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Janice Wong is a pastry chef from Singapore. I have been following her on Instagram for ages – her desserts are creative, delicious and very photogenic. While she was busy attending 2019 World’s 50 Best ceremony, we sampled her special dinner degustation menu with cocktail pairing in Tokyo.

Pictures, hopefully, speak for themselves. All I can add is that this place is really worth a visit – for a quick bite or a more serious dessert marathon.

The next World’s 50 Best restaurants list is coming out soon and I am fully expecting a re-shuffle.

There is one contender for the top spot that is not easy to ignore – the all new Noma. It’s back with the force and is stronger than ever. The seasonal restaurant concept is brave and deserves to be recognised as such. Fish season dishes last year were amazing (see review), and while I was too busy (=lazy) to write about the fish season this year, it was even better still. The rumour has it that the Vegetable season is not to be missed (and we will soon find out). And that’s where I would place my bet.

The crystal ball suggests that the other top spots could be: El Celler de Can Roca, Osteria Francescana and – maybe -Geranium. Eleven Madison will fall and Blue Hill will climb. And that’s all I can see for now.

Beware the dark horses, and for goodness sake give Enigma the spot in the Top 50 that it deserves!

At long last, I write about London, the city where we live.

I was about to write something pompous, along the line of “it has much to entertain” and “if you are tired of London, you are tired of life”. But then I did a mental count of the restaurants that I could wholeheartedly recommend. It’s sad (and sort of funny) to say that even between the two of us, we could not list 10 (= we have high standards).

It’s true that the food scene here has improved massively over the last 10-15 years. It’s also true that you can find anything for anyone – all tastes and all budgets are catered for. And with all this variety, there are, of course, lots of lemons, tourist traps and short lived wonders that you visit once and never return.

Sadly, as I was doing my mental cataloguing, the news came in that one of my favourites – Hedone – is now closed. So, here’s my reduced shortlist for now:

  1. Lyle’s: Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High St, Hackney, London E1 6JJ
  2. Bubbledogs and Kitchen Table: 70 Charlotte St, Bloomsbury, London W1T 4QG
  3. Cakes & Bubbles: 70 Regent St, Soho, London W1B 4DY
  4. Dinner: Mandarin Oriental, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
  5. The Clove Club: Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St, Hackney, London EC1V 9LT
  6. German Gymnasium:  King’s Blvd, Kings Cross, London N1C 4BU

And some noteworthy chains:

  1. Patara (Wimbledon): http://www.pataralondon.com/
  2. Honest Burger (Covent Garden): https://www.honestburgers.co.uk/locations/covent-garden/
  3. Meat Liquor (N1): https://meatliquor.com/restaurant/meatliquor-n1/

Bottom line and mental note to self – there is more exploring to be done.

Arriving at the Blue Hill Farm is like taking a holiday during your holiday. Away from the crazy vibes of the New York City, and yet so close, so unbelievably tranquil. This does not feel like the East Coast – or at least not the East Coast I imagined. Everything around breathes peace.

July is a great month to visit. It’s a high season for the strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes and a whole range of vegetables and herbs. We learn this from the Field and Pasture Four Seasons Journal conveniently places on our tables at arrival, along with the farm map. And as the menu is modestly called “July”, I cannot wait to discover what the other eleven months have to offer.

 

This year’s award ceremony took place on the 19th of June in Bilbao, Spain. While the two top spots, in my opinion, were predictable, there were some real surprises down the list of 50, and even more in 51-100.

So, who gets to decide what restaurant goes into which spot? And what exactly does it mean “the best”? Not to dwell too much on the voting process, especially since my insights are gained from the pages of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, I will summarise the key points. You can find out more directly on their website.

There are 26 regions in total, each with 40 voters. Each voter picks 10 restaurants, in their order of preference, with at least 4 of those located outside of their region. They must have eaten in the restaurants they rank in the last 18 months. And obviously, there cannot be any conflict of interest, financially or otherwise.

Since there are no set criteria that the restaurant must meet (unlike with Michelin), it is really all down to the quality of cooking and the tastes and motivations of those who are lucky enough to participate in the voting process.

Here’s where I think the process is a bit skewed. Say, I am the academy member based in Austria, Switzerland, Hungary & Slovenia. I would probably want to make sure that the restaurants from the region are reasonably represented and as high up in the list as possible. Probably a much simpler task here than if you happen to be in the Spain & Portugal region. Here you have 13 entrants in Top 100 versus 3 from the other four countries. And just like that, the likes of Enigma, which in my view is far superior in quality, creativity and ambience to Steirereck (no offence), ends up in the bottom of the list. Sad.

Now that I got that out of my system, there were some positives this year too. White Rabbit jumped from 23rd to the 15th place. Good news for the Brits too: there are 7 UK restaurants on the Top 100 list this year. Here they are:

  • The Clove Club (#33)
  • Lyle’s (#38)
  • The Ledbury (#42)
  • Dinner (#45)
  • The Fat Duck (#74)
  • Hedone (#82)
  • St John (#84).

There is also the highest new entry, Disfrutar at number 18. It looks like our trips to Barcelona will need to be extended yet again.

It’s official: I have completely lost track of how many times we have been to Barcelona. So, what drives us to visit this city again and again? And isn’t it boring to go to the same place every year?

Well, my first time in Barcelona was a mere stopover on the way to Girona, to visit the legendary El Cellar de Can Roca. Not that I knew the first thing about this restaurant at the time. And being blown away by that first experience, we keep coming back for more. But perhaps it was not just a tourist destination for me to begin with – the more we go there, the more new places we discover, the more we want to come back.

Barcelona has everything for everyone. You can do touristy things (sights and food included), or you can go on exploring off the beaten track. People are friendly and the food, generally, is pretty amazing whether it’s a cheap local tapas bar or a more up-market establishment.

Here’s my list of favourites, in no particular order. No doubt I will add more places with my next visit.

  1. Tickets: Avinguda del Paral·lel, 164 – 08015 Barcelona
  2. Enigma: Carrer Sepúlveda 38-40, corner with Entença – 08015 – Barcelona
  3. Hoja Santa: Avenida Mistral, 54-56 – 08015 Barcelona
  4. Nino Viejo: Avenida Mistral, 54-56 – 08015 Barcelona
  5. Bodega 1900: Calle Tamarit, 91- 08015 Barcelona
  6. Tapas 24: Carrer de la Diputació, 269, 08007 Barcelona
  7. Rocambolesc Gelateria La Rambla, 51-59, 08002 Barcelona
  8. El Xampanyet: Carrer de Montcada, 22, 08003 Barcelona
  9. Xiringuito Escriba: Avinguda Litoral, 6208005 Barcelona
  10. El Bitxo: Verdaguer i Callas 9, 08003 Barcelona

As the LA Times critic, Jonathan Gold, cleverly points out, nobody just happens to eat at Noma. It’s become an institution and a Mecca for the food enthusiasts and chefs alike. Privileged as I feel to be able to compare the new establishment to the “old” Noma, I am also deeply impressed with how it managed to re-invent itself once again.

It seems that the ethos that defined the Noma we all got to know and love are still there. If anything, it’s even more seasonal and even more inventive.

No meat on the menu today. It’s the seafood season and the menu is an extravaganza of everything that a Nordic sea has to offer. It starts with the sea snail broth. The taste is delicate and hearty, quite unexpected really.

The dishes that follow in a metronome fashion do not fail to excite: venus clams, the mussel, the dried fruit and shrimps, trout roe and eggs.

It’s hard not to be fooled by these beautifully presented and minimalist dishes. The tastes are easy and clean, which no doubt took hours (if not days) to orchestrate.

The sea food platter will forever stay in my memory, if only just because of the hundred-year-old mahogany clams that survived through the two world wars and everything that follows, only to end up on our table.

The horse mussel ragout is impressive even to the most determined meat-eater. If this was a blind-tasting event, I would never even dream of guessing the key ingredient.

The main dish of the evening, the head of the cod, is simply wow. It’s tender and unbelievably tasty. It is like a perfect exclamation mark in this dining experience.

The desserts – the sea themed of course – are what reminded me once again about Rene’s unyielding determination to avoid sugar. Do not expect a chocolate for the road. Pear and kelp ice cream; cloudberries and pine cones; sugar kelp tart; plankton cake. Only at Noma.

Hi there,

Thank you for visiting this blog, it’s been long time in the making!

Like many food bloggers, we are not professionals. Food is our passion. We travel places to eat in amazing restaurants and we spend the time in-between researching new destinations, tasting new flavours and even trying to re-create some of the some of the recipes from the famous chefs. 🙂

Over the last 5-6 years we have accumulated quite a backlog of pictures, observations, notes and quotes – all waiting to see the light of day. Hopefully we will be able to share them fairly soon. Until then, thank you for reading!