My...

2016 In Pictures – It’s Not All About Blackbird This Year

On April 16th 2016, my wonderful mum passed away following a long, proud and valiant battle against cancer and COPD.

Thankfully, in the month prior I was able to spend the weekend of Mother’s day with her, surprisingly without carers etc being needed, and she was in very good spirits. We blethered for ages, ate good food and drank fine wine together. She was delighted with the bouquet of flowers I’d brought for her and my surprise visit. Little did I suspect at the time that she would be gone within a month after that weekend.

The illnesses themselves alongside her medical treatments meant that when she had last visited me in Todmorden she had absolutely no appetite. I had so much wanted her to try the food at Blackbird, especially since she had inspired and encouraged my love for food and cooking since I was a small boy. It was only with hindsight after opening Blackbird that I realised she had made a love of good food part of my DNA. A current dish on the Blackbird menu is a almost a carbon copy of one she used to make, Persian spiced lentils with pan-fried cumin dusted cauliflower, crispy red onions and a cumin tahini dressing.

It was obviously going to be difficult to find any kind of silver lining for 2016, however the surprise of having Blackbird included for the second year running in The Waitrose Good Food Guide for 2017 definitely felt good and a little serendipitous under the circumstances. As I write, new dishes and menu ideas are being crafted, not for The Good Food Guide or anything like that, just for me, and my mum.

Sunset at Maidens, Ayrshire where my mother's remains were scattered

Sunset at Maidens in Ayrshire on September 2016, where my mother’s remains were scattered

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