Saturday, December 31, 2016

M's Favorite Food Memories of 2016

It's hard to believe that it's already time for another year-end favorite food memories list, but here we are at the end of 2016. In alphabetical order by place name, here are my top 10 favorite food memories from the past year.

1. Garlic roasted brussels sprouts from Ballast Point Tasting Room and Kitchen (San Diego, CA)

After a trip to Mission Beach, we decided to head down to the Ballast Point Tasting Room and Kitchen where we got beer tasting flights and lots of small dishes to share. One of those, crispy brussels sprouts with a poached egg, housemade kimchi, and pancetta, was so good that it inspired me to mix kimchi with some brussels sprouts when we got home. It was nowhere near as good as the one at Ballast Point, but I love it when things on vacations inspire me to try new things at home. I also picked this one for the atmosphere of the tasting room. It was awesome to be able to get flights and try so many different beers in a really relaxed environment with really solid food. There aren't really any places quite like this at home that we know of.

2. Warm Maryland crab dip from Chesapeake and Maine (Rehoboth Beach, DE)

During our summer beach vacation in Delaware, we ate a lot of good food, including a couple of dinners at Chesapeake and Maine, the seafood-focused restaurant from the Dogfish Head folks. Both times we got the warm Maryland crab dip which came with toasted bagel chips. We intended to order different things the second time so we could try more stuff, but I just couldn't not order the dip. There were so much real crab in there and the flavor was so good. I could go for more of that right now as the dip was so comforting.

3. Poultry and potato salad from Hometown Bar-B-Que (Brooklyn, NY)

A had been to Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook before and always talked about how good it was, so we planned to take my dad there for his birthday or Father's Day since he loves BBQ. We didn't make it there until late this year, but it was so worth it. Everything we got there was good - brisket, pulled pork, lamb belly, beans with burnt ends, cole slaw, collard greens - but to me the real standouts were the smoked turkey, the Oaxacan-marinated wood fired chicken, and the backyard potato salad. I could eat that stuff all the time, if not for the long lines there and the fact that it wouldn't be the healthiest diet. The BBQ there is definitely some of the best in NYC, which was proven even more when I ate some pulled pork from another BBQ place later in the week which didn't even come close.

4. Tostada mixta from Mariscos El Pescador (Chula Vista, CA)

We ate a lot of good food in San Diego, but the meal that stands out the most to me is our splurge lunch from a food truck, Mariscos El Pescador, down in Chula Vista. It wasn't a splurge lunch because the items were expensive, but because we ordered a feast that took up almost the entire length of the truck's counter. There were tacos and tostadas and burritos, way more than we should have ordered for a single meal, but everything was delicious, especially the tostada mixta. It was filled with all types of seafood, so fresh, such good quality, perfectly seasoned. Everything was just perfect, and I could eat this every single day if that were an option.

5. Khao man gai from Nong's Khao Man Gai (Portland, OR)

Khao man gai is one of those dishes I order when I want something simple, healthy, and clean but with really good flavor. After going to Nong's Khao Man Gai in Portland, I knew I had to wait a while before ordering this again at home because it was that good there. The chicken was tender and flavorful, the sauce was completely addictive (no wonder they sell it in bottles), and the soup that accompanied it just tied it all together well. This could be a daily lunch if they were in our neighborhood.

6. Pupusas from Salvatoria (Astoria, NY)

This fall, we went out with some friends to Salvatoria, a Salvadoran spot in Astoria, for a giant pupusas dinner. The table split a bunch of them for appetizers, and then A and I ordered another set of pupusas for our main courses. There were pupusas filled with loroco, pork, beans, cheese, jalapeños, and combinations of all of those, and they were so good. I know in theory how to make pupusas but there is no way that they would come out as good as these. They were perfectly griddled and the fillings were delicious. We definitely want to go back there for more pupusas.

7. Octopus salad from Seabra's Marisqueira (Newark, NJ)

We've already written about the salada de polvo, the cold octopus salad, at Seabra's Marisqueira in Newark from our visit earlier this summer. The octopus there was so tender, and the dressing, filled with onions, garlic, parsley, and oil and vinegar was so simple but tasty. Every time I look at pictures of this salad, I want more. It was so delicious that I knew it would make the top 10 list this year as soon as I ate it.

8. Naem khao from Thip Khao (Washington, DC)

One of our most memorable meals this year was at Thip Khao, a Laotian restaurant in Washington, DC, where the hour's wait was most certainly worth it. This rice salad - crispy coconut rice, lime, scallions, sour pork, peanuts, and cilantro - with lettuce to wrap it up was so packed with flavor, especially from all the herbs and seasonings. We had something similar when we went to Khe-Yo, but since this was in salad form and not rice balls, it was even better. So much of what we ate at Thip Khao was awesome, and we wished we lived closer so we could investigate more of the menu. But it would be hard not to order this every time.

9. Banana blossom and chicken salad from Uncle Boons (New York, NY)

From one Southeast Asian salad to another. We finally made it to Uncle Boons this year and one of the things we knew we definitely had to order was this spicy rotisserie chicken and banana blossom salad (yum gai hua pli) with cashews, crispy shallots, and roasted chili dressing. When we lived in Chicago, we used to go to a restaurant with a banana blossom salad on the menu and it was our favorite thing there. It's been tough to find anywhere with it since then, and we weren't sure if we had maybe built that salad up too much in our memories for anyone to meet our expectations. This absolutely did. The chicken was delicious (and it was later too when we ordered it on its own), all the ingredients worked well together, and there was a nice heat to it. So glad we were able to get this.

10. Vegetarian combination and doro wat from Zenebech (Washington, DC)

One of our priorities during our time in DC was to eat Ethiopian food, and in doing so, we were rewarded with what was possibly the best Ethiopian food we've ever eaten at Zenebech. The injera there was fluffy and pillowy, and unlike some others, left no residue on your fingers which was great. We got the vegetarian combination with generous portions of lentils, peas, and other vegetables, along with doro wat (chicken stew). There was just so much flavor to every single part of the dish and  we completely cleaned the plate. Sadly Zenebech closed recently so we'll never be able to have this exact experience again, but hopefully they will open somewhere else as this food was too good to think about not eating again.

I could eat all ten of these over and over again and not get sick of them, which is probably why they all made my favorite food memories list. There were so many more things that missed the cut but with so much good food over the course of the year, that was inevitable. Hoping 2017 brings some great eats as well!

No comments:

Post a Comment