Our Gannet Highlights of 2017

19th December 2017

Words: Killian Fox
Photographs: Sean Santiago, Sophie Davidson, Dan Dennison

Bacon sandwiches at dawn, sheeps’ eyeballs, Lagavulin & coke – and our very own book. Here, in no particular order, are 25 standout Gannet moments from the past 12 months

The Gannet’s Gastronomic Miscellany hits the shelves »

Our first book, a collection of intriguing stories and facts from around the world of food, came out in October. It got a very nice write-up in the Observer, plaudits from the likes of Diana Henry and Jay Rayner, and made it onto Books of the Year lists in the Financial Times and the Independent. You can pick up a signed copy right here.

Tim Hayward on his love of American diners »

“I’ve been to places that made me cry because of how much they love you when you walk in. Not just me: anybody. Come in, we love you, you’re great, you’re really going to like this new dish, or whatever. And you don’t want to leave – that’s what it’s really all about.”

Rosamund Young takes us to meet her famous herd (pictured above) »

“Somebody said to me the other day, ‘Have you always been a writer?’, and I said ‘I’m not a writer, I’m a ghost writer for the cows.’”

A year of The Digest »

Every week for the past 12 months, James Hansen has been consuming vast quantities of food media – articles, photo-essays, podcasts, videos – and digesting the best of it into one handy column which comes out on Saturday afternoons. Even handier, he has digested the Digest into this much-admired Best of 2017 list.

Alison Roman’s roasted branzino with basil and Aleppo pepper »

Our great Irish road trip gets underway »

Over the past few months, we’ve been travelling around Ireland doing interviews and features for our next Fork in the Road magazine, generously supported by Failte Ireland. The magazine is due out next spring, but you can follow our progress on this site. The first interview, with Rory O’Connell of Ballymaloe Cookery School, came out a few weeks ago – and there’s lots more good stuff to come.

Everything we learned from the staff at Dan Barber’s wastED pop-up »

Barista-milk bread, lemon-compost carrots, waste caviar, mango-skin marmalade, cocoa husks…

Sean Brock on a frugal staple of his Deep South childhood »

“The depth of umami in that broth, which we referred to as potlicker, is insane. When you eat it you receive the same emotion that you would get if you were eating pot roast or stew or braised meat. It feels the same. It’s a way for poor people to nurture the soul with something as simple as a bean.”

The Amber Light poster »

To announce our forthcoming whisky documentary, which we’ll be shooting in 2018, we got some pretty nifty artwork designed by Chris Bianchi. See here for more details on the film.

Darina Allen on the worst supposedly-good thing she ever ate »

“I think it would have to be sheeps’ eyeballs, which I had at Bror in Copenhagen. Of course in Copenhagen it’s very difficult to find bad food, there are so many good restaurants, so chefs feel they have to do something crazy or ridiculous just to get headlines. The thing about the eyeballs was the texture – spongy and gloopy. Very odd and unpleasant. And the way they served them, having them stare up from the plate, was disconcerting. They put a pair of eyeglasses on the side for extra drama.”

Asma Khan on a meal she’ll never forget »

“It would be the meal that my mother fed me as a bride the night before my wedding. I’d had my hands hennaed and it wasn’t dry, so I couldn’t eat with my own hands. I can’t remember any other time that she fed me, though she must have done when I was small. Being fed by hand by my mother at the age of 21 was so emotional. I wept throughout the meal. It was also the last time I ate in my family home. All the servants who had cooked for me all their life came out to watch. We had two kinds of potatoes, as I love potatoes, and a wholemeal bread with chopped onions and chilli cooked on the tawa, plus mutton cooked with whole spices, cinnamon, cardamom, and a vinegar made with a berry unique to my area called jamun. I will never forget this.”

Michael Zee taking us for bacon sarnies at Billingsgate fish market »

Rachel McCormack on an unusual accompaniment to oysters »

“My new(ish) favourite food-and-drink pairing is oysters and either Talisker or Old Pulteney whisky. The brininess and saltiness of both whiskies make them an excellent accompaniment to oysters and even better when you put some on top of the oyster and have them both together.”

Ryan Chetiyawardana on making rotting food delicious »

“We like decay when it’s coupled with something attractive. It’s a strange thing, but fun to explore. I’m not quite sure how we got on that tangent. Rotting stuff: delicious [laughs].

Zoe Adjonyoh’s impressive fridge magnet collection »

“I collect fridge magnets and they have to be tacky and gaudy and gross and I love them.”

Samin Nosrat explains her philosophy of cooking »

“I want my food to be the backdrop to an amazing experience. Where strangers sit down at a big table and they have to pass trays around and share and talk to each other. I never want you to be so drawn to the plate that you’re thinking of the plate instead of the people. I never want you to even think about me, I want to be a secret hidden away in the kitchen, I don’t want to be a character in your meal.”

Yemisi Aribisala on her first slice of New York pizza aged 10 »

“…but the smell of that pizza and its size comparative to my hand. It hung down over my fingers like a thick bunting flag and the elasticity of the mozzarella was gorgeous and embarrassing and the aroma of tomatoes was intoxicating. The crust was hot and thick with your teeth sinking inside in degrees.”

Erwin Gegenbauer on his obsessive quest to make raspberry-seed oil »

“I love to eat raspberries, but when I get seeds caught between my teeth I’m becoming angry. One day I was looking at this little white thing on my fingertip and I said: “You’re the seed of the raspberry. And in each seed has to be some fat, the energy for the new plant. Is there any fat in you?” For the next eight years I worked to produce pure raspberry-seed oil.”

13 top chefs disproving the “too many cooks” saying in Stockholm »

Tom Jaine digs up a 1951 menu from The Hole in the Wall »

This menu is fascinating. The prices though – £25 for a main? That’s not cheap.
No, shillings, dear. It was incredibly reasonable. They were doing it for the love, not the money. In fact, there is even a disclaimer on the front of the menu declaring just that.

And what’s this at the top of the menu?
The motto reads, “Kissing don’t last, cookery do!” which is a George Meredith quote, I think. It was a bizarre place, quite unique. During the war it had been a knocking shop.

A knocking shop?
A brothel, dear. There was an English lady who used to sell hotdogs downstairs. The allied service personnel stationed in Bath during the war could pop in for a hotdog and then go upstairs for other amusements.

Rory O’Connell’s Tuscan apple cake with blackberry & geranium leaf compote »

Dave Broom on the illicit joys of Lagavulin and Coke »

“That’s what whisky’s problem has been. Is that it’s had these rules imposed on it. That this is the only that you can drink it. What I’m saying is that, actually, here are lots of ways in which you can enjoy it. And you can follow this or not, it doesn’t matter. It’s just I’m saying, here are the possibilities. Go on, be a divil.”

Pepe Florez on his deep and abiding love of a classic Asturian dish »

“When I was in London, I always brought chosco from Asturias. My friends would cook, and I would have chosco, chosco, chosco…”

Diana Henry on what she values most in restaurants »

“If I had my own restaurant I’d want to do what good restaurants do for me, which is making you feel cared for. Nothing gives me such a sense of wellbeing. I’m not bothered about eating in all of the top 50 restaurants in the world. A great restaurant isn’t just about technique, or expensive furnishings, it’s about creating this other world: a place that somebody can enter into and leave feeling totally uplifted.”

Roger Phillips peeling and drying apples at home in London »

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading The Gannet in 2017. If you had any favourite moments that aren’t mentioned here, please let us know via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #Gannet2017. Happy Christmas and all the best for the year ahead.

Posted 19th December 2017

In Highlights


Words: Killian Fox
Photographs: Sean Santiago, Sophie Davidson, Dan Dennison

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