My Top 10 Food Memories of 2011

The last weeks of December always serve as an inflection point: We spend 1/4 of our time reflecting on the past year and 1/4 of our time resolving to make the next year a little better. The other half we spend getting fat and drunk. (After all, it's easier to lose five pounds and sober up after New Year's if you just drunkenly packed on 15 in the previous month.)

I'll save resolutions for next week. This week I'll do my best to examine why my jeans are so tight. Here are my top 10 food moments of the last year. Many of the memories had more to do with the circumstances of the day than what was actually on my plate. Food is funny like that.

NHS Tavern burger (pictured above) I think maybe this food memory is so intense because I'd just gotten to Dallas and was feeling a little rudderless. Sitting at the bar alone at NHS Tavern, I had an absolutely transcendent burger. Since I've gone back, subsequent burgers haven't measured up to that original experience, but I think that may be one of those "caught in a moment" things. They still serve one of Dallas' finest.

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Cane Rosso Pizza When Dino Santonicola came to town, Jay Jerrier's pizzas went from good to great. The crust became more light and airy, and the flavor improved just a touch. I hope they stay that way as he expands.


Sour Cream Enchiladas at Herrera's I don't know what to say about these things. That sauce is a total guilty pleasure; it might be laced with crack. But when I'm not eating to work and I'm not cooking (and I'm hardly ever cooking) I'm pounding on these till my plate is clean.


Spicy Fish Soup at Korea House I'd never have ordered this soup unless I had seen another diner greedily slurp it up. But I was hungover. And then I wasn't.


100 shell fish at Old Ebbit Grill Back in D.C., I'd just been handed my ass. After not getting a job I really wanted at the time, I decided to cope the only way I new how: oysters and champagne. After I crossed sixty I started enjoying other shellfish, switching back and forth between raw oysters and steamed clams. I made it all the way to 96. And I closed with four massive steamed shrimp. It was a big victory. And then I felt gross.


Reuben at Tunnicliff's Tavern Another D.C. memory I've chased since coming to Texas. This no frills bar on Capitol Hill makes an insanely good Reuben. They corn the beef in the basement and boil and slice it on site. They use a spicy dressing I love. And then the serve it in a good bar. Tunni's is a place to tell stories from your past. It's also a place to live out your next tale.


Roast Chicken at Craft I beat on Craft a little for inconsistency, but there's no knocking their chicken. Crisp skin, juicy bird and nicely handled veg. It's a perfect plate.


Elotes When a crazy bearded friend tried to talk me into eating warm mayonnaise and corn out of a Styrofoam cup in the dead of August, I almost wanted to move back home. One bite changed everything. I love this stuff.


Duchesse de Bourgogne with Taleggio cheese at Central Market Yeah, so I'm a Budweiser guy. But I do enjoy a well crafted beer. When Greg Engert came to town and paired a sour red ale with a nutty soft cheese, it blew my mind a little. It was a perfect pairing. I've been trying to relive it since.


Bolognese at Princi Italia Maybe it was the weather, but I think it was more. I wasn't impressed with much at Princi Italia, but this bolognese made me swoon. I ate it outside with a nice wine on the patio, with an early fall sun shining on my back. I wish all my lunches were that good.

Have a food memory worth sharing? You know what to do.

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