This year we have been so fortunate to explore the Bay’s food culture quite extensively. We sampled street food, California cuisine, artisanal, organic ingredients and some of the finest pastries. It was also such a pleasure to enjoy some new finds and old favorites in Boston. Some of our favorite meals or most memorable dishes from 2013 are highly recommended to everyone in 2014. Our three favorites in the Boston area were at Tatte, o ya and Asta.
At Tatte Bakery (BMH’s review of Tatte Fine Cookies and Cakes, Cambridge), we enjoy the decor including wooden communal table and gorgeous light fixture. The display of pastries and nut tarts are quite impressive, but we especially love the warming shakshuka. The bell peppers tomato sauce, topped with feta and aromatic herbs and perfectly poached eggs served in a pan with fluffy challa bread is just so darn delicious.
One of the signatures at o ya‘s (BMH’s review of o ya, Leather District, Boston) are the grilled chanterelle and shiitake mushroom sashimi with rosemary garlic oil, sesame froth, soy. Expectations were high, but equally delivered.
We loved the 3, 6, or 8 course tasting menu options. Overall, we were quite impressed by Asta‘s (BMH’s review of Asta, Back Bay, Boston) dishes, which were quite creative and a nice representation of a a great meal in a casual, but friendly ambiance. Asta’s pressed duck confit ”cake” with corn and beans was unbelievably rich duck flavor and cut by the freshness of the corn kernals and green bean medley.
In the Bay, we loved our top dining experiences at SF hot spots Rich Table and State Bird Provisions, as well as legit Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches shop, Cafe Bunn Mi. In our west coast travel adventures, we went to The Kitchen in Boulder and love stopping by Swanton Berry Farm driving down the PCH, For sweets, we loved Coi‘s desserts, everything at B. Patisserie and learned a ton about macarons and cakes from Bombini and CandiCakes.
For fantastic service and amazing pastas, we highly recommend Rich Table (BMH’s review of Rich Table, Western Addition, San Francisco). Of all the dishes, we thought the pappardelle, dry aged beef, mushrooms broccoli and mint was spectacular. This pasta dish is one of the top once we have ever eaten. Perfectly al dente, a concentration of beef and layers of umami flavor and various textures.
Our friends scored reservations to the hard to get into James Beard 2013 winning State Bird Provisions (BMH’s review of State Bird Provisions, Western Addition, San Francisco) and the signature dish of the California state bird with lemon and parmesean is the bombdotcom. This is the dish to order.
Cafe Bunn Mi is one of our favorite Viet banh mi shop in all of SF. Perfect mix of grilled pork, pickled veggies, cilantro, crusty baguette and in the perfect ratio. What’s smart is the restaurant is very friendly to all customers and clean.
The Kitchen‘s (BMH’s review of The Kitchen, Boulder, Colorado) lamb burger is one of the best burgers ever eaten. The char grilled Colorado lamb patty had red pepper relish and nicely crisp fries.
Our favorite stop and detour is grabbing a cider or lemonade from Swanton Berry Farm (BMH’s review of Swanton Berry Farms, Davenport, California and trip down the California Coast Highway 1). There are great jams, pies and other treats sold too, all on a cash honor system. We love all the decor including chess, vintage books and trinkets.
At Coi, (BMH’s review of Coi, North Beach, San Francisco) we deeply enjoyed the well orchestrated tasting menu, but one of the highest notes was the whipped coconut “ice cream” olive oil, haogen melon, field rhubarb. A truly unique and creative dessert.
We are obsessed with macarons, especially French ones and wanted to finally debunk how to make them Bonbini (BMH’s review of Bonbini Macaron Class, Protero Hill, San Francisco). With the Italian meringue technique, we realized this helps reduce the margin of error which can come with these tempermental meringues.
B. Patisserie‘s (BMH’s review of B. Patisserie, Pacific Heights, San Francisco) Kouign Amann and everything else is some of the best of all the bakeries. The level of expertise, craftmanship and absolutely care shows in every product we have tried. This is cream of the crop and we can’t stop going back for more sweets.
Finally, our friend CandiCakes (BMH’s review of Engagement Cakes with CandiCakes) gaves us a one-on-one teach in on how to make fabulous cakes for our friends’ recent engagements. Italian meringue butter cream is fabulous. Again, the meringue (plus butter and sugar), creativity and pro pointers is really what makes these cakes special.
To 2014 and may the upcoming year be full of delicious food adventures.