2013 was another fun and exciting year for food in South Jersey. So many new places to try, so many great dishes being served. While we couldn’t possibly get to every single one of them, here are ten memorable dishes and meals we had during the course of the past year. I posted these on our Facebook page, but here they all are in one shot.
(Hey…I thought you guys weren’t posting anymore! What’s up with this? More on that soon…)
* There’s a little churrascaria in Bayville called Fire Pit Grill that is cooking up some tasty things. One of the tastiest would be their yucca fries with francesinha sauce and cheese. Disco fries have lurid dreams at night with desires of being this good.
* It was nice to sample an eatery that gives fusion a good name for a change. The cauliflower avakaya pizza from Bombay Local Pizza in Voorhees was a surprising treat. Definitely worth a visit.
* From early on in our blog history, we became fans of Chef Mark Smith of Tortilla Press in Collingswood. Five plus years later, and we’re still big fans. Earlier in 2013 we enjoyed a special farm-to-table menu that had a raspberry and marscapone empanada for dessert. If that sounds divine and inspired to you, it was even better when we tasted it.
* 2013 was The Year We Discovered Cocktails. Before then, we were basic beer folk. But now, the mixological sky’s the limit. I personally found myself attracted to bourbon, and sought out cocktails featuring this great American spirit. And at Sax at The Reeds in Stone Harbor, I was served an Old-Fashioned at Sax at The Reeds in Stone Harbor. One sip and I got it. Cocktails are magical. And Ed, the main bartender there, knows his business.
* Atlantic City Bottle Company was arguably the coolest place to open in 2013. Love the concept and the execution. And Chef Kevin Cronin is sneaky brilliant. He made us a dish that included sunflower ‘cheese’ balls. No cheese used at all, but meant be a substitute for cheese. You know what? They really did taste like cheese. Really. Amazing.
* My kingdom for soup dumplings! Finally, a place that’s close to home that’s serving honest-to-goodness soup dumplings: Yuboka at Revel in Atlantic City. Been missing these delights for so so sooooo long. Thank you Chef Garces!
* Obis One. Obis One! One of the best afternoon experiences I have had since getting into this food-writing racket. Patrick and Lisa Lloyd are on a different and higher trajectory than most of us, and their historic farm in Pennsville is much, much more than their black garlic. The meal they served us was just an unexpected joy.
* Chef Alain Allegretti of Azure made Lisa a beet salad. Here’s the story: while at Taste of Revel sampling chocolates and wines with Chef Luke Palladino, a discussion of foods we don’t care for came up. Across from us was Chef Alain. Lisa brought up her hatred of beets. “They taste like the bottom of a lake,” she told us. Well, Chef Alain told her he would make her love beets. We show up at the appointed time, and we were presented with this simple and wonderful salad. And Lisa loved it.
* Amada at Revel. After chasing Spain for some many years, it’s wonderful to have it so close to home. Yes, I know – Amada is old news now. But so what: the meals there are consistently top-notch. Thank you Chef Garces…again!
* Rarely does a restaurant live up to the hype. Zeppoli in Collingswood actually surpasses it. Chef Joey makes the simple profound. Flawless…completely flawless. And he’s a really nice guy, too.