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Best of 2012

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It's that time of year again. What stood out for you in 2012?

I hesitated to start this thread because, although I had some great meals at new (to me) restos, nothing really stands out in my memory except all the bad food I ate this year. Seriously: from being stuck in the chain-resto hell outside of Charlotte, NC, for four days to a tiny restaurant in Newton Falls, OH where the food was barely edible, it was the year of nasty. The single worst piece of food I've ever put in my mouth came from a concession stand at New Jersey Motorsports Park: a beef brisket sandwich that was so bad, nothing else tasted right for the next three days. The single worst meal I've ever endured was at a banquet at the Ramada Inn in Ithaca, NY: chicken breast in a sticky yellow sauce with mashed potatoes and boiled carrots.

There were good times, though. A dinner al fresco at The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, where there were blueberries in almost everything; Hazlenut Kitchen in Trumansburg, NY; and Trestle on Tenth and Fat Radish in NYC. A home-cooked hanger steak purchased at Stachowski's.

And the steak tartare at Fiola. I'm still not over that dish.

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2012 was a bit of a blur for me too. And a year where I was far too busy to post some of the meals in the moment.

I had a wonderful meal at Proof in February. Alas as desserts were served, school called to tell me the little guy had a toy firetruck fall on his head and he was bleeding. We bolted down the dessert, paid and tipped handsomely and then waited forever for the car to be pulled up. Note to self: do not valet car at Proof on game nights. (And the child was fine, upset but fine...)

The next night was Michel at the Ritz in Tyson. One week before it closed. The details are fuzzy but I remember it being lovely and was very sad that it is now closed.

We dined at Againn a few times and the cocktails will be missed.

I didn't make it to Talde in Brooklyn despite my best efforts.

I did make it to Pratzels in St. Louis one final time before it closed. Okay twice.. In a six day trip and would have gone more if the schedule had permitted.

I can't say that the Amighetti's special or the Imo's pizza was fine dining but it tastes like home.

Other travel dining wasn't so very memorable although there as a great meal on the dock at Ponce Inlet. I think it was more being outdoors on a beautiful afternoon than the food though...

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Most of the memorable food and meals I had this year were close to home, but not all. Two meals that particularly stand out as a whole are the Port City pairing dinner at Light Horse in Old Town in July and the “Surprise” 5-course tasting menu at Corduroy in August. The Corduroy meal was just a knockout, and the beer/food pairings at the Light Horse meal were perfectly spot on.

Two desserts especially stood out for me, since I don’t often order dessert: Baked peaches with vanilla gelato at Dino (A+) and goat cheesecake with blackberry sauce at Sonoma (no grade but noteworthy).

On the savory side, the lamb loin preparation at Montmartre this summer was especially memorable, and I repeatedly enjoyed the spicy tuna sandwich at Seventh Hill next door.

One of the very best things I ate this year was earlier this month: pasta with shaved white truffle at Acqua Al 2. And multiple times I enjoyed their preparation of orecchiette with broccoli cream sauce. I just love that dish, and at $13, it’s one of their reasonably priced items. I try not to think about how many calories it has.

Best drink of the year: The Old Salt at The Eddy Bar at Hank’s Oyster Bar.

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I definitely have a worst of meal for 2012 - to find a meal comparable to the disaster that was our dinner at Mammoth Hotel Dining Room, I would have to reach far into the early 1990s. Honestly, I cannot recall airline food that was as bad as what I ate that night.

Otherwise, I think we did really well this year. Lots of great meals and relatively few disappointing ones. I apologize ahead of time for gushiness.

Little Serow - the pork ribs! Are! Back!

Fiola – their marinara sauce is 25% crack

FIG (Charleston) – ricotta gnocchi! Suckling pig confit! Everything!

Osteria (Philadelphia) – best pizzas ever!

Pupatella –Enzo’s Montanare (fried pizza) might challenge the claim above, if he’ll just bring it back on the menu…

Oysters with toppings – we had some horrors but also some revelations. The latter category at HUSK (Charleston), Woodberry Kitchen(Baltimore), BlackFish (Philadelphia).

Pizzeria Orso – favorite octopus, favorite cannoli

2941 - a memorably good meal here was followed 2 hours later by the memorable Derecho of 2012

PS 7's – I will miss Italian Night, a lot.

SunDeVich – yay! SunDeVich is my new favorite sandwich place.

Rogue 24 – thank you for the bar menu

Green Pig Bistro – I’m not a fan of some recent changes to their lineup, but their duck liver poutine is a definite and completely ridiculous winner.

Tortas Frontera (Chicago O’Hare)- best airport food yet, plus I got a good habanero hot sauce recipe from the visit

Rendezvous Bistro (Jackson, WY) – favorite meal of our 2 week long Yellowstone/Tetons/Glacier trip, by far.

Peaks (Tetons) – best pie ever

American Grocery (Greenville, SC) – favorite “farm-to-table”

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I definitely have a worst of meal for 2012 - to find a meal comparable to the disaster that was our dinner at Mammoth Hotel Dining Room, I would have to reach far into the early 1990s. Honestly, I cannot recall airline food that was as bad as what I ate that night.

Otherwise, I think we did really well this year. Lots of great meals and relatively few disappointing ones. I apologize ahead of time for gushiness.

Little Serow - the pork ribs! Are! Back!

Fiola – their marinara sauce is 25% crack

FIG (Charleston) – ricotta gnocchi! Suckling pig confit! Everything!

Osteria (Philadelphia) – best pizzas ever!

Pupatella –Enzo’s Montanare (fried pizza) might challenge the claim above, if he’ll just bring it back on the menu…

Oysters with toppings – we had some horrors but also some revelations. The latter category at HUSK (Charleston), Woodberry Kitchen(Baltimore), BlackFish (Philadelphia).

Pizzeria Orso – favorite octopus, favorite cannoli

2941 - a memorably good meal here was followed 2 hours later by the memorable Derecho of 2012

PS 7's – I will miss Italian Night, a lot.

SunDeVich – yay! SunDeVich is my new favorite sandwich place.

Rogue 24 – thank you for the bar menu

Green Pig Bistro – I’m not a fan of some recent changes to their lineup, but their duck liver poutine is a definite and completely ridiculous winner.

Tortas Frontera (Chicago O’Hare)- best airport food yet, plus I got a good habanero hot sauce recipe from the visit

Rendezvous Bistro (Jackson, WY) – favorite meal of our 2 week long Yellowstone/Tetons/Glacier trip, by far.

Peaks (Tetons) – best pie ever

American Grocery (Greenville, SC) – favorite “farm-to-table”

You know, it's precisely because of posts such as this that I'm going to activate the "Like" button for the New Year.

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Spanish white anchovies and grilled bread (Bar Pilar)

Grilled beef in grape leaves (Rice Paper, DR $20 Tuesday meal)

Whole crispy chicken with garlic (Hong Kong Pearl, DR $20 Tuesday meal)

Vegetable sampler platter with fried fish (Ethiopic)

Paneer till tikka and Baingan mirch ka salan (Masala art)

Roast eggplant pizza (Italian Pizza Kitchen)

Penang tofu (Siam House)

Caponata on grilled bread (A Mano, New Orleans)

Burrata and heirloom tomatoes (A Mano, New Orleans)

Cured tofu (Kajitsu, NYC)

Just about everything we ate in Israel (Israel)

Barbecue chopped pork sandwich with slaw (Wilbur's, Goldsboro, NC)

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Admittedly, this year was a bit of a whirlwind, but a couple of bites (and one meal) that stick out:

-Apricots with marscapone, proscuitto, and balsamic @ Dino

-Summer gnocchi @ Proof

-Rapini with ricotta salata and hot peppers @ Otto in NYC

-Duck Liver mouse @ Ripple

-Summer picnic @ Sou'wester (DR Event)

-Pork Belly sliders @ Estadio

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Society Fair DR demo dinner - braised pork shoulder on garlic escarole and grits

Fishinnard's biryani at the DR spring picnic

Antonio Burrell's fried chicken from the fall picnic

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And that reminds me, I took myself to CityZen for my birthday in January. Again, can't remember a darn thing I ate but I do remember sitting peacefully and reading my book. I remember enjoying it and the service was great.

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This year was such a good food year in so many ways and then in others kind of a bust. Next year more cooking myself!

Locanda Verde- NYC

Bubby's- NYC for the peach turnover

Family Meal- MD for the "Jack and Coke" and other things

Komi

DR Demo Dinner at Society Fair- it was amazing company and food

Out the Door- SF

Nopa- SF

Spinasse- Seattle

CityZen

Morimoto

And more more more DR EVENTS!!!!!!!!! (I will plan one soon- promise) Thank you everyone who made 2012 wonderful, and I hope to help make your 2013 great too.

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The highlight of 2012, food-wise and in pretty much every other way you can imagine, was our trip to Spain. Just an absolutely magical trip, and so very delicious.

Had some really excellent domestic eats as well. Portland was yummy - the pork belly cubano from Bunk, the chicken wings fron Pok Pok, and everything from Voodoo Donuts, oh my! In Atlanta, aside from a near-flawless anniversary dinner at Cakes & Ale, the highlights were all breakfast - a chicken fried steak breakfast platter at the Porter Beer Bar and some red velvet french toast at the Egg Harbor Cafe (an Illinois/Wisconsin chain that has found its way into Georgia and into my heart). Sometimes, it is the simplest things that make me the happiest. :D

Wishing everyone a safe and happy New Year!

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Ramen from Toki Underground

Rice Paper in Eden Center

Bangkok Golden

Kale salad at Lincoln

Garlic shrimp at Jaleo

SunDeVich

Palak Chaat from Bombay Club (slight edge over Rasika!)

Harvest Pizzeria (Columbus)

Wellfleet oysters while in Cape Cod

The turkey I smoked for Thanksgiving

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Making this post pizza-specific, I've eaten some of the best pizza of my life this past year:

Apizza Scholls - Portland (number 1, the others in no particular order)

Pizzeria Mozza -Los Angeles

Motorino - NYC

Pizzeria Orso

Pupatella

And yes, despite the seeming consensus of this community, Pizzaria Paradiso (Dupont)

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I don't get out much any more. When I am not cooking and eating at Tabard, I mostly frequent casual places. Some good meals in 2012:

surprise tasting dinner at Corduroy was wonderful--thank you Chef Power

birthday dinner at Palena--dinner was great and the server was so sweet to send me home with extra cookies

new pizza favorite--Pizza CS in Rockville

crispy pork belly with broccoli at Ruan Thai in Wheaton--the portion was huge and tasty

$19.95 lunch special at New Kam Fong in Wheaton--good variety and value

dim sum at Hong Kong Pearl in Seven Corners--as close to Hong Kong as I can find in the area

Happy eating in 2013 everyone!

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Happy new year, all! 2012 had its ups and downs, culinarily and otherwise, but some food and fun highlights include:

fried calzone and squash blossoms at Pupatella

tsukemen at Tsujita LA

surprise platter at Chef Alisah's in Tucson

curry shortribs at Lotus of Siam in Vegas

late nights at Honey Pig

fried chicken noodles at A&J

street food in Penang

meal of appetizers and gnocchi at PS7's

perfect duck noodles in Bangkok

broasted chicken in Wall, SD

dinner at Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore

Lickety Split lunches at Restaurant Eve

Our worst meal of the year was the last meal at China Star. The food wasn't SO terrible, but the letdown with the management changeover was great and our disappointment, rather epic. Losing your favorite (closest, most frequented, etc.) place is hard, yo.

Our best meal was at Cityzen. I don't remember the specific dishes, but everything about that night flowed flawlessly.

Best new recipe: green beans and chicken in red curry - fast, easy, and delicious!

2013 will be the year of the home-baked bread.

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Sushi Taro-Kaiseki tasting, natto and ramen

Little Serow

Rouge 24

Kushi-A raw oyster topped with ikura, uni, masago, and quail egg. In a list of foods I love equally, these five are in the top eight. It was a special on the menu in Janury during the first of a few shit storms that fell this year. The pic has survived many cuts on the cell phone.

Michael Anthony's, HH, SC-Lamb carpaccio, piave, arugula

The Thai meal cooked by fishinards at porcupine's

Memorial Day weekend meal on Waitman and Mrs. B's front porch

Numerous Shabbat meals

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2012 taught me that the most delicious food in the world tastes like ashes without the right people to enjoy it with. The brunch at my house on August 5th was the highlight of my year, despite the flubbed quiche and corked Burgundy, because it was the last time I got to cook for Stephanie.

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First meal at orso with great friends, what we had...everything that Chef Will could throw to us.

Follow-ups at Del Ray Pizza

hard to believe but Veggie Chili Nachos at Nats Park, hey, anytime a veg head gets to sit and watch his favorite team play at least 25 times at home, anything tastes great

Sitting at the Bar tasting through the whole menu at Tria (Philadelphia) before preggers

Brunch at The Standard Tap (philly)

Sandwiches from The Wine Merchant on our way back from multiple OBGYN appt's in Baltimore

And the best, Salad Bar at The Whole Foods in Mt. Washington, Baltimore, hours after seeing for the first time my newest addition, Cooper Joseph.

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The cherry blossom cupcake from Hello Cupcake

Tuna handroll at Masa 14

Quebecois cheese plate at Restaurant Holder (Montreal)

Tiramisu at Mangiafoco (Montreal)

My friend Hiroko's ika nattou (raw squid, nattou, shiso leaf) (Kitakami, Japan)

Karaage at Funabatei (Kitakami, Japan)

Smoked steelhead trout at La Posada (Winslow, AZ)

Green chile sauce from Virgie's (Gallup, NM)

Azami's tortillas

Calamari and tagliatelle bolognese at 8407

My last batch of kinpira gobou (burdock root julienned and simmered in soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar)

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