Friday, December 31, 2010
I am recounting a wonderful and blessed 2010 food-filled year. 2010 began with a goal. A goal to stop "wanting" and start "doing". I always wanted to go visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Oak Park Studio and Falling Water. I always wanted to visit New Orleans. I always wanted to seal a "movie" dipped kiss on the Empire State Building. Ok, the last one did not happen this year but who knows what is in store for 2011.
I had some marvelous meals and new exploits in the food field. Here are my favorite meals/dishes for 2010.
Every time I re-read Alinea's menu (signed by the amazing Chef Achatz, thank you very much) I am able to relive my meal. Yes, the meal was so incredible I am able to recall my reactions, taste bud and general amusement for each dish. I was lucky to experience "the tour" tasting menu consisting of 26 courses before Alinea converted to one tasting menu choice.
The menu was fun, interactive, and unexpected in every way. My favorite was the 'king crab' course, king crab prepared 3 different ways (cold, warm, hot) with each course hiding from each other. The ultimate was when Chef Achatz prepared our dessert personally at our table.
New Orleans, LA
My first and very short trip to New Orleans will certainly not be my last. The warm October air, our hotel on Bourbon Street and cafe du monde open 24 hours. The vibrant energy and countless restaurant choices make New Orleans food destination worthy.
The highlight was our meal at Antoine's - the history, the magnificent and labyrinth restaurant, and the hospitality beats many Michelin star restaurants.
When I was a kid and played "stranded boat in the middle of Pacific ocean" we were allowed to only bring one food item on board. My choice was and still is a banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) from Saigon Sandwiches. I love sandwiches - the simplicity of meats, vegetables and spread is enough to turn my frown upside down.
2010 marked a year where I ate out of my sandwich comfort zone. The pulled pork sandwich from Dinic's in Philadelphia literally melted like buttah or better yet, melted like ice cream on the sidewalk on a hot day. Primanti's famous french fries and coleslaw in the sandwich and Wholey's one pound fried fish sandwich in a Fish Market, in Pittsburgh, PA. The city of Pittsburgh really surprised me, the 'burgh offered a lively food scene, beautiful views, amazing museums and history.
Wholey's fish sandwich, Primanti's corned beef
An Italian ice and Italian beef and red hot combination at Johnnie's in Elmwood Park, IL brought me back every night for one week straight.
My first muffaleta at Central Grocery Co. offered a soft, meaty, chewy, vinegary and olive-y sensation in one bite. The Mississippi River view and basking in the warm glowy sun as I was eating my sandwich was...perfect. Another New Orlean's unforgettable sandwich was the soft shell crab po'boy from Stanley's, just look at the size of that thing!
Thomas Keller's Empire
- The French Laundry - dialing at exactly 10am two months in advance, serene and quaint Yountville backdrop and a progression of refined dishes of fish, meat, vegetables and dessert.
- Ad Hoc's famous every other Monday night buttermilk fried chicken. We drove 1 and half hour to Napa on a Monday night just to get a taste of the fried chicken. My expectation was thrown out the window after my meal. The fried chicken was better than I could imagine, I can't say the same for many many other situations.
- Bouchon Bistro was a disappointment but the raspberry beignets was my breakfast savior.
- I don't know how many times I've eaten at Bouchon Bakery in Yountville and Las Vegas. I will give a shout out to the doggie foie gras biscuit from my pom-chi, Momo. He goes absolutely crazy for the biscuit and can smell where I hide them, on top of a 6 ft shelf -- in a shoe box.
San Francisco's new restaurants - Benu and Prospect
Funny, one of my favorite blogger Ulterior Epicure named Benu's black truffle risotto and uni one of his favorites dishes of 2010. I can not agree more, the dish was sumptuous and luxurious. I also won't forget the dish because I asked my pregnant friend who could not eat seafood, I asked if she missed it as the uni dish arrived. She exclaimed, "No shit, I mean, just look at that [uni dish]." I laughed so hard I cried.
Las Vegas, NV
I should really consider Las Vegas my second hometown as I travel there 3-5 times a year and love to venture off the strip. There are always new and exciting restaurant openings by famous chefs. Todd's English P.U.B's dirty chips - kettle chips, bacon lardon, blue cheese fondue and fried chicken liver. My sister and I greet each other "Duuuurrrty, duurty....chips!! Yes, so delicious it makes me roll my r's.
Raku has become my "regular" place. Best homemade tofu. Don't ask why, just go and see for yourself.
My 2011 wish list:
Attempt to make macarons at home.
Big Sur, CA road trip.
Japanese cooking class.
Oprah and Stedman finally getting married.