The year 2020 certainly won’t go into the record books as one to recall fondly, but there were some memorable meals I ate, both take-out and dining in.
In no particular order, here are a few of my favourites — but do note, there could have been more to add to this year-end list. I had to draw the line somewhere!
This winter please continue to support local food businesses as you are able. It’s going to be a rough one.
Summer on a plate from TWH Social
A foundation of sweet-pea purée with vegetables and lentils sit alongside the unusual but delicious seabuckthorn berries that are given a sweet-honey pickle, and sorrel, spinach patty pan squash. It truly captured the bounty of summer and was complex in flavours and textures.
Pizza Margherita, La Cucina
A Neapolitan-style pizza with the simplest of ingredients: tomato sauce, mozzarella, olive oil, salt and, of course, fresh basil. The key, though, is the hand-stretched dough that needs just a bit of char at the edges but maintains a classic “libretto fold.”
Jerk chicken roti, The Caribbean Kitchen (Kitchener Market)
Choose from vegan with chickpea, curried shrimp or jerk chicken for the filling; roti wheat flour dough is rolled thin and cooked on a tawa. Drizzle on the hot sauce and enjoy!
Croquetas, La Lola Catering
Miguel Pastor deep-fries a dollop of rich and creamy chorizo-studded béchamel sauce encased in a light and crispy panko bread-crumb batter. Munch these with a good red sipping vermouth — like they do in Barcelona. Divine!
Panes con pollo, Swine and Vine
As seen in demonstration during CBC-KW’s Sounds of the Season celebration raising food, funds and support for the Food Bank of Waterloo Region, Swine and Vine chef Denis Hernandez creates a family-favourite comfort-food sandwich that features mustard-marinated roasted chicken (or turkey) flavoured with Central American spices like achiote and relajo mix.
Beer ice cream, Bent Elbow
It’s never too cold for beer ice cream. The Bent Elbow pub — truly a beer-lover’s haven — creates a changing menu of home-made ice cream, from an Alvinne Kreik hop cherry-vanilla to S’mores chocolate stout.
Chickpea falafel, Community Kitchen Co-operative K-W
Cook and volunteer Noha Hashim led a team of cooks preparing Sudanese dishes as part of the African Cultural Cooking Project, an initiative of the Community Kitchen Co-operative of Kitchener-Waterloo. Best falafel I’ve had in a long time!
Jerusalem Artichoke, Bruce Hotel Stratford
Also known as the “Canada Potato,” Brandon Clemens at The Bruce Hotel in Stratford draws on unique and local ingredients such as cattail and purslane for a tasting menu course that packs a lot of flavour, including the humble sunchoke.
Barbecue pork skewers, Sari-Sari Filipino Cuisine
Savoury, sweet, salty and sour, this dish is a popular one at a small family-business that opened during the pandemic —and has been thriving since.
Bienenstich, Alpine Café
Translated, this is a “bee sting” cake, a delicious German pastry with caramelized almonds and luscious vanilla custard created by long-standing (but under the radar) Alpine Cafe in the Krug Street plaza.