2014 was a pretty delicious year. It was a year in which I did a lot of cooking, but meals were made without an eye on photography nor natural light, and often remained unchronicled so I cut myself some slack and my site took a bit of a backseat. I shared a few of my food highlights on Instagram but here are a few more that have been lurking in my photo folder but not too far from my stomach’s memories.
For my picks & highlights when it comes to technology, productivity, and business, head over to my biz & tech site for my Top Reads & Apps of 2014.
Best Southern Food Surprise: This unexpectedly delicious meal with a colleague in Miami at Yardbird, southern table & bar. I spent 4+ years in Texas and ate a lot of BBQ, Tex-Mex, and Cajun food, but didn’t delve as deep into southern cooking as I now realize I could have. I had never experienced chicken & waffles, and having Yardbird’s Chicken n’ Watermelon n’ Waffles was a revelation. So delicious, and the savory cheese waffles went great with their famous fried chicken and bourbon maple syrup. Cocktails were great, too.
Best Way to Make Drinking Healthier and Consume a Cocktail: Incorporate more fruit and vegetables. This spicy tequila drink was served in a bell pepper, and I can say I definitely took a few chomps out of it after I finished.
Best Morning Food: Chouquettes. I have never liked cream puffs, but those aren’t chouquettes. There’s something about the smattering of sugar crystals on the top of these puffy beauties that makes them crisp and delicious. You can go ahead and fill them with cream yourself if you want, but I usually ate them plain, dunked into coffee, or filled with whipped cream.
Best Hole-in-the-Wall Coffee: Ha Coffee on Kauai was a great discovery and we took several growlers with us to keep the work meetings fueled and active, and their espresso was good, too. I was sad I couldn’t pack one away and take it back with me, since I didn’t have room in my carry-on.
Best Cake Display: I had just had a huge breakfast but ducked out of the cold in Warsaw, Poland, and this coffee shop had some of the best cakes on display, stacked on top of each other and so rich that you couldn’t tell where one started and one ended. I almost found space for a piece, but I was content just to look.
Best Airport Food: As much as I travel (more than 50% in 2014), I don’t relish eating in airports and try to plan around it when I can. I had heard decent things about Lemonade in LAX but I rarely fly through there, so when I had the chance to get dinner on a layover, I jumped at trying a meal there. The coconut chicken and shaved brussels sprouts salad were good, and being able to get a healthy dose of vegetables in an airport that wasn’t just a leafy salad with a few slices of chicken was a nice change.
Best Nostalgic Eat: If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I’m from the garlic capital of the world. I happened to be in the area during the festival this year, but since I was working the weekend, I couldn’t get to the festival myself. My brother was also in town and one evening he brought me half of a pepper steak sandwich from the festival. It was as garlicky and delicious as always.
Best Way to East Sushi: Sushiritto. Yes.
Best Use of Leftovers: In Ireland I had an Eton mess for the first time which was a lovely mix of meringues, cream, and strawberries. I love meringues and this would be a great use of those cracked and not-so-pretty ones. On a side note, this was a lot of sugar, even for me.
Best Burrito: This steak, shrimp, nopales (cactus), and cheese burrito I got several times in San Diego. No rice, no beans, no lettuce, no tomatoes, no filler. It’s like getting an entire burrito of just the good stuff.
Bonci, Bonci, Bonci: The man gets his own category. I ate a lot of his pizza and pastries this year. Standouts were the potato and mozzarella pizza, and this ‘nduja with ricotta variety. If you haven’t checked out his panificio or Pizzarium when in Rome, put it on your list.
Best Brunch Dish: Pancake, fried egg, pancake again, fried egg again (yes!), crispy bacon et Bourbon butter at Holybelly. I was never a big pancake fan but I fell hard for this dish. Read more about that here.
Best Ratio of Friends to Bubbles. It seems like 6 people and 5 bottles was a good ratio for this holiday party. Next time I’ll plan ahead better as I was starting to open bottles in my emergency cantina as the holiday playlist continued to shuffle.
Best Second Culinary Home: Thanks to some friends and work trips, I was able to spend some time in France this year and ate a lot. Some standouts were the cafe gourmand I wrote about:
These buttery cousins of croissants, etoile au beurre:
These herb-covered chèvre, goat cheese:
Best Craving Fulfilled: After pining for fresh corn-on-the-cob for quite some time (years, really), I was able to find it semi-regularly this summer in Italy (shown here with a mediterranean orzo salad which was in frequent rotation). I’m eagerly looking forward to when it’s in season again.
Best Overly-Complicated Italian Food: I love that Italian food is simple and made with few ingredients, but sometimes it’s great to appreciate those flavors in more sophisticated preparation. This dish from Metamorfosi which was a drape of mozzarella with powdered spinach was delicious, as well as a few other dishes I had during a tasting menu meal that lasted four hours. That doesn’t mean I prefer it to a plate of fresh mozzarella di bufala on its own, but it was a nice change.
Best New Mass-manufactured Food: I have liked Kettle Chips (cracked black pepper!!) which have been pretty regularly available in Italy, but when they came out with Sea Salted Kettle Tortilla chips…I lost it. This bag did not last long.
Best New Addition to My Kitchen: This ketchup red Pantone coffee maker, aka moka pot. It got a lot of use, and still looks great! You can get yours here and check out other coffee lover gifts I recommend here.
Which of my top tastes would have been yours, too?