Adam’s Top Ten Eats of the Year
It’s been a great year of grubbing for me. Whether it be in my own unique creations or the pleasures of a simple bag of chips, I’ve left no stone unturned when it comes to things I’m willing to chow down on. It would be impossible to make a coherent list of all my favorite snacks or eats from the past year, but in honor of the New Year, I thought a quick recap of the ten best items I had eating out was in order. Some I reviewed or posted here, but others I’ve never before shared. Whether sweet or savory, healthy or decadent, the following items caught my attention and endeared themselves to my stomach to such an extent that I just can’t wrap up 2010 without paying them homage.
10) Peppercorn Turkey Sandwich (Bistro Blanc, Glenelg, MD): The countdown gets started with a sandwich I tried on Christmas Eve. Decadently melted brie cheese pairs expertly with thin slices of crispy apple and sprouts atop some of the most flavorful and turkey breast meat I’ve ever tasted, with the sweet and savory flavors mingling perfectly with a flaky, buttery croissant. The turkey is thick cut and juicy, with the skin shavings – heavily seasoned with pepper – amazingly flavorful. This was the first sandwich I can ever recall having on a croissant, and it came together perfectly. Bistro Blanc does not wrong by offering a bowl of fruit as a side, which, amazingly enough, included a fresh fig! Not bad for $9.00, especially in one of suburban Baltimore’s most foodie-friendly destinations.
9) Chicken Biscuit (Chick-fil-A, Logan, UT): Yes, gawk at my half eaten chicken biscuit in all it’s glory, and don’t let me hear any complaints about posting pictures of half-eaten food. After surviving a sleepless night in a frigid Utah November, this was my first solid food in the 24 hour marathon of the “First 100” at Chick-fil-A Logan’s grand opening. I ate this biscuit after having been up for some 26 hours, and it was the first time which I ever experienced the simple goodness of a buttered biscuit with Chick-fil-A’s signature breast. Little did I know I was in for another 26 hours of being awake…
8) Sugar Spiced Pork Baguette (Elements, Logan, UT): I proclaimed it the “Best Sandwich Ever” when I sampled it in February, and 10 months later I’m still not convinced it isn’t. Never has pork loin been used in a more flavorful way. The crispy French baguette will make any bread lover jealous.
7) Sweet Potato Fries (Devils Backbone Brewing Co., Roseland, VA): Ordering sweet potato fries is a prerequisite for me at any restaurant which offers them, but lately I’ve been coming up disappointed with most I’ve tried. Maybe it’s because they just can’t match up to the fries at this upscale Brewpub in Virginia Wine country. Perfectly crisp on the outside and sweet on the inside, they may have lacked the puffiness of a normal fry on the interior, but they managed to be fully cooked without being soggy or burnt. Extra points for toned back seasoning and exquisite natural flavor.
6) Pumpkin Pie Milkshake (Arctic Circle, Logan UT): Thick, creamy and super sweet, this milkshake went over the top of the rim at the famous Utah fast food chain, and I enjoyed each and every one of the them (yes, their were multiple milkshake runs.) Nothing like soft serve ice cream from and made to order status, especially when it’s to the tune of my favorite seasonal flavor.
5) Seared Ahi Tuna appetizer (800 Maple, Buffalo NY): Pretty much any nice restaurant will offer a take on the distinctive starter, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never met a rare piece of sesame seed encrusted Ahi that I haven’t enjoyed. But when you throw in a one of the most flavorful glazes I’ve ever had (A Wasabi-ginger glaze) and adore the meaty fish with a generous helping of buttery caviar, we’re talking a small plate execution at its finest. It was a good thing too: most of 800 Maple’s entrees are in the $30-50 range, so I had to limit myself on this trip.
4) Naked Kobe Beef Burger (ACME Burger Co., Salt Lake City UT): Perhaps the best “plain” hamburger I’ve ever had. Juicy, earthy and sweet, it’s a meat eater’s dream come true at one of SLC’s more trendy burger hangouts. I totally dug the sweet potato bun too.
3) Prosciutto Wrapped Figs (The Copper Mine Bistro, Wintergreen, VA): I consider this one of my first forays into the complex and flavorful world that comes when you combine extremely high quality ingredients that marry the sensations of richness, umami, saltiness, sweet, and tartness. The crisp pancetta provided a meaty and salty counterpoint to the caramelized fig, which brimmed with a unique sweetness that was only bolstered by the absorption of the rendered fat. I credit this dish with kicking off a fig obsession which has led the distinctive (and very expensive, may I add) fruit to the top of my favorite foods list.
2) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream Cone (Aggie Ice Cream, Logan UT): This is the ice cream cone which tempts me to intentionally fail my final semester of college and risk a lifetime of obesity. ‘Nuff said.
1) Double Double Animal Style (In-N-Out, Centerville, UT): It’s been a year of stunning contrasts for me in my eating style. From simple fast food items that scream horrible-for-me, to artisan prepared small plates at restaurants which push the acceptability of my college student budget, I’ve enjoyed trying new things and, in the cases in which I’ve really liked something, completely stuffing my face. Thus, it should come to no surprise that this was #1 on my list. Not only did my In-n-Out experience at 1 a.m. the morning after a double overtime Utah Jazz win in contain so many “X factors of taste”, but it was literally the BEST cheeseburger I have ever had in my life. And this is coming from a guy who usually avoids “special sauce” (aka fry sauce aka Thousand Islands Dressing) like the plague. While I love variety, I could totally see myself eating this burger for every meal for the rest of my life and being completely content.
Here’s to more great eats in 2011 and a Happy New Year!