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o yao ya 2Everyone else is doing a 2019 retrospective so, not to be outdone, I’ll do one too. This year our travels took us to Umbria, Italy, Juneau, Alaska and then a road trip from San Diego to Cincinnati and Northern Michigan, then Toronto and Montreal to Nova Scotia, and then south with stops in Cape Cod, Philadelphia, Nashville and Memphis, Phoenix, Las Vegas, the Bay Area and then home.

We enjoyed so many great food and wine experiences it’s hard to choose the best. But here are the ones that stand out.

The 17-course Omakase menu at Boston’s O Ya sushi restaurant (pictured above) was beyond delicious with every course a surprise.

catbird seatcatbird collards

But so was the tasting menu at Nashville’s The Catbird Seat—seating for 21 surrounding the kitchen finishing area where dishes like these crispy, braised collard greens wrapped around oysters were fine tuned.

lamb shoulderThe smoked lamb shoulder with a 6 hr. braise in pomegranate molasses at Philadelphia’s Israeli restaurant Zahav was also unforgettable.

Toronto’s vibrant food scene served up this jerk-spiced wok-fried lobster at the Haitian fusion restaurant Patois.

jerk lobsterAnd at Mission Chinese in San Francisco, the thrice cooked bacon and rice cakes with sweet tofu skin, bitter melon and Szechuan pepper was a show stopper.

mission chinese

 

 

 

In Memphis it was back to basics. I’ve eaten every barbecue style in the U.S. on location. Nothing beats the dry rub on a Memphis rack at Central BBQ.

memphis barbecueAs to the most memorable wines, again it’s hard to choose and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few gems. But it’s hard to beat the E.Guigal La Turque Côte-Rôtie 2008. (Reviewed) 2008 was not a great vintage but that wine is a classic.

I’ve only scratched the surface of skin-contact whites but the Gravner Ribolla White Wine Venezia Giulia 2008 was gorgeous. (Reviewed)

While in Italy my friend Joey discovered this rich, complex Vaio Armaron Serego Alligheri Amarone that sticks in my mind as did a Quercecchio Brunello 2010 that I found in a wine ship in Montalcino.

But the most surprising, unforgettable wine was Clark Smith’s California Norton from grapes grown in Clarksburg. (Reviewed)

In many respects, especially with regard to politics, climate change, and general insanity 2019 is good riddance, but it was a great year for food and wine.