Archive for a1 best meals

Saison (SF) – My Favorite Meal of 2012

A meal at Saison is a slow burn through the night. Flavors are clean and light. A soft salinity brushes some plates like an ocean mist. Smoke wafts throughout. Imparts of faint bitterness. Tight concentrations of umami. Sometimes a funk. And always the striking dash of herbs. The fire is the heart, the essence and purpose. Singularity.

Follow the embers to the wild and the pure.

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McCrady’s – Seeds of Muse and Obsession

Every second, our connections to history dissipate. A family recipe is eaten for the last time, unknowingly. Land-rich, but cash poor, farmers sell their land to development. A forgotten plant might simply die out in a field next to the highway. History is kept alive by those that simply document. Farm almanacs, family cookbooks, and forgotten fields offer insights into a culinary past. Without research, proselytization, and, ultimately, consumption; yesterday might fade away. Sean Brock, chef of McCrady’s and Husk, is on a mission of reclaiming and re-imagining the Carolina Rice Kitchen. He mines the past with an archeologists’s zeal but cooks through a lens of today – an enchanting modern cuisine with Jeffersonian agrarian roots.

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Willows Inn (Lummi Island, WA) – Island as Plate

To get away – seclusion, slow time, and the freedom to explore. To live with the land, honor its history, and work within its bounty. To be inspired by the physical connection to food and walk amongst it – on the farm, into the brush. Down to the beach: berries on the slope, stonecrop along the shore, and sea lettuce in the water. Spot prawns swim just beyond. A land of possibility. To take the ideas of noma and practice them on a nine-mile island, most of it uninhabited – welcome to Willows Inn.1

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elements (Princeton, NJ) – Explorations

Unique ingredients are the initial allure of elements. But there is more. Chef Scott Anderson can craft tasting menus that introduce the new, present the familiar as novelty, or concoct different flavor from the known. He weaves a few popular narratives – farm and forage, cure and ferment, whole animal and plant – into his own brand of “interpretive American cuisine.” But, perhaps more apt, as DocSconz wrote, it is better described as an “interpreter of the moment“, albeit one that rode those waves before they broke.1 Exploration is at the heart of elements and drives it to be one of America’s better restaurants.


poached egg, salsify, beet puree, carrots

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La Vie (Osnabrück, Germany) – Explorations

Evocative of landscapes, Thomas Bühner’s dishes encourage trailblazing through his crawling plates. Using the main ingredient as guide, pairing complements and opposites in random walks, dimension and nuance are explored. Each bite might differ – a stinging acidity and unexpected sweetness might dance back and forth before settling on a nutty tempered finish. Symphonic, as Bühner himself aspires to, where complex dishes balance a variety of flavors, textures, and sometimes, temperatures; all integral to the final work. “And wait until the main dish arrives,” High End Food said before walking away.

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