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Where They Ate in 2010, Part II: The Ensnackening
A couple weeks ago, Gadling published a large-portioned round-up of where authors, eaters, travel and food writers had their most memorable eating experiences in 2010. It was such a popular feature, I couldn't help but ask for seconds. After all, consuming a list of memorable eats with the eyes is about the next best thing to devouring it with our mouths.
I put out the call to some more of my favorite food-loving writers and got just as tremendous and exciting a response as the original round-up.
So, without further adieu, in no particular order, here is the sequel: where they ate in 2010, part II: the ensnackening.
• J. Maarten Troost
Author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Getting Stoned with Savages, and Lost on Planet China
--Roast chicken in Amritsar, India. I had just spent a week balancing my chakras in an ashram in northern India (think lentils three times a day), and so to suddenly have before me a succulent chicken prepared in the Punjabi manner... well, I dont think I've ever enjoyed eating a sentient creature as much as I did that day in Amritsar.
--Emergency Cioppino. Last Christmas, my 84-year-old grandmother graced us with a visit. She is an excellent chef. She is also Czech. For the Christmas Eve meal, I'd decided to showcase my own culinary chops by preparing a goose. My grandmother thought this would make for an
• Michael Bauer
I have three new places worth talking about.
• Lisa Abend
--I got to participate in Cook It Raw's grand adventure to Lapland. The event's organizers, Alessandro Porcelli and Andrea Petrini, put a bunch of us professional eaters and thirteen of the most exciting chefs in the world-including René Redzepi, Albert Adrià, Petter Nilsson, and Yoshihiro Narasawa-on a night train to northern Finland. Once we arrived in Lapland, the chefs foraged and fished, then created two multi-course meals with what they found. There was a lot of reindeer on the menu (tongues sous-vided on the bathroom floor of Massimo Bottura's room; blood splattered over ices and stirred into sauces), and enough lichen to open a terrarium store. But it was one of those magical experiences that reminds you of what food can do.
• Derk Richardson
--One of my favorite meals of any year has always been the February Whole Hog Dinner at Oliveto in Oakland. Once I spent three hours in the kitchen, with chef Paul Canales feeding me tastes of everything from blood pudding to fresh sausage made that moment. This year I was sent to heaven by the Tofeja del Canavese, a mixed grill of Piedmontese peasant braise of pork shoulder, little cotechino sausages, wild boar spare ribs, and pork skin rollatini with Borlotti beans. The dinner was made that much sweeter by my wife surreptitiously inviting four neighbor couples and my sister and brother-in-law for a one-week-early birthday surprise; and by the fact that it turned out to be Canales' last Whole Hog-he left Oliveto in early December.
New Yorker staff writer; author of The Lost City of Z and The Devil and Sherlock Holmes
With two young kids in tow I find myself eating at their favorite spots. And one of them is Walters Hot Dog Stand, in Mamaroneck, New York, which justly attracts customers from all over. When I was with my wife in London, we made our ritual trek to Amaya Bar and Grill. It's not cheap, but the Indian food is sensational. And, finally, I've spent a lot of time travelling this year in Central America, which means I get to eat plenty of my favorite food: homemade corn tortillas from the local markets.
• Camille Ford
Star of the Travel Channel's Food Wars and Best Places Ever
Hi... My name is Camille. I'm a food addict.
Pungent cheese, raw fish, exotic fruits, and plates of spiced alchemy are just a sampling of what occupies most of my daily motivation. 2010 has fed my obsession (pun intended).
2010 has been a year of deliciousness and the list topper, the one item that has sent me on four-hour drives to the Italian market in Philidelphia, and sketchy Yonkers fridge raids is Tartufata " ucamorganti": dark chocolate spread infused with white truffle oils. Handmade in Florence, Italy, it has put my day to day eating in a tailspin. Nothing compared this year to the texture, taste, and lingering effects of such a sensual ingredient.
• Ryan Sutton
Restaurant critic for Bloomberg News; twitterer
When I started planning my visit to Las Vegas' CityCenter, Adrienne, one of my closest friends, an avid foodie from Sin City, promised to be my date. That was in the summer of 2009. I arrived in January of 2010, approximately 3 months after Adrienne, in a hospital not too far from the Strip, died from cancer. She was 22. Her mother joined me in her stead for my first meal. (Adrienne was a Mina fan). It was a tough meal. But the food helped. Mina got some flack for flying in Hawaiian ocean water to poach his fish, but hey, is it any different from drinking Fiji in a bottle? The cocktails helped too. They always do. Mina put a legit guy in charge of the beverage program; they even make their own lime cordial (which makes for a solid gimlet). I spent much of my 7-day Vegas trip alone. Vegas wasn't a party that week. It was quieter, stranger, yet very human and very beautiful city. I would often end my night at American Fish, often with a single drink. It certainly wasn't the best Vegas restaurant I visited (that was Guy Savoy), but maybe because of that first meal with Adrienne's mom, it's where I felt most at home.
• Alain Gayot
Blended in the fancy gastronomic experiences it's always interesting to discover a pleasing hole in the wall. Above all, a surprise always wins points. This year, in my journeys I had a fresh and flavorful ceviche at a modern restaurant called Red Crab, located in a posh neighborhood in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Served with large roasted corn kernels and chips of plantain of various kinds.
• John Mariani
--The chances of my ever becoming a vegan are about as good as Dick Cheney running a triathalon. So when I heard that Chef Sean Baker of Gather in Berkeley had a vegan section on his menu, along with banquettes made out of cast-off leather belts, I clenched my teeth in anticipation of an evening of groaning rhetoric and floppy headed waitresses wearing "Hug a Chicken" t-shirts and Vedic mantra tattoos. It turns out, fifty percent of the menu also had tantalizing dishes like grilled petrale sole, a burger with Sierra Nevada cheese and fries, and one of the best pizzas I've had in ages, with guanciale ham, roasted corn, jalapeño, ricotta, and mozzarella-dishes to put vegans into a rage. I couldn't have eaten better.
• David Farley
--In January I spent two weeks in Vietnam, first eating my way through Saigon, and then flying up to Hoi An to travel back down the coast until flying back to New York. My first revelatory meal in Saigon was at Pho Quynh, a corner restaurant adhering to the steel table and tile floor variety of decorating. The main dish was pho bo kho, a stewy, opaque version of pho that felt almost like goulash and pho had collided. I first had it for breakfast and I savored every bite. The broth was thick and rich and bobbing with fork-tender chunks of beef and carrots and the occasional tendon. I went back the next morning. Later, in Hoi An, I sat down at an alleyway eater for the city's famed dish, cao lau, a porklicous bowl of rice noodles, chunks of pig, mint, and basil. This time I didn't even wait until the next day to have it again. I ordered seconds right there on the spot.