Sunday, February 1, 2015

2014 Outstanding Meals

I noticed everyone was compiling end of the year lists for just about everything, so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and compile my list of my most amazing meals of 2014.  I will try to limit the list to meals that I took pictures of, so you don't fall asleep through my detailed descriptions...

One of the best was in France, as I would expect, in Epernay.  This was during the "girls' trip" in May and we were just in the town for the day, mainly for Champagne tasting.   I had to find a place where 8 of us could dine and since it was the guest of honor's actual birthday, I thought it should be at least a little swanky.  La Cave a Champagne kept showing up with positive reviews so that became my first choice.  When we arrived in town it was a beautiful day and we almost chose another place, as the Cave (true to its name) was all indoors and a little on the dark side.  Don't let that sway you!  The food is outstanding.  We all ordered off the prix fixe lunch menu, and for a very reasonable 19 Euros all had 3 courses of amazing food.  Sweetbread and lamb's tongue, beautiful cassoulet, vegetable tians; it was all delicious.  This was my escargot and artichoke heart appetizer -

Another best was on our trip to Buenos Aires.  We were wandering around a neighborhood that was a little touristy when my Aussie husband spotted a sign that immediately grabbed his attention.  Because I sadly cannot read Spanish, I had no idea why he looked so happy until he explained that they served a tasting menu of local specialties.  Like llama.  And Rhea.  Sign us up!  The dishes were all beautifully presented and perfectly paired with local wines.  Here is the menu, and a photo of the first course of various varieties of Andean potatoes, fried and pureed.  And it just got better after that! Llama carpaccio.  Hare in a mole-like chocolate sauce.  Rhea that was served under glass, on a bed of smoked, charred onions.  Every dish was amazing at El Baqueano.  If we had discovered it earlier in our visit, we would have gone back for a second night.

The other 2 meals that made it on my list for 2014 were a lot closer to home.  Both outstanding, but very, very different.
Sushi Kappo Tamura offered an omakase tasting menu that piqued our interest so we corralled another couple and tried it out.  This was not your basic sushi parade! Chawan mushi with lobster was my favorite course, followed closely by the albacore toro.  They even had a dessert course - a Yuzu yogurt panna cotta.  It was all delicious.

The most memorable of all?
 Dining at the Chef's Table in the kitchen of the private Rainier Club in Seattle. One of our friends knows the chef well, and arranged to have dinner IN the kitchen prep area of the club.  Being always curious to see how things are done, I made sure we sat at the table so we were facing the action-packed kitchen.  We were able to watch all of the grill and saute' stations, as well as the final assembly of the plates before the wait staff whisked them away to the diners "out there".  We were fascinated at how quickly and smoothly everything was executed.  I now know that I could never work in a professional kitchen, as I could not keep track of everything fast enough to keep the flow going.  And now, a word about the food.  This was October, so the menu was full of wonderful fall favorites.  Chanterelle mushrooms; black truffles, perfectly seared duck.  Every dish was classically prepared, but usually with a twist to the ingredients or presentation.  My absolute favorite was the agnolotti covered in shaved truffles.  Covered!  Here is the chef shaving the truffles, and here is the finished dish.  Unbelievable.

I am ready to see what meals await in 2015!

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