Favourite Things Of 2023
So I thought I’d do a little collection of my favourite things from 2023. Starting with food, because, well, it’s like the most super important thing ever. It really is. Believe it or not, I need food more than I need holidays.
Favourite Restaurant Meal
I’ve ticked off quite a few restaurants this year, not as many as I’d like to as my socialising tends to be focused around the Sunday roast. Some of them are pretty ordinary yet good, like Honest Burgers, Brindisa, Ceviche, others a little disappointing like Steak & Co or German Gymnasium.
Butchie’s did some amazing fried chicken, but I’m not sure “favourite restaurant meal” can go to a fried chicken place, no matter how ace their chicken is.
I would give it to a pizza place quite happily – L’antica De Pizzeria Michele in SoHo was great, Napoli On The Road in Chiswick is outstanding – that is one serious recommendation there from me.
Yet there is better.
Bargo in Walthamstow served me a stunning vegetarian meal – yes I had a vegetarian meal willingly and paid for it. And then my mother fed me the rest of her chicken that she couldn’t eat.
But the favourite meal out I had was at Jose Pizarro in the Royal Academy for my sister’s birthday.
Stunning tapas – and believe me I’ve had a lot of tapas this year, so much so that I am totally done with tapas. But I’d go back here tomorrow. Oh my, that potato salad was exquisite.
Favourite Meal at Home
I cook a lot of recipes – 123 this year. Yes I keep a spreadsheet. Are you surprised?
Some things surprised me – Miso Chicken With Aubergines, Spring Onions & Chilli from the The Roasting Tin: Around The World book (the wonder of making something then sticking it in the oven for 40 minutes is just joy, and a whole book of them) wasn’t a combination I expected to like.
Five-Spice Pork Chops With Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Ginger & Garlic was closer to my preferences, though still it’s unusual for me to like anything Chinese in terms of cuisine (or politics).
Mutton Pepper Fry from the Dishoom book was pretty ace – and now I’m in my own flat I have enough freedom to actually cook from the Dishoom book more regularly…it is bloody lots of work to do anything from that book…and mess.
But my favourite thing I made was Nduja Turkish Eggs – I was even complimented on my presentation, which was a first.
Favourite Meal Abroad
I don’t have a spreadsheet for this. I’d normally remember but this year I spent 6 weeks abroad (how can I make this more in 2024?!) so not so easy to remember.
I’m not sure I can pick it either. The kangaroo steak meal in Malta was good. The goujere I had in Paris was stunning but I’m not sure that a bun counts as a meal, even if it tastes of cheese.
Maybe it was the t-bone steak we had in Gandia…and the stunning bread.
Or maybe it was this potato salad I had in Cordoba?
Or maybe it was this potato salad I had in Malaga?
Actually, I know what it was – this potato salad in Gandia. After a long walk up a hill, my sister and friend had already eaten so I was dining alone. My other tapas dish was a very bad translation by Google and was shrimp. Nice, but this potato, prawn and tuna salad was just utterly delicious. I might like potato salad.
Favourite Roast Dinner
Well I don’t like potato salad as much as I like roast dinner.
This is an easy choice – because I have a league table and a blog. Though it is still an easy choice.
I still had a surprisingly good roast dinner at The White Horse in Harrow as a leaving meal. Yeah…Harrow. Where’s that?
Others that impressed a lot were The Prince in Stoke Newington, The Baring in Islington, Cora Pearl in Covent Garden and The Red Lion & Sun in Highgate.
Yet there is only one in mind. Ignore the burnt yorkie – everything else about the Cote De Boeuf sharing roast at The Harwood Arms was stunning. And the burnt yorkie was stuffed with gooey beef anyway.
Favourite Roast Dinner Abroad
Lol. As if.
But if you are forcing me, and I know you really want to know, then it was The Spinning Goat in Fuengirola. Arguably the best Yorkshire pudding that I’ve had all year, plus good gravy and stuffing.
Oh and it was sunny. In November.
Favourite DJ Mix
Don’t worry, I won’t talk about music for too long, I know you don’t care about my tastes in minimal techno or obscure post-dubstep-bass-body-offbeat-techno music.
I really enjoyed this classic electro-influenced mix by Ralph Lawson, or there was this really well-crafted Bristol-ish sounding mix from Yushh but really, my favourite DJ mix of 2023 was this Call Super B2B Objekt mix, granted from 2022 but I only heard it first this year, if mostly because it was so much fucking fun, and had me dancing around my room every time I put it on, whether that was the intention or not.
Absolute party carnage. And it includes hard house. Eh?
This is hard. I’m struggling to find good new music nowadays – is it me? It is that my previously trusted methods of finding good music don’t work? Or is there genuinely a lot of poor new music out there? Or maybe I’ve just heard everything that could ever excite me?
I don’t know. So the track with most meaning to me this year is really fucking infuriatingly by Omar S, which pisses me off assuming the allegations against him are true. But then again…allegations…so who knows.
Such a sumptuous piece of house music, albeit released in 2018, and overlooked by myself until this year so maybe it doesn’t count.
In which case, lets go for the Ricardo Villalobos remix of Abril Lluvias Mil by Ela Minus & DJ Python, clocking in at a wondrous 41 minutes. I know you don’t care, I know you won’t listen to it, I know you’ve already closed this blog post and questioned in your head why I can’t just fucking listen to Deadmau5 at the mere thought of a 41 minute track by Ricardo Villalobos, but for me, this is just a delightful piece of music. Quite up-tempo too. And released in 2023.
Barbie? I joked to my sister when we were in Paris during the overwhelming Barbie promotion phase that we should go see it. Not realising that it was actually going to be a superb movie, with way more depth than I expected.
It’s certainly the best movie I’ve seen in a cinema this year. Granted it is the only time I’ve been to cinema in the last 5 years.
Can I nominate a cookbook? I feel like a lot of the books I’ve read this year have been not so interesting – most of them are politics books, which is maybe my post-politics frame of mind as I’m sooooo tired of all the fucking bullshit.
Actually there was one book I read this year called Long Relationships, by Harold Heath – about an unknown DJ who made it to very small-time DJ.
I truly felt this book – another guy like me who had an obsession with dance music from an early age, but actually made it as a small-time DJ. Some legendary stories, some names sadly withheld (who is the DJ who has a microwave to dry out his ketamine on his rider, please tell), some occasional bitterness and anger but I think overall someone who is really happy with what he has achieved. But most importantly – I connected so much to his story.
I’ve been to theatre more this year than any other.
Fuck Miss Saigon was really cool, like a backlash against the idea of the movie Asian stereotype that the poor Asian woman always falls in love with the American soldier, then kills herself. Quite how I managed to hold my bladder for a 2.5 hour play without an interval is another matter, and after a pint.
Dear England was heart-warming, if I already kind of knew the story. Patriots was cool, which was the story about Boris Berezovsky – though the energy faltered later in the play.
The Great Gatsby as a ballet was just sumptuous – I bought my mother tickets for her birthday and she was a bit unimpressed with the idea. But now loves ballet.
However, the play which most impressed was a jarring 3.5 hours long – The Lehman Trilogy. Which was the story of two Jewish brothers moving to America, and how they made a success of themselves, how they grew a bank, and how the bank grew through 158 years until the financial crisis.
The acting was stunning – 3 actors did all the parts over the 164 or so years, male, female, old, baby, Jewish, not Jewish – by far the best piece of theatre on the acting alone of 2023, and possibly that I’ve ever seen. I recommend booking a flight to Sydney or San Francisco during 2024 just to see it.
What do I mean by favourite beer? Favourite actual beer, or favourite beer-drinking moment? Hmmm. I think actual beer, as there will be a blog for Favourite Moments of 2023 too.
I think it is by Verdant – Lightning Struck Itself.
OK I’m scraping the barrel for favourite things. Any of them resonate or can you do better?