As the year ends, people, or at least food writers, are inclined to
take stock and declare what were the best things they ate or drank over the
last twelve months. I always find this
surprisingly hard. I can never quite
remember whether I ate certain things six or twelve or eighteen months
Fortunately, in the age of the digital camera, images
are encoded with the date they were taken, and looking through my iPhoto
library I’ve come across various images of some of the food and drink, and
other gourmet-related items that I thought were worth photographing this
year. Of course, taking a photograph is
no indication that the food was especially good - the better the restaurant,
the less inclined I am to make an idiot of myself by taking snaps.
The above muffin, for instance, eaten in the British
Museum in London, looked bizarrely picturesque but didn’t taste especially
So, pressing on modestly, here are a couple of
contrasting cups of coffee. The very
fancily-presented one above, is from Urth Caffe, in downtown Los Angeles:
anything looks more organic when it’s got an image of a leaf on top. The one below is an anything but fancy cup of
joe from Lori’s Diner in San Francisco.
But again, anything tastes better when you’re sitting
in a booth with red sparkly upholstery. And
in fact quite a few of the meals I remember best from this year were eaten in
diners. The one below shows breakfast at
Sherman’s Deli in Palm Springs – nothing like half a pound of egg salad and
half a pound of chopped liver to start the day.
And then, at the Mad Greek Café in Primm Nevada,
below, I had this feta and spinach omelet – the highlight actually was the
bread, the sourest sourdough bread I’ve ever tasted. The potatoes were pretty great too.
The Mad Greek also provided the Loved with an
opportunity for some low level lewdness.
And here was probably the most surprising thing I ate
this year – Thai style cockles.
As a Yorkshireman I’m used to having my cockles boiled
and then saturated in vinegar. These,
which came in a can, seasoned with chili, soy, salt
and sugar, were really great once I’d put aside all my expectations about how a
cockle should taste. Apparently it’s called
"hoi klang" in Thailand
Somewhere along the line I had the above chocolates
with images of cocktails printed on them, but I have no memory of what they
tasted like and if I hadn’t taken the picture I might have forgotten about them
all together; they sure look great though. I hope they tasted the same way.
And this was also the year that I became mildly
addicted to the Blood and Sand cocktail served at the Dresden restaurant in Los
Feliz, you know the place that features in the movie Swingers.
seems to keep its Blood and Sand recipe pretty close to the chest. My understanding is that it’s usually a
whisky drink but the Dresden waiter I spoke to seemed to think it was made with
rum. Either way it’s a fine concoction,
and really a perfectly unisex concoction, certainly colorful and fancy but by
no means a girly drink.
And finally a small celebration of a dying form, the
great, overelaborate American restaurant sign.
Again, I realize there may be no correlation between the mightiness of
the sign and the quality of the food.
The wonderful example below is from Nicely’s in Lee Vining, Ca, where I
had a perfectly decent roast turkey dinner, but it wasn’t as spectacular as the
sign. How could it be?
And in Ventura I came across the sign below for the
Hong Kong Inn, and I confess I didn’t make it inside – it was the promise of
the “Polynesian Review” that deterred me, but it’s definitely on my list of places
to go back to one of these days. I’ve
got to have something to look forward to in 2013, right?