Food highlights of the year were all from my weekend in Montreal
Jambon de la petite Bourgogne at La Vin Papillon
Nordic shrimp and cucumber at Foxy
Warm chocolate/hazelnut madeleines w/chocolate mousse from Le vin Papillon
Garganelli pasta with guinea fowl meatballs at Nora Grey
My contribution: I started with three and had to add a few more.
• The Mushroom Gratinee at Harwood House restaurant, Quinn’s Resort,
• Hot crab sandwiches and crab quiche made with the last of the frozen
crab at home
• Sticky toffee pudding from the Stone of Accord, Missoula, Montana
• Lamb chop bake at home
In my home town Rotterdam, in the Netherlands Western Europe, I had two standout meals this year. Also they are two of my favourite restaurants.
One Michelin star Zeezout with a very good tasting menu, and then a few weeks ago newcomer River Bar, where their home made vanilla ice cream was phenomenal. I’ve been going to River Bar a lot since it opened earlier and had some of my best food there this year - I also remember a great steak, raw tuna tartare, and Gillardeau oysters (which I can also buy myself…).
Then in New York (10 days of eating including at 1 Michelin star Le Pavillon, which was my most disappointing meal) 2 months later all I crave now is to taste that smash burger again at 7th Street Burger.
And then of course an earlier trip to Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia. Wonderful prawns in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, great salads with roast pork and several fish dishes in Phuket, and Hong Kong black bean sauce clams.
*Katsu at Toki Doki, located at Tofino Brewing Co., Vancouver Island. I think my experience with the pork sandwich on Tenerife did something to me. Second pork dish I’m listing. Haven’t had any since – guess I got my fill for the year.
Honorable mention #2: Gold ingot dessert at La Escala, Santa Cruz, Tenerife. I don’t eat desserts and even I liked this - it must have been freeze-dried so every bite just melted wonderfully in the mouth. Not too sweet, either.
I’ll play, too! 2023 was a year of returning to favorite places, which you gotta know makes me biased.
Crazy spicy mushroom dish at Cong Tu Bot in Portland, Maine. I don’t have the right words to do this justice, so I’ll quote the menu description: ““NẤM NƯỚC MIẾNG” aka “Mouthwatering Mushrooms” w/ dry fried mushrooms, red-eye brown sauce, pickled bean sprout, puffed rice, sesame, cilantro, chili oil”
Cooking on summer vacation in Harpswell, Maine, there was this buttery crabmeat linguine. The crabmeat did all the work so I can’t claim credit. (Did I deconstruct a crabmeat roll from Erica’s Seafood to get the crabmeat? Ssshhh, let that be our secret.)
We were very, very lucky to be able to visit friends in Italy for the first time since 2019. Made it to the town’s annual truffle fair. Everyone can get a taste of truffle very affordably at the open air lunch. You can even bring your own wine. On the table are eggs topped with truffle, toasts with truffled cheese, and local agnolotti pasta with truffle.
Also in the second half of the year I made a slow and steady return to more home cooking (after a stubborn shoulder injury earlier in the year cramped my style). This Thai red curry—plus finally visiting one of the Asian markets I hadn’t been to yet—has given me the spark to try preparing dishes I have not made before.
I also haven’t been eating in restaurants this year, except outdoors and takeaway. I’ve also been leaning towards simplicity in my home cooking and at restaurants. So, for restaurants:
-New York style pepperoni pizza slices at Pizzeria Da Laura in Berkeley, CA, very thin crust, nice char, traditional grease-filled pepperoni cups.
-The thick, properly medium rare hamburger and crisp seasoned fries at Cali Alley in Berkeley.
-Pastrami on soft house-made rye, at Delirama in Berkeley.
-Several types of artisan sausage (lamb and rosemary, garlic and thyme, smoked duck) from the butcher counter at Berkeley Bowl West, with mash
-Fresh ramen noodles from Tokyo Fish in Berkeley, with sous-vide poached salmon and shrimp, snap peas, asparagus, quick broth, toasted sesame oil. A once-a-week lunch favorite.
-Calamari quick-simmered in fresh Roma tomato sauce with garlic and oregano, over farfalle
-Spaghetti carbonara with bay scallops, a weekly dinner favorite