As I reflect over the past year, important things start playing through my mind like a slideshow. You know; important things like all the delicious things I’ve eaten throughout the last 12 months. Of course, it’s hard to narrow it down to just a dozen delights and I know I’m probably forgetting to give many dishes their due credit. But, here is my list for “The 10 Best Things I Ate in 2012,” a random compilation of both to-die-for restaurant dishes and out-of-this-world recipes. You can tell by the list that I don’t get out to the fanciest places, but I do like to eat at unique and off-the-beaten path places when I can. Some of the foods are healthy and some not so much, but every mention is a winner in taste!
78704 Burger from Phil’s Ice House in Austin has become a go-to lunch after a long run. This bad boy is topped with Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeños, grilled onions, sliced avocado, and chipotle mayo on a toasted jalapeño cheese bun. Although served with sweet potato fries, I’m usually too stuffed to finish them off. The bun is seriously so tasty that my dad tried to recreate them at home, check out the recipe for Jalapeno Cheese Hamburger Buns .
Brown Sugar Bacon Appetizers made by my friend Angie for our book club Christmas party rank way up on the list for tasty tidbits sampled in 2012. Credits go to the The Pioneer Woman who brought this popular 70s-era hors d’ouevres back to the buffet spreads everywhere this holiday season. Basically, it’s a club cracker topped with brown sugar, wrapped in bacon, and baked into a little bubbling popper of pleasure.
via The Pioneer Woman
The Tai-Pan Salmon Salad from Zen Japanese Food in Austin is a delicious, quick and healthy lunch featuring grilled salmon atop a bed of salad greens, roasted corn & avocado pico, carrot, peanuts, red bell pepper, cranberries, shaved parmesan cheese, sesame seeds and sriracha with peanut dressing. I hadn’t been to this place in like 10 years and my taste buds are so happy I decided to drop back in during 2012.
Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Fig and Onion Confit prepared by Richard Chamberlain of Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House at a party in his lovely Dallas home. My favorite cut of lean beef tasted so much more delicious when prepared by a renowned chef and not me!
The recipe for Chocolate Truffle Pie by the Dean brothers (Paula’s boys) will make any chocoholic feel light-headed. In a twisted sort of way you can even call a slice of this chocolate pie “clean eating;” I made it for a couple of birthdays in the family and every plate was licked clean. If you can’t splurge for a celebration, then when can you?
The Greek Salad from Doyle’s Café in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Most people come to this venerable Irish Bar, famous for first serving Samuel Adams on tap, to take in the ambiance and snarf down pizza and beer (duh), I found the humungous, sized-to-share Greek salad to be one of the yummiest I’ve had in a long time.
Grilled Fish Tacos from Pier 23 Café in San Francisco. This casual place sits right out on the bay where I had a front-row view of the Pacific as I munched down on a pair of super fresh fish tacos loaded with tomato salsa and guacamole. While I had my heart set on the Dungeness crab which wasn’t in season, these tasty tacos took my mind off the disappointment quite well. So good, in fact, I had to keep swatting away my husband’s fingers on my plate.
The Calamari Forno Panini with Lemon Aioli from Enoteca Vespaio in Austin is totally worth the splurge. Split this sandwich with a friend and order one of their delicious Italian-inspired salads, then you don’t have to feel so bad. But right now, I’m having stress because I no longer see it on their lunch menu . . . . oh noooooooo!
The Apple Pork Sandwich from Food Heads in Austin near the UT campus makes for a fast, filling and fairly well-rounded lunch. Whatcha get is grilled pork tenderloin on toasted bolillo with smoked Gouda cheese, fresh spinach, spicy apple & tomato pico and honey Dijon aioli. All served in a quaint and quirky house that is so NOT a Subway franchise.
The Pumpkin Protein Donuts recipe I created (hate to brag, but I will) is one of the best things I found for breakfast this year. I make a bunch of these mini baked pumpkin protein doughnuts at once and then stash them away in the freezer. On hectic school mornings, the kids and I can pop them out, heat up in the microwave and then head off to the day’s chaos fueled with a better-balanced start than something just carbohydrate laden.