Wish List — 2020

Typically when writing this post I review the previous year’s and basically try to rephrase the same predictions / personal prompts. But this is my tenth annual Wish List (the full ten year birthday comes along at the end of next Spring) and, as has been clear from the various 2010-2020 reflections going round, ten clicks provides an opportunity to take a step back and consider the, or at least a, bigger picture.

As it happens, looking at my first Wish List it’s interesting to see how, put together, those gradual rehashes amount to relatively significant changes.

Back in 2009/10 London was on the cusp of a 6 or 7 year run of great openings; for better or worse but mostly better, Polpo had kicked-off small plates and no reservations; there were no food halls — MeatWagon was the main ‘street’ contender, with the likes of Pitt Cue Co., Bao and Pizza Pilgrims still some way off — while pop-ups, collaborations and supper clubs were generally spontaneous, underground and largely amateur, rather than ten a penny and mostly strategic; oh, and social media hadn’t quite ruined everyone’s (well, my) attention span, nor civil and political life neither.

Sure as night follows day, some restaurants have opened, others have closed, and some have done both. It’ll be the same over the next ten years. But the ‘scene’ in 2020 does have a different feel to 2010.

From a personal point of view I was a lawyer with a blog hobby and a cute, perhaps slightly naive, enthusiasm for all things food. I’m now, I dunno, a professional food and recipe writer with a paunch. I’m still hungry, and that drives everything, though I cook, eat, read and write from a different perspective now.

What will happen over the next ten years? Same, same and different, I suspect. For what it’s worth, in 2020 I hope to enjoy some or all of the following:

1. Worthwhile content

It feels as though Instagram is evolving. Pretty, processed pictures of attractive food don’t cut it anymore — neither for the browser, nor for the poster craving positive feedback and an ‘engaged platform’. I’m going to make an effort to swap unconscious scrolling with using it as a tool to find and follow and discover genuinely interesting, personal, educational and invigorating approaches to food and cooking (they are out there). And will also try to provide something similar myself; a fewer but better posts kind of approach. Have you seen the ‘five quickish things about’ ones I’ve added in the last few months (for example on dried legumes and sprouts)? If you like and would like to know more about an ingredient or technique than recipes typically provide detail for, then please let me know.

2. Dining out

Much of my eating out over the last two years has been of the informal lunch variety — street food, noodles, sandwiches and dumplings. All pretty good, of course. But I’m starting to crave ‘proper’ meals; not necessarily feign deining (though some of that), but definitely dining.

I’m up for Bibendum, perhaps a return to The Clove Club and Ikoyi, plus new high-end restaurants such as Santiago Lastra’s Kol, plus meals out of London too — Fordwich Arms, Carter’s of Moseley, and is this the year Crocadon Farm will open? Also ‘proper’ meals at The Quality Chop House, Brawn, Portland, Brat, Sabor, Lyle’s and more.

3. Much cooking

I’ve a new recipe book in the works… which means right now there’s lots of cooking (and washing up) going on and that’ll be the case for another six months. Details to follow.

4. The Supplements (again)

On the recipe writing theme, I’m thinking of reprising #Supplemental. Perhaps a return in the Spring of the monthly (rather than weekly) round up. And maybe evolving the concept towards some sort of event — a brunch to chat over a selection of recipes with one of the writers responsible for them, recorded as a podcast for posterity? Might need to get the bulk of the book out of the way before making this happen, but any interest?

5. Travel

Abroad would be nice, but also it’s time to stretch legs beyond my Islington, Hackney, Shoreditch, SE1, Soho comfort zone. Jonathan Nunn’s maps for London Eater (and indeed his dedication to exploring all zones) are an inspiration.