I didn't only eat restaurant food, you know. :)
Best Meal Cooked by Me: Our Valentine's dinner of Crespelle di Mare e Pesto
Best Meal Cooked by Mr Minx: This is a toughie, since my handsome husband does most of the cooking in our house, including stellar soups and spaghetti and meatballs. I think the dish I always look forward to is his meatloaf.
Best Cookbook: The Joy of Cooking is the most-used cookbook in our extensive library, and completely indispensable. If I was forced to whittle my collection down to only one, this would be it.
Best New Cookbook: I didn't get as many cookbooks this year as I have in the past, but several popped up in the latter part of the year as birthday and Christmas gifts. All are lovely, glossy affairs, but I think the one that will get the most use in 2008 is Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill Cookbook. I am especially interested in attempting the sixteen-spice chicken and the coffee-rubbed steak, two dishes we had at the Mesa Grill in Vegas.
Best Food-related TV Show: I would love to say Bourdain's No Reservations takes this honor, but he's gone all soft and pink and warm-hearted after the birth of his daughter. No Res was a bit of a snooze this past season, and I hope the upcoming new episodes reflect a return to the old grumpy Tony (he quit smoking - he's got to be at least a little cranky). Bravo's Top Chef has consistently been entertaining. But my vote goes to Iron Chef America. Not only are the chefs all world class and cook food I would actually eat (unlike the various weird stuffs topped with caviar and truffles from the Japanese version), but they also gave us an entertaining competition with the The Next Iron Chef. And I'm happy that Symon won, although Besh would have worked for me too. Not that he would have worked for me...you know what I mean.
Best Fast Food: I'm proud to say I don't eat much fast food. Once a year is about it for me. For the most part, I think eating it is akin to putting garbage in your body. But I make an exception for Chik-fil-A. I only eat the classic chicken sandwich with pickles, dry. Yum!
Best Burger: Every couple of years we have a food trend that creates an explosion of new specialty chain restaurants. I think the hamburger is the new bagel or the new coffee or the new "fresh Mex." A burger (like a cup of coffee or a quesadilla) is something anyone can make at home quite simply, so a plain burger on a bun doesn't really grab me (sorry, Five Guys). If I'm going to pay good money for a burger in a restaurant, I like it to be a vehicle for toppings. To that effect, I do like Cheeburger Cheeburger for the sheer volume of stuff one could put on their beef, but the toppings offered are relatively boring. So my vote for best embellished burger goes to Red Robin for the Santa Fe burger, fire-roasted poblano pepper, guacamole, sauteed onions, crispy tortilla strips, lettuce, pepperjack cheese, and ancho mayo. I also like the Italian-style burger that comes with sauteed peppers and onions, a wheel of breaded mozzarella cheese, and marinara sauce. Sneer if you want at my chain burger, the meat tastes like real meat, and it also tastes flame grilled, not like liquid smoke. The calorie counts for these things are through the roof, so they are an occasional "I need beef!" indulgence.
Best Fries: I couldn't do a "best burger" with out its number one accompaniment, now could I? Unfortunately those steak fries at Red Robin suck. They're hard, dry, and flavorless. And here's where Cheeburger Cheeburger shines - not only do they serve crispy brown shards of potato goodness, you can also get an order of "frings" - fries AND thin and crispy onion rings. Fattening heaven!
If someone told me I could only have one cookbook, I'd say "Joy of Cooking" without mentioning that I have four different editions of the book. And while I could give up the 1930s (facsimile) edition and the 1950s edition, I absolutely need both the 1970s and 1990s editions. The former is better for traditional/comfort foods, but the latter is better for the new stuff people eat now.
I also agree about Red Robin's hamburgers. I've never had a burger there that I didn't like. For fries, I'd go to Five Guys and get their Cajun fries, although those "frings" sound good, also.
Cheeburger Cheeburger onion rings are THE BEST! I could go there for the Frings basket and milkshake! YUM
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