Best Meals of 2014 + Food Resolutions
Well folks, 2014 is almost in the books, and it was a heck of a year. My husband and I ate some of our favorite meals ever, and for the first time in my life, I kept some resolutions. I’m not writing this post just for personal reasons. I hope this will give some recommendations for good eats and will inspire you to make some food resolutions of your own. I’m grateful for everyone that’s followed along on my journey, and I’m excited to see what 2015 has in store!
2014 Food Resolutions:
1. Make a bigger commitment to local food.
This one was a sort of vague goal, but I definitely achieved it in some very concrete ways. For the first time, we joined a CSA (read more about what that is here), which meant that we got a bag of local, organic vegetables from our friends at Skylight Farm for 30 weeks of the year. I served as the statewide Food Day coordinator for Georgia, which meant promoting good, local food in various forums. I joined Georgia Organics. I hosted a farm dinner as a benefit for Wholesome Wave of Georgia. Not only did I achieve this goal, but I truly found a passion that I will carry on into 2015.
2. Host monthly dinner parties featuring local produce and recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
So, I technically only hosted 7 of these dinner parties, but I’m going to count that. Our travel schedule, some family illnesses, and hosting other dinners made it difficult to host one of these bad boys every month. But this was a success in many ways. We made some new friends, educated some people about local farms, used our fancy china and silver a lot, and I learned a great deal from Julia Child. Whether or not we continue with the French theme, we will definitely continue being intentional about opening our home and feeding both friends and strangers.
Best Meals of 2014:
Breakfast: Empire State South | Atlanta
Breakfast usually isn’t too special, but ESS knows how to do it well. The options range from full spreads of eggs, sausage, cheese, fruit, and bread to more interesting composed dishes, like the bbq duck hash. Even the oatmeal is stellar, and all of the dishes feature locally sourced items.
Brunch: Blue Duck Tavern | DC
Now brunch is a totally different beast from breakfast. We love a good brunch and were totally blown away by the food, ambiance, and service at BDT (they brought me a stool for my bag!). This gorgeous restaurant is nestled inside the immaculately designed Park Hyatt in Georgetown. My husband is still talking about his breakfast sandwich 4 months later. And the woodfired caramel pecan sticky buns… do yourself a favor and don’t skip those!
Lunch: Nobu + Jean-Georges + Ze Kitchen Galerie | London + NYC + Paris
Michelin-starred restaurants are considerably more affordable at lunch time, but the food is still stellar. There was no choosing between these three lunches, which are nothing short of rave-worthy.
Special Occasion: Le Bernardin | NYC
For our anniversary, we splurged on a tasting menu at Le Bernardin. It was hands down the best meal either of us have ever had! Their seafood-centric menu is 100% worthy of the incredible reputation and praise that Eric Ripert and his team have garnered.
Southern: Woodfire Grill | Atlanta
As you can imagine, there are a lot of great Southern restaurants in Atlanta. We finally made it to Woodfire Grill, and it’s now way up on our list of favorite Southern gems. The atmosphere is relatively casual for a fine dining place, but the food is nothing short of spectacular.
Small Plates: Saltyard | Atlanta
Maybe we’re a little biased on this one since it’s in our building. Of the many times we’ve frequented Saltyard, we’ve never had a single bad (or even so-so) dish. The portions are generous for small plates and the prices are reasonable. This is our favorite place for a double date!
Bakery: Baked & Wired | DC
What’s not to like about this precious little Georgetown outpost (except maybe the lines because it’s so popular!)? The spectrum of unique treats are sure to please just about anyone. They even have gluten free options that doesn’t taste like gluten free options (which is saying a lot). If you’re a coffee drinker, there’s a fabulous coffee bar attached. And it’s just a short hop and skip down to the riverfront, which is the perfect place to enjoy your treats on a sunny day.
Surprise Menu: Le Chateaubriand | Paris
The whole idea of a surprise tasting menu may terrify some of you, but for the more adventurous bunch, I highly recommend it. The folks at Le Chateaubriand did not disappoint for my birthday dinner. We ate things that we probably never would’ve ordered from a menu and loved them! It was truly one of my most interesting and cool eating experiences of the year.
Pizza: Grimaldi’s | Brooklyn
Going to Grimaldi’s was a sort of happy accident. After walking the Brooklyn Bridge one morning in May, my husband and I decided that Brooklyn pizza was a must. A quick Google search told us that Grimaldi’s was the only famous pizzeria within a reasonable walking distance. We walked right in and snagged the last open table. The pizza was fabulous–and cheap–and off we went. As we exited, we realized our dumb luck because there was a line wrapping around the block! Moral of the story is that you should probably research these things before going, but 11:45am seems like the perfect time to go!
Burger: The General Muir | Atlanta
You probably wouldn’t think that an upscale Jewish deli would have our favorite burger of the year, but it does. The General Muir burger features three types of beef blended, cooked to perfection, and served with melted gruyere cheese and a brioche bun. Perhaps not the healthiest thing we ate this year, but dang it was good!
BBQ: Daddy D’z | Atlanta
We pass the shack-looking building that is Daddy D’z on the way home from church every week. We finally decided to stop by one Sunday and were happy to find our new favorite barbeque! Again not the healthiest thing, but they sure know how to make incredible BBQ. There’s a reason their walls are decked with so many awards!
Organic: Nopa | San Francisco
Another happy accident for us. We were without a reservation for dinner one of our nights in SF last January, and up popped a last minute opening at Nopa. We snagged the spot (the hostess even told us how lucky we were to get the cancellation) and scurried over to the super-cool restaurant in a former bank building. The menu features locally- and sustainably-sourced ingredients and is nothing short of inspired.
2015 Food Resolutions + Goals:
This year, I resolve to shape my work and life around educating myself and others about food. My specific goals are:
1. Get a speaking gig for a food-related cause.
2. Teach cooking classes.
3. Work to highlight local farms, companies, and brands that are making/growing/producing/supporting good, sustainable food.
4. Write a cookbook!
There are already some plans in place for all of these things, but they’re nonetheless big goals for me! I also plan to carry on goals from the last two years of sticking to seasonal produce, being committed to buying locally, and intentionally opening my home to feed others.
Well, that’s it! Cheers to a new year!