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