This previous year much of my time on the road was spent in the US. Indeed, I spent close to two months in the US last year. Fortunately this allowed me to roll up my sleeves and enjoy a wider array of meals in places that I might not otherwise have visited. In fact when looking back I have fund that all of my favorite casual meals in 2014 were enjoyed while on the road in the US.
There was the near beautiful simplicity and uncompromising quality served in a sweet bun at Luke’s Lobster. That perfect balance of fresh lobster, celery salt and clarified butter that is best enjoyed for breakfast before the lines start to form in front of the light blue food truck on Park ave in NYC. I also vividly recall my anticipation growing with each new wave of exotic aromas billowing from rudimentary kitchen vents as I lined for Korilla, another food truck parked just down the road. Their Korean BBQ is so deceptively simple that the wonderfully complex flavors took me by surprise.
And while we are on the subject of BBQ none was better than the deep layers of smoke found in the pork at Edley’s in Nashville. People travel from afar to enjoy their pork sandwich, yet very few will have traveled as far as I had. Thankfully, their pork tacos are as rich and delectable as anything you have ever had. During that same visit to Nashville I had a wonderful meal at the Germantown hipster-spot Rolf & Daughters. Although Chef Philip Krajeck still makes a mean pasta, such as his squid ink chitarra with blue crab and lemon, I found his wilted fall lettuces with butternut squash & apple dressing and quinoa to be equally exciting. The slight bitterness of the greens was masterfully balanced by the sweetness and acidity in the dressing.
Speaking of Hipster joints nothing jumped out at me during my brief visit to Brooklyn this year, but Randolph Street in Chicago still delivers. Indeed, I enjoyed a particularly solid and comforting Sunday brunch at, the now eleven year old, Avec. Their chorizo stuffed dates are as iconic as they are a formidable endeavor of sweet and spicy saltiness. However, the breakfast paella with confit chicken and snail boudin is not to be missed either. Itself a remarkable display of classic technique re-envisioned that in-turn offers a more complete and substantial start to that much needed Sunday morning recovery.
I should also mention Chicago’s magically quaint Doughnut Vault. Although it did not quite make it on to the list, mainly because it does not really constitute a meal, there is something uniquely enticing about their skillfully crafted and oh-so-tasty doughnuts. Of course, the seductive opening hours of “8am ‘til sold out” makes it all the more special.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my five-and-some favorite casual meals of 2014 almost a much as I have enjoyed eating my way through them. And with any luck you might find your way to some of them yourself during the coming year. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter, Instagram or e-mail with your comments, ideas and suggestions.