Saturday, October 25th, 2014

The 12 Best Things I Ate in 2012

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If you’ve been reading this site for any amount of time, you know that I tend to go a bit crazy when food is around.  I adore food and eating my way through new places is one of my absolute favorite parts of traveling.

I ate SO well this year — but what were the best dishes of all?  I decided to round up the top 12.  When I started narrowing down the foods of 2012 for this post, I kept a tissue nearby to wipe up the resulting saliva.  By the time I finished, I had a beach towel.

Behold: the 12 best things I ate in 2012!

Cevapciki

12. Čevapćiki in Sarajevo, Bosnia

The first item on my list is a bit of an oddball.  I hate raw onions and have never been able to tolerate them — excluding this surprising dish.  It’s just pita bread, meat (most likely veal), and loads of raw onions, but these three ingredients together unlock something magical.  I found myself craving čevapćiki!

Where to get it: You can find these all over Bosnia and the Balkans.  It’s pronounced CHEV-up-CHEE-kee. You’ll never pay more than 5 marks ($3) for one.

Best Gelato Ever

11. Rocambolesc Gelato in Girona, Spain

I’ve waxed poetic about this gelato before.  Rocambolesc does some of the best and definitely the most creative gelato I’ve ever seen.  My apricot gelato was topped with mandarin syrup, green tea cake, and a fior de coco.  Absolutely outstanding — and it’s not every day that you get served ice cream by one of the world’s best chefs!

Where to get it: Rocambolesc is in the heart of Girona, right by the Eiffel Bridge.  A cone like this will set you back €4 ($5) or so.

Pastel de Nata

10. Pastels de Nata in Evora, Portugal

I became a bit of a caffeine addict in Portugal this year, taking every chance I got to stop for an espresso. Why?  For the accompanying pastels de nata, the creamy egg tarts that are a staple of the Portuguese diet!  I had a few dozen of these over the course of my month in Portugal, but the very best one was at a cafe in Évora.

Where to get it: Pastels de nata are in every cafe and bakery in Portugal.  I can’t remember the name of this cafe, but it was a bright, modern cafe right on the main square in Évora.  You’ll pay about €1 ($1.20) each.

9. Arbroath Smokie in Arbroath, Scotland

What is a smokie?  A haddock that is gutted, dried and smoked in the Scottish town of Arbroath — and probably the best fish I have ever tasted.  We stopped here on the way back from Shetland and each picked up a smokie, which we held and ate like an ice cream cone.  I’ve never tasted fish so rich and flavorful.

Where to get it: We stopped at M&M Spink in Arbroath.  The costs vary based on weight, but I definitely didn’t pay more than £3 ($4.50).

Faroese Lamb

8. Lamb Steak with Fermented Lamb Salt in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Salt is often the ingredient that makes the biggest difference in a dish.  As for salt made from fermented lamb, it elevated this dish to 11!  If there is any way to get a dish to go from tasty to life-changing, just add a dash of fermented lamb salt.  I had this as one of the delicious, creative courses at KOKS, the most acclaimed restaurant in the Faroe Islands.

Where to get it: KOKS is located in the Hotel Føroyar in the capital of Tórshavn.  The restaurant offers four/six/eight-course menus for 460/680/850 kroner ($82/122/152).

Skyrcake

7. Skyrcake in Reykjavik, Iceland

Icelanders love their skyr — a thick, tart yogurt.  I settled into the funky Laundromat Cafe for a working afternoon and ordered a coffee and a skyrcake.  Pieces of cookies draped in layers upon layers of skyr and topped with lush, juicy berries and white chocolate chunks?  The menu boasted the dish’s healthiness; I just marveled at how delicious it was!

Where to get it: The Laundromat Cafe is in downtown Reykjavik.  The skyrcake costs 850 ISK ($7).

Post-Dessert Dessert

6. Post-Dessert Dessert in Constantia, South Africa

After indulging in quail velouté, veal steak, and a bizarre passion fruit, pink foam, and meringue dessert at La Colombe in Constantia, the heart of South African wine country, I thought I was done.  And then, after our plates were cleared, the post-dessert dessert appeared.  We got to try one of each: maple meringues, rose Turkish delights, lemon financiers, peach marshmallows, and salted caramel truffles.  And oh, did I enjoy each one of them.

Where to get it: La Colombe.  The set menu costs 570 rand ($65) and includes amuse bouche, three courses, palate cleanser, and this plate of post-dessert desserts.

Breizh Cafe Crepes

5. Breizh Cafe Crepes in Paris, France

My friends Edna raved so much about Breizh Cafe, I was dying to go from the moment I arrived.  And she was right — Ashley and Mario and I soon discovered that these were the absolute best crepes and galettes in Paris.  Forget everywhere else — these are the real deal.  The buckwheat crepes were crispy and buttery with perfectly-cooked ingredients; the crepes’ salted caramel butter is nothing short of divine.  If you don’t order a crepe with salted caramel butter, you’re missing out majorly!

Where to get it: Breizh Cafe is in the heart of the Marais.  I had the egg, cheese, ham and artichoke galette for about €7 ($9) and the salted caramel with chantilly crepe for €5 ($7), though fancier ones quickly get more expensive.

Ricotta Crostata

4. Ricotta Crostata in Torgiano, Italy

Ricotta.  Perugine chocolate.  Layers of perfectly cooked crust.  The best dishes in Italy are the simple ones, and this dish at the Terre Margaritelli winery knocked one out of the park with its simple deliciousness.  One slice was not enough for a lifetime.  Even our resident celiac found herself digging out the filling so she could join in!

Where to get it: You’ll have to ask Jennifer at Life Italian Style – she offers cooking classes and she can even teach you how to make it!  Prices vary.

Thai Tapas

3. Free Tapas in Granada, Spain

The miracle of Granada is that you can’t order just a drink — you automatically get a tapa.  It could be something traditional like a plate of jamon or patatas.  It could be something ethnic like Chinese dumplings or Thai chicken and rice.  It could be a brand new cutting-edge dish, or something as big as a sandwich and chips!  For free!  Granada is one of the few cities in Spain that still offers free tapas with drinks, and I hope this continues forever.

Where to get it: There is a tapas bar in Granada that I love called Poe.  They feature a lot of unusual items on their menu.  I paid just €1.80 ($2.50) for a tinto de verano (red wine with lemon soda) and a tapa.

Jamon Iberico

2. Jamon Iberico in Barcelona and Costa Brava, Spain

Oh, jamon iberico.  This may be the best meat in the world — filled with salty cured goodness, but with an additional strong nutty flavor that lingers in your mouth for hours.  Jamon iberico is one of the few foods that can bring me to tears on a regular basis.  You don’t want to know how much of this I consumed in Spain.

Where to get it: Many restaurants in Spain have jamon iberico on the menu as their top-level ham.  You can expect to pay around €12 ($16) for a medium-sized plate in a mid-range restaurant in Barcelona and less in markets or smaller cities.

And the absolute best thing I ate in 2012?

Black Truffle Pizza

1. The Black Truffle Pizza at Jupiter Pizzeria in Pula, Croatia

I cannot tell you just how incredible this pizza is.  It is absolutely heavenly.  I am a truffle fiend and finding this pizza drenched in black truffle was one of the best things I have EVER consumed.  If you end up in Pula, go to this pizzeria immediately — because you’ll want to return every night.  This pizza will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Where to get it: Jupiter Pizzeria is on a narrow street in Pula.  Make sure you ask for tomato sauce — the menu has multiple translations and one of the translations includes tomato sauce, but one doesn’t.  The pizza costs 38/42/84 kuna ($7/7.50/15) for small/medium/giant.  The above is a medium.

Deep fried Mars bars

And a bonus!  The best AND worst:

The simultaneously best and worst things I ate this year were the deep-fried Mars bars I had in Glasgow and Edinburgh.  Best because they were absolute deep-fried melted chocolatey caramely goodness.  Worst because of the deep-fried melted chocolatey caramely goodness.

Get them at Bene’s in Edinburgh for £2 ($3).

Honorary mentions: Gelupo pistachio gelato in London; all the tapas Erin introduced me to in Madrid; Icelandic tapas in Reykjavik; tomato fish chowder in Montenegro; porchetta in Umbria; the many plates of salume in Umbria; and the daily turn-down desserts at 54 on Bath in Johannesburg.

Which one of these would you MOST like to sink your teeth into?

Comments

42 Responses to “The 12 Best Things I Ate in 2012”
  1. Edna says:

    You know I love my food countdowns and this one looks delicious! Glad to see Breizh made the list :D

  2. arielle says:

    I’ve already had dinner and dessert and now I’m absolutely salivating- no bueno! I must say though, the fish is scotland doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, but give me that pizza and the čevapćiki any day!

  3. Michelle says:

    All of this food is making me starving!

  4. Clare says:

    I’m already imagining how the black truffle pizza could (and would) change my life. And since I’ve been eyeing up a trip to Croatia for quite some time, I clearly owe it to myself to make the journey and get invloved!

    On another note – I’ve so far escaped the deep-fried Mars bar despite many visits to Scotland. I’m not convinced (obviously I am really, but I’m trying to pretend that deep-fried melted chocolatey gooey goodness is not my thing – who am I trying to kid?)!

  5. Julika says:

    I swear I ate Pastéis de Nata at the exact same cafe in Évora! I had so many of them all over Portugal, but those definitely were the best! Delicious countdown, Kate! Can’t wait to try these dishes myself!

  6. I’d like to eat all of these, but if I choose, I’ll trust your taste and go for the truffle pizza. The perfect excuse to go back to my favorite country!

  7. cailin says:

    MMMMMMMM I want to live in that meat room in Spain! haha
    The gelato was amazing as was the peach flavored marshmallows in our post – dessert – dessert! Happy I could enjoy 3 of these foods with you this year! :)

  8. Jennifer says:

    I love Skyr! From things I haven’t tried on your list, I’d most like to try the gelato in Girona. I’ve become a gelato snob living in Italy so I want to see how it measures up (especially after I attended the world acclaimed Gelato University!).

  9. These all look amazing! I completely agree about the jamón ibérico de bellota… it’s one of my favorite things in the world! After living in Spain for a year, I returned to the States and my doctors checked my cholesterol and my levels were slightly elevated compared to the year before. I blame it almost entirely on the jamón. Oh what I would do for some right now! If I move back to Spain, I am totally going to buy a full leg; it’s so worth it! The free tapas in cities like Granada and Santiago de Compostela are definitely something I miss about Spain too. In Santiago, where I lived, literally every bar gave out free tapas!

    I love truffles as well, and that pizza looks to die for!

  10. Madhu Nair says:

    Čevapćiki although simple, seems like something I would love to try.
    Interesting list – sadly from the list the only thing I have tried is tapas (who hasn’t?).
    Well … hopefully some day.

  11. Ellen Keith says:

    Black Truffle pizza sounds amazing. I like your comment about the idea that the best foods in Italy are the simple ones. Italian food is so much different than it’s wannabe counterpart in North America. :)

  12. Awesome list Kate, but the black truffle pizza has me planning our trip to Croatia. I just got back from an awesome dinner (including incredible Iberian pork) but seeing that picture has my stomach growling. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Oh YUM!!! That pizza looks incredible!

  14. Kristine says:

    I love all the Spanish food on here :). I would KILL for some tapas and gazpacho right now.

  15. Chris says:

    With the exception of #10 on the list, every one of these had my mouth watering. You know it’s been a good year in food when you can do an entry like this, haha

  16. Sofie says:

    Okay, I LOVE the idea of post-dessert! I mean, seriously! I often don’t have a main course or pre-course to not be stuffed by the time dessert comes around.
    Going to Portugal this summer, i’m definitely going to try out the pastels de nata!

  17. Shaun says:

    I’m a sucker for crepes and those look om nom nomingly amazing!

  18. Dani says:

    The Skyrcake looks yummy – and the accompanying coffee looks really good, too :-) ! I’ve added Breizh on our list of places to check out next time we’re in Paris and I am dying to try truffle pizza! Had truffle pizza in Italy last year and it was amazing!

  19. Amanda says:

    This is one DELICIOUS post! Yum!

    I’m still dreaming about those deep-fried Mars Bars… I think it’s a very good thing I don’t live in Scotland!

  20. Erica says:

    I’m not surprised that foodie Edna would lead you to the best crepes ever! :) and with crepes, I find that the simpler ones tend to be my favorite… I really really want a crepe now!

    I’m totally on board with something that resembles a parfait in any way- skyrcake? yes, please!

    Ps- I can’t believe you guys got one deep fried Mars bar each! I don’t think I would have been as brave.

  21. Ally says:

    I’d want to eat the gelato right now, its so freaking hot over here. The pizza also looks good, although I’ve never tried truffles before, I’m just a pizza fan!

  22. Millie says:

    The skyrcake look to die for! I will definitely have to hunt a recipe and try and recreate it here at home!

  23. Benjamin says:

    100% behind you on Poe and pastels de nata. I was only in Lisbon a couple of days but I consumed enough to keep a small family going throughout a harsh winter.

  24. I’ve not tried a single thing on this list, but would like to try them all! Hopefully I will in 2013.

  25. Elle Croft says:

    Seriously hungry after reading this. Also, each dish just kept looking more and more appealing as I scrolled down the page. I’ll definitely have to try Granada’s free tapas; it’s one more reason to visit the city!

  26. Germo Bailey says:

    You are so lucky to have had the opportunity to savor all these delicious looking foods. What I love about traveling is that one gets to experience food preparation and taste from a whole new angle. I a crepe lover, so having a little piece of Breizh cafe’s creation would be a great treat. It all looks so mouth watering.
    Thank you for sharing.

  27. Kathryn says:

    What a wonderful edible year you have had. I hope 2013 turns out to be just as tasty. :-)

  28. Claudina says:

    What is thiiis?? Pure deliciousness as you describe it! OMG!

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