My fiancee and I love food. It’s our pastime. One of our love languages. Eating and drinking together and with friends is one of the ways we experience the grandeur of God and the beauty of his creation. It’s the subject (one of them) of my forthcoming book.
Because I adore good food and drink, I thought I’d recap 2012 through the lens of culinary highlights. Below are my picks for the best things I ate and the best places in L.A. (all of which I recommend to fellow food-lovers!):
BEST OF RESTAURANT DINING:
- Cliff’s Edge (Silver Lake): Whipped Ricotta with lavender, honey, olive oil
- Red Hill (Echo Park): Arancini stuffed with pork cheek
- Craft (Century City): Cheddar Hushpuppies & Smoked Maple Syrup
- Mesa Grill (Las Vegas): Goat Cheese “Queso Fundido” with rajas and blue corn tortilla chips
- Mess Hall (L.A.): Smoked corn fritters with poblano & pumpkin romesco
- Mesa Grill (Las Vegas): Blue corn buttermilk waffle with blackberry bourbon syrup and vanilla creme fraiche
- Mama’s Fish House (Maui): Mahimahi stuffed with lobster and crab, baked in macadamia nut crust.
- Studio (Montage Laguna Beach): Salmon with Swiss chard, golden raisin and rhubarb
- Ink (West Hollywood): Pork belly, charcoal oil, bbq flavor, petrified yams
- Plan Check (L.A.): Smoky fried jidori chicken, smoked milk gravy, yam preserves, spicy pickled okra
- Craft (Studio City): Butternut Squash Agnolotti
- Wood & Vine (Hollywood): Fried chicken & waffles with maple glaze and sage butter
- Gioia (Park Hyatt Buenos Aires): Homemade ricotta cannelloni with walnuts, spinach and truffle fontina sauce.
- Loft (Montage Laguna Beach): Honeycrisp Apple Souffle with sage ice cream and cinnamon cream
- Charlie Palmer’s (Costa Mesa): Framboise Verrine: raspberry foam, pistachio cremeaux, chambord gelato.
- The Pie Hole (L.A.): Maple Custard pie
- Taste on Melrose (West Hollywood): chocolate brioche bread pudding.
- Ray’s Stark Bar (L.A.): Cherry cobbler with almond streusel and vanilla ice cream
- Ink (West Hollywood): burnt wood ice cream
- Umamicatessen (L.A.): Tres leches doughnuts with cajeta and ceylon cinnamon
BEST OF L.A.
Best place to get coffee: Handsome Coffee; runner-up: Cognoscenti Coffee
Best place to get pizza: Pitfire; runner-up: Pizzeria Mozza
Best place to get amazing cheese: The Cellar Cheese Shop; runner-up: The Cheese Store of Silver Lake
Best breakfast spot: Haute Cakes; runner-up: Huckleberry
Best dessert spot: Pie-Hole; runner-up: Magnolia Bakery
Best chocolates: Jin Patisserie; runner-up: Vosges
Best bakery: Proof; runner-up: Porto’s
Best burger: Umami; runner-up: Father’s Office
Best local brewery: The Bruery; runner-up: Golden-Road
Best beer selection: Mohawk Bend; runner-up: Little Bear
Best food+beer combination: Playground; runner-up: Beachwood BBQ
Best place to enjoy a cocktail without losing your hearing: Wood & Vine; runner-up: The Varnish
Most interesting food: Ink; runner-up: Umamicatessen
Most interesting drinks: The Bazaar; runner-up: Rivera
Best place to spot a celebrity chef: Joan’s on Third
Trends most likely to continue in 2013: pop-up restaurants, supper clubs, fried chicken & waffles, charcuterie renaissance, artisan and homemade everything.
Trends most likely to fizzle out soon: food trucks, savory doughnuts, artisan pop-tarts for adults, bacon in dessert, cupcakes, smoked everything.