Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Best meals of 2016

I fell in love with green chile while living in Santa Fe.  Thankfully, since you could not go many places without encountering it.  On burgers, in mac and cheese, and breakfast burritos.  I was spoiled in that particular category.  There was a walk up place that offered a gigantic burrito with bacon, sausage, chorizo or carne asada.  Typically, I preferred the bacon breakfast burrito with green sauce.  AMAZING.
I think I have slimmed down, a little, since relocating to Denver since I don't have access to the breakfast burrito on a daily basis.  Sure they are offered here.  I just haven't found one to replace the ones I found in Santa Fe.  My favorite meal in Santa Fe is hard to pinpoint, too.  I shared many meals with Melody.  We would meet for lunch at the local beer spot that offered homemade bread and insisted on a farm to table type of restaurant.  They had no microwave or can opener in the house and I can attest to the quality of the food.  Or, there was a salad place that was a little on the shi-shi side of life that poured the worst glass of wine.  Still I liked the salads and patio atmosphere.  I befriended a few of the bartenders which always eases the situation eventually.  I would dine with Teo, Marc or Melody.  I was not short of willing participants to dine with me there. 
Birthdays are presented opportunities to check out the restaurant scene.  I went to a French place two years running.  I loved the atmosphere in spite of the fact that they did not have a bar.  Small space where they utilized as much as they could.  They left the bar seating out.  Teo and I shared a cheese platter, roasted cauliflower and truffled French fries.  Melody and I shared octopus (yummy), cheese and steak frites.  I wasn't too thrilled about this choice but in the spirit of compromise we had steak.  I should have held firm with my lack of desire to eat steak.  Veiny cut--yuck!
Dining is Denver is always a treat.  Mostly since it involves dear friends that have known me for a while.  This past year was lovely.  I had the opportunity to dine with Sara Jo, the Goddess, Tiffany, Shari, Bryn and Maghan on multiple occasions.  The best meal was potentially with Tiffany, Dan, Shari and Maghan.  We checked out a new spot that sported exposed brick and a welcoming atmosphere.  We tried everything on the menu and shared it.  It was awesome! 
Shari and I also met with Sara Jo and my travel friend, Troy, for a meal in Denver.  We shared calamari, mac and cheese, paella and a cheese board.  I enjoyed the food but loved the conversation. 
Austin offered nonstop food options.  We did Thai, Asian, Italian and pork inspired places. Oh and food truck Friday.  Tacos, doughnuts, and eventually pizza.  I loved the food scene in Austin.  I think outside of food truck Friday, my favorite meal was Thai.  We sat around a table that had benches and we were placed near couples and a birthday party of ladies.  We watched them chat and drink wine.  A little too modestly really.  They were not 21 and so it made sense.  My friend, Vegas, insisted on buying them a round of saki.  After that point, they were super friendly to us, haha.
Chicago is another food centric city.  I had spent some time there in the past and knew of places that I enjoyed.  Maghan and I returned to a trendy Vietnamese spot for appetizers, hot dogs (a must while in Chicago) and had two meals at the purple pig.  Because, yes, it is that good.  Fortunately, we found seating in front of the cooking station.  The first day there was limited interaction with the kitchen.  On our return, they recognized us and so we were greeted and more than taken care of.  I think my favorite meal was the stuffed squid.  We ended up ordering two of these.  The next day we chose the waygu beef and marinated pork shoulder.  Awesome and another contender for best dish of the year.
While in Las Vegas, my friend had a random virus that limited our adventurous dining.  We did manage a Thai meal that was pretty incredible.  Located off Strip where they promised us no problem hailing a cab on the return (complete liars) she tried curry and I had some calamari and curry.  Of course no trip to Vegas is complete without a meal at Bouchon and Olives.  Too of my all time favorite spots to belly up to the bar.  While Jennifer recovered in the room I dined on tuna carpaccio and octopus.  Of course, drinks were included and I had befriended a bartender from previous trips so I was in good hands.
That night we had appetizers at a tapas place and concluded the trip with a meal at Bouchon.  It was delightful although I would have preferred checking out more of the food.  Jennifer still was nursing her virus and I am thankful that she rallied.  I would have been bummed had we not been able to go check out the food scene.
I have a friend from my brief stint of work at whole foods that dines with me whenever I am in Phoenix.  A fellow lover of food, I always appreciate dining with Justin.  We checked out a Thai place, I introduced him to the meatball sandwich at Bianco's (which I swear is the best and he agreed) and we checked out another local spot in Arcadia.  That time was a little disappointing.  I thought the kitchen was open til 10.  We arrived a little after 8:30. Talk about being rushed out.  I will not make that mistake again.
Of and while in Phoenix, I stopped by this family owned spot that offers breakfast burritos.  You can see the recurring theme of what I enjoy, right.  While living in Phoenix, I frequented this place and knew that the salsa bar was also a highlight of the experience.  Imagine my surprise when I drive thirty plus minutes to get there and they no longer have breakfast burritos.  Shock.  Dismay.  Disappointment.  The family that owns it is Mexican and the older couple speak limited English.  I know the woman could tell I was upset and so she involved her son who agreed to make me a breakfast burrito.  I explained that I no longer lived in town and had been dreaming of the breakfast burrito.  He suggested that I call ahead next time and that they would honor my request.  Now that is service.
For now, I must conclude this.  I have a date with a treadmill followed by a yoga session.  I will think more on my experience of food for 2015.  I know there is more to consider.

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