Top Ten Tastes - 2007
I wasn't sure if anyone has done this yet for the year, but here are my top ten “new” (at least for me) tastes of 2007:
1. Pastrami sandwich (Wood Tavern). Available only at lunch, simply the best sandwich period.
2. Abalone and foie gras with yuza (Manresa): a surprising and perfect combination
3, Pork (Outstanding in the Field): The wood-roasted pork at this dinner, held at Devil’s Gulch Farm and prepared Nate Appleman of A16, was probably the best pork I have ever eaten. Just the fat alone, all crusty from the fire, was sublime.
4. Squid pizza with aioli (Pizzaiolo): again, an unlikely combination that works really well.
5. Barbequed Shrimp (Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen): Possible better than the NOLA original. Prefer the appetizer size, with bread, to the entrée over rice.
6. Chicken wings (Fonda): one of those dishes that you can’t stop thinking about. Only served after 9 p.m.
7. Eel banh mi (Sea Salt): Sea Salt does great sandwiches, but this tops the list.
8. Grilled lamb chops (Oliveto): This deceptively simple dish was the best lamb I ever had. Served with long ribs still attached, which you must eat with your hands to get off all of the fatty crusty bits.
9. Tie: Whole Black Bass Stuffed with Morel Mushrooms / Spelt fettuccine with Salted and Dried Swordfish Belly (Oliveto): Despite doing meat amazingly well (see above), Oliveto’s Oceanic Dinners always supply something amazing for my yearly list (last year it was the pasta dish with sea robin and dried octopus)…I can’t decide between the two.
10. Fried Chicken (Luka’s): I am a fried chicken fanatic and this find (served only at lunch) is near-perfect. Dark brown crust, slightly salty and sweet, surrounding the juiciest meat. Huge serving.
11. Bonus: Beef short ribs with Guinness film and peanuts (Alinea): okay, not in the Bay Area, but I had to add it in. The entire meal was mind-blowing.
My friends and I were at Angeline's on Friday and we were kinda disappointed with the BBQ shrimp. There were 5 shrimps in a bowl of BBQ sauce. The barbecue flavor was good, but the sauce was slightly oversalted even when eaten with the bread. Unfortunately, the pieces of bread that came with the dish was cold and chewy. The dish definitely wasn't worth the $10.95 price tag. Here's a picture of it on the right.
Okay, I'll play. No guarantee these were the top 10, just 10 new and memorable bites:
1. Tiny alfajores from Sabores del Sur (Alemany Market; big ones available at Canyon Market)
2. Ollalieberry jam from Swanton Berry Farm (Ferry Plaza farmers' market or Rainbow Grocery)
3. Baochong Oolong tea (Teance)
4. poached lobster in carrot broth and seared foie gras (La Folie)
5. grits, fried oysters, biscuits (Brenda's)
6. escarole, dandelion greens, Erbette chard, pimentos de padron (the magical mystery box from Mariquita Farms)
7. Hokkaido uni (Sebo)
8. Irish brown bread (John Campbell's Irish bakery), especially good with ollalieberry jam
9. roti prata with dipping sauce (Lime Tree)
10. apricot sorbet (Delfina); cherries with mascarpone (Pizzeria Delfina)
out of town bonus bites: sausage pizza at Santarpio's, East Boston; fried clams, razor back clams, and lobster roll, Neptune Oyster House, Boston; tartare de cheval at Batifole, Toronto
Top 10 Tastes so far…we still have a few weeks left!
1. Burrata from Cowgirl Creamery eaten at home w/ Acme bread, olive oil, sea salt, and sometimes with heirloom tomato slices.
2. The seafood chowder at Bar Crudo, I’m plotting my secret meals there so I don’t have to share the bowl with anyone.
3. Thai House Express Kao ka moo, special pork leg, a la carte. Try as I might, I have to order this every single time I go there, it’s that good!
4. Chocolate budino tart with sea salt and olive oil at A16, I can’t get enough of the salty sweet, rich trifecta.
5. More than one visit to Hog Island Oyster Bar for kumamotos and sweet waters accompanied by sparkling wine or a crisp, cold white.
6. Fresh Rigatoni Pasta with Foie Gras Cream, Maitake Mushrooms and Marsala at Myth. Decadent, the small portion is plenty.
7. Santa Ramen Tonkotsu ramen-the ultimate bowl in the Bay Area.
8. Pollo asado, al pastor, and carnitas tacos from El Tonayense taco truck, a perennial favorite of mine.
9. Salsa verde from Cancun near 29th and Mission. It’s in my hood and I often stop by and buy a soda cup of salsa to take home and eat the whole thing! It’s a favorite lazy meal.
10. Produce from the farmer’s market or my csa box. Sometimes nothing beats cold sweet satsumas, fresh heirloom tomatoes, or roasted beets, etc.
11. Bonuses-Abroad:The giant slab of foie that I was served in Bilbao, the only serving of foie that I’ve met that was too much for me (almost!) and giant bowls of fresh salmon caviar in a Russian fishing camp. Home-countless meals of carnitas, Bitman’s no knead bread, and lots of home-made gazpacho. Local-Chichen Itza/Popol Vuh for fresh and reasonably priced meals.
12.To try-Bakesale Betty's, Pizzaiolo, Fatted Calf
Edited: Forgot to add the pork rib roast section from Roli Roti at the farmer's market, super juicy and delicious, a great value for the price (around $7?).
This year was a blur of great food - here were my standouts (things tasted for the first time this year):
Spaghettini with cured tuna heart, egg yolk (Incanto, SF)
Wild nettle tagliolini wtih geoduck (Oliveto, Oakland)
Fried chicken, candied yams (Declancey's Welcome Table, Oakland)
Prahuk kthis (Battambang, Oakland)
Fried rabbit (Chez Panisse, Berkeley)
(tie) Pork belly with poached egg on frisee (Wood Tavern, Oakland), Open-faced pork belly sandwich with poached egg (Bar Tartine, SF)
Chiuchow-style rice cake with scrambled eggs, preserved vegetable (BC Deli, Oakland)
West-style fish soup (China Village, Albany)
Nan Gyi Dok (Mandalay, SF)
Pear charlotte with black truffle (Oliveto, Oakland)
Salted caramel ice cream (Bi-Rite, SF)
Warren pear from Frog Hollow Farm
Bonus: rice-cracker encrusted asparagus with slow-poached egg, smoked cheese foam, and chorizo gel (Degustation, NYC), fried brussel sprouts with fish sauce, chilis, and mint (Momofuku Ssam Bar, NYC), Kama toro (Sushi Yasuda, NYC), Cavatelli with long-cooked broccoli, caciocavallo (B+B, Vegas).
Thanks, daveena and pane, for talking about this pork belly sandwich -- I went there for brunch on Saturday, and it was really amazing. My friend said WOW when she had a taste of mine (which, like pane's was with egg salad and picked cauliflower). Another point is that it's a very large serving for not that much money, I didn't expect that much food to arrive on my plate!
In no particular order, but numbered so I won't lose track:
1)BLC (Bacon, Lettuce & Soft Shell Crab) sandwich at Wood Tavern. With remoulade. Like an oyster po'boy w/ soft shell crab. The best of many great dishes I've had at Wood Tavern this year.
2)Pancetta Piana from Boccalone. Sliced super thin. I was going to fry it up for PLTs, but made the mistake of trying a bite of the first practically transparent slice of crispy goodness. It shattered like glass and tasted like heaven. No way it was ever going to be hidden between slices of bread. We ate it straight.
3)As always, the Nam Kao Tod at Champa Garden. It varies from satisfying to mind bending (though it never quite matches my favorite at Lotus of Siam in Vegas).
4)Trotters with tomato jam at Oliveto's Whole Hog. I can feel my arteries harden as I eat this, but it doesn't stop me. FYI, reservations are open for the Whole Hog this February.
5)Oh Sam Bulgogi at Sura. Korean bacon and squid w/ lots of chili. I pretend it's good for me because of the squid. The carrots and onions help keep the delusion alive.
6)Peas w/ Maitake Mushrooms at Sea Salt. Bet you thought I'd never get off the pork theme.
7)Water Boiled Beef at China Village. Wait, no...West Style Fish Soup at China Village. Or possibly the spicy fish and soft tofu soup at China Village...let's just say "a lot of dishes at China Village."
8)Riso Gelato at Gelato Firenze near the Grand Lake Theatre. So refreshing and clean tasting.
9)Early in the season, those super tiny strawberries from Lucero. Damn.
10)An unbelievable Armenian cucumber from Full Belly. So heady I just ate it as is (or was).
Cheating on my beloved Bay Area: Bacon & Egg Ice Cream on French Toast at the Fat Duck (UK), Faggots & Mash at St. John Bread & Wine (UK), L’Epeautre du pays de Sault mitonné et doré à l’or fin at Joel Robuchon (Las Vegas), Crispy Catfish Salad at Lotus of Siam (Las Vegas), a gorgeous sashimi plate at Shinsei (Dallas).