2015: A Retrospective of Bites

Well, we’re here in 2016, and before I post about my trip to India and other general musings on life, snacks, kale, Gisele and Tom’s (non) eating habits, and the like, I thought it best to review some of the tastiest things I ate in 2015. Without further ado and in no particular order…

1. Rice Salad at Thip Khao (Washington, DC)I’ve rhapsodized about this before–the crunchy slivers of pig’s ear, and the freshness of herbs, and spiciness that provided a gentle burn throughout. Truly so fantastic. Review here.

2. Pizza at Di Fara (New York)

Excuse the atrocious picture BUT, few things will drag one to the depths of Midwood, Brooklyn–this expertly made pizza will do it. The sauce (with tomatoes imported from Italy, of course) is probably the most incredible part of it, not to mention the owner who is in his 80s (above) and still touches almost every pie.

3. Beef & Bone Marrow Pie at Chi Spacca (Los Angeles)

I kept hearing about this pie from my brother, and once I finally tried it, every expectation was fulfilled. It’s unctuous and flaky and super-savory all at once. Go get it, if you can.

4. Corn Arepas with an Egg (Medellín, Colombia)

I vividly remember saying, aloud, at the breakfast table “these are a revelation.” The sweet, slightly charred corn flavor and the rich egg yolk are just next level delicious. More here.

5. Fried Chicken “Coq Au Vin” at Convivial (Washington, DC)

So, the picture doesn’t adequately display how fantastically tasty this dish was, but believe me it was. The rich winey sauce coated the fried chicken, it was so sinful and…now I’m ravenous.

6. Suckling Pig with Orange Sauce at Belcanto (Lisbon, Portugal)

The orange sauce (with a clove of roasted black garlic) and slightly ever so charred cabbage were perfect counterpoints to the crispy, caramelized pork. But, I also must mention that the potato chips seen in the top right corner were inside an edible bag. So yes, I just bit into the whole thing. Magical. Full Lisbon eating guide here.

7. Smothered Shrimp and Grits at Narobia’s Grits and Gravy (Savannah, GA)

I wish I could say we stumbled across this down home Savannah spot, but the truth is I’d been dying to try it for a few months, and the moment I knew we’d be heading to this Southern town, I insisted on going there. The smoky, smothered shrimp were so unbelievably fresh and sweet over luscious, creamy grits. Read more here.

8. Red Wine Braised Artichokes and Parmesan Custard at Vernick Food & Drink (Philadelphia)

Every year, I make at least one trip to Philly, and each time I’m wowed by the food. This dish, one of many at Vernick Food & Drink was so ideal to spoon up on a cold winter evening. Parmesan and red wine go together so well, of course, and I loved the interesting combination here. Full Philly writeup here.

9. Khmer Pancake at Ithaca Farmer’s Market (Ithaca, NY)IMG_9445Back for my college reunion, I made sure to re-live the massive amounts of eating I did in my four years. On weekends at Ithaca’s famed Farmers Market, I almost always ordered a Khmer pancake at the Cambodian stall. Filled with pork, sliced vegetables and vermicelli noodles, it’s absolutely one of my favorite bites this year, and perhaps ever. More here.

10. Pork Sausage with Coconut-Chile Sauce and Lychees at Rose’s Luxury (Washington, DC)pork-sausage-with-coconut-chile-sauce-and-lychees-940x600I’ve been wanting to try the notoriously impossible-to-get-into DC restaurant Rose’s Luxury for a year or two at this point, and on a rainy December night we got lucky. This dish was transcendental. Stirring all the ingredients together, you got the pungent red onion, ever so slightly spongy lychees, coconut froth, and meaty thai sausage. Want to make it? Here’s the recipe.

[Rose’s Luxury Photo courtesy of Bon Appetit]

Pizza Partay

IMG_5193As I recently mentioned, I was preparing the Marcella Hazan Tomato sauce not just as an homage to a very important woman, but also as the base for some home made pizzas we got into the other night. I’d originally envisioned the evening as a make-your-own-we’ll-make-the-toppings-let-your-creativity-and-mozzarella-inspire-you sort of situation, but we ended up just making three (enormous) pies ourselves while our dinner guests looked on with a mixture of empathy (Whole Foods Dough is a deceiving ingredient) IMG_5185and wonderment (the scent of homemade Tomato sauce will turn even the hardest men into blubbering babies.) We turned the jazz on, let the wine and beer flow freely, and got down on some pies and a big green salad (sadly not pictured.)IMG_5167We survived the learning curve…

The Three Pizzas:
Meaty Margherita (Marinara Sauce, Mozzarella, Basil + Proscuitto) This one was our first attempt, and we were unschooled in the ways of the Whole Food pizza dough, resulting in a pie that truly exemplified the word “pie.” After referring to it in euphemistic terms as “part-pizza, part-pasta” and “just sort of, you know, more calzone-like”, I realized that this wasn’t the ideal specimen…Onto the next.
Pre-Basil & Prosciutto:IMG_5186Post Basil & (very crispy) Prosciutto:
IMG_5188Pizza #2: Mozzarella, Marinara, Homemade Caramelized Onion, Sliced Salami
Round 2 went quite a bit better, although the dough still erred more on the side of chewy…yet very, very crispy. IMG_5189The salami crisped up beautifully, and the sweetness of the caramelized onion played off of it really well. Things were starting to taste like pizza! Also, a quick sidebar here…In addition to making the tomato sauce, I simultaneously caramelized two onions: IMG_5177 IMG_5180 IMG_5183

Pizza #3: Marinara, Mozzarella, Sautéed Mushrooms, Steamed Broccoli, Pancetta
This was our pièce de résistance. The crust was perfect, and the pancetta was a perfect foil for the earthy mushrooms and and crunchy broccoli. An out-and-out winner, and even more delicious the next day! I rendered the pancetta (and may have cooked the mushrooms in some of the fat…), steamed the broccoli, and put it all together.
IMG_5187Post-Bake:IMG_5190Extreme Close-up: IMG_5191

More to come in the future. I may never eat pizza again (today)

Transcendental Pizza

 DSC_0309Here in New York, pizza is no triflin’ matter. Growing up in Chicago where pizza is a point of civic pride, I can relate to the deeply entrenched importance of the age-old Italian invention. At Paulie Gee’s, in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, the pizza is treated with a unique combination of reverence and reinvention, resulting in classically prepared but creative pies that are absolutely extraordinary. Located on a quiet street, huge wooden doors slide open to reveal a bustling mood-lit interior tableau of waify New York belles and their plaid-clad consorts. Continue reading