travel: leapfrogging…

Sheer magnitude

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Another year is gone, and I’ve barely written about it.  This is especially sad to me, since so many wonderful things happened.

Every year, I pause at calendar’s end to record and remember the anxieties and adventures that made the preceding months memorable, including an accounting of all the restaurants I visited, and my favorite meals and dishes among them.  With this blog post, I initiate that annual tradition.

Last year, I commemorated 2013 with an honest look at my evolving career in photography and explored the blurring edges of my relationship with the restaurant community and my place within it. I questioned whether I could write responsibly about chefs and restaurants, given my increasing professional ties with them; or, whether I should write about them at all.  Although I ended that blog post with a fair sense of resolution, those issues and concerns spilled over into 2014, as I considered them anew.


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"Golden Hour"

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At the end of every year, I’m convinced that I’ve peaked, that no subsequent year could possibly beat the one before.  And again, I’m happy to report that 2014 was my busiest and best year yet.

My days and weeks seemed to leapfrog over one another as I criss-crossed time zones hopping the globe, circling the Earth five times in the number of miles I flew (I always say, if you never sleep, you’re never jet-lagged). In many ways, it was a particularly liberating year for me as well. With a rapidly growing demand for my attention to photography, I finally escaped the long shadow of the practice of law, cutting loose some last, tangled threads that tethered me to that safety net.

As always, my work introduced me to some amazing people this year, and has taken me to some amazing places.  I found joy in forging new partnerships and friendships, as well as strengthening ones that I’ve enjoyed developing over the past few years.  I’m continually blessed with the opportunity to work with some of the best in their fields, and being granted generous access to the amazing worlds they inhabit.  I’m eager to tell you about these adventures below, as I skip through the highlights of my year and work, and make a few disclaimers along the way.  I’ll warn you now: the list is long, the detours are many. It’s more of a record for myself than for you, so feel free to ignore it.

And, of course, I ate very well; shockingly well, actually.  In my travels, I passed through a galaxy of over 75 Michelin stars, visiting well over 250 different restaurants in eight countries on three continents.  As soon as I finish this post, I’ll turn to combing through them; cherry picking my favorite dishes, desserts and meals; and preparing my annual “best of” lists.  When you see the full roster of restaurants that I visited this year at the bottom of this post, you’ll know that I have a particularly challenging task ahead of me.

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An essential aspect...

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I eased into 2014 with a quiet January at home in Kansas City.  I spent much of it planning for the months ahead, and tinkering with a potential job offer that would set me on a different course.  In many ways, that job was a dream job for me. It offered great travel opportunities and perks, and, more importantly, the opportunity and excitement of building something new, something potentially great.  And, I felt uniquely well-suited to its requirements.  However, I didn’t feel that I would be fairly compensated for the amount and type of work I’d be doing. More significantly, it would end my status as a free agent.  I left the corporate world in hopes of building something for myself instead of for someone else. I wanted to own and make something out of the patch of earth on which I stand.  I had spent enough time playing on other people’s teams, where the main incentive for loyalty and performance was a financial one.  It was time for me to focus on Team Me.

So, when the formal job offer came, I walked away.*

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Jon Bonné and Eric Asimov

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The following few months put me back on the road.  In February, I was in Chicago, and then in St. Helena, where I was invited to speak at the 10th annual Wine Writers Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley (I was asked to present on the subject of photography).  Coming to the symposium and subject as an outsider and novice, I relished sitting on the sidelines – a third-party observer with no pony in the race – considering the differing (and sometimes, strong) opinions and perspectives of industry leaders on a subject steeped in as much science as myth.

Of particular note was the keynote address, delivered by wine titan Robert Parker to an audience of friends, admirers, and detractors alike.  I can’t  give the exchange justice here, so I will refer you to Jon Bonné, the resident wine writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, who issued a detailed account from a more knowledgeable (albeit, in my opinion, biased) vantage.  [In that post, Bonné links to another thoughtfully written recap of Parker’s keynote address by David White of the Terroirist blog.]

Perhaps I sympathized with Mr. Parker, a fellow former attorney, because I found him wonderfully articulate and rather well-prepared to take on his jury (more specifically, I was impressed that he anticipated precisely the allegations against him, and had pointed rebuttals at the ready).  Or maybe it’s because I don’t wholly dislike his preferences in wine (“bombastic” isn’t such a dirty word to me).  But I found some of the criticism against him unfair.

But, I also empathize with those who take issue with Mr. Parker (or the institution of taste for which he is accused of standing), and with some of what Messrs. Bonné and White had to say about those points of disagreement.  At the risk of making a complete fool of myself: if I’m understanding the issues correctly, and if I may analogize the wine industry to the restaurant industry (about which I feel much more confident discussing) to show that I do, then the “Parker Effect” is sort of like that dumb San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (against which I have railed on this site).  The objection is not to the opinions held by these arbiters of taste, but rather with the absoluteness and authority with which their opinions are advanced and to which they are ascribed in a dangerous snowball of hype and ignorance.  Adding fuel to this are the shameless wineries and chefs who see profit in advancing these opinions.  They not only cater to them, but promote them as well, thereby taking advantage of a relatively uninformed and impressionable consumer base. If this is the issue, then yes, I agree, there is a problem. However, those arbiters of taste — Parker and the San Pellegrino committee – are only a small part of it.  The far greater challenge, in my opinion, lies in educating consumers, so that they can be discerning judges of taste and quality for themselves.  Instead of telling me what’s good, tell me what I need to know in order to determine whether it’s good.  This isn’t being done enough in the food writing world.

[In a last-minute effort to avoid totally embarrassing myself in the company of experts at this symposium, I read Bonné’s book “New California Wine.” It not only provided a good framework for the history of California winemaking, and mapped out the states’s geographic points of winemaking significance, but was also an informative and well-presented opinion about a growing school of preference in California winemaking and drinking.]

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A tornado of sardines.

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March and April marked a high point in my year.

I stopped briefly in Paris to eat and catch up with some friends before moving on to the Flemish fields of Belgium to check off a few of lingering bucket list entries.  (You’ll find my post about the Paris and Belgian parts of this trip here.)

And then, Norway.  I started on the country’s rugged west coast in Bergen and worked my way east to Oslo, where I was last seen in 2005.

In the middle of March, I returned to Aubergine in Carmel-by-the-Sea to photograph the second-annual Rediscovering Coastal Cuisine dinner hosted by chef Justin Cogley.  John Shields (of Riverstead Inn) returned as a guest chef, joined this year by Kyle Connaughton (of unnamed restaurant in Healdsburg, California), Dave Beran (of Next in Chicago), Blaine Wetzel (of Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Washington), Justin Woodward (of Castagna in Portland, Oregon), and Stephanie Prida (pastry chef at Manresa in Los Gatos, California).  It was another terrific weekend, full of fun, food, and friends.  Among the highlights was a private tour of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where we got to feed bluefin tuna from the rafters, dropping feed from twenty feet above the circling fish.  I also loved the morning we spent wading among the crystal-clear tidal pools of the windswept coast of the Monterey Bay peninsula, as well as a hike we took through the seaside cliff trails of Point Lobos State Reserve.  And, of course, how could I forget a laugh-filled and breathtakingly scenic road trip down Highway 1 to Big Sur with friends?  That stretch of American coastline is one of the most beautiful parts of our world.  If you haven’t been, make it a priority.

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Afternoon in the park.

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I finally made it to Japan.  My friend and guide DrTomostyle, hosted me for a three-week tour, which started in March and ran over into April.  She planned an enviable itinerary centered around Tokyo, with side trips to Kyoto and Osaka (that resulted in a jaw-dropping credit card bill afterward).  We ate high and low, reveled in the cherry blossom frenzy, and spied geishes in the night. You’ll find a brief overview of that trip here, and a more detailed report about the Kyoto portion here.

April ended with a short trip to Austin to photograph for a special, one-off Music To Your Mouth dinner featuring guest chef John Currence (of City Grocery and Big Bad Breakfast in Oxford, Mississippi).  I took the liberty of staying a couple of extra days to eat in and around Austin with my friends.

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Blackberry Farm

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For the last time (at least in the near future), I celebrated New York in May, for the James Beard Awards and the attendant and “assorted asshattery and hot messary,” as I put it in a comprehensive post I penned about that trip.

I used a brothers trip as an excuse to reacquaint myself with the restaurant scene in Washington, D.C., where I lived for two years long, long ago.  I wrote about that trip here.

And Knoxville: I was invited to attend the Southern Food Writing Conference, which coincided with the International Biscuit Festival, now in its fifth year (who knew?).  Among the speakers was Belinda Ellis, who charmed me with her eloquent and thoughtful stories about biscuit-making, and the people she encountered while writing her cookbook, “Biscuits.” I loved Joe Yonan’s confessions of a vegetarian food editor (“Eat Your Vegetables” is his first cookbook; he is the food editor for the Washington Post).  And former attorney Adrian Miller made us all laugh with his uproariously funny talk about “Soul Food,” a book that took him to over a hundred soul food restaurants across the United States and won him the James Beard Award.

My weekend in Knoxville also included dinner and a tour at The Blackberry Farm in nearby Walland, Tennessee.  Chef Joseph Lenn’s cooking was impressive, and the grounds were absolutely stunning (the garden and seed saving program there are especially admirable).  And that black walnut honey butter they make…

But the two most memorable moments from that weekend in Tennessee were my quaint encounters with two women.

I will never forget the look on Sharon Benton’s face – she, the baroness of American country ham, and a true Southerner – when I, a misguided Midwesterner, tried to convince her that my home state of Missouri should be considered a Southern state. In my lobbying effort, I argued, for example, that Missouri is the only non-Southern state that has a notable barbecue tradition.  To that, Mrs. Benton replied in genuine astonishment: “Really?  What kind of barbecue is that?”  She would have none of it. And I have never laughed so hard in my life.

The second encounter was with the woman who first introduce me to the biscuit, and taught me how to make them on her PBS show “New Southern Cooking.”  In one of those wonderful moments in life, when far-reaching lines intersect under the most unexpected but appropriate circumstances, I met Nathalie Dupree – cookbook author, television cooking show host, James Beard Award-winner, and the woman who introduced me to the biscuit – at the International Biscuit Festival.  Dupree was attending the writing conference as a speaker. We shared a biscuit and a laugh.

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Perched.

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In June, I stayed at home, save for a short pop into New York to celebrate my friend Adam Goldberg’s birthday (he of A Life Worth Eating).

July was quiet too, except for a quick trip to San Francisco.

In August, I paused in Chicago for a few days on my way to Hong Kong, where I met up with chef Paul Qui and his fiancé and publicist Deana Saukam.  The Hong Kong Board of Tourism had invited the two to participate in a weeklong, culinary and fashion tour of the city.  Qui and Saukam asked that I be hired to photograph the tour for interested media outlets.

Every time I go to Hong Kong, I’m both impressed by how much the city has grown and changed since my last visit, and charmed by how much of the local culture hasn’t changed (for example, climbing the side of glassy skyscrapers, you’ll still find bamboo scaffolding, lashed together with ropes, and often leaning at unnatural angles).

The Hong Kong Board of Tourism arranged a packed eating and shopping agenda, showing us a good slice of the city during that hot and steamy (and often wet) week.  We visited the Michelin-starred restaurants of Hong Kong’s upmarket districts, as well as the humble noodle bars and dim sum houses of Kowloon.

The shopping was great too.

Qui and I bought some leather boots from Koji Sonoda, a Japanese leather goods craftsman who had opened a pop-up in the brand new PMQ shopping development.  PMQ stands for “Police Married Quarters.” As the name suggests, it was, literally, the dormitory for married, Hong Kong police officers decades ago.  Instead of tearing the unused building down, creative developers turned it into a shopping mall dedicated to featuring starting artisans.  A few, large, anchor tenants on the ground floor, plus a swanky fine dining restaurant on the top level (opened by Paolo Casagrande, the chef de cuisine of Martin Berasategui’s two Michelin-starred restaurant Lasarte in Barcelona), help to subsidize the rent for all of the artisan tenants in between.  Retailers set up shop in the former police living units – fewer 500 sq. ft. each.  In addition to Sonoda, there were clothiers, home furnishers, booksellers (even one dedicated to pop-up books), photographers, confectioners, and toymakers.  I even found one shop that made custom eyeglass frames out of ox horns.  They had drawers full of uncut ox horn plates from which you could make your frames.  Of all of the things I experienced on this trip, PMQ was one of the highlights.  It’s a fantastic concept, and I hope more urban centers around the world can figure out a way to make this kind of business model work.

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Bryggen

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From the beginning of September to Christmas, I was home in Kansas City for fewer than 20 days.

Christopher Haatuft, chef of Lyvserket, whom I had met on my trip to Bergen earlier in the year, contacted me over the summer.  He was inspired by the day we had spent touring his region together, and wanted to mount a recurring dinner series at his restaurant based on the purveyors and artisans we met, and ones like them.  He asked me to help him plan the dinners, find guest chefs to bring, and proposed hiring me to photograph them.  I agreed on all fronts.

So, in September, I took the first chef in this collaborative dinner series to Norway. This inaugural dinner focused on the coastline.  Who better to take than the chef and host of the Rediscovering Coastal Cuisine dinners, in which I have participated and photographed (and mentioned above): Justin Cogley of Aubergine in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

I returned in November for the second dinner. This time, we focused on the deep sea.  So, I called up my friend Stephen Harris, chef of The Sportsman on the coast of Kent, and lured him out for a rare appearance.  On my way to Bergen, I swung through the United Kingdom for a taste of that salt marsh umami that Harris offers at his restaurant in Seasalter.

I don’t want to spend too much time talking about the “Friends of Lysverket” series here, because I will be writing a more detailed blog post about  it after I complete these year-end round-up posts (there really is a lot more to these dinners than just the guest chefs and their food).  But, I will tell you that I’ll be heading back to Bergen in a few weeks with the third guest chef, and hopefully others every two months thereafter

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Ping Pong

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Since I was already in Norway, I figured, I might as well tack on some European eating.

So, on my way to Bergen in September, I first swung through Paris, using it as a gateway to visit Alexandre Gauthier’s two restaurants in and around the medieval, walled city of Montreuil-sur-Mer in the north of France (Froggy’s Tavern – where they denied me a bill – and Le Grenouillère, where I paid full fare for dinner and lodging).

I spent the week after Bergen in Copenhagen, which has quickly become one of my favorite destinations for food, culture, and people.  I tried to focus mostly on restaurants I hadn’t visited before. And to the degree that I only returned to one restaurant to which I had already been – Geranium (at the invitation and full comp of chef Kofoed) – I largely succeeded.  But the real focus of my trip to Copenhagen this time was an overnight trip to the Danish island of Bornholm, where chef Nicolai Nørregaard, his business partner Magnus Høegh Kofoed, and their assistant Pelle Magnus Berg Petersen (if that’s not the most amazing string of Danish names, I don’t know what is) took a day out of their busy schedule to show me their bucolic homeland, and host me for dinner at their restaurant Kadeau (I had been to Kadeau’s second location in Copenhagen, but this was my first visit to the original location on Bornholm; they surprised me with a plane ticket and took care of my lodging, but I insisted on paying for dinner).

On my November trip to Bergen, I spent the week after the Friends of Lysverket dinner in Stockholm, Sweden, where I last ate in 2005.  I was there for three nights, and ate very well, but with mixed feelings.  Perhaps I’ll sort them out for you in a subsequent blog post.

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Venice Beach

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While I was in Denmark, I was contacted by Vox Media, parent company to Eater (and the Curbed family of websites).  Vox had a client that wanted me to photograph a series of advertorials involving chefs and its product.

The company was Absolut Vodka, and it wanted to bring awareness to the fact that its vodka is made from winter wheat growing within 75 miles of its distillery in Åhus, Sweden.  So, the series I shot, entitled “75 Miles,” had me going to local green markets in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles with six chefs (two in each city).  Each chef was given a food budget and a bottle of Absolut vodka.  After each market visit, the chef and I hauled everything back to his or her home kitchen (or a borrowed kitchen) and the chef cooked me a meal using the ingredients they bought, and mixed me a couple of cocktails.

This project required me to fly twice to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and once to New York within a two-week span starting in September and leaking into October (somewhere in there was a delayed flight that left me stranded for one night in Salt Lake City, which gave me a convenient excuse to catch up with my friend and chef Viet Pham, who is in the midst of opening is own restaurant).  I chose three of the chefs, and Vox Media arranged the others.  It was a fun project that taught me a lot about vodka, and gave me the opportunity to meet and work with some awesome people.  You’ll find links to all six of the 75 Miles posts (which include photos stitched together by my commentary) on the Eater website here.

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Cyclist on the pont.

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October ended and November began with a rapid-fire of back-to-back-to-back trips.  I was in Chicago for my friend Dave Beran’s wedding (this, my sixth and last wedding of the year, including chef Joshua Skenes’s wedding in San Francisco earlier in April).  From there, I flew to Minneapolis to photograph my friend Gavin Kaysen’s beautiful new restaurant Spoon & Stable (unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the opening, so I photographed it the week before). I look forward to going back in this new year for a proper meal.

And from Minneapolis, I went on to Dallas to photograph a Friends of James Beard Foundation dinner at the storied Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.  Hosting chef Bruno Davaillon of the Mansion Restaurant (and his pastry chef, Nicolas Blouin) brought in an impressive roster of chefs: Michael Cimarusti (of Providence in Los Angeles), Scott Conant (of Scarpetta in Toronto and Miami), Paul Kahan (of Blackbird, Publican, etc. in Chicago), Jose Mendin and Andreas Schreiner (of Pubbelly in Miami), and Bryan Voltaggio (of VOLT, Aggio, etc. in Fredericksburg and Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.).  Each of the seven chefs was allotted a pound of white truffles to shave for their course, and each course was paired with Champagne.  The dinner was aptly named “Truffles & Bubbles.”  I had the great pleasure of sitting next to chef Dean Fearing, who, among other alumni chefs of the Mansion Restaurant, had been invited back to participate in the dinner.

The hotel’s Food and Beverage Director Luke Mathot was a consummate host.  He took the guest chefs and me out eating and drinking on the town that Halloween weekend, and even threw us a dinner party at his house.  It was a great time.  I hope they do it again.

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Concert time.

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If the preceding months were a frantic scramble, I had the pleasure of ending 2014 in two of the most beautiful and relaxing settings that have become a part of my annual schedule. Maybe it’s because I’ve photographed these two events before, and find comfort in the familiar. Maybe it’s because the people involved are awesome; and indeed, have become good friends. Or maybe, it’s because the quality of the content at both events is so high.  Most likely, it’s a combination of all of these things, plus the spectacular backdrop in front of which it is all presented that makes them such a joy to attend and record.

In mid-November, I had the pleasure of returning to the Inn at Palmetto Bluff to photograph the eighth “helping” (and my fourth) of the Music To Your Mouth event.  Under the swaying Spanish moss of the Low Country of South Carolina is this four-day gathering of good food, great people, and wonderful music.  I’ve written about this event before, and again here.  This year’s, Music To Your Mouth saw a few changes in venues – to spectacular effect, in my opinion (the events organizers Courtney Hampson and Jeremy Walton are true visionaries) – and a slight increase of traffic.  But the event remained relatively intimate, and I readily picked out many familiar faces and friends who make this weekend in South Carolina one of the best of my year.  On my way home, I extended my layover in Atlanta to eat and catch up on sleep for a few days before heading back to have Thanksgiving with my family.

And, for the third time, I ended my year with three weeks in California at Meadowood Napa Valley for the Twelve Days of Christmas, a dinner series hosted by chef Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood, which has consumed this blog for the past dozen posts.  You’ll find a recap of this year’s event, and a link to all twelve of this year’s dinners in this blog post (you’ll also find links to my blog posts about the twenty-four dinners that I’ve attended in years past).

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Line-up.

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Given my schedule, you can understand why I didn’t have the time to research and write a piece for my friend Adam Goldberg’s (he of the birthday and blog mentioned above) new magazine about coffee culture, when he came knocking on my door in the fall.  But, I did work with his sister Elyssa, executive editor of the magazine, as the copywriter for this inaugural issue.  I have read every word, every article, and I am excited for you to discover the great stories within it.  You can preorder your issue of Drift on the magazine’s website.

In Kansas City, I continued photographing for my friends Colby and Megan Garrelts and their two restaurants, bluestem and Rye.  In the spring, I also photographed their second cookbook, “Made in America,” which is currently on pre-order (due to hit bookshelves this coming spring).

I photographed my friend Ryan Sciara’s new wine shop Underdog Wine in the Brookside Crestwood shops.  And my friends Josh and Abbey-Jo Eans took over one of my favorite breakfast-lunch spots in Kansas City – Happy Gills Café & Hangout – and asked me to photograph it for them.  I did so happily.

I continued working with Michael Corvino, chef at The American Restaurant, hosting a couple of annual collaborative dinners.  It was my fourth (or was it the fifth, or sixth?) year serving on the Harvesters Chefs Classic committee, which hosts a dinner at the restaurant every June to raise money for our city’s largest food bank. This year, I invited chefs Gerard Craft (of Niche in St. Louis), Gavin Kaysen (who was unable to come to a previous dinner in Kansas City due to Hurricane Sandy), and Stephanie Prida (pastry chef at Manresa). Corvino invited local chefs Ryan Brazeal (of Novel), Colby Garrelts (of Bluestem and Rye), and Debbie Gold (former chef of The American Restaurant).  In September, Corvino and I co-hosted the 16th annual Friends of James Beard Foundation dinner at The American Restaurant – the longest-running dinner of its kind for the foundation in the nation (here is the list of the chefs who cooked this year).

And my cookbook project with Joshua Skenes, chef of the newly minted 3 Michelin-starred restaurant Saison, continues. After a few, long delays in 2014 due to life events, we’re moving again. I look forward to reporting more about it this year.

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The Swedish Royal Palace

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I can only wish that 2015 will be filled with half as much fun and fulfillment as I had 2014.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, between all of my travels, I ate very well.  In the coming days, I will turn to picking out the very best of what I ate this year in a series of blog posts that has become one of my favorite annual exercises.  Given the high-level of cooking I encountered this year, it will not be easy.  In the meantime, I leave you with the complete list of restaurants that I visited in 2014. It includes over 250 different restaurants in a dozen U.S. States, eight countries, on three continents, and representing over 75 Michelin stars.**

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JANUARY

Bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri) (once, twice)
Happy Gillis Café & Hangout (Kansas City) (once, twice)
Michael Smith (Kansas City, Missouri)
Rieger Grill & Exchange (Kansas City) (once, twice)
Rye (Leawood, Kansas)

FEBRUARY

American Restaurant, The (Kansas City, Missouri)
Anton’s Taproom (Kansas City, Missouri)
Bar Tartine (San Francisco, California)
Blackbird (Chicago, Illinois)
Boka (Chicago, Illinois)
Café Provence (Prairie Village, Kansas)
Café Zuni (San Francisco, California)
Central Kitchen (San Francisco, California)
Delicias Elenita Tacos (Santa Rosa, California)
Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria (Geyserville, California)
Hai Ky Mi Gia (San Francisco, California)
Hamano Sushi (San Francisco, California)
Iguana Café (Chicago, Illinois)
Madrona Manor (Healdsburg, California)
Milwaukee Delicatessen (Kansas City, Missouri)
Mission Beach Café (San Francisco, California)
Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue (Kansas City, Kansas)
Press (St. Helena, California)
Publican Quality Meats (Chicago, Illinois)
R&G Lounge (San Francisco, California)
Restaurant at Meadowood, The (St. Helena, California)
Rye (Leawood, Kansas)
Saison (San Francisco, California)
Sea Change (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Shanghai Dumpling King (San Francisco, California)
Stella Barra (Chicago, Illinois)

MARCH

1877 (Bergen, Norway)
Antoine (Paris, France)
Aubergine (Carmel-By-The-Sea, California (once, twice)
Bistro B (Oslo, Norway)
Bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri) (once, twice)
Butagumi (Tokyo, Japan)
Café Europa (Kansas City, Missouri)
David Toutain (Paris, France)
Den (Tokyo, Japan)
In De Wulf (Dranouter, Belgium) (dinner and breakfast)
Ishikawa (Tokyo, Japan)
Kohikan (Tokyo, Japan)
Kyorakutei (Tokyo, Japan)
L’Air du Temps (Éghezée, Belgium)
L’Atelier Joël Robuchon (Tokyo, Japan)
Le Baratin (Paris, France)
Le Colonialen (Bergen, Norway)
Lysverket (Bergen, Norway)
Matsukawa (Tokyo, Japan)
Maaemo (Oslo, Norway)
Mizutani (Tokyo, Japan)
Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue (Kansas City, Kansas)
Olivia (Oslo, Norway)
Oreryu Shioramen (Tokyo, Japan)
Ryugin (Tokyo, Japan)
Seikaan (Tokyo, Japan)
Sotto (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Souvenir (Ypres, Belgium)
Sushisho Masa (Tokyo, Japan)
Toritama (Tokyo, Japan)
Uokyo (Tokyo, Japan)
Ylajali (Oslo, Norway)

APRIL

A16 (San Francisco, California)
American Restaurant, The (Kansas City, Missouri)
Bufalina (Austin, Texas)
Cotogna (San Francisco, California)
East Side Kings Thaikun (Austin, Texas)
Fukamachi (Tokyo, Japan)
Franklin BBQ (Austin, Texas)
Ifuki (Kyoto, Japan)
Ishibashi (Tokyo, Japan)
Justine’s (Austin, Texas)
Kichisen (Kyoto, Japan)
Kin Khao (San Francisco, California)
Kushikatsu (Osaka, Japan)
Mille Caresses (Osaka, Japan)
Nico (San Francisco, California)
Noble Sandwiches (Austin, Texas)
Novel (Kansas City, Missouri)
Odd Duck (Austin, Texas)
Port Fonda (Kansas City, Missouri)
Rye (Leawood, Kansas) (once, twice)
Qui (Austin, Texas)
Salt & Time (Austin, Texas)
Shabu Gen (Tokyo, Japan)
Souhonke Yudofu Okutan Kiyomizu (Kyoto, Japan)
Taian (Osaka, Japan)
Yakizen (Osaka, Japan)
Yubasen (Kyoto, Japan)

MAY

ABC Kitchen (New York, New York)
Barbuto (New York, New York)
Betony (New York, New York)
Birch & Barley (Washington, D.C.)
Bluestone Lane (New York, New York)
Breslin, The (New York, New York)
Bridger’s Bottle Shop & Preservation Market (Kansas City, Missouri)
Casa Mono (New York, New York) (once, twice, thrice)
Clinton Street Baking Co. (New York, New York)
Contra (New York, New York)
Cucina della Ragazza (Kansas City, Missouri)
Daniel (New York, New York)
Del Posto (New York, New York)
Eleven Madison Park (New York, New York)
Empellon Cocina (New York, New York)
Estela (New York, New York)
Etto (Washington, D.C.)
Fiola (Washington, D.C.)
Gander, The (New York, New York)
Happy Gillis Café & Hangout (Kansas City, Missouri) (once, twice)
Hearth (New York, New York)
Jean-Georges (New York, New York)
Il Buco Alimentari (New York, New York)
Knox Mason (Knoxville, Tennessee)
Little Serow (Washington, D.C.)
Luke’s Lobster (Washington, D.C.)
Luksus (New York, New York)
Maialino (New York, New York)
Marea (New York, New York)
Mercer Kitchen (New York, New York)
Narcissa (New York, New York)
Osteria Morini (New York, New York)
Otto (New York, New York)
Rotisserie Georgette (New York, New York)
Rye (Leawood, Kansas)
Sushi Dojo (New York, New York)
Toki Underground (Washington, D.C.)
Tupelo Honey Café (Knoxville, Tennessee)

JUNE

Accurso’s (Kansas City, Missouri)
American Restaurant, The (Kansas City, Missouri) (once, twice, thrice)
Arthur Bryant’s BBQ (Kansas City, Missouri)
Atera (New York, New York)
Barbuto (New York, New York)
Bâtard (New York, New York)
Blaue Gans (New York, New York)
Bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri) (once, twice, thrice, four times)
Bluestone Lane (New York, New York) (once, twice, thrice)
Cull & Pistol (New York, New York)
Daniel (New York, New York)
Danny Edward’s BBQ (Kansas City, Missouri)
Empire Diner (New York, New York)
Fiorella’s Jack Stack (Martin City, Missouri)
Fung Tu (New York, New York)
Gates Bar-B-Q (Kansas City, Missouri)
Genessee Royale (Kansas City, Missouri)
Gramercy Tavern (New York, New York)
Happy Gills Café & Hangout (Kansas City, Missouri)
Johnny Jo’s Pizzeria (Kansas City, Missouri)
Morandi (New York, New York)
NoMad (New York, New York)
Novel (Kansas City, Missouri)
Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue (Kansas City, Kansas)
Papa Bob’s (Kansas City, Kansas)
Port Fonda (Kansas City, Missouri) (once, twice)
Q39 (Kansas City, Missouri)
Quick’s BBQ (Merriam, Kansas)
Rye (Leawood, Kansas) (once, twice, thrice)
Smokin’ Guns (North Kansas City, Missouri)
Snead’s BBQ (Belton, Missouri)
Spotted Pig, The (New York, New York) (once, twice)

JULY

American Restaurant, The (Kansas City, Missouri)
Boulevard (San Francisco, California)
Coqueta (San Francisco, California)
Delfina Pizzeria (San Francisco, California)
El Pollo Rey (Kansas City, Kansas)
Hai Ky Mi Gia (San Francisco, California)
Hamano Sushi (San Francisco, California)
Happy Gillis Café & Hangout (Kansas City, Missouri)
Monsieur Benjamin (San Francisco, California)
Outerlands (San Francisco, California)
Pizza Bella (Kansas City, Missouri)
Saison (San Francisco, California)
Tosca Café (San Francisco, California)
Town Topic (Kansas City, Missouri)

AUGUST

Aberdeen Social (Hong Kong)
American Restaurant, The (Kansas City, Missouri)
Australian Dairy Co. (Hong Kong)
Bibo (Hong Kong)
Bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri)
Bo Innovation (Hong Kong)
Café Sebastienne (Kansas City, Missouri)
Crystal Jade (Hong Kong)
Duddell’s (Hong Kong)
Four Seasons Pizza (Lenexa, Kansas)
Happy Gillis Café & Hangout (Kansas City, Missouri)
Kam’s Goose (Hong Kong)
Kau Kee (Hong Kong)
Kwan Kee Bamboo Noodle House (Hong Kong)
L2O (Chicago, Illinois)
Little Goat (Chicago, Illinois)
M&C Duck (Hong Kong)
Mak’s Noodle (Hong Kong)
Mott32 (Hong Kong)
Next: Modern Chinese (Chicago, Illinois)
Port Fonda (Kansas City, Missouri)
Ronin (Hong Kong)
Rye (Kansas City, Missouri)
Sing Kee (Hong Kong)
Tim Ho Wan (Hong Kong)
Yan Toh Heen (Hong Kong)

SEPTEMBER

Amass (Copenhagen, Denmark)
American Restaurant, The (Kansas City, Missouri)
Atelier September (Copenhagen, Denmark) (once, twice)
Atsushi Tanaka (Paris, France)
Bella Napoli (Kansas City, Missouri)
Bestia (Los Angeles, California)
Boulette’s Larder (San Francisco, California)
Chez Panisse (Berkeley, California)
Christianshøj Kro (Bornholm, Denmark)
Eggslut (Los Angeles, California)
Froggy’s Tavern (Montreuil-sur-Mer, France)
Gates Bar-B-Q (Kansas City, Missouri)
Genessee Royale (Kansas City, Missouri)
Geranium (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Huge Tree (Monterey Park, California)
Hungry Cat (Hollywood, California)
Kadeau (Bornholm, Denmark)
La Grenouillère (La Madeleine-sous-Montreuil, France) (dinner and breakfast)
L’As du Falafel (Paris, France)
LC’s Bar-B-Q (Kansas City, Missouri)
Les Clos (San Francisco, California)
Lysverket (Bergen, Norway) (once and Friends of Lysverket)
Manfreds & Vin (Copenhagen, Denmark)
MASH (Copenhagen, Denmark)
No. 2 (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Oklahoma Joe’s (Kansas City, Kansas)
Pabu (San Francisco, California)
Pizzeria Mozza (Los Angeles, California)
Rustic Canyon (Santa Monica, California)
Saison (San Francisco, California)
Salazar (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Schønneman (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Son of a Gun (Los Angeles, California)
Studio (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Superba Snack Bar (Los Angeles, California)
Z&Y (San Francisco, California)

OCTOBER

American Restaurant, The (Kansas City, Missouri)
Aubergine (Carmel-By-The-Sea, California)
Bachelor Farmer Sausage Stand, The (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Bento Naru (San Mateo, California)
Bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri)
Casa Mono (New York, New York) (once, twice)
Connie & Ted’s (Los Angeles, California)
Copper Onion (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Duarte’s Tavern (Pescadero, California)
Eddy, The (New York, New York)
FT33 (Dallas, Texas)
Fundamental L.A. (Los Angeles, California)
GT Fish & Oyster (Chicago, Illinois)
Happy Gillis Café & Hangout (Kansas City, Missouri)
Hog Island Oyster Co. (San Francisco, California)
Hub 51 (Chicago, Illinois)
Gjelina (Venice, California)
J&G Grill at the St. Regis (Park City, Utah)
Lockhart Smokehouse (Dallas, Texas)
Maison Premier (New York, New York)
Mansion on Turtle Creek, The (Dallas, Texas)
Modern, The (New York, New York)
Pecan Lodge (Dallas, Texas)
Pequod’s (Chicago, Illinois)
Providence (Los Angeles)
Quince (San Francisco, California)
Russ & Daughters Café (New York, New York)
Sixteen (Chicago, Illinois)
Superba Food + Bread (Los Angeles, California) (once, twice)
Tei An (Dallas, Texas)
Union Square Café (New York, New York)

NOVEMBER

All Good Café (Dallas, Texas)
American Restaurant, The (Kansas City, Missouri)
Bacchanalia (Atlanta, Georgia)
Bakfickan (Stockholm, Sweden)
Boulevardier (Dallas, Texas)
Brasserie Zentral (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Cakes & Ale (Decatur, Georgia)
Ekstedt (Stockholm, Sweden)
Frantzén (Stockholm, Sweden)
General Muir, The (Atlanta, Georgia)
Hedone (London, The United Kingdom)
Lysverket (Bergen, Norway) (once, twice, and Friends of Lysverket)
Mansion on Turtle Creek, The (Dallas, Texas) (Truffles & Bubbles)
Miller Union (Atlanta, Georgia)
Oaxen Krog (Stockholm, Sweden)
Port Fonda (Kansas City, Missouri)
Restaurant Eugene (Atlanta, Georgia)
Rolfs Kök (Stockholm, Sweden)
Sportsman, The (Seasalter, The United Kingdom)
Star Provisions (Atlanta, Georgia)

DECEMBER

Archetype (St. Helena, California)
Bar Tartine (San Francisco, California)
Bouchon (Yountville, California) (once, twice)
Chez Panisse Café (Berkeley, California)
Flour + Water (San Francisco, California)
Fox and the Farmer, The (St. Helena, California)
Fremont Diner, The (Sonoma County, California) (once, twice)
Glen Ellen Star (Glen Ellen, California) (once, twice)
Gott’s Roadside (St. Helena, California) (once, twice)
Great China (Berkeley, California)
Hawker Fare (Oakland, California)
Hog Island Oyster Co. (Marshall, California)
Izakaya Rintaro (San Francisco, California)
Izakaya Yuzuki (San Francisco, California)
La Taberna (Napa, California)
Les Clos (San Francisco, California)
Press (St. Helena, California)
Redd Wood (Yountville, California)
Restaurant at Meadowood, The (St. Helena, California)
Restaurant at Meadowood, The (Twelve Days of Christmas: Orlando, Castranovo & Falcinelli, Desramaults, Gauthier, Wetzel, McFadden, Martinez, Achatz, Lee, Holmboe Bang, Mattos, and Kostow)
Rye (Leawood, Kansas)
State Bird Provisions (San Francisco, California)
Tosca Café (San Francisco, California)

~

* Serendipitously, a friend of mine had just finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” and gave it to me. The writing was painfully elementary (I flipped through the entire thing in a day and a half), but her message was a good one: know your worth, and don’t settle for less. On this same subject, another friend made a strikingly simple but profound comment to me: “It’s not your dream job if it doesn’t pay you what you think you’re worth.”

** Michelin stars are counted according to the number of stars the restaurant had at the time I dined there.  So, for example, I dined at Saison a few times before it received its third Michelin star in November, and therefore counted it as a two Michelin-starred restaurant for this list.

PHOTOS: A lonely silhouette against the jagged Marin Headlands taking a photo of the great Golden Gate Bridge; San Francisco, California; looking towards H. Dana Bowers viewing platform from the Golden Gate Bridge; San Francisco, California; Paul Qui waving and Deana Saukam rushing by in an underground tunnel in Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong; Jon Bonné and Eric Asimov discuss wine at the Wine Writers Symposium at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, St. Helena, California; a tornado of Sardines at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California; rowers revel under the cherry blossoms in Chidorigafuchi Park in Tokyo, Japan; the table setting at The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee; a view of Victoria Harbor from Victoria Peak in Hong Kong; night in Bergen, Norway; a night-time ping pong match in a park in Copenhagen, Denmark; a row of palms in Venice Beach, California; a lone cyclist crosses a bridge in Paris, France; in a light rain, they listen to Holly Williams play at Music To Your Mouth, Moreland Landing, Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina; chefs Gavin Kaysen, Stephanie Prida, Gerard Craft, Colby Garrelts, Jonathan Justus, and Ryan Sciara at this year’s Harvesters Chefs Classic at The American Restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri; and the royal palace in Stockholm, Sweden.

~ by ulterior epicure on January 2, 2015.

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