Favorite dishes of 2016

I started with more than 60 and have narrowed it down as much as possible. In no particular order here are my top dishes of 2016, whatever ‘top’ means on any such lists. Largely these dishes are not representative of my favorite meals of 2016 and many are from what I would consider casual restaurants. They may not all be the best dishes technically but are the dishes that I could eat every day and often have cravings for. In the interest of fairness of I have disqualified the Au Cheval burger, the Humm Dog, Black Truffle Explosion, and Oysters & Pearls as well as all bread courses.

balsamic, truffle, artichoke
Luskus with Kitchen Table @ Bubbledogs
New York

osetra – plantain, papaya, rum

elvis tartine
Eating House

beef crudo
Momofuku Nishi
New York

farm egg baked in celery cream
Miller Union

foie gras and truffle macaroon
Osteria Francescana

sheep’s milk gnocchi
Jockey Hollow
Morristown, NJ

passionfruit semifreddo
Contra @ Gramercy Tavern
New York

carolina gold rice

Xiao Bao Biscuit

snap pea sushi
New York
pike quenelle

nam tok beans
Kin Khao
San Francisco

spicy tuna toast
New York

ko egg
Momofuku Ko
New York

general tso fried chicken
Chaan Teng
New York

Modena, Italy – 4/21/16 – Osteria Francescana

I admittedly had been waiting to finish this post thinking that maybe Osteria Francescana would move up to #1 on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for 2016.  A huge congratulations!  And this was clearly the best reservation I made in 2016.  I thought Osteria Francescana would be on my bucket list forever but the stars aligned during a week in Florence and a very trusting friend didn’t ask questions and just went along with my dining plans.  Perhaps it was the long drive, or having to park outside of the city walls and walk to the restaurant, but I think I arrived more excited with anticipation than I have been in a long time.  The night before we debated the two menu options online but were thrilled to find a third option which combined the best of both.  The beverage pairings included my favorite cocktail of the year thus far and I’m still trying to track down all of the ingredients.  It was also by far the most memorable pairing I’ve ever had.  I loved so many of these dishes especially because of the quirky names and the stories behind them and because Massimo Bottura’s personality just seals the whole meal.  That and those foie truffle macaroons.

Misery and Nobility

Lentils are better than caviar

Mackerel, suckling pig and saffron

Gnocchi as tzatziki salad

Mediterranean en papillons

Autumn in New York

Five ages of Parmigiano Reggiano in different textures and temperatures

The crunchy part of the lasagna

This little piggy went to the marker

Croccantino of foie gras

Caesar salad in bloom

Oops! I dropped the lemon tart

Castellina in Chianti, Siena, IT – 4/20/16 – Querceto di Castellina

The setting of Querceto di Castellina is exactly what one imagines Tuscany to look and feel like.  After a tour of the property we enjoyed this fantastic lunch and tasting on the porch with an absolutely beautiful view.  Perhaps it was somewhat influenced by the setting, but the lasagna was absolutely perfect, as was the rest of our meal but that lasagna I’m still thinking about weeks later.  And as chianti seems best paired with food, this was an even better tasting experience than just drinking chianti alone.  A big thank you to Mary for being such a wonderful hostess and you are very lucky that your future mother-in-law is such an amazing cook.  I only wish we had taken more rose with us as it did not last very long!  Such a absolutely memorable day.

Panzano in Chianti – 4/19/16 – Officina Della Bistecca

I really never thought I would ever make it to the very tiny town of Panzano in Chianti to visit Officina della Bistecca. I have been lucky enough to attend a few events in NYC with Dario Cecchini and had always hoped to make it here, but it just always seemed too far out of the way. Luckily the stars aligned and I found myself here for perhaps the most fun lunch I have ever experienced. I believe I am missing photos of a few courses although the photos do not do this justice in the same way that some of the best bands live do not sound nearly as good recorded. As expected the meat was fantastic and for the first time since arriving in Tuscany several days earlier I came to appreciate Chianti. And if there were no witnesses I would have finished the entire olive oil cake.

Beef tartar
Seared rump carpaccio
Bone-in rib eye or strip steak
Panzanese steak
T-bone or Porterhouse steak
Garden vegetables
special salt
Tuscan beans with evoo
baked potatoes
Chianti “butter”
Tuscan bread
Vittorio’s wine
Evoo cake
(Approximate names as the cuts are particular to Tuscany)