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All About Food: The top 10 dishes of 2013

December 30, 2013|By Terry Markowitz
  • The "Pig, beans, maple, herb" at Arc is named the best dish of the year by food critic Terry Markowitz.
The "Pig, beans, maple, herb" at Arc is named… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

It's that time again! Here is my top 10 list of favorite dishes for 2013, dominated by pork.

1) The best dish of the year was at Arc in the OC Mix, and it was called "Pig, beans, maple, herb." Slow-cooked pork was falling-apart tender, with lots of smoky notes from the wood fire and a subtle sweetness from maple syrup. It nestled in a bevy of big white beans. The beans, enlivened with herbs, were unctuously satisfying. The dish was a savory communion of pork and beans.

2) Zimzala in Huntington Beach serves the best pork chop my companion and I have ever eaten. The cider-brined meat rested on a mélange of Nueske's bacon, mustard-parsley spaetzle, caramelized onion and a sour cherry pork sauce. The large, fat chop itself was as tender and juicy as it could be.

Brining had softened the meat and left it moist. The entrée was made even more delicious by the wonderful mixture of the salty bacon, soft little spaetzle, caramel-like onions and tart-sweet cherry sauce.

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3) The Golden Truffle in Costa Mesa serves a wonderful version of choucroute. Ours featured four different sausages from four different countries and a piece of braised pork belly on the top. We debated which one was the best.

The mildest was the German bratwurst, which was very good. Next, we agreed that the North African mergez, a spicy lamb sausage, was a contender for best in show. French boudin was peppery and juicy, while the frankfurter was as good as any Nathan's ever made in the good old days when it was on Coney Island.

It was the sauerkraut, however, that blew us away. It was nothing like the stuff you get in the jar or on awiener. This is the kind you find in an Alsatian restaurant in Paris. The balance of salty and sour is perfectly nuanced.

4) Bistango in Irvine does a duck confit to perfection. The leg of Muscovy duck had some really crispy skin and moist, tender and slightly salty flesh. A small piece of breast meat was on the plate. The confit was served with a little salad of peppery arugula, sweet strawberries, salty feta and candied pecans, all in a light balsamic vinaigrette — a lovely melange.

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