rest of the best of 2013…

Wild King Salmon Belly

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Here are ten more dishes from 2013 that I couldn’t leave without mentioning.  At the bottom of this post, you’ll  find a link that will return you to the “best dishes of 2013” post.

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26. IBERIAN PORK JOWL
Marinated in achiote, with beans, pickled onions,
radishes, and radish sprouts.
(Quintonil; Mexico City, Mexico)

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27. LIVORNO-STYLE CACCIUCCO
(Mark Ladner presenting at the Twelve Days of Christmas;
Restaurant at Meadowood; St, Helena, California)

An excerpt from my report on this dinner: “[At Del Posto], They marry their form of culinary anthropology with comfort and deliciousness in dishes like cacciucco – a seafood stew, most well-known from Livorno on the Western coast of Italy – which is usually on the menu at Del Posto.  Traditionally, it contains five types of seafood.  Last night, on the eighth night of the Twelve Days of Christmas at The Restaurant at Meadowood, [chef Mark] Ladner served his version of cacciucco, which included clams, mussels, shrimp, and bay scallops, all of which were veiled under a tissue-thin sheet of raw, salted cod that went melty and limp like lardo when the hot, tomato-based broth was poured over it table-side.  It was, perhaps, my favorite dish from this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas dinner series thus far.”

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28. SMOKED TROUT
With anise hyssop, and its roe.
(saison; San Francisco, California)

I’ve had this dish over half a dozen times.  I’ve had it with salmon, and I’ve had it with trout. Regardless, every time I’ve had it, the fish has always been gently smoked until it reached that magical, quivering state between raw and cooked.  But it was at my second meal at saison this year that I found it be exceptionally well-smoked.  The roe (both salmon and trout roe has been used), Joshua Skenes holds in an incredibly clear broth made from seaweed, grilled bones, sake, sea salt and aromatics. The roe essentially marinates, softening the texture of the outer membrane so that they pop with less effort. The texture of these velvety pearls is indescribable. At service, they’re strained from their marinating bath and piled atop a chip made from onions and potatoes.

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29. TERNERA Y SU LECHE
Veal braised in its mother’s milk with burnt milk skin, and alfa alfa.
(Boragó; Santiago, Chile)

I had this dish at Boragó in October, and again at chef Rodolfo Guzman’s dinner at the Twelve Days of Christmas in December.  In its ideal, native form, it paints a picture of the Chilean cow – how it’s reared and raised, and the terroir it inhabits.  It was very un-kosher, but it was very delicious.

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30. WILD KING SALMON BELLY
Horseradish cream, corn fritters, fennel fronds.
(Outerlands; San Francisco, California)

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9th Course: Ossau-Iraty

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31. FALAFEL AND HUMMUS 
(Hummus World; Roslyn, New York)

The grizzly Israeli guy who owns this place is kind of a nut (in a good way).  But his falafels are amazing.  These golden-brown meteors, with a nicely seasoned mix of chickpeas, arrived piping hot on an airy cloud of hummus. I’ve had a lot of falafels and hummus in my life.  But these were in an entirely different stratosphere altogether.

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32. RESERVE CAVIAR
Grilled tomato gelée, preserved corn, okra.
(saison; San Francisco, California)

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33. MILK SKIN CRÊPE
(Nicos; Mexico City, Mexico)

The craftsmanship was exquisite. This was like a millefoglie di lasagna (thousand-layer lasagna), except, instead of pasta, the layers were made out of delicate discs of milk skin. There wasn’t any meat in this casserole, only a creamy, tomato-based sauce.

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34. VEAL SHORT RIB
Celery, foraged mushrooms, blanquette, white truffles.
(Christopher Kostow presenting at the Twelve Days of Christmas;
The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)

Have you ever noticed that celery and white truffles overlap in aroma and flavor?  I hadn’t.  But with this creamy, indulgent veal blanquette, Christopher Kostow helped me connect those two dots.  And for that, I’ll never forget this dish.

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35. OSSAU-IRATY
Ossau-Iraty melted over barley, with white Alba truffles..
(Aubergine; Carmel-By-The-Sea, California)

A small hillock of tender barley; a square kerchief of Ossau-Iraty cheese draped over the grains, melted; and a blizzard of white truffles.  Texture, flavor, aroma; excellent.

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Milk Skin Crêpe Casserole

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CLICK HERE to return to the “best dishes of 2013” post.

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Photos: Wild king salmon belly with horseradish cream, corn fritters, and fennel fronds at Outerlands in San Francisco, California; Ossau-Iraty cheese with barley and white truffles at Aubergine in Carmel-By-The-Sea, California; the milk skin crêpe at Nicos in Mexico City, Mexico.


One Response to “rest of the best of 2013…”

  1. Congratulations on your amazing year, food, photography and friendships!

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