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Jan 14, 2013 10:40 AM

Best Bites of 2012

I have noticed that other areas have an annual best bites thread and I thought we should have one too.

"What fantastic items did you first try in 2012? Is there anything you forgot to post about or want to share again? Here's your chance to share those memorable experiences with the community.

List up to ten (to you) local tastes which amazed you over the past year. Drinks allowed. To help us all plan our next excursion, feel free to list separately at most ten destination worthy dishes you ate while travelling."

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  1. Local:
    1. Special Banh Mi - Au Petite Cafe
    2. Chickpea Curry with Grilled Eggplant - Rangoli
    3. Black Sesame Tuna Steak - Tokyo Thyme
    4. Yeast Doughnut and Earl Grey Doughnut - Cartems Donuterie
    5. Pinenut and Praline Croissant - Beaucoup Bakery
    6. Endive Salad - Che Baba
    7. Thai Iced Tea - Bob Likes Thai Food
    8. Pressed Yellowfin Sushi - Ajisai
    9. Poached Egg with Summer truffles and Asparagus - L'Abattoir
    10. Toroniku (Pork Cheek) - Santouka Ramen

    1. Beet and Meyer Lemon Ricotta Salad - Cascina Spinasse (Seattle)
    2. Lentil with Rose, Lime and Harissa - Sitka and Spruce (Seattle)
    3. "Flavour Curve" Steak - Bookbindery (Portland)
    4. Nova Salmon and Caviar Cream Cheese Bagel - Russ and Daughters (Manhattan)
    5. Sea Medley - Le Bernardin (Manhattan)
    6. This Morning's Farm Egg - Blue Hill (Manhattan)
    7. Cuban Sandwich - Paseo (Seattle)
    8. Tacos - Tacos el Gordo (Las Vegas)
    9. Fried Green Tomato BLT - Tasty and Sons (Portland)
    10. Smoked Swordfish Belly - Atera (Manhattan)

    6 Replies
    1. re: quddous

      I posted my best bites for SF on that board recently and was thinking the same thing -- nice one quddous!

      For Portland:

      Matchbox's burger with a whisky sour
      Cannele and pear cornmeal muffin at Courier
      Skate sandwich and pan fried fava beans at Evoe
      Asparagus carpaccio with chive flowers at Nostrana
      Lamb rillette at Ned Ludd
      Grilled corn at Firehouse
      Citrus cured albacore tuna from Racion popup
      Kouign amann from Little T
      tiny empanadas from Argentina Pdx

      For Toronto:
      kimchi fries and fried chicken bao from Banh Mi Boys
      Schnitzel at Cafe Polonez
      squash fritters at Khao San Road
      spicy Mexican hot chocolate shot and bicerin from Soma in the Distillery District

      And last but not least for Vancouver:

      salt and pepper beans (crunchy favas) and shrimp skin and parsley (cilantro) dish at Ningbo
      prosciutto and mushroom pizza at Via Tevere
      housemade hot sauce at Long's (can't believe it took me till this year to find out about it -- you have to ask for it
      )double baked almond croissant at Matchstick
      tamales at Adelita's
      panini at Notturno Paninoteca
      passionfruit tart at Cadeaux
      sour plum and green tea with mango stars at Well Tea Seymour
      "chawan mushi" dish and Auntie Song's fish soup at Big Chef

      1. re: grayelf

        I forgot about the shrimp skin and cilantro salad at ningbo. That was surprisingly good.

        1. re: grayelf

          I saw your postings on the SF board actually! I've been quietly browsing the board there for the past few days.

          Nice List! I haven't had anything on there except possibly the Kouign Amann at Little T (We usually stop by there for a few desserts and breads to bring back with us to Vancouver).

          1. re: quddous

            Aha! You thinking of heading to the Bay Area? If so happy eating.

            Was wondering if you'd care to expound on what it is about the Thai iced tea at Bob's that knocked your socks off. I had it once at the Main Street outpost but that was ages ago. I haven't made it to Bob's on Broadway as I have been frequenting Jitlada up the street.

            Flavour curve steak sounds intriguing also for next Pdx trip... alas, I think it's in Seattle per my searching.

            1. re: grayelf

              Sorry. Book Bindery is in Seattle. One of our favourite meals of the year actually and very beautiful restaurant too. The chef worked at Per Se before opening the restaurant.


              I listed Thai iced tea because we tried it for the first time this past year and fell in love with it. Our first taste was at Bob Likes Thai and we have found that they have consistently good tasting Thai Iced Tea (I get it every time I go).

              I think that most restaurants use a Thai iced tea mix (Bob's does) and the addition of both condensed and evaporated milk.

              1. re: quddous

                Cool, thanks. I too am a TITA (Thai iced tea addict). I haven't found a place that doesn't use the mix yet, though I forgot to confirm at Jitlada -- theirs is much darker and doesn't come out that slightly disturbing orange colour when you stir it up.

                We've been contemplating adding Seattle to our gastrotourism trips so Book Bindery may come in handy.

      2. fun topic

        mine is a combo of actual food items and/or experiences

        locally BC - and not all necessarily first time tastes:
        1. family farm Okanagan fruit - i know the trees personally! Look for sour cherries and vee peaches
        2. eggs from same farm - current topic
        3. Ayoub lemon almonds - first time taste - Lonsdale Ave - interesting taste and would buy again - very friendly service
        4. raw oysters at Coast on Alberni St - fantastic - Dec 2012
        5. local spring greens salad - from the roadside stand (or the market or this one in partic supplies some of the food trucks downtown)
        6. best fish and chips (i don't really like chips, but they were good) at Sharkey's Fish Locker - Roberts Creek BC
        - i also bought raw salmon to bbq gently later on the deck - cannot recommend any other raw salmon at this point!
        7. Elephant Island wine - most recently the cherry wine a few days ago - i like because they have kept their traditional okanagan orchards and not ripped out all the trees for vineyard. Excellent wines. The cherry needs big winter food (or big summer bbq).

        away - and again, not necess first time tastes
        1. halibut & salmon both in Anchorage AK - amazing
        2. fresh raw oysters in Anchorage AK - also amazing
        who needs chocolate when you can have those two most delicious fresh fish dishes - no sauce, simple prep - perfect.
        3. Top Pot donut - Seattle - downtown - first time taste - i don't know - i am not really a donut person - it was an interesting place to visit and seemed popular.
        4. and ... what did i buy new from Trader Joe's this past year - some hits, some misses! Oh, yes - big hit - the mesquite smoked almonds - buy them! (i believe these are genuine Calif almonds, not imported - tho you should check the label if you're looking for that type of assurance)
        5. earl grey tea with friends at Peets in Lake O (just south of Portland) - nice flavour tea, cute location - like a starbucks but nice location - some days there is a a farmer market close-by outside on the town's plaza - or a concert at lunch etc. Look up Lake Oswego city for info.
        6. finally - non-sweet, just plain ol' iced tea is back in vogue - Starbucks - black tea, do not dilute, ez ice. That has been hard to find in Canada (land of the sweet iced tea) for ever!

        1. This is fun! It was hard to decide, and I'm still not sure this would be my final list :)

          1. Uni Shooter with Yamaimo & Quail Egg - Octopus Garden
          2. Duck Meatball - Fable
          3. French Cruller - Parallel 49 / Lucky's Donuts
          4. Beef Tongue - Wildebeest
          5. Eggplant Tartare - Nuba at the Waldorf
          6. Little Chicken Biscuits - Bing Sheng
          7. Rice Pudding - Little Nest
          8. Chicken Wings - Union Bar
          9. Fish Taco - Tacofino Truck
          10. House Parpardelle (with Duck Egg) - Merchant's Oyster Bar
          bonus beverage: British Properties cocktail: cream of earl grey infused gin, egg white, lemon - Edible Canada

          1. Homemade Ricotta - Blue Hill at Stone Barns (NYC)
          2. Grilled whole scallop with uni, garlic soy butter & lime - Neta (NYC)
          3. Pastrami sandwich - Katz's Delicatessen (NYC)
          4. Harry & David Royal Riviera Pear (mailed to me as a gift; grown in Oregon)
          5. Mexican Street Corn Salad - Tres Carnales (Edmonton)
          6. Lobster Roll - Luke's Lobster (NYC)
          7. Maple Syrup Eclairs - Au Pied de Cochon's Cabane a Sucre (Montreal)
          8. Live California Uni - Little Italy Farmer's Market (San Diego)
          9. Fried Taleggio - Corso 32 (Edmonton)

          Pic of #1 on the Local list:

          4 Replies
          1. re: twinkienic

            My wife loved that uni shooter (she had two of them the night we went)

            The homemade ricotta at Blue Hill was amazing (my favourite meal in NY)! I make fresh ricotta now at home and it is really easy. 4L milk + 1L cream + salt + bring to boil + add 2-3 tbsp vinegar and let it sit. then pour through cheesecloth to separate the curds from the whey. I usually have it while it is still warm on bread with good extra virgin olive oil and crystal salt.

            1. re: twinkienic

              twinkie, I think you are the first Hound with direct intel on Merchant's. I am intrigued. More details, please!

              Also nice tip on the cocktail at Edible Canada. I've found the food a bit dull and overpriced but I'm down for a beverage at the bar.

              1. re: grayelf

                Mia Stainsby likes Merchant's papardelle: "I became a fan of the DIY carbonara papparadelle. House made noodles came tossed with cream and oyster mushrooms; a raw duck egg yolk sat on top of the hot noodles, ready to be messed up into the hot noodles."

                1. re: grayelf

                  Yes, that's the parpadelle dish that I had at Merchant's. It was tasty. We ordered a 2nd one to round out the meal :)

                  I didn't get to try a lot of things I wanted to on the one time I went, because there was 1 vegetarian and 1 pregnant woman in our group of 4... which means no bone marrow, no oysters... I really need to go back again, especially for buck a shuck!

                  That Edible Canada cocktail makes me want to make my own tea-infused gin so I can recreate the cocktail.

                  I'll have to try making ricotta sometime! Having it fresh and warm on bread sounds great. I wonder if it'd be easy to infuse other flavours?

            2. Cool topic! We don't eat out a ton around Vancouver any more so most of my best bites of new things were travelling or made at home.

              1) Oysters in Arcachon basin, France right off the dock. There are tons of little shacks on the docks and all they are allowed to sell are oysters, white wine, bread and pate. And trust me, that's all they need. Went for the little guys (#4) and they were just amazing.

              2) Champagne tasting in Napa at 1313 wine room. What an amazing event. For the price of admission you get to try up to 75 champagnes. Not sparkling wines, all champagne from champagne including some big names (Dom, Crystal, etc.) and many boutique ones too. Just amazing. I was never a huge champagne fan, but being able to compare side by side mades a HUGE difference. Might even go back again next year.

              3) Black cod fliet (approx 4oz.) done in a similar style to traditional unagi at Morimotos in Napa. It was pretty amazing. (Note: some of the worst bites of the year, everything else in that bento box at Morimoto's. It was terrible.)

              4) Turducken made in my own kitchen for Xmas (first time ever) It turned out better than I ever imagined. Won't be the last time.

              5) Duck Tasting plate in Eauze, France. Seared breast, confit leg, duck fat frites, and of course foie gras (Eauze in in the middle of L'Armagnac, the foie gras capital of the world... yum)

              6) First time I've ever been able to try a variety of armagnac's, and it turns out I'm quite the fan. lol. Who knew?

              All I can remember at the moment. Cheers and here's to an equally amazing 2013!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Jzone

                A couple standouts from both local and abroad:

                1) Lamb popsicles while losing my Vij's virginity. (everything they were made to be)
                2) Frozen foie with sasparilla and malt at Ma Peche NYC (Momofuku) Litterally blew me away
                3) Lamb ribs with Romesco sauce at Coliccio and Sons NYC
                4) Chorizo and cider at Espana (everything was damn tasty)
                5) Flatiron at Fable... Cant get enough of that black pepper jam.
                6) Shellfish bake on the beach with friends in Tofino

                1. re: FAM04

                  I agree on Espana. Wasn't expecting to like it but I really did.

              2. If everyone lists 10, this will become a daunting read.

                I visited Kyoto/Osaka/Kobe this summer, the entire trip could be pasted here. But the highlights were:

                Roasted uni on sour rice nigiri, Matsumoto in Kyoto, it dissolves in your mouth.

                Miso and sake cooked eggplant, Ogata in kyoto, its not uncommon, but far superior to any I've ever had.

                Teppanyaki Kobe beef, Misono in Kobe, like a caramel meat candy.

                The entire meal at Arashiyama Kitcho in Kyoto, one of few flawless meals I've ever had... also, the most expensive.

                Sesame oil seasoned raw beef kidneys, Takashi in New York, they do amazing things with offal.

                "Vongole", Marea in New York, a play on clam spaghetti, but it was a single appetizer crudo bite using geoduck, hearts of palm, and chili.

                Huli huli chicken, a stand in Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii, reminded me of my youth.


                2 Replies
                1. re: andrew_eats

                  Nothing notable this past year in Vancouver, andrew_eats?

                  1. re: grayelf

                    Hmm? I listed them. Forgot to number them.