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The Year in Eater: Trash Fish, Tasting Menus, and Other 2014 Dining Victories

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The best of 2014.

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Turn that frown upside down, because after yesterday's hater parade, it's time for Eater's panel of food writers and experts to weigh in on what they loved in 2014. Los Angeles and Australia were big, and lots of folks loved the cookbooks of 2014 (especially the baking and pastry variety). Bread gets some love after years of carb aversion, and Instagram is not just reshaping how people dine but how they learn about food. Below, the 2014 Year in Eater Thumbs Up list — as always, feel free to add your picks in the comments.

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Delightful Dishes

"A huge plate of enchiladas never fails to make me happy." —Meghan McCarron, Editor, Eater Austin

"Eucalyptus-smoked loin of lamb with its cultivated fur at Mugaritz. So good we built an entire story in Fool issue 5 around this sacrilegious dish." Per-Anders Jörgensen and Lotta Jörgensen, Editors-in-Chief/Founders, Fool Magazine

"Tortellini in Parmigiano-Reggiano sauce, Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy. Massimo Bottura's Michelin three-starrer was my off-the-clock blowout this year. The meal was exquisite and wild, and the best came last. Bottura, as ebullient as the stories I'd read about him, appeared from the kitchen to greet every table. I asked him a few questions about regional specialties in Emilia-Romagna. Later, after a dessert riffing on chocolate and cherries, which we thought was the last course, Bottura showed back up with a copper pot filled with his famous tortellini (based on his mother's recipe) in a savory-sweet sauce of cream and aged Parmigiano-Reggiano. I wish every Italian meal could end that way." —Bill Addison, Restaurant Editor, Eater.com

"A chicken biscuit at Bojangles' at ATL airport (any and every time I'm there)." —Andrew Knowlton, Restaurant and Drinks Editor, Bon Appetit

"Dim sum-style passed plates at Ma Peche. It's an efficient and economical style of dining, and if it can work at State Bird and at Momofuku, it can work elsewhere." —Ryan Sutton, Chief Critic, Eater.com

"Celery root in bagna cauda, Vin Papillon, Montreal. I didn't want to order celeriac in July. But the server pushed it, and out came the sex kitten of the vegetable world: silky squares, like sheets of pasta, tamed by a dressing of anchovy, garlic, and caper. Joe Beef, the restaurant's big brother, may get all the glory, but the food at this wine bar has equal mojo." —Bill Addison, Restaurant Editor, Eater.com

"Tacos. After a lifetime of eating bad tacos, I made up for it this year. Outrageous good ones at Taco Maria in Costa Mesa and around San Diego; closer to home in NYC, Enrique Olvera is serving incredible tortillas and tacos at Cosme and yay for, among others, Danny Bowien at Mission Cantina and Alex Stupak at his Empellons." —Kate Krader, Restaurant Editor, Food & Wine

"Spatchcocked turkeys." —Mike Thelin, Co-Founder, Feast Portland

"The baked potato bing bread with bacon and scallions at Parachute in Chicago — that stuff is evil!" —Andrew Knowlton, Restaurant and Drinks Editor, Bon Appetit

"Perhaps it's as a result of the grand Pete Wells bread-shaming of April '14, or a national un-demonizing of carbs, but I feel like the loaves (the free ones at the beginning of a meal) have multiplied as of late. They're not just maintenance bread, either — if a restaurant doesn't have an in-house baker, there's a good chance it's tasked Runner & Stone, Blue Ribbon, Balthazar or another excellent carb-porium with the bite that starts the meal off right. And the butter quality: huminah! My only quibble tends to be if there's some clever bean or vegetable spread. No one wants that, man." —Kat Kinsman, Editor-in-Chief, Tasting Table

"The NYC bagel Renaissance." —Mitchell Davis, Executive VP, James Beard Foundation

"Modern take on vitello tonnato at Fork in Philadelphia." —Mitchell Davis, Executive VP, James Beard Foundation

"The vegetarian sandwich at Meat Hook Sandwich." —Amanda Kludt, Editor-in-Chief, Eater

"A simple dish of confit pumpkin in a pool of warm almond oil with just a bit of rosemary salt sprinkled on top at Matt Orlando's Amass in Copenhagen was one of the best things I ate last year. It was a treat to see that place — and all the rest in Copenhagen, for that matter — change and improve over the last year. CPH may lack variety and the number of options available in other capitals, but there's a handful of restaurants there dictating what happens in kitchens across the globe. The sense of excitement and creative freedom in those restaurants is almost intoxicating. Now that I've moved back to the States, I really do miss it." —Gabe Ulla, Editor, MADFeed

"The rise of next-level ice cream and other frozen treats. (I grew up next to a dairy farm and take ice cream very seriously.) Two of my best eating experiences in New York this summer were Ample Hills and Morgenstern's, and one of my favorite new openings in Austin is a charming and perfectly executed gelateria called Dolce Neve. There's lots of exciting new ice cream projects on the horizon here for 2015, too." —Meghan McCarron, Editor, Eater Austin

Restaurant Raves


"Seeing Blanca gets it due. I don't necessarily wish there were more tasting counters around — but if places with that kind of spirit and pretty spot-on sense of taste can continue to succeed in NYC, fantastic." —Gabe Ulla, Editor, MADFeed

"Opening of Cosme. Sometimes those restaurants you wait and wait for let you down. Mexican superstar Enrique Olvera's new Mexican restaurant is exactly the opposite." —Kate Krader, Restaurant Editor, Food & Wine

"Grampa's Pizza. A bit like a mini-Roberta's for Madison, Grampa's is a largely self-sufficient little spot, with a tight menu executed really well. Totally in love with the dense, slightly spicy ginger cake." —Kyle Nabilcy, Food and Beer Writer, Isthmus

"Petit Trois. This year I was lucky enough to travel to France, and though our meals in Paris were very good — the highlight was dinner at Le 6 Paul Bert — the best French meal I had this year was actually in L.A. at Petit Trois. Every thing that we ate there was the best version of that thing I've experienced in a very long time: the baguette? Incredible (made by a home baker Ludo Lefebvre discovered himself). The escargot? Plump and garlicky and beautiful to look at. The omelet? Genuinely the best I've ever had (Besha Rodell said it was the best she's ever had too in L.A. Weekly). And the Napoleon was rustic enough to seem homemade, but refined enough to make it clear that no mortal could ever really make this at home. And though I had many excellent meals in 2014 — including one at Petit Trois's sister restaurant Trois Mec — my lunch at Petit Trois was definitely my favorite." —Adam Roberts, Blogger, Amateur Gourmet

"El Rey and SQIRL. New York and LA get healthy, thought-provoking breakfast and lunch spots that aren't juice bars. The success of each will spawn countless shitty copycats and, hopefully, a few good ones." —Matt Duckor, Restaurant Editor, Epicurious

"Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Didn't hit my goal of going once every season this year but someday I'll live that dream." —Amanda Kludt, Editor-in-Chief, Eater

"I love the patio menu at Qui: affordable, playful, Filipino-inspired, delicious. It's my secret weapon for impressing out-of-towners or for enjoying a stellar meal at the last minute on a weekend." —Meghan McCarron, Editor, Eater Austin

"Undersåkers Charkuteriefabrik in Jämtland, Sweden. Delicious artisanal Swedish charcuterie made in a small factory by Fäviken's Magnus Nilsson and his skillful staff." —Per-Anders Jörgensen and Lotta Jörgensen, Editors-in-Chief/Founders, Fool Magazine

"Le Servan restaurant in Paris' 11th. A lovely reclaimed space on a quiet corner, a pleasant and patient front of house staff, and a KILL SQUAD OF KITCHEN NINJAS fully aware of its expert powers with flying blades. Go there. 2. Caves Madeleine in Beaune. You know those classic French country dishes? This place shows you why they became classic. Make two reservations when you call, because you'll want to be back soon." —Levi Dalton, Wine Editor, Eater NY

"One of my most memorable and inspired meals this year was at the Catbird Seat in Nashville. And from that meal, a beer soup and a handheld PBJ salad. Chef Trevor Moran served a handheld ice cream sorrel salad this year at the Eater Awards which reminded me of the one I had at the restaurant." —Kat Odell, Editorial Producer, Eater.com

"Even though my best of the year lists typically focus on new or new-ish restaurants, allow me to use this forum to state that I became increasingly smitten with Del Posto this year." —Ryan Sutton, Chief Critic, Eater.com

"Sweetgreen's quick rise to the top. Good for these guys. Quality product, smart branding, and an optimistic vision for the future of fast casual food. Oh, and millions of dollars in funding to make that vision a reality." —Matt Duckor, Restaurant Editor, Epicurious

"Russ & Daughters Cafe: This is a new, quintessentially New York restaurant and I love it. Eating there feels like going home. They really surprised everyone with how gorgeous the design is, and how well-executed the cooked dishes are (we all knew the smoked fish would be top notch). Also, the halvah ice cream! My favorite new NYC restaurant of the year." —Hillary Dixler, Associate Reports Editor, Eater.com

"All of the new bakeries that popped up across the country. Including: San Diego's 85 degrees, Portland's Farina; LA's Superba Food & Bread and Gjusta; Baker Miller Bakery & Millhouse in Chicago; the expansion of Le Marais Bakery in SF; Maman in NYC; La Columbe's new bakery in Philly; Tandem in Portland, Maine; St. Philip in Austin; and half a dozen others that I'm forgetting right now. Bread is back, baby." —Daniela Galarza, News Editor, Eater.com

Bugs

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Inspiring Ingredients


"Trash fish! Previously unloved vegetable parts! Off cuts! I love that chefs are embracing sustainability and no-waste cooking in a way that is a boon for eaters. This stuff has always been delicious, and I'm just glad that restaurants are taking the time to thoughtfully present it." —Kat Kinsman, Editor-in-Chief, Tasting Table

"Better sourced meat everywhere from a simple $5 burger (the fast burger at Belcampo) or $10 ham sandwich to $210 bistecca fiorentina (at Chi Spacca)." —Matthew Kang, Editor, Eater LA

"Low-on-the-food-chain fish. So strong-tasting. So delicious." —Jonathan Gold, Restaurant Critic, LA Times

"New data reveals that for first time in history, bugs are acceptable to Westerners for regular consumption. We've been hearing for years (I said it a decade ago, YIKES! humble brag humble brag) that changing our diet and including alternative proteins reduces the energy needed to produce our food, it lowers costs and eases pressure on the food system and a host of other benefits. The problem is that our passion for eating this type of food was nil. Now that's all changed. According to this revelatory survey there is a now a willingness and a level of acceptance that bodes well for all alternative proteins. If we can eat critters, and bugs and little fish with the heads on 'em, and sea vegetables and all the rest, then our food system would correct itself in five years. This isn't about food focused geeks in big cities trying crickets on holiday in Mexico, this is about putting these foods into our system holistically from sea to shining sea." —Andrew Zimmern, Bizarre Foods and Delicious Destinations Honcho

"Weird(er) cuts of meat like sweetbreads and pig trotters are becoming commonplace, and in a prime steak-obsessed city like Dallas that is a glorious thing." —Whitney Filloon, Editor, Eater Dallas

"The arrival of high-quality tortillas in New York. Great Mexican food requires equally great tortillas, and this was previously unavailable. Masienda introduced high quality Oaxacan single variety corn, which Cosme nixtamalizes in house for its yellow, white, blue, and red corn tortillas. Empellon al Pastor also nixtamalzes Indiana corn in-house for its tortillas, soon to be used in Empellon Taqueria and Empellon Cocina. That's four New York restaurants that now have excellent tortillas, and more are coming." —Adam Goldberg, Blogger, A Life Worth Eating

"I love fizzy water, and I love that more and more restaurants — both fancy and casual — are now offering house still and sparkling waters.  Just this week, I've been offered filtered still and sparkling waters at the three Michelin-starred the Restaurant at Meadowood, as well as more casual eateries like Flour + Water and Glen Ellen Star." —Bonjwing Lee, Blogger/Photographer, Ulterior Epicure


Promising Places

"The new Australian gastronomic scene. Chefs like Jock Zonfrillo, Matt Stone and Ben Shewry paves the way working with indigenous Australian ingredients. Zonfrillo is the brave one, he works directly with Aboriginal people, which is previously unheard of. We also have to mention the new generation of talented Australian winemakers who produce delicious natural wines that unfortunately rarely reach the rest of the world."Per-Anders Jörgensen and Lotta Jörgensen, Editors-in-Chief/Founders, Fool Magazine

"Seattle: Every time I visit this city I am blown away by the ever-growing culinary scene, which still doesn't get the national attention it deserves. Can't wait to go back." —Hillary Dixler, Associate Reports Editor, Eater.com

"I had some really fun, downscale, delicious and unpretentious food down in L.A. this year that served as a reminder of what truly makes a good meal. (The Dodgers still suck.)" —Paolo Lucchesi, Columnist, Inside Scoop SF

"I've never really spent much time in Philly and took two trips there this year. The dining scene completely exceeded my expectations: Zahav, High Street on Market, Serpico, even the Franklin Fountain all impressed. And I'm looking forward to going back to try Vedge, Vetri, and other places I missed." —Amanda Kludt, Editor-in-Chief, Eater

"Canberra, the capital of Australia and now one of our most interesting wine-making regions, has finally begun to transform its potential as an eating destination into a reality. Having Hotel Hotel, the most interesting hotel in the country, open right in the middle of town hasnt hurt its prospects." —Pat Nourse, Restaurant Critic, Australian Gourmet Traveller

"Los Angeles. I spent a lot of time there this year while working on a Korean cookbook. And while I could go on and on about how incredibly deep and under-appreciated the K-town is there (at least on a national level), this is not about that. This is about Curtis Stone's passionate cooking, and deep kitchen bench, at Maude in Beverly Hills, the best meal I had all year. It's about Grand Central Market (Wexler's Deli, Eggslut, G&B), Son of a Gun, Sushi Gen in Little Tokyo, Scoop's, Faith + Flower, Josef Centeno, Hinoki & The Bird and stupidly not booking at Trois Mec. And, of course, strip malls in San Gabriel Valley and running around the reservoir while it snowed for a month straight in NYC. The dining scene in Los Angeles is so exciting right now." —Matt Rodbard, Contributing Editor, Food Republic

"It's a great time to eat in London right now. Gymkhana was mind-blowing, and I can confidently say that James Lowe and Isaac McHale are now firing on all cylinders at their respective restaurants. Can't forget lunch at Jeremy Lee's Quo Vadis, which remains as civilized and pleasant as those things get." —Gabe Ulla, Editor, MADFeed

People Praise


"I like Justin Cogley's cooking. He flies under the radar because he is down in Carmel sans a Michelin Guide, but his cooking at Aubergine embraces the coast like no other restaurant in Northern California. That's pretty cool." —Paolo Lucchesi, Columnist, Inside Scoop SF

"Chefs/restaurant owners who pick a neighborhood and destroy it (in the good way): 1. Josef Centeno (Orsa & Winston, Baco Mercat, Bar Ama, Ledlow in DTLA) 2. Zoe Nathan & Josh Loeb (Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry, Milo & Olive in Santa Monica) 3. Jason Bernstein, Jim Starr, Zak Fishman & Noah Galuten (Golden State/Bludso's/Cofax/Prime Pizza on Fairfax/La Brea)" —Zach Brooks, Midtown Lunch and Food Is the New Rock

"I love that Gavin Kaysen, the soft-spoken star of the Boulud empire, went back to his hometown to try something new." —Greg Morabito, Engagement Editor, Eater.com

"Nick Morgenstern. Hell of a year Nick Morgenstern. We all knew you could do ice cream, but your parlor game is really strong. Five different vanillas, what? El Rey came into its own. It's effortlessly cool and making food you want to eat all the time. But GG's is the big winner. Your first good move was teaming with Bobby Hellen. Your second good move was focusing on pizza as your set piece, though offering a tight pasta/proteins menu that can be shared (though you’re not pushing that too hard, which I like). And your grandma slice! Your third good move was being really smart with beverages — tight, interesting wine list, session beers that match with the pies, cocktails and not over-thought. Your fourth good move was recently playing the ASAP Ferg album in its entirety the other night. Well, Nick Morgenstern, you weren't there. It was a little late and you were probably busy planning a new opening." —Matt Rodbard, Contributing Editor, Food Republic

"Martha Stewart's classy dig at Gwyneth Paltrow in the November issue of Martha Stewart Living. No one throws shade like Martha." —Daniela Galarza, News Editor, Eater.com

"Danny Meyer: Gramercy Tavern turned 20 this year, Shake Shack turned 10, and he's still opening new restaurants like Marta, which burst onto the scene guns blazing." —Hillary Dixler, Associate Reports Editor, Eater.com

"Albert Adria — he is simply amazing, putting together an incredible team of chefs and restaurant people to create an outstanding repertoire of restaurants covering a variety of cuisines and styles, all with exceptional quality, creativity, attention to detail and superb service. Nobody has done a better job of mixing quality, creativity and rebuilding a metropolitan area through restaurants than Albert Adria. 2014 was a watershed year for his organization with the development of Enigma, Hoja Santa and the growth and repurposing of his other restaurants." —John Sconzo, Blogger, Docsconz.com

"The brilliant (and profane) twitter account @shitfoodblogger." —Helen Rosner, Features Editor, Eater.com

"I loved the panels at Cherry Bombe's Jubilee, and specifically Preeti Mistri's story about opening Juhru Beach Club." —Greg Morabito, Engagement Editor, Eater.com

"Anything that Rachel Yang cooks." —Sara Billups, Editor, Eater Seattle

"Dan Barber is the chef and owner of Blue Hill in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns which sits inside the nonprofit farm and education center, The Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. Dan has received multiple James Beard awards, was one of Time's 100 most influential people in the world, and his writing on food and agricultural policy have appeared in the New York Times and in several books. He is way too talented, and I am very jealous. BUT, his latest book, The Third Plate, aggregates his last decade spent investigating farming communities around the world, and Barber concludes that what we've been doing here in America isn't working. We are in need of more radical disruption and a new definition of what it means to live and eat sustainably. As someone who has also spent last 10 years traveling around the world and trying to get people to redefine what food means to us as a culture, I am sold on  this amazing new book, its the best of the last 5 years for me in terms of offering concrete solutions to a host of our problems." —Andrew Zimmern, Bizarre Foods and Delicious Destinations Honcho

Instagram Macarons

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Tech Tributes


"Instagram. I killed Twitter and Facebook on my iPhone for you. Fully committed. In pretty deep. But truthfully, Instagram was really key this year in an editorial/learning about food things sense. When chefs/restaurants/food personalities get it right, it lets us into their world a bit. It gets us excited. And from the perspective of learning about stuff, all I can say is that I referenced #jokbal and #gamjatang more than a few times." —Matt Rodbard, Contributing Editor, Food Republic

"I loved the big reveal of Nick Kokonas's Tock. A lot of people like to complain about problems on the business side of the restaurant industry — and that's important too, the complaining — but it seems like Kokonas is really being proactive about fixing some major problems in a way that's inclusive. Of course, he stands to make a ton of money off of Tock, but it sounds like a lot of others will benefit from this service too." —Greg Morabito, Engagement Editor, Eater.com

"Chefs showing off their skills on Instagram—particularly the feed from McCrady's chef de cuisine Daniel Heinze." —Erin Perkins, Editor, Eater Charleston

Celebrating Change


"How smart, fun, inventive salads are the benchmark by which chefs are now judged (at least by me)." —Andrew Knowlton, Restaurant and Drinks Editor, Bon Appetit

"The rise of food halls like Packing House in Orange County and Gotham West Market." —Mike Thelin, Co-Founder, Feast Portland

"This year we really started to look at transforming the experience of dining out: Nick Kokonas's Tock ticketing system, the conversation about tip-reform, Resy and other table scalping services and so on. I'm not on board with everything that scrutiny has reaped, but I love that we're asking the questions and thinking about how the imperfect logistics of visiting a hot restaurant can be improved." —Jordana Rothman, Food Writer

"The increasing ubiquity of restaurants making their own charcuterie." —Whitney Filloon, Editor, Eater Dallas

"The Fast Casual Trend. Spearheaded by great chefs around the country, it's awesome to see places like Empellon al Pastor from Alex Stupak and Chris Jaeckle's Uma Temakeria in NYC and Tim Hollingsworth's Barrel & Ashes Barbecue in LA. Next year I'm going to love the trend even more: Joshua Skenes opens Fat Noodle  with Adam Fleischman in SF and my heroes Daniel Patterson and Roy Choi are opening Loco'l, fast healthy, eco-friendly fast food in Oakland." —Kate Krader, Restaurant Editor, Food & Wine

"Restaurants paying more attention to their coffee program. What does it say about restaurants that go to great lengths to bring diners the highest quality ingredients at every level, but then serve vending machine-quality coffee?" —Adam Goldberg, Blogger, A Life Worth Eating

"Mexican cuisine is finally getting the respect around the world it deserves. The Mesamerica Congress had its third iteration [this year]. Celebrated top end Mexican restaurants are popping up around the world with Enrique Olvera's Cosme in NYC, Albert Adria's Hoja Santa and Niño Viejo in Barcelona Joan Bagur's Oaxaca in Barcelona, Michelin starred Punto MX in Madrid and the forthcoming Mexican restaurant in Copenhagen, Hija de Sanchez amongst those already established." —John Sconzo, Blogger, Docsconz.com

"Affordable tasting menus (anything under $100 all-in is considered a reasonably priced luxury)." —Matthew Kang, Editor, Eater LA

"The resurgence of the actually delicious tasting menu. After a couple years of being disappointed (not to mention occasionally and unforgivably bored) by long evenings filled with tiny plates, I had a string of utterly magnificent bring-it-on dinners in the last six months, at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Del Posto, Marc Forgione, Momofuku Ko, and the brilliant, magical Take Root." —Helen Rosner, Features Editor, Eater.com

"The new emphasis on vegetables." —Erin Perkins, Editor, Eater Charleston

"I like that California chefs and restaurateurs are thinking about their businesses as vehicles to do good in the world. With the Perennial, Anthony Myint and Karen Lebovitz are trying to improve the restaurant industry's relationship with the environment, climate change and carbon footprints. Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson are trying to make a new fast food chain work. More restaurants are interacting with local charities in new ways. More restaurants are figuring out how to pay cooks more. There won't be answers to all the problems, but these conversations are underway, and that's a strong start." —Paolo Lucchesi, Columnist, Inside Scoop SF

"I felt as if there was a grand unclenching from what felt like peak fetishism in 2012-13. Perhaps it's just assumed at this point that everything is going to be sustainalocaganivorganic so there is less of an inclination to call it out, but when it comes to menu writing and dish presentation, I feel like more restaurants are dancing like no one's watching. Page at the end of the menu with all the farms and purveyors listed? Excellent. Mini Farm Bill recited at the table? Feels a little past fresh." —Kat Kinsman, Editor-in-Chief, Tasting Table

"I'm excited that chefs (and people in the restaurant industry) are focusing more on fitness (instead of drunkeness, for example). Chefs like Nate Appleman and Dave Beran (both of whom made great running partners in 2014) are marathon runners. Chef Justin Cogley of Aubergine in Carmel ran a couple of 50K races this year.  Andy Chabot, the Sommelier and Director of Food and Beverage at Blackberry Farm, put me to shame in a recent 5K we ran in South Carolina.  Chefs like Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson of Frasca Food + Wine and Matt Accarino of SPQR are avid cyclist. And Bobby Stuckey (sommelier at Frasca Food + Wine): runner, cyclist, super-human. [He] continues to be an inspiration. I hope this trend continues." —Bonjwing Lee, Blogger/Photographer, Ulterior Epicure

"Russian food in Portland with the debut of Kachka and Vitaly Paley's occasional restaurant DaNet." —Mike Thelin, Co-Founder, Feast Portland

cookbooks

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Media and Cookbooks


"The cookbook boom. I collect cookbooks, so I was thrilled to see how many interesting, creative cookbooks were launched from the likes of Brooks Headley, Gabrielle Hamilton, Malid Elmlid, Mimi Thorissen, Renee Ericksen, Amy Chaplin and on and on. Even Tyler Florence, who could have phoned in another cookbook, published an interesting one." —Kerry Diamond, Editor-in-Chief, Yahoo Food

"Bon Appetit's December issue. Every year, I wonder how they will top their cookie ideas from the previous year, and every year they do. The cover recipe from San Francisco's Craftsman & Wolves for lavender shortbread wreaths decorated with freeze dried fruits and candied herbs and flowers? It's the perfect combination of seasonally festive and naturally beautiful. No food coloring required." —Daniela Galarza, News Editor, Eater.com

"Brooks Headley's cookbook, Fancy Desserts. I first saw an uncorrected proof on another chef's coffee table and was immediately hooked. I came of age in a suburban punk scene so the zine aesthetic took me home. Publishing a book can be a homogenizing experience, and it's brave to insist on making something that reads and looks like this — a deeply-personal, weird, revelatory, self-effacing objet. I think it will either win every award, or just break the system entirely because no one will know what to make of it. Whatever happens, I think we’ll see the book's influence trickle down over the next few years: Other chefs will get to tell the stories they want to tell, the way they want to tell them because Brooks was fearless enough to do it first." —Jordana Rothman, Food Writer

"Baked: Occasions, one of the coolest, most inspiring, most sprinkle-filled, most sleeper-hit cookbooks of the year. It inspired me to up my baking game by orders of magnitude." —Helen Rosner, Features Editor, Eater.com

"I feel like this is a deeply uncool thing to say but I loved the movie Chef and what it represented. There have been many food movies over the years and some of them have been fantastic. But I think the fact that Jon Favreau and Roy Choi did the ditch-digging to get the details right reflects a changing context — we want to see true cooking and real, beautiful food on screen because we are a maturing audience and we know what to look for. But then you compare that with something like the idiotic and absurd Hundred-Foot Journey, in which characters swoon over the aroma of big-Ag tomatoes and a Michelin-starred chef cooks with ground spices that have been languishing in a closet for a decade…and you see we have a long way to go." —Jordana Rothman, Food Writer

"The Prune cookbook. This book does everything you want a Gabrielle Hamilton book to do: it subverts your expectations (no recipe headnotes? no introduction?), it makes you laugh with its bluntness (on her recipe for grilled ribeye steak: "This is too expensive to fuck up"); it frustrates with its elusiveness (What's the deal with the spoonful of fondant in a glass of water?), but it always stimulates and provokes and makes you want to return to it again and again for a recipe or a laugh or a swift kick in the butt. I'll cherish it always." —Adam Roberts, Blogger, Amateur Gourmet


Awesome Alcohol


"Unfamiliar grape varieties in wine." —Mitchell Davis, Executive VP, James Beard Foundation

"The flourishing of Wisconsin's sour beer scene, in particular the rise of Funk Factory Geuzeria and its collaborations with Wisconsin beer heavyweight O'so." —Kyle Nabilcy, Food and Beer Writer, Isthmus

"The vibrant conversation about the wines of Piemonte, Italy that has sprung up around the release of the lauded 2010 Barolo vintage and coinciding with the publication of some much needed new books on the subject." —Levi Dalton, Wine Editor, Eater NY

"The local cocktail scene continues to get even better with the opening of places like Parliament and Midnight Rambler that are putting out seriously world-class drinks." —Whitney Filloon, Editor, Eater Dallas

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