The Dinner Conversation

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What was the best thing you ate in 2012?

The other day I sat down to dinner at Dovetail but before I ordered I asked Chef Doug what I should order that I didn't have a picture of already. He instantly said, "Try the salmon. That salmon is a great dish."
I said ok but really I was thinking...come on. It's salmon! How special could it be? 

Dovetail's Grilled Salmon with
dill hollandaise
I guess I should have known better. We are talking about a dish by Chef Doug. When I sat down to dinner that night, I ordered the Farmhouse Salad and the Grilled Salmon. I. Was. Blown. Away. The salmon was topped with a dill hollandaise and it was fantastic! It came with herb infused Carolina Gold rice. This rice was so good that it could have been its own dish. It also came with a pea and corn relish that complimented all the other flavors perfectly. I have to apologize to Chef Doug for ever doubting him. My description doesn't do it justice. Trust me on this, just try it.

Shortly after that I read Gourmet Live's "The 53 Best Things We Ate This Year". It included picks from Hugh Acheson of 5&10 in Athens and Empire State South in Atlanta. He said the best thing he ate this year was the bologna sandwich at Au Cheval in Chicago. 

As soon as I saw the article my mind flashed backed to Dovetail's Grilled Salmon. I knew without a doubt that that was the best thing I ate this year. Then I began to wonder what others thought the best thing they ate this year was. So I turned to Twitter and began to ask some of the people we followed what their favorite dish of the year was. Here's what we learned about eating good in 2012.

Our very own Chef Doug Sanneman said the best thing he ate this year was the Goat Vinduloo and Lamb Chettinad at Bombay City here in Macon, Georgia.

L'Etoile's Foie Gras: photo courtesy of
Terrell Sandefur
The dynamic Macon foodie duo of Terrell Sandefur and Priscilla Esser both agreed that Chef Michael Brisson's foie gras at Martha's Vineyard's, L'Etoile was easily the best thing they tasted this year.

J.M. Hirsch, the Food Editor at the Associated Press and author of High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking, told us the best things he ate this year were meals prepared by Chefs April Bloomfield and Seamus Mullen. He also went on to name Tyler Florence's fried chicken as one of the best things he had in 2012. You can read more from J.M. Hirsch on his blog Lunch Box Blues.

Chef David Crews of MDCC Culinary School in Mississippi and Crews Culinary Investments said the Pimento Cheese Burger at Big Bad Breakfast in Oxford, Mississippi was his favorite this year.

Mama Erickson's meatballs: photo
courtesy of Michael Erickson
Michael Erickson, Director of Marketing for Fifth Group Restaurants which owns, La Tavola, Ecco, El Taco, Lure as well as others, says his Mom's meatballs were the best thing he ate this year. When asked if he minded if I quoted him in the blog he said, "Absolutely not! My Mom's meatballs deserve oodles of recognition." I agree. Nothing beats mom's cooking.

We heard from the music loving foodies at Kitchen Mixtape. They talk to chefs about music and they talk to musicians about food. Great idea because I know I love to listen to music while I cook. Their picks for the best thing they ate this year was the Lobster Laksa at Sky On 57 in Singapore and The Elvis waffle sandwich at Bruxie in Orange County, California.

Oysters Dovetail
I asked Moonhanger Group's co-owner, Chad Evans, what his pick for the best thing he ate this year was and without even blinking he named Dovetail's Oysters Dovetail. Then I said, "Now you don't have  to name one of our dishes. Think of every place you've been this year." He traveled quite a bit looking at how different restaurants he admired made their creativity work for them. He thought for a little bit and then looked back at me and said, "Oysters Dovetail". It's great when you believe in your own restaurant that much. It's easy to share a plate you believe in. Our Oysters Dovetail is a southern take on Oysters Rockefeller. We use Benton's country ham, collard greens, cornbread and aged cheddar. It's one of our most picked dishes for a reason.

Alexander Lobrano eats at some of the best restaurants all around the world and then he writes about what he's tasted for magazines like Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Conde Nast Traveler, as well as many others. He's lived in Connecticut, Boston, New York, and London and now he's living in Paris. So with all of that experience in tasting great food, I couldn't wait to hear what his picks were. He chose the Smoked Eggplant with tamarind peanut sauce at Makphet in Vientiane, Laos and the Parmesan Cream Ravioli at Glass Hostaria in Rome, Italy. You can read more about great food from around the world at his blog, Hungry For Paris. You can also read more in his book, Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City's 102 Best Restaurants.

I asked my good buddy and Macon's favorite morning weather meteorologist, Felicia Combs, what her pick for the year was and she told me about a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookie Cake Bar recipe - be still my heart! - she found on Pintrest from Christy Denney's blog The Girl Who Ate Everything. Combs said the recipe was, "very simple, but the most indulgent dessert" she's found. She warns that they are very yummy but have a glass of milk on the ready when you try them.

David Dibenedetto, the Editor-In-Cheif of Garden & Gun magazine, said his pick for the best thing he's eaten this year was General Tso's Duck Skins from McCrady's Restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina.

Atlanta Journal and Constitution Food Writer and blogger, John Kessler, took a trip to one of the world's most revered restaurants this year. He visited Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. Of all the wonderful things he tasted while he was there, he says the Reindeer Moss was his favorite.
We bite into clouds of fried reindeer moss that shatter into hundreds of crisp filaments and fill your mouth with something you recognize from ever having played in the woods, but never thought of as a flavor. It makes you want to kiss the person you’re dining with on the lips.
Now that must have been some amazing tasting food! Bravo, Noma.

Chris M Walsh, Executive Editor of Zagat/Google blogs, says though he, "didn't make it to Dovetail in 2012", the meals he had at Alinea in Chicago, Babbo Ristorante Enoteca in New York, and O Ya in Boston were at the top of his list. And we understand if he couldn't make it to see us because he was at those places. Those are some mighty fine restaurants. No worries, we'll have a seat for him whenever he can join us.

And lastly, Matthew Schoch, Senior Editor of PBS Food told me that the best thing he had in 2012 was the meal he enjoyed at Chef Jose Andres party at the Food & Wine 2012 Classic In Aspen. That could have been enough of a show stopper for me right there. Think about it. The Senior Editor of PBS Foods tells me he was at Chef Andres party at the 2012 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and he had the best food he had all year long. I'm sold. End of blog post.

But then Andrew Zimmern, host of the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods, also chimes in and agrees with Schoch saying the event is his favorite as well, "Every year."

You don't have to tell me twice (or I guess three times). I am already plotting how I can make it to Aspen in June for the 2013 Classic.
Hmmmm...I wonder if they need a DJ?

Looking forward to even better eats in 2013!
Happy New Year!

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