During the course of 2010 we've all had the opportunity to eat a lot of good food. And not just in restaurants, but at farmers' markets, in cars, and even on the side of the road. Musing over it all and narrowing things down to the absolute best was difficult, but after much deliberation, each member of The Daily Meal's editorial team named their five favorite picks for the year.
- Lunch of potted shrimp, West Mersea native oysters, Cornish slip soles with soft herring roe, at J. Sheekey in London (photo courtesy, Flickr/Kake Pugh).
- Gratin of cardoons from the garden in a fonduta of Beaufort cheese and crème fraîche, with white truffles very generously shaved on top, cooked by Jonathan Waxman and Jimmy Bradley at our friend Craig's house, Menthon-Saint-Bernard (Lake Annecy) in France.
- Grilled confit pig's ear with black-eyed peas at Hotel Empordà in Figueres, Spain.
- The Piggie burger with pulled pork and jalapeño mayonnaise at DBGB in New York City.
- Fried okra and Serrano chiles with homemade chorizo and homemade requesón on non-homemade flour tortillas at my house in Riverside, Connecticut.
- Wave Hill Bread, hot out of the oven, in the car with two drooling labs (yes, all three of us ate some!) in the dead of winter. Even better dipped in some full-flavored olive oil and a couple of flakes of Maldon salt.
- An amazing dinner of grilled fresh harpooned swordfish, fresh steamed corn from Walker's, and a salad of home grown herbs and lettuces I made this summer in Rhode Island.
- Peaches from the North Berkeley Farmers Market in mid-September paired with Ici's rum cinnamon candied almond ice cream (photo courtesy, Flickr/I Nancy)
- GROM's dark hot chocolate. Oh wow...
- Home Restaurant's short ribs...and onion rings.
A five-best list for dishes not including New York City:
- A lobster roll at Red's in Wiscasset, ME, as part of a lobster roll quest (photo courtesy, Arthur Bovino).
- A White House Special waiting for me in Atlantic City to kick off a friend's bachelor party.
- Pork belly and pig's ear with melon at Lola in Cleveland.
- Fajitas at Lupe Tortilla in Houston.
- In-N-Out burger, animal-style in L.A.
- Dinner at Cal Pep in Barcelona. No menus, bar seating only, they asked: "meat, seafood, or vegetable?" I said, "all of the above." It was like a multi-course culinary roller coaster.
- Sizzling Beef Fajitas at Lupe Tortilla in Houston. Going to Lupe's for fajitas has been a 23-year tradition in my family.
- Chicken Biscuit from Pies 'n' Thighs in Brooklyn. Biscuit. Fried Chicken. Hot Sauce. Butter.
- The Best Chocolate Cake in the World (photo courtesy, Arthur Bovino).
- Fried Oyster Roll at Pearl Oyster Bar in New York. A new discovery at my favorite restaurant in the city.
- A lobster Fra Diablo that I made with my dad this summer using one of his homegrown jalapeños that was insanely hot.
- The rib eye for two special at Locanda Verde.
- Gariguette strawberries in France: Sweet, slender and unlike anything I've had in the US. I ate them on the beach in Biarritz while drinking wine and eating the cheese below—a great day (photo courtesy, Flickr/Blue Celt).
- Ossau Iraty, a cheese made in the French Basque region that just doesn't taste the same when imported to America.
- Fried Chicken at Coop's Place in New Orleans; it comes with a fantastic side of rabbit and sausage jambalaya and is open late night.
- The Lamb Burger at The Breslin.
- Brussels sprouts salad at Traif (photo courtesy, Arthur Bovino).
- Bottega's ricotta gnocchi.
- Tonkatsu at Maisen.
- Huevos Rancheros, “Christmas Style” at The Plaza Café in Santa Fe.
- The oyster and bacon sandwich at Cochon in New Orleans. The oyster pan roast was a close second. I was lucky to get there before the oil spill.
- Torrisi. The prix fixe dinner (starting with the fresh warm mozzarella with garlic bread and then moving into a parade of reinvented New York-Italian classics) has truly been a life-changing experience for me.
- Pluma de Porc at Le Comptoir in Paris. You should have seen their faces when I went for my third order.
- Eataly. One time that stands out above the rest. I was showing the place to a friend, we started with the tomato focaccia at the bakery, then some prime rib from the Rosticceria, we stopped by and saw Dave Pasternack for some salmon roe crostini, and then moved into Manzo, where Mike Toscano was working on a new whole baby pig dish that he served to us.
- Margherita pizza by South Brooklyn Pizza in Manhattan. Giuseppe is the definition of what a great New York pizzaiolo should be (photo courtesy, Arthur Bovino).