With December right around the corner, members of the Black Sheep Restaurants family reflect on the best things they ate this year.
Each year, I visit an old friend, Federico, at his vineyard, Fontodi, in Tuscany. This past summer, after a particularly long drive, we sat together outside to share a bottle of his wine. To keep us going while his mama prepared dinner, he picked some tomatoes from the garden and sliced them onto a plate with torn pieces of buffalo mozzarella, made that morning with milk from the cows grazing in the next field. A little chilli and a drizzle of olive oil and we ate. The tomatoes could have tasted like crap and it wouldn’t have mattered. More important was who I was with and how we felt as we looked out over the rolling Tuscan hills with summer scents on the warm breeze and the anticipation of a delicious meal – sharing stories, reliving memories and getting lost in the moment. It was pure nostalgia for the tastes and smells of Tuscany.
-Syed Asim Hussain, co-founder of Black Sheep Restaurants
The kothu that Chef Palash and Chef Gizzy made at Hotal Colombo. There were some leftovers after one of the final recipe tastings and the team got a nice breakfast out of it. Even better, the chefs made their own chai to pair it with. It was my first time eating kothu and it was delicious.
-Tony Ferreira, Black Sheep Restaurants
The highlight of my year was on a family trip to Alaska. We were staying in a log cabin in the woods and cooked elk and buffalo hotdogs over a wood fire. We ate them with sourdough bread and onion jam while chasing the northern lights. It was absolutely stunning!
-Palash Mitra, New Punjab Club
The best thing I ate this year was the crispy pork belly at Benu in San Francisco. The pork was cooked siu yuk style, which is very Cantonese, but Chef Cory Lee developed a new way to cook it. It was technically perfect and delicious.
-Daniel Calvert, BELON
Xinjiang-style grilled lamb skewers from Guan Guan Ji, Shanghai, loaded with chilli powder, MSG and cumin. The only problem is, this place is Halal so no booze or BYO. But we got takeaway beers and just stood outside the restaurant with the skewers. Problem solved.
-Jowett Yu, ho lee fook
Uliassi restaurant in Ancona, Italy, has a dish of fusilloni with bottarga, pistachio and rosemary which was my favourite of the year. The fusilloni were extra large and cooked al dente (others might have thought it was still raw, but it was cooked exactly how I like it). The sauce was creamy and fragrant with rosemary and had a touch of crunch and saltiness from the toasted pistachios, all surrounded by rich bottarga.
-Luca Marinelli, Osteria Marzia
Strichetti “fatti a mano” al ragù classico bolognese at Trattoria Del Borgo in Bologna, Italy. This dish was truly special. The flavour and texture of the pasta itself was so pure from the whole eggs and the local Italian wheat, and the ragu was rich with lots of depth from flavourful, umami tomatoes. The restaurant itself felt super homey, like I could picture an Italian grandma cooking in the kitchen, but in a really old castle-like restaurant setting.
-Bao La, Le Garcon Saigon
What was the best thing you ate this year? Share in the comments below.
For more insights into our chefs’ preferences, have a read of what they enjoyed last year and to find out what they eat at home, read about their favourite sandwich fillings or how they cook their eggs.