I know this post is um… a bit late. And some bloggers would’ve scrapped it all together. But you guys know how much I love food so I really couldn’t resist sharing.
Dear lord, in 2014 I ate well. So well that I just had to recap the greatest hits, because guys, there were many.
Whether I was in Madrid or Malaysia, or a London food market or ski-in Swiss restaurant or a Vietnamese street cart, I was chowing down on something delicious.
What I love too is that all of these meals brought back good memories, what is exactly what good food does. It’s personal. It’s emotional. It’s sentimental. It makes you smile, even in retrospect.
Seafood Pasta // Murano, Italy
While I was disappointed by the food in Venice, on nearby Murano I had one of my favorite Italian meals of all time.
After a bit of sightseeing on the island, we moseyed into a little hole-in-the-wall to have lunch. A few spritzes later, out came a succulent seafood pasta brimming with razor clams, shrimp and mussels.
While I normally find seafood pasta ho-hum, this was anything but. Nom.
Swiss Barley Soup // Grindelwald, Switzerland
For starters, I freaking love soup. I love everything about soup. I love that it’s homey and warm and wintery, and that you can sop it up with bread. Because carbs.
But I especially love soup while sitting at picnic table in Switzerland, sipping a local pils and watching clouds drift lazily over the Alps. While the slopeside food in Switzerland was gourmet (Colorado, let’s step up our game please), this traditional barley soup dusted with dried wildflowers was the best thing I tried.
Swiss barley soup on the ski slope? 12 francs well spent.
Okonomiyaki // Brixton Village, London
As I rhapsodized rather extensively, London is a foodie wonderland. During my three weeks in the Big Smoke I ate more than I should have and frequented lots of food markets.
One of my favorite finds? This okonomiyaki at Okan in Brixton Village. Okonomiyaki is a savory pork and scallion pancake topped with fish flakes and spicy mayonnaise, and while the one I had at Okan was the first (and only) I’ve tried, I’m pretty sure it was top-of-the-line. I mean look at it.
Bao // Netil Market, London
Seriously guys. That bao though. I can barely look at this picture without feeling sad and I wish I were kidding about that.
I discovered this delicious creation at Bao Bar at Netil Market, where bao is the only dish on the menu.
The doughy bun was filled with slow-braised pork belly, pickles and cilantro and dusted with peanut powder, a dish that was not only delicious but visually and texturally appealing. Perfection.
Bread and Butter Pudding // East London
This bread and butter pudding was like crème brûlée on uppers: it had a toffee brown-butter flavor, a crispy crust and a luscious crème anglaise. As I wrote in my post, I was literally sighing with happiness over this bread and butter pudding, and that’s not even hyperbole.
Salted caramel tart // East London
Okay, okay. I know we’re all kind of over salted caramel and it’s en route to become as banal as chocolate lava cake. But this salted caramel tart was absolutely delightful: decadent, nuanced, chocolatey and topped with coarse sea salt. Plus, I had it at Pizza East, a super chic restaurant on the Eating London tour which I absolutely will return to.
Cream Tea // Lincoln, England
At long last, last year I ventured to the North of England. Up north I tasted many English specialities for the first time: crumpets, Sunday roast and my favorite- cream tea.
Who wouldn’t love piles of buttery scones, moist lemon cakes and the best smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches ever, all washed down by a pot of tea?
And the ambiance was bar-none- a quaint, timber-framed tea shop perched above a swan-filled river. How very English.
Smoked Mackerel with Poached Egg and Prosciutto // Brighton, England
It’s no secret that I loved Brighton– and after riding rollercoasters on the pier, I found my new favorite seafood restaurant, Riddle and Finns.
There I ordered smoked mackerel on a bed of colcannon, drenched in a sauce reminiscent of my beloved New England Clam Chowder, topped with a poached egg and crispy prosciutto. Yes.
Bacalao // Madrid, Spain
Wow, bacalao. While as we all know, fresh cod is well, meh, salted cod is another beast altogether. (Geek moment- the history of cod is actually fascinating and I would totally recommend this biography on cod.)
Anyway, if you’re ever in Madrid head to Casa Revuelta for bacalao, a crispy, salty intensely flavorful cod creation that you should probably wash down with Mahou and enjoy with friends and/or Spanish strangers.
Indian feast // Delhi, India
On my first night out in Delhi, my travel buddy and I beelined to Bukhara. Bukhara is one of Delhi’s fanciest restaurants, the kind of place the Clinton’s go when they’re in India.
While normally a raging tourist trap is the total opposite of my scene, I’m so glad I headed TripAdvisor in this case. At Bukhara McCall and I gorged ourselves on the best Indian of our lives: juicy, charred lamb skewers, vats of creamy dahl and buttery piles of naan. And at the end of our trip, we went to Bukhara’s sister restaurant in Agra for a near identical meal. In both cases, we struggled to walk after.
Paneer butter masala // All Over India
During my six-week stint India, paneer butter masala was one dish that I ordered again and again and again.
I took the following picture at a roadside restaurant but it wasn’t the only place I had it- I became borderline addicted to the rich, buttery joy that is paneer butter masala. Accompanied by nan slathered in ghee, obviously.
Duck Soup // Bangkok, Thailand
While abroad, I’ve been known to find one amazing Singaporean hawker center/Vietnamese street stall/rundown Italian café, and return daily. The following duck soup stall in Bangkok was no exception.
Truly, this duck soup may be the best dish on this list. While I procured it at a humble street stall across the street from Lub d Silom, it would’ve been at home in any self-respecting Michelin restaurant.
Slippery rice noodles, braised duck thigh, a smattering of herbs, the umami broth of dreams… can you blame me for having it every day?
Pandan Noodle Dessert ??? // Penang, Malaysia
One of the things that delighted me most about Malaysian food was that it was all new. As I had never been to a Malaysian restaurant at home or abroad, Malaysia was my personal food discovery paradise.
While normally I research food very carefully, I have no idea what the following dish is. It seemed like pandan noodles topped with palm sugar and grated coconut and should probably be in every trendy restaurant ever.
If you know what this is- speak up- and please, send along a recipe!
Curry Laksa // Kuala Lumpur
Is this dish not just gorgeous? And not only gorgeous, but tasty. I could truly tuck into curry laksa every damn day.
Curry laksa was one of my favorite dishes in the two weeks I spent in Malaysia: a creamy, flavorful broth filled with deep-fried tofu, cockles and al dente egg noodles, all topped with chili paste. YUM.
Bánh cuốn // Hanoi, Vietnam
I ate a lot of delicious street food while in Northern Vietnam in June: miến lươn (eel vermicelli soup), bún bò nam bộ (vermicelli with grilled beef), Hanoi-style phở, nem rán (fried spring rolls) and more.
But the best meal I had was bánh cuốn with bacon, mint and chili that I groggily procured one hungover morning.
The meatiness of the grilled bacon, the acidity of the lime vinegar, the fragrant crunch of the herbs… oh god. Take me back.
Though overall I definitely prefer southern Vietnamese to northern, and Saigon rather than Hanoi style phở, this Northern Vietnamese dish was hangover gold.
And to add insult to gastronomic injury- this dish cost 35,000 dong, or less than $2.00. That’s sales tax.
Worst meal of 2014: Nutella crepe (with black hair) and rotten eggs // Rishikesh, India
Hey, you can’t win ’em all. My worst meal of 2014 was by far this brunch from hell in India.
The meal started with such earnest intentions- my travel buddy and I were going to enjoy a leisurely brunch on our one day off from yoga school. The waiter first dropped off the Nutella crepe, which I tucked into happily. It tasted… off, so I opened it to discover several long, black hairs.
Normally I brush off hair in food- it could be mine after all, right? But in this instance there was no way- it was too long and black.
So I turned to my eggs, which again, tasted off. I called over the waiter and asked, “Sir, are these eggs bad?”
“Yes, they are.”
“Um, what? Why would you serve me rotten eggs?”
He shrugged. “Because the man who was supposed to bring the eggs this morning never came. It is not my fault.”
So I paid the bill and left. Which in retrospect, why on earth did I pay? The result of this terrible brunch was, shocker- debilitating food poisoning. My travel buddy threw up in a bush and I went home to vomit violently for my entire day off. Good times.