And so to the list of all the 2016 lists:
- Whet your appetite with a list of dishes the team at GT enjoyed most this year, starting with Embla’s anchovy on toast. It’s a good one. You could also check out the Cravat's selection for NSW, Vic and QLD dishes in delicious.
- Conversely you can read the list of dishes Lethlean hated this year. I am a little surprised the editorial team let this list go through to the keeper (reader). Particularly as Lethlean did not revisit them, to see if anything changed. Clickbait or just another opportunity to rub salt in the wound?
- The Guardian asked chefs around the world (incl. Nigella, Rene, Massimo, but also much lesser known names) for their favourite dish of 2016. It’s a very excellent list that takes in tiny places all around the globe, from a jackfruit curry in Sri Lanka, to fish cured with pastirma spices on the Bosphorous (and later in Crete), squid Bolognese at (the soon to close) Koffmans, veal brains at Le Baratin and the buttery resting juices of roasted lobster out the back of a festival. There is so much in there to inspire. Do start reading it – you will be hard pressed to stop.
- I also liked this from Pete Wells in NYC, who wrote a considered list of restaurants under $125 a head. “The cost of running a restaurant is notoriously punishing. Often the pain is passed on to us, but sometimes it inspires chefs to think a little harder. This year, those are the restaurants I want to tell you about ... roughly in the order of the intensity of my desire to go back again, which diverges here and there from the number of stars that flew above their reviews.” Restaurants include Le Coucou, Claus Meyer’s Agern and Le Coq Rico.
- And given the faves were all further afield, should it come as a massive shock that our papers are navigating troubled waters? Along with the distinct lack of subs, it appears the Tele are clearing out the food writers. At the bottom of this week's review Lizzie noted it’s her last for Taste. I hear she’s not alone (read the whole editorial team). The death knell has sounded over many creative fields this year (read below about A.A. Gill). But will 2016 also toll the death of our weekly food paper? No more Tuesday Taste lift out, presumably to be replaced by their Sunday version (with delicious.); Good Food, with their thinning pages and regular early online reviews, appear to be preparing to tread the same path; The Australian have been there, done that, dropping Letho’s Tuesday column six months ago for a bulked up Weekend paper. So many new restaurants and no-one willing to tell (or perhaps read) about them ...
- Finally, the death of AA Gill. Where to even begin?
You may start with his scathing review of L’ami Louis (“The cramped tables are set with labially pink cloths, which give it a colonic appeal and the awkward sense that you might be a suppository.”); or read the gentle, emotive Gill with his final column for GT - Being there ("I've been thinking a great deal about food and dishes and the movement of appetite and hunger. And that food in its particular and emotional value is primarily there for the transmission of memory and remembrance, the déjà vu of our mouths. Only food does this. All appetite is a remembrance. I might write about that.") Whatever you do, go and seek him out.
He was a fascinating man. To become a restaurant critic was perhaps an unusual choice for a man who doesn’t drink (30 years ago Gill was told (as a 30 year old) that if he continued drinking he wouldn't see Christmas) and doesn’t write (he has dyslexia that is so debilitating that he still uses a scribe for all his articles and his books - her name is Michelle and, as far as I’m aware, he never met her). And yet his intellect, coupled with the poetry of his words and his clear love of food, travel, conviviality, and the industry at large, shone at every turn - even when he was at his most condemnatory.
Like all the great food writers, Gill wrote about so much more than was on his plate. He dissected the very nature of the restaurants (“… reputation and expectation are the MSG of fine dining …”) and was forever in search of a better understanding of why it is we love to eat (“It comes as a surprise when you’re in an Arab country (where rosewater is used a lot), recognise the flavor and are wafted back into childhood. A sweetmeat in the Marrakesh souk can drop your memory back into a childhood handkerchief draw.").
Read Pat, one of our most eloquent and elegant writers, and his final letter to his friend here.
And so to the list of all the 2016 lists: