Every year has led me to more adventures in the culinary world, and 2018 was no exception. I continued to explore local, traveled to nine cities around Europe, and went to Austin, Texas – entirely new and exciting places for me in terms of the culture and cuisine. Without further ado, here are the 18 dishes I haven’t stopped thinking and raving about from 2018, in no particular order.
Consumed In Florida
- Foie Gras with Onion Marmalade & Vanilla Truffle Oil at Restaurant Medure in Ponte Vedra – I traveled to the Jacksonville area a few times this year surrounding my sister’s wedding and related events. My family ate here for dinner and would give the service, on-site sommelier, and food 5-stars without hesitation. My favorite dish was this unique combination of popular flavors on a decadent piece of foie gras.
- $1 Oysters at The Parched Pig in Palm Beach Gardens – Every Monday after 6pm, this restaurant newly opened by the owners of Coolinary Cafe (in the same plaza) offers $1 a la carte oysters. Not only are $1 oysters a great deal anywhere, but they also happen to have the best oysters I’ve ever had. They always offer three different types (a rotating selection; while supplies last) that you can mix-and-match as you please. They are perfectly shucked and always fresh. They’re served with three mignonettes, which might be the best part! So delicious. Bonus: they have outdoor seating and a great drink menu with pages of cocktails, beers, and wine to choose from.
- Scallops with Risotto at 3 Palms Grille in Ponte Vedra – I always enjoy scallops, but more often than not I am disappointed scallop dishes at restaurants. There’s either not enough scallops on the plate, they are under-seasoned, poorly cooked, or too small. These were the best scallops I’ve ever had. Huge in size and perfectly prepared alongside risotto. I went here for my sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner and everyone who ordered the scallops was equally impressed as I was.
- Crimson Ghost pizza at Pizza Bruno in Orlando – After living in NYC, it’s hard to find good pizza anywhere else. I think Pizza Bruno does a perfect job at offering a creative but approachable twist on the Neapolitan classics. The Crimson Ghost in particular is my favorite, made with calabrian chilies, soppressata, fresh mozzarella, basil and hot honey. This year, they opened a second location within Orange County Brewers in Downtown Orlando, with more to come!
- Everything at 1000 North in Jupiter – In early 2018, this popular new restaurant was at the top of my list to try. When I finally dined there over summer for their special pre-fixe menu, I was blown away. Everything I’ve tried here has been fantastic – the shrimp appetizer, steak tartare, crab soup, prime rib, truffle fries and the cocktails made by David. I want to try their burger on happy hour at the bar next time!
- Sweet Corn Agnolotti at Buccan in Palm Beach – It comes as no surprise that this is one of the most highly rated dishes at one of the most popular restaurants in Palm Beach. The idea of it didn’t excite me initially, but the server insisted we try it. It was simple yet somehow incredible. I’ll never eat here and NOT order it!
- Mellow Mood Acai Bowl at Rock Steady Juice Joint in North Palm Beach – I’ve tried many acai bowls around the Palm Beaches and this local neighborhood spot does it best. Their mellow mood bowl is gluten-free and lower in sugar than all the others. Their presentation is beautiful with edible flowers, you can choose/change your fruit, and they have a few more creative ingredients than other places that they incorporate on their menu, such as bee pollen (my fav) and coconut oil. I always order Mellow Mood unless they have the pumpkin smoothie bowl available on special!
- Everything at Kadence in Orlando – I struggle to enjoy sushi anywhere else now that I’ve been to Kadence. The quality is far superior than anywhere else and the chefs preparing every dish right in front of you at the 9-seat sushi bar is an experience you won’t forget. They are always innovating and serving combinations you could have never dreamed of. I already have plans to return in 2019!
- Everything at The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park – Every time I’ve eaten at Ravenous, the menu has been different. And yet, every time I find myself impressed all over again. I’ve loved so many dishes here including the Foie Gras pictured above.
Honorable mentions include the burgers at Brass Ring Pub in North Palm Beach, fresh fish and homemade ice cream at Captain Charlie’s in Juno Beach, anything at Hullabaloo in West Palm Beach, blue crab dumplings and filet mignon at Flagler Steakhouse in Palm Beach, ramen and wings at Domu in Orlando, and anything at The Strand in Orlando.
Consumed While Traveling
- Potato Salad at Figlmuller in Vienna – I know it may seem silly to rave about potato salad on a gourmet food blog, but it was the best I’ve ever had! Fortunately, the recipe is not a secret (the restaurant features it in their cookbook). If you go here, definitely pair it with their famously gigantic schnitzel!
- 32 Degree Salmon at Kampa Park in Prague – I eat a lot of salmon and loved the specific cook at 32 degrees and surprising components also on the plate, including coconut sorbet, mango, pickled cucumber, and a soy-ginger sauce.
- Exotic Meats at Archipelago in London – My desire to try something new was exaggerated at this Michelin-star “eclectic” restaurant in London. They specialize in exotic meats that your average person wouldn’t even imagine trying. My favorites were the zebra, alpaca, and crocodile!
- Frites at Bram’s Gourmet Frites in Rotterdam – I may never enjoy fries with ketchup ever again after trying these famous European frites while in Rotterdam (Bram’s has many locations). Stick to the classic frites with frites sauce and you will be so glad you did. The mayo-based sauce is worth the hype!
- Green Chile Pork tacos at Torchy’s Tacos in Austin – One of my favorite comfort foods is tacos, but I also love that the options with tacos are endless. Without a doubt, Torchy’s Tacos were the best I’ve ever had, especially this pork one. Fellow taco lovers MUST try it! They have locations all over Texas, for your convenience.
- Strawberry and Dark Chocolate Belgian Waffle at Chez Albert in Bruges – From the rich, delicious chocolate to the crunchy, crispy exterior and soft, fluffy interior of the waffle, this authentic Belgian waffle IN Belgium was by far the best I’ve ever had. Warning: VERY MESSY but worth every napkin…
- Brisket and Jalapeno Bacon Mac & Cheese at Cooper’s BBQ in Austin – I learned in 2018 that you haven’t had real BBQ until you’ve been to Texas. Like sushi at Kadence or tacos at Torchy’s, I can’t enjoy BBQ anywhere else now that I’ve been to Cooper’s. Nothing compares.
- Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason in London – I love tea and I love mini sweets. Fortnum & Mason does them both to perfection! I had so much trouble deciding where to go for the ultimate British afternoon tea experience, and was so glad I chose Fortnum & Mason. Beyond the incredible tea and food, the experience as a whole is unforgettable.
- Pink Pitaya Panna Cotta at Kek in Delft – Last but certainly not least, I loved everything about Kek. If I had to dream up a place to own or visit daily, it would be Kek. The food presentation was outstanding for a little cafe in the small town of Delft, the creativity in every dish available on the multi-page menu, the quality of the ingredients, the cozy, cute and quirky atmosphere…I could go on. The panna cotta was out of this world and is something no where else could replicate and do it justice. How often can you say that?!
Honorable mentions include the beef goulash at Lokal in Prague, Hortobagyi pancakes at Borze in Budapest, and Vietnamese brunch at Elizabeth Street Cafe in Austin.
It’s safe for me to assume that I tried close to a thousand dishes last year. Whether it was at home in Palm Beach, during my monthly visits to Orlando, or while traveling out of town, I often hopped from place-to-place in one outing. During these outings, my friends or family and I would share a variety of dishes to be able to try more on the menu. I crave something different, new, weird, and exciting, but of course I still love my old-standby’s just like anyone else. I can’t wait to see what memorable dishes lie ahead in 2019!
What were your favorite dishes in 2018? I’d really love to know!