Mmmm … 2013

Our Bite-Sized columnist's year in eating

Best lunch: Bruschetta from French Pantry
Best salad: Greek kale salad from Native Sun
Best entrée: Dr Pepper-glazed short rib with buttermilk mashed potatoes and shaved vegetables from Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails
Best ethnic: Dolsot Bibimbap from Hon Korean
Best seafood: Raw oysters from Cap’s on the Water
Favorite breakfast treat: Tomato pie from Bold Bean Coffee Roasters
Best comfort food: Poutine from Blacksheep

It's no secret that I eat most of my meals in restaurants. It's convenient, I don't have to do dishes 
 and I can seek creative culinary offerings when the mood strikes. (Also, kinda my job.) Over the last year, I've had a lot of memorable meals. Here are a few of my favorite crave-worthy items from 2013:

Favorite breakfast treat: Tomato pie (Bold Bean Coffee Roasters, Riverside)

This savory, handheld quiche-like pie makes getting out of bed 100 percent worth it: buttery, flaky pie crust houses a blend of egg and cheese, thin slices of tomato (both green and red), cooked onion and a generous dusting of cracked black pepper.

Favorite salad: Greek kale salad (Native Sun Natural Foods Market, Baymeadows and Mandarin)

Organic kale tossed with homemade Greek dressing, pepperoncini, chunks of crumbly feta, salty kalamata olives, diced artichoke hearts and — in my version — hold the red onion, add chickpeas. There's something about the tangy dressing with this assortment of toppings that makes this salad shine.

Favorite soup (tie): Barley ash (Green Erth Bistro, San Marco) and BBQ pork and wonton pho 
(Bowl of Pho, Southside)

These two soups couldn't be less alike, but I love them equally. The first is a thick Persian number overflowing with barley, beans and herbs and bursting with flavor. The pho is brothy, stocked with thin tangled egg noodles and pork-stuffed wontons, and quite comforting on a cold day.

Favorite lunch: Bruschetta (French Pantry, Southside)

Possibly the longest line I'll wait in for a meal, let alone lunch, is at French Pantry. Thick, house-baked crusty bread is generously buttered then topped with shrimp, artichoke hearts and

rich goat cheese, served with a heaping mound of balsamic and basil diced tomatoes atop a bed of mixed greens. Go now to get in line.

Favorite seafood: Raw oysters (Cap's on the Water, St. Augustine)

Plump raw oysters served on the half-shell with cocktail sauce, mignonette, lemon wedges and hot sauce, plus a gorgeous coastal view. Need I say more?

Favorite comfort food: Poutine

(Black Sheep, 5 Points)

Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, these hand-cut potatoes are topped with chewy, bite-sized cheese curds and cubes of housemade pastrami. Warm smoked short rib gravy is drizzled on top, tableside.

Favorite dessert: Orange crunch cake 
(Picasso's, Mandarin)

This is probably my most unexpected food victory of the year. I had my heart set on one dessert but the waitress sold me on this one instead. It's unique and delicious. I even made sure I had a slice on my birthday, that's how good it is. Order it, love it, thank me later.

Favorite pizza: Florida Smacker with mushrooms (Brewer's Pizza, Orange Park)

I love pizza, and I've eaten a lot of it. (Seriously. I'm an expert.) Brewer's is out of the way but worth the trek every time. The Smacker is like a deep-dish pie but smaller and, perhaps most important, the cheese extends to the edge of the crust, forming a seemingly infinite surface of golden deliciousness. Add a side of ranch for dipping.

Favorite entrée: Dr Pepper-glazed short ribs with buttermilk mashed potatoes and shaved vegetables (Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails, St. Johns Town Center)

The meat is perfectly fork-tender, the vegetables are thinly sliced and nicely crisp, and the surrounding glaze supplies a delightful subtle sweetness. Oh, and those mashed potatoes? Heavenly.

Favorite ethnic: Dolsot bibimbap 
(Hon Korean, Southside)

A sizzling stone bowl (dolsot) full of crispy rice, vegetables galore and Korean beef goodness topped with a fried egg and hot sauce? Yes, please.

Tags: Caron Streibich, Best of 2013, Bite-Sized, Folio Weekly, Bite Club, Bold Bean Coffee Roasters, tomato pie, Blacksheep, poutine, Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails, Dr Pepper-glazed short rib, Native Sun, Greek kale salad, Green Erth Bistro, barley ash, Bowl of Pho, BBQ pork and wonton pho, Brewer’s Pizza, Florida Smacker with mushrooms, French Pantry, raw oysters, Hon Korean, Dolsot Bibimbap, Picasso’s, orange crunch cake
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