2014 was a year of targeted travel for the 2foodtrippers. We traveled to some of the best US food cities including New York and Chicago along with a marathon trip to Italy by way of Seattle. Mostly though, we had fun exploring our home base of Philadelphia.
Top 10 List 2014
We can’t let the year end without sharing our culinary top 10 list. So, without further adieu…
1. Best Food to Start the Day: Smashed Garlic-Fried Potatoes at Lola in Seattle
Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, the smashed potatoes at Lola were so good that they warranted a return visit to Tom Douglas’ classic diner in downtown Seattle. We were offered the recipe to make these potatoes at home, but our arteries are thanking us for savoring the memory instead.
2. Best Appetizer: Chorizo-Stuffed Medjool Dates at avec in Chicago
We loved the vibe at avec on Chicago’s Randolph Street, but it was the food that stole our hearts. When ordering, we couldn’t resist these bacon wrapped beauties – a Chicago twist on the Mediterranean classic with thick bacon wrapped around dates and ground chorizo.
3. Best Bowl of Noodles: Ramen at Ivan Ramen in New York City
We missed Ivan Ramen when we were in Tokyo, so we raced up the New Jersey Turnpike when the ramen mecca opened in New York.
We’ve now been twice, and we’re sure about two things. First, we prefer the lower east side location.
Second, the ramen at Ivan Ramen rocks. Beyond the ramen, Chef Ivan Orkin’s eclectic menu of Japanese mash-ups like the 1000 year deviled egg and the pickled daikon XO transported us back to Tokyo.
4. Best Pizza: Pizzaria La Notizia in Naples
The pizza at Pizzaria La Notizia featured incredibly fresh ingredients (could the basil leaves be any more robust?) and perfect crust. Eating this pizza made by pizzaiola Enzo Coccia was a true culinary highlight of our trip to Italy, not to mention our entire year.
5. Best Burger: Au Cheval in Chicago
The single cheeseburger topped with bacon and an egg at Au Cheval was so large that we could barely fit it in our mouths. This loaded burger was worth the extra effort thanks to the juicy beef patties and the smokey, thick house-cured bacon. The fried egg added an unnecessary but delightful decadence. It added up to the best burger we ate all year.
6. Best Bar Food: Pub Cheese at Alder in New York City
We expected interesting molecular gastronomic concoctions when we dined at Wylie Dufresne’s Alder in New York City. We didn’t expect melt-in-your-mouth bar food. It turns out that we got both with the pub cheese starter.
The spread is made with red wine instead of beer, and the chips are made from Martin’s potato rolls. If only we could find bar food like this in actual bars…
7. Best Date Night Spot: Serpico in Philadelphia
For us, a date night always involves great food. Serpico has that plus the added feature of “entertainment” provided by its open kitchen. When it’s just the two of us, we like to sit at the counter and watch ultra-serious Chef Peter Serpico conduct the culinary show.
When joined by a friend, a booth is in order, not to mention an empty stomach. Either way, Serpico is our favorite date night spot.
8. Best Place to Drink Wine: Basilicata in Italy
We had many reasons to visit Basilicata, and wine was at the top of our list. We first tasted Aglianico del Vulture when we were in Florence a few years ago, and we just had to visit the region that makes this big yet affordable wine. With plump grapes growing on the side of the roads, it’s no surprise that the wine in Basilicata exceeded our expectations.
9. Best Dessert: Honey-Dipped Mini Doughnuts with Raspberry Jam at Federal Donuts in Philadelphia
We always love the donuts at Federal Donuts, so it was a no-brainer to order the special Chanukah donuts for our annual seven fishes dinner on Christmas Eve. The mini donuts tasted better than we expected despite their uncanny resemblance to a certain female body part.
10. Best Overall Meal: Joule in Seattle
It’s fair to say that we ate a lot of great food in 2014, but the overall meal that stands out in our memories is the one that we shared with friends at Joule in Seattle. Every dish was spot on, from the spicy rice cakes with chorizo to the simple grilled octopus. We loved every bite from the savory beginning to the sweet end.
We enjoyed loads of other foods experiences in 2014, but these are the top 10. Creating this list has made us excited to experience more great food and travel in 2015.
Stay tuned and stay hungry!
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: December 29, 2014