Friday, December 28, 2012


 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 ago. 

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 interesting.

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.    

The Dresden 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?

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