If you’ve clicked open the internet recently, you’ll have noticed that it’s “Best Of 2010” time, and there’s a parade of food-world listicles to weary your eyes with including Ulterior Epicure’s roundup of his favorite dishes of the year (including a few from Manresa, Commis, and the Laundry… and no we don’t understand how he can afford all this); Michael Bauer’s four favorite dishes of the year, complete with iPhone photos; Sam Sifton’s roundup of the best stuff he’s eaten in New York; and Eater’s annual orgy of opinion regarding San Francisco’s newcomers, how to sum up the year in one word, etc. But we want to give some special props now to Jonathan Kauffman’s well considered lists for the Weekly, including his favorite dishes of the year, and the restaurant closures that hurt him the most.
We get a bit more insight into his first year on the job as critic, and get to see a more survey-like glimpse into what he looks for in food. Also, he reminds us of one of his great talents as a food writer: being able to thoroughly and creatively describe why he likes something, and why it works.
I recognized it in the first bite of my first meal on the job at SF Weekly — that quality that lured me back to San Francisco after four years in Seattle. The dish, a squid and frisée salad at Baker & Banker, seemed relatively straightforward. But from the grill-charred satin of the squid to the evanescent crunch of cumin-dusted chickpeas and the elusive flecks of fresh mint, the salad demonstrated an exquisite sensitivity to detail, a quality that’s rare in other cities and commonplace here.
Also, he declares 2010 the Year of the Return of the Iconoclast, and talks about what a great year it was to write about food in S.F. when so many chefs started doing such truly unique and interesting stuff. And he ranks his five favorite dishes thusly:
1. Beef shank and marrow pot pie with a Pisco Punch at Comstock Saloon
2. Rack of lamb with chanterelles, mustard greens, and root beer jus at Sons + Daughters
3. Grilled pork neck at Chabaa
4. Sizzling cumin lamb at Mission Chinese Food
5. Margherita pizza at Una Pizza Napoletana