Dec 2011

The Year in Delicious: Top 10 Savories of 2011

Year in Savories 2011

A sure sign that I ate ridiculously well in 2011—a dish of toro tartare and caviar made by Chef Masa Takayama didn’t even crack this year’s top ten. As another year comes to close, it’s become tradition to reflect upon where I’ve been and what I’ve eaten. It was a daunting task choosing my favorite savory dishes of the year, but after careful consideration and conferring with The Astronomer, I finally managed to whittle down the candidates. Without further ado, here are the ten best savory dishes that I ate this year…

Eleven Madison Park - New York City

Duck for Two from Eleven Madison Park in New York City, NY

Dry-aged for two weeks and roasted with honey and lavender, the Muscovy duck arrived at the table looking positively glorious. I’d never laid eyes on a more beautiful bird. The duck was served with a celery and rhubarb compote and a rhubarb puree. The meat was perfectly tender with a succulent ring of fat, while the skin was caramelized and crisp.

Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen -  Montréal

Smoked Meat from Schwartz’s Montréal Hebrew Delicatessen in Montréal, Canada

The hand-sliced meat was stacked tall between two slices of light rye bread with a bit of yellow mustard. The seemingly simple sandwich packed an impressive punch. The meat was flavorful, moist, and tender, while the bread was soft but sturdy enough to keep the meat in its proper place. Mustard, coleslaw, and pickles were just the tangy accompaniments needed to punctuate the wonderful smoked meat.

Yun Chuan Garden - Monterey Park

Preserved Pork with Wild Mushrooms from YunChuan Garden in Monterey Park, CA

The salty slices of Chinese prosciutto, coupled with the toothsome mushrooms, had my chopsticks coming back for more all evening long. The combination of jalapenos and dried chilies gave this dish a traditional spicy profile rather than a flavor dominated by Szechuan peppercorns like the other dishes we enjoyed at YunChuan Garden.

Jean Georges Steakhouse - Las Vegas

Tomahawk Chop from Jean Georges Steakhouse in Las Vegas, NV

The Angus 300 Australian Tomahawk Chop had a beautiful sear, while the well-marbled meat was juicy and so very beefy. The best part was gnawing on the huge rib alongside my friend and fellow blogger Janelle of Talk of Tomatoes. The meat is tenderest at the bone.

Steelhead Diner - Seattle

Totten Inlet Mediterranean Mussels from Steelhead Diner in Seattle, WA

The local waters must be laced with growth hormone because these babies were the plumpest things ever! The mussels were served in a most delectable Veracruzano broth with cured olives, garlic, onions, tomatoes, Spanish chorizo, serrano peppers, and cilantro.

Mori Sushi - Los Angeles

Grilled Toro at Mori Sushi in Los Angeles, CA

The grilled toro, which was painted with Mori’s special soy sauce, tasted like the tenderest filet mignon. The Astronomer and I couldn’t get over how spectacular the flavor and textures were. Hands down, the most incredible piece of the night’s omakase.

Mai Xuan Canh - Ho Chi Minh City

Duck Tongues from Mai Xuan Canh in Saigon, Vietnam

The luoi vit Sapo, stewed duck tongues with chilies and lemongrass, came swimming in a bubbling brew so delicious that we ordered baguettes to sop it up. The tongues were served on the bone, which required a bit of maneuvering to extract. The texture of the tiny overhang was awesomely snappy and so very supple. I need more duck tongues in my life.

Coop's West Texas Barbecue - Lemon Grove

Beef Ribs at Coop’s West Texas Barbecue in Lemon Grove, CA

The highlight of the plate for both The Astronomer and me was the nearly foot-long beef ribs. The herb and spice rub, with its distinct rosemary essence, was totally enchanting. The meat, which had a nice crust and moist meat, came cleanly off the bone. No sauce necessary.

Rico Menudo Estilo Guadalajara - Tijuana

Menudo at Rico Menudo Estilo Guadalajara in Tijuana

The bowl of soup arrived loaded with tendon and tripe. Bill garnished it expertly with diced onions, fresh cilantro, dried oregano, and dried chilies. Served on the side were warm tortillas for dipping. The pieces of tendon and tripe were pleasantly chewy, while the broth was spicy and soulful. On this slightly chilly day, I could not have asked for a more perfect breakfast.

Night + Market - West Hollywood

Pigtails at Night + Market in Los Angeles, CA

The fried pig tails, which were beautifully caramelized and incredibly tender, came dressed in a tangy, chili-laced vinaigrette. There wasn’t much meat on the bone, just a mouthful of deliciously fatty bits.

Honorable mentions: Lamb Pie at Beijing Pie House in Monterey Park, CA; Fried Chicken at Ad Hoc in Yountville, CA; Lardo Pestato at Sotto Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA.

The Year in Delicious 2010:

Previous Post
Next Post

6 thoughts on “The Year in Delicious: Top 10 Savories of 2011

  1. LOVE that picture of the tomahawk chop!

    I’m happy to say I’ve had one of these dishes this year – the pigtails from Night+Market were unbelievable!

  2. Fun post Cathy! Sooo the smoked meat made it 🙂 Good ol Nina 🙂 Congrats on another year of food blogging and I’m sure, running as well! As always, send my regards to the V please 🙂

  3. Just like last year, I’ve compiled my own lists of Top 10 Savories, Sweets, and Recipes to re-emphasize the awesomeness of some of The Gastronomer’s choices, and to point out some other spectacular dishes that we sampled this past year. I’ve allowed myself to select a couple of items that weren’t featured on Gastronomy–given my poor memory, any dish that sticks out in my mind without a blog post to remind me of it is definitely deserving of recognition. On the other hand, I neglected to list some amazing dishes from our trip to Vietnam in September, since all of my favorites were from places that already made it onto the blog in 2007-2008.

    I found it interesting looking back that the most exciting dishes didn’t always come from the best overall meals. For example, looking over my list of Top 10 Savories, it seems positively unjust that a course from our meal at Eleven Madison Park in NYC was not featured, (I should note that at least two would have made my Top 20, however). A great meal is comprised of a succession of excellent dishes with no abject failures, but the individual mindblowers sometimes come from more hit-or-miss affairs (see Mediterranian Mussels from Steelhead Diner or Lobster “Au Curry” from Mix).

    Without further ado, in no particular order, here are The Astronomer’s Top 10 Savories for 2011:

    Peach Pizza — Serious Pie, Seattle
    Confit of Half Duck — Bottega, Yountville
    Lardo with Rosemary and Garlic — Del Posto, New York City
    Dan Dan Mien — Lucky Noodle King, San Gabriel
    Totten Island Mediterranian Mussels — Steelhead Diner, Seattle
    Squid Ink Fusilli — Sotto, Los Angeles
    Basil Risotto with Escargot, Lemon, and Tomato — Fraiche, Culver City
    Charred Barracuda — Mori Sushi, West Los Angeles
    Maine Lobster “Au Curry” — Mix, Las Vegas
    Beef Ribs — Coop’s West Texas Barbecue, San Diego

  4. Couldn’t agree with you more on Eleven Madison Park. I had the chicken for two when I went and it was the best dish of the trip. I looked for it in the EMP cookbook and it’s there, but I estimated it would have cost over $500 to make the dish at home. Maybe you can try and let us know how much it cost..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *