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Post your 10 Best of 2005!

Post your 10 Best of 2005!
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  • Post your 10 Best of 2005!

    Post #1 - December 31st, 2005, 8:04 pm
    Post #1 - December 31st, 2005, 8:04 pm Post #1 - December 31st, 2005, 8:04 pm
    Though with one meal to go I suppose anything's possible, it seems safe to close the curtain on 2005 as a year of eats. As with last year's list, my top 10 are not restaurants but individual items, the individual tastes that were especially memorable and new to me in 2005:

    THE TEN BEST THINGS I TASTED IN 2005

    10. Chili at Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe.

    Image

    I don't think I would have said, immediately after our LTHForum dinner at Chuck's, that this was the winner of the night. But it's the one that I wound up ordering every time I returned there (at least twice, maybe three times) and even tried imitating at home.

    9. Alderman Joe Moore Special, duck sausage with foie gras, ordered by my wife, one bite stolen by me, at the anti-Gene & Jude's, Hot Doug's. With a tip of the hat to the anti-Hot Doug's, Gene & Jude's, which really does make about the best imaginable minimalist dog and fries in Chicagoland.

    8. Tandoori cham and chana masala at Khan BBQ. One of the better things to happen to me this year was that I finally got to try, extensively, some of the non-buffet Indian-Pakistani places on Devon. I'd been to a number of them before, but dining solo you don't get the chance to try enough things to decide what you really think of a place. (For instance, I'd had the chicken boti at Khan BBQ before and been less than wowed, so I might well have never gone back alone.) But this year I got to dine with larger groups of other LTHers at Khan BBQ, Hyderabad House, Ghareeb Nawaz and Chopal, trying half a dozen dishes each time, and getting a real feel for each place (which I have, incidentally, ranked in order of my preference). It really opened up that end of the street for me, and got me out of the buffet rut.

    7. Carnitas from Uruapan with cactus salad, eaten on the Short-Notice-A-Thon. Speaking of impromptu gatherings, I really enjoyed these south side road trips (the S-N-A-T, the ice cream tour, and my first jaunt down to Tacos del Pacifico/Pupuseria El Salvador); somehow it's easier to make the drive for five restaurants than just one.

    Image

    6. Burnt Ends at Lil Jake's:

    Image

    Or was the best barbecue experience of the year the lusciously overripe Wagyu brisket? Too hard to decide, so let's just slaver over both:

    Image

    5. Tomato and arugula pizza at Volo. I had trouble buying great tomatoes this year at the farmer's markets-- I got lots of good tomatoes, never a great one. But I had great ones on a simple but wonderful pizza at the best new restaurant (you could remove "new" and it'd still be true) in my neighborhood.

    4. Scallop taco at the beloved, hope-it's-back-soon Tacos del Pacifico:

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    With a nod to the equally transporting appetizer before it, the pork-and-bean pupusa at Pupuseria El Salvador (this is probably just the cheese one, but close enough):

    Image

    3. Arrachera at H&C Monterrey in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

    Image

    The purest, most wonderful moment of superfresh and juicy beef flavor I had all year, arrachera (flank steak) served hot off the coals and dirt cheap at a butcher shop/restaurant in Mexico:

    Image

    2. Truffle risotto with 1999 Bricco Botti barbera, Avenues.

    Image

    The combination of this dish and this wine should, by my own criteria, take my number one spot as the one-two punch of the best things I tasted this year, indeed, one of the high points of my dining life ever. As I described them at the time:

    A real flavor bomb which arrived piping hot at the table, giving off powerful wafts of truffle smells, oak and burnt plastic and new car smell, hip-high white leather boots and just-waxed high school gymnasium and roasted gazelle... With it came the best wine of the night, indeed, very possibly the best wine I've ever had, an amazingly complex, thoughtful and supercilious barbera... Our heads swam after trying the wine and truffles together, like we had just taken a quick jaunt to an eight-dimensional universe and weren't quite sure how to move in only three directions at a time any more.

    So what could possibly top a moment of tasting menu exaltation like that?

    1. Matsumoto.

    Image

    The meal that broke the rules of my ten best list (which I seem to have broken by sneaking in a few extras anyway, hmm), that forced me to think beyond the deliciousness of a single thing and give real thought to the underlying principles of what we're doing when we eat other cultures' foods. Many, many words and pictures on why at the link, so I won't rehash them here. But Matsumoto was the most remarkable, even if not in the conventional sense the best, meal of my year.

    THE WORST OF 2005

    You know what? I don't have a worst this year. Maybe it's my preternaturally sunny disposition and seasonal bonhomie toward all men, but nothing bad stuck in the mind from '05, not even a certain meal involving swords, compared to the gratitude I feel for all the swell things I got to taste, the swell people I meet thanks to LTHForum, and yada yada.

    RESOLUTION FOR 2006

    Eat at more two and three star-type restaurants. Not that there's anything wrong with how 2005 worked out (a couple of four-star excursions and a lot of cheap eats), or why (gotta feed the kids, too). But I started out the year sort of down on the idea of prefab upscaleness, and I don't think that's wrong-- De Cero still seems a fundamentally misconceived restaurant in a city of great Mexican, for instance. Yet the upper-middle-scale meals I did have (Volo, Sweets and Savories, Thyme Cafe, Scylla, etc.) were generally impressive (even if I sometimes gagged on the 'tude, as at Scylla).

    So I'd still exercise caution in selecting such places, there is a tendency toward a sort of pan-trendoid Trixie-and-Chad cuisine that's hard to distinguish from restaurant to restaurant and city to city, but this year I do want to try Alinea, Via, Del Toro, Schwa etc. and get back to a few others I've only been to once (Avec, Moto) or not in a long time (Chilpancingo).

    THE YEAR IN SUMMATION

    If last year the final thought was gratitude and excitement that LTHForum had taken off, this year it's G&E toward the idea that the food press is reading us just as we read the food press. Admittedly, we don't exactly make them welcome, or glad that they did so, much of the time. (Other resolution for 2006: better press relations.) But while it rankles me when an article makes vague references to discussion on "internet food forums," I am pleased as punch whenever a place we've championed gets picked up by the press, or (doubtless more often the case) a place they already have some interest in gains momentum from being talked about here. And I hope the press can look past the occasional orneriness of the Vox Populi and realize that right here are your best, most committed consumers of food journalism, and a two-way street and a growing, ever-more-useful LTHForum benefits everybody.

    Happy New Year to all, or as they say in Italy (Antonius, correct this if I get it wrong), buca di beppo!

    P.S. Speaking of our friends in the press, Chicago Magazine's Dish mentions this thread this week! Welcome to anyone who got here from there, and to really wallow in the food porn, visit our slideshow of 2005 food photos.
    Last edited by Mike G on January 4th, 2006, 6:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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  • Post #2 - December 31st, 2005, 11:41 pm
    Post #2 - December 31st, 2005, 11:41 pm Post #2 - December 31st, 2005, 11:41 pm
    THE TEN BEST THINGS I TASTED IN 2005

    In no particular order


    THE WORST OF 2005

    A few experiments I tried and every meal at a chain I was forced to eat at.

    RESOLUTION FOR 2006


    Search more. 8) Taste more. :o Enjoy more. :D
    Bruce
    Plenipotentiary
    bruce@bdbbq.com

    Raw meat should NOT have an ingredients list!!
  • Post #3 - January 1st, 2006, 1:28 am
    Post #3 - January 1st, 2006, 1:28 am Post #3 - January 1st, 2006, 1:28 am
    Mike, seeing that bowl o' red from Chuck's pop out at me from your post made me hungry for more. The latest on Chuck's phone says he should be open the first few days in January. I'm ready.

    Perhaps another dinner to show our support for Chuck is in order. He has, according to the voicemail, done some remodeling.

    Happy new year, all! :D

    Suzy
    " There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."
    - Frank Zappa
  • Post #4 - January 1st, 2006, 7:33 pm
    Post #4 - January 1st, 2006, 7:33 pm Post #4 - January 1st, 2006, 7:33 pm
    I did a fair amount of travelling, so it's not all Chicago this year:

    Tops on my list was the tasting menu at Babbo, NYC. Perfect pasta, cheeses, mushrooms, meats, everything fantastic.

    Other greats: the szechuan rabbit at Lao Sze Chuan on xmas eve (the Chengdu dumplings and lamb with pure cumin were awesome too)

    Green Chile Patty Melt at The Owl in Albequerque, NM

    "Carnitas" taco on the Santa Fe (NM) square - juiciest garlicy beef, onions and peppers barely wrapped by a flour tortilla

    Porter cheddar from Whole Foods - great cheese and absolutely beautiful brown veins around white curds (the shropshire blue from there was quite good too)

    Scallion Pancake with Roast Pork at Mr. Chu, East Hanover, NJ. Chewy, crispy, salty, sweet and just plain yummy. My attempt at duplicating it for our party was a distance away.

    Chopped Liver from Chaim's in Skokie

    Cheap eat: Tacos de cecina ("fine steak") at Monica's in Prospect Heights

    My favorite thing I cooked: Christmas Kugel (substituted dried cranberries for the pineapple or raisins, and topped with chopped pecans)

    Favorite thing somebody else cooked: Posole with sausage made by "The Jersey Crew" staying at the rancho near Santa Fe.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #5 - January 1st, 2006, 8:10 pm
    Post #5 - January 1st, 2006, 8:10 pm Post #5 - January 1st, 2006, 8:10 pm
    Joel F wrote:Scallion Pancake with Roast Pork at Mr. Chu, East Hanover, NJ. Chewy, crispy, salty, sweet and just plain yummy. My attempt at duplicating it for our party was a distance away.


    Happy New Year Joel!

    I don't know if you have been to Ed's Potsticker House, they offer a smoked pork with scallion pancake, which could be your very local touchstone of the dish mentioned above:

    Photo by GWiv:
    Image

    This is a must-have dish every time I go. Maybe if I had it more frequently I could move on to other dishes ... maybe!

    Ed's Potsticker House
    3139 S. Halsted St.
    Chicago
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #6 - January 1st, 2006, 8:41 pm
    Post #6 - January 1st, 2006, 8:41 pm Post #6 - January 1st, 2006, 8:41 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:I don't know if you have been to Ed's Potsticker House, they offer a smoked pork with scallion pancake, which could be your very local touchstone of the dish mentioned above:
    (emphasis mine)
    While that photo of GWiv's does make me drool (not as much as the 2005 gallery), that's a very different dish. The Mr. Chu's pancake had juliennes of red-tinged smoky pork throughout the pancake. The textures are a terrific mix.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #7 - January 1st, 2006, 9:46 pm
    Post #7 - January 1st, 2006, 9:46 pm Post #7 - January 1st, 2006, 9:46 pm
    In no particular order, these stand out in my memory of the year gone by:

    Pizza, Il Ritrovo, Sheboygan, WI.

    Scallion pancake, pork shoulder in brown sauce, New Green Bo, NYC

    Pork and crab soup dumplings, Joe's Shanghai, NYC

    Crispy nori-crusted shrimp appetizer, sticky toffee pudding, Sweet Basil, Vail, CO

    Walleye pike, Donny's Glidden Lodge, Sturgeon Bay, WI

    Rigatoni with sausage, Ristorante Agostino, Chicago

    Cevapcici sandwich, Fontana Bakery, Chicago

    Fried chicken, Delilah's, Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia

    Egg rolls, Kow Kow, Lincolnwood

    Shrimp Vindaloo, Hema's Kitchen, Chicago

    Everyone, have a happy and delicious new year!
  • Post #8 - January 1st, 2006, 10:24 pm
    Post #8 - January 1st, 2006, 10:24 pm Post #8 - January 1st, 2006, 10:24 pm
    Wonderful descriptions of some great-sounding meals . . . but "Eating Out in Chicagoland" now includes Kansas City, Michigan, Wisconsin, NYC, Colorado and PA? With the recent rise in "L" fares what's that gonna cost to get there?
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #9 - January 1st, 2006, 10:32 pm
    Post #9 - January 1st, 2006, 10:32 pm Post #9 - January 1st, 2006, 10:32 pm
    Funny you should mention that. I went back and checked which forum last year's 10 best was posted in-- it got started in EOIC by some poster who was never heard from again, so here it is, even though the logic is less than exact...
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #10 - January 1st, 2006, 10:40 pm
    Post #10 - January 1st, 2006, 10:40 pm Post #10 - January 1st, 2006, 10:40 pm
    Mike G wrote:Funny you should mention that. I went back and checked which forum last year's 10 best was posted in-- it got started in EOIC by some poster who was never heard from again, so here it is, even though the logic is less than exact...


    Well here's hoping the same fate doesn't befall this year's OP. :wink:
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #11 - January 1st, 2006, 10:49 pm
    Post #11 - January 1st, 2006, 10:49 pm Post #11 - January 1st, 2006, 10:49 pm
    HI,

    Best Ten Meals of 2004 initiated by poster diner765 whose entire 3 post history was posted between 7:12 and 7:18 PM on December 17th. This is the very last post, we remember him or her well.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #12 - January 2nd, 2006, 12:28 am
    Post #12 - January 2nd, 2006, 12:28 am Post #12 - January 2nd, 2006, 12:28 am
    If I had to limit the list to Chicago, my Top 10 meals of the year would be:

    10. Avec - Roasted pork shoulder and tellagio foccacia. What's not to like.
    9. Any dinner including sashimi at Tsuki.
    8. Spring - Birthday dinner with my girlfriend.
    7. First meal at Alinea (May)
    6. Schwa - White anchovy salad, white truffle tagliatelle, pork belly & tenderloin.
    5. James Beard Benefit Dinner at Charlie Trotter's - Dinner featured 7 CT alumni, each cooking one course.
    4. Sweets and Savories - White truffle dinner
    3. Second meal at Alinea (July)
    2. Avenues - Anniversary dinner. My first foie-li-pop.
    1. New Year's Eve at Alinea - 5 hours, 27 courses. Possibly the best dinner I've ever had.

    Memorable meals outside of Chicago:
    Upperline (New Orleans) - Even more special now, for obvious reasons.
    Per Se (New York City) - As close to perfection as possible. Is there anything better than Oysters and Pearls?
    Picasso (Las Vegas) - Classy and understated, by Vegas standards. Wonderfully executed food, and probably the best single scallop I've ever eaten.
  • Post #13 - January 2nd, 2006, 1:01 pm
    Post #13 - January 2nd, 2006, 1:01 pm Post #13 - January 2nd, 2006, 1:01 pm
    1. Alinea. Simply the best. The lavender pillow dish was just incredible.

    2-4. Almost anyplace on St. Bart. A few stand out though:
    2. The foie gras over fava beans at the Isle de France. That alone could have been a meal. Wanted to lick the bowl clean. Manners prevailed, but I think the staff would have understood.
    3. Foie gras over passion fruit at the Guanahani. It is a great contrast to a similiar dish at Spago at Four Seasons Maui, which uses pineapple. The passion fruit complements the dish, rather than overwhelming it like the pineapple. It is the reason I will travel to St. Bart for food, while I travel to Maui for the beach.
    4. Everything we had a Mayas. A great little place, interesting twists on classic dishes, great service, and nice views of the harbor.

    5. Le Lan. Why does this place not get more positive response? The food was interesting and the service was great.

    6. Avenues. Still great.

    7. Moto. Not as successful as Alinea, but on the right track.

    8. Charlie Trotter's. It seemed like Chef Trotter was not there on the day I went. The food is still incredible, but not as good as the old days.

    9. Japonais. It has become trendy to rip the food and the attitude, but we went a few times and enjoyed it each time.

    10. Hannah's Bretzel for lunch. A new addiction.
  • Post #14 - January 2nd, 2006, 3:13 pm
    Post #14 - January 2nd, 2006, 3:13 pm Post #14 - January 2nd, 2006, 3:13 pm
    TEN OF THE MOST MEMORABLE THINGS I PUT IN MY MOUTH LAST YEAR

    Scallop taco
    Tacos del Pacifico
    3544 E. 106th St
    Chicago, IL
    773-221-1143

    Waygu brisket with GWiv rub
    (available here and there)

    Lindeman’s Gueuze Cuvee Rene
    Hopleaf
    5148 N. Clark St.
    Chicago
    773-334-9851

    Curried goat
    Tropical Time Jerk Chicken
    1117 S. 1st Ave
    Maywood
    708-338-2003

    Birria
    Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlán
    1322 West 18th Street
    Chicago
    312-733-2613

    Snails
    bin wine cafe
    1559 N Milwaukee Ave
    Chicago, IL
    773-486-2233

    Melissa Graham’s homemade catsup
    (available here and there)

    Raccoon Road Kill
    Moto Restaurant
    945 W. Fulton market
    Chicago

    Giant lima beans
    Papaspiros Greek Taverna
    733 Lake Street
    Oak Park
    708-358-1700

    Focaccia with chickpea spread
    La Piazza
    410 Circle Avenue
    Forest Park (708) 366-4010
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #15 - January 2nd, 2006, 3:52 pm
    Post #15 - January 2nd, 2006, 3:52 pm Post #15 - January 2nd, 2006, 3:52 pm
    10. Club Croissant Sandwich, Holiday Inn Room Service, Los Angeles CA
    Got it five nights in a row, and then craved it on the sixth from Chicago.

    9. Hawaiian Style Dinner Plate including Kiawe Smoked Ribs, Kalua Pork & Noodle Sauté, Teriyaki Grilled Chicken, Chorizo Potato Hash and Lop Chong Sapporo Braised Chinese Broccoli, Tchoup Chop, Orlando FL
    Kalua Pork and the Ribs were excellent.

    8. Gnocchi, Francesca’s Fortunato, Frankfort IL
    Like little fluffy clouds. Nice, affordable place.

    7. Chili Half-Smoke and Chili-Cheese Fries, Ben’s Chili Bowl, Washington DC
    A whole plate covered in chili--how can it not make the list?

    6. Beef Brisket Sandwich and Baked Beans, Arthur Bryant’s, Kansas City MO
    Speaks for itself.

    5. Cheeseburger and Fries, Five Guys, Washington DC
    Some days they're on, other days you wonder why they're so well liked. This time they were on.

    4. Spicy Cilantro Chicken Sausage with Mexican Mustard and Pepper-Jack Cheese and Duck Fat Fries, Hot Doug’s, Chicago IL

    3. Pastrami Sandwich, Carnegie Deli, New York NY
    A sandwich as big as my head? I saw it as a challenge. I thought I was going to have to call 911 after I finished it. But I did finish it.

    2. Oatmeal Shake, Irazu, Chicago, IL
    My first, definitely not my last.

    1. New Mexican Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Ancho Chile Sauce and Sweet Potato Tamale with Crushed Pecan Butter, Mesa Grill, Las Vegas NV
    I almost wept when it was gone.
  • Post #16 - January 2nd, 2006, 5:46 pm
    Post #16 - January 2nd, 2006, 5:46 pm Post #16 - January 2nd, 2006, 5:46 pm
    No particular order, and one short of ten:

    The fois gras in three styles at the Gresham Kávéház in Budapest, Hungary. I fatten up on goose liver ever time I go to Hungary, but this is the best I've ever had it. (Budapest, Hungary)

    Barbara Ann's Rib Tip & Hot Link combo. (Chicago, IL)

    Bahn Thai's gai pad gaprao, aka Holy Basil chicken. (Bridgeview, IL)

    Hae Woon Dae - everything. (Chicago, IL)

    Zingerman's - any sandwich (Ann Arbor, MI)

    Pat's - cheesesteak with onions (Philadelphia, PA)

    The bahn mi from Ba Le on Broadway (Chicago, IL)

    Hungarian fish soup and deep-fried "carp milk" (apparently, sperm from what's been explained to me), from Dunakömlődi Halászcsárda. (Dunakömlőd, Hungary)

    Hannah's Bretzel - any sandwich (Chicago, IL)
  • Post #17 - January 2nd, 2006, 7:23 pm
    Post #17 - January 2nd, 2006, 7:23 pm Post #17 - January 2nd, 2006, 7:23 pm
    Binko wrote:Hungarian fish soup and deep-fried "carp milk" (apparently, sperm from what's been explained to me), from Dunakömlődi Halászcsárda. (Dunakömlőd, Hungary)


    Did you say sperm?? :shock:
  • Post #18 - January 2nd, 2006, 7:26 pm
    Post #18 - January 2nd, 2006, 7:26 pm Post #18 - January 2nd, 2006, 7:26 pm
    After a long, and delightful reminiscence, this is what PIGMON and I came up with for the best bites (and sips) of 2005.

    City Market Brisket (Luling, TX)

    Matsumoto Aji/Horse Mackerel Sashimi & Ankimo (Chicago, IL)

    Nick’s pizza (Manhattan)
    Di Fara’s pizza (Brooklyn)
    Una Pizza Napoletana pizza (Manhattan)

    Soft Fish Taco Tacos Del Pacifico (Chicago, IL)

    Italian Sausage sweet & hot, dipped - Johnnie’s Beef (Elmwood Park, IL)

    Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon 20 yr Reserve - Matchbox (Chicago, IL)

    G Wiv’s Brisket Maiden Voyage (Chicago, IL)

    Blackbird Appetizer dinner w/ wine pairings (Chicago, IL)

    1963 Fonseca Porto (Sonoma, CA)

    Papaya King hot dog - 179 E 86th (New York, NY)
    Gene & Jude’s hot dog & fries (River Grove, IL)

    Jalapeno Sausage Louie Mueller’s (Taylor, TX )

    Baguette Fox and Obel (Chicago, IL)

    Issan Sausage TAC Quick (Chicago, IL)

    Salt & Pepper Seafood Fabulous Noodle (Lisle, IL)

    Dick & Jenny’s 4501 Tchoupitoulas St (New Orleans, LA)

    Happy New Year LTHers.

    -PIGMON and trixie-pea.
  • Post #19 - January 2nd, 2006, 8:44 pm
    Post #19 - January 2nd, 2006, 8:44 pm Post #19 - January 2nd, 2006, 8:44 pm
    yourbar wrote:
    Binko wrote:Hungarian fish soup and deep-fried "carp milk" (apparently, sperm from what's been explained to me), from Dunakömlődi Halászcsárda. (Dunakömlőd, Hungary)


    Did you say sperm?? :shock:


    Yep. Apparently, that's what it was. It had the consistency of bone marrow, and a similar, almost sweet taste. Wasn't offensive in the least.
  • Post #20 - January 3rd, 2006, 12:06 am
    Post #20 - January 3rd, 2006, 12:06 am Post #20 - January 3rd, 2006, 12:06 am
    I'm still unclear on whether this is intended to be Chicago-centric or not, so I choose not to limit myself geographically :-)

    In random order:

    Goat Tacos
    Supermercado Morelia
    7334 N. Clark St.

    I don't have the experience with Mexican that many on the board do, but this was some of the most perfect meat I've ever had. I believe they only prep this on the weekends, but you can go in, buy the prepared meat in bulk with tortillas and pickles, take it home and feast. Lightly seasoned, moist, tender... so simple and so perfect.

    Skirt Steak with Chimichurri
    Feast
    1616 N. Damen

    I've always considered Feast to be one of those spots that's always solid, if unexeceptional. However, a couple of months back I had their skirt steak with chimichurri (or however it's named on the menu), and was just thrilled. I don't know if it was exceptionally good or if it just hit me in the right spot at the right time, but it was definitely one of my favorite dishes of the year and it came out of nowhere.

    Stir-Fried Chicken with Chiles & Sichuan Peppercorns
    Sichuan Garden
    Pacific Place, Hong Kong

    I've been regularly traveling to Hong Kong and southern China for years now, and I love the fact that despite 50+ trips, I still manage to have something every time that blows me away. This one's a fairly common dish as they come, but Sichuan Garden's version is absolutely fantastic. The peppercorns numb you just enough without blowing you out, and the balance between the chiles and the shaoshing is right on.

    Moi with Fennel Confit and Nicoise Vinaigrette
    Pahui'a
    100 Ka'upulehu Drive
    Ka'upulehu-Kona, Hawaii

    I think it's safe to say that Pahui'a, the flagship restaurant at the Four Seasons Hualalai on the Big Island, has the most incredible fish I've ever tasted. We did the grand tour of Big Island restaurants, and Pahui'a was so clearly on another plane that when my future wife and I return for our honeymoon in March, we're pretty much planning on eating there six nights in a row. But as stunning as their entire menu is, their locally farmed moi (royal threadfin) was a lifelong highlight for me. It doesn't get cute, but rather takes basic flavors of the Mediterranean and works them into an incredible level of intensity, all perfectly balanced. And though it simultaneously encapsulates multiple bold flavors, it doesn't for a moment overpower the delicate fish. Best dish of 2005 for me, hands down.

    Seared Tuna Tataki with Pinot Noir Reduction and Roast Beet Puree
    Sea Saw
    7133 E. Stetson Dr.
    Scottsdale, AZ

    Sea Saw is something of a Japanese Tapas restaurant with a heavy skew towards sashimi. Nobu Fukuda's (the other Nobu) dishes don't always hit the bullseye, but even when they don't, they're interesting and admirable near misses. The Tuna Tataki, however, isn't one of those misses. The name of the dish says it all, and it was a completely unexpected combination that was the standout fave.

    Assorted Pakoras
    Kirsten & Atul's Kitchen
    I've always lamented the fact that my knowledge of Indian is supremely limited. So for one of the best birthday presents I've ever received, a couple of friends treated me to an intro to Indian cooking evening, complete with general orientation and hands-on prep of some of their family's traditional dishes. I'd had pakoras before, but never homemade, and never seconds out of the oil. And it's also a universal truism that everything tastes better when you had a hand in preparing it, especially with dear friends.

    Poutine
    Some dive in Montreal
    Poutine, for those not in the know, is comprised of thick-cut french fries topped with cheese curds and incredibly salty beef gravy. In short, it most definitely was NOT what I'd term a culinary experience. However, it was a new experience, it was a bachelor party weekend, I was significantly drunk, and... well... let's just say it was both really, really bad and really, really good.

    Oxtail Ravioli with Tuscan Liver Sauce
    My Kitchen
    Well, I had to throw one of my own in here. It was an adaptation of a Batali recipe, and one of the few occasions when I've created something in my own kitchen that I think could stand up in a Tuscan trattoria. Hooray for liver!

    Chilled Red & Yellow Tomato Soups
    The Hualalai Grille by Alan Wong
    100 Ka'upulehu Drive
    Ka'upulehu-Kona, Hawaii

    I'd heard it rumored that Big Island tomatoes are some of the best in the world, and this was the proof. Wong threw in some nice creative touches, including little dollops of tomato sorbet, but generally speaking, he let the tomatoes speak for themselves. As it turned out, they had plenty to say.

    Guanciale
    2005 is the year I discovered guanciale. Or more accurately, the year I cooked with it a good thirty times and came to adore it. Goal for 2006: curing my own.
  • Post #21 - January 3rd, 2006, 10:15 am
    Post #21 - January 3rd, 2006, 10:15 am Post #21 - January 3rd, 2006, 10:15 am
    This thread should be on Beyond Chicagoland, no? I don't think I will be able to visit most of those places. Waaa.
  • Post #22 - January 3rd, 2006, 11:28 am
    Post #22 - January 3rd, 2006, 11:28 am Post #22 - January 3rd, 2006, 11:28 am
    Snicky wrote:This thread should be on Beyond Chicagoland, no? I don't think I will be able to visit most of those places. Waaa.


    I see your point, but my guess is that MOST of the places will be in Chicagoland, and though the fit is not 100% right for this thread, it fits here better than anywhere else.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #23 - January 4th, 2006, 2:32 pm
    Post #23 - January 4th, 2006, 2:32 pm Post #23 - January 4th, 2006, 2:32 pm
    For me, 2005 was the year of slow cooked meats. Here are some I remember. Are they the best? Probably not, but they are the ones I remember.

    1. The first dish that comes to mind is Bruce's pulled pork. Prior to that experience, I thought I just did not like pulled pork, despite having sampled it at a few shrines in the southeast. That day it was made clear that I had just not sampled the right pulled pork.

    Now I know I like pulled pork, but it has to be good pulled pork.

    2. A dark, savory and meaty Cassoulet at Bistro Banlieue that, in addition to having the virtue of supplying me with food for three meals, was as good as any cassoulet I have had. Fresh herbs, perfect beans, lovingly roasted and tender duck and tasty sausages. Excellent ingredients and execution were apparent.

    3. "Bacon and egg appetizer" at Vie - braised pork belly done perfectly. Reminiscent of Kahan's pork belly at Blackbird, which I also ate in 2005, and which deserves to be on this list every year. So I will combine them as one.

    4. Braised lamb shank on a bed of herbed polenta with a "sauce" made primarily of long sauteed, almost carmelized, onions (cippolini) and some other miscellaneous veggies at Isabella's Estiatorio.

    5. Tony Luke's pork sandwich (Philadelphia). Wonderful, perfectly roasted pork on a crusty roll.

    6. Mensif at Steve's Shish Kebab - perfectly braised lamb shank on rice with lemon yogurt sauce.

    I will stop now, as this is making me too hungry, but I reserve the right to add others that come to mind.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #24 - January 4th, 2006, 2:37 pm
    Post #24 - January 4th, 2006, 2:37 pm Post #24 - January 4th, 2006, 2:37 pm
    dicksond wrote:2. A dark, savory and meaty Cassoulet at Bistro Banlieue that, in addition to having the virtue of supplying me with food for three meals, was as good as any cassoulet I have had. Fresh herbs, perfect beans, lovingly roasted and tender duck and tasty sausages. Excellent ingredients and execution were apparent.


    I had a very good bistro steak at Bistro Banlieue last November. This little place, which used to be owned by Emilio Gervais, is a right respectable little bistro in an unprepossessing strip mall environment.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #25 - January 4th, 2006, 2:40 pm
    Post #25 - January 4th, 2006, 2:40 pm Post #25 - January 4th, 2006, 2:40 pm
    Been enjoying the lists so far, and sorry if this is a little late, but I wanted to share a little personal gratitude to this forum with my own top ten list:

    Top Ten Dishes Introduced to Me By LTH in 2005


    10. Combo at Honey 1 - Great BBQ, glad they relocated closer to where I live.

    9. Various dishes at The Maxwell St. Market - Thanks for the comprehensive guides to this culinary wonderland.

    8. Shawerma at Falafel Arax in LA - Thanks Erik M! Great suggestion. Delicious, moist shawerma.

    7. Yellowfin jaw at Katsu - I've loved Katsu for years, but never ventured to order the off-the-menu jaw until I read about it here.

    6. Banh Mi at Ba Le - Might have found this one without LTH, but I definitely read about it here and now it's an addiction.

    5. Cemitas at Taqueria Puebla - What a great little restaurant. The proprietors clearly love what they're doing.

    4. Ma po tofu at Lao Sze Chuan - Actually, everything we ordered here was fantastic. My new favorite Chinese restaurant in Chicago.

    3. Fish tacos at TDP - What more can I say?

    2. Apple Fritter at Old Fashioned Donuts - Wow. What a treasure this place is. If I lived closer I'd weigh about 400 lbs by now.

    1. Pork neck salad at TAC Quick - Finally tried this place in 2005 and now I understand the hype. Took me about two bites to realize that it was my new favorite Thai place.


    Thanks LTH! Looking forward to more wonderful discoveries in '06!
  • Post #26 - January 4th, 2006, 6:30 pm
    Post #26 - January 4th, 2006, 6:30 pm Post #26 - January 4th, 2006, 6:30 pm
    My eating-out top 10, in no particular order:

    Duck sausage with foie gras and truffled mustard, tater tots on the side - Hot Doug's

    Squab with butternut squash risotto and some other yumminess - North Pond

    My entire meal, from the phyllo-wrapped goat cheese with sherry-marinated tomatoes, to the venison, to the 5 mini desserts - Bonaparte, Montreal

    Smoked meat - Schwartz's, Montreal

    Pastrami - Jake's, Milwaukee

    Pici with crispy scallops - La Piazza

    Hanger steak w/frites+aioli and saison dupont - Hopleaf

    My entire wedding reception dinner - Lao Sze Chuan

    Half slab of ribs, medium combo, sauce on the side - Honey 1

    Minestrone, salad with roquefort dressing, prime strip steak with a side of vesuvio potatoes, and peaches flambe - Sabatino's


    I had some great meals at home this year, too, from chicken under a brick to asparagus risotto to skirt steak with roast acorn squash and latkes, it was a good year for eating in general.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #27 - January 4th, 2006, 6:32 pm
    Post #27 - January 4th, 2006, 6:32 pm Post #27 - January 4th, 2006, 6:32 pm
    As seen in this week's Dish:

    Things to Do
    1. Check out the hallowed Ecuadorian rotisserie chicken at Pico Rico (4107 W. North Ave.; 773-252-7426), which has been marinated in achiote, orange juice, garlic, and salt.

    2. Celebrate “King’s Day” at Brasserie Jo (59 W. Hubbard St.; 312-595-0800) January 5th, when every patron will get a free piece of galette de rois made by the French Pastry School’s Jacquy Pfeiffer. (If you get the bean in your piece, you are crowned king, or queen.)

    3. Drool over some fantastic food photos, courtesy of a member of Lthforum.com (http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.ph ... cc83b8c301) who recapped the ten best things he ate in 2005.

  • Post #28 - January 4th, 2006, 9:28 pm
    Post #28 - January 4th, 2006, 9:28 pm Post #28 - January 4th, 2006, 9:28 pm
    Keeping in mind that others have already posted some of my favorites, here's a list of favorites that may exclude a few ... but Top 10 is an unnatural restriction, anyway...

    1. This sandwich from Shapiro's, Carmel location

    Image

    2. This hash and eggs from Kuma's (lamentably removed from the menu) and the absolutely perfect, fresh, hot biscuits in the background;ctually, ESPECIALLY those perfect, fresh, hot biscuits!

    Image

    3. The Virginia ham and eggs at Mama Steve's, Williamsburg, VA

    4. The kringle on the left from Bendtsen's in Racine

    Image

    5. This Philadelphia-style cheesesteak from Philly's Best's Logan Square outlet; no, really!

    Image

    6. Duke's Mayonnaise!

    Image

    7. This pig at Klas

    Image

    8. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes at Hollyhock

    Hollyhock Hill

    9. The flan at Dorado

    Image

    10. Grits at Harry's Hot Dogs (pictures unavailable)
    JiLS
  • Post #29 - January 5th, 2006, 8:39 pm
    Post #29 - January 5th, 2006, 8:39 pm Post #29 - January 5th, 2006, 8:39 pm
    Here are 10 new dishes/experiences for 2005 in order of preference. Thanks to LTHers to pointing the way to many of these!

    10). Mushroom lo mein at LTH: Quite a surprise considering all their other strengths.

    9). Peach cobbler, Pearl's Place: Beurre, beurre, toujours du beurre.

    8). Cabritos, Casa di Samuel: Although it might have been the pasilla sauce and homemade tortillas that made the day.

    7). Five fruit pie, Healthy Food: Although the fact that I got it direct from the oven may have given it an unfair advantage.

    6). Steamed pork dumplings, Ed's Potsticker House: Now if someone could just tell me how to eat these suckers without scalding my mouth while still preserving their integrity, I would appreciate it.

    5). Apple dumpling, Fisher's (I think), Reading Terminal, Phila: I was very hungry. It did the trick all by itself.

    4). Speaking of Phila, dark chocolate gelato, Capogiro: Better, earthier, more expensive than any I had in Rome (including San Crispino)

    3). Speaking of Rome, Espresso, Caffe Italia, Harlem Ave., Chicago

    2). Speaking of Rome: Pasta w/ guanciale and chestnuts, Brik, just north of Piazza Navona

    1). A Polish (of indeterminate origin) and Beck's at Sox park during the first playoff game against the Angels. Perhaps it was the ambience . . .
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #30 - January 5th, 2006, 9:13 pm
    Post #30 - January 5th, 2006, 9:13 pm Post #30 - January 5th, 2006, 9:13 pm
    Jim, you me and Trixie need to break bread sometime, because the two of you seem to like all of the good stuff. Kringle, pig, country ham, corned beef, mayo and grits sounds like my last meal, ever.

    And Van Winkle 20 of course, which I'm sipping now.

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