For the final Five Finds of 2013, we thought we would look back at some our favorite foods of the year. There are too many to mention, but here are five that leap to mind.
1) Pupusa de Queso con Loroco from El Tepeyac. For several months in 2013, this became an addiction. Loroco is an edible flower common in El Salvador that seems like it was created just to go with pupusas. It has other uses, too, but its floral, truffley, flavor melds perfectly with cheese inside chef Adolfo Solorzano’s handmade pupusas.
2) Grilled Artichokes at MAS Tapas. One of the challenges to eating at MAS is that we are so fond of our old favorites that it can be difficult to save room for the newest creations from Tomas Rahal and Mike Ketola. When we do branch out, we are always rewarded, but never more so than when we followed our server’s advice this year to snatch up an order of grilled artichokes. Blistered quickly on the plancha, and drizzled with olive oil, these artichokes are the best we’ve ever had.
3) Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Oysters with Collard Greens and Stone-Ground Grits at Maya. Chef Christian Kelly is not just one of the nicest chefs in town, he’s also among the most talented. A highlight of the year was learning that Kelly’s personal favorite way to eat at his restaurant is to have an appetizer of fried oysters, with sides of collard greens and grits, and eat the whole concoction together. Wow. We might have to run over there right now.
4) Gyros by Angelo Vangelopoulos. Unless you spring for the extraordinary Duet of Lamb entree at The Ivy Inn, you sort of have to be in the right place at the right time to be lucky enough to enjoy gyros made by Vangelopoulos, whose father once ran a gyro place in D.C.. Who knows when or where he might turn up and whip together some of these amazing sandwiches? Vangelopoulos makes his own gyro meat by combining ground pork, beef, and lamb and baking it in a pate mold before slicing. He stuffs it into his own pita and tops it with his own tzatziki. Oh my.
5) Cakes from Bodo’s. Co-owner Scott Smith worked hard to perfect these chocolate bombs inspired by bouchons, before introducing them this year at Charlottesville’s most popular restaurant. Made from a combination of chocolate from Valrhona, Barry Callebaut, and Van Leer, they are dense and decadent.