2013: A year in food

A look back over my food highlights of the past year

Collage of our time in Rome  Photo: Russell Bowes

Collage of our time in Rome Photo: Russell Bowes

As 2013 comes to a close I thought it would be nice to look back and share my foodie highlights of the past year. 2013 was quite a year, with some foodie highs, like our trip to Rome in October, taking a cooking class back in February and contributing recipe posts to the Visit Greece blog. There were also some real life lows, my Gran passing away was a very difficult time for me in the middle of the year (and was again at Christmas) but at the end of the year I’m still here going strong, cooking blogging and working freelance.

13 Foodie highlights of 2013

1. Cooking class

Mango Tart Tatin

Mango Tart Tatin Photo: Russell Bowes

February kicked off my foodie highlights with my first of the year, a cooking class at L’atelier des Chefs, St Pauls, London. We celebrated Hana’s birthday with a class where we learned to cook duck with asian greens, a mango tart tartin and had a crash course in how to pair a wine with this (and other meals). Both Hana and I enjoyed the evening class, does it make me a good or bad boyfriend I bought her this for her birthday?

2. Crispy Crackling Roast Pork, with Honey and Mustard Gravy

Crispy Roast Pork Photo: Russell Bowes

Crispy Roast Pork Photo: Russell Bowes

If you followed me through this year then you would be forgiven for thinking that I must just live on roast dinners and cupcakes. Okay I do like both of these but I don’t just live on them. I really enjoyed cooking this recipe for roast pork with crackling and as we finish the year I think it is time to warm us up by making it again! One thing I have tried to get across several time this year is how easy it can be to make a sumptuous roast dinner.

3. Kettners Restaurant and bar, Soho, London

Rib of Shorthorn Beef - Kettners

Rib of Shorthorn Beef – Kettners Photo: Russell Bowes

We visited Kettners in soho several times in 2013, it almost became a regular thing earlier in the year after we first visited for Hana’s birthday in February. We went again and April, then for my birthday in June. We have been since for celebrations and just to treat ourselves and every time Kettners has delivered excellent food which looks and tastes amazing along side their lovely bar area which is always great to chill out in.

4. Clintons Best Ever Curry

Clinton's chicken curry, from the oven Photo: Russell Bowes

Clinton’s chicken curry, from the oven Photo: Russell Bowes

This recipe came from one of Hana’s work friend who sent it round the office. You make this curry in the oven which means that whilst the chicken is doing it’s cooking you can put your feet up and enjoy some T.V or chat to friends as it would be a great dinner party meal! We have made Clinton’s best ever curry a couple of times since and never tweaked what is already a pretty damn good recipe!

5. Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake with Hummingbird swirl Photo: Russell Bowes

Chocolate cake with Hummingbird swirl Photo: Russell Bowes

This foodie highlight is tinged with sadness and it though it was an amazing tasting cake and we all enjoyed eating it, including my gran: it was the last birthday cake I would get to make for her as she passed away just two weeks later, there was still a bit of cake left in the tin in her cupboard. I am very glad that I got to celebrate her 90th birthday with her over this cake.

6. Studio 6 Restaurant, Anniversary on the South Bank.

Studio 6: Liver and Onions  Photo: Russell Bowes

Studio 6: Liver and Onions Photo: Russell Bowes

August saw Hana and I celebrate our 4 year anniversary, personally I was very happy she has managed to put up with me for this long! Dinner in Studio 6 rounded off a day where we had lunch by the Embankment and saw an exhibition in Greenwhich and took a cruise down the Thames. Studio 6 on Gabriels Wharf is a lovely little place with a good menu and daily specials. My Liver and Onions were the perfect take on a classic recipe.

7. Lemon Cupcakes

Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberries (Photo: Russell Bowes)

Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberries (Photo: Russell Bowes)

Back in August I ran into an old friend from University who I hadn’t seen in more years than I care to mention and we found that we had been living just a mile or two apart for the last few years. Hana and I were invited to a ‘bring and share lunch’ at James and Lucy’s and a box of these lemon cupcakes made by Hana were the perfect thing to bring!

8. The IncrEdibles Exhibition, Kew Gardens

Beautiful flowers at Kew Gardens Photo: Russell Bowes

Beautiful flowers at Kew Gardens Photo: Russell Bowes

We got up to quite a bit in and around London this summer, we had picnics on Hampstead Heath, visited Brompton Cemetery and had a lovely meal in Osteria del Portico, Ealing. One of the stand out things we did this summer was to visit the IncrEdibles Exhibition at Kew Gardens. It Kew Gardens celebration of growing and producing food. We saw different gardens with beautiful vegetables growing, a selection of Georgian dishes being made and had some good bbq chicken to boot!

9. Budget Week, living on £20 a week

Budget pizza Photo: Russell Bowes

Budget pizza Photo: Russell Bowes

Through 2013 there have been many stories in the news about austerity biting people and families up and down the country. I saw several programs about ordinary working families who were being stretched to the limit in the current financial climate, though we are told the worst of it has happened there are still a lot of people using food banks just to get by. With that in mind I set myself a challenge, 1 week, £20 for all our food, did I make it? Take a look and find out along with several great budget recipes.

10. London’s Food Markets

West Hampstead Farmers Market Photo: Russell Bowes

West Hampstead Farmers Market Photo: Russell Bowes

Every Saturday morning there is a great farmers market in West Hampstead by the Thameslink station. Back in August I dragged myself out of bed early enough to make my way up there and sample the great produce. The market is a mix of regular and guest stalls selling a variety of organic and fresh produce direct from the producer. Hana is always telling me about the great lunch she got from Cardinal Place market on a Thursday so back in September I decided to join her at the lunch time market for some Portuguese food, delish!

11. Healthy Eating and Fitness

Back flex 2 Photo: Russell Bowes

Back flex 2 Photo: Russell Bowes

If you look at the food I often post about then you could that I must be the size of a house, pasta, roast dinners and lots of cake should all take their toll. But I don’t eat every day like I post and one of my other great passions (aside from cooking) is exercising, working out and lifting weights. In September and October I took a look at some tasty healthy eating recipes and a few sample workouts.

12. Chocolate Bar Cupcakes

Just add sprinkles! Photo: Russell Bowes

Just add sprinkles! Photo: Russell Bowes

Again and again the most popular posts on my blog are the ones looking at Chocolate bar cupcake recipes. I first baked some of these in 2012 and they have been amazingly popular ever since. As I hadn’t baked any in a while I decided to revisit these with a new recipe, the Chocolate Caramel Bar Cupcake. We baked these as a housewarming present for my brother and his new landlady, they went down a treat.

13. Chocolate Hedgehog Birthday Cake

Hedgehog cake Photo: Russell Bowes

Hedgehog cake Photo: Russell Bowes

It was difficult picking a final foodie highlight of the year, December and Christmas bring a whole host of edible treats from Christmas dinner to chocolate and cake and….. I could go on. I decided to pick my Chocolate Hedgehog cake as my final highlight as we made it for a birthday and it looks really, really great.

2013’s Standout Foodie Moment

Piazza della Rotonda lunch Photo: Russell Bowes

Piazza della Rotonda lunch Photo: Russell Bowes

And a bonus mention has to go to Rome. A beautiful city which I have written a lot about over the past few months since we visited back in October. We had a really lovely few days there and I have shared several recipes since which were inspired by our trip.

Recipe, text and photos By Russell Bowes

Find me on Google Plus, catch up and message me on Twitter and see more great pictures on Flickr and Pintrest

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