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It’s that time of year again! 2013 was another amazing year filled with incredible meals. Here are my picks for the 10 best dishes I ate during the year (in chronological order):

Fried Chicken from Yardbird Southern Table & Bar (Miami)

Fried Chicken from Yardbird

I don’t think you can go wrong at Yardbird – their southern fare is amazing! But if you’re going to order one thing here, it’s gotta be their fried chicken. This was hands down the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.

The “DKA” from Dominique Ansel Bakery (NYC)

Kouign Amann from Dominique Ansel Bakery

I dropped by Dominique Ansel Bakery earlier in the year before the whole cronut craze and was really impressed with the DKA (“Dominique’s Kouign Amann”) which is described on their menu as “Tender, flaky, croissant-like dough with a caramelized crunchy crust.It was flaky, as promised, and had a wonderfully crisp and caramelized exterior making it much more indulgent than a regular butter croissant. It’s a little pricey at $5.25 but it’s money well spent!

Tongue Benny from Hoof Café

Tongue Benny from Hoof Cafe

When I heard the Hoof Café was being reincarnated, I couldn’t have been happier since they used to be one of my favourite brunch spots in the city. Sadly, it was just a tease since I only had the chance to drop by once before they closed shop again. We ordered many rich dishes during our visit including the blood sausage mcmuffin, foie gras fruit n’ nut challah french toast and heart n’ eggs. But the dish that won me over was the tongue benny which was also served at the original Hoof Café. Thin slices of tender tongue were topped with perfectly poached eggs and a rich, flavourful hollandaise. I’m just waiting for another reincarnation of the Hoof Café!

Sea Bream Ceviche from Bar Isabel

Sea Bream Ceviche from Bar Isabel

It’s been a big year for Bar Isabel which has been named the best new restaurant of 2013 by enRoute magazine. Making the “top” lists everywhere, it’s no surprise that one of their dishes was one of my favourites for the year. The menu features a daily whole fish ceviche so you may not necessarily get sea bream but I’m sure they’d do any other fish just as well.

I loved everything about this ceviche including the presentation. It consisted of fresh, perfectly seasoned pieces of fish with chunks of avocado mixed in giving it a nice creaminess. Definitely a must-order!

Foie Gras Crème Brûlée from Chez Yvonne 
(Strasbourg, France)

Foie Gras Crème brûlée from Chez Yvonne

During our France trip, we had many memorable meals but one of my favourite dishes was at our first stop in Strasbourg – at Chez Yvonne. I ordered something called the “Dégustation de Foie Gras” which was essentially a tasting plate of foie gras prepared in several different ways. One of the components was a foie gras crème brûlée which blew me away. A wonderful sweet and savoury combo!

Duck Confit from Chez Dumonet (Paris, France)

Duck Confit from Chez Dumonet

Our meal at Chez Dumonet was one of my favourite meals in Paris. There are two things they’re known for – their beef bourguignon and their killer duck confit. Both lived up to all the hype but we loved the duck confit just a touch more. It was easily the best duck confit we’ve ever eaten. The skin was so crisp it was almost like crackling and the meat was wonderfully moist, tender, fatty and not overly salty. Even the side of duck-fat fried potatoes it came with were excellent.

Pork Hocks from Beast

Pork Hocks from Beast

Serving up delicious nose-to-tail fare, Beast really excels at anything meat. Over the summer, I dropped by Beast for another visit and absolutely loved the pork hocks which came with kimchi and candied peanuts. If you like honey garlic spareribs, you’d love this dish. The meat had a crispy exeterior and the meat was wonderfully tender and moist. The house-made kimchi was a great pairing as it helped to cut the richness of the pork. A really, really delicious dish!

Secreto Ibérico (pork flank) from Patria

Secreto Ibérico from Patria

Patria is a fantastic addition to the Charles Khabouth restaurant and club empire. Don’t judge a book by its cover – this gorgeous King West spot also has substance! I fell in love with Patria’s Spanish tapas but if I had to choose a favourite, it would have to be the Secreto Ibérico con Pimientos de Piquillo y Mermelada (Ibérico pork flank with piquillo pepper jam). The pork flank (served sliced) was incredibly tender and each bite was packed full of flavour. The addition of the sweet and spicy piguillo pepper jam really made this a perfect dish.

Grilled Octopus from El Gastronomo Vagabundo
(Food Truck)

Grilled Octopus from El Gastronomo Vagabundo

El Gastronomo Vagabundo is a food truck based out of St. Catherines which has won the hearts of many. I checked them out for the first time at the 2013 edition of AwesTRUCK and was blown away by their grilled octopus dish which consisted of tender pieces of charred octopus mixed with crispy fried new potatoes and covered in a delicious chipotle gastrique, salsa verder and paprika. A perfect 10 outta 10.

Spicy Popcorn Shrimp from Chantecler

Spicy Popcorn Shrimp from Chantecler

Sure, this isn’t a new menu item for Chantecler but I only tried this dish late this year. If you’re not familiar with this dish, it’s certainly not what you’d expect as Chantecler’s dish consists of shrimp fried and battered with popcorn. There’s a reason why people love this dish so don’t you dare come here without ordering this!

There you have it – the best dishes I ate in 2013. Wishing you all a happy new year filled with good eats!

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