Wish List — 2018

Here’s my eighth annual Wish List. As before, I’m never really sure whether I write them as a personal prompt, or as a vague predictor of things that we all might get involved in over the twelve months that follow.

Whichever, in 2018 I hope to enjoy some or all of the following:

1. Eating out (i)

Something they didn’t tell us at school: having a baby (or watching your partner have one) and writing cookery books does terrible things to your eating out habits. I hope to get things back on track in 2018, and to write and doodle on some of those experiences too.

London’s restaurant scene has boomed since I started spamming the internet in 2010 (coincidence not cause), but there’s a feeling among many that things have peaked. Do we need any new restaurant ‘concepts’? (No) If there was a moratorium on new openings, would we have enough good places to go to? (Yes)

More new options will arrive, of course, but 2018 is the year to patronise those places you’ve enjoyed over the last five years, rather than run to the newest place that “looks good on instagram”.  With rising food costs, wages, rent and business rates, and a falling number of Europeans who want to work in a country that’s rejecting them, your old favourite is going to need all the help it can get. Even if you think it’ll be doing fine. I’ll be making beelines to Salon, Lyle’s, Taberna do Mercado, Smoking Goat and Kiln, Barrafina, Koya Bar, Quality Chop House, Black Axe Mangal, the Marksman, Clipstone, Oldroyd, 40 Maltby Street — that sort of thing. Yours might be totally different, or closer to your locale. Great.

2. Waste

I like to think that I’m a conscientious shopper and resourceful cook — carrying a canvas bag or two on my way to the ‘mongers and butchers, using the bits of vegetables that others perhaps might not, ensuring a roast chicken covers a multitude of meals yaddayaddayadda. Often, though, I look at the bin full of packaging and food waste, and I stop and eat my words.

Waste was a darling of a theme for the media in 2017. I couldn’t help but wonder whether it was just surface noise, though (remember WastED? Change much for you?). Time to go from voyeur to doer. Any one else in the same boat?

3. Recipe books

Yeah, there’ll be more of these in 2018. No doubt Diana Henry’s new one will be peachy. I also think we should look forward to the debuts of Thom Eagle, Tommy Banks, James Whetlor, and returns from the likes of Yasmin Khan and Russell Norman. For what it’s worth, I’m just finishing the words and recipes for the Borough Market Cookbook, which’ll be out in October. As with On the Side, I’ll probably be insufferable in my pushing of it.

4. Eating out (ii)

When I say patronise your favourites and infer there’s no need for new places to eat out, what I meant to say was: sure, I’ll still be excited by some new and newish restaurants in 2018.

Nuala and Londrino opened at the end of 2017 and I’m keen to visit. And there are low key places in the sticks that intrigue: Stockwell Continental, Little Duck, and Nest in Hackney look right up my Straße. Andrew Wong, Tomos Parry and Nieves Barragan will open places worth seeking out. Does Anna Tobias (once of Rochelle Canteen) have a plan? Oh, and we still await firm details about the arrival of Din Tai Fung.

5. Long form

I’d love to slow down and read things. Maybe be commissioned to write something beyond a thousand words too. If not, perhaps I’ll put one or two long reads on here in the coming year.