To cap off the old year and herald in the new, the New York Times restaurant critic, Sam Sifton, rounded up the best 15 dishes he enjoyed in New York City eateries during 2010 in a year-end issue.
"Dishes that earned their stars" they're dubbed, and include arroz con pato at Nuela - a duck-based paella "served on a plate the size of a manhole-cover" and meant to be stirred up into one big mess and wolfed down with dinner mates - along with "simply cooked" scallops presented like a gift at the Mark Restaurant, burgundy snails at Má Pêche and a dozen other star performers.
Sifton also remarks on a number of dishes he had outside of New York City that deserve equal acclaim in his 2010 hall of fame, including one that impressed him while scoping out the pre-Winter Olympics scene - black vinegar spare ribs with pine nuts served at the Shanghai River in, and I quote, Vancouver, British Columbia.
Really, the Shanghai River is located in Richmond, on Westminster Highway, between No. 3 Road and Minoru Boulevard, a perfect place to celebrate Chinese New Year when you need a break from the snow. This slight error in geography aside, one's innate chauvinistic bell can't help but ring in recognition of the massive amount of good dining someone of Sifton's stature enjoyed in the Lower Mainland (sure, we knew it all along, but pride rings evermore louder when a respected critic tells you as much) and, it conjures up, once again, the magic of the Games themselves - were they really less than a year ago?
All this recollection of medal-winning, all-star, gold-plated dishes made me pause and wonder what were the best culinary moments I enjoyed during the past year. And I have to confess, I was as startled as you might be to learn that most of them were had right here at home.
So without further ado, here is my list of the best of 2010 from the home scene, not the social scene, and how they made the grade.
MY BEST 10 OF 2010
1. My No. 1 culinary treat last year has to be the fresh B.C. wild sockeye salmon we bought from the boat tied up to the Steveston dock then grilled buff naked over a low flame. What a pleasure, and one more reason to push for sustainable, land-based finfish aquaculture on our B.C. coast.
2. Homemade blueberry pancakes served with Luc Bergeron's Canada No. 3 dark organic maple syrup - best in the land. Top up with more (organic) blueberries, fresh from the valley, and if you're lucky, a wee little glass of Bremner's 100 percent pure blueberry juice, more nectar than juice. I can almost pretend it's summer again.