At the end of every year, I scroll through my camera roll reminiscing about all the incredible food I’ve eaten from the past 12 months. My memories and what food I have enjoyed are inextricably entwined. Dan is always amazed at how I can recall a specific moment and what we ate on that day, even from several years ago. I did a lot of ‘eating in’ in 2020 and never actually got round to writing the blog post. This year, we were able to travel – as far afield as Barbados! – so my best eats of 2021 is quite an interesting list. I’ve split the list into two sections: Best eats in Milton Keynes and best eats from the rest of the UK and beyond. So in no particular order, here is my year in food.
My best eats of 2021 in Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes’ food scene continues to grow and get better and better. In the first part of my blog post, I’ve rounded up my best eats from independents in Milton Keynes.
Brink & Babs at The Festival of Beer
The Festival of Beer at Blackpit Brewery was one of my biggest highlights of 2021. A weekend jam-packed with live music, great beer and food felt so incredible after not being able to do festivals for so long! One of the foodie moments we keep coming back to is this AMAZING kebab from Oxford-based street food vendors, Brink & Babs who make artisan kebabs. It was so delicious and we ended up having seconds throughout the weekend…
To find out more about The Festival of Beer 2022, head to www.thefestivalofbeer.co.uk.
Beef Sirlion by Chef Hat Home at Sophie’s Supper Club
Amid dining restrictions, I was able to host my first in-person supper club in June 2021. The last time I’d been allowed to bring everyone together was February 2020! I collaborated with Aaron Johnson of Chef Hat Home who cooked up an incredible summer menu featuring local ingredients and suppliers. The stand out course was definitely the beef sirloin, which was cooked to perfection. It was served with BBQ corn, braised beef burnt ends loaded jacket potato and gherkin ketchup.
Sophie’s Supper Club will be back in 2022. Sign up to my newsletter and keep an eye on this page for updates.
Burrata at Cross Keys, Woolstone
The Cross Keys in Woolstone could probably be dubbed my pub of the year, because I don’t think there’s been a month where we haven’t visited. We always have a lovely meal there and as it’s so local to us, it’s within walking/cycling distance making it a very convenient visit! I’ve ordered the burrata more times than I care to count and so for this reason it’s featuring on this list! Creamy cheese atop olive oil-soaked sourdough and garlicky mushrooms. Definitely worth a try along with their other small plates and starters.
To view menus and book, visit www.crosskeysmiltonkeynes.co.uk.
Chouxys from Chouxly Scrumptious
Sometimes a business comes along that creates a product that you just can’t find anywhere else and absolutely nails it. Chouxly Scrumptious is one of the best things to come out of MK this year! Their chouxys (choux doughnuts) are incredible. Sweet, smooth creme patisserie inside light choux pastry topped with delicious flavours. I am obsessed! You have to try these. At £14 for a box of 4, they are certainly a treat but worth every single penny.
To order Chouxys, visit Afternoon Teas MK’s website.
Cluck Norris at MK11, Kiln Farm
MK11 is not only an incredible live music venue, but their food game is awesome too. We visited in October and tried an array of their wings and burgers, but the highlight was the ‘Cluck Norris,’ a chicken burger with a hash brown and bacon. It’s a banger and as you can see, goes very well with loaded fries and wings….
View menus and what’s on at MK11: www.mk11kilnfarm.com
Chicken Laksa Ramen from Mii & U
I’ve been visiting this local gem for over 8 years and it hits right every time. So many people love this place for its fuss-free eats and amazing oriental supermarket. One of the best things I ate from them this year was the chicken laksa ramen. I don’t believe it’s a new addition to their menu, but if you haven’t tried it yet, you need to! It has a little bit of a kick and is packed with flavours.
Read more: An ode to Mii & U Oriental
Lobster Croque at French Affaire, Stony Stratford
French Affaire opened a few years ago, originally serving crepes but have since made their mark on the indie food scene in MK and diversified their menu to offer more delicious dishes, as well as an evening menu. The Lobster Croque is a must-try for brunch or lunch and tastes even better if the sun is shining in Odell’s Yard!
To view menus and book a table, visit www.french-affaire.co.uk.
Pigeon at Paris House, Woburn
We visited Paris House for a family meal in October and enjoyed this incredible course of pigeon. It was from the Autumn tasting menu and was a pigeon carpaccio with grapes and a rosemary pigeon heart kebab. It was served with seeded puff pastry and a pot of paté topped with red wine jelly. This was one of the most beautiful things I have eaten and was a true demonstration of how just a few ingredients and flavours can make an impactful dish.
To book a table at Paris House, visit www.parishouse.co.uk.
My best eats of 2021 everywhere else
I was lucky enough to travel this year in between restrictions lifting so got to experience some foodie highlights abroad and across the UK. In July, we went to Norfolk for a week. In September we spent a long weekend in Florence and in November, we managed to escape to Barbados for some winter sun. Here are my best eats from some of those trips.
Terreno, Greve in Chianti
In September, we went to Florence. After exploring the city, we spent a day in Chianti. My sister in law’s family friend owns a wine bar called Le Volpi e l’Uva and the owner, Chiro, drove us to Terreno, a family-owned vineyard and in Greve in Chianti. They are one of the finest producers of Chianti Classico. The restaurant at the Vineyard is just amazing. All of the produce is either grown at the vineyard or supplied by local farmers. The ricotta stuffed fried courgette flowers were a particular highlight, as was the suckling pig pasta dish. If you are ever in Tuscany, you have to visit this beautiful place!
To find out more and book tours and rooms, visit www.terreno.eu
Wiltshire truffled baron bigot, waffle & maple syrup at Crocker’s, Tring
I took Dan to Crocker’s in Tring for his birthday present. We did the Chef’s Table experience which was fantastic. The cheese course still gets reminisced about because it was so extraordinary. Wiltshire truffled baron bigot (a soft cheese) sat atop a waffle and drizzled in maple syrup. Sounds a little weird when you say it out loud, but the flavours worked incredibly well.
To book, visit tring.crockersuk.com.
Beeef Rib at The Gunton Arms, Norfolk
We were on holiday in Norfolk for my birthday back in July and to celebrate I ate one of the best steaks of my life! The Gunton Arms is a very cool pub/restaurant/hotel. The meat is cooked over an open fire in the kitchen. This was the beef rib (to share!) and it was incredible. cooked rare with just enough rendering on the fat, with a caramelised crust, this is making my mouth water just writing about it. A must-visit if you’re in the area but book ahead in advance!
To book a table or a room, visit www.theguntonarms.co.uk.
Seafood platter at Rocky Bottoms, Norfolk
Rocky Bottoms is a brilliant seafood restaurant in West Runton, Norfolk, just along the coast from Cromer. We went here twice because it was so good! The second time, the weather was so hot so we had a glass of chilled white wine with their sharing seafood platter. It featured dressed crab, lobster, Brancaster oysters, pickled herring and prawns. Everything was totally delicious and the views of the sea are just stunning!
To view menus and book for the restaurant, visit www.rockybottoms.co.uk.
Caribbean Lobster at The Horny Ram, Holetown Barbados
We stayed at The Coral Reef Club in Barbados and The Horny Ram was just across the road. I had the most amazing, meaty lobster here! It was so delicious and was swimming in garlic butter. I will follow this up with a disclosure that everyone else’s meals were not the best – they could not get a steak right at all, but fortunately for me, the lobster was perfect. This is a great place if you fancy a dance and there are plenty of rum cocktails on offer!
I hope you enjoyed reading all about my best eats. of the year! I’d love to know what your foodie highlights were, in Milton Keynes or further afield!
You might also like:
- My Year in Food: Best Eats of 2019
- New indies, launches and openings in Milton Keynes for summer 2021