2012. The world didn’t end, we won at the Olympics, and even celebrated our Queenie.

Pretty good all round, we think. Writing down a list of eveywhere we can recall eating this year is both exciting and obesity-inducing in equal measures, but hey, here’s what we made of it all.

Best meal ever award: L’Enclume

Yeah – this is meant to be a regional blog. But it’s only 120 miles away, and to ignore the best meal ever would be ridiculous. 13-odd courses of crazy, inspiring food filled with plenty of moments of brilliance. We probably overused the words “must visit”, but it certainly applies in this case. Make the journey.

flickr lenclume venison
above: personal favourite: venison in charcoal oil, fennel sweets, shallots and mustard

Best Event: Urban Night Feast

People are always beating up on Northern food, so when 12,000+ people show up to a small less-publicised event over three days, we can’t help but feel a little geordie pride. Sure it took some incredible ribs from the very much Southern Rib Man to kick things off, but a showcase for our very best – merguez wrap from David Kennedy, those sliders from Cafè 21, and the finest seafood from Latimers seafood opened many people’s eyes to the desire for more events like this in the region. Big thanks to the lovely Maunika Gowardhan for making it all happen (and her food’s not bad either!).

flickr chris paton

above: it was a busy night… (photo by chris paton)

Most comical establishment: Fisherman’s Lodge

We hate to have it in for these guys, just wish someone would step in and sort the place out, restoring it to the beautiful venue it could be. Indifferent management, overpriced food, and the “groupon effect” combined made this a low point of 2012 for us, and a reminder that it can all go tits up for anywhere really.

flickr fishermans lodge

above: we had afternoon tea about ten times this year, this was grim.

Favourite restaurants/the new Terry Laybourne award: David Kennedy

We’ve loved David Kennedy’s food since our first visit to the old Black Door Brasserie a couple of years ago. So when he opened a less formal restaurant in our hometown (that turned out to be great), we were chuffed. One Bib Gourmand later, and a new hyper-local venture at Vallum Farm, with a stunning attached farm shop, and work with veg lord Ken Holland, it seems he can do no wrong. Great ingredients, cooked simply and done right every time. Wonder what 2013 holds?

flickr david kennedy vallum

above: great veg from dk/vallum/ken holland is always delicious

Promise to never re-visit in 2013: all you can eat buffets

Clearly didn’t learn our lesson from last year, and The Spice Cube (now closed/moved) buffet proved alluring on a hungry day. Disappointment ensued. Made the mistake of giving chinese buffets another go (Lau’s 202). Promised to quit them forever. People are recommending newcomers Your Kingdom, and Aneesa’s left right and centre – will we last?

flickr spice cube

above: looks ok, tastes of nothing. no more.

Most humbled: Blog North Award Commendation. We do this for the food, not for awards, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Favourite foodie sites: Milked Teeth (we don’t trust many others’ opinions but this is one of them), Canny Breakfasts (updated sadly infrequently), Felicity Cloake’s Guardian “perfect” series (usually spot on),  Slice (it’s pizza…),  food pic a day (great food pics, albeit in london).

One to visit in 2013: Newly Michelin star crowned Raby Hunt.

Looking forward to: maybe having some good weather for some epic picnics, a gin bar on High Bridge Street, cookery class at Blackfriars, EATNewcastleGateshead 2013, going to Feastival, more restaurant weeks, new restaurant opening, and some more of our other favourites from this year (if you’re buying): poachy eggs, doddington dairy ice cream at the half-time interval, hendrick’s g&ts, 9bar doing 250ml carafes, cakepops, pizza by the slice, sachins channa bhattura, chilean merlots, cal’s own every week, feathers inn black pudding, the newcastle quayside, more food festivals, and hopefully much more.

Don’t take the January diets too seriously guys, thanks as always for reading, and have a great new year.

jeff & kate x

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