Review of the Year.

I’ve not updated this blog for a good while and as it’s almost the end of December, I thought I’d do a review of the year. It’s a bit like a London bus, nothing for ages and then loads turns up all at the same time. Here are just a few of the best things I ate in amongst some of the other stuff that went on in 2018.

In January we got battered and flooded by Storm Eleanor which isn’t pleasant when you’re out walking the dogs, but I was somewhat smug in the knowledge that shortly, I’d be leaving for Thailand. Soon, I’d be eating street food until I couldn’t move and then wash it down with copious amounts of Chang beer. Via Bangkok and Cambodia, we came to rest in Ko Samui where the biggest question the day posed was what and where to eat for dinner. Tough times eh? Back home there was more misery for commuters as they had to suck up another whopping 3.4% rise in train travel for an almost non-existent service. There was some good news though as Elton John announced his retirement from performing live. Sadly though, not before his Yellow Brick Road tour will span more than 3 years, in 5 different continents and playing more than 300 concerts. Well, you can’t have everything, can you?


I do love a roast dinner though so, after Thailand’s street food, there was only one thing for it when I got back. Soon after my return, the country was covered in a blanket of snow. The beaches of Thailand became a distant memory. On the subject of memory, America’s great leader Donald Trump denied ever knowing porn star, Stormy Daniels. But on February the 13th Trump’s private lawyer, Michael D Cohen admitted that he had paid Miss Daniels $130,000 on behalf of Mr Trump. If you ask me, that’s a lot of cash to give to someone you don’t even know. Who knows, she could be the only person that Trump has ever employed that’s actually qualified to do their job.


In March, chef Tommy Buckwell invited me to take some pictures of his food and how pretty is this cheesecake? Maybe too good looking to eat. I say maybe because you should have seen how fast I demolished that dessert. The world said goodbye to one of its greatest minds, Stephen Hawking. He wrote the record-breaking bestselling book, A Brief History of Time. Though most people that bought this book have never actually read it, they just had it on their bookshelves to appear clever for when they had visitors round. The rest of us only really knew Stephen Hawkins for his seminal appearance on an episode of The Simpsons where he and Bart discussed the possibility of a doughnut-shaped universe.


After a three-way Twitter conversation between myself, my cousin Mark and Chris from MyPie London it was decided that Chris should DHL a selection of his pies to us, sharpish. I may be slightly biased If you ever get the chance to try one of Chris’s pies, you must. In fact, go out of your way to seek him out in his food truck or better still, book him for an event. Sadly, due to the massive rise in knife crime, London gained the accolade of surpassing the murder rate of New York. And in a precursor to the long hot summer, London also hosted their warmest ever Marathon with temperatures hitting 24 degrees. Great if you’re spectating from outside of a pub, not so good if you’re competing in fancy dress and you’re the back end of a rhinoceros.


If you’ve never made pizza at home, I suggest you try it. Gave it a go for the first time back in May and the results were not only incredible, but it was also surprisingly easy. Better than any shop bought pizza and much lighter and healthier than anything you can get delivered to your door. You could make your own pizza and eat it at home while you watched Netta from Israel win the Eurovision Song Contest by doing her best-demented impression of Bjork. There was also a royal wedding to celebrate, Meghan even had her own vampiric page boy. Remember Mulroney, the creepy Macaulay Culkin lookalike? He was behind her when she began her slow descent down the aisle to marry into a family that’s even stranger than yours or mine. The following day, Eden Hazard slotted home a penalty with the only goal of the game that won Chelsea the FA Cup in a match that could only be called pretty by its own mother.


The Met Office declared that the previous month was officially the hottest on record and we all sat around eating and drinking in the garden, pretending that it came naturally to us. Who can resist a barbeque? After all, we’re cavemen really. Personally, I don’t think there’s a much better thing than sitting outside with a few friends and knocking back a few beers. As if the nation needed any more of an excuse to keep on drinking, the World Cup Finals had started in Russia and England were actually doing well. They beat Tunisia, hammered Panama and tactically (possibly) lost to Belgium to provide them with an easier route through to the final….!


This was the month I discovered Burrata. Obviously, I didn’t really discover it, the people of Murgia in southern Italy did back in the early 1900s, it was just the first time I’d tried it and I now can’t get enough of the stuff. It’s a soft cheese and the exterior is mozzarella, but the insides are all buttery soft, and creamy. Definitely the best ‘new’ food of the year for me. It was a good month, the temperatures continued to soar, and the World Cup continued. England actually won a penalty shoot-out against Columbia, the first one since they beat Spain in the Euro’s at Wembley in 1996. They eventually lost 2 – 1 to Croatia in the semi-finals. But, for a change, they returned home to these shores as heroes. Football didn’t come home but for a while, the nation believed, and the feel-good factor was immense. Meanwhile, in the ongoing shit-show that is Brexit, David Davis and the perpetual buffoon Boris Johnson resigned from the government because they didn’t get their own way. The words piss up and brewery spring to mind.


In August I turned my bat up to acknowledge my half-century. 50 years old, how on earth did that happen? I’d like to say I’m older and wiser and impart some grain of knowledge that will change your life, but I can’t unfortunately. I did eat some really good meatballs in the garden though if that helps? On the final Bank Holiday of the year, Paul Weller closed the month out in spectacular style by headlining at the Victorious Festival which, conveniently for me, is about 400 metres from my front door. On a sad note though, we had to ‘Say a Little Prayer’ to Aretha Franklin, who left us on the 16th.


It was confirmed that the summer of 2018 was officially the joint hottest summer we’ve ever had on record, so I’d say that calls for sandwiches, don’t you? In fact, sandwiches made with pumpkin seeds from an artisan baker in Havant. Interestingly, I’ve also just read that in both here and America, September has the highest birth rate. Which must be because of all those office parties and the ridiculous Christmas jumpers that come out in December. On a personal note, I got to see Anthony Joshua defeat Alexander Povetkin in front of a sell-out crowd at Wembley Stadium, which was definitely the best thing I did this month.


With the heatwave of 2018 finally forgotten about it’s now time to start making those soups and stews that stick to your bones. See, there are some good things to be said about the winter months. The big cinema release was ‘A Star is Born’ starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Talking of a waste of money, a picture by the artist Banksy, ‘Girl with Balloon’, sold at Sotheby’s auction house for £1.4 million. The moment the gavel dropped down the picture self-destructed and shredded itself, leaving the artwork dangling in tatters at the bottom of the frame. In the mysterious world that we now live in, the picture is now said to have doubled in value.


Here’s a picture of some toad in the hole that we had one dark night in November. Proper butchers’ sausages wrapped in batter, just add some onion gravy and mash and you’re in winter-dinner heaven. This is what food at home should be all about when about it’s dark and miserable outside. In desperation news, it was also the month that The Spice Girls announced that they are to tour again. Well, it’s not really The Spice Girls because Victoria (she really does need to eat a bit more toad in the hole) isn’t joining them. For the simple reason that she’s the only one that doesn’t need the money. Amazingly, they’ve managed to persuade a large chunk of the population to part with their cash, just to watch them dance and lip-synch their way through a gig (of sorts) and the tour’s a sell-out. Nostalgia eh? In local news Portsmouth suffered an old school power cut, leaving the city in total darkness for almost an hour. With no TV or internet available people had to light the candles and actually speak to each other. Very awkward for everyone involved, I’m sure you’ll agree?


In terms of eating and drinking in December the gloves are off. Have whatever you want, whenever you want it and worry about it later. To prove the point, here’s a picture of the Campeche bowl of grub I had at the highly recommended, Croxton’s Kitchen & Tap House in Southsea. Brexit chaos continues and Teresa May had to survive a no-confidence vote within the Conservative Party. The two most popular shows on TV were, ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here’ and ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. Proof that religion isn’t the opium of the people, shit TV shows are. On the Friday before Christmas, Gatwick Airport was ground to a halt because some bright sparks may or may not have been flying drones within its airspace, thereby screwing up thousands of peoples festive getaway plans. Hopefully, everybody eventually did get home for Christmas and everyone enjoyed their time eating and drinking into the new year with their loved ones.