2017 Best Nine

by Jo Kenny

Well. Despite being one where I’ve had to lie a little lower in the name of wedding preparations it’s still turned out to be a fantastic year of restaurants, recipes and discoveries. ‘Best nine’ becomes increasingly popular year on year, but for me it’s not about how many likes I got but which experiences were the most memorable. So, here’s my personal 2017 best nine!

January: Breakfast at Paradise House

In comparison to birthdays past this was a very chilled one; focused on good food (ok nothing changes there) sipping tea by the fire, hot baths and dare I admit it, falling asleep to a bit of Classic FM. The morning breakfast at our stay in Paradise House I found particularly memorable though. If you’re really lucky (or wake up early enough) you can nab this extra special table in the drawing room which overlooks the frosty grounds and roof tops of Bath down at the bottom of the hill. We had a beautiful leisurely breakfast of toast and jam followed by a huge rosette of smoked salmon and buttery scrambled eggs. All washed down with plenty of coffee. It’s probably the most content I’ve felt all year!

March: Celebrating 12 years together at The Hand & Flowers

It was such highlight to finally experience this famous pub, and of course the food of my favourite celebrity chef. We chose our 12th anniversary as the excuse we needed to finally go, and it was just out of this world. The setting itself is nothing like I expected… it really is a tiny old pub! No modern faux pub vibes here, you’ll have to mind your head all the same as when you’re enjoying a humble pint & pork scratchings in your local. The food however, is nothing like you’ve experienced in these settings before. Absolute posh pub grub perfection.

April: Hobbiting at House of Trembling Madness

I will never tire of this place! It is absolutely wonderful here and if you are a lover of the rustic, the oldy worldy, Harry Potter or Tolkien I urge you to put this magical pub on your hit list. In my most recent visit we picked at medieval style platters of meats and cheeses and drank smoked ale under mounted animal heads and cast iron chandeliers. I felt my heart warm as everyone in the pub began singing together to David Bowie’s ‘Rocket Man’… for just a few hours I was a real life hobbit!

April: Creating my recipe for oxtail stew

I was so happy with how this recipe turned out, it’s very much my style and everything I love in home cooking: hearty, comforting, family style eating. Definitely give my oxtail stew a try if you haven’t already!

May: Discovering Purity Brewery

I fell in love with Purity Brewing Co for their modern ideologies: their mission was to create beers that are sustainably produced and approachable by all ages and genders. The beers aren’t bad either… in fact they were lovely – I’ve really got into beer this year and Purity has absolutely been a part of that. Enjoy a pint of their ‘Pure Gold’ if you get the chance!

July: Revisiting Kakopetira

I spent a spontaneous week in Cyprus this Summer, for the first time as an adult after many years of visiting as a child. I had a whole new perspective this time around and whilst I can safely say that yes, I’ve very much had my fill of this island (been there done that) now, I particularly loved venturing back up into the mountains and visiting the ancient village of Kakopetria. It’s like stepping back in time and has some of the quaintest little homes I have ever seen. Wonderful bags of fruit can be bought from the locals for just one Euro.

July: Hiking up Ben Ledi

This hike was anything but picturesque or even pleasant, but it was utterly cathartic. It was at a time when I had a lot on my mind with work and the wedding and a terminally ill family member, but this lovely mountain beat it all out of me. We hiked through fog and rain and howling wind and I reached the top freezing cold with bleeding feet and a little disorientated. There was absolutely no view to look at which helped the feeling of true escapism. I read an excerpt afterwards, “Climb the mountains to get their good tidings, the winds will blow their own freshness into you, while cares will drop away from you like leaves in Autumn,” which couldn’t be truer of my meeting with Ben Ledi. I was so relaxed, physically and mentally after that little adventure.

October: Our Wedding

Of course, this was the highlight of my year! The moment that the time machine gets invented I’m renting one and going back to 7th October 2017. I’ve never felt so full of love in my life. I was so, so happy with the food as well; Lazy Sunday absolutely nailed it – it was rustic and hearty and casual; everything that Q and I had wanted.

October: Escaping to Barns Tower

What a wonderful marriage of romantic, quirky and a little bit creepy. Staying in this converted 600 year old defence tower in the middle of nowhere on the Scottish borders was like nowhere I have ever stayed before and it was an unforgettable experience. Q and I spent our mini-moon drinking rum in front of the huge fireplace, napping in the snug and taking hot baths in the open plan bedroom. Dreamy.

Plans for 2018

Maybe it’s the whole turning 30 thing but I’ve got the travel bug. This coming year I want to get out of the UK more. After all, a girl’s gotta eat the world. I’ve already got trips to Ibiza and Marbella booked and I’ve also got Oslo in my cross hairs. Q and I also have the exciting task of planning our honeymoon and New Zealand is a current favourite! In the UK I want to visit a city I have never been to. I want to discover more quirky holiday homes. I want to be braver in front of the camera. I want to host blogger dinners. I want to improve my plating up skills. I want to eat more suet puddings. I want to have afternoon tea.  I want to end 2018 with many more delicious memories and discoveries. Let’s see what it brings!

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