Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Best Eats of 2007

No, I didn't have the cajones to take pictures at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon or La Gazzetta, but in reflecting on the best eats of the last year, I am surely waxing poetic about the treats I miss in the Bay, and so I start with Teacakes, the best cupcakes that have existed on this wide earth since the beginning of time. I've inquired about the ingredients in the vanilla/vanilla, even hinted at food allergies to see if they'd give it up, but I guess they're setting the record straight in saying it really is just the best vanilla, butter, milk and the seemingly gargantuan proportions of each that make those pictured to the left one of the few sweets that could take a girl's mind off of Pierre Hermes macarons.

2007 was a good year - lots of Cheese Club and Dinner Club gatherings (What I'll Miss When I Move Abroad still sits in my mind as one of the year's best potlucks with bagels/cream cheese/lox, macaroni and cheese, cheesy grits, spicy corn sautee, and peanut butter cookies with chocolate chunks), and of course Cookbook Club where we conquered everyone from Patricia Wells (I haven't yet had madeleines that are as good as the ones I made from her cookbook with Robuchon) to Penelope Casas (honey-fried tuna is a must) to Madhur Jaffrey.

I could recount in great detail the dinners from Dopo this past year - a highlight being the truffle dinner they had early last year where I think we ate something that also involved lobster and every single appetizer that they've ever laid before me - is it wrong to say "I'll have another?" We had some fabulous meals upstairs at Chez Panisse - one being this raw hamachi and ginger starter that I had that words fail me on since I cannot describe the texture of the hamachi in any way except to say you cannot imagine it unless you have it. Add to that the 'fish and chips' we had there on my birthday last year and those might be some of my best fish meals of the year - except, of course, the brief weekend in New York where I had the most incredible tuna with shiso and blood orange so incredible that I laughed at eating at a place that says straight up, "we do not serve vegetarian items" momofuku noodle bar .

A good nine months was clearly eclipsed by the move abroad, and here my daily bests are from boulangeries, and I have chronicled all that in much detail. Our meal at Hidden Kitchen, was, of course, one of the best of the year for many reasons - good company, great pozole, cider amuse bouche, who could ask for more? With my parents in town at the beginning of the month, we definitely had a string of fantastic starters like roasted beet salad (I'm ignoring the chicken bones tossed inside) at Mon Vieil Ami and then two egg dishes to end all egg dishes: what was called, I think, just l'oeuf at Robuchon (picture: martini glass, cream, egg, all whipped into a fine yumminess, foamy... you know, I have absolutely no memory of what was in it, but it was amazing) and another egg at La Gazzetta, this one poached in a bouillon of what is translated as chocolate bread, and served with buttery bread crumbs and greens. Re-telling on blog? Not so good. Actual taste? Incredible. There were great entrees - my mackerel at La Gazzetta was one of the best I've ever had, and fantastic desserts too - the savory kind that I like: clementines three ways at Mon Vieil Ami (one way with, yes, Pop Rocks atop sorbet - they had me when it first went pop), a cinnamon tart to end the reign of any other tart at Robuchon, mozzarella meringue at Gazzetta, and my mom made the best choices: souffles at two meals, one pistachio, the other vanilla with spiced pears and sorbet au lait.

Tonight we're headed out for our first Moroccan since we've been here, and I just invested a small fortune in brown sugar and molasses to make some New Year's gingerbread, but I do have a craving for all things unavailable right now, including poori at Vik's , camote and frijoles con todo from Tacubaya and even Fenton's caramel sauce. I suppose though, that if we grab a half dozen oysters at La Baron Rouge tomorrow while at the market and drink a glass of muscat with them, I just might start to forget that there could be anything else great to eat in this world. Happy almost new year.

1 comment:

Martha said...

We ate at Dopo last week. They had that soft boiled egg appetizer that is breaded and fried - I remember that you and Jennifer and I shared that once at dinner there several years ago. It is still as good as it was then.
What amazes me now about Dopo is how welcoming they are to families with children! I never noticed this before we had Leah but whenever we go there now (which sadly isn't often enough) there are always at least two other tables with high chair occupants. No chicken nuggets for these babies! Happy New Year from all of us.