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Best of 2008


porcupine
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What were your culinary (and donrockwell.com) standouts this year? Best single dish, restaurant meal, home-cooked dish, farmers' market event, new ingredient, weird post, new cocktail, best made classic cocktail...?

Off hand, without thinking too much, I'd say my highlights were: pappardelle with white truffles (Dino); NYE at Vidalia; just about any drink made by ulysses; pulling carrots and potatoes from the garden.

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I second jparrot's Repeal Day Ball nomination and also submit the Palena Sazerac, Porcupine's house special cocktail, chicken liver pate at Bar Pilar, Wild Boar pasta at Dino and my very own slow-roasted beef. My favorite DR.com event this year was volunteering at DC Central Kitchen.

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In something unusual for me, a lot of my favorite meals and foods this past year were consumed and prepared away from home. Road food: kolaches from the Czech Stop in West, Texas; papas fritas with green chiles and fried eggs at Cafe Pasqual in Santa Fe, NM; lamb tacos from Angelina's in Espanola, NM; and a burger at Fred's in Fort Worth, TX. Anything else with green chiles or green chile sauce :P. Best atmosphere: Abe's Cantina in Arroyo Seco, NM.

Best restaurant meal of the year: Babbo in NYC in July (highlights: calamari, Sicilian lifeguard style; mint love letters; and, limoncello). Runner-up, lunch at Otto in NYC in December. A big Mario Batali year :D.

As far as DC dining out goes, the highlights would be the pastrami cured kanpachi and mustard ice cream at the DR.com Oval Room event; lobster salad and the scallops with mashed potatoes and mushroom sauce at Corduroy; and, the black bean rillettes and the softshell crab with potato-cucumber raita in the last days of Chef Wabeck's tenure at New Heights.

In terms of my own cooking, the best menu I put together was for Valentine's Day, and the standout from that was Spicy Fried Oysters on Roasted Peppers with Spinach and Radicchio Salad, from the Mansion on Turtle Creek Cookbook. My most ambitious culinary endeavor: transporting half a bushel of hatch chiles from Santa Fe back to DC, including a day roasting, packaging, and freezing them while in Fort Worth. Everything I have used them in has been fantastic. It was, in the end, worth it.

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Finally made it to Komi and the Old Ebbitt Oyster Riot in 2008. Both super expensive, but super worth it. Perhaps the most welcome development that everone can enjoy was the opening of Ray's Hell Burger. And I got to partake in a fantastic opening night there thanks to the heads up on this website.

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