As we ease into a new year, Convene editors agree that 2014 was pretty good to our gullets. From Denmark to Ireland, hanging bacon skewers (pictured) to grilled octopus, here’s a rundown of some of the most memorable dishes that we ate in 2014 — plus a hearty thanks to all of the chefs who fed us during the year.
Seafood in Ireland (Michelle Russell, Editor in Chief)
Convene Editor in Chief Michelle Russell spent a week last September touring sites throughout Ireland, where she discovered that the “meat and potatoes” cliché about Irish food was outdated. “I’m not a big fish eater, but I ordered fish at almost every dinner in Ireland. It was simply prepared and extremely fresh,” said Michelle. Those dishes included the “fresh and flaky hake” at Fishy Fish in Kinsale, pictured at right. “Ireland has really upped its culinary game in a way that is unpretentiously true to its roots, with fresh dairy items, meats, poultry, seafood, and organic produce — all locally sourced — on nearly every menu,” she wrote in a blog post about her trip. Michelle also detailed Ireland’s farm-to-table (sea-to-table?) food revolution in our December issue.
Grilled Octopus in Panama City (Chris Durso, Executive Editor)
When Chris followed a friend’s tip and found his way to the Kitchen at Panama City’s Tántalo Hotel, he was in for a treat — chef Pierre DeJanon’s Tántalo pulpo, “probably the best grilled octopus I’ve ever had, expertly charred, sautéed with coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, and yellow Peruvian chili.” Chris washed it down with a “tart and cold” Lulo Margarita made with fresh lulo and passionfruit pulp. His verdict: Muy, muy bueno.
Candlelit Danish breakfast (Barbara Palmer, Senior Editor)
Senior editor Barbara Palmer visited Copenhagen this December. “Of the many wonderful meals shared in great company in 2014, the one that I would most like to repeat was breakfast by candlelight at the Scandic Copenhagen hotel. The hotel served whole-grain gluten-free toast, which I ate slathered with Danish butter and cherry preserves. I also had eggs, fruit, and — knowing me — probably extra bacon, but it is that glorious toast that stands out. As one navigating the world of dietary restrictions, it is very rare to find gluten-free bread that delicious anywhere. And the candles on table were the beginning of my introduction to my new favorite word: hygge, which translates, roughly, to ‘coziness plus camaraderie.’’
Saltwater-poached Quail at Quay in Sydney (Corin Hirsch, Associate Editor)
I partially live for the thrill of having my mind blown by new dishes and drinks, which happened more than a few times in 2014. When it comes to picking favorites, though, I’m often torn between originality and flavor. At the World Education Congress opening party in Minneapolis last July, I was struck by the skewered hor d’oeuvres hanging in gilded photo frames (the chocolate-dipped bacon is pictured at the start of the post). Like a few others at the party, I stared for awhile before realizing I could actually eat one! But the late lunch I had at Quay in Sydney — hosted by Business Events Sydney, and overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge that I had climbed that morning — was tops in terms of both daring and deliciousness. Each course was stunningly presented, but none more so than chef Peter Gilmore’s briny saltwater-poached quail with takuan pickles, egg yolk, fermented shitaake mushrooms, smoked parsnip, and kailan blossoms. The layers of flavor lingered for a long time afterward — just like my memories of that incredible meal.