The Docsconz Top Ten Restaurant Dishes of 2012

Enrique Olvera's Sublime Escamoles at Pujol in Mexico City

Enrique Olvera’s Sublime Escamoles at Pujol in Mexico City

2012 was another fabulous year of dining for me highlighted by trips to Italy and Mexico as well as visits through various parts of the United States. I ate very, very well. Here are the dishes that wowed me the most over the course of the year. Some are just amazing examples of top-flight traditional cooking, while others reflect amazing creativity to go with consummate craft. I chose no more than one from any given meal and by necessity left out many, many outstanding dishes.

  1. Escamoles – Pujol, Mexico City 7/21 & 7/25. I didn’t know that the central ingredient of this dish was what it was until after I had eaten it the first time. It tasted like really incredible, buttery corn and looked like small kernels of corn. The reality was that they were a particular kind of ant larvae and that they were very, very delicious. The other unfortunate reality is that their deliciousness has caused them to become threatened as a species. These are insects harvested in the wild. There are efforts to raise these ants under controlled conditions. I hope that they are successful. I would love to eat them again…and again.
  2. Parmigiano Cloud – Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy 4/11 – Massimo Bottura uses Parmigiano from the Vaca Bianca to make this wonderful dish, which is both ethereally delicious and supremely fun. This dish epitomizes the very best of Vanguardist cooking.
  3. Fagotelli “La Pergola” – La Pergola, Rome, Italy  4/17 – Basically pasta, cheese and pancetta, Chef Heinz Beck performs alchemy to create one of the most delicious pasta dishes that I have ever eaten. It is not a “new” dish, but it was new to me. La Pergola would be worth dining at just for this dish alone, but fortunately Beck’s other dishes are also delicious.
  4. Pelona con Carne – La Poblanita, Puebla, Mexico 7/24 – This wonderful sandwich, rich in texture and flavor was perhaps the single most delicious sandwich I have ever eaten. I certainly can’t recall one that I have enjoyed more.
  5. South Carolina Squab – The Catbird Seat, Nashville, TN 5/5 – The squab itself was perfect, but the combination with butter poached white asparagus with a pigeon liver mousse, a sauce made from charred green asparagus  and leaves of lovage and red orach put it squarely over the top.
  6. 35 month aged Culatello di Zibello – Antica Corte Pallavicina, Polesine Parmense, Italy 4/12 – Presented simply, the dish relied entirely on the exquisite product on the plate. This great Italian ham rivals the best of Spain.
  7. Maine Lobster Ravioli – Fiola, Washington, DC – 10/13 – I love lobster, but it is quite difficult to find a dish that really stands out. Fabio Trabocchi’s lobster ravioli were pure delicious decadence that brought the very best out of some superb lobsters.
  8. Tripe Mole – Pillar & Plough, Brooklyn, NY, 1/14 – The restaurant didn’t last long, but it wasn’t because Chef Andres Grundy and his crew weren’t putting out a great product. This mole with tripe was amazing. Deeply and unctuously flavored, it also had great textures within. Chef Grundy needs another stage!
  9. Clawhammer Farm Pork Chop with pickled peppers & rosemary – Arthur on Smith, Brooklyn, NY 6/29 – Thick juicy and packed with flavor that just demanded continued eating, this was a sensational treatment of something very difficult to elevate.
  10. Chinicuiles Ahumados con Corazon de Maguey Horneado – Paxia – Mexico City, Mexico – 7/28 – These were red maguey worms that were crisped perfectly and abundant with flavor. Prior to this trip, I had doubts about eating insects, but dishes like this and Enrique Olvera’s incredible Escamoles (see above) made me finally appreciate their potential in the right hands.


This entry was posted in Bistronomic, Fine Dining, Food and Drink, Italy, Mexico, New York City, Regional, Restaurants, Slow Food, Top Restaurant Meals, Top Tastes, Traditional Ethnic, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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