Here's a list of the best food moments of 2012.
But before I begin, I'd like to say that
1. I didn't start blogging until June, so I don't have any photos from the first half of the year.
2. There are a lot of amazing restaurants... that I did not visit in 2012. Maybe I visited them in 2010 or 2011, but because I am sure that I'll be back at my favorite places again, I feel that I should leave them off this list for now.
3. I've linked the restaurants/foods that I've posted about.
Best drink: Amarula. Simple, delicious, sweet. Drink it straight up or on the rocks. On your couch or in the bush.
It's an African cream liqueur that made the crazy night drives (and a lion bumping our truck while it was off) that much less scary.
Best appetizer: L'artusi's roasted mushrooms with fried egg, pancetta, and ricotta salata.
It was so good that I mimicked it for the Thanksgiving cookoff. There's nothing amazing or fancy about the mushrooms or any individual ingredient, but they are fresh and cooked perfectly. It was also brilliant of l'artusi to combine such common ingredients into such a uncommonly good dish.
Best carb: Bresca's spaghetti with smokey mozzarella.
The restaurant tucked in a wall in Portland, Maine was already very surprising, but the pasta was addictive. The soft mozzarellas were smoked, the sauce was clearly freshly made, and the assortment of tomatoes made NoMad's tomato course (which was pretty good) look like ketchup.
Best seafood: Brushstroke's spiny lobster. This was a little inhumane.... but it was honestly the best sushi I have ever had. It was placed next to toro and I went for the lobster first. and second. That's how I knew that it was truly special.
Somehow there are no pictures on yelp... but it pretty much looked like this:
But it was sliced up in the back.
Best non-seafood entree: Ruxbin's hanger steak. It was really surprising from a restaurant kind of on the edge of gentrification in Chicago. I always said that Chicago has better cuts of meat. It's fresher probably because of the stock yards. Anyway, but this wasn't just about the meat, but it was also creatively flavored.
Yah the focus is a little off, but the point is, it didn't look that amazing, but the flavor was. The hanger steak was extremely memorable and pleasurable, but honestly I can't remember all the flavors that went into it.
Best Dessert: Monkey bread at David Burke Kitchen
A knot of really puffy dough arrives in a warm tin. They then cut out a wedge, top it with ice cream, whipped cream, and caramel... all at the table. And if you have any left, they let you take it home in the tin. If someone didn't let slip that he had a pregnant wife at home who loves monkey bread at the beginning of the meal, I would have fought for it.
Forget the photo. Here's a video.
Best new thing I've never eaten before: Biltong!! It edged out Springbok by a hair. Although springbok is lean and delicious.... biltong is cured and down and dirty. Best jerky ever. Also, you can make biltong with springbok... and ostrich.
Best new restaurant: Neta
Sorry Brushstroke, NoMad, etc. Neta takes it. Maybe it's the star treatment from going with a VIP, but they've really outdone themselves. The menu was well conceived, and each dish held their own.
If you've never been, you're missing out.
Best thing my bf cooked: Chicken burgers
He nearly beat me with this course during the Thanksgiving cookoff. If this were the only course, I would have been screwed... there's nothing I could have made to beat this. Maybe except for...
Best thing I cooked: Squid ink paella
It was fun, interactive, and took a lot of ingredients! It wasn't really economical for a cook-off with a cost limit, but I think this was the most memorable dish I made all year.
Best wine: Champalou Vouvray - it shan't de-throned. There was a California red that came close... but in the end, this is still my go to wine. I've thought about collecting it but I keep drinking it all.
Looking forward to an exciting new year in food for 2013!!
Thank you for reading!
**~~HAPPY NEW YEAR!!~~**