As the year comes to a close, I, like many others, have been thinking about all that’s happened in 2014. I graduated, learned that graduating means next to nothing when looking for a job, watched some great TV shows end (White Collar), and struggled to get through some terrible series finales (How I Met Your Mother and True Blood). Oh, and I ate. A lot. In effort to make sense of what seems like a blur of empty bottles and plates, I’ve collected some of my favorites below. So sit back, pour yourself a glass of something, and enjoy.
Best Savory Bite: I figured I’d kick off this list with the choice that was the most difficult for me. How does one choose just a single bite that was the most memorable? I went back. I went forth. I went back and forth. Then, I finally decided on the Duck Scrapple from A(muse.), a restaurant in Rehoboth that won my heart the second I saw the walls covered in pages of The Joy of Cooking. This particular dish had a crispy outside, a rich, creamy center, and sparked when tasted in conjunction with the juicy apple rounds adorning the dish. My mouth is watering as I write about it now.
Best Sweet Bite: I love my sweets and have a little nibble of something every day. However, I didn’t have to think twice about my best sweet experience this year. It came from Zahav in January and I still think on it fondly. A blend of the Middle East and the U.S., the Tehina Semifreddo featured a nice scoop of ice cream in between two tehina cookies and a side shot of hot chocolate. Personally, I think shots are dumb and never partake in them unless someone is buying and insisting I waste five dollars on a shot over a more pleasurable beverage, but I could get behind hot chocolate shots. Taking a bite of this jazzed up ice cream sandwich and chasing it with a sip of hot chocolate provided me with a complex, textured version of something I loved as a kid.
Best Wine: In all the time I’ve been drinking (read: roughly two years), I have been anti-Chardonnay. The ABC attitude may be dated and incorrect, but I didn’t know that until I tried the vibrant 2012 St. Aubin villages la Princee from Olivier Lamy of St. Aubin. High enough acid to displease some at the table, I couldn’t get enough of this bright wine. It completely shifted my approach to white wine, a wide category that I universally thought of as dull before turning twenty-two.
Best Beer: Though some people believe that they either have to be pro-wine or pro-beer, I’m pro-anything, as long as it’s delicious. The Rodenbach Grand Cru, a sour ale from Belgium, was one of many new beers I tried this year, but it was easily my favorite. This was an intense choice that boasted of a balanced tartness and some interesting funk. It was a beer I wanted to spend some time with, which I did, and one I’d recommend to anyone who is passionate about fun brews.
Best Cocktail: Not usually one for ridiculously boozy cocktails, I was pleasantly surprised by the Bijou I tried at a.bar. This cocktail consisting of gin, vermouth, chartreuse, and orange bitters was lovingly (probably just imagining that) placed in front of me by one of the many
attractive friendly, bearded bartenders. Bold and weighty without being overwhelming, this was great when I first sipped it in the summer and would hold up well in the winter too.
Best Restaurant: An easier pick than my one perfect bite of the year, the best restaurant I tried was Vernick Food + Drink. With knowledgeable and enthusiastic bartenders, a menu varied enough for all kinds of palates, and waiters that served with fluidity, this place was one that I visited multiple times in 2014. It felt like Cheers for the Center City set. They get bonus points for always serving an amuse bouche and introducing me to the deliciousness of tripe too.
Best Food-Focused TV Episode: Though I haven’t done a ton of TV show reviews in the time that I’ve been blogging, my favorite episode of 2014 shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Parts Unknown provided me with my favorite foodie episode this year when Anthony Bourdain delved into Iran. With beautiful imagery and a fair exploration of a country that many judge without knowing, this episode was a joy to watch as an Iranian-American. For those who haven’t seen it, I dare you to get through it without craving Persian food.
Best Food-Focused Movie: Shelling out ten dollars to go sit in a dark theatre with a bunch of kids who can’t stop talking isn’t my idea of a good time, so I’m sort of cheating with this category. I didn’t really see any movies released in 2014 that had anything to do with food, but Netflix allowed me to see a bunch of foodie films released before this year. My favorite was Food, Inc. since it made me think about food, food production, and the way we eat in a new way. Like any documentary, I noticed bias, but the subject matter was too important to dismiss. It wasn’t cheesy, it kept my attention, and it changed my relationship with food, so it was an overall winner for me.
Best Food-Focused Book: Much like the movie category, I’m cheating this round and awarding the best book to something produced well before 2014. Though I never wrote a blog about it, my favorite read this year was My Life in France. I am a Francophile and I adore Julia Child, so a book about the Childs in France was one that I was all over. This wasn’t just a book about food, but also a book about life, and that’s where the sweet spot is for food writing. I might even read it again in the upcoming year just so I can award it this win again in 2015.
Now that I’ve thoroughly bored you with my list, I’ll end with hopes of an exciting 2015 and by asking what some of your favorite food things were this year?