Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 12 Food Memories of 2012

Since this blog focuses on food, travel, and books, I figured I should give the food and travel its equal due by creating their own top ten lists. But actually, I have so many fond food memories of 2012 that I had to make this my top 12 list instead. So here it is, my top 12 food memories of 2012.

1. Eating at Frontera Grill in Chicago and meeting Rick Bayless

Eating at Frontera Grill and visiting the Christkindlmarkt was the goal of our recent trip to Chicago. Getting to meet Rick Bayless was a completely unexpected, yet delightful surprise

2. The BEST salad and margarita I've ever had in my life at Elote in Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is one of the most beautiful, enchanting places I've ever visited, but even if it wasn't, I'd still return just to eat at Elote. I still remember the crunch and vibrant flavors of that jicama salad and the punch and kick of the chili margarita. Elote is a place frequented by locals and tourists alike, but get there early because they don't take reservations and the dining room fills up quickly. I'm so glad I took it upon myself to ask our driver Jason, of our Pink Jeep Tour for some suggestions of places to eat in town. He did not steer us wrong.

3. Grilled radicchio salad with smoked mozzarella at Otto in Las Vegas

To call this a salad is really quite comical. It's more of a gratin. And while it doesn't look like much on the plate, oh boy is it a flavor explosion in your mouth. The char from grilling the radicchio gives this dish a complexity you would not get from any other cooking method and the combination of the charred radicchio with the smoked mozzarella means there is lots of umami happening in your mouth. My husband and I ate at Otto in Las Vegas this year due to our fond memories of eating at Otto in New York City a few years ago. While the entire meal at Otto Las Vegas was sublime, this is the dish that will forever be burned in my memory.

4. Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

I have heard from personal accounts and from many food TV shows that Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is the holy grail of ice cream. Well this year I finally got to visit the ice cream mecca and guess what?  It is!

5. A package of Moorenko's Ice Cream arrives on my door just in time for Christmas

A Facebook friend of mine is the brother of the owner of Moorenko's and because he knows how much I love ice cream, decided to send me a package of a few of their delectable flavors. Moorenko's definitely competes on the same playing field as Jeni's. I ate an entire container of Salted Caramel with Pralines in almost one sitting and my carton of honey lavender is dwindling very quickly.

6. Red velvet pancakes at the Hudson Cafe in Detroit

Red velvet cake in a pancake? Is that even legal? I don't care. If this is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

7. Baconfest Michigan

Yes, there is an entire festival dedicated just to bacon. And since my love for bacon has been well documented here on my blog, well, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to go a place that served up nothing but bacon-themed dishes. Methinks we will be returning again next year.

8. The Ferndale Food Truck Stop
I have been lamenting for a while now that I wish metro Detroit was more hip with the food trends. So many other big cities have tons of food truck options and up until the Ferndale Food Truck Stop, I had only heard of one. I'm hoping an event like this will help inspire more people to start their own food trucks in the area.

9. Giant key lime pie at Blue Heaven in Key West

Blue Heaven is an overpriced restaurant with average food where you pay for the quirky ambiance (chickens running around underfoot). Until the key lime pie came out. Then all was forgiven.

10. Cuban food binge in Miami and Key West

One of the things I love to do is get to know a place through its food. So when we visited South Florida this summer, I knew that Cuban food was high on the list of  "things to do." It did not disappoint!

11 . Butterbeer!!!!!

So um, I'm not ashamed to admit that one of the main reasons I wanted to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure is for the butterbeer. And guess what? It, too, did not disappoint! Yum! I want some right now!

12. The polenta fries at Grizzly Peak Brewing Company in Ann Arbor

I know I should probably extol the libations at Grizzly Peak since they do make all their own beer, and it is quite tasty, but I want to praise their creative menu which is much more sophisticated than just plain bar food. When I took my first bite of these polenta fries, my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I almost had a When Harry Met Sally moment. These fries are crispy and golden on the outside and smooth and creamy on the inside. They are fried food bliss.

Honorable mention:

Dinner at Lolita in Cleveland

While I like Michael Symon's restaurant Roast in Detroit better than I did Lolita, I still loved the experience of eating at one of his hometown digs.

What were some of your favorite food memories of 2012?


  1. I live about an hour from Sedona. I'm so glad you had fun in this beautiful area. I have never been to Elote, so thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Nice list! I want to go to some places myself now. Butterbeer? Polenta fries? Sounds awesome. Not so sure about chicken running through a restaurant, though, :).

  3. I enjoyed your 2012 wrap-up, I always find your posts so interesting and look forward to more of your food adventures in 2013. My husband and I loved our trip to Charleston, we had more than one fabulous meal there, but Hall's Chophouse was our favorite.

  4. Such a fun post! Thanks for sharing your food experiences. It looks like you had a good year!
    Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate

  5. WHat an awesome post. I remember most of these. I really need to check out Grizzley Peak next time I visit my parents. I bet they'd like it there and Ann Arbor is just a short drive from their place in Ohio.

  6. Wow, you had a great year. I'm still in love with those ice creams from Moorenko's. Yum.

  7. Hope you have a great 2013! Cheers

  8. I see by your list that you probably live in Michigan, too! We don't have many food trucks up here in central Michigan, so I always try to track one down when I head south. For good, inexpensive Middle Eastern food (another thing we don't have around here) I like Pita Way in Clarkston. The kids & hubby hit Chicken Shack, I go to Pita Way and then have a Dark Chocolate S'mores Latte at Caribou for dessert (all in the same strip mall). Not exactly high class, but more of a fast food treat for all of us!

  9. What wonderful food adventures you've had this year!

  10. Oh man, I'm so jealous! I just mentioned to my husband the existence of Baconfest. He said I would eat my way to heart attack. I really don't think he's wrong.

  11. You now have me craving ice-cream.

  12. wow, so many lovely food memories for the year!

  13. Somehow I missed your blog about the baconfest. This is exactly the reason why I love following bloggers who live in the same state as me-- they let you know that events like baconfest occur in the Mitten State. I definitely need to talk my family into going to the next one!