Saturday, December 31, 2016

A's Favorite Food Memories of 2016

This was an interesting year for me with regards to eating and drinking. M and I did a decent amount of travel this year, and that's reflected in my list. This list, as always, isn't necessarily the best things I ate or drank all year, but it's a list of the most memorable events. It just happens that most of these are the best things I ate :)

1) Chesapeake and Maine - Warm Maryland Crab Dip
This is a dish of pure comfort and decadence. It's cheesy, sweet from the succulent crab meat, and simply amazing as a dish. We went to Chesapeake and Maine twice on our visit down to Rehoboth Beach, and we got this each time. In fact, it was so good that it was the only thing we duplicated.

2) Convivial - Scallop Boudin Blanc
I included this because it was so different from anything I had ever eaten before. It was scallop that was ground up and formed into a sausage of sorts. They topped it with sliced snow peas, sea beans, and roe. We couldn't place all of the flavors on this, but it tasted like a smooth, silky chowder.

3) Craft Beer
One thing that seemed pretty constant with most of our trips this year was amazing craft beer. With trips to Delaware, Portland, and San Diego we hit some of the biggest names in craft brewing, and these also happen to be some of my favorites. The highlights for the year are definitely Dogfish Head, Cascade, Stone, and Ballast Point. I had initially debated between adding in small batch coffee instead, but I opted for craft beer because it's something that M and I can enjoy together.

4) Dominique Ansel Bakery - Cronut
The original Dominique Ansel hype food! We finally took advantage of the pre-order option for cronuts this year and were able to taste one of their monthly flavor offerings. We got the June flavor: Blueberry Elderflower with Lime Sugar. Having had the real thing, I understand the hype. I've tried a couple imitation versions, and they never seemed like anything special, but after eating an actual cronut, I see that the imitators have yet to figure anything out. The combination of light and airy croissant turned into a denser donut is a magical mystery, and the fruit flavors and custard made for an amazing flavor. We're looking forward to getting more of these in the future.

5) Fork and Flask at Nage - Smoked Half Chicken
This is a dish that I know I wouldn't be able to eat every day even though I included it on this list. The reason for that is because it's just too rich and heavy for that to happen. The chicken was good and had a nice smokey flavor to it, but it was the accouterments that really made this dish shine. First and foremost was the black garlic infused mashed potatoes. They had such a rich and umami-filled flavor from the black garlic and butter, and I can still taste it today in my head. The roasted root vegetables offered a subtle sweetness to the combination, and it was also nice to have a bit of vegetable matter on the plate. While I couldn't eat this every day, I would certainly love to try my hand at making that black garlic mash at some point.

6) Mofongo with Pork - Vendy Plaza Harlem (La Marqueta)
I love mofongo, and I've always been intrigued by it since I first read about it over a decade ago. It wasn't until back in 2014 that I finally got to try some, and I instantly fell in love with it. Funny how it took me another year and a half before I got it again, but that wait was totally worth it. I don't remember the name of the stand this came from, but they had a wait because they made all of the mofongo fresh. The additional wait time made this even better because the anticipation built it up in my mind, and it lived up to its billing. The fried pieces of pork had just the right amount of fat on them to keep everything moist and flavorful, and the freshly made mofongo was so rich and hearty. The bowl came with a small cup of garlic water/sauce, and the heavy garlic flavor really tied everything together.

7) Seabra's Marisqueira - Acorda de Marisco (Dry Soup)
This year M and I finally made the trip out to Newark, NJ to get some authentic Portuguese food. For me the highlight of this meal was the Acorda de Marisco which is a soup that is then filled with cubes of bread that soak up the broth and make it a thicker, stewier concoction. I'd never heard of a "dry soup" before, but I could totally go for some right now in this cold winter weather. It has the right amount of saltiness to go with the sweetness of the seafood in the soup, and it's a hearty, comforting dish.

8) Thip Khao - Naem Khao (Crispy Rice Salad)
M and I have had really good luck with Southeast Asian rice salads in our lifetime, and this was no exception. The perfect combination of spice, heat, herbs, and crunch meld to form a near perfect dish. It's clean and light while still bursting with so much flavor. This is definitely something I could eat every day and not get tired of it.

9) Uncle Boons - Banana Blossom Salad
This wasn't my favorite dish of the night for this meal, but it was up there. The reason I chose this dish, though, is because it reminded me so much of a dish M and I had back in Chicago at a different Thai restaurant. It's creamy and fresh tasting, and the fried shallots offer that salty, crunchy goodness that we know and love. This dish brought M and me back to delicious and simpler times in our lives before all of these "adult responsibilities" came into being.

10) Zenebech Injera - Vegetable Combo with Doro Wat
This isn't the first Ethiopian food we've had in our lives, but it was a completely transcendent experience. Zenebech was known as being the bakery that provided injera to almost every other Ehtiopian restaurant in the area. They also had their own restaurant where they served, easily, the best Ethiopian food we'd ever tasted. The injera was light and fluffy, and it didn't leave a sticky residue like all of the versions here in NYC. The stews were so full of flavor and were like nothing we had ever tried before. The doro wat was so rich, and the chicken pulled off the bone so easily.

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