Favorite New Foods Of 2008

Since I think it’s about to get nutty around here, what with the holidays and all, I thought I’d pre-preemptively post a year end wrap up before I go away to the cold, cold world that is Winnipeg.

So, without further adieu, let’s jump right into my favorite new foods of the year;

1- Beef Shortribs – As the Everyman succinctly reminded me the other day, until I tried them at Cowbell I never did much like the shortrib.  It’s true, but what a convert I am.  Now I must have them at least every 2 to 3 weeks or else I feel like I’ll go batty.  I even convinced the Everyman to prepare his version of something I saw on Brad Long’s Veritas menu; a grilled cheese and shortrib sandwich.  Heaven is a shortrib bounty.  It tastes almost exactly not like a hamburger, in grilled form.  Delicious.

2- Carpaccio – I always have loved raw fish, but this year was really when I finally turned on to raw meat.  I still can’t stomach tartare; it must be the egg that’s the problem.  And again, this transformation is primarily due to Cowbell and Brad Lamb.  I first had an amazing beef carpaccio at The PT Club which started my intrigue with the dish, and then fell completely in love once I tried a few variations at Cowbell over the summer.  I think we can safely say that my mantra for 2008 has become Eat. More. Meat.

3- Pork Belly – I’ll be honest.  I used to hate pork belly.  Really, really strongly hate it.  Then one night I had it at Globe Bistro with a couple of sea scallops and thought, hmmm, this is pretty darn good!  Then there was a low period where I hated it again after I had it at Treadwell (which I’d like to reiterate from my post on it is completely overrated).  But I persevered, and now I actually like it.  It’s rich for sure, but in small doses you just can’t beat it.  I even had some fun this year cooking with it at home; though I will say if you’re inclined to try that, good luck, it’s really hard to find in Toronto even at high quality butcher shops.

4- The Hamburger – OK, before anyone gets bent out of shape, let me clarify this.  I know hamburgers are not new and I have always enjoyed a good one (or cheeseburger for that matter).  What I am trying to say is this is the year that I became fully obsessed with all things relating to them.  I believe this can mostly be attributed to a little website I’ve mentioned before called A Hamburger Today.  My discovery of this internet treasure is directly proportional to how frequently I now consume and dream about the humble hamburger.  Mmmm, I could sure go for one of those right now.

5- Kohlrabi – When I first encountered this strange-looking vegetable I was absolutely baffled.  What was this purple alien thing in my farm share?  How does one eat it?  What parts are meant to be thrown away?  Well, after much frantic searching on the internet I did in fact find out what it was.  A simple, shredded salad was all it took for me to start to love this vegetable in a big way.

6- Saskatoonberries – I’d always known about Saskatoonberries (having grown up on the prairies) but I often wondered if it wasn’t just some regional name they’d made up for blueberries.  Well, this year I actually tried some at the Food and Wine Show, and I can vouch that they are an entirely different thing.  I’d actually be inclined to say that they are really just blueberries, but better.  And apparently they are even better for you than blueberries are, so how can you go wrong with that?

7- Boutique Cheeses – I love cheese.  I always have.  I could be eternally happy with a nice plate of cheese, some homemade bread, and a carafe of wine.  This year I became a patron of the Cheese Boutique, which I’d always heard great things about, but never went to.  The Boutique has guaranteed that I will have a lifelong relationship with Mimolette and Running With The Bulls, which is an amazing sheep’s milk cheese bathed in olive oil and rolled in rosemary.  Sigh.  I need to get some more of that.  Right NOW.

8- Artichokes – This is another item that I did enjoy before which has blossomed into a full-on love affair in 2008.  Prior to 2008 I can honestly say that the only artichokes I’d encountered came out of cans or jars filled with oil.  And those things have their place, (somewhere) but now I’ve seen the error of my ways and have learned to love the ‘choke.  It may have something to do with the delicious things you can dip the petals in while you eat them too.  But, I know it’s more than just that because it’s prompted me to investigate how to grow my own next year.  I didn’t think it was even possible to grow artichokes in Ontario until my farm share this summer brought me some local ones.  Now this has become my quest.  So a great deal of the credit for turning me on to this sweet veggie delight goes out to my fantastic organic delivery guy.  He’s broadened my food horizons so much in the span of one year and I’m always grateful for that.

9- Tomatoes – Hmm.  What can I say about tomatoes?  A little-known fact about me is that growing up I hated tomatoes.  I would only eat them as ketchup or bruschetta.  I know, you’re wondering how can you like bruschetta but not like tomatoes???  Well, my mom is a chef, and she made a mean bruschetta, and I think I tried it at such a young age that I didn’t really comprehend that it was composed of tomatoes.  As I’ve gotten older I began to enjoy the pleasures of caprese salad and a good Sunday gravy (as the Italians call it), but it still wasn’t what I’d call an obsession.  This year I grew my first tomato plants at home (as evidenced by the mass of postings relating to tomatoes on this blog over the summer).  I think that was the turning point.  As so many people will tell you, a homegrown tomato tastes absolutely nothing like that trash you get at the grocery store.  Even the kind you find at fine foods stores cannot compare to something you pick and immediately eat.  I spent the greater part of 3 months eating almost a disgusting amount of tomatoes because I didn’t want to waste what I had grown.  Tomato salads, toasted tomato sandwiches, tomato pasta, and on and on.  And then I got really crazy and bought 3 bushels of tomatoes to turn into various canned or dried products.  I’d say 2008 solidified my status in the I HEART TOMATO club.

10- Sunchokes – Last, but definitely not least is the sunchoke.  Until this year I had only a passing interest and peripheral knowledge of this vegetable.  Our dinner at Eigensinn Farm was possibly the first time I ever tried one.  While I thoroughly enjoyed it, it’s fair to say that I enjoyed everything I tried there that night.  It wasn’t until a dinner I had at Grace about a month ago that I truly realized the potential.  That review will get posted soon, but I can assure you that it left enough of an impression on me to investigate the growing conditions required for this one as well.

Well foodie folks, that’s my 2 cents on 2008.  Maybe you agree, maybe you don’t.  Maybe nobody’s even reading this thing yet.  In any case, I hope you enjoy.  I’m sure there are tons of other great foods I forgot to mention, but I’ll get around to it soon.

Happy Holidays and until next time…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.