Sunday, October 14, 2007

Best bites this year (Part I)

October finds me a year older. Being the strange cookie that I am, I still look forward to turning the page on the calendar year after year. I also enjoy spending some alone time to reflect on the days gone by. Food often plays a major part during that reflection as they are intertwined with my memories of happy times, sad times, and all the times in between.

This year, I found myself revering in the wonderful memories of the terrific tastes that have hit my palate, many of them undocumented on this blog due to my laziness. I thought it would be fun to put together a best bites list to show off all my unused photos. This best bites list is not in any order because, well, I don't keep things in order in my mind. It is also because I am incredibly lazy during my free time. I intend to list three bites at a time. I'll stop when the good eats run out.

1. Pretzel bar from the Chocolate Bar in nyc
The photo above shows the loaded shelf inside the tiny store. The folks there have concocted a dizzying range of nostalgic bars with creative artsy wrappers. My absolute favorite is the pretzel bar, a beautiful combination of salty and crunchy pretzel bites encased in rich dark chocolate.

2. Grilled Hamachi cheek from Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta
What separates a truly talented chef from the mere mortal is the chef's ability to show restraint when faced with great ingredients. In this case, Chef Linton Hopkins prescribed light grilling that brought out the natural creaminess of the hamachi cheek. The yuzu-based dipping sauce added just a bit of fruity acidity to cut through the fattiness.

3. Pan-fried hairy crab soup dumpling from the Whampoa Club in Shanghai
Chef Justin Leung ingeniously hid the aged dark rice vinegar inside the pork dumpling, creating a soup dumpling of sort. The sticky porky mixture oozed out in dramatic fashion with my first bite to flavor the thick sauce laden with the most robust hairy crab roe underneath. For those who know how much hairy crab roe cost in Shanghai and how much cholesterol it contains, the decadence of this dish is astounding and exemplifies the spirit of old Shanghai.

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