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Top 10 Tastes - 2008

It’s that time of the year again!

Coming up with a top ten of new (to me) dishes was a lot more difficult this year than last year. For various reasons, I ate at restaurants a lot less this year, and when I did go out, I had a tendency to return to favorite restaurants and order favorite dishes. Several of my top 10 were fantastic the first time I tried them, then merely ok on repeat visits (I made note of this if it happened).

In no particular order:

1. Foie Gras Two Ways (Cyrus, Healdsburg) – the terrine en croute component. This was a foie gras terrine with Smithfield ham mousse in the middle, wrapped in compressed genoise. It was the pairing with a Riesling that made this dish - without the Riesling, the foie gras component dominated. With the Riesling, the flavor of the ham mousse emerged, and the transition of flavor from foie gras to ham in the span of a sip of wine was remarkable.

2. XO Diced Mushroom and Pork dumplings (Koi Palace, Daly City) – my first time trying these super-juicy dumplings, I sent an arc of the delicious, spicy broth across the table. Now I know to nibble them gingerly over the mini-foil cupcake liners they come in, as to not waste the addictive soup.

3. “crab butter fritter” (Koi Palace) – not an actual dish, these are the bits of batter clinging to the crab butter inside the carapace of the deep-fried Dungeness crab that accompanies the crab XLB. Oh yeah, the XLB and the deep fried crab legs are pretty good too.

4. Boccalone lardo on a plain pizza crust – I flipped when I found this at Rockridge Market – the sweet, sweet seasoned lard brought to mind a bacon-y buttercream. I experimented with the paper thin slices, and found this to be my favorite – plain pizza dough, baked on a stone, and topped with slices of lardo.

5. Boccalone pepato salami – the first time I tasted a paper-thin slice of this ultra-fatty salami, I was blown away by the winey, almost floral qualities. I later found that in thicker slices, the subtleties seemed to fade, and the flavor becomes flat. Most recently, I bought one at Rockridge Market and was stunned to see plastic shrink-wrapping under the paper wrapper. It was extremely disappointing – the sausage was waxy in texture, had lost all the characteristics I loved about it in the first place, and actually had a sweetness that reminded me of Chinese sausage. I will not be buying this again, but the memory of the early salamis garners this one a spot on the top 10.

6. Zuni burger – the best burger I’ve ever had, by a long shot. Ultra-juicy and flavorful, just a perfect burger.

7. Hainan chicken rice (Kopitiam, Lafayette) – on my first visit, this dish was absolutely amazing. Flavorful, fluffy rice fragrant with ginger and chicken fat, and tender, juicy chicken. On a subsequent visit, it was merely ok – I think it may have been because it was the end of the day, and the rice had been sitting around for a while. I’m going to give them another shot, but will aim for earlier in the day.

8. Sweetbread "salad" (Oliveto, Oakland – Truffle Dinner) – this was actually a rich stew of truffle cream-napped artichoke, cauliflower, and sweetbread.

9. Achari Gosht (Hyderabad House, Palo Alto) - tender but well-browned lamb (enough that most cubes had a satisfying crust), in a really delicious, complex sauce. Lots of caramelized onions and whole spices (I was only able to identify fennel, mustard seed, and cumin).

10. Zuni Balsamic Bloody Mary – the best Bloody I’ve ever had. I often find the flavor of spicy bloodys to be one-dimensional – they tend to be dominated by the spicy component, but the flavor of Zuni’s has a remarkable roundness to it – a savory, almost meaty quality from the red onions (or maybe shallots).

Looking forward to seeing other people’s lists…

Zuni Cafe
1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Koi Palace Restaurant
365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015

Market Hall Bakery
5655 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

Hyderabad House
448 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

Cyrus Restaurant
29 North St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

Kopitiam Restaurant
3647 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549

Oliveto Cafe
5655 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

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  1. 1. Croissants at Murray Circle / Farley Bar Sausalito

    2. Anything at Ubuntu in Napa ... my restaurant of the year ... narrowing it down ... maybe heirloom tomatoes with burrata ... or the roasted strawberries ... or ... holy cow-less ... the VEGAN asparagus ... how about that ... a vegan dish in my top 10

    3. Coconut cupcake at Sage Fine Food Sonoma

    4. Weihnacht's stollen at Hopkins St Bakery Berkeley

    5. Roast Chicken at Zaki Kabob House Albany

    6. Chocolate turtle bar at Chocolatier Blue Berkeley

    7. A three-way toss up: Caramel cake, pulled pork, scallion bacon biscuits at Brown Sugar Kitchen Oakland

    8. Posole at Tortilleria Jalisco Sonoma

    9. Mashed potatoes with fabulous ... fabulous ... gravy at Barbersq Napa ... I KNOW ... starting 2008 I couldn't imagine this joint ending up on my top 10 list

    10, Brazilian chicken and beans at St. John's Simbang Gabi celebration (and it was free)

    Honorable mention:

    Al pastor taco at La Selva Richmond

    Tejuinos out of a van Richmond

    Biscuits and gravy at Mr. T's Coffee shop Martinez

    Paczki at Royal Market

    Holiday blend coffee at Barking Dog Roasters Sonoma

    Tounge at Orson SF

    Hamantaschen at Lotta's Bakery Sf

    Hot Dog at Meyers BBQ Martinez

    Five Dot Ranch hot dogs Napa

    Bonus points: A tie - Thanksgiving at The Franciscan in SF and Christmas at Hs. Lordship Berkeley

    OK, I'm just kidding about that last. Now onto 2009 chowing.

    1. i was looking forward to someone starting this thread. like daveena, i ate out less than usual, and frequented a lot of the same venues and dishes.

      my overall, non-regional top ten would include some amazing food in nashville, korea, laos and new britain, connecticut (outstanding polish food), but here it is for the bay:

      1. chilaquiles at pastores, which i tried for the first time (i think?) on january 1 2008

      2. french fries at spruce: fatty, crispy, french fry perfection

      3. xlb at sunny shanghai in san bruno

      4. a yeasty, delicious waffle at the civic center farmer's market waffle truck

      5. pork stew at avedano's, the butcher in bernal heights

      6. "rabbit rabbit rabbit" entree at the farmhouse inn in forestville

      7. fried sunchokes at ubuntu in napa

      8. chilean empanadas from guisell at the alemany farmer's market

      9. fried chicken at ad hoc

      10. simple, homey and perfect harira (lentil soup) at cafe zituona

      Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
      1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

      Ad Hoc
      6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

      235 Cortland Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Cafe Zitouna
      1201 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      Farmhouse Inn
      7871 River Rd, Forestville, CA 95436

      3640 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94118

      Pastores Restaurant
      3486 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Sunny Shanghai
      189 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066

      1. 1. The butter at the French Laundry. From Vermont. Incredible.

        2. Cauliflower "panna cotta" with oyster glaze and caviar, also at TFL

        3. Lamb cassoulet with Rancho Gordo yellow eye beans at the Outstanding in the Field dinner at McEvoy Ranch, Marin.

        4. Seared scallops with pancetta, cherry tomatoes, and corn potato risotto. Cortez, SF. I've given up on cooking scallops at home. These were crispy outside and nearly raw inside.

        5. Pea, asparagus, mushroom, chard mix with risotto cakes. Venus, Berkeley. The halibut that came with this was boring, but the vegetables were the best of Spring.

        6. "Rocker" oysters at Rocker Oysterfellers, Sonoma Co., Oysters with bacon, arugula and a cornmeal crust.

        7. Fried oysters at T-Rex, Berkeley.

        8. Roast Chicken at Zaki Kabob House, Albany

        9. Chicken and mushrooms on polenta with wine sauce, Italian Colors, Montclair. Nothing fancy, but pure comfort food. (Fried chicken at T-Rex is a close second.)

        10. Steamed chicken bun with shiitake mushrooms and ginger at the California Academy of Sciences, SF. Better than it needed to be. A nice surprise.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Glencora


          The French Laundry
          6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

          T-Rex Barbeque
          1300 10th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

          Rocker Oysterfeller's
          14415 Valley Ford Road, Valley Ford, CA 94972

          Venus Restaurant
          2327 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704

          550 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

          Italian Colors Restaurant
          2220 Mountain Blvd, Oakland, CA 94611

          Zaki Kabob House
          1101 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

        2. I like this thread...

          Bay area best bites:

          1. pear crumble pie from Butter Love Bakeshop (followed by her Key Lime Pie. awesome). It's a one woman bakeshop that works by delivery only in SF. The first thing I ordered from her was an amazing galette, quickly followed by many other pies.

          2. baby lobster @ Sushi Sam's in San Mateo. I'd never managed to make it to sushi sam's before last year. I really like their inventive preparations and this one stands out.

          3. turkey mole, carne molida & tortillas @ poc chuc. I am cheating by combining these three. But the food here is really outstanding The roasted tomato sauce is fabulous and the tortillas are addicting.

          4. beef tendon appetizer at z&y. We have a xmas eve tradition of gathering in a large group and descending on some random place in chinatown. I cheated and had read some positive things about this place so our visit here wasn't completely random. Our server recommended this dish and it was a highlight for everyone. Tender thin spicy slices of goodness.

          5. pumpkin galette @ the butler and the chef (a thanksgiving special). Our server gave us an extra large slice with what should have been way too much whipped cream. This quickly became my favorite pumpkin dish ever. The pastry here is incredibly flaky but the pumpkin filling really stole the show. Would order it again in a heart beat.

          6. reuben at Morty's deli. Without a doubt the best reuben I've had in the bay area.

          7. inaniwa udon at Maki. Sure it's pricey for udon. But the flavors are outstanding. Perfect comfort food.

          8. salumi plate at zuppa. It's possible I've had this before 2008. But it really is good.

          9 proscuitto and fresh tomato focaccia sandwich at BaoNecci (at Danilo Bakery). Their pizzas are also quite good. The focaccia is thin and crispy and the sandwich was light. I've enjoyed everything I've had here since then, too.

          10. basil granita with ricotta at Luce. This was a pre-dessert course. The combo of the cold basil with the creamy ricotta was really memorable. Great.

          Outside of the bay area:
          I'd have to say I probably had 10 amazing bites at Schwa. Most memorable: candied sweetbreads (dessert) quail egg ravioli (bonus course!), gumball rabbit (a rabbit dish honoring a microbrewed beer) and hendricks gin (a dish highlighting the flavors/ingredients of gin). But seriously if you're ever in Chicago go here. I wish we had something like this in SF (or maybe we do and I haven't been yet...


          and favorite drink of 2008 was a cocktail from TropiSueno. I don't remember what it was called but it had partida silver tequila, chambord and egg whites. I will say for a newly open restaurant they have an outstanding bar program (for tequila drinkers, that is).

          564 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

          Morty's Delicatessen
          280 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102

          Maki Restaurant
          1825 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115

          Schwa Restaurant
          1466 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

          Butler & the Chef Bistro
          155 S Park St, San Francisco, CA 94107

          Poc Chuc
          2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

          Z & Y
          655 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

          Caffe BaoNecci
          516 Green St, San Francisco, CA

          Sushi Sam's
          218 E 3rd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

          Luce - InterContinental San Francisco Hotel
          888 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

          75 Yerba Buena Lane, San Francisco, CA 94103

          1. Stinky tofu at Sunny Shanghai: Only mildly stinky in smell but the stinkiness lingers on the palate, just like I remember from when I was a kid in Hong Kong.

            Tofu fa at Cafe Honolulu: Great taste of soya beans.

            Everything at Manresa: I know this is a 'top 10 tastes' thread, but I'm having a hard time picking out one favorite dish!

            Prawn mee at Layang Layang: I love the broth.

            Roasted banana ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery: It's exactly like eating a banana, but in ice cream form!

            Beef pancakes at Everyday Beijing: The filling is juicy and the pastry is flaky/chewy.

            Beef tongue kushiage at Saizo: The tongue is melt-in-your-mouth tender.

            Boston blue shrimp sashimi at Koo: They are on the daily special menus and are the best shrimps I've ever eaten. The fried heads are good, too!

            Tea leaf salad at Yamo: I've only had tea salad at one other place (Mandalay), and I prefer Yamo's version much more. Great combination of flavors.

            Spicy pizza with fried egg at Deflina Pizzeria: I forgot the actual item name again. The runny fried eggs works really well with the spicy tomato sauce, and the crisp crust is delicious.

            Manresa Restaurant
            320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

            Everyday Beijing
            637 South B Street, San Mateo, CA

            Bi-Rite Creamery
            3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

            592 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

            Pizzeria Delfina
            3611 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

            3406 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

            Layang Layang
            1480 S De Anza Blvd, San Jose, CA 95129

            408 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

            Sunny Shanghai
            189 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066

            Cafe Honolulu
            888 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA

            1. In no particular order

              1. Zuni Cafe. San Francisco. Zuni Burger (consumed about 45 mins. ago. and still amazing)

              2. Tacos Peralta. San Mateo. Al Pastor taco

              3. Santa Ramen. San Mateo. Pork Ramen + bean sprouts, spicy, and stewed pork

              4. Shanghai Dumpling King. San Francisco. XLB

              5. The Refuge. San Carlos. Pastrami Sandwich and a Belgian Beer

              6. Luca Delicatessen. San Francisco. Copa, Salami, Soprasatta Sandwich.

              7. El Nayarita. San Mateo. Carnitas Tacos on Handmade Tortillas.

              8. La Michoacana. San Mateo. Combination Pupusas

              9. Hog Island Oyster Co. San Francisco. Oysters, Grilled Cheese, Glass of Sparkling

              10. Yats. San Francisco. Crawfish Po' Boy

              1. In no particular order:

                1) pizza margherita with arugula at A16 (also: the Monday meatballs, the tuna conserva over bean puree, and the chocolate budino tart)
                2) age dofu at Minako (also: the cured salmon with house-pickled umeboshi over greens, the black cod in sake, and anything fried)
                3) shrimp tempura salad with avocado and apples at The House (also: the scallop in ponzu sauce appetizer, the first and second times I had it; the most recent version was less impressive)
                4) bacalao mousse terrine at Luella
                5) biscuits at Brenda’s (beignets are great too, as are the grits)
                6) roast chicken at Zuni (it’s really as good as everyone says)
                7) bay leaf panna cotta with almonds at Incanto (also: the salumi platter; everything else here was merely fine)
                8) foie gras-stuffed duck breast with faro and black chanterelles at Bar Tartine (and I don’t usually love either foie or duck breast; also: bread and butter, pork belly with pear glaze, shortbread with blood orange sorbet in sparkling moscato, and trifle with caramel, meyer lemon granita and almond cake; so why do I remember feeling like it was a bit too expensive?)
                9) pork dumplings with peanuts at Shanghai Dumpling King (also: soup dumplings and warm donuts)
                10) grapefruit sorbet in kiwi-lemongrass soda at Ubuntu (also: Robuchon-style potatoes with caramelized onions, leeks in vinegar, and a slow egg)

                I know the parentheses are cheating, but, honestly, I ate so many truly fantastic things this year that I’ve had to leave some of my favorites off the list entirely, and tricky punctuation seemed like a good way to sneak in a few extras. The category of “almost but not quite top ten caliber” would certainly include: celery sorbet and sous vide egg with wheatberries at Coi, buckwheat pizzoccheri with savoy cabbage, potatoes and fontina at Antica, bean and cheese pupusas at Balompie, my first al pastor taco from the Tonayense truck, earl grey and champagne-flavored truffles at XOX, the burger at Ravenous, aushak at Helmand, roasted banana and crème fraiche ice cream at Bi-Rite, chowder at Bar Crudo, eggs benedict at Canteen, tea leaf salad at Larkin Express, papaya salad with beef jerky and bun cha Hanoi at Bodega Bistro, pho ga at Turtle Tower, egg custard tarts at Golden Gate Bakery, chilaquiles at Primavera, jerk chicken at Back-a-Yard, the salumi platter, citrus polenta cake, and Italian donuts at Bar Bambino, ahmok at Angkor Borei, grilled calamari with white beans at Delfina, and pork leg stew at THE. Places that surprisingly did not make either list with any single dish include: La Ciccia, Pizzetta 211, Pizzeria Delfina, Pesce, Aziza, SPQR, and Coco500 (though I thought Aziza was actually better overall than its presence here would seem to indicate).

                Manresa would probably be taking up 9 of the first 10 slots if I hadn’t eaten there in December of 2007.

                1. I always look forward to this thread! I was out of the Bay Area for over half the year so I don't have quite as many meals to look back on, but there were plenty of memorable ones.

                  These are the top 10 that come to mind right now:

                  Cauliflower in a Cast Iron Pot dish at Ubuntu- I swear to god, that vadouvan spice mix is a revelation. I've been meaning to make one for myself and steal this recipe for dinner parties because it's so decadent and so delicious. The plating is also beautiful.

                  Banana Cream Pie at Tartine Bakery- Best dessert I can think of in the North Bay. It's creamy and banana-y. The crust is impeccable, and the chocolate is dark and intense. I couldn't stop talking about this for two days afterwards. Their pain au chocolat, by the way, is very, very French and very, very good.

                  Tuna head and root vegetable dish at Manresa- This is the only dish I vividly remember liking from the meal besides the Monkey Bread dessert. They might have used vadouvan as well for this because I remember tasting it and not knowing what the hell was in it. Whatever it was, the tuna head was rich and fishy in all the right ways, and the root vegetables stood up to it valiantly. I'd never had tuna head before as well, so Kinch earns a star in my book.

                  Thai Marinated Lobster with Avocado and Hearts of Palm at Cyrus- I think I ordered it years ago when it first opened, but I couldn't remember it so I ordered it again this last weekend with a few drinks. Clean flavors, well-seasoned, and nicely presented. This wasn't a dish I moaned over for an hour, but it was a really tasty plate of food I was sad to have finished and glad to have ordered. I couldn't shake the feeling that the service was a little smarmy, though. Our server years ago was one of the best of my life and the few people we interacted with at the bar were friendly enough, but it seemed like they were doing me a favor by interacting with me. Maybe a little smug. Who knows! I still enjoyed it, and I'd go back.

                  Cabeza Taco at Delicias Elenitas Taco Truck in Santa Rosa- It was my first time ordering cabeza, and maybe that was why, but holy cow, this was good. Crispy, rich, fatty, and meaty. For purely self-indulgent pleasure, this might trump all others on the list. I went back to that taco truck maybe 4 times in the next couple of weeks, continually ordering the cabeza and the lengua. It's also open extremely late, so I can get my fix any time.

                  Rice cakes with pork and ji cai at Shanghai Restaurant- Another first for me. XLB didn't wow me, but these rice cakes had me coming back for one bite after another. I keep seeing the word "toothsome" being used to describe it, and I think that's perfect. Such a satisfying feeling, it feels like my teeth are buzzing just thinking about it.

                  Balsamic Vinegar from Stonehouse Olive Oil in the Ferry Building- This wasn't my first time using, or even buying, it, but this was the year I truly fell in love with it. I absolutely love it and I stock up on it the way Y2Ker's were buying bottled water.

                  Halu Ramen at Ramen Halu- After a very late night, the rich soup was like ambrosia. This tends to happen with a really great bowl of ramen, but it's like time doesn't exit between before I'm eating and after I'm finished. I suddenly lift my head up, everything but half the soup is gone, and I'm in some sodium and meat-induced coma that has me babbling like an idiot. Ramen Halu is the real deal.

                  Coconut Tart at Golden Gate Bakery- I was a Golden Gate Bakery virgin who had just finished giving my friend a tour of Chinatown, essentially an abbreviated, plagiarized version of the one that followed our Chowdown last year, and that coconut tart far exceeded any of my expectations. They had run out of their egg tarts for the next hour, but I had heard the quality had gone down after the owner's death, so I just ordered the coconut. Pastry was flaky, the coconut still warm, and if I had been any less full and the line had been any less crazy, I would have gone back in a heartbeat.

                  Chicken Mole Tamale from Primavera- I don't remember ever enjoying a tamale from primavera as much as that it. A huge mass of meat and sauce and big, bold flavors, I feel like a better man for have eaten it.

                  That's my top 10! Looking forward to going to all of your choices and trying them out for myself!

                  1. Unable to narrow it down to the top 10 tastes, here are my 23 top tastes. I’m sure I’m forgetting some good ones, so I’ll add more if I think of them. I found these by looking through my old posts, but I am probably still forgetting some things that I might not have posted about.

                    I ate lots of great food in 2008, at some places that were new to me, and some old favorites. Overall, my favorite new (to me) restaurant of 2008 is La Ciccia. I’ve now eaten there three times, and every meal has been exceptional – everything, from service to food, was really great. I listed two dishes from La Ciccia in this list, but practically everything I’ve had there competes with everything listed below.

                    Other new favorites are Café Zitouna, Sunny Shanghai, Koi Palace and the dinner menu at Sultan.

                    Thanks to all the other hounds who helped me find all these places!

                    French fries – NOPA – San Francisco, CA

                    Chilequiles – Primavera Stand, Ferry Building, SF, CA

                    Fish cakes at Pagan (Burmese) – SF, CA

                    Grilled mussells, Bar Jules, SF, CA

                    Pasta with bottarga and cauliflower – La Ciccia, SF, CA

                    Sr. Valdez’s Mexican hot dog and champurrado – Salinas, CA

                    Homemade donuts w/ zinfandel grape jelly – Zin, Healdsburg, CA

                    Greenlee’s Cinnamon Bread – San Jose and throughout Bay Area

                    Cuban Sandwich – Goza Goza Cuban Sandwich Truck – SF, CA

                    Softshell Crab Sandwich – Bar Tartine, SF, CA

                    Squash dip – Layaly – SF, CA

                    XLB and sugar egg puffs at Shanghai Dumpling King – SF, CA

                    B’stilla and housemade harissa – Café Zitouna, SF, CA

                    Wu Lai Duck and Beggar’s Chicken – Sunny Shanghai, San Bruno, CA

                    Champa Appetizer Sampler (especially the Laotian sausage) – Champa Garden, Oakland, CA

                    Raspberry and lemon-rosemary sorbet – Scream, Oakland, CA (at the chowhound picnic

                    Vietnamese Chicken Salad – Yummy Yummy – SF, CA

                    Fried Chicken – Shin Toe Bul Yi, SF, CA

                    Okra – Sultan Indian, SF, CA

                    Marinated black olives – The Hummus Guy, Alemany Farmer’s Market – SF, CA

                    Baked sea bream – La Ciccia, SF, CA

                    XO Spicy Dumplings – Koi Palace, Daly City, CA

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Dave MP

                      Not fair. I could have listed at least 15. Not 23, though. Some of these sound really good. I've never had a homemade donut with or without jelly...or a softshell crab sandwich. Maybe this year.

                      1. re: Dave MP

                        What a great list! Well, I wish I could agree on the Primavera chilaquiles.. they just don't do anything for me, but otherwise, what a great list! It is even greater that you have reports on everthing; as is befitting a true Chowhound.

                        I've had trouble with coming up with a list myself: partially just because I've been busy, but also, perhaps because I've been out of town a lot and because of the economy, I've tended, with a few notable exceptions, to stick more to the tried and true, (so while I've also had some memorable meals at La Ciccia and other favorites, I can't say they were new this year.)

                        But here are a few new, to me, great bites, some reported on, some not, in no particular order:

                        Panchan at Sura in Oakland. I've had two great meals there in the past few months, and I've come to the conclusion that the panchan there is the best. I'd mention the squid and pork belly/bacon, but that was on my list last year :-))

                        Riserva proscuitto at La Ciccia (ok, that one *was* new to me this year, and a must order when they have it on the menu! :-))

                        In keeping with the pork theme, porchetta and meatloaf sandwiches from Rotisario at the Oxbow Public Market, in Napa.

                        Dolmas at Cafe Troya:

                        The desserts during our DAT lunch last January at Sens, but sadly, the creator of that deliciousness, Shuna Lydon, left Sens shortly after our report:

                        Guiness Brown Bread at John Campbell's bakery (Thanks Windy!


                        Ditto on the lemon rosemary sorbet at the CH picnic!

                        Autumn vegetables with hijiki noodles, sea stock at Cyrus. It sounded very simple and we almost didn't order it, but it was a soothing and delicious highlight in a meal of highlights (haven't reported yet, but between three diners we basically tried almost everything on the soon-to-be-gone ala carte menu. I was glad I went, glad I went when I did).

                        Beef and Cauliflower from Aziza.

                        Strawberry sorbet and Frog Hollow Warren Pear at Chez Panisse Cafe:

                        Speaking of perfect fruit, the strawberries from my Mariquita CSA box.

                        Bonus out of town mentions to Musha in Santa Monica, where I loved everything I tried; Babita in east Los Angeles, for the best Mexican food I had this year and probably several years prior (runner up was Poc Chuc, but that wasn't new this year); everything I ate in Vancouver on a brief stay; and my favorite new find of the year, in my new hometown:

                        So, speaking of the hometown change, the boxes are almost all packed and the movers are coming next week :-(

                        There are some things I won't miss about living in the City, but it goes without saying that I will miss the food. Big time. (half of my friends think I will miss it so much that I will be coming back soon, so just in case they are right, I won't try and change my handle).

                        I will use this thread to help me figure out places I have to get to before I go, or on my weekend trips back once I leave. At the top of the list of places I am sorry I haven't been to yet is Cafe Zitounia: I keep waiting for my Tunisian SIL to come to town to check it out wtih me, but somehow I keep going to see them in LA instead...might have to get there this week!

                        and of course, I will see you all at the Chowhound picnic! (and before


                        5800 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121

                        Chez Panisse
                        1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                        John Campbell's Irish Bakery
                        5625 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

                        Cyrus Restaurant
                        29 North St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

                        4869 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                        4 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA 94111

                        349 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

                        610 First St, napa, ca

                      2. I didn't do too much high end eating this year. . .mostly due to tight funds but I did manage to eat some lovely things this year (and wish I could list things from Portland and Seattle. . . but here goes my bay area list):

                        Macaroni & Cheese - BarBersQ - lightly flavored with sage - lovely, really lovely (with an honorable mention to their Rancho Gordo beans drizzled with their pepper vinegar - my childhood in one bite!)

                        Palet d'Or - Chocolatier Blue ( actually anything from here is amazing)

                        Bread & Butter Pickles from LouLou's Garden - a company that makes preserves, pickles, etc. I picked them up at Fatted Calf in Napa. Very good.

                        Boudin Blanc - Spruce with a side of their unwordly fries. amazing! (their duck liver mousse is still amazing but that was a great bite from last year.)

                        Fried Chicken, housemade tonic - pizzaiolo

                        Meatball fried egg banh mi - Ba Le Banh Mi

                        chicken wing yakitori - halu, san francisco

                        Salumi Plate - Dopo

                        rustic baguette - la farine on Fruitvale - hot, fresh, crusty

                        leaf lard - fatted calf (made the finest pie crust of my life and also some amazing sugar cookies with this amazing product)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pastryqueen

                          1.Manresa (Los Gatos) - Monterey Bay Abalone with garden basils and courgettes, slow egg – every time Chef Kinch pairs a dish with this miraculous slow cooked egg, I am in heaven.

                          2. Manresa - Pumpkin veloute “petit rouge’, ripe figs. First the bowl was served with the figs and the fig leaf ice cream. The roasted petit rouge pumpkin veloute was poured on top. I wasn’t aware there was a summer pumpkin and there is just no way to describe how delicious this was.

                          3. Manresa- Wood pigeon roasted in salt, morels, braised chard and morellos cherries with the pits – absolutely perfect

                          4. French Laundry (Yountville) - Potato puree, Hobb’s bacon, lovage emulsion, golden corn kernels, Santa Barbara uni - OK, I will admit it; I am a sucker for uni, but to have 4 of my favorite ingredients in one dish - bacon, potato, corn and uni - just oh my.

                          5. French Laundry - Fresh water eel, Kirby cucumber, Perilla, sweet vinaigrette – The cucumber was thinly sliced and functioned as the wrapper for the eel (much like nori in an eel roll at a sushi bar).

                          6. French Laundry - Uni, brik filled with potato puree, sugar snap peas and black truffle coulis – What characterized this dish was the textural contrast – the crispy brik, the smooth potato, the crunchy snap peas and the soft and melting uni. The black truffle coulis elevated the dish to a wonderful harmony of flavors.

                          7. French Laundry - Japanese Black Abalone The roasted abalone was paired with sauteed moulard foie gras, haricot vert from the French laundry garden, baby corn, light as air gnocchi, corn foam and emulsion

                          8. French Laundry - Crispy Sand dab with a FL “tartar sauce” – I was absolutely blown away by this sauce and in awe of the person who had to cut up the components – this was not 1/8” dice; it was closer to 1/18” dice. Sometimes, I truly hate the less is more approach – I could have eaten a dozen – not quite, but this was a terrific dish.

                          9. French Laundry - Oysters and Pearls with Island Creek Oysters from Mass and California White Sturgeon Caviar - enough has be said about this dish

                          10. Ubuntu (Napa) - a study of eggs - a feast of eggs each one handled perfectly

                          Honorable Mention
                          Ad Hoc – Fried Chicken
                          Bouchon - Boudin Noir with poached apples, potato puree and brown butter
                          Bistro Jeanty - Lamb Merquez sausage served on a baguette with frites
                          Redd - Sashimi of hamachi with edamame, cucumber, sticky rice, lime ginger sauce.

                          Pics here of Manresa, FL and Ubuntu (scroll down)