How I Will Remember 2012

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Naturally at the end of any year you think back to all of the things you have done. Me? I think back to the best food I have eaten.

For me the most memorable experiences are usually centred around food. Ask me about Maui and I will rave about poke and Mexico – of course the tacos!

It has become a tradition. I contemplated the best food of 2010, remember cuy? And my best food memories of 2011 included fantastic food in Jordan.

So without further adieu here are my favourite food memories of 2012.


pig's head

The Whole Beast 

Beast Restaurant in Toronto offers a Whole Beast option where you can order an animal and they will create a 6 course menu. It is all a surprise and it is amazing. Ours featured a pig and because it was a birthday Chef Scott Vivian brought out the head with a sparkler because pigs cheeks are so delicious. When I first wrote about this meal at Beast Restaurant I was surprised how many readers were a bit queasy seeing the head – bacon comes from an animal people!

P.S. Looks like Anthony Bourdain came here for The Layover. This is not the first time I’ve been somewhere before Bourdain. I’m waiting for further proof when he finally shoots where to eat in Hana on The Layover Maui.




Hands down my favourite restaurant in Playa del Carmen and one of my favourites in Mexico is Aguachiles. I had asked locals a simple question: where to eat in Playa del Carmen and they provided amazing suggestions I would have never been able to find on my own.

My best food memory was once these chile relleno tacos outside the bus station in Cancun but I think the aguachido replaced it. It is so good that I insist everyone who visits PDC go there, don’t believe me? Jack and Jill agreed after I harassed them to go.


Hawaiian food

Isaac Bancaco’s Food

I say this because originally I had Isaac’s food at Grand Wailea’s restaurant Humuhumunukunuapua’a but he has since moved to the Pineapple Grill. It was tough to pick the best food from Maui and I was torn between Isaac and my other chef crush Sheldon Simeon from Star Noodle (who is now killing it on Top Chef Season 10).

I chose Isaac because there is nothing more attractive than someone who wants to choose what you eat and also my mother was with me and she realized that she does like brussel sprouts and raw fish if they are prepared by the right person.  Isaac sat with us over dinner and it was one of my mother’s favourite memories of Maui. It is also one of mine.


jugo verde

Jugo Verde

This may seem like an odd choice but when I was at Villa del Palmar I found out that green smoothies are traditional to Mexico and while I brought a Magic Bullet blender with me I didn’t need it at all because I could just drink jugo verde.

I later went to stay at the Hotel California and met an amazing couple running a juice shop in Todo Santos, trying to make fruits and vegetables affordable for locals.

ned ludd

 Ned Ludd

Lila from Lila Ate This took me out for what I called The Perfect Day in Portland and we finished it at Ned Ludd Restaurant, which is part of the Portland food scene but so far out of down town tourists are completely oblivious is just a short drive away. One of the best meals I ate this year, the restaurant highlights local food prepared simply but with so much flavour. When I first arrived I loved the food carts I wondered why anyone would go to a restaurant. Now I know why.


chicken and rice

Wah Fung #1 Fast Food

This year my Mother turned 60 so my sister and I took her to New York as one of her bucket list items was to see a Broadway play. We had only travelled together internationally once before to Ecuador but this was a big deal.

A Twitter friend recommended a great hotel near Chinatown and a reader told me that Anthony Bourdain had gone to Wah Fung #1 Fast Food on The Layover.  It was our first night in NYC and someone tried to cut in front of us by ordering in Chinese but the man staffing the counter just smiled and asked me what I wanted.


deep fried cheese curds

Deep Fried Delights

Montana was probably the biggest surprise of the year. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was and I already know I want to go back. In some ways featuring deep fried cheese curds probably isn’t just as I had amazing food at Cafe Decamp, a restaurant committed to local, organic food. I also had an incredible amount of delicious bison – sadly all bad photos.

The night I went to my first rodeo in Billings I took food much less seriously and decided I would eat everything deep-fried at the fair that I could possibly find. Unfortunately my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I didn’t have the room for a deep-fried Twinkie and now Hostess is going out of business! Is my life complete without a deep-fried Twinkie??


tomato soup

Chilled King’s Garden heirloom tomato soup

It seems crazy to say a tomato soup could be the highlight of the year but while in Seattle I ate at Tilth, the first certified organic restaurant in the United States. People laughed when I said it tasted like I had been punched in the mouth with a tomato but I cannot think of any better way to describe it.

I was surprised that food in Seattle is so amazing. I experienced such heartbreak that I wasn’t able to go to Salumi, which means a trip to Seattle is in the plans for 2013.




Hawthorne Food and Drink just opened in Toronto run by Chef Eric Wood who I met on Twitter. An amazing person and such a talented chef. Growing up on the East Coast I am familiar with smelts and was so surprised they tasted just like home, that’s because they are from Nova Scotia.

He is famous for his #4Squaremeals which feature four small dishes and means you don’t have to commit to just one thing.


red wine

BC Wine

Okay so technically wine is not food, but it once started out as grapes. I had to include this in my list because I had been wanting to go back to British Colombia for a year simply to find great red wine in the Okanagan and I brought back so much. Sadly it’s all gone so I think I may need to take a look closer to home to see if Ontario red wine can stand up to my new standards for good Canadian wine.

Looking back at the posts from 2010, 2011 and now 2012 it seems unbelievable that I have eaten so many incredible meals but it also makes me realize why I struggle to answer people when they ask me my favourite food. Each meal is different and special because of the city I was in or the people I was with.

I’m just thankful that it’s not an easy answer.




Join the Conversation

  1. Caroline Eubanks says:

    All I can say is YUM! I didn’t make it to Maui on my Hawaii trip (three islands ain’t bad) but what an excuse to go back!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The food on Maui is fantastic. You must go!

  2. A Cook Not Mad (Nat) says:

    All looks so delicious!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know I feel so spoiled when I realize just how much amazing food I have eaten.

  3. A delicious year, indeed! Looking forward to hearing all your adventures in 2013 too! Happy New Year

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m already starting to plan. I wasn’t going to go to Europe but the thought of not eating food in Italy this year is really depressing.

  4. So many good eats! I can’t wait to get back to Central America to indulge on the fresh smoothies.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      And the frijoles. Oh I miss them so much. If I can get a cheap flight I may try to do Nicaragua again this year.

  5. Kieu ~ GQ trippin says:

    Great food minds think alike! We had to revisit our best in foods as well. I totally remember your “whole beast” post.. delish!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You guys ate some amazing food as well, heading over to see your best meals.

  6. There is a small plate place in Austin that I absolutely adore. One of my fav foods of all time was there – shortribs with a truffle, chocolate, marrow sauce.

  7. Love this twist on the traditional roundup post! I’m back in Thailand right now and every little meal from a roadside stand feels like a treat.

  8. Camels & Chocolate says:

    CHILE RELLENO TACOS. Oh my heavens. That’s what paradise sounds like (with a margarita on the side).

  9. mmmmm this makes my dinner look like garbage

  10. I have to be that person who says that I feel bad that the pig had to die and then have it’s head displayed for everyone to see. Especially when one considers how intelligent pigs are, and how family oriented they are. That said, I am jealous at all your adventures, and wonderful food experiences. Happy New Year! All the best in 2013, try to eat less pig heads!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I don’t set resolutions but this year my theme is balance. You motivated me to give myself a bit of a challenge, for 2013 I’ll pledge to eat vegan one day a week. I don’t know if it will mean less pig head overall but it definitely won’t occur 52 days of the year.

      But I may need your help. I think some things have animal product in them that I’m not aware of, like pasta?

  11. Sam - Bubble n Squeak says:

    Wow, I’ve had a few great meals this year. The best ones have not just been about the food but also the friends and family they were shared with. I think my favourite was probably the spit roast we did for my partner’s birthday. In part because the roast was beautiful, but also because we had friends and family from all over the country, sharing the meal with us and everyone pitched in to help set it up and make salads and desserts.

  12. You are killing me with this list. Personally, I think the pig head is awesome. But I might think differently if it actually stared in my eyes at a table 🙂
    Glad to see wine from my home place made the list.

  13. About Delhi says:

    I’m sitting here eating a Aguachido and dreaming!I almost chipped a tooth trying to bite into the computer screen…

  14. I just ate dry crackers smeared with a poor excuse for pate. Guess that’s why I’m not a food blogger!

  15. Ashley of Ashley Abroad says:

    I loved this post but it seriously made me hungry! Also I know what you mean about a lot of people being squeamish about offal- if only they could realize how delicious it really is! I will definitely try to make it to that restaurant in Toronto, what a cool idea.

  16. memographer says:

    I am glad I read it after I ate 🙂 Lovely post with yummy pics 😉

  17. Susan @ Travel Junkette says:

    There’s nothing better than good tomato soup!

  18. I probably shouldn’t have read this right before lunch, since now I’m starving, but I couldn’t resist. I love that you visit places w/ great food before Anthony Bourdain – ha!

  19. The fish looks like Finnish cuisine too! 🙂 Yum… you had a great year, for sure!

  20. Great list! I’ll have to add a few on my to-try list!

  21. Oh that all sounds and looks perfect! Especially chile relleno tacos in Mexico. Yum!
    What culture’s cuisine is you favorite?

  22. Leslie (Downtown Traveler) says:

    This post is a vegetarian’s nightmare! lol. Looks like you ate very well this year. I am still wondering how to pronounce Humuhumunukunuapua’a….

  23. Be On the Road says:

    that’s a delicious post…mouth watering photographs… :)…. you got the taste of so many cuisines from the different part of the world…. i wish to order these all in a single restaurant but that won’t be possible…

  24. Emily in Chile says:

    I am a little scared of the whole beast meal since I’m not big on the concept of offal (I tried sweetbreads for the first time last weekend and admit I loved the taste but can’t get past the idea), but I would still really like to try it! You’ve got to expand your horizons somehow, right?

  25. Ian [EagerExistence] says:

    I’ve really got to lift my game with my travel photos. Maybe I should take better equipment with me.

  26. Ugh and now I’m hungry. What a way to look back on the year!

  27. You’re probably one of those most amazing foodies I know. Delicious!! I’ll have to start looking up al the best eats on your blog whenever I travel!

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