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Best bites of 2012

What fantastic items did you first try in 2012? Is there anything you forgot to post about and probably never will? Well, now's your chance to share those memorable experiences with the community.

Going with the convention, and to maximize signal for the SF Bay Area board, list up to ten new (to you) local tastes. Drinks allowed. To help us all plan our next excursion, feel free to list separately at most ten destination worthy dishes you ate while traveling.

Some previous "annual" Top 10 lists:
2011: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/824922
2010: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/751261
2009: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/677458
2008: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/584380
2007: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/468298
2005-2006: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/325439
2004-2005: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/36284
2003: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/27506

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  1. Sazerac (cocktail). My first, and best, was at the Alembic bar in the Haight

    "Two Kinds of Herring" -- Lighthouse Bar & Grill, San Rafael

    Cioppino -- Tadich Grill

    1. -Albacore Tuna from Liholiho Yacht Club @ Piccino
      -Dungeness Crab Pasta and Sam Giancana Pizza at Capo's
      -Chamomile Old Fashioned at Two Sisters Bar
      -Organic Moscow Mule at Lucky Horseshoe
      -Ethiopian coffees roasted by Blue Bottle: Tchembe and Gelana Abaya

      Away from the Bay Best Bites:
      "Fish Taco" - Slapfish - Huntington Beach, CA
      Coconut Shrimp - Eskimo Candy - Maui, HI

      2 Replies
      1. re: scarmoza

        I'll play, based on our two trips in 2012 (still hard to pick out only 10 bites, so I cheated and listed four beverages separately!):

        Bites:

        For me the standout at Lers Ros after half a dozen visits is 26) Yum Pla Duk Foo (fried catfish) which is hard to explain but easy to eat. The catfish is in tiny pieces caught up in a gossamer web of deepfried crunchiness. Along with the bright and zippy dipping sauce, I could eat a barrelful (had it twice, April and November)

        I had been wanting to try the simply prepared fish at Sotto Mare for several trips. It lived up to the hype, especially the petrale which was cooked perfectly

        polenta cooked in whey with poached egg, goat gouda, smoked braised greens and ricotta ($12) at Local Mission Eatery

        gnocchi dish with nettles or cheese at Cotogna (also special mention to both sformatas I tried there, in April and November)

        Mission Bowling Club Burger: "Kinda hard to find the words. Wow works."

        pan-fried shishito peppers at Harrow, which were complemented by an excellent Vermentino, and helped by the fact that they were only $3 at happy hour for a generous portion, though I would have happily paid full price

        fennel raisin and apricot sage toast by Josey Baker at The Mill. The combo of herb and fruit really works for me in bread, it would seem, especially when served with Riverview Orchard almond butter and Maldon salt.

        panna cotta from Il Borgo in Oakland -- I order pc whenever I see it on a menu and this specimen was the finest I have yet encountered

        an awesome coconut crunchy dessert called Moh Se Kyaw from Little Yangon in Daly City made with rice flour

        This last one really is a bite: pork belly bao with turmeric daikon and green shiso from the Chairman Bao food truck

        Beverages:

        Russian River Consecration sour aged in Cabernet barrels at $18 pretty pricey for a bottle of beer but worth it

        Dogfish Head Sah’tea ale on tap at Sycamore ($8 for 9 oz) which was delicious with strong clove notes and honey sweetness

        the Ethiopia Sidama Shakiso and the Nicaragua Nueva Segovia El Progreso pourovers from Wrecking Ball

        mint mojito iced coffee at the Philz on Diamond. Something magical about fresh mint leaves in a cold coffee, who knew?

        1. re: scarmoza

          @scarmoza How was everything else at Liholiho Yacht Club? Yours is the first mention of this pop-up on these boards.

          @grayelf Thanks for the tip about Borgo's Italia in Oakland's panna cotta. Their pastry chef hasn't been in (much?) recently, and I think that's one of the few desserts that's in the case with or without him around. (Note that Il Borgo is a place in SF)

        2. Top 10 local (alphabetically):

          China village: west style spicy fish filet soup (Albany)
          Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen: Rabbit tostada (St. Helena)
          Cotogna: Roasted romanesco (San Francisco)
          Happy golden bowl : sesame pancake (El Cerrito)
          Maru Ichi : either the kuro ramen or the miso ramen (Milpitas)
          Old Mandarin: west lake dumplings (San Francisco)
          Oren's hummus : red chile sauce (Palo Alto)
          Queen's Louisiana Po-Boy: fried oyster po-boy sandwich (San Francisco)
          Sandbox Bakery: chocolate banana heart (San Francisco)
          Statebird Provisions: green garlic bread with burrata (San Francisco)

          Travel bites, all competitive with top local bites. Each restaurant was courtesy of a Chowhound tip:

          Au Pied De Cochon: Foie Gras poutine (Montreal, Quebec)
          Joe Beef: sunchoke soup (Montreal, Quebec)
          Jose Enrique: avocado w/ olive oil, salt, & pepper (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
          Neptune: lobster roll (Boston, MA)
          Nodo: roast beef, caramelized onion, cheddar, Guinness BBQ mayo (Iowa City, IO)
          Stanley Hotel: Bananas Foster Red Rum Brioche French Toast (Estes Park, CO)
          Taco temple: BBQ tri-tip burrito (Morro Bay, CA)

          1. "Oyster Plant" at Atelier Crenn. Had never before encountered this briny bit of deliciousness.

            1. Locanda coppiette (pork jerky) and cuscini (a luscious plate of gulf shrimp and burrata ravioli sauced w shrimp brains )
              Off the Grid Ft. Mason kale chips (forget which vendor and now I make them)
              Mission Chinese uni chawanmushi
              Mt Vesuvius cherry tomato, in Slow Food Ark of Taste, homegrown from Flatland plant
              Knead pomme d'amour (not an apple-y as the name suggests, but a grownup egg custard)
              Pho Ao Sen lemongrass satay chile sauce
              Wexler's smoked chicken liver mousse
              Zanze's pumpkin cheesecake
              Fried grass shrimp @ Chez Panisse w a glass of Chidaine Montlouis
              Suzhou, China: green scallion pancake from a street tandoor

              DRINKS
              Adesso: Michter's rye manhattan
              Local 123: Four Barrel pourover redolent of apricots
              Constellation, Shanghai: Hair of the Dog, scotch, honey, cream, gently rolled