Monday, December 31, 2007

One Last Look at 2007's Flavors

Everyone seems to have a year-end list, and I honestly didn't think I would have a list to blog about. But when I thought about it, I realized that this year I discovered a lot of interesting tastes and flavors. I mean, that's the thing I love about food--there's always something new you haven't tried.

So here's my Top 10 favorite food tastes in 2007:

No. 10: Olive Oil and Rosemary Bread from LaBrea Bakery. This is actually a recent food discovery for me. I love LaBrea's bread and I get it regularly from Whole Foods, which gets it half-baked from Southern California and then finishes up the baking at the store. This means the bread is fresh and warm when you buy it. I typically buy the Whole Wheat bread but recently picked up this Olive Oil and Rosemary Bread. It's sooo amazing in terms of the softness inside but with this strong rosemary essence. So wonderful.

No. 9: White Pomegranates. While this isn't a new taste, it definitely is a new look. I've never seen pomegranates in this pale color. While I still love traditionally rich, ruby-colored pomegranates, this white version has this ethereal feel that adds more mystique to this romantic fruit.

No. 8: Speck. I first saw speck, an Italian cured meat, strewn on my delicious pizza at Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco. I'm a big fan of prosciutto, but speck has a leaner feel with less of the fattiness of prosciutto. So with just that one fact, it makes speck my new favorite Italian cured meat. I find speck at the deli section of The Pasta Shop at Markethall in my Rockridge neighborhood.

No. 7: Cassata. This is the flavor of a traditional Italian cake that includes orange. I love the orange-cream flavor because it reminds me of my childhood favorite, Creamsicles. I tasted and learned about Cassata at the Gelato Milano shop in downtown Berkeley. (In the picture, the Cassata flavor is the one on the bottom. The top flavor is Tiramisu, which is an old favorite flavor.)

No. 6: Rambutan. I saw this tropical fruit during my trip to Vietnam in January. It looks so exotic, but has memories of my favorite childhood Chinese fruit known as lychee. I was even more excited to see Rambutan sold in the San Francisco Bay Area. It's nice to know I can get this every year when they're in season. My new favorite furry fruit!

No. 5: Soft Tofu Soup. My sister loves this but I never tried it until this year when I visited Pyung Chang Soft Tofu House in Oakland. It's this amazing Korean dish made of soft silky tofu in this spicy soup. So comforting and amazing. One of my favorite things to get for a quick dinner.

No. 4: Blue Lake Green Beans. I didn't think green beans could be different from one another. They all look the same. But when I bit into my first Blue Lake Beans this year, I fell in love with the watery crispness. I now eat exclusively Blue Lake Beans. Forget about all the rest!

No. 3: Poco Dolce Chocolates. I've raved about this chocolate from San Francisco ever since I tried it at the Chocolate Salon at Fort Mason. Poco Dolce's chocolates are pretty expensive so I can't always buy and eat it, which is probably a good thing because I'd probably gain a lot of weight just eating this again and again. But I do love the bittersweet chocolate flavors with the fleur de sel sprinkles on top. Mmmmm.

No. 2: Flavor King Pluot. This was one of my surprising finds of the year. I didn't think a plum would be sooo sweet and distinctly flavored. The meat is also very beautiful to photograph because of the rose-peach color, depending on the ripeness. From now on, every summer I will be on the lookout for the Flavor King!

No. 1: Bomboloni. I'm sure it's no surprise that my No. 1 favorite new taste this year is the Bomboloni doughnut from Boriana's Corner at the San Francisco Ferry Building. And I'm sure I'm not the only one recommending this Italian treat, because every time I've gone to buy one from this small shop, I overhear someone raving about how they heard it from someone, etc. (Maybe they heard it from the Single Guy Chef!) However, there has been some grumblings lately on Chowhound about how some people have had some stale experiences. I'm hoping that this isn't true, because I love my custard Bomboloni (and even the Nutella bomboloni pictured above). The Bomboloni has given me so many happy memories for 2007!

Hope you all have a fantastic New Year and looking forward to discovering new tastes and flavors in 2008!


Anonymous said...

when is Rambutan in season & where did u find them in the Bay Area?

Is Cassata a regular flavor?

Chef Ben said...

The rambutan seemed to have made an appearance in the Bay Area around October. Not sure if it has just one or two seasons, since it's pretty warm in Southeast Asia throughout the year. But that's the last time I saw them.

I think Cassata is a regular flavor at Gelato Milano. It's in the section with all the Italian-influenced flavors as opposed to the section with the seasonal fruit flavors.