Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 In Review: Part 2

Let us continue our review of the best of 2008. In the first part of 2008 In Review, I discussed some of the most important events of the past year for me. Now I want to touch on some smaller events and items, including some of my favorites in certain categories. Part 2 is going to concentrate on food favorites and Part 3, which I will post tomorrow, will concentrate on wine and alcohol favorites.

This is certainly not a complete list. It is more a sampling of memorable matters I have experienced and posted about over the past year.

Favorite Restaurant Expansion: Midwest Grill opened a second location on Rt 1 in Saugus and this was a cause for joy. This Brazilian BBQ all-you-can eat buffet is amazing, and no one will ever leave this place not being full. It is a carnivore's heaven.

Favorite Restaurant for Brunch: The Beehive's brunch impressed me with their diverse selection, delicious food and reasonable prices. Plus, it has a funky vibe with live music. Their grilled short rib and fontina sandwich is superb.

Favorite Local Restaurant: Located in Medford, Bistro 5 is a fine dining destination that should be on everyone's radar. Creative cuisine, with the freshest of ingredients, should tempt any palate. A fun, quirky wine list too.

Favorite Local New Restaurant: Though it has only been opened a short time, Taste of Siam in Stoneham has already garnered my attention. It has excellent Thai food, a diverse menu and very reasonable prices. A family-owned business, they have obviously devoyed much passion into this place and I wish them all the luck.

Favorite Las Vegas Restaurant: Though I had several excellent meals in Vegas, the stand-out had to be Craftsteak. The Kobe Beef tasting menu was sublime, with four different Kobe beef dishes, including an amazing tartare. A great wine list, incredible scotches, and seven different desserts. Pure hedonistic pleasure from start to finish.

Favorite New York Restaurant: Again, another toughie, but Le Bernardin has to take the top ranking. This seafood spectacular is very old school and has exceptional food. The sea urchin risotto just blew me away. Pricey but well worth every dollar.

Favorite Dining Experience: My favorite dining experience was not at a restaurant, but rather at the chef's home. The Chefs Table dinner, hosted by Chef Peter Ungar, was an amazing experience and made me an instant fan. Five courses, six wines, twelve guests, and lots of fun and enjoyment.

Favorite Desserterie: This was an easy choice as the new Le Patissier, located in the Troquet Restaurant in Boston, thoroughly impressed me. Pastry Chef Sarah Woodfine is very talented and is creating some scrumptious desserts, including some superb souffles. I think it is a hidden treasure in Boston and I can't recommend it enough.

Favorite Chocolates: Another easy choice was Chocolee Chocolates, a new chocolate store in the South End. From chocolate-filled beignets to chocolate bark, owner Lee Napoli is creating some rich and amazing chocolate concoctions. My favorite are the salted caramel-filled chocolates which are so addiciting. She keeps expanding her selection so definitely stop by.

Favorite Bacon Item: I am a bacon fanatic and finally got to try the Vosges Bacon Chocolate bar, which has pieces of real bacon in it. I found the combination to be delectable, as the salty bacon enhanced the flavor of the chocolate.

Favorite Cookbook: Chef Tom Colicchio, who also owns Craftsteak, authored the Think Like a Chef cookbook. This book most impressed me because of its philosophy, its desire to teach people how to think like a chef rather than just learn a few recipes. It is a book that should help cooks of any level and is well written too.

Favorite Food & Wine Book: Passion on the Vine by Sergio Esposito, owner of Italian Wine Merchants, was a richly descriptive book of Sergio's travels in Italy. An easy read, it is also very compelling with its descriptions of food and wine. So many fascinating anecodotes, it is highly recommended.

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