my favourite things from 2023

Join me as I look back over they year with some of my (and your!) favourite projects at BigSpud HQ from 2023.

Sea bass at the Blacksmiths, Isle of Wight

The sea bass dish as they serve it at the Blacksmiths pub

The best meal I had all year was at a pub overlooking the north coast of the Isle of Wight. The Blacksmiths is an absolute treat, with me wanting to try every dish. The sea bass was a delight, crisp and fresh, with a sweet and savoury bread salad. I cannot tell you from an ingredients list alone how delicious it was. It was perfect. I only regret that I don’t live closer so I can go there for dinner every day.

Marco Pierre White’s fondant potatoes

marco pierre white's fondant potatoes

Marco Pierre White has defined the second half of the year for me; I’ve read loads of his books, watched his programmes, made his recipes. Understanding what makes this titan of restaurants tick has been fascinating. I’ve dug into his personality and uncovered the simplicity that lies at the core of his cooking, and fastidious attention to detail to replicate recipes repeatedly. This fondant potato recipe was a real insight into how he works.

Steak ‘n’ Snails

Continuing the Marco Pierre White theme, I made the recipe that he made as tribute to old friend Anthony Bourdain. It’s a very umami affair, with fast-cooked steak, meaty mushrooms and plump garlicky mushrooms. I made this on a rainy November evening and it was just the thing to pep me up – it’s the parsley that makes it, “washing the palate” as Marco says.

Biography of Keith Floyd

It’s fair to say this video biography of Keith Floyd I made didn’t quite land as well as I’d hoped – I’d put a lot of work into it, reading two of his autobiographies and watching every programme of his I could find. It’s a fascinating story of boom and bust and just going for it at every turn – it’s only nine minutes so give it a watch if you’ve any interest in how TV cookery has changed over the years.

Chicken, sweetcorn and chorizo pizza

After a trip to Gordon Ramsay’s Street Pizza Kitchen I became obsessed with the combo of chicken, sweetcorn, and chorizo. It’s an absolute winner.

Chicken, sweetcorn and chorizo pizza

Recreating Heston’s meat fruit

I’ve been meaning to make this for the longest time. I finally got around to it… and it was quite the disaster! I got the gelatine ratio wrong and overworked it, leading to a mis-shapen sloppy mess. Watch the video to see how it turned out.

Heston’s meat fruit

Most popular with you

Meanwhile, what were the top posts from 2023 that kept you coming back this year?

Beef dripping sauce – After a trip to steak restaurant Miller & Carter I had to have a go at recreating their signature sauce. After a few goes I’m really pleased with this rich, indulgent gravy.

Onion loaf – and hot on the heels of beef dripping I also made the crispy, savoury side dish.

Brined leg of lamb – this proved very popular as most people associate brining with white meats. But a salty bath for lamb brings out the deep savouriness that matches it perfectly.

Philly cheese stack – I don’t mind McDonald’s, but I’ve definitely grown bored of their predictable menu. But in Autumn they came out with a burger laced with cheese sauce and fried onions. I recreated it and it’s absolutely bang on.

Cornershop curry – this Jamie Oliver recipe is warming, tasty, and can be made very easily with stuff you have in the cupboard. A great mideweek-er.

Thanks for coming along for the ride in 2023. I look forward to sharing more food adventures with you in 2024!

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