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Being a big lover of food and tasting new foods in my travels, every year, I like to round up some of my favourite bites and meals from the year. This year was no different with my travels from Spain and Germany to Toronto and Winnipeg and not to mention a couple of really delicious foods in my hometown of Vancouver. You can check out my previous year’s round-ups in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Without further ado, here are the best things I ate in 2016:
Peameal bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery, Toronto
As a Canadian, I had never heard of this until I started doing research on unique things to eat in Toronto. Despite its name, the sandwich does not have a single pea in sight much to my relief. Instead, peameal bacon is cured pork loin that has been rolled in cornmeal (traditionally in yellow peas hence its name) before being sliced and grilled. Thrown into a bun and you have yourself a peameal bacon sandwich. Instead of thin crisp pieces of bacon that you’re biting into, its thicker slabs of salty, porky goodness. It’s probably the overwhelming flavour of pork and salt that made me fall in love at first bite. I’m such a salt fiend. Now if only these sandwich would make its way to the west coast.
Unit 42, 93 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1C3 (Inside St. Lawrence Market)
Meat cones at Viandas de Salamanca, Madrid
Yes, you read that right. Meat. Cones. To further prove my adoring love for pork and salt, these meat cones I picked up in Madrid were heaven. Who wouldn’t want to be wandering around the city with one of these cones in hand? These came from a shop right at the centre of the city and came highly recommended by a Spanish friend who lived there. I only wish I had more time in Madrid so I could try all the varieties they had available.
Calle de la Montera, 3, 28013 Madrid, Spain
Churros at Chocolateria San Gines, Madrid
The churros of Spain are nothing like the churros that I grew up with in North America. Forget the cinnamon sugary mess that comes with an order of these. Instead, at this 24-hour shop that specializes in churros in Madrid, the churros are crisp, dense and freshly fried. It comes with a cup of thick chocolate to dip in. Give me a vat of that, it was amazing. While sweet, it’s not overwhelming and I enjoyed the balance of the savoury churro against the sweet chocolate.
Pasadizo de San Gines, 5, 28013 Madrid, Spain
My whole meal at Bodega La Ardosa, Madrid
One of the best things about having friends all over the place is getting to try places I wouldn’t otherwise walk into myself. This was one of those places. When we opened the door, I wasn’t sure that we would be able to get in, much less find a table. What I didn’t know is that if you duck under the bar, you can find a back room (equally as packed), where we were able to find a small bit of wall to perch around.
I love Spanish omelette and the one I had here was amazing. Hands down the best one I’ve ever had. I also tried another speciality, a tripe stew, which was quite tasty and reminded me of a Chinese dish I typically order during dim sum.
Calle de Colón, 13, 28004 Madrid, Spain
I’ve heard about these berries long before I tried them. I had always been a bit apprehensive of buying some, but when a friend purchased some off Amazon, I was game. Miracle berries, when consumed, turn sour foods into sweet treats. The tablet is a bit chalky, but once it has dissolved, you’re good to go. While it didn’t make sweet foods any sweeter, it definitely turned those lemon and lime slices like you’re biting into the sweetest orange possible. The effect lasts about 20 minutes before a wears off, but it’s a fun activity to try once.
Segovia in Winnipeg
Having visited Spain earlier this year, I was especially excited to try out this take on Spanish food. On the menu, there were classic tapas like patatas bravas and jamon, but also a selection of contemporary dishes made with some Spanish influence. The whole meal was full of fresh, local ingredients and was incredibly tasty.
Read more: Winnipeg in Three Meals: Where To Eat
484 Stradbrook Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3L 0J9
Ice cream at Edaleen Dairy, Washington
Just across the border in Washington State, I found the most amazing ice cream place. The kid’s scoop (if this is kid’s size, I’d hate to see what a large is!) of the blackberry ice cream was so full of berry flavour, very creamy and surprisingly light. No wonder people bring this stuff back across the border! It’s become an instant favourite in my house.
908 Cherry St, Sumas, WA 98295, USA
Mexican food in Salem, Oregon
When we pulled up to La Fondita I was a bit skeptical. Empty parking lot. Empty restaurant. The outside looked a bit sketchy, but my belief in the good reviews on numerous sites and knowledge that often hole in the wall joints offer the best food, kept me undeterred. Soon after we had placed our order for chicken mole and carne asada, the restaurant started to fill up and all my unease lessened. By the time we left, not a table was empty.
First to arrive at the table were our chips, salsa and refried beans. Then our plates of food came, piled high. I keep forgetting about portion sizes in the States are so much larger. The chicken mole was fiery hot. Too spicy for me, but my other half loved it. I picked the carne asada. The beef was well seasoned with lots of flavour.
There isn’t an abundance of good Mexican food in Vancouver so this was a delicious find.
3330 Center St NE, Salem, OR 97301, USA
Harlow in Portland, Oregon
After a weekend of eating terrible food down the coast of Oregon filled with lots of fried and oily meals, we were eager to try something lighter and healthier. My friend who lives in Portland suggested this place as one of her favourites in the city. We were not disappointed. My vegetarian scramble was full of vegetables and tasted so good. I can never cook kale as good as they managed it. The neighbourhood that the restaurant is in was also cute and had lots of tempting food options worth exploring the next time I’m in Portland.
Read more: A Quick Tour Through the Portland Food Scene
3632 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214, USA
Omakase at Octopus Garden, Vancouver
For my boyfriend’s birthday, I treated him to an omakase dinner at a local sushi restaurant. Omakase means “I’ll leave it up to you” or essentially a Japanese tasting menu based on what is in season and fresh. This was the first time I tried a meal like this and I was not disappointed. We got a variety of nigiri, sashimi and cooked dishes leaving me stuffed and happy. I would love to have a meal like this in Japan one day.
1995 Cornwall Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1C9
Leipziger Lerchen at Cafe Kandler, Leipzig
Leipziger Lerche (Leipzig Larks) is a popular dessert found in Leipzig made with shortcrust and filled with almonds and nuts. Other versions can fill it with marzipan. I found it to have a really unique texture. It was easy to bite but had a slight chew. It wasn’t overly sweet, but just enough that you knew it was a dessert. While I shared one with friends, I could have easily eaten a whole one myself.
Thomaskirchhof 11, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
Turkish food at La Femme, Berlin
Due to the city’s large Turkish population, I was determined to get some Turkish food while visiting Berlin. A trip that weighed heavily on Asian food, I was finally able to snag some on my last day in the city. My friend and I ordered two dishes to share: menemen (scrambled eggs with tomatoes, onions and herbs) and su böreğ (water börek), a Turkish börek where the layers of dough are mixed with feta, parsley and oil before being cooked. Both were served with a salad with the most amazing chunk of delicious feta. While both dishes were tasty, I gravitated heavily towards the su böreği. It was full of salty goodness that I just could not get enough.
Badstraße 67, 13357 Berlin, Germany
Bún bò Hue at Cafe Xu Hue, Vancouver
Recently I’ve been on the hunt for the best bowl of bún bò Hue in Vancouver. Different from its more famous cousin of pho, bún bò hails from the city of Hue in central Vietnam. Its broth is a balance of spicy, sour, salty and sweet flavours. It also comes with thicker noodles which I really enjoy. With my visit to Cafe Xu Hue, I think my search in Vancouver is over. I was so blown away by the flavourful broth. I’m so happy that I can go slurp down a bowl of this anytime I want for $10.
2226 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5N 2T7
So there you have it. My favourite food discoveries from my travels and adventures at home in 2016. If you had to pick your favourite meal of the year, what would it be?