What a year for eating. My first bites of the year were in a New Years Day early morning daze at Blue Star Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon (Valrhona Chocolate Crunch was the best amidst stiff competition. These were hands down the best doughnuts of a pretty doughnut-free year). If that’s how a year starts, then the eating surely will continue at a high caliber. Just with less cholesterol.
We’ll break down the trends and analytical stuff in another category this week. This is about those thirteen bites that I still think about and remember almost every detail of. Sure, I could list thirteen bites alone from Pujol or Alma. That wouldn’t be very exiting, would it? Each one of these was an absolute masterpiece that reminded me why dining out can be so special.
Is it happy hour yet?
This is always the most challenging category to narrow down. In essence, this conveys the sterling sips of cocktails, wines, beers, spirits, and coffee-based drinks I had the good fortune to sample. But really, how can you really compare an espresso to a Kyoto-style iced coffee, let alone that espresso to a South African Chenin Blanc? We must take our artistic liberties and run/drink with it.
2013 was certainly the year that wine took center stage in my life, joining the editorial staff of Vino 24/7. At the same time, cocktails were vastly improved in every city I visited and even yours truly has become quite the mixologist at home (that word is “so 2010.”). Craft beer and new distilleries? They didn’t fade at all. It’s just the others really emerged.
Coffee really had its year (see end of year trends later this week) . My daily espresso (or two depending on what city I’m visiting) improved exponentially, including my local café that roasts its own beans and serves them inside a running store (hint hint on the winner for this year’s best espresso winner). If it seems like I’m usually buzzed or very hyper, or both, well…hopefully not, as I do keep that under control! But when we drink, we drink well. Very well. 2014 has stiff competition for a repeat performance. (more…)
Here in California, 70 degrees and sunny doesn’t exactly seem like the white Christmas’ I used to know as a young kid. However, many of the traditions remain regardless of snow levels or kids’ ages. I will always believe in Santa. Cinnamon rolls (Pillsbury in the house!) are served for breakfast, and Beef Wellington for dinner (this year had some issues and the filet mignon was grilled. Hey, it’s always grilling season out here).
The menu Christmas Eve of course included Dungeness crab. It’s not 7 fishes like they’d do in Italy. When you’ve got the best crustacean, you don’t need 6 more. Some fresh-baked baguette (kind of like sourdough, right?) and leftover homemade cheesecake baked for a recent birthday…now that’s a Christmas Eve dinner. And dark chocolate fudge left out for Santa’s early morning snack.
Well, yours truly has been busy working (which explains the clear lack of articles recently), but we’ll slowly work our way through past travels. However, we will immediately get going on the annual year end list of the most memorable bites, sips, experiences, and notes from 2013, with a fearless look ahead at 2014. As well, I’ll unveil my first ever definitive list of the 208 places to eat and drink in the San Francisco Bay Area. Yes, that’s what I’ve been busy doing. No, I wish I could take credit for making this magnificent gingerbread house on display at the Rosewood Sand Hill, a hotel in Menlo Park, CA. That credit goes to pastry chef Melissa Root and her elves. It’s 90 square feet and uses 800 (!) pounds of gingerbread. My house is about as big and not nearly as tasty. A steam engine locomotive even weaves it’s way around the icing mountains.
Thanks for all of your wonderful support and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!!