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:
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
-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
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!):
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
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?
@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)
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)
"Oyster Plant" at Atelier Crenn. Had never before encountered this briny bit of deliciousness.
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
Adesso: Michter's rye manhattan
Local 123: Four Barrel pourover redolent of apricots
Constellation, Shanghai: Hair of the Dog, scotch, honey, cream, gently rolled
Chicken tartare at Ippuku
Caramelized squash mousse at Luce
I also, for the first time in my life, tried a California burrito, i.e., a burrito with French fries in it. Works better than one would think. The version I had was at Taqueria Los Coyotes; a friend from Socal likes the version at Dos Pinas in Potrero Hill.
Out of town:
The entire tasting menu at Schwa was just killer. Absolutely killer. A must visit when you're in Chicago, unless you've only got two nights and you already have reservations at Alinea and Next.
Roasted marrow bones at Longman and Eagle (Chicago)
Roast pork sandwich at Paesano's (Philadelphia) (don't bother with Pat's or Geno's, they are well past their prime.)
Liver and onions at Bouchon in Yountville.
It was a great lunch on a great December day. The place was calm, less than half full. It makes a difference.
A few new for me:
1. St. Louis-Style Pizza with Sausage – Tony’s Pizza (SF)
2. Quinoa/Tempeh Slider – The Portal (Oakland)
3. Garlic bread with burratta (but really anything) – State Bird Provisions
4. Beef Tongue with Frozen Horseradish Crème Fraiche – Plum (Oakland)
5. Bun Rieu – Soup Junkie (SF)
6. Brussels Sprouts – Marlowe (SF)
7. Squid with crushed potatoes – Barbacco (SF)
8. Dungeness Crab Salad – Southie (Oakland)
9. Cassoulet – The Whole Beast (SF)
10. Cheeseburger – Monk’s Kettle (SF)
We have been hitting Portal on Saturday for a few weeks now. And I can't seem to not get the Quinoa/Tempeh slider (I have had the beef and turkey sliders as well -- good, but not necessarily noteworthy). The slider is a bit of a mess, with good BBQ sauce and avocado, but very tasty. Beer list is small, but well currated. It is definitely a new favorite.
- State Bird Provisions - Garlic bread w/ burrata
- Bar Tartine - Langos w/ fried chicken, tonkatsu, and eggs
- Craftsman & Wolves - The Rebel Within
- Rich Table - Dried porcini doughnuts
- State Bird Provisions - Uni pancake w/ ginger scallion and lime-soy
- Izakaya Sozai - Spicy tuna on crispy rice
- Bar Tartine - Salt roasted pear sorbet with goat buttermilk, chestnuts and rye
- Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous - Blueberry cobbler ice cream
- Hong Kong Lounge - Baked bbq pork bun
i won't be able to remember them, so i'm going to use my past posts, in no particular order:
1. Cotogna - sformata with fried mint leaves, fresh peas, and mint oil - quoting myself, "so delicious, we all moaned at first bite."
2. Namu Goji - shitake mushroom dumplings in dashi
3. Atelier Crenn - pear sorbet in the shape of a pear and "spray painted" with pear, apple, and quince, to look like a frosted, golden and rosy pear that had fallen from its wintry tree onto the forest floor below. The forest floor was made of more of the powdery, nutty browned butter, maple, sage cake, apple granita and greek yogurt snow.
4. Garcon - veal sweetbreads, with grilled mushrooms, pomme puree, capers, and lemon-brown butter.
5. Lolo - tuna tacon
6. Ken Ken Ramen - tonkotsu ramen with egg
7. Kiraku - stewed daikon and foie gras
8. Jai Yum - abalone with egg whites
9. Frances - chickpea fritters
10. Mission Bowling - to echo grayelf, that burger.
To the best of my knowledge, the MBC happy hour is 3-6 7 days a week and the burger is $10 during HH. The first time we had it at HH it came with a lame salad but in Nov it was gloriously alone.
Regular like, it comes with fries and costs $15.
It is not typically available during brunch on the weekends though they told me you can always ask and maybe...
Ramen Dojo (San Mateo)--mild spicy pork ramen
Doughnut Dolly (Oakland)--doughnut w/ naughty (creme fraiche) filling
Comal (Berkeley)--chips and guacamole w/ three salsas
Bowl'd (Albany)--tofu stew, bi bim bap
Frances (San Francisco)--chickpea fritter
Chairman Bao (truck)--pork belly bao
Samovar (San Francisco)--Earl Red tea
Camino (Oakland)--roasted on the wood fire dungeness crab
Chez Panisse Cafe (Berkeley)--wild nettle pizza
Dry Creek Farm (Healdsburg)--Autumn Flame peach
2012 was atypical because I had more dining-flexible international travel than usual and many more guests in SF with specific high-end restaurant requests.
What I liked best that falls within the geography of the board, in no particular order:
- Rhubarb yogurt from Gourmet & More
- Knish from Old World Truck pop-up at La Victoria
- shrimp and pork rice rolls from Cooking Papa
- Walnut wheat toast with brown sugar + butter at Josey Baker Bread
- Sardine chip at Rich Table
- Neighbor Bakery croissant
Because of the onslaught of visitors, this year I went to The French Laundry, Manresa, Coi and Crenn; when looking back at both the food and the experience, I remember the meal at Manresa most fondly.
Hayes Valley shop: yes! I don't recall the brand, but it was the only type of rhubarb flavored yogurt they carried--they used to import a luxurious (and very expensive) French brand in blue ceramic cups, but since switched over to a more affordable and only slightly less good sort.
I've been meaning to do a cheese tasting on their back patio one of these days, but my availability never matches the weather.
Yeah, the schnitzel sandwich from Old World Truck would have to go on my list.
Otherwise, I'm kind of drawing a blank -- I remember having one of those eye-rolling back in the head deliciousness experiences, but I don't remember what it was! I think it was the Tiger Blue cheese that I brought back from British Columbia that doesn't seem to be available here, so I guess it wouldn't count.
Let's see ...
Lemongrass pannacotta at AQ
Gnocchi de yuca at Destino
Fresh pea soup at New Tree Cafe
re: Ruth Lafler
I think that if I were drawing up an honest 2012 list, only 2-3 items from SF would be on it, and all of the high end food experiences were blown away by an auberge in France.
Which means that I've been traveling too much or eating out at home too little--I need to focus in 2013!
re: Ruth Lafler
Oh, I'm glad someone was keeping track. When I had the schnitzelwich, Old World was at La Victoria for the popup, and you could get it with chopped liver on top. But I think that was 2011. The knishes were potato with broccoli.
Those gnocchi at Destino were great as were the meatballs at Radio Africa, mentioned in Dave's post below. And yes, I'd put the Tiger Blue in the list (Ruth talked AQ into plating the cheese she brought for us, and they did a beautiful job).
I've been traveling a lot too and not eating out as much as usual at home.
A few new & memorable bites:
- cocoa carrot muffin at Craftsman and Wolves; excellent crusty baguettes gave Thorough's purple baguette a run for the money; and the shoyu caramels are awfully good
- Madagascar bar from Dandelion chocolate
- vegetarian duck at Thai Idea
- fresh tofu and a lot of delicious sashimi at Sushi Aka Tombo
- fake chicken breast made by Beyond Meat, in the deli section at Whole Foods
- coconut pandan ice cream from Delise
- updated pan jeon at Bowld
- great cocktails and dinner I can't remember at Comal; get a table though, the jockeying with the bar and ordering food is just bs.
I also had a perfect Blue Bottle cappuccino at Heath Ceramics; the milk was like toasted marshmallows. Still not sure if it's the machine or the barista, but not complaining.
Out of town:
- NYC: pork ramen at Ippudo, 20 kinds of baklava at Gulluoglu, and espresso shakerados all over town when it was 100 degrees in July; exceptional appetizers at Torrissi Italian Specialties (but an oversalted duck breast)
- Portland: $20 prix fixe at Tanuki + Ike's wings with a tamarind whiskey sour at Pok Pok's Whiskey Lounge + chicken rice at Nong's
- Peru + Chile: sopa de quinoa, queso helado, and tiny alfajores in Arequipa; gorgeous ceviche with Pisco sours in Lima and Hanga Roa
After a lot of trial and error, I've concluded BB coffee tastes like nothing when I make it at home. The barely roasted beans really suffer when it's not espresso from a fancy machine or a two-day slow drip like the Kyoto.
De La Paz beans ($7 for 1/2 a pound at La Victoria) taste much better in my Aeropress.
In no particular order:
--porcini donuts at Rich Table
--salmon at Pizzaiolo served with tiny spring vegetables and aioli
--blueberry turnovers at Wood Tavern
--Emilia's pizza with calabrian chilis
--pasta with rabbit polpettine at Flour + Water
--chili with burnt ends at B Side BBQ
--wood grilled chicken sandwich at Bar Jules
--caveman blue from Mission Cheese with a first of season Sundowner apple
cheese souffle - la folie (lounge)
baked pork buns - lai hong (offshoot of hong kong lounge
tonkotsu/dandan mien ramen - himawari
crispy kale fried in lard - marin sun farms
brain masala - anjappar chettinad
pancake with "schmear" - state bird provisions
seniehet kafta b'tahini - arabian nights (admittedly more of a nostalgia pick because it reminded me of the homecooked middle eastern food i had growing up that i can't find in restaurants)
everything at contigo
mulled wine sorbet - humphry slocombe
macau iced coffee - vega at langton
other notable outside of SF:
everything on the menu at animal in LA
any meat dish at OX in portland
nam kao tod at lotus of siam
bone marrow luge in portland
Here's my list of my favorite Bay Area Bites this year...I limited it to things I tried this year for the first time, and have provided a link to the Chowhound discussion where I described it (or at least referenced it). These are in no particular order:
Brussels Sprouts with Lime and Mint at Haven in Oakland: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8289...
Pork Belly at Hawker Fare in Oakland: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/829296
Braised Fish Filet and Tofu Claypot at Hakka in SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/836833
Smoked Trout Sandwich at the Sentinel in SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/837746
Oatmeal at the Sentinel in SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/878541
Banh Khot at Vietnam House in SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/836475
Guatemalan Tamales de Chipilin at San Miguel Restaurant in SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/838612
Kufta Meatballs at Radio Africa Kitchen in SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/848557
Pasta Bolognese at Il Cane Rosso in SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/841797
Pache (Guatemalan tamal) at Universal Bakery in SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/854371
Mandalay Special Noodles at Mandalay in SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/855809
Dolsot BiBimBap at PyeongChang Tofu House in Oakland: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/877353
Soymilk with pandan leaf from the stand in the Grand Century Mall in San Jose: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/873680
Thai Boat Noodles at Zen Yai Thai in SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8542...
Wide bean noodles with cucumber at I Dumpling in Redwood City:
Asian Fried Chicken at Southern Pacific Brewing Company in SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8311...
Indonesian Fried Chicken at Indo Café in Saratoga: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8567...
Thali with Shrimp Curry at Gajalee in SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/840506
Hot almond milk tea w/ tapioca from Wonderful foods: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8443...
It's definitely nice to be back in the Bay Area, and I've returned to try lots of old favorites again, too. Looking forward to another great year of eating in 2013!
We had grilled octopus at Goose and Gander in St. Helena and it was the best we've ever had, including Babbo in NYC.
Lamb/Eel Tartare - Atelier Crenn
Walk in the Forest - Atelier Crenn
Into the Vegetable Garden - Manresa (June 2012)
Chocolate, olive oil, salt, pepper - Manresa (September 2012)
Duck Confit Bateeya - Aziza
Roast Chicken - Zuni Cafe
Goat's Milk, Honey, Candy Cap Mushrooms, Yarrow, Sunchokes - Commis
49 Day Aged Snake River Beef - French Laundry
Butter Poached Lobster - French Laundry
steamed bacon with spicy flour-Spices 3
Thai surf clam ceviche-Sabuy Sabuy II
Braised pork ribs in miso with king oyster mushrooms and
bok choi-Morimoto in Napa
Buta-Kim- (Sautéed Pork and Kimchi w/ Poached Egg).-Kiraku
guanciale & ramp shortstack with candy cap powder-State Bird provisions
Red snapper in a dashi broth with tangerine foam-Michael Warring-Vallejo
Pizza at Oenotri
Sushi at Sushi Sho
ikan lilit sate (fish sate)- Kafe Batan Waru –Ubud Bali
This dumpling that was like a combination Shanghai soup dumpling and shu mai at Din ti fun in Taipe
Grilled lobster and conch ceviche on Holbox island
Purchased food items and snacks:
Huang Fei Hong Hot Chilli Pepper Snack Peanuts from 99 Ranch market - addicting
Dark Chocolate Chrunch bar- Coracao
Cheese at the Cheesboard
Duck flan from Fifth Quarter Charcuterie
Partanna Olive oil – Berkeley Bowl
Straus Family Greek Yogurt –Berkeley Bowl
Soba broth -Takumi No Dashi - Berkeley Bowl
Green Garlic and Burrata Fried Bread-State Bird Prov.
Anchovy Pizza-Gioia SF
Chicken and yolk confit w/ morels and dashi-Manresa
Octopus w/ Black Garlic-Le Bernadin, NYC
Fresh Tofu w/ Ginger and Chrysanthemum Syrup-Lamma Island, Hong Kong
Crab Spawn Soup Dumplings-Luk Yu, Hong Kong
Honey and hay semifreddo w/ strawberries-Blackbird