Best of 2014

This was a crazy and amazing year filled with lots of great food, friends and travel.  It began in January with a fantastic trip to San Diego with my parents.  They learned more about beer on that trip than they probably ever cared to know hitting up spots like Alpine, Ballast Point and Societe Brewing.  Then Mr. T and I spent a few days in Florida before embarking on an absolutely incredible trip to Copenhagen and Brussels with our close friends and certainly the best beer festival of my life the Copenhagen Beer Celebration.  Add in a few trips to Buffalo, Vermont and Nashville and I would say we've been pretty busy.  But in the end it's always NYC that holds the biggest spot in my heart.  This year the food was better than ever and with new breweries like Third Rail and Other Half joining the leagues of Peekskill, Kane and Barrier there's never been a better time to drink local.  Cheers to 2014!

Best New Sushi- Sushi Dojo

There was a lot of new sushi joints this year but Sushi Dojo stood out as our favorite. This omakase was simply amazing...from the lush fatty Horse Mackerel to the salty Golden Eye Snapper each and every piece was fresh and exciting. I loved watching Chef David delicately braid the two pieces of Needle Fish into one gorgeous bite.

Best Burger- Peter Lugers

I finally got to Peter Lugers for lunch and this burger was everything I was hoping it would be and more...a little bit of funk, lots of juicy innards and tons of flavor.  For $16 this 1/2 pound burger is probably one of the best lunch deals in town.

Best Salad- Gulf Shrimp with Mesclun Inn at Pound Ridge

These shrimp were just beautiful; plump and buttery with fresh slices of ripe avocado and a warm truffle and champagne vinaigrette that was leagues above any dressing I've ever tasted.  I was absolutely in love with this salad and so excited when I found it again at Nougatine a month later.

Best Breakfast- Buvette

This cozy little French Bistro has everything I want in the morning...thick, buttery waffles, steaming hot cappuccinos and some of the fluffiest eggs in the city with the perfect pairing of pecornio and prosciutto.

Best Lunch Deal- Bouley

I always feel like I've escaped to a countryside restaurant in the south of France when I dine at Bouley. The tasting menu at dinner will set you back about $185 but lunch is an absolute bargain at $55 for five courses.  I highly suggest the Porchini Flan and be sure to save room for the Chariot of Bread.

Best "I Need this in NYC" Item- Kebob Pizza

It's not a well known fact but the Swedes put some crazy toppings on their pizza and the most popular happens to be the Kebab made with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, thin slices of beef and creamy garlic sauce.  It's not exactly pretty to look at and eating such a sloppy pie can be a bit challenging but it was so worth each and every bite. 

Best Bar Bites- Gato

Bobby Flay's newest venture has the best bar menu going...three tapas style sized bites for $17.  There's a spicy Beef Crudo, a sweet Eggplant with manchego and balsamic and a gorgeous Lamb Tenderloin with some of the best salsa verde in the city.

Best New Sweet- Domique Ansel Cookie Shot

Two years ago it was his spongy Cannele, last year it was the incredible Frozen S'more and this year Dominique makes an appearance once again for his ingenious invention The Cookie Shot. It's a brown sugar cookie loaded up with delicious Valrhona chocolate, shaped like a shot glass to be filled with milk and eaten as some glorious on the go treat.  It's AMAZING!

Best Ice Cream- Ample Hills Creamery

This Brooklyn hot spot completely won me over with their Toffee Bar Crunch made of thick vanilla bean ice cream, ribbons of caramel, crunchy chunks of toffee and milk chocolate. Bonus points for their gorgeous new spot inside Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Best Bar Opening- The Nomad Bar

It's sexy and sophisticated with killer cocktails, a fantastic beer list and one incredible's the whole package.

Best NYC Brewery- Other Half

I love the local beer scene that's exploded this year and Other Half is at the very top for thier awesome IPA's.  The Hop Showers and All Green Everything are both outstanding but my favorites would have to be the Green Diamonds a double IPA with a bitter mango, orange bite and the Small Green Everything a session IPA with tons of tropical fruit flavors.

Best Brewery EVER- Drie Fonteinen

Words really can't describe how ecstatic I was to visit Drie Fonteinen this year.  I'm a total Geuze Girl and this place is the Geuze mecca. We were able to tour the brewery and see all the funky barrels, meet the owner Armnad and then sit outside in the sun sipping on a bottle of 1997 Oude Geuze.  We followed up the afternoon with more Drie Fonteinen back in Brussels with a Millennium Geuze for dinner at Moeder Lambic.  It was so relaxing and perfect; this may rank as one of the best days of my life.

Best New Beer Bar- St. Gambrinus

I haven't mentioned this place nearly enough for the amount of time I spend there.  It's part bottle shop, part bar with a rotating tap list that always has something incredible on tap.  They offer beer flights in all sizes, delicious sandwiches and the staff are some of the friendliest people around. It's the perfect place to sit back and relax for a good pint or two.

Best Thing I Ate All Year #1- Butter at Noma

This is the best butter in the world.  I'm not kidding.  I took one bite and it was almost like Noma's possible someone was talking to me, perhaps I even missed out on a wine pairing description, all I know is that for one full minute I couldn't focus on anything except that insanely rich, buttery flavor.  That's my little bowl of heaven right there.

Best Thing I Ate All Year #2- The Slut Eggslut

What is the Slut?  A coddled egg on top of smooth potato puree poached in a glass jar with toasted crostini. This. Was. AMAZING.   It was silky and rich with a salty umami flavor that had my eyes rolling back into my head.  This was the best egg I have ever had in my entire life and I will be flying to Los Angeles just to get another one.  

Best Meal of 2014- Manfred's & Vin

The big meal of our trip to Copenhagen was supposed to be Noma and of course it was absolutely incredible.  But the place I always think back to is cozy little Manfred's and Vin. The Chef's tasting menu was incredible.  I was downright enchanted with the buttery, toasted flavor of the onions, amazed by the bright acidity in the beet tartare and absolutely in love with that leek soup. If only I could sit on that little cobblestone street for lunch every day :)

Best of the Rest

Best Local Beer- Kane Sunday Brunch
Best Beer- Funky Buddha Last Snow
Best Side Dish- Corn Creme Brulee at Quality Italian
Best Neighborhood Opening- Cafe El Presidente
Best Wine Bar- Aldo Sohm
Best Veggies- Arnold's (Nashville)