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Best of 2009

December 31, 2009

My love for restaurants is fickle.

“I love you, LudoBites 2.0!”
“No, I’m sorry L’Atelier, I didn’t mean it. You’re #1 on my list. Promise.”
“Le Bernardin, forget them all – I just want to be with YOU.”

Yeah, just like that.

This year was monumental, in relation to both the volume and quantity of food I’ve consumed. I’m a girl of extremes – from hole in the wall to the creme de la creme, I’ve really had a little bit of everything. I’m extremely fortunate to be able to have tried all of these in a matter of a year and can only hope that 2010 will be just as fruitful as 2009.

That said, without further ado, I bring to you…

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The Food Ledger’s Best of 2009

(Note: The following only contains restaurants I’ve eaten at for the first time in 2009. First excursion in 2008? Too bad, you can’t be on my list.)

Fine Dining Rocks My Socks

(And the grand prize goes to…)

  1. Le Bernardin (NYC) – Was there any doubt about what I would name as #1 for the year? Please.
  2. LudoBites 2.0 (LA) – Foie gras croque monsieur. Oxtail polenta. Caviar panna cotta. LudoBites 2.0 at Breadbar causes me to salivate every single time I mention its name. Just thinking of it now causes my mind to wander to a happy place…
  3. Hatchi at Breadbar: Michael Voltaggio (LA) – The service? Sucked, big time. The food? Phenomenal. If you’re ever wondering if his food tastes as good as it looks on TV – it does (e.g. the sweetbreads in pea consomme causes me to do that salivating thing again). Not only was the food delicious but hearing Michael himself explain how items like horseradish styrofoam were concocted was quite the treat.

One Bite and I’m Yours

(So close, yet not quite.)

  1. L’Atelier de Joel Roubuchon (LV) – Didn’t quite make it on the fine dining list (its Discovery menu wasn’t consistent enough to stand up against the big boys) but L’Atelier’s foie gras ravioli deserves a list of its own. They’re like little pockets of happiness floating in pure bliss…
  2. Animal (LA) – Animal’s foie loco moco is composed of a hamburger, spam, foie gras and a quail egg, stacked on a pile of golden rice and surrounded in a sweet pool of soy sauce and sriracha. It’s the reason I eat meat. It’s also the reason I could never date a vegetarian.
  3. Masan (LA) – Eating live octopus is fun. It squirms on your plate, saucing itself as it wriggles through the oil, salt and pepper, and then suction cups to the roof of your mouth as you chomp down. Sashimi doesn’t get fresher than that! (NOTE: pictures and video on Flickr)

Almost…But Not Quite

  1. The Bazaar (LA) – A very close #4 on my Fine Dining list, the final decision came down to the flip of a coin (Not really…but it was close!). Without doubt, The Bazaar boasts the best DineLA menu ever and makes me that much more excited to try out Saam in the next year. (Maybe a 2010 contender?)
  2. Caracas Arepas (NYC) – The wait staff won’t divulge the secret of their hot sauce, and with good reason – it’s ridiculously tasty. Now that I’ve had that first nibble of a Venezuelan arepa, how will I be satiate the craving if/when it arises? (I’ve been told that there are no good Venezuelan arepas in Los Angeles, someone please prove me wrong!)

I Can’t Live Without

  1. Beverly Soon Tofu (LA) – Someone tell me how I ever survived without Beverly Soon Tofu?! It’s my home away from home, where I go when I’ve had a bad/good/ordinary day and just just need a big ole bowl of pipping hot tofu and rice. More often than not, you can find me tucked away in a corner by myself at 10pm at night, recuperating from a long day of work. I want it, I crave it…Again, I have no idea how I lived without it.

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And thus ends 2009.

Happy New Year everyone! See you in 2010!

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