OK, so this year was a stinker and most of us won’t be sad to see it go. But, there’s a lot of good stuff out there…and I’ve been keeping a list of some of my favorites. So in no particular order, my list for 2016. Listen to it by clicking play below (the list is also included below).
Food Magazine of the Year: Lucky Peach…again
It was the best last year and it’ll probably be the best next year. Oh! And they have the best website of any culinary magazine out there.
NPR’s The Salt is everything you would expect from a marriage of NPR and food. As for What’s Gaby Cooking, I stumbled across her blog when she did one of her book club pieces on my book, EveryDayCook. I started poking around and turns out she has about 6,000 recipes for avocado. I’m never going to be a California girl, but still…now kinda hooked.
Hotel of the Year: Zero George in Charleston, S.C.
The Chicago Athletic Association in Chicago and the L’Horizon in Palm Springs are close runners-up, but the Zero George has everything I look for in a hotel. In fact, if I could, I’d buy the place…and move in.
Restaurant of the Year: 167 Raw, Charleston AND Ma(i)son in Lancaster, Penn.
Runners up: Marcel in Atlanta and Bestia in Los Angeles
A lot of restaurants are doing it right these days, but 167 Raw and Ma(i)son are going above and beyond and getting everything exactly precisely right, the first for seafood (especially raw) and the second for old world cuisine crafted from local ingredients.
Coffee Shop of the Year: OK, first an explanation. Coffee is important, really really important to me and so I drink a lot of it in a lot of different places. The only way I can possibly do any justice to the category is to break this category into three: pour overs, cortados (my preferred expression of espresso) and coffee based drinks, that is beverages based on coffee containing other…stuff.
Pour Over Shop of the Year: Anthology Coffee, Detroit
A pour over is all about clarity and expressing the character of the bean. I can’t tell you why Anthology is so good at it, but they are.
Espresso Shop of the Year: Rowster Coffee, Grand Rapids, Mich.
A very chill place for a very perfect cortado. The roast is right. The grind, the pull and the texture of the dairy, exactly right. And, best of all…once you have your cortado, served in a proper Gibraltar, you really want to just sit there and drink it.
Coffee “Drink” Shop of the Year: Steadfast Coffee, Nashville
Go there. Order an Atlas. Drink it. Write me a “thank you” note.
Cooking Tool of the Year: Control Freak by Breville/PolyScience
On one hand it’s a powerful induction burner with two temperature sensors and an uncanny ability to control the exact temperature of the vessel sitting on it or the liquid therein. On the other hand it’s a combination of the Flux Capacitor and the Starship Enterprise. Yeah, it’s pricey, but there’s no better way to go where no cook has gone before.
Runners up: Any cast iron by Blanc Creatives and any of the knives from BloodRoot Blades
Cocktail Trend of the Year: the Flip
That is cocktails shaken with either whole eggs or egg whites. The roots are colonial, but the modern possibilities are endless. An egg adds richness and changes the way we sense both the aroma and flavor of the drink. The change in viscosity also slows the way most folks consume a drink or maybe that’s just me. Expect this trend to continue into 2017.
Runners up: coffee cocktails and Lambrusco (wine technically, but you get the point)
Ingredient of the Year: Cauliflower…again.
This cruciferous cousin of the cabbage continues its campaign to conquer the entire culinary world and that’s OK with me. This year I had cauliflower nachos for the first time, General Tso’s cauliflower for the first time and buffalo cauliflower for the first time. And yet…and yet, still, home cooks aren’t as into it as they should be. Let’s change that.
Runners up: tinned fish and persimmons