The best things I ate (and drank) in 2016

In terms of flavor, 2016 has been the best year of my life. I suppose visiting lots of destinations famous for their food will do that to you.

Okay, "best" makes for a good title, but the more honest adjective is "favorite." These are my favorite things I ate and drank this year.

Ready for some really mediocre food pictures? Great. Let's go.


FOOD

Sea bream at Konoba Skerac, Kolocep, Croatia 

This is a tiny, hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Koločep island, just off the coast of Dubrovnik, Croatia. I've written about Croatia before, how it's become my favorite place in the world. My day of kayaking around Koločep was incredible... and the sea bream! Freshly caught from the Adriatic that morning. Grilled on a wood fire. So good.

Paired with a Schweppes Bitter Lemon, because Europe

Paired with a Schweppes Bitter Lemon, because Europe

Dry aged beef at Joe Beef, Montreal, Canada

During our team retreat in Montreal, we made a pilgrimage to Joe Beef. I've wanted to eat there for years, and it did not disappoint. Everything from that meal was amazing, but the dry aged beef was the most memorable for me. 

Squid ink pasta with lobster at Quermesse, Lisbon, Portugal

Also a meal shared with Tortuga colleagues. We ate SO WELL in Lisbon. Every meal was something flavorful and, usually, fresh and delicious seafood. The standout for me was the squid ink pasta with prawns and lobster. Jenn and I shared the below dish and I want to eat it again immediately.

Not a very good picture, but... man was this dish incredible

Not a very good picture, but... man was this dish incredible

Lamb escalope at Cinnamon Club, London, England

Cinnamon Club will likely stay in my rankings for "favorite meals ever" for a very long time. It's a quintessential posh English place. The walls are covered in books and trimmed with mahogany, making it feel like you're eating in a library. The wine is served by a waiter in white gloves. The accents are refined.

And the food is modern, upscale Indian. Every dish was perfect, but the Lamb Escalope was our favorite. Our evening at Cinnamon Club is one of my favorite memories with Jeff.

Pistachio and mint gelatos in Dubrovnik, Croatia

I ate gelato every day in Croatia, because obviously I did. This particular cone was purchased during my walk through the city walls on the 4th of July. It was pushing 100 degrees that day, and the cold treat was so welcome. That's one of my favorite memories this year.

Osso Bucco at Cicciolina, Cusco, Peru

Cicciolina quickly became our favorite restaurant in Cusco. Not every dish was a hit, but many were and the prices were reasonable.

The Osso Bucco though... that was another level. Fell off the bone and finished with a perfect sauce. We got marrow, too. It was served with a ravioli filled with some kind of nut (walnuts maybe?) that complimented it perfectly.

Gingerbread in Hallstat, Austria

I don't remember where I bought this. It was a little bakery about, I dunno, halfway along the road that hugs the water before you get to the church. Yes, this is expensive gingerbread. Worth it.

Morcilla at Steaks by Luis, Buenos Aires, Argentina

FYI, morcilla means blood sausage in Spanish. We ate quite a bit of Morcilla in Argentina, but Luis' version was the best. Rich and meaty and perfectly cooked. Plus, this was just a SUPER fun night. 

It's the dark one.

It's the dark one.

Bagel and Lox at Russ & Daughters Cafe, New York, USA

When Jeremy and Hailey were in town, we met at Russ & Daughters for lunch. It's a famous NYC spot. You're probably going to order the bagel & lox. There's a reason for that. It's great. My only regret: I wore dark lipstick that day. Who in their right mind wears dark lipstick to eat a bagel?


DRINKS

Gin Garden at Cinnamon Club, London, England

Bar none the best cocktail of my life. It had gin and rosewater and beet juice and homemade bitters in it... along with some other things that I can't remember. Floral on the nose and super smooth, with an herbal finish. Also, they wheeled out the ingredients on a cart with everything in crystal decanters and made it right in front of us. I mean, come on. How could this not be my favorite?

I didn't take a picture because, as previously stated, this place was posh AF. I'm not trying to be the blasé tourist with an iPhone at a fancy London restaurant.

Aviator at Portobello Road, London, England

Portobello Road is a hella famous spot in Notting Hill. There's one bartender with dreadlocks who makes the best cocktails. If he's there, you should do the following:

  1. Give him flavor notes and have him create something for you, on the spot
  2. Order a go-to favorite cocktail (but something interesting)
  3. Ask him for another recommendation based on the previous two orders.

My favorite drink came out of the first tactic. I told the bartender (ugh, I wish I could remember his name) that I like herbal, floral, and bright flavors in cocktails, but not sweet. He made me an Aviator and it was perfect. 

Astute individuals will notice I'm not drinking an Aviator in this picture. It's a Boulevardier, one of my go-tos. That was also great.

Astute individuals will notice I'm not drinking an Aviator in this picture. It's a Boulevardier, one of my go-tos. That was also great.

"Pinky" rosé, Dubrovnik, Croatia

This was on so many menus in Dubrovnik that it's not worth listing a specific restaurant. The name for this was different in Croatian, and I wish I could remember it, but I can't. It's a local rosé that apparently translates to "Pinky." It was really tasty, and the perfect aperitif on a hot summer day. Pairs nicely with the local seafood, too, which is important. 

Kozel, Prague, Czech Republic

It's no secret that beer in Prague is both cheap and delicious. I'm usually an IPA person, but I was happily surprised to fall in love with Kozel. It's the darkest beer in the below picture, and is much less in-your-face than the dark beers I've tried previously. I probably drank two Kozels a day in Prague and I'm not sorry about it. 

 
Doing Prague right.

Doing Prague right.

 

Ginger juice thing at Gustu, La Paz, Bolivia

Bless her heart, our waiter at Gustu didn't speak English very well, but was clearly trying to learn. When we'd speak Spanish to her, she'd shake her head and ask for English. So, we ordered in English.

We tried to order the wine pairing.... but she understood that we wanted the non-alcoholic pairing. This turned out to be a happy accident, because the juices paired with the dishes were the best part of the meal. I remember some sort of ginger thing served in a shot glass that was perfectly balanced. 

Sangria at the Miraduoro de São Pedro de Alcântara, Lisbon, Portugal

There's this little sangria stand at the Miraduoro. They sell red and white. Both are fabulous. This massive cup is 5 euros. Every evening, we'd stroll over for a sangria (or three) to watch the sunset and start the night on a great note. 

It's been a good year for food.


Taylor Coil is a marketing manager who works remotely from around the world.