Fifth Anniversary: Top 5 Meals of the Blog Year

11/28/14

Today makes five years that this blog’s been active. Woot! Time has really flown by; five years feels like something of an accomplishment and I’m happy to cross this mark.

This past year saw me traveling abroad twice after staying in the country in 2013. Trips to Taiwan and Europe made for some of the most memorable experiences and meals and will surely make an appearance on this post. However, I did have some great meals in LA and some of those experiences will make the list too.

As for I’ve done for each of the last four anniversaries, I’ll recount the top 5 meals of the past 365 days.

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Plate by Plate 2014 Giveaway

platebyplatelogo Plate by Plate 2014 Giveaway

Project by Project (what is Project by Project?) is hosting its 12th annual fundraising tasting event, Plate by Plate, next Saturday August 2nd. Located in mid-city’s Petersen Automotive Museum (Wilshire & Fairfax), the event brings together plenty of heavy hitters in the world of LA food & drink for an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink fest.

Proceeds go to a partner charity each year; this year, the charity is mental health provider Pacific Asian Counseling Services. The food fest is priced at $150 GA & $250 VIP, but I have an opportunity to give away TWO free VIP passes ($500 retail value) to one lucky reader. The exhaustive list of participants is below.

For a taste of what to expect (pun intended), see a couple recaps of the events I attended in previous years: 2011 and 2013.

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Fourth Anniversary: Top 5 Meals of the Blog Year

11/28/13

Happy Thanksgiving! Coincidentally, today marks the fourth year anniversary of this blog. This past year was filled with far less travels but still lots of great eats. I’ve stayed within the U.S. this year and, as a result, this year’s list isn’t nearly as worldly as last year’s (in which each of the top 5 were outside of the country).

Thinking back on a year of meals that was very LA-centric, it seemed to be a year of many pop-ups and collaborative dinners. I appreciate the fact that there are so many opportunities to try food from up-and-coming chefs and well-known ones from outside the city. In fact, I was lucky enough to attend meals in LA from 4 of NorCal’s most notable chefs/restaurants this year (Chris Kostow/Meadowood, Douglas Keane/Cyrus, Tim Hollingsworth/The French Laundry, David Kinch/Manresa). I missed out on the ones with Daniel Boulud and David Chang (and others I’m sure), but it’s exciting to see so many coming to LA to eat, see and cook.

Here, now, my five most memorable meals of the past year:

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Plate by Plate 2013 Giveaway

platebyplatelogo Plate by Plate 2013 Giveaway

Project by Project (what is Project by Project?) is hosting its 11th annual fundraising tasting event this Saturday, Plate by Plate. Located in downtown’s Vibiana (the former cathedral), the event brings together heavy hitters in the world of LA food & drink for an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink fest.

Net proceeds go to a partner charity each year; this year, the charity is Asian American theater organization East West Players. The food-fest isn’t exactly cheap ($150 GA & $250 VIP), but I have an opportunity to give away two free VIP passes ($500 retail value) to Saturday’s event to one lucky reader. The exhaustive list of participants is below.

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LA Weekly Web Awards 2013: Best Food Instagrammer

Please excuse me for a brief intermission from the usual food/restaurant posts, I’d like to share some exciting news:

I know that pictures of food are one of the most critical aspects of just about any food blog. In an age where everyone is constantly short on time, a picture of a dish instantly conveys so much more emotion than a few lines of text (not to discount the text, which is an integral part of a food blog too). Many of the pictures I upload to this blog are initially shared on my Instagram feed, and I know there are tons of people in LA that love to share their food pursuits just like me. Thus, I’m honored to be nominated as a finalist for one of this year’s LA Weekly Web Awards in the category of “Best Food Instagrammer.” Coincidentally, this nomination follows in the footsteps of last year’s winner and friend Pinoy Panda aka LIMER35, who was actually the one that convinced me to start an Instagram account in the first place.

If you’ve liked the pictures you’ve seen here, please help me by taking a minute to vote. Literally – voting takes under a minute and ends Friday, July 19th. Best Food Instagrammer is category #23, and you can even vote for just one category…as many times as you’d like.

Links below:
My Instagram
LA Weekly Web Awards Poll

Thank you for your continued support!

-Darin

Top Dishes of 2012

Each year, I do a blog anniversary post listing my top 5 meals of the previous 365 days. I wanted to create a post highlighting the individual dishes that made me smile and kept me coming back for more. I haven’t really ranked anything, nor created a limit for the number that can be shown here; these are the ones that really struck me this year.

Below are my favorite dishes in 2012, in alphabetical (by restaurant) order.

5×5 Chefs Collaborative Dinner @ Melisse (Santa Monica, CA)
Angelini’s Homemade Spaghetti Chitarra alla Norcina with Sausage, Spring Truffles, Parmigiano-Reggiano

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Perfect al dente pasta, a little bit of meaty sausage, cheese and truffles created a simple, well-balanced plate of flavors. So good!

Angelini Osteria (Los Angeles, CA)
Lasagna Verde “Omaggio Nonna Elvira” with Beef and Veal Ragu

6706215917 427094cfd6 z Top Dishes of 2012

Hearty, rich and soul-satisfying. Is it the veal and beef ragu that elevates this dish so much, or is it the cheesy bechamel or the housemade pasta? Probably all three.

Kohaku (Tokyo, Japan)
Fried Oyster and Chestnut with Truffle Sauce

8275699323 fdd9a9cd0a z Top Dishes of 2012

The oysters were so delicately fried with a crispy outside and juicy inside. Shaved truffles and an addicting truffle sauce really took the dish to greater heights.

LudoBites Best of Foie Gras (Los Angeles, CA)
Foie Gras Black Croque-Monsieur

7092523309 21f5607618 z Top Dishes of 2012

One of Ludo Lefebvre’s most well-known dishes was the perfect send-off to the now-banned ingredient. Squid ink-dyed bread was toasted just right, with an oozing foie gras terrine on the inside.

Pierre Gagnaire (Tokyo, Japan)
Taraba Crab Meat, Wild Mushrooms Fricassee with Autumn Fruits, Bouillon of Sauternes

8240525154 c19d76c614 z Top Dishes of 2012

This was an umami-packed broth that was just so delicious – earthy and slightly sweet. Topping it with lumps of sweet, fresh crab was a perfect touch.

RyuGin (Tokyo, Japan)
Premium Sea Urchin from Hokkaido in Lace Wrapping Deep Fried Rare with Edamame Beans Paste

8112859073 98c2b68742 z Top Dishes of 2012

The textures in these bites were so memorable, with a light crispy batter and soft, silky uni. It tasted amazing too, with the clean sea urchin flavor coming through beautifully.

RyuGin (Tokyo, Japan)
Wagyu Beef Filet Grilled on Charcoal with Assortment of Vegetables

8327237451 58867d8269 z Top Dishes of 2012

My second trip to RyuGin delivered this highlight. Here, the over-the-top fattiness of Japanese wagyu was in the form of relatively lean filet mignon; the opposites created a fantastic middle-ground. The result was something that was extremely tender, yet also very juicy and succulent. Crisp veggies provided just a little bit of textural crunch to lighten things up a bit.

Tsujita LA (Los Angeles, CA)
Tsukemen

8327247393 911a9f296e z Top Dishes of 2012

I’m not sure how many times I’ve had this bowl this year, which justified a cross-town trip multiple times (and even a trip to the main branch in Tokyo, which serves a very similar bowl). I still remember loving it from the first bite: the thick, al dente noodles and umami-packed soup. I just wish there was a way to keep the soup hot throughout.

Happy eating in 2013!