To celebrate what was a whirlwind year in travel, I’ve compiled a list of TMEAL’s Top 10 Dishes.
Featuring dishes from mostly international restaurants (and the occasional Melbourne one!) as always, taste is the main candidate – no matter how cheap or expensive the meal.
What: Cannelloni of roasted duck with emulsion of foie, pear, truffle and pine nuts
Where: Sauc, Barcelona
Why: Instantly salty and cheesy with earthy truffles that round out the flavour with sweetness from the pear and pine nuts. Even though it’s shaved, the duck is well and truly detectable and brings a dizzying myriad of flavours to the palate. Impeccable service – my request for a Red Bull led to sourcing of one late at night, with no fuss.
What: Roasted aubergine with buffala mozzarella
Where: San Carlo Cicchetti, London
Why: Large, fleshy mounds of creamy mozzarella flirt with the nuttiness of eggplant, topped with shavings of chilli for a spice hit. I loved this restaurant so much that I went back twice in three days – with welcoming, friendly service that all upmarket restaurants can learn from.
What: Buffalo Chicken Burger
Where: Bread and Meat Co, Melbourne
Why: Getting Buffalo Chicken right is hard – yet this burger manages to hit that elusive note of vinegar with precision. The patty is generous and crunchy and cements itself as one of those magical meals you crave at 3pm OR 3am.
What: Grilled octopus
Where: Antika Cafe Bar, Athens
Why: Oooh-whee! The squeaky- cleanliness of this dish blew me away – excellent quality octopus lazily drizzled in sour vinegar and dressed with fresh basil. Though touristy, it’s great to sit here and watch passersby perusing the modern-day market amongst the backdrop of ancient ruins. It’s the whole package – flavour, scenery, service – which makes this dish one of the top 10 dishes of 2015.
What: Chicken burritos with lime, chipotle sauce, onion and fried pork rind
Where: El Pachuco, Barcelona
Why: Do you know how freaking awesome this combination of flavours is? The pork rind acts a little like bacon in this instance, only crunchier and saltier – just the thing to balance the acidity of the lime and heat of the chipotle sauce. Sorry guys – your secret is out! Great, smiley service here – you feel like you’re at a friend’s house!
What: Kingfish Carpaccio
Where: The Atlantic, Melbourne
Why: This dish definitely made me feel like a grown-up: Elegant, refined and pristine in flavour, with service and ambience to match. For making me sit up straight and eat properly, this became one of my top 10 dishes.
Why: Not only is it a secret dish which isn’t on the menu, but deep-fried goat’s cheese with cereal and organic local mountain honey is the stuff fantasies are made of. It was impossible to share this dish… if you’re my friends, you’ll let me eat all of it, MYSELF.
What: Roasted seabass with Mediterranean vegetables
Where: Baritimo, Barcelona
Why: Richly loaded with spices with a gorgeous tomato base, this little guy was unpretentious and cooked with the utmost care; flaking beautifully under my fork to reveal soft, white flesh with a light, crispy exterior. Coupled with fantastic service in spite of the dubious location, I was left sated and smiling.
What: Deconstructed pumpkin, pine nut and ricotta lasagne
Where: Four to Eight, London
Why: Very rarely does a dish bring you to such emotion that you get teary while eating it. This (vegetarian!) delicacy did just that. It was a bit embarrassing really. But totally worth it – it had the same effect as coming home after a long journey and collapsing into its comforting, cheese-filled warmth.
What: Brazilian BBQ Lamb loin
Where: Piqueos, Melbourne
Why: Chimmichurri, that’s why! A sucker for lamb and anything sour, this was bound to be a winner on all accounts. Imparting the darkness of charcoal from the bbq, without any unnecessary add-ons, the quality of the local Australian lamb really shone through.
That sure was a fun year to eat through – I hope you’ve enjoyed TMEAL’S Top 10 Dishes.
Til next time!