Best of 2011 (food-related)

A bit belated but here’s my best of 2011 list:

Best mushroom dish- we’ll start with mushrooms since they top my list of favorite foods–my favorite mushroom dish this year was the hongo la plancha con yema, or fried mushrooms with a poached egg yolk from Bar Ganbara in San Sebastian.  Sure, it was probably the spendiest mushroom dish I’ve ordered to date but it was worth it–where else can I experience the tastiness of local Basque mushrooms in a crowded tapas bar?

Best Thai find- I live in Queens which has an impressive selection of Thai restaurants.  After reading a number of positive reviews of Pure Thai Shophouse, I finally gave it a try over the summer and realized on what I had been missing out.  Well executed, fairly priced, uncommon Thai dishes like wok chili tumeric with beef, which I have tried to replicate at home with limited success.

Best sandwich- I’m not a big sandwich fan, but when I read about the bikini sandwich at Tapac 24 in Barcelona, I knew I had to try it.  Sandwich with melted cheese and truffle flecks–I’m there!  And the sandwich did not disappoint–to the point that when I finally came into possession of a truffle many months later, I tried finding a recipe to recreate the sandwich without much luck so I resigned myself to the thought the sandwich was one that can only be experienced in Spain or perhaps some other European country.

Best opening- I like high-end dining but I’m happy eating at The Meatball Shop any day so I was happy when they opened their second branch in Williamsburg, a neighborhood that I go to regularly.  Their restaurant in Williamsburg is way less crowded than the original one in the Lower East Side, which only makes this location even better.

Best new recipe- I’m always perusing Food Gawker and Tastespotting for new recipes but I would say my find of the year is this osso buco recipe.  Have I mentioned that I’ve been obsessed with braised meat dishes since last year?  The bone marrow is definitely a bonus.

Best grain discovery- I tried a gluten-free diet for a month plus and discovered millet in the process.  A good substitute for polenta that pairs well with hearty meat dishes like beef stew and osso buco.

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