There’s always room for one more meal, right? 2014 delighted me in a vast array of opportunities from coast to coast, but I’ve chosen to focus on the Pacific Northwest in my Tastiest Bites list, below:
#5 • Wood-Fired Tamales
The newest joint in the Tom Douglas family, Cantina Lena, boasts wood-fired cooking in the middle of a busy, downtown locale. But wait – there’s more! T-Doug’s simple tamale with black beans, a perfectly-fried egg, avocado and queso fresco boasted flavors galore! The icing on this Mexican cake? Their roasted green pasilla pepper sauce (and you can take it home, too!). Mmmmm!
#4 • Crawfish Poboy
The service was funky. The place had the smell of stale beer and late nights. But Slim’s Last Chance‘s crawfish poboy was one tasty sandwich! Lightly-breaded, crispy crawfish were abundant and slathered in their special iron pig sauce, then nestled in a bed of crisp lettuce and ripe tomatoes. The roll was just how I like ’em: crispy-grilled on the outside, but with a tender inside that yielded with each bite to reveal the succulent crawdads. Spicy, too!
#3 • The Moriawase Sushi Platter
I’m always just a tiny bit hesitant of restaurants in hotels, however I’ve been pleasantly surprised so many times that I should be over it by now. Tucked away in the W Hotel in downtown Seattle, Trace Seattle‘s sushi seals the deal! Chef Hae Yung’s Moriawase sushi platter with nigiri and sashimi is bright, inventive and frame-worthy beautiful. One must pause before eating to ponder if the pleasure is more in the sheer beauty of the presentation, or the clean flavors within.
#2 • Lamb Sugo
Andaluca chef Sarah Lorenzen’s savory dishes have always had a special place in my heart, but her Lamb Sugo with mouth-watering braised lamb, subtly-smoked tagliatelle and a sprinkling of manchego truly takes the cake. So many complex flavors come through this dish I wish it was on the menu regularly, but my waistline appreciates that I have to be patient with finding it only on occasion. Did I mention the tagliatelle’s smoked?!
#1 • Key Lime Tart
Shocking, right? I’ve chosen a simple dessert as my favorite bite of 2014! Brimmer and Heeltap have turned the average key lime tart into an out-of-body experience! Crowned with a perfectly-sweetened coconut meringue, and nestled on a throne of tamarind caramel, this anything-but-average gem sits deliciously on my palate’s sweet/tart meter. Its crust was delicate, buttery and light, allowing the tangy/tart filling to be the star of the show. And for those who believe that life’s too short and that dessert should be eaten first? Only true if this is the dessert you choose! Omnom, indeed!
Close to the list? Brimmer and Heeltap’s kabocha-stuffed buns topped with a glimmer of honey and walnuts: delicate, flavorful and just a little earthy. Anthony’s Pier 66’s sinfully-delicious grilled King salmon: exquisitely-executed and served with a sweet-and-savory cornbread. And a throwback to my younger days: The Arctic Circle’s wayback machine (found in a tiny, backwards town in western Idaho) still serves up a simply-delicious fry sauce!
Here’s to 2015!