If you think you’re getting yet another Top 10 of the Year list here, you’ve mistaken me for someone who’s really good with numbers and metrics and eliminating contenders for consideration about such things.
Nope, sorry. I’m not so much about tops and bests and numerical rankings. I love to eat, I love good food, and I love remembering dishes that made my heart and taste buds happy.
So here’s what I’m remembering about a year of eating for my beloved friends and culinary conspirators in the Table Hopping family.
* The spaghetti with lemon and Calabrian chili at Osteria Radici, 4 South Main Street in Allentown; osteriaradici.com.
* The lobster roll at 2nd Jetty, 140 Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright; 2ndjetty.com.
* The bean-and-grains cassoulet with leeks and smoked tofu at Cargot Brasserie, 98 University Place in Princeton; cargotbrasserie.com.
* The brisket at TST Barbecue, 910 Route 36 in the Leonardo section of Middletown; tstbbq.com.
* The lemon-glazed olive oil cake at Pearl Street Cafe, 10 Pearl Street in Metuchen; pearlstreetcafe.com.
* The shakshuka with quail eggs and merguez at Reyla, 60 Mattison Avenue in Asbury Park; heyreyla.com.
* The octopus terrine with pickled mustard seeds (oh, gosh, also the banana pudding) at 100 Steps, 215 Centennial Avenue in Cranford; 100stepsrawbar.com.
* The pavlova of lemon meringue with berries at The Buttered Biscuit Cafe’s new dinner wing, 700 Main Street in Bradley Beach;thebutteredbiscuitcafe.com.
* The crudo of Barnegat scallops at Juniper Hill, 73 Beaver Avenue in the Annandale section of Clinton Township; juniper-hill.com.
* The crab-pea salad at Heirloom Kitchen, 3853 Route 516 in Old Bridge; heirloomkitchen.com.
* The tonkatsu ramen at Ramen Gami, 1 Sussex Avenue in Newark; ramengami.com.
* The gnudi in braised beef at Cattani Catering and Kitchen, 1569 Parkway Avenue in Ewing; cattanicatering.com.
* The kale pakoda at Aarzu, 30 East Main Street in Freehold; aarzu.com.
* The sushi-grade salmon salad at Kingwood Tavern, 650 Route 519 in Kingwood; kingwoodtavern.com.
* The warm lentil salad at Grand Tavern, 1105 Sixth Avenue in Neptune City; thegrandtavern.com.
And, though not written about here, but loved to the height of food-love, and foods that feed my soul: the bread-and-butter starter, the Hazelnut Project Pie and every single salad plated at Razza, 275 Grove Street in Jersey City; razzanj.com.
Happy New Year, everybody!