Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Minxeats Best of 2011 Part 1

In this edition of our annual two-part review of the past year we'll be reliving the delicious restaurant dishes we ate in 2011.

In February, we once again celebrated the Chinese New Year with a Charm City Chowhounds feast at Grace Garden. Mr Minx and I tried the celebrated "triple treasures" for the first time and found it to be as amazingly delicious as promised.

In April, I went to New York for Sniffapalooza and had two lovely solo meals. The first and best was at the Bar Room at the Modern, in the Museum of Modern Art. At first the raw tuna and foie gras dish I ordered as my entrée seemed bizarre, but after a few bites, I thought it was completely brilliant.

Skip to July, when we dined at the new Chazz, a Bronx Original. Our first taste of burrata, a fresh mozzarella-type cheese filled with cream, was indeed memorable. We also really enjoyed the spaghettoni All'Amatriciana. The whole meal, actually.

It's hard to choose my favorite dish at New York restaurant Prune, where I dined with my friend Felicia in July. It's the little things that impressed me the most, like the marinated tomatoes that came with my pork entrée, and the lovely corrugated flatbread that came with an eggplant appetizer. The uber-creamy bleu cheese on buttered bread was also pretty amazing, but I think I'm going to have to call our dessert my favorite dish of the evening - an affogado of ricotta ice cream topped with hot espresso and a bit of candied lemon rind.

In August, my friend Kim and I dined at Oceanaire Seafood Room in Harbor East. While everything was pretty uniformly delicious, I still smack my lips when I think about the butter-drenched multi-colored carrot side dish. It was a huge portion, meant for the table to share, but I ate every morsel.

In September, a rather unassuming little pizza and pasta joint in Timonium called Pasta Blitz provided one of our favorite dishes of the year. Hot enough to please Satan, the shrimp fra diavolo with linguine was full of rich and seafoody flavors. It was as good (and maybe even hotter) the second time I ordered it, in December.

In September, we had a really nice meal at Miguel's Cocina y Cantina to benefit Dining Out for Life. Everything was lovely - the salsas, the shrimp with corn cakes, the arroz verde that came with the entrées - but I gotta say my favorite part of the meal was the crispy-on-the-outside, custardy-tender-on-the-inside churros drizzled with cajeta.

While I never imagined liking Woodberry Kitchen (and overall, despite good food, I didn't), I gotta rave about the wild mushroom flatbread we ate on our anniversary dinner there. I think it was the addition of cabbage that put the flavor profile over-the-top. We Poles love our mushrooms and cabbage, ya know.

And last, but certainly not least, we had two great meals for my birthday, neither of which I bothered to photograph because I have spoken of both restaurants here in the past. The first was at Lebanese Taverna, where we enjoyed a selection of mezze, including an amazing eggplant salad called shakshouky. (Read about my home recreation of the dish here.) The second dinner took place at Hunan Taste, a Hunan restaurant in Catonsville that specializes in authentic dishes from that region of China. Everything we tried pretty much blew our mind, especially the "Country bumpkin" chicken and the unappetizingly-named "beef on toothpicks," which was exactly that: morsels of fried beef skewered on toothpicks. The beef's coating was flavored with cumin, which was surprising, making the crunchy meaty bits as addictive as potato chips.

That wraps up our favorite restaurant dishes of 2011! Next up: our favorite items dished up at Casa Minx!

Posted by theminx on Minxeats.com.