Here's a look back at 2010 one more time, specifically how it relates to the food I ate. Here are the highlights.
I remember my very first Cannelle vividly. It was our first time to Paris and the magic of the Patisserie windows were enchanting. We came across an old fashioned and well loved looking pastry filled window just around the corner from our hotel in the 15th, a line is often a good sign. I purchased a couple mini cannelles and readiest myself for this new treat. My first bite was a revelation. Slightly crispy and deep caramel on the outside, then a resistant chew, leading to a heavenly moist, interior, custardy but open, with just the right amount of sweetness. The taste was that of flavours that magically transform when the simplest ingredients like eggs, milk, sugar and flour come together in a hot oven with just the right kind of pan. I was delighted. It was like nothing I'd had before, yet there was something familiar. Creme brulee baked, perhaps? Since then I've come across them once in awhile. But nothing would rival that Parisian Cannelle moment and for the most part I pass on them, like pain au chocolate and macarons, not able to withstand the infuriating emotions that erupt when my disappointment becomes unbareable. That was until Ken's Artisan Bakery in Portland, Oregon. While enjoying my obligatory orange flecked "Morning Bun" and Oregon Croissant (turns out they are better with blackberries!) my eyes caught sight of a plate of cannelles, of all things. It was as if a French soundtrack started to play. I can spot a worthy pastry from quite far away, a handy trick when confronted with too many options for this not too tiny tummy, and I could tell these were a must from their consistently deep coloured exterior and just the right amount of shine and texture on the surface, with just a tiny pool of cooled, melted butter in the indendation on top. One bite into these caramelized, eggy, sweet little scalloped pastries screamed perfection, which is no small feat since these beauties are pure technique and just plain fiddly. While that first in Paris will always remain close to my heart, this cannelle was certain to hold its place in my Pastry Canon, holding its own with a Seattle Pain au Chocoalate and a Gerard Mulot Macaron.
Best Dinner at a Friends house: Meat Candy
While 2010 wasn't the first time I had this dish, it was a year I was fortunate to realize I had found my "death row meal". These Bourbon Glazed Ribs, originally adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe, have become, whether she likes it or not, a specialty of my friend Ruth. Plenty of smokey muscovado sugar and so much bourbon the oven door is blown open during cooking, make a sauce that caramelizes into a sticky candy coated lollipop of pork, which is why I've coined it Meat Candy. Those finger bowls are a nice touch, but I don't remember using them much, since there's no way I'm washing away the sticky coating of bourbon, brown sugar and meat juices from these fingers with anything but my tongue! I recommend being vocal about your love for that special dish a friend makes. It gets you invited back! I've never made ribs in my life and don't plan on it. I have a friend who gives me the gift of these Meat Lollys enough times in the year. How lucky for me!
Coming from a city with a wasteland of exceptional wood fired pizza, a good piece of pie is always on my radar when travelling and our fall "foodcation" was full of credible options. Upon arrival into San Francisco we went straight to Pizzeria Delfina. There were very high expectations surrounding this lunch and it did not disappoint. Seated in a sidewalk table in the colourful Mission neighborhood, I literally gasped when this pizza arrived. The only thing thing missing was a spare stomach to try more of their unique pizzas, including one with broccoli raab and several options with housemade sausages. We had a vibrant pie covered in local, fresh cherry tomatoes, bursting open from the ovens heat and fresh ricotta cheese, the tomatoes adding acid and sweetness to the creamy, salty cheese. The lack of a traditional sauce let the pizza dough itself shine through, allowing a chewy, flavourful dough the chance to really be tasted. And all the beautiful charred bubbles were crackly crisp. The second one was one of the most interesting pizza I've ever had, covered in generous guaincale, unsmoked bacon, sliced torpedo onions, plenty of whole black peppercorns and a coating of cream. Think spaghetti carbonara on pizza. This really was my most memorable pizza experience and this place alone will get me back to San Francisco sooner than otherwise. And while I may complain that I can't get pizza like this at home, I'm glad because it makes it that much more special.
Twice last year we had another memorable pizza experience at the much lauded and blogged over, Delancey, tucked away in a residential neighborhood of Seattle. I had been following the progress of this opening all year and was quite excited to see what this highly anticipated newcomer to Seattle food scene would deliver. Brandon, the chef, had spent time across the US studying pizza and he obviously came away with quite the education. I was ready to cry with my first bite as DG and I ate in silence. The pizza being the only thing in the room. Plenty of charred bubbles, a dry, crispy crust, lots of cavernous chewy holes, restrained sauce and a simple menu of classics to show off the time and effort that have gone into creating a perfect pizza pie. A pizza bianca was the essence of simple and beautiful covered in excellent ricotta cheese and wild leeks, another tomato sauced version speckled with house made fennel sausage. So enraptured by this little spot we managed to plan our schedule to arrive in Seattle at opening to enjoy one last meal on our way home across the border. Bravo, Delancey. I am in awe of you attention to detail including your popsicles and fresh made chocolate chip cookies for dessert!