Here are a few of the items that have been particularly noteworthy this year. I have presented my favourite restaurants here but the following are a couple of very different but inspiring books …and some chocolates to enjoy while reading them.
Award for Food Literature 2017 – The Flavours of Andalucía
This is a full-colour illustrated cookbook but there isn’t a single photograph. This is The Flavours of Andalucía by Elisabeth Luard and she is a European food expert and an artist. Her work is displayed here in every element of this beautiful book.
Ms Luard has long been one of my favourite food writers. She is a poet of the culinary world. She paints pictures with both brush and words. This volume considers the colourful dishes of a rather romantic corner of Spain which was once part of the Moorish world, and where Elisabeth lived for several years.
Award for The Best Product of 2017 – Lily O’Brien’s Chocolates
Lily O’Brien’s Chocolates are made by a real O’Brien, although actually a Mary. It all started as a mini enterprise launched from her Kildare kitchen in 1992.
Both the Caramel and Christmas Collections were outstanding and as good as one might find in any bespoke chocolate boutique. Deliciously crafted and beautifully presented.
Award for The Best Single-topic Cookbook of 2017 – Hook Line Sinker
Chef Blackiston has evident passion for, and skill with, all things piscatorial, but he is also a realist. His recipes are not over-cheffy although some dishes might introduce the home cook to a new skill, and that’s no bad thing. Everything here is achievable without a professional kitchen and there are lots of recipes that won’t bust the housekeeping budget either.
Hook Line Sinker is gift-quality and inspiring. It will encourage any fish and seafood lover into the kitchen. That’s what a good cookbook should do, isn’t it?