Both in terms of travel and incredible food experiences, 2016 was a standout. In no particular order, here are the most memorable dishes I enjoyed:
- Kansas Citians were lucky that Bob Shin and his family came back to the area to open Bob Wasabi on 39th St. His spicy fish bowl is, hands down, my favorite dish ever at a sushi restaurant, combining my love of sushi with my love of heat and spice. I love the contrast of the cucumber and lettuce crunch against the softness of the fresh fish. I can’t have a meal there without ordering it. Did I mention the stunning visual of it?
- Chef Michael Corvino has left the American, but on the menu and at a ShuttleCork auction dinner last spring, he prepared salmon with burnt lettuce, bonito and tofu. The fish practically melted in my mouth, and the flavors and the textures of the dish were amazing. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but I’m hoping he’ll serve something similar at his new restaurant, Corvino Supper Club and Tasting Room, so I can taste it…and photograph it…again.
- The Blvd Tavern changes its menu seasonally, but last summer Chef Nacey wowed me with he grilled spanish octopus, patatas bravas, green olive, pickled celery, and charred spring onion. The octopus was cooked perfectly and always love potatoes with romesco. I didn’t know before I took my first bite that I also love octopus with romesco sauce.
- When in St. Louis last spring, I went to the new restaurant in the venerable Cheshire Inn called the Boundary. One of the appetizers layered Brussel sprouts, stracciatella, local honey and walnuts on toast. Simple, but one of those V-8 moments, where I wondered why I had never thought to create that myself.
- Early in the year I went to a pop-up at Blvd Tavern in which Nick Goellner, his wife, Leslie, and a chef from St. Louis collaborated to serve an incredibly creative, delicious multi-course dinner. My favorite dish of the night was roasted duck with flatbread, grilled romaine and fermented honey, served family style. The Goellners have since gone on to open their own restaurant, the Antler Room, and I’ve had a similar dish there, made with roasted lamb, though I’m told the duck will be making a reappearance.
- At a ShuttleCork auction dinner in the Cloister room of the Nelson-Atkins museum, Justin Cogley flew in to prepare an incredible meal for 20 happy guests. While each course was lovely, the Japanese ribeye really shined. For someone who doesn’t eat much red meat, it a revelation.
- While in Napa last spring, I attended a Napa Auction Valley auction dinner at Dana Estates, with Chef Gary Danko of San Francisco in the kitchen. The lobster with potato puree was pure luxury, as was the setting.
- I was also very lucky during that same trip to be treated to an incredible meal at the French Laundry in Yountville. While each dish was a showstopper, the sweet crab with caramelized sunchoke puree was my favorite. I savored every bite.
- On the other coast, I enjoyed a tuna pizza at the Mark restaurant in NYC. Tuna, chewy flatbread and wasabi in every bite, how great is that?
- As I wind down this ridiculously embarrassing list of riches, I thought I should end with the most unusual dish I ate this year. It has to be the squid, spinach and foie gras with squid ink sauce that I ate at the Clown Bar in Paris. And considering that I’m not a huge foie gras fan, I was surprised how much I loved it.
Here’s to more happy eating in 2017!