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2013: Year in Review

Happy New Year to all!

Most memorable meals in 2013 (in no particular order):

Blood & Sand (St. Louis) - It was the best meal I had while in St. Louis. It is a private, members only club. I still dream of the truffled tator tots.

Holeman & Finch (Atlanta) – I waited 2.5 hours for a double cheeseburger and it was worth every minute.

Pomodoro (Boston) – We had flawless fried calamari and an outstanding green olive risotto. It’s my new favorite restaurant in the North End.

Vale das Furnas (Azores) – I had many delicious meals during my trip to the Azores, but the cozida (a large pot layered with beef, pork, chicken, blood sausage, chorizo, potatoes, yams, taro, cabbage, kale, onions and garlic cooking in the ground for 7 hours) was the star.

Terra (St. Helena) – 8 courses of deliciousness in a romantic rustic, field stone building. The mushroom soup was like liquid gold and the fish was the silkiest I have ever had.

Honorable Mentions:

Brasserie by Niche (St. Louis) – Nothing innovative or crazy, just a classic French brasserie at it’s best.

Giulia (Cambridge) - I think the food at Giulia was really delicious, but the portions were tiny for the prices. It is a small intimate setting, and if you are tucked away in one of the booths, it could be quite romantic.

O Ya Cuban Café (Malden) – The food was great, the portions were large and the prices are extremely reasonable. The live music was a nice touch. I just wish they served a proper Cuban sandwich at dinner.

Katz’s delicatessen (Manhattan) - There are no words equal to the task of describing this pastrami – tender, succulent, deeply flavored and smoky are inadequate. I want to be buried in a coffin lined with this pastrami, to ensure a happy afterlife.

PB Boulangerie & Bistro (Wellfleet) – I loved my lemon risotto and the Spanish octopus was amazing. It came with large, unapologetic tentacles that looked like something was trying to climb off her plate. The octopus was so tender and smoky.

Flour + Water (San Francisco) – 1 pizza, 7 pastas and 4 people – that is my kind of math.

Kirkland Tap & Trotter (Somerville) – The mussels was excellent and the roasted veal chop was succulent and beyond tender. The chop tasted like bring wrapped in a blanket in front of a roaring fire while snow falls outside, if that had a flavor.

Best Discoveries:

Tacos Especiales plate at Taqueria el Amigo (Waltham) - I got 2 tongue and 2 cheek tacos and they were awesome.

Ramen at YumeWoKatare (Cambridge) – The giant bowl of fatty pork, springy noodles and broth is worth the 40 minute wait.

Ribs at Pappy’s (St. Louis) - They were thick and meaty, with deep smoky flavor, a hint of sweetness from the glaze and a kick of pepper at the end. I dare say these might be the best pork ribs I've ever had.

Hibiscus cherry donuts at Union Square Donuts (Somerville) - a large raised donut that has a light crumb and a pleasing chew. The hibiscus cherry was sweet and tart with just a hint of a floral note.

Pulled pork nachos at Olde Magoun’s Saloon (Somerville) - A mountain of tri-colored corn chips blanketed with melty cheese, salsa, jalapenos, sour cream and layered with a massive quantity of smoked BBQ pork. I ate these every Tuesday during a period of
heartache and I really do believe there was a little bit a healing in every plate.

Nappi Meats & Groceries (Medford) - There is no menu. You just tell the waitress what you want to eat and they make it for you. The homemade pastas are excellent. It is cash only and BYOB.

Lamb bolognese at L’Andana (Burlington) It was meaty, silky, tender and bursting with robust flavor. The cheese fonduta was also delicious.

Brisket at Lester’s BBQ (Burlington) - The brisket was the star of our meal. It was sublime - moist, tender and unctuous.
Roast pork, provolone and broccoli rabe sandwich at Cutty’s (Boston) – It’s a Saturday only –special. I dare say it was superior to Tommy DiNic’s ionic sandwich, as the ingredients were of a higher quality, especially the excellent sesame seed roll from Iggy’s

Macaroons at Bread + Butter (North End) - The macaroons were excellent. The lemon was perfectly tart and the chocolate filling was deeply cocoa flavored. The texture was perfect.

Crispy mussels at Park (Cambridge) – I have never had mussels like this before; they were fried in a light, crispy tempura batter – delicious!

Warm Brussels sprout salad at Redd Wood (Yountville) – The halved sprouts were nestled in a pile of frisee, bacon, apple, and croutons, atop burrata and finished with fried Brussels sprout leaves.

English Muffins at Model Bakery (Napa) - They are extraordinary: light and fluffy inside and a crisp buttery crust on the outside. They are the best English muffins I have ever had.

Biggest disappointments:

Tony’s (St. Louis) - Tony’s is described with terms like “legendary,” “venerated” and “landmark,” They also made Steve wear a loaner blazer. It was expensive and overrated.

Buerre & Sel (Manhattan) – Dorie Greenspan has published almost a dozen dessert cookbooks, including one co-authored with Julia
Child. I expected to be wowed by her cookies, but I walked away thinking that I make a better cookie.

Ramen at Backbar (Somerville) – It is only available from 4-6pm and there is only 10 servings made a day. They shouldn’t bother making 1, much less 10. It was lukewarm, there was insufficient broth and jarred bamboo shoots. Go to YumeWoKatare instead.

Myers + Chang (South End) – I love your desserts, Joanne Chang, but $16 for chow fun noodles and $18 for overcooked salmon? At least the lemon ginger mousse and the coconut cream pie were worth it.

Cronuts at Dominique Ansel (Manhattan) – Was there anything more overhyped in 2013? The pastry was greasy and a little tough – certainly not worth a 4 hour wait.

Retro Burger (Arlington) - My burger cooked was horrid well done, the toppings were sparse and microscopic and the fries were Sysco. I just really want In-N-Out to come to Boston.

Empire State South (Atlanta) – It has some innovative dishes, but also some failures. The price point is high and the service was inconsistent. I love Hugh Acheson so I really wanted to like it, but I didn’t.

Pastalina’s (Medford) – It took more than 2 hours to get dry Italian bread, a salad of iceberg and pale tomatoes and weirdly saccharin marsala sauce. No, thank you.

For 2014:

I went to 8 restaurants on my 2013 list. There have been so many new restaurants; the list is growing out of control.

1. West Bridge
2. Tavern Road
3. Boston Chops
4. Sarma
5. Commonwealth
6. State Park
7. Estelle’s
8. A4 pizza
9. La Lechonera
10. Belly Wine bar
11. China King (for the Peking duck special)
12. 163 Vietnamese Sandwiches
13. Taipei Gourmet
14. Angela’s Café
15. Clio/Uni

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