Gastronauts from the future, powered by time machines, will peek into 2011 and see a variety of interesting trends – the new naturalism is still strong, vegetables are claiming more plate real estate, and aged meats are gaining popularity. In America alone, they will see, despite Michelin’s proclamations, a shift in the creative nexus, from New York to the Bay Area. If Michelin ventured beyond the interstate, they would reward serious work being done around the country. 1 And if one of these gastronauts stopped me today, asking about the times, I would tell them “This was the best I can remember in my decade of fine dining.” And then, needing to know before they zipped back to January 2011, I would ask “which restaurants below went on to become great?” All of them could.
Every year I publish my “perfect meal” – a list of dishes, in some approximate tasting order, that could sum up one year. It is equal parts best-of and fantasy, bending time and space into this glutton’s culinary dream. Across America,2 Germany, Benelux, and France – these are my top dishes from 2011. 3