Happy New Year, Mouth of the Border friends and family! As we closed out another year this week, we get to think about the best and worst in 2010 and what we want for 2011.
I'm not gonna lie - 2011 is going to be a huge year for us here at MOTB. But before we get into it, why don't we look back at some of the best things we ate in 2010.
Below are my 20 favorite meals of the past year (besides the amazing dinners I had at Brucie). Not all of them were in restaurants, but what these meals do have in common is that they were all shared with very special people and they each inspired my palate with their memorable flavors.
1) Deviled Eggs @ Clover Club - Cobble Hill - Brooklyn
I order these deviled eggs almost every time I visit Clover Club (including my visit earlier today). They're served four ways - with garlic breadcrumbs, with smoked trout, with crumbled bacon and with duxelles mushrooms. The ones shown here were served at a beverage writers' brunch hosted by my friend, the lovely Selena Ricks of The Dizzy Fizz.
2) Foie Gras Terrine @ One or Eight - Williamsburg, Brooklyn
This was one of several courses I enjoyed at dinner on Valentine's Day Weekend at the newly opened One or Eight. The whole meal blew me away. Every element was so perfectly executed that I even wrote a review of the meal on Yelp. (I rarely review places.)
3) Crispy Calamari @ Lure Fish Bar - SoHo, Manhattan
The amazing food and drinks continued Valentine's Day weekend with these delicious little bites at Lure Fish Bar. While known mainly for their oysters, sushi and a great burger, Lure Fish Bar's calamari may be the hidden gem on the menu. This is lightly battered, grilled and flash-fried and served up with a sweet sauce that surprises at the end with a kick.
4) Steak Tartare @ Parkside Restaurant - Austin, TX
This tartare was amazeballs, served perfectly chilled with a touch of salt and that gorgeous egg yolk perched just so, screaming to be broken. Also, this was another great meal shared with Selena Ricks (You'll see this was a theme of the year. I'm thankful to have shared so many amazing meals with Selena!)
5) BBQ @ Black's BBQ - Lockhart, TX
Now, it seems as though Texans near Austin fight over which of three family-owned barbecue houses make the best bbq in Lockhart, TX. While in Austin for South by Southwest, Selena and I made friends with bartender Russell Davis, who volunteered to drive Selena and I (and our friend Lindsey of Live the Lush Life) out Lockhart and check out his favorite. I don't care where YOUR loyalty lies: Black's BBQ did not disappoint. This is the meal that had me running screaming back to Weight Watchers when I returned home to NYC.
6) Tempura Soft-boiled egg @ No. 7 - Ft. Greene, Brooklyn
No. 7 is one of my favorite restaurants in my neighborhood. The menu changes frequently, so it's difficult for me to recommend specific dishes here because they likely won't have it on repeat visits. The tempura egg was on the menu for quite a while, but is no longer available (at least at dinner time). R.I.P., beautiful, silky, seductive egg.
7) Ki Roll @ Ki Sushi - Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
One or Eight mentioned above is a wonderful spot for lovers of Japanese food and has beautiful, fresh fish, but Ki in Cobble Hill is my favorite place to enjoy sushi. The restaurant's namesake roll features tuna, salmon and yellowtail topped off with Alaskan King Crab meat, avocado and caviar. The roll comes flecked with gold, an unnecessary but extravagant touch when you consider how delicately lovely this roll is all on its own.
8) Tacos! @ El Aguila - Spanish Harlem, Manhattan
I already wrote about these bangin' tacos as part of my hunt for authentic tacos in Manhattan with Wandering Foodie and Citizen Taco. I highly recommend that you make the trip up to SpaHa and get these in your face as soon as possible.
9) Grilled squab with peaches @ Oenotri - Napa, CA
While out on the West Coast in June for work, I took a long weekend to make my first foray up to Napa. My dear friend Rick Bakas and his wonderful wife invited me to join them for dinner along with their friends Frank and Anita. This is another meal that was just outstanding from start to finish, and my entree in particular was a stunner.
Oenotri let us bring our own wines and Rick and Frank really spoiled us in that regard with their picks. If you ever want great wine pairings, go out with your friends who work for wineries. By the end of the meal, I had two new great friends in Frank and Anita and can't wait to see them again.
10) Double Double, Animal Style @ In-N-Out Burger - San Francisco, CA
I don't feel like this requires explanation.
11) 4th of July Dinner with friends @ Strawberry Hill House, Upstate NY
Marinated steaks, chickpea salad, grilled corn with lime butter and stuffed, fried squash blossoms. This was the spread at dinner the first night of a long weekend away at a friends' home upstate with my friends Meghan, Brett and Topher. This was such a relaxing weekend - no cell phone coverage, no computers and a big ol' lake we could float in to our heart's content. I fell in love with the place and hope to spend many more weekends there next summer.
12) Fried Alligator Bites @ Cochon - New Orleans, LA
I had the joy of visiting New Orleans at the end of July for Tales of The Cocktail (wrote about that here). I had a dinnertime FEAST with friends at Cochon - we tried to order just about everything on the menu. This is the night I met Jordana Rothman, food and drink editor for Time Out New York magazine, in person. Lovely lady, and one of several people at the table who clearly have great taste in food & booze.
13) Omakase (Tasting Menu) @ Zenkichi - Williamsburg, Brooklyn
While I generally stay mum online about my love life, I will say that this was the scene for a third date, and it was a perfect venue for such an occasion. Zenkichi features super private booths and a little doorbell-type thing you press when you want your waiter to bring your next course. Other than those welcome interruptions, you and your dining companion are in your own little world for the duration of your meal. Pictured here is the first course of the omakase menu, which featured Kumamoto oysters, pencil asparagus in miso/sake sauce, hamachi tartare and two bites of delectable tuna.
14) Lobster Dinner with friends @ a cabin in the woods, Casco, ME
My friend Laren did one of the sweetest things of the year for me by inviting me and Selena to join her and her friends for a weekend away at her family's cabin in Maine. On our last night, we bought lobsters and cooked them at home. Served with homemade bread, steamers and a ton of butter, this was definitely one of the most memorable and happy meals of the year. Thinking about it makes my mouth water.
15) BLT Sandwich @ Choice Market - Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
Choice Market Clinton Hill is near my apartment and I take friends here for the BLT whenever I have a chance. The secret to this amazing 'wich is a tarragon mayo that's so addictive and tongue-teasing that I'm convinced that it has crack in it. Go ahead and test me on that and see if you can stay away for any length of time before rushing back for another. Now I need to wake up and get this for breakfast.
16) Grilled Baby Octopus @ Mercat a la Planxa - Chicago, IL
Chicago is a tough city for me - I went to grad school there so when I go back for work, I feel like I never have enough time to see everyone I want to see, hit up the museums AND eat. Eating is my priority though, so during the four free hours on my last visit, I snuck out with my friend Efrain of underground supper club Clandestino to sample some eats at Mercat a la Planxa.
The resto is owned by the newest Iron Chef and James Beard award winner Jose Garces. The fare is Spanish, repping Barcelona nicely with some standouts like slow-cooked pork belly with apples and truffle oil and several delicate Spanish cheeses. We shared some small plates every bite made my mouth dance. I'd love to sit down for a full meal here on my next visit.
17) Polpette @ Osteria Morini - SoHo, Manhattan
My friend Craig and I shared a wonderful lunch here for my birthday a couple of weeks after the resto opened. This is the newest venture from Chef Michael White of Marea, Alto and Convivio, and I enjoyed the added thrill of seeing Chef on our way out. Craig and I split steak tartare and two creamy pasta dishes, but these meatballs were actually my favorite part of the meal. Mmmm. The food here is somehow gourmet and approachable at the same time.
18) Bone Marrow and Cote de Boeuf @ Minetta Tavern - West Village, Manhattan
This meal (shared with two friends on my birthday weekend) was so delicious that I ate it before I could take a picture. Sorry.
If you can get a reservation and have one or two people to drag along, get the cote de boeuf and bone marrow with toast points. Your tongue will think The Rapture is coming after all.
19) Gold-flecked Roe @ Corton - Tribeca, Manhattan
As a thank you for closing a big deal, my boss said I could pick any restaurant I wanted for a nice dinner. I have a short list of places I'm waiting to try and Corton has been on the list since the restaurant opened. I have a giant chef crush on Paul Liebrandt and thankfully, he didn't let me down this night. This bite was one of several on an autumn and ocean themed tasting menu.
20) Pulled Pork Biscuit with Poached Egg @ James - Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
James is one of my very favorite places to eat in all of NYC. I discovered it shortly after they opened and now look forward to any opportunity to visit. Their burger is juicy and their cocktails are consistently and expertly mixed, but what really keeps me coming back is their brunch menu. The restaurant is full of sunlight during the day and the vibe plus the food makes this heaven on a Sunday morning. THIS brunch took the cake for 2011 - we had some seriously tasty, flaky biscuits topped with succulent, vinegary pulled pork. The whole dish was pushed way over the top with our bartender's suggestion of adding a warm, trembling poached egg.
Looking back on 2010, it was jam packed with friends, love and amazing food and cocktails. I feel exceptionally lucky to be able to enjoy these blessings. It makes me think about what I can do this year to give back and help people who are less fortunate.
On a less serious note, this list made me realize how much I love eggs, my friend Selena and the great borough of Brooklyn. Long live all three!
I started 2011 with Wellfleet oysters on ice, a shared dish of mushroom and herb spaetzel, cocktails and a plate of mushrooms with a poached egg and house-made bratwurst. Afterwards, there were a couple more cocktails and a plate of the famous Clover Club deviled eggs that are shown in the number one spot on this list. And so the circle of delicious begins again.
What were some of your favorite meals in 2010? How did you start off 2011? Tell me in the comments!
I love sharing details about upcoming tasty trips and adventures, so you won't want to miss a bite. As always, please feel free to chat with me on Twitter, join our group on Facebook and keep up with new posts here by subscribing.
To view all the photos of my top meals, check out Mouth of the Border's Top Meals of 2010 slideshow on Flickr.