Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Meals, I've Had a Few, But at Least 10 Worth a Mention

I sketched this entry out weeks ago, and then S. Irene Virbila (or Sirene as we like to call her) in the LA Times beat me to the conceit. But I'm going to do it anyway, especially as I don't know what else to write tonight. So here it is, in chronological order, INOTBB's Top Ten Meals of 2008! (Brought to you by a local gym.) This list does leave out a Thanksgiving feast starring turkey from my father-in-law's smoker in which every dish was perfection, so all apologies.

1) Square One, Santa Barbara, January 12

Foie gras. But even better Chateau d'Yquem. You can read about it in 900 word detail here. Simply put, there is stuff worth $200 a bottle.

2) Fontaine de Mars, Paris, March 24 & 29

Yes, we ate there twice in a city with hundred of restaurants worth sampling. Cassoulet can do that to a person. I've scribbled the details already here. The prune dessert took the cake, even if it wasn't one.

3) Petrossian, Paris, March 26

It's nice to have a memorable meal on your birthday. Especially when it gets you in touch with your Russian (OK, Ukrainian) roots. Again, the fishy, lovely details are here.

4) Le Comptoir, Paris, March 27

We ate well in Paris, what can I say? I'm leaving out a night of souffles and lots of other good stuff limiting my choices to just these 3 places. The most amazing thing about Le Comptoir, in retrospect, is that we got in at all. Google it and you'll see it's supposed to be one of the tougher reservations in Paris. Or it could all happen like this.

5) Spago, Los Angeles, June 27

A big part of this evening is that Amy and I were accompanied by my two sisters and niece on their first as-a-group CA visit (since no one ever vacations in Santa Barbara, let alone when you can stay for free with a family member). But at the end of their stay we were in LA and we wanted to do something truly LA-ish, so thought Spago. And while we are nobodies and had never been there, we were treated like stars. They even were super-accommodating to my 9-year-old niece. Oh, yeah, the food was terrific, too. This place ain't cheap, but it delivers, decades into Wolfgang Puck's fame he could so easily coast on.

6) Stone World Bistro and Gardens, Escondido, July 11

And this meal was with Amy's family, right before her dad's big 70th birthday bash. A wonderful evening of family, brew (my first taste of Stone's 12th Anniversary and Dogfish Head's Santo Palo Marron), and the most terrific clams. That's all written about here.

7) Downey's, Santa Barbara, August 6

My favorite restaurant in Santa Barbara. John Downey makes seasonal 4-course dinners each, uh, season, and they always rock. This one is the best I've been to, with a duck I not only can still taste, but I can also still read about still tasting it.

8) Our house, beer v. wine dinner, Santa Barbara, August 23

Another one of those dinners where the company is at least half the fun, but we really nailed our own 4 course dinner. It didn't hurt that each course was matched with both a beer and a wine. Oddly enough, I wrote about it. But not the next morning.

9) Nopa, San Francisco, August 31

Can't say enough about Nopa, one of those fresh is best places. Amy and I, accompanied by her brother Ken, went during Slow Food Nation and while there saw many participants, such as Greg Koch, CEO of Stone Brewing, try to come in and eat. We had a reservation. This place nails cocktails, serves brilliant beans as appetizers, makes entrees to die for. I didn't write about it. But I still salivate. And you can to walk to it from Amy's brother's apartment.

10) Villa Creek Wine Release Party, Paso Robles, September 27

A magical afternoon, as Villa Creek opened almost all of its wines in at least a 3-year vertical. They're fans (as I am) of big and bold wines, a specialty of the Paso region (Turley is relatively a neighbor). The wine might have been enough to get them on the list, but Villa Creek Winery is also connected to Villa Creek Restaurant. Chef Tom Fundaro is a magician, as he can whip up giant (I mean 4 feet across) paellas on oak grills. A whole slew of them, each with a different feature; I liked squid ink best, but I'm murky like that. But the paella was just one part of a feast that just kept coming.

And may the food and wine and beer and cocktails keep coming in 2009.

And may I convince my body that typing is a form of all-around exercise.



Blogger Mike said...

I'll have the lot.

4:20 AM  
Blogger Smitty said...

I am at a loss for good paella in Michigan. There are plenty of places that serve paella, but no place that really gets it.

I had some paella when I was on a security float in the Meditarranean and we got a little time in Spain before heading towards Africa. Perhaps I am holding my standard too high?

6:54 AM  
Blogger regina said...

All in one year?! You're my hero.

9:08 AM  
Blogger E-6 said...

A message to you Foodie...

Were any of them the daily Specials? Great stuff, George. You eat like a king.

*wipes drool from keyboard*

10:18 AM  
Blogger Queen Whackamole said...


Here's wishing you beer and galettes in 2009!

11:11 AM  

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