Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dishes of the Year: 2011

This is not something I normally do, but I've come across some great food this past year and decided to compile a list of my favorites. Now, some of these I've had since before this year and they were so good they conquered this year's list as well.

Here it is:

Koji-Pickled Horse Mackerel
[Sunny Isles, FL]
Chef: Kevin Cory

Utilizing the bacteria used to create miso, soy sauce and sake for the pickling of an already stellar ingredient such as horse mackerel, koji (also known as aspergillus oryzae) made for a great agent in flavoring and inspired me to no end. This was a part of Kevin's 13 course omakase offering from one of the best , if not the best, Japanese restaurants in Miami.

Pork Belly. Butterscotch. Bok Choy. Kabocha. Corn Powder.
[Miami Beach, FL]
Chefs: Jose Mendin & Sergio Navarro

This was the first dish I tried on my first visit to Pubbelly around the first month that they opened. Was absolutely blown away by the tenderness and great marrying of butterscotch and pig. A welcome kabocha purée and bright bok choy to soak it all up.

BBQ Shrimp
[Miami, FL]
Chef: Kris Wessel
An undeniable classic. A definitive signature of Kris Wessel's amalgam of New Orleans and Southern Florida cuisine. Served with a side of bread to soak up the Worcestire-laden sauce that is absolutely addictive.

Diver Scallops. Pickled Plum. Sea Beans. Lardo.
[Brooklyn, NY]
Chef: Carlo Mirarchi
Though I was squeezed into a cramped corner of the bar in this hipsterful establishment last minute, I knew I was in for something spectacular. The standout dish of the evening was this lovely plate of perfect diver scallops. What most impressed me was the genius pairing of sweet and acidic freshness from the pickled plum, salted fat in the form of thin lardo strips and a rounded and snappy salinity from the sea beans. It all made so much sense.

Sticky Pork Belly. Cream Soda. Crunchy Turnip. Charred Scallions.
Ideas in Food Cobaya
[Miami, FL]
Chef: Alex Talbot
What most made me happy about this dish was the fact that I could actually taste the cream soda flavor in the pork belly. The crunchy turnip representing a preserved turnip without the overwhelming salinity. Charred scallions are always delicious. A great pairing overall.

Soft Shell Crab
Fatty Crab's
Chef: Zak Pelaccio
Seasoned and fried to perfection. Don't remember what it was served with but I know it was successful. Washed it down with a barrel-aged cocktail.

50/50 Burger
Norman Bros. Produce
[Miami, FL]
Best burger I've had to date. 50/50 means the beef is ground with 50% bacon. Served with avocado, a delicious sauce and all the other fixin's. Only available on Friday's. Worth the trip down south.

Smoked Brisket
ChowDown Grill
[Surfside, FL]
Chef: Joshua Marcus
I don't stop craving this perfectly smoked cut of beef. Served with spicy pickles (usually cauliflower and brussels sprouts). It's been on Chow Down's specials board for a while now. Good thing I'm in walking distance.