January 1, 2014

My favorite bites of 2013

With our new baby, work, and life in general, the amount of time I spend on this blog has dwindled dramatically. But the year end "best bites" list is a must do, and LaV has been reminding me of the need to put up a post today, so without further ado...

Fried butter chicken wings at Hue Ky Mi Gia. Wow, how did it take us six years to find this place randomly? A great stop for hot noodle soups on a cold day, but the eye-opener on their menu is their chicken wing "appetizer"--the best rendition of garlic fried wings I can recall. Probably super bad for you, but so worth it.

Soop naw mai at Little Serow. I waited for a year to finally have an opportunity to go to Little Serow in D.C., and this gem of a restaurant beat my taste buds into a pulp--in a good way--with crazy flavor intensity and heat. This was a dish of grilled bamboo and barely cooked shrimp. Smoky char paired with the gentle sweetness of perfectly cooked, nearly raw, pristine shrimp. I want to cook like this.

Banh cuon at Ba Bar. I don't think Ba Bar gets enough credit for their food. I've never had a disappointing meal there, and the prices are fairly reasonable for the quality. On the weekends, our absolute favorite is their banh cuon, made to order by Mr. Chau to give the meltingly fresh rice crepes just the right texture. A real treasure.

Kamut at Sitka and Spruce. Just like the old days, S&S introduced me to an ancient grain I'd never heard of. Whidbey kamut, celeriac, chanterelles, cranberries and tahini... a combination I would never have imagined, but one that worked in perfect balance of savory, nutty, earthy and sweet.

LaV's mom's beef noodle soup. We received so much support by family and friends when N was born, but nothing quite matches mom's cooking. And among the countless dishes made by our mothers over the weeks they stayed with us, I was most astounded by Lily's beef noodle soup. It's a simple dish that is hard to master--getting the right intensity of beef flavor is elusive, and many well-regarded restaurants try to do this dish unsuccessfully. This was a righteous bowl of beef essence, super nutritious and incredibly restorative.

Tomato sauce from the garden. We had an unbelievably long, glorious summer in Seattle this year, and the garden went absolutely nuts. By late August, as I was taking down the summer vines, I was still able to harvest 10.5 lbs of perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes... which I proceeded to make into the sweetest, brightest, concentrated pasta sauce. Wafty undertones of strawberries and tropical fruits, just a little went a long way. We'll repeat this.

Bone marrow fritter at Madison Park Conservatory. This was our first "date night" after N was born, and we spent a couple of hours on a beautiful summer evening on the patio at MPC. These fritters, served with a salad, were simply stunning. A crispy seasoned shell of thin, fried batter encasing a knob of marrow, which turned into molten fatty goodness during the frying process. The gush of richness at the first bite was everything I hoped it would be. Sadly, I tried this dish again on a subsequent visit, and it was not executed successfully at all. But for the magnificence of the well-made version, it makes my list.

Tripe and bone marrow at Spinasse. This one is a sentimental, but totally worthy, pick. We brought baby N to Spinasse with our friends Dawn and Andrew, and N got to meet the crew for the first time. Jason Stratton was the first person to make a version of tripe that I adored, but it is rarely on the menu these days (usually it's served in some form next door at Artusi). But, with the luck of the evening, tripe was one of the specials--over the top with lobes of melting bone marrow to make an intensely rich dish even richer. Nothing like tripe done this way.

Crispy rice noodles at Big Trouble in Little Uncle. Legit pop-up restaurant? Check. Chef formerly of Spinasse? Check. Awesome Hong Kong street food? Check. Crispy fried rice noodle goodness. That's it, but that's all it needs to be.

Córdoba cocktail at Aragona [alas, no photo to share]. Ever since my favorite bartender left Seattle for New Zealand a few years ago, I've been unable to settle on a go-to bar in Seattle for craft cocktails. Until now. After trying the Córdoba, I realized how truly long it had been since I'd had a cocktail crafted with such precision. Everything about this drink works in absolute harmony. This is going to be a great place to spend a lot of time.

Honorable mentions: The entire fantastic tasting menu at Providence, Poutine with pho gravy at Ba Bar, Huitlacoche and squash blossom quesadillas at the Banyan Tree, Sev puri at Vik's, Xuxos at Aragona, 2001 Revana, fresh oysters in Whistler

1 comment:

  1. even with the baby, we've managed to have some good eats this year! thanks for the trip down memory lane!

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