Top 10 Eats of 2009

My Top 10 eats that make me smile. (And yes, those are coffee beans.)

Some people like to look back at the year to ponder, scrutinize and revel in their accomplishments.

I like to look back at the year to relive moments in time that I can’t forget because, well, they just tasted so darned good.

Yes, here’s my list of the top 10 dishes I had in 2009.

Oh, it was hard to narrow it down to just 10, believe me. I hemmed and hawed about which would make the cut and which wouldn’t because there were so many bites over the past 12 months that I truly savored.

In the end, I decided to limit it to the meals I ate out, rather than cooked at home. The dishes that made the list were ones that I still savor in my memory, again and again. They’re ones that I would rush out to eat once more in a heart beat. They are — in a word — unforgettable.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Everyone wants to eat at Ad Hoc on fried chicken night -- for good reason.

1. The justly famous fried chicken at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc restaurant in Yountville.

Luscious pork belly, hoisin sauce and scallions make this a bite of heaven.

2. Pork belly buns at David Chang’s insanely popular Momofuku restaurants in New York.

This will make you excited about tuna sandwiches again.

3. Albacore tuna salad sandwich with fennel and chipotle mayo at the teeny-tiny Sentinel sandwich joint in San Francisco.

Pasta with -- of all things -- Bing cherries.

4. Casonsei (rectangular ravioli stuffed with veal sausage) with the unexpected, delightful addition of fresh Bing cherries at Quattro at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley in East Palo Alto.

Sweet, slightly crunchy spot prawns.

5. Sweet, refreshing local spot prawns, served crudo-style, with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice and piment d’espelette at Saison in San Francisco.

The richest, most decadent souffle ever.

6. Black pepper and Parmesan souffle with Dungeness crab and uni fondue. A supremely luxurious dish from the Plumed Horse in Saratoga.

An earthenware crock holds stuffed squid cooked in their own ink.

7. Tender-as-can-be stuffed calamari braised in their own jet-black ink at Poggio in Sausalito.

Seared, tender gnocchi with the most intense duck flavor.

8. Seared, tender gnocchi topped with a sublime duck-chestnut ragu at Michael Chiarello’s Bottega in Yountville.

A gourmet taco -- done Korean-style.

9. The incomparable Korean short rib taco, an explosion of flavors and textures, from the roaming Kogi Bbq taco trucks in Los Angeles.

The smoothest flan that puts all others to shame.

10. The flan that has raised the bar for all other flans. Find it at Parcel 104 in Santa Clara.

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