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The Gossiping Gourmet: The finest food of 2011

December 28, 2011|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • The Artichoke Tarte Tatin at Five Crowns in Corona del Mar.
The Artichoke Tarte Tatin at Five Crowns in Corona del… (HB Independent )

It's become our tradition to publish a year-end list of favorites.

These are the dishes we've most enjoyed from more than 300 or so that we've tasted (for better or worse), in the past year. Rather than a top 10 or any other numbered list, these appear in random order but represent the best of the bunch.

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Bayside Bar, 900 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach

Cast-iron seared quail shone above the rest.

It was glazed with a complex sauce that was fruity and spicy, sweet and sour, with great depth of flavor. The little bird was beautifully presented on an earthy Portabello mushroom that sat on a thick buckwheat blini.

The flavors married perfectly.

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Bistro Anju, 23964 Aliso Creek Road, Laguna Niguel

The fusion dessert, green tea crème brulée, was a winner.

The creamy custard had a lovely, lingering aftertaste of green tea and the crispy bruléed sugar was perfectly done. Sliced strawberries and blueberries provided the final accent.

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The Five Crowns, 3801 E. Coast Hwy. , Corona Del Mar

The artichoke tarte tatin had a thin, buttery pastry shell covered with large, luscious chunks of artichoke hearts that dripped their juices into the crust. It was served with a dollop of whipped goat cheese and a lovely little frisee salad with a light lemony dressing.

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Himalayan Grill, 16400 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach

The samosas were gorgeous with their golden brown, blistered crust. The large triangular pastries were filled with soft shredded potatoes, onions and peas, seasoned to perfection. These stood out in texture and flavor.

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Pizzeria Mozza, 800 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach

Once you have taken your first bite of Mozza's pizza, you will immediately understand what all the fuss is about.

First and foremost is the crust. With puffy, lightly charred edges and a thin but substantial bottom, its flavor easily stands on its own.

Batali's unique approach to pizza making includes adding honey and wine to the dough, pan-cooking it on a griddle pan on both sides, then adding toppings and finishing it in the pizza oven until it blisters. His method makes for an extra flavorful, crispy crust. It's hands down the best crust we've ever tasted.

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Il Barone Ristorante, 4251 Martingale Way, Newport Beach

On our quest for the perfect cannoli, we may have found a contender. Chef Barone orders his ricotta directly from Sicily.

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