinner time could be enjoyed with no olfactory distractions, rather just under the ever watchful gaze of hundreds of seals poised just offshore in the pink dusk of a clear spring time evenings. Truly a magical part of the world.. if you can get there.
Sally Mitchell - Goat feast at The Hidden Hut
"I think the majority of my meals out this year have been at The Hidden Hut as I was working there a lot over the summer photographing the feast nights. It's provided me with a lovely lot of memories so it was hard to pick out just one. At a push though, I think the goat feast was one of my very favourites. A combination of awesome slow roasted goat and a beautiful late summer's evening spent with friends, can't beat it."
"Hmmm… best food experience/meal - we haven’t eaten out much this year since having Aria but I would say maybe The Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth (lovely ambience and food is excellent). The Hub Box Truro (complete different end of the scale but love the industrial feel, laid back vibe and best chips anywhere) and the restaurant at Bedruthan - the best beef I’ve had anywhere I think, cool decor and the lighting is spot on!