I’ve never been one to pick favorites. I don’t have a favorite food, a favorite restaurant, or a favorite recipe. Choosing one just seems too hard.
However, over the past 365 days, among all the meals, snacks, desserts and drinks I’ve enjoyed, a few rose to the top. What separates these few from the rest is that they did more than just satisfy a craving — they became memories. Each a unique culinary experience that left a thumbprint on my mind.
Below, in no particular order, are the best things I ate in 2010.
Chef’s Collection — Tru, Chicago
My husband and I dined at Tru to celebrate my 29th birthday. We each enjoyed the Chef’s Collection — 9 courses of pure heaven. It’s difficult to summarize a restaurant that has been so widely praised in the culinary world, but if I had to choose one word to summarize my experience at Tru it would be inspirational. Truly a life-changing culinary adventure that I’m so grateful to have experienced. To view my photoset from Tru, click here.
Grilled Cheese — Sprout, Chicago
Who would have thought that my favorite dish from Top Chef Dale Levitski would be a sandwich? But don’t get it twisted — this is no ordinary sandwich. Aged cheddar, granny smith apples and carmelized onions on a super thin bread, grilled in such a way that the edges of the cheese become crispy. And oddly enough, it’s not even on the menu — it’s the surprise cheese course that accompanies their prix fixe.
Momofuku Signature Ramen — Momofuku Noodle Bar, NYC
There’s ramen and then there’s RAMEN. This is the latter. No other ramen even comes close to David Chang’s Momofuku Signature, complete with pork shoulder, pork belly and a poached egg. Without a doubt, one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The worst part? Momofuku is in NYC and I’m in Chicago. Sigh…
Vanilla Soft Serve with Bariani Olive Oil and Sea Salt — Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, NYC
Who doesn’t love a food truck? Especially one run by two of the nicest guys around who are serving some of the best ice cream around. Thick, creamy, vanilla bean soft serve topped with a healthy glug of olive oil (not extra virgin, mind you) and flakes of sea salt. Sounds so wrong, but it’s so, so right. The perfect blend of sweet and savory, and one of my fondest memories of New York City.
Not the best of the best, but pretty darn close.
- Blackout Doughnut — Doughnut Plant, NYC
- Part and Parcel (drink) — Violet Hour, Chicago
- Pesacdo Tostada — Big Star, Chicago
- Goat Cheese Caramel Cashew Gelato — Black Dog Gelato, Chicago
- Grilled Pork Banh Mi — Nhu-Lan Bakery, Chicago
And just for fun, here’s a list — as pulled from my former blog — of the best things I ate in 2009:
- Short Ribs — Sprout, Chicago
- Smoked Pork Shank Pappardelle with Pears and Mascarpone — Niche, St. Louis
- Entire meal — Burma Superstar, San Francisco
- Burger and Frites — The Girl and the Fig, Sonoma
Here’s to more good eatin’ in 2011! What are some of the best things you ate this year?