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The Best Things We Ate (or Drank) in 2013
Here's to 2013: It was a wild year, full of amazing new restaurants, new bars and crazy new cocktails (hello, shrubs!). So what better way to bid it adieu than with a trip down our collective food and drink memory lane. These are the bevs and bites that the Seattle magazine editors just can't forget--and that we'll certainly be holding onto well into 2014.
Rachel Hart, editorial director: This year I'd have to say one of the most memorable things I ate was the bratwurst with kim chee potato salad at Schooner Exact--paired with a preview taste of their rarely-released sour beer, which was probably my favorite thing to imbibe this year. This was the year of totally unexpected delicious food at totally unexpected places. Teeny, off-the-beaten path, downscale Gastropod is another unforgettable eating and drinking standout.
Allison Austin Scheff, food & dining editor: The best things I ate this year were, in no particular order: The fresh garbanzo beans in clarified butter at Mamnoon. I know, beans, butter. I can assure you, while nearly all the food there is exceptional, this dish stood out. The lamb prosciutto at Le Petit Cochon. I said to my friends, "I feel like the chef is giving us a gift." I meant it: silken, gamey, incredible. The best I've ever tasted. The huitlacoche soup at Gastropod. Travis Kukull has such a palate, and such a talent for mixing flavors. The soup was intoxicating, hinting of curry and pinging us with heat. A breathtaking soup is the about the hardest thing to achieve, and he did it. The Big Italian sandwich at Martino's in Phinney Ridge. Man, this town does not lack for serious, serious sandwiches, but this was the best one of the year. Second favorite goes to the Romesco at Rain Shadow Meats Squared. Chevre, roast beef and really tasty Romesco sauce? What else do you want? The congee at Mike's Noodle House. My family has become addicted to the congee wth preserved egg and pork, so much so that even when we order the noodle or dumpling soups, we get an order of this on the side. With a doughnut, of course. And finally, oysters on the half-shell on a chilly, clear night, eaten by the oyster shell-lined fire pit under the stars and with that view of downtown, at Westward. I've done this twice so far, and I can't wait to do it again in the new year. More fire pits in winter, I say.
Lauren Mang, online editor & home interiors editor: I'm not much of a foodie, and I can barely remember what I ate last night much less remember the best thing I ate in all of 2013. But drinks! Drinks--dear, sweet alcoholic drinks--I can remember. A little context to my pick for the best thing I drank all year: In high school, my two best friends and I bought one of those mega, three-pound boxes of Sour Patch Kids and ate the entire thing. In one sitting. Hey, we grew up in Ohio in the '90s; there wasn't a lot to do. So when the bartender at Six Arms--one of my favorite beverage haunts in Cap Hill--offered to mix up a Sour Patch Kid martini for me when I was feeling indecisive, I of course obliged. (This drink, you must know, is not on Six Arms' regular menu and it seems that my gent is the only bartender there who knows how to properly make it. I didn't get his name, but he's adorable and has a beard.) His creation was the most marvelous tangle of sour and sweet; it tasted spot-on like the candy, as if he had liquefied the sugary-tart kiddos straight into the martini glass. I have zero idea what liquors he used or how he got it to taste just like the original. Magic, most likely.
Brangien Davis, arts & culture editor: Can my favorite meal of the year be the one I had many times over? Because as soon as I discovered Bar Cotto I knew it was going to be my dining table away from home. Ethan Stowell's newest is a small space, but thoroughly inviting thanks to the relaxed-chic decor and unfailingly friendly staff—including the bartenders (we usually eat at the bar), who are uniformly awesome. The ginger beer is housemade here, so if there's a drink special made with it—do not hesitate! If it's not in use on the cocktail menu, ask for a Dark & Stormy. (Then just TRY not to ask for another.) The salads are creative and hearty (and perfect for splitting), the bruschetta is divine (get the tuna) and then we have the pizza. Oh lordy, the pizza. It's the best pizza in Seattle! The crust is chewy with just enough bubbles, and the toppings are both surprising and exactly what you wanted. (Perhaps there's an artful sprinkling of crack cocaine on top? That would explain why I would happily eat one every night.) If there's a special pizza, always order it. Don't waste time asking your silly questions, just get it. If not, the Prosciutto Cotto is an excellent option, with sage and leeks and potatoes shaved so thin you could see right through them. It's my favorite meal of the year, and I hit replay again and again.
Ali Brownrigg, fashion & lifestyle editor: I have had the privilege to dine at Willow's Inn on Lummi Island two times this year. Once during regular service in the restaurant and once during its off-season weekend-long Fish, Forage and Farm package, during which Willow sous chefs took us on a culinary exploration of what the island offers during the deep of winter—and we feasted. No doubt at the time I thought that everything I ate during those memorable experiences was the best thing I'd tasted all year, but what stands out is the deep fried Reindeer moss that I consumed—with wonder—that I must admit was my favorite thing. Reindeer moss is totally not exotic, it is ubiquitous to the region, clinging to trees all around us, but when handled by Chef Blaine Wetzel and his team, turned into a transcendent bite of deliciousness that I'm hard pressed to describe using words. Light as air, crispy, savory, strange, confusing and gone in an instant. But something I'll never, ever forget eating.