The end of the year is a natural point of reflection. Lately I've been thinking back on some of the more delicious memories of 2007, new and interesting experiences all. I'll present them here, in no particular order:
- Grilled squid at Pescheria: Served in a charming little enamelized crock, these tender, smoky squid rocked my world.
- Shaved raw artichoke salad at Incanto: I would never have thought to use raw artichoke, but tender baby chokes shaved to almost paper thinness added a pleasantly grassy note and crunch to a spring salad.
- Cherimoya: Creamy, sweet and exotic, these became my new favorite fruit.
- Jane's (sorta) homemade pickles: By starting with store-bought dills, these quick-pickled sweets retain their crispiness.
- Michelada: The lime makes humdrum beer extra refreshing, and a dash of Tabasco and Worcestershire gives it a grown-up edge. The perfect summer quaff.
- Mutton barbecue from Moonlite: No more ho-hum pulled pork; gamey mutton gave barbecue a unique twist this year.
- Hangar One chipotle vodka: The second in Hangar One's artisan series gave "firewater" new meaning. Perfect for Bloody Marys, but we concocted a few custom cocktails of our own. *
- Sai oa: Spicy and super flavorful, this Thai sausage was simply scrumptious, barely edging out three other delectable handmade sausages during a day-long grind-and-stuff session chez Married ... with Dinner. *
- Alinea: 'Nuff said.
- Proper mint julep at Alembic: Cool, refreshing mint and condensation sweating down the sides of a pewter cup were pure tonic on a sweltering summer's day. *
- McQuade's Celtic Chutneys: Bright, tart, sweet and complex chutneys that make an excellent complement to meats and cheeses. *
- Grit cake with wild mushrooms at Cafe Majestic: It's not every day that a vegetarian entree catches my eye anymore, but this dish was a hands-down winner at our table. *
- Fregula, butternut squash, kale and pomegranate seeds at Olea: It's even rarer that I eye a vegan entree, but this dish was at once playful, textural, flavorful and just flat-out fun. *
- Concord grape sorbet with warm ginger tapioca at Firefly: Perhaps it's cliche to refer to something as a study in contrasts, but this dessert was an elegant dance of counterpoints: Cold and warm, sweet and tart, rich and sharp, crystalline and puddingy.
- Oh, Henry!: My new favorite cocktail, made specially by my own personal bartender at my birthday party. I particularly prefer the spicy kick of Blenheim ginger ale for this application. *
- Hoshigake from We Love Jam: The Kobe beef of persimmons! Hachiya persimmons are massaged while drying, coaxing a fine, sugary coating to the surface. The resulting dried fruit is subtly sweet, with a date-like texture.
* Indicates items that I experienced while in the company of other Bay Area food bloggers.