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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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2015 In Pictures – It’s All About Blackbird

Around this time of year, I usually post a selection of photos either taken or received by me, to sum up what kind of year I’ve had. However, this year has ultimately been defined for me by one thing and one thing only. Blackbird, and it being featured in the Waitrose Good Food Guide 2016.

When I initially opened the letter and gave it a cursory glance, I presumed it was an advertising mailshot, and was too busy doing the washing up at Blackbird, since the kitchen porter had failed to show up for work that day. So, I just left the letter on top of the dishwasher and carried on getting through all the dirty dishes. Three days later, the kitchen porter had again failed to show up for work and I found myself up to my elbows in dirty crockery and pans again. During a break, I wondered whether the letter was still on top of the dishwasher. It sure was, and when I gave it a more thorough read, it completely blew my mind.

There are few achievements in my life which can match the surprise, elation and satisfaction which finding Blackbird listed in the Good Food Guide elicited. And with tongue firmly in cheek, I still occasionally joke with customers that Blackbird even achieved a higher cooking score than the illustrious Ivy in London.

So anyway, here it is. My 2015 In Pictures. Well, just one really. Sorry to disappoint!

Blackbird in the Good Food Guide 2016

Visit the website of Blackbird in Todmorden

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2014 In Pictures

Typically rushed and random selection of pictures either taken or sent to me over 2014. I thought I’d had a fairly quiet year, seems like the exact opposite is true according to the pics. Apologies for the overkill on Sorcha photos, but she is a bit cute..

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