What were some of my favorite food-related items of the past year?
Let me continue the lists of my best recommendations and favorites of the past year, 2011. Last week, I provided a list of my Favorite Restaurants of 2011 and now I want to address my favorites for other Food-Related Items, from markets to books, from ingredients to bakeries. This is certainly not a complete list but it is more a sampling of memorable matters I have experienced and posted about over the past year.
This is also a purely subjective list, based on my own preferences, and makes no claims about being the "best" of anything. But all of the items here have earned my strong recommendations and I hope you will enjoy them as well. For more food-related items, you can just search my blog posts for the past year.
Favorite New Food Magazine: Chef David Chang's Milk Bar and Ssäm Bar made my list of Favorite Restaurants of 2011, and now his new magazine, Lucky Peach, makes one of my lists too. A quarterly magazine devoted to food, it is eclectic and irreverent, with fascinating articles, essays, recipes, and more. I eagerly devoured the first issue, and then again, the second issue, which was recently released. If you love compelling food writing, then pick up Lucky Peach.
Favorite Meat Cookbook: For carnivore's everywhere, check out The Butcher's Guide to Well Raised Meat by Joshua & Jessica Applestone and Alexandra Zissu. The book is part memoir, history, cookbook, and reference guide, with a mission of promoting local, sustainable meat. You will learn much about the art of butchery, proper cooking techniques, the differences of heritage animals, uses for offal, how to shop, and plenty more. A fascinating reference book, this earns my hearty recommendation.
Favorite Dessert Cookbook: Though released in September 2010, I didn't get a copy of this book until earlier this year. Flour, by local chef Joanne Chang, is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to do some baking. It begins with very useful introductory information about the basics of baking which could benefit anyone, before leading into a diverse variety of recipes from the famed Flour Bakery. I am sure you will find plenty of appealing recipes, for both sweet and savory treats. I highly recommend this book to anyone who intends to do some baking or loves desserts.
Favorite Ethnic Cookbook: Both encyclopedia and cookbook, Flavors of Malaysia by Chef Susheela Raghavan is a comprehensive and intriguing look at Malaysian cuisine. Besides all of the recipes, there is a lengthy history and reference section. There is even a section on how to give a Malaysian flair to other recipes. It is well written, interesting and very informative, one of the best ethnic cookbooks I have seen in a long time and I highly recommend it.
Favorite Food & Travel Book: If you are traveling to Tokyo, or just enjoy Japanese cuisine, then you should read Food Sake Tokyo by Yukari Sakamoto. You'll learn Japanese terminology, sushi etiquette, deciphering a Japanese menu, and much more. And if you are going to Tokyo, you will find plenty of intriguing recommendations for restaurants, food markets, and more. A fascinating book.
Favorite Japanese Cookbook: If you want to learn how to prepare Japanese cuisine, then you will enjoy the lessons found within My Japanese Table by Debra Samuels. There is lots of basic information as well as numerous recipes, from sushi to desserts. There is even a chapter on creating Bento boxes, one of Debra's passions. It is an aesthetically pleasing book too, with plenty of interesting recipes, and home cooks should definitely check it out.
Food Issue of the Year: One of the most important, and sometimes controversial, food issues I addressed this year was seafood sustainability. From the Legal Sea Foods blacklisted dinner to concerns about bycatch of sea mammals, I have covered a number of local seafood issues, delving behind the science and rhetoric. The importance of this matter cannot be underestimated, but it is sometimes difficult to get to the truth behind the issues. I am sure the issue will retain its prominence on my blog next year as well. To read all of my posts on this topic, check out the sustainability tag.
Favorite Food Trade Event: The International Boston Seafood Show (IBSS) is a massive trade event, a showcase for purveyors of seafood, as well as related vendors. You'll find tons of free seafood samples and learn much, from sustainability to cooking. It is an engaging event and I wrote several posts about the show, including: Ten Things You Should Know, Five More Things You Should Know, The Key to Sustainability and Food of Interest. I was also quite pleased that I won iPura's First Annual Tweet & Blogfest for my coverage of the show. I am looking forward to defending my title, which I call the Fish Head Whisperer, at the IBSS next year too and highly recommend all food bloggers attend as well. I welcome the competition.
Favorite Cheese: I was fortunate to taste a new cheese coming to the U.S., the Gligora Dairy Paški Sir, a Croatian cheese made from ewe's milk. It smells of grass and herbs and the taste is complex, with a tasty melange of herbal flavors, a mild creaminess and hints of salt. The cheese has a cool story behind it as well, and any cheese lover should try to find this new and exciting cheese.
Favorite Frozen Food: Though it may not be as good as fresh made, sometimes frozen foods actually deliver well on flavor. Maristella's Fine Foods Seafood Pot Pies were delicious, and someone might not even realize they were frozen. With intriguing flavor combinations like Lobster with Saffron Scented Creamed Corn and Wild Alaskan Salmon with Horseradish & Chipotle, the pastry was flaky and contained plenty of seafood. If you need a quick fix for dinner, give these a try.
Favorite Use of Fruit: While dining at Miho Izakaya, in Portland, Oregon, one of the dishes was Wasabi Watermelon, and though simple, it was impressive. Watermelon cubes, soaked in a wasabi sauce, and sprinkled with black sesame seeds. The juicy watermelon had a slight spicy kick which paired well to the sweetness of the fruit. Can't wait to make this next summer.
Favorite Chocolate: I feel that salty foods and chocolate make a great pairing, which is one of the reasons I enjoy bacon & chocolate. While in Portland, Oregon, I found the Xocolatl de David Chocolate Bar with Parmigiano Reggiano, and this was an excellent combination, the saltiness of the cheeses working well with the sweet chocolate. I can easily see other similar cheeses working well too with chocolate.
Favorite Local Ice Cream: Alcohol in ice cream does not always work out, but there are exceptions. J.P. Licks makes a Wild Turkey Bourbon Ice Cream, a smooth and creamy frozen treat with just enough bourbon flavor to delight. Let your children enjoy vanilla and chocolate while you savor this more adult dessert.
Favorite Cookies: Gluten free cookies never tasted so good. Miss Maura's Delectable Delights produces a full line of cakes, cookies and pastries, including numerous gluten free delights. The Lime in the Coconut cookie was especially tasty, and it had a very homemade feel to it. The cookies are pricey, but you do get a high quality product.
Favorite Portland Food Stops: While visiting Portland, Oregon, I found several cool food markets, bakeries, donut shops and more. For creative ice cream, check out the newly opened Salt & Straw, where I especially enjoyed their Pear With Blue Cheese ice cream. For a wide assortment of salts, artisan chocolates, wines and more, venture to The Meadow. And you can find a compilation post, discussing some excellent places to get donuts, cupcakes, and pie.
Favorite New NYC Food Market: An Italian mecca in New York City, Eataly addresses all of your needs, from cookbooks to fresh fish, from cheese to fresh pasta. You can shop for all your home cooking needs, or dine at their numerous restaurants. Where else will you find a vegetarian butcher? There is little Italian you won't find here, but because of its huge popularity, it might be easier to venture there during off hours.
Favorite Toronto Food Stops: In the Distillery District, you will find an excellent bakery, the Brick Street Bakery, as well as a superb chocolate shop, SOMA Chocolate. If you travel to Yonge Street, you will find the interesting Cookbook Store, a place to find all of your food books needs, including some Canadian books that are not available in the U.S.
What were some of your favorite food-related items this year?