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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top Ten Tastes of 2011 - My Favorite Flavors of the Year

This year I started a great project with my foodie friend, Stacie Tamaki. Our monthly food excursions took us all over the San Francisco Bay Area where we sampled food from a huge variety of purveyors including carts, trucks, stands, drive-ins, markets and restaurants. Then we both posted our recaps of the excursions on our respective blogs. We were introduced to many new foods and also visited some places not on our beaten paths. I am a list person and love to make all kinds of top tens. Therefore, it was only natural that I suggested to Stacie that we each post a list of our ten favorite foods we ate during the year. To see Stacie's top ten list click here.

Food is definitely subjective and always subject to moods and a host of other variables. However, my criteria in making this list is mostly based on the fact that I would return to any of these places just to eat these foods again. Although I enjoyed most everything we tasted here are the ten foods that stood out for me the most.

#10 – ARTICHOKE GARLIC HERB BREAD from Arcangeli Grocery Company. Our August tour took us along the northern coast of Highway 1 to Pescadero. They are making some seriously good baked goods here.

Fully Baked Artichoke Garlic Herb Bread from Arcangeli Grocery Company

#9 – CHEESY GRITS from Aunt Mary's Café. This dish is breakfast that I can eat all day long.

Cheddar Cheese Grits with Tomatoes, Chiles and Onions

#8 – PLUM AND NECTARINE CLAFOUTIS from Hay Market Willow Glen. Even though I'm not a big dessert person this one was light, not-too-sweet and paired two of my all-time favorite fruits.

Plum and Nectarine Clafoutis at Hay Market Willow Glen

#7 – Bubble And Squeak from Aunt Mary's Café. Another Southern cooking classic that you just don't see on too many menus.

#6 – GARDEN WRAP from Charlie Hong Kong. This restaurant is in my home town and yet as many of these wraps as I have eaten they still knock me out every time.

Charlie Hong Kong's Garden Wrap

#5 – VEGETARIAN GNOCCHI from Nonni's Bistro in Pleasanton. I love gnocchi but the quality you get at restaurants can go all over the map. These were perfectly cooked and complemented by the herbs and veggies.

Nonni's Bistro Vegetarian Gnocchi with fresh herbs and Parmesan Cheese

#4 – REGULAR FALAFEL from Liba Falafel Truck. I am a long time falafel fan and have eaten countless versions. This one with your choice of toppings is easily my all-time favorite.

Liba's regular size falafel fully loaded with my choice of toppings.

#3 – FLAT BREAD PIZZA from Vin Antico in San Rafael. This last minute addition to our March excursion was an absolute winner with Crescenza Cheese, Creamy Leeks, White Truffle Oil and an overn roasted egg.

Vin Antico's Flat Bread Pizza

#2 – FRIED "CHICKEN" SANDWICH from Bake Sale Betty. This bite is the third from our May trip to the East Bay which yields the most items on my list. Their chicken breast version of this sandwich is the most popular but I have NEVER tasted tofu this well done.

Fried "Chicken" Tofu Sandwich at Bake Sale Betty

#! – WHITE CORN AND GREEN ONION PANCAKE from O Chamé in Berkeley. This dish is a perfect example fresh ingredients and simple flavors combining for an extraordinary taste. It was my hands down favorite food of a year full of great flavors.

White Corn and Green Onion Pancake

Our big news for 2012 is we are expanding our horizons to include other than just food to our excursions. We will be emphasizing photography and things to do wherever we venture. Of course, the foodies in us will also likely mean that memorable bites will always be mentioned. Thanks to Stacie for being such a great excursion partner. I look forward to the upcoming year and all of the new places we will discover.


  1. Seeing your list is like seeing part of my life flash before me. I think it's so funny we chose so many of the same items! What a great time last year was. I've already had requests from two readers not to discontinue. Maybe we'll have to do a quarterly or bi-annual food adventure?

  2. The dish at the number one spot certainly deserves to be on the top of the list. From the looks of it, the ingredients used are fresh and healthy, and who wouldn't want to have a guilt-free meal for breakfast? It also looks so delicious that looking at it is actually making me drool!

  3. Thanks Erwin! If you ever get to Berkeley, California, I highly recommend you visit the Fourth Street Shopping area. It is full of great places to eat. We only hit a few and will be heading back for more.