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)
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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)
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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]

Thip Khao

I’m fairly certain everyone around me is relieved that I’ve now been to Thip Khao, so I’ll stop talking about it. What they don’t realize, though, is that now I’ll talk about it even more. On a bustling still gentrifying strip of Columbia Heights, this new-ish Laotian restaurant doesn’t jump out at one on an initial cursory glance. Once the food arrives, however, it’s an entirely different situation.

Laotian food is seemingly quite similar to Northern Thai–lots of fresh vegetables and fragrant herbs, mounds of sticky rice, and meat that many Westerners would find esoteric.

Chicken wings, which I would not have initially ordered, were lacquered in a most addictive sweet chili sauce, and caramelized-crispy outside. My #1 wings as of right now (a big statement, I know.) 

 

This fabulously named dish: “Awk”, is a Southern Lao curry, packed with veggies and plenty of herbs (we ordered it with pork). It’s much soupier than a traditional curry, but the flavors are gorgeous–and I was surprised particularly by the widespread use of dill, which I don’t usually associate with South East Asian food of any type.
Poured lavishly over lots of purple rice: 

 

I’d heard about the grilled pork neck, which was very tasty, though not mindboggling. It was slightly caramelized and charred on the outside, and served with a super piquant sauce. 

 

Next to the chicken wings, which reduced me to a primal being–literally licking the plate (back in the comfort of my own home, though–lots of leftovers to be had), this rice salad with pigs ear, pork, herbs, peanuts and much more was simultaneously so savory and fragrant, with texture in spades. I need it again.
Sadly we were far too full to sample the mango with sticky rice (which is one of my favorite desserts in any cuisine), but luckily we had enough food to supply dinner the following evening. Go to Thip Khao, NAO!

Thip Khao
3462 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010
http://www.thipkhao.com/