Like most people I am always looking forward to what’s coming next and I often don’t take the time to look back and contemplate what I’ve done. This site forces me to do that as I’ve previously written about how I would remember my first year of travel through food in Central and South America, in 2011 I remembered the year through the best dishes I ate in South America and Spain, and you may be surprised that 2012 was all about food in North America.
Not surprisingly 2013 is all about food as well.
But instead of just picking dishes or the best food. I wanted to share food moments with you. Things that were special or surprised me in some way. This is how I’d like to remember 2013:
Most Memorable Meal
This is my version of extreme travel. Last year Winnipeg hosted RAW: Almond, a pop-up restaurant on a frozen river. It was -49C with windchill the night I dined in 9 layers of clothing to enter a tent and eat a fantastic tasting menu. It was such a hit last year they are doing it again. It’s a fantastic time and really shows the spirit of Winnipeg, but wear a parka..and bourbon helps too.
Best Food Tour
This day was a complete unexpected delight in Bologna, Italy. I had reached out on Twitter to find out where I should eat in the city and Andrea offered to take me on a food tour of Bologna. He has just started running tours with Taste Bologna and it’s such a comfortable tour, like wandering the streets with a friend who knows all the good places that only locals know. I cannot recommend him enough, in fact when I return to Bologna he’s the first person I’ll call.
My coldest chef crush
Peter Elfing deserved two posts in 2013, first because he took me out for the day to meet all of his suppliers, they didn’t live in town. His Swedish-speaking smoked salmon supplier was on an island, the organic beef was deep in the countryside and then we drove to another manor to visit a Count and Countess about their organic grain and beer.
It was a long day but not over for him, we then returned to Bistro Sinne and he prepared a tasting menu. Porvoo is only a 30 minute drive from Helsinki, it’s a great town that is usually only visited in summer but Bistro Sinne is worth the drive any time of year.
This was a tough one. While I loved the vegan burger in Winnipeg I was completely surprised by the meal I didn’t eat in Niagara on the Lake. Last year I went to learn about ice wine, we stayed at the Shaw Club and dined at Zee’s Grill. While I had a porky tasting menu my vegetarian dinner date had a meatless plate and I think it may have been better!
Saddest Meal I Have Eaten
While spending the day with my Finnish chef crush Peter Elfing in Porvoo I wanted to know his recommendations for restaurants in Helsinki. I had offered up a molecular gastronomy option but he insisted I visit Ask Restaurant, owned by one of his friends, and would be Helsinki’s next Michelin star.
With the first dish with beets from a biodynamic farm, smoked dried duck and goat milk and then Filip’s take on blinis and I realize this dinner is different. I was lonely because this is the type of meal you want to share with someone special, to rave about each course and delight in the beauty. I dined in many restaurants in Helsinki and they were all fantastic but this was by far the best.
The Meal that Repulses Most People
My second time to Ecuador, a special place for me, also involved eating cuy. The first time I tried it was when my family visited and I realized guinea pig also tastes like chicken. My mother once had a guinea pig growing up and so she wasn’t a fan, but these aren’t the cute little animals you see in cages, they are the size of rabbits and can actually be quite tasty. I’m a fan.
The Hottest Chef Crush
Hot as in the weather, I love Maui but I didn’t really want to add a third chef crush from Maui to my list as I had already included Sheldon (who later went on to compete in Top Chef) and Isaac. But Jeff Scheer won me over with amazing food and his commitment to local. So much so that he volunteers one day a week at Kupa’a Farm, the organic farm I visited and when he has catering jobs he cannot guarantee what the food will be as it depends on what is available from the farm.
The Dish that Made Me Appreciate Breakfast
People think it’s strange but I just don’t like breakfast. I don’t like breakfast food. I don’t even want to eat bacon at breakfast. I won’t go out for brunch with my friends unless I can order from the lunch menu because pancakes and french toast don’t do it for me.
Encebollado is an onion fish soup and known as the ultimate hangover cure. I wasn’t hungover all the time but I did eat this a lot. Soup for breakfast is amazing and just one more thing I love about Ecuador.
The Best Meal in Costa Brava
I haven’t written about Costa Brava yet but it is a destination for food lovers. While it’s most famous for housing the best restaurants in the world – El Bulli and now El Cellar de Can Roca the truth is that what makes the region so special is that you can get amazing food everywhere. Sure there are dozens of Michelin stars but the locals aren’t in fine dining restaurants each week.
Compartir in Cadaqués is run by 3 El Bulli alumni who opened a more casual restaurant with sharing plates. You can show up in jeans and eat outside but you still get amazing food like these sardines marinated in horchata with truffle. Compartir was by far my favourite restaurant by demonstrating amazing food doesn’t need white linen or a Michelin star.
The Chef Crush I Never Wrote About
In September I visited Prince Edward Island and was surprised by how great the food was there, so much so that I created a video on where to eat in Charlottetown. It’s not that I think Prince Edward Island is backwards, I’m also from the East Coast and I love my home. But I certainly hadn’t expected the level of sophistication I saw at Terre Rouge Bistro Marche.
Chef Dave Mottershall makes all his own charcuterie, gelato, chocolates with an emphasis on local ingredients. His food was the most beautiful I had seen all year and I have some regrets about not including him on the list. Although I’m not entirely guilt-ridden as I’m sure you’ll see more of him, I’d elaborate on it but that’s a story for 2014.