Saturday, January 15, 2011

Best Of: 2010

I was not going to do a "best of" this year. I never have before. Many of my favorite bloggers do "best of" or "top ten 2010" type posts. Even though I am ultimately an unrepentant band wagoner I had decided I couldn't be bothered. Typical FST holiday malaise bullshit. However, I find myself up early after suffering a week with a head cold in boredom (despite having recently installed Netflix Instant, or maybe because of) up early with energy and time to spare.

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Earliest best bite in 2010 was from a meal at Shiro in Pasadena, comped through a friend for PR and snaps. This course was foie atop sea scallop in a red wine reduction. Magically delicious, a destination dish if there ever was one.

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Later that same month at Petrossian during DineLA with our favorite fine dining cohorts, truffled mac and cheese made for us by Ben Bailly, now at Fraiche in Culver City (which has me lemming a trip to Fraiche, finally again). Truffled mac and cheese can be found on menus all over the place. This was special.  Incredibly creamy, generously truffled and we are not talking truffle oil here, people.

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Fried artichokes at Da Vinci in Beverly Hills from the hand and mind of Jason Fullilove.  My favorite dish in a long menu of deliciousness, crispy on the outside, succulent on the inside and not overly oily. Happily, he offered these again the night he cooked at Test Kitchen. Recent reports have Jason cooking now at Desert Rose in Los Feliz.

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Mid-year, D and Dad and I stopped in for an early pre-graduation dinner at Izakaya Gaku on Oahu before my youngest brother graduated from Punahou.  Gaku is my favorite izakaya in the world (that I have met so far, I am open to new introductions).  The karaage was my top dish that night. Japanese fried chicken.  Very crispy, slightly peppery and not overly breaded, the meat was clearly and identifiably the main ingredient.

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Probably the favorite developmental stage in the life of this blog happened in 2010. Changes started occurring right after the 2009 holidays when I was gifted more high quality cookware than I can shake a stick at along with a veritable library of contemporary cook books mostly written by chefs that I love and admire.  I started cooking more. Cauliflower steak, browned in the oven in a Le Creuset cast iron braising pan. This was amazing. Satisfying umami flavors from the caramelization on both sides of the steak, and a creaminess imparted on top from the cauliflower puree. Non dairy, ya'll.

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I am not gonna lie, I ate food in Detroit. Some good, some bad and one stellar meal.  The above was a best bite at Atlas Global Bistro with two of my favorite colleagues.  Malaysian Glazed Kurobuta Pork Loin, Pickled Pineapple.  The pineapple tasted strongly of ginger and stood up beautifully to the savory flavors of the pork loin. I can taste it right now as I reminisce.

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Best poke in my life. And I am a poke eater.  D and I spent four days in 2009 eating poke in a comparison/contrast fiesta all the way from one end of Oahu to the other.  However, beating them all is the albacore poke served daily at Chaya Brasserie's Happy Hour in downtown L. fricking A. I even copied this albacore poke (without a recipe despite several emails and phone calls to the management at Chaya DTLA) for one round of Food Buzz's Project Food Blog 2010. Mine was good, but not this good.

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For the same round of Food Buzz's Project Food Blog in which I copied Chaya's albacore poke, I also copied Alan Wong's Mini Loco Moco.  Alan Wong is a chef famous for both his James Beards and Bon Appetit awards and being one of 12 co-founders of the Hawaiian Regional Cuisine movement in the early 90's.  I have eaten at both Alan Wongs (his h/e offering) and The Pineapple Room (love love love) several times.  The above was my attempt at recreating Wong's elegant version of a loco moco for his higher end restaurant.  Unagi wrapped in mochi fried then topped with a quail egg and sauced with wasabi kabayaki.  I say this with all the modesty I can muster: THIS IS MOUTH HEAVEN.  If you are ever at my house, ask me to make it.

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Ludobites 5.0, last summer. Fancy Frenchified food is not my husband's favorite, but at least one dish Ludo does at every opening sends him into a tail spin. Poached egg, potato mousseline, chorizo.  We dug into this and before it was half empty D had ordered a second one. This was good. Very good.

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Rokuan, Chino Hills. I am still learning about ramen, I am a relative ramen newb.  However. As is typical with me (I am a fervent starter and a horrible finisher, skillful at procrastination beyond your wildest dreams) I dove into my passion for ramen head first hoping the diving board was at the deep end of the pool.  This was maybe my 10th version of ramen, not including instant packs but including two experimentations at home one being Momofuku from scratch in August generating a 9 hour cooking marathon when it was about 110 outside. I've eaten at several more ramenya since. Rokuan, still. The ramen world has yet to top this.

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Scallops, Sweet & Sour Foam, Pepitas.  At a 10th wedding anniversary dinner at Eleven Madison Park. The interplay of the raw scallop against the sweet tart of the form, with the strong nuttiness of the roasted pepita makes this tiny hors d'oeuvres course stand out in my mind with clarity.

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An the last best taste of 2010? The salted chocolate ice cream I made with Carrie in her kitchen on New Year's Eve 2010. 



Other memorable Top Tens of 2010:
Kitten With a Whisk
Teenage Glutster (whose dessert posting inspired me to get off me arse blogwise)
Diana Takes a Bite
Sinosoul
Anthony Bourdain
Carrots & Cake
Deep End Dining
Gastronomy
Gourmet Pigs
Kung Food Panda
Squid Ink
Street Gourmet LA
Tomostyle

Here's to many good tastes in 2011.

6 comments:

Food Marathon said...

It was a pleasure reading this year.

Austin S. said...

great list Liz! I remember Ludo's potato mousseline! loved that...

Diana said...

So glad you decided to jump on the bandwagon! Was so much fun to read! I'm going to need to try that salty chocolate ice cream soon!

sinosoul.com said...

Gaku was only in '10? Seems so long ago. For us, that was '09. I think the relaxing vibes of Hawaii really contributes to the great izakaya experience.

Reading your A. Wong loco moco post, I regret only doing Pineapple Room for the burger (Hawaiian grass fed cow - we saw some cows grazing on the side of the road while looking for shrimp scampi).

Still remember you swooning over the poke. It was tres cute!

Happy eating (& cooking) in '11!

Food, she thought. said...

@sinosoul We went to Gaku two years in a row. Thank dog for family living in the islands. I had an amazing and far more traditional loco moco at the Pineapple Room, the upscale Japanese-esque version came from Alan Wong's.

Disciplined Indulgence said...

Thank you for another wonderful Friday evening feast for my eyes...perfect pairing for my glass(es) of bubbly.
: )