Happy New Year! Over the past few days, I was thinking about all the great things that I experienced in 2014. Naturally, food played a large role in the year’s happy memories. Here is a taste (pun intended) of some of the best of the best that 2014 brought to my taste buds:
Best Breakfast: REAL Greek Yogurt from Sofra, Cambridge, MA.
Real Greek Yogurt holds a very special place in my heart. Growing up in an area with a rich Greek tradition, dessert was often thick, creamy, decadent Greek yogurt topped with honey and walnuts. Yes, dessert, not breakfast. We loved the stuff so much that my mom bought a yogurt machine and learned to make it. It is health, natural and SO satisfying! When I found the yogurt at Sofra, my childhood taste buds were over joyed and I haven’t been about to get enough of this stuff since!
Best Chowder: Clam Chowder from Red’s at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel, Falmouth, MA.
Red’s is NOT typical hotel food. Chef Kenney is not your typical hotel executive chef. Chef is pouring his heart and soul into this restaurant, drawing on experiences if chefs and amateur cooks from around the world, as well as from the fresh seafood that arrives to him straight from the boat, barely a few hours old. Chef Kenney’s passion and vision are all wrapped up into one of the most delicious, and most beautiful, clam chowders in New England. Side note – everything on Red’s menu is delicious, and the setting is gorgeous…get there tout suite!
Best Accompaniment: Crustini from Cafe ArtScience, Cambridge, MA.
Kendall Square added some heavy hitters to the restaurant scene this year. Cafe ArtScience is not only one of them, but definitely one of the very best! I really didn’t know what to expect for my lunch there. All the buzz was that it was “VERY good”, but there was no elaboration. Well, VERY good is just the start! The food (and space) was beautiful, whimsical, creative and, most importantly, beyond delicious. The single best bite I had, if I had to narrow it down, was the crustini that topped the soup of the day. The salty, ultra thin crisp was topped with crispy kale, shaved parmesan, and a couple of dollops of what I believe was a butternut squash whip. Whatever it was, it was pure heaven!
Best Sandwich: “Apple Core” Panini from Apple Core Luncheonette @ Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Waterbury, VT.
I am not a sandwich person. That means that a “regular” sandwich would have to be extraordinary to make a list of mine about favorite bite. The apple core was beyond extraordinary. Maybe it is the hyper-local ingredients of Green Mountain Smokehouse Bacon, Cabot Cheddar, Cold Hollow Cider Jelly, apples, and house-made sour dough bread. On second thought, it is definitely the hyper-local ingredients! This sandwich has it all – salty & sweet, crunchy & chewy, delicious & delicious!
Most Creative “sandwich”: Beef Jibarito from Ames Street Deli, Cambridge, MA.
First, let’s set expectations. Don’t go to Ames Street Deli and order a sandwich and think you will be stuffed for the day. The sandwiches LOOK small when they come out. But the genius, flavor and uniqueness that goes into each sandwich makes it oh-so-mighty! The Beef Jibarito stands out from the crowd as the most mighty of these sandwiches. This “sandwich” is placed between fried plantains. That’s right, no boring bread here! But wait, there is more! Between the plantains is the most delicate, well marinated meat you can imagine, topped with pickled onions, red romaine, and dollops of scallion mayo and pureed avocado. The texture combination is seriously heavenly. I promise this plate will make you stop and say “wow” and then return the next day!
A couple of beverages made this year’s favorites as well. And while they are not bites, they are definitely worth a mention:
Best Cocktail: Moscow Mule from Harrison’s Restaurant & Bar, Stowe, VT.
This was my first Moscow Mule, and boy will all other future drinks have big shoes to fill! Made with Stoli, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, ginger beer, mint & lime garnish and served in the traditional copper mug, the fresh ingredients in this beverage truly made it. I have tried a couple of mules since then, and none have compared. I guess that means its time to plan my next trip to Stowe!
Best Beverage: Organic Spiced Apple Cider from Le Pain Quotidien, New York, NY.
A very common thread in this list is that everything that made the list is beautiful. This apple cider is no exception. If you think all ciders are the same, you haven’t tried this one, complete with star anise floating to enhance both the look and taste of the drink. I dare you to try this and not instantly feel like you are in a Norman Rockwell holiday scene.
I couldn’t complete this list without throwing in my favorite dish that I cooked this year:
Best Blog Recipe: Homemade Macaroni & Cheese from Eat.Live.Blog
I toyed with (and blogged about) this recipe in 2011, and not much since. But this year was the year of mac & cheese and this recipe came back with vengeance! The first time I made it this year was impromptu, which meant I didn’t have some of the fancy cheeses I usually use on hand. So instead I made it with a mixture of american & sharp cheddar, and I also used a tablespoon of Dijon mustard in place of the nutmeg. The result was repeated quite a few times this year by me, and by those who tasted it! I don’t think I will be ignoring this recipe again any time soon!
That wraps up some of my favorite bites of 2014. What did you eat last year that you are still dreaming about?