Best dishes of 2006

In reviewing the best Foodtourist.com food experiences of 2006 there were many highlights, but we have chosen 50 of the very best to share with you and to explain why we considered them to be so good.

The year’s eating began in France and ended in Sydney. We have arranged the experiences chronologically rather than trying to rank them which would have been just too difficult!

1.     Tellinas at Auberge la Fontaine in Venasque, France

Place de la Fontaine, Venasque, France

A dish of the small clam-like shells called tellinas (so popular in coastal Provence) in a perfectly seasoned and deeply satisfying broth was a great way to kick off a year of good eating. The venue was the Auberge la Fontaine in the picturesque hilltop village of Venasque in Vaucluse, France. Tellinas are highly sought after and we have been known to drive through the plains of the Camargue to the seaside town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to buy tellinas harvested in the early morning by locals during low tide.

2.     Caillettes at La Fourchette in Avignon

17 rue Racine, Avignon, France

A dish of caillettes at the venerable La Fourchette in Avignon changed our mind about meatballs as a restaurant dish and set us off on a hunt that even took us to Shanghai to sample the Lion’s Head meatballs that are so popular there. The caillettes were the best we have had and were studded with spinach and herbs and wrapped in caul to protect them during cooking. They were served with a lentil salad. Perfect!

3.     Rum baba at La Fourchette

17 rue Racine, Avignon, France

We obviously were very impressed with our food at La Fourchette, in fact it has become one of our favourite restaurants anywhere. When they serve rum baba they mean it! The baba is placed in front of you along with a whole bottle of Clement Martinique Rum – you then help yourself to as much as you think the dish needs!

4.     Black truffle from the Richerenches market in Vaucluse

If you ask people to nominate the main black truffle producing area in France they will inevitably mention Perigord. However it is the Vaucluse area around the gigantic Mont Ventoux where most of the prized black fungi are harvested.

One of the best markets in France for truffles occurs on Saturday mornings in the small village of Richerenches which lies north east of Orange in the Enclave des Papes. There are no stalls – all commerce is conducted out of the trunks of vehicles parked along the tree-lined street. A truffle purchased at this market that had been harvested that morning was shaved over pasta to provide a particular treat!

5.     Black truffles and potato salad at La Beaugraviere in Mondragon

Quai du Pont-Neuf, Mondragon, France

This dish at the stately La Beaugraviere was stunning for two reasons. It was a salad of ratte potatoes completely covered by shavings of fresh black truffle. Firstly, of all the potatoes we come across throughout the world, the ratte variety grown in this area are the best we have ever tried. Secondly, chef Guy Jullien is recognised throughout France as a master of the black truffle which is found in abundance in the Vaucluse. Put the two together and you have a completely memorable dish.

6.     Appetizer at l’Amuse Bouche in St Saturnin-les-Apt, France

Restaurant now closed

This tiny restaurant with its open kitchen and friendly young chef has now closed, but the food was very good. We will watch with interest to see where he is cooking next.

We were particularly impressed with a plate of appetizers at a meal in January this year. A plump scallop sat on a tiny pile of diced apple and was topped by a slice of good chorizo. This was teamed with a lovely drizzle of Forestière sauce. A small serve of soup in a plain white cup was so good that it redefined pumpkin soup for us. It was decorated with some celery foam and a sprig of thyme. The third entrée was a raviolo of crab that was a beautiful combination of flavours and textures.

7.     Roast bone marrow and parsley salad at St John in London

26 St John St, London, UK

Four short bones were served with a parsley, caper and onion salad with two slices of the trademark toasted bread. Sea salt was spooned onto the plate by the waiter to make the point that salt enhanced the flavour of the marrow. Suitable instruments were provided to extract the precious goo. And flavourful it was. Spoon some onto the toast, add some salt and then sit back and enjoy. This was a great dish, simplicity and perfection combined.

8.     Smoked eel salad at The River Café in London

Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, Hammersmith, UK

This was an almost jaw-dropping combination of thin slices of smoked eel served with a small celery and caper salad and dressed with a horseradish and crème fraiche sauce that perfectly balanced the richness of the main ingredient. In fact every dish we sampled at The River Café deserved an entry in the best dishes of the year!

9.     Linguine with arugula at Sean’s Panorama in Sydney

270 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach, New South Wales

We were entranced with the signature offering of linguine with shredded arugula, lemon, chilli and parmesan which was an entrée of particular brilliance. The simplicity of the presentation belied the flavour packed into this tiny dish. Sean’s Panorama is a comfortable, quiet restaurant where the food is the main player.

10. Pizza at Napoli Mia in Avignon

8 route de Montfavet, Avignon, France

It seems odd that in a year when we travelled through Italy, the best pizza we had was in France! The restaurant is somewhat tacky with lots and lots of photos of the self-obsessed owner who recites the pizzas of the day to guests (there is no menu). However, the blindly simple tomato and mozzarella pizza is, as they say, worth the journey.

11. Rabbit terrine at Chez Serge in Carpentras, Vaucluse, France

90 rue Cottier, Carpentras, Vaucluse, France

We like to wander through the Carpentras market on Friday mornings and we almost always end up having lunch at the very popular Chez Serge. This year a dish of beautiful terrine of young rabbit with a small salad was a highlight, especially as it was accompanied by a silky Domaine les Pallieres Gigondas.

12. Sardinian style pork and veal risotto at Mud in Launceston, Tasmania

Seaport Complex, Launceston, Tasmania

A wet pork and veal risotto which was packed with flavour was a highlight of a visit to Launceston. Mud is the type of restaurant that we seek out as it serves food that comforts.

13. Steamed fish and coconut custard at Cookie in Melbourne

252 Swanston St, Melbourne, Victoria

Thai food is one of our passions. One of our best memories is sitting on the banks of the Chao Phraya river enjoying the spicy food that Thailand has to offer. And one of the dishes that we enjoy the most is the fish custard cooked in a banana leaf called haw mok.

At Cookie, a large bustling, noisy bar in Melbourne’s Swanston Street the food is very good and the flavours of the food remind us of Bangkok. The steamed fish and coconut custard transported us back to Thailand.

14. Pan fried chicken at Daniel Alps at Strathlynn in Tasmania

Rosevears Rd, Strathlynn, Tasmania

The pan fried Nichols chicken with Huon Valley mushrooms, local potatoes and silverbeet was a soulful dish that appeared to be simplicity itself but a lot of skill was required to coax this much flavour out of the ingredients. A great dish!

15. Local abalone at Lebrina in Hobart

Main Rd, New Town, Tasmania

Lebrina is one of our favourite restaurants. It is here that Scott Minervini cooks wonderful dishes in a wood-fired oven, including some of the best bread in the country.

This year a dish of tender abalone with crispy confit pork and celeriac salad vied with our other all-time favourites such as his double-cooked cheese soufflé, daube of lamb and orange pudding.

16. Banh Xeo at Green Leaf in Seattle

418, 8th Ave S, Seattle, USA

The wonderful Banh Xeo - a crepe made from coconut milk and flour - is cooked quickly until crisp and then wrapped around shrimps and bean shoots at the Green Leaf in Seattle. It was a particular favourite this year. This is served with a plate of lettuce leaves and herbs that are used to wrap pieces of the crepe. The result when doused with a little fish sauce is a delightful mixture of textures and flavours.

17. Roasted eel salad at Lark in Seattle

926 12th Avenue, Seattle, USA

Lark is a very pleasant venue not too far from the centre of Seattle. A perfect dish of roasted eel (Japanese unaju-style) served on a potato salad rather than rice particularly caught our attention this year.

18. Brandade at Cremant in Seattle

1423 34th Avenue, Seattle, USA

Cremant is a great venue in the suburbs of Seattle that features Cremant sparkling wines from throughout France on the wine list. We thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful brandade de morue served in a traditional flat bowl that came to the table scalding hot. The strong flavour of the cod was ameliorated to just the right extent by the potato which is the trick with this dish - here they got it right.

19. Charcuterie plate at Le Pichet in Seattle

1933 First Avenue, Seattle, USA

Le Pichet has long been a favourite of Foodtourist.com. It ably demonstrates how to serve authentic provincial French food outside France.  This year we thoroughly enjoyed a charcuterie platter with eight fanned slivers of Spanish ham overlayed with six slivers of their own tongue, then some pistachio salami and two stunning fat-ladened terrines/country pates that were worth the journey!!

20. Wolf fish head at The Harvest Vine in Seattle

2701 East Madison, Seattle, USA

The Harvest Vine is one of the few restaurants outside Spain that serve authentic Spanish food (Movida in Melbourne and Bocadillos in San Francisco are some others). We make a point of dining here on every visit to Seattle. The dish we enjoyed the most there this year was half a wolf fish head. It was huge! It was started in a fry pan and then roasted in the oven. The texture of the fish was amazing reminding us of skate. Why more restaurants don't serve fish heads is a puzzle as they are the most flavourful part of the fish.

21. Soup and sandwich at Alan Wong's Restaurant in Honolulu

1857 South King St, Honolulu, Hawaii

A dish of ‘soup and sandwich’ served as an appetizer at Alan Wong’s restaurant in Honolulu was a serious delight for any dedicated food enthusiast. A tall glass was filled with a multi-coloured tomato soup/essence which was topped with a thin parmesan crisp which had a small grilled sandwich of foie gras and local pig meat sitting on top. This worked beautifully as a dish and combination of flavours.

22. Rabbit pie at Meadowbank Vineyard in Tasmania

699 Richmond Road, Cambridge, Tasmania

One of the most relaxing places to dine in Tasmania is the Meadowbank Vineyard where chef Simon West turns out some of the best food in the state. This year we enjoyed every dish we tried here but a moist rabbit pie sitting on a limpid brussel sprout puree was one of the best.

23. Small dishes at Bentley Restaurant and Bar, Sydney

320 Crown St, Surry Hills, New South Wales, Australia

The food at the Bentley in Sydney is particularly interesting. We sampled some of the best small plate dishes here this year. A sampling of three variations of gazpacho was a particular highlight.

24. Garbure at L’Ami Jean in Paris

27 rue Malar, 75007, Paris, France

L’Ami Jean is a fine restaurant in the 7th in Paris serving food from the Basque area of south west France. When we saw garbure on the menu there was no question that we would order it. We had read about this famous dish in Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking and Richard Olney's Simple French Food and had always been keen to try it. Well, here it is cooked in the Bearnaise style and is a robust, rich and very complex dish. The highlight of the dish was the creamy unctuousness of the white beans. We will remember this garbure for a long time.

25. Flower power at Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain

Otzazulueta baserria, Aldura Aldea 20 zk, Errenteria, Spain

The Mugaritz restaurant is in the hills behind San Sebastian (Donostia) in a rural setting. At the back of the restaurant is a herb and vegetable garden that supplies some of the produce used in the kitchen by superstar chef Andoni Luis Aduriz.

The food is modern and experimental however the dishes remain true to the produce use and Aduriz manages to coax incredible flavour from every ingredient. For example, a cold prawn consommé laced with nasturtium flowers and a variety of herbs had a wonderful depth of flavour.

Also memorable was an homage to the Gargouillou  of Michel Bras. A mound of brightly coloured herbs and flowers sat in a deep white plate hiding a mixture of some of the most intensely flavoured baby vegetables that we have ever eaten. The vegetables were bound and unified by a stunning Emmental broth.  It didn't matter whether we found some okra or turnip or cauliflower or a simple green bean it was cooked perfectly and its flavour stood shoulder to shoulder with that of its compatriots.

 

26. Pintxos at La Cuchara de San Telmo in San Sebastian, Spain

Laneway behind 31 de Agosto, Parte Vieje, San Sebastian (Donostia), Spain

This is one of the very best pintxos bars in San Sebastian where there are literally hundreds of good bars. We go here for the cerebral cooking of the young chefs who know how to combine disparate ingredients to produce a satisfying repast. The foie gras dishes here are especially good particularly the one teamed with apple.

27. Veal belly with shitake mushrooms at Chez Ruffet in Jurancon, France

3 av Charles Touzet, Jurancon

Chez Ruffet occupies an old farmhouse in the South West France wine town of Jurancon. It has two  Michelin stars but offers a superb bargain with its fixed price lunches.  On our visit here we tried an excellent dish of veal belly with shitake mushrooms accompanied by a single parsnip. It was delightful!

28. Tripe sandwich at Nerbone in the Florence market

No 292, Mercato Centrale, Firenze, Italy

The central market in Florence has some good food stalls without being remarkable. However, there is one place we always head for here and that is Nerbone. We visit this stall for one reason only – the superb tripe sandwich! A bread roll is cut in half and stuffed with long-cooked tripe and  moistened with the cooking juices. Sheer heaven!

29. Rooster stew at Cibreo Trattoria, Florence, Italy

via dei Macci, 118 R, Firenze, Italy

The meal we had at Cibreo Trattoria in Florence in 2007 was one of the best we have experienced in Italy.

The meal began when our waiter told us that a farmer had just delivered some fresh ricotta if we would like to try some. We were delighted to have the opportunity. We were even more delighted when we saw what we were presented with - some ricotta on a plate. No adornment, no embellishment, no artifice! And it didn't need any. It was fresh, flavoursome and silky.

We were also informed that they had some special salsicce crude (raw sausages). Once again we jumped at the opportunity to try them. This time, two thick raw sausages were presented on a plate with some bread to accompany. No other adornment was felt necessary.

Main courses continued the theme of good, honest flavours without any theatrics in the presentation. A simple rooster stew showed how poultry should taste and the chick pea side dish was exemplary.

30. Khanom Jeen at Spice I Am, Sydney

Cnr Campbell Street and Elizabeth Street, Sydney, New South Wales

A friend of ours from Australia’s Gourmet Traveller magazine first urged us to give this restaurant a try. He said it was some of the best Thai food outside Thailand. We were dubious but paid a visit soon after. We have been back on every visit to Sydney since then! We are especially enamoured of the dish of Isaan-style fermented pork sausage and the lovely Khanom Jeen noodles. In fact, this restaurant alerted us to the lure of Khanom Jeen which has subsequently developed into somewhat of a passion for us.

31.  Coffee at Sant Eustachio il Caffe in Rome

82 Plaza St Eustachio, Rome

An early morning in Rome prior to catching a flight saw us in the elegant Piazza Navona. Having savoured its beauty we then set our minds to trying the best coffee in the city at nearby Sant Eustachio il Caffe. This is a quaint shop that looks like nothing much has changed since it opened in the 1930s.

The coffee is roasted on the premises and you can buy tins to take away if you want to remember the flavour after you have left Rome and headed home. The coffee is rich and creamy with an amazing crema on top. It was certainly the best coffee we sampled this year anywhere!

32. Razor clams at Hutong, Hong Kong

28th Floor, One Peking Road, Hong Kong

We were somewhat ambivalent about whether to visit Hutong. We rarely find great views and great food together, and Hutong has some of the best views you can imagine. There are sweeping vistas of Hong Kong's famous harbour. You can even watch the helicopters landing on the roof of the nearby Peninsula Hotel.

When the first dish arrived, any unease that we felt about coming here immediately vanished.  Bamboo clams that had been poached in Chinese wine and then served with a chili padi mix was one of the best treatments of this difficult bivalve that we have ever experienced. Bamboo clams, by the way, is a name used in Asia to refer to razor clams or ambal as they are called in Malaysia. They are difficult to cook because the chef has only a few seconds between when they are inedible because they are undercooked to when they are inedible because they are overcooked! Here they were soft and succulent and soaked up the chilli juices to achieve a flavour that was amazing.

33. Crayfish picnic at Bicheno, Tasmania

The Gulch, Bicheno, Tasmania

Quite often it is the simplest food experiences that are the most memorable. On Tasmania’s East Coast there is a small town called Bicheno where giant granite domes form a harbour to protect the local fishing fleet that the locals call The Gulch. It is here that the Apsley Gorge Vineyard maintains its cellar door combined with a small café that serves just two dishes. Freshly opened local Pacific oysters and perfectly cooked crayfish (rock lobster) are available here. You order a bottle of the excellent Chardonnay made in the Burgundian style and sip a glass sitting at one of the three or four small tables arranged outside the shed looking over the Gulch. When we visited this year the next table was occupied by visitors from Seattle who thought that they had stumbled upon heaven!

34. Breakfast at Le Comptoir, Paris

9 Carrefour de l'Odéon, 75006, Paris

For the past two years, whenever we stay in Paris we book a hotel in the 6th arrondissement so that we can easily have breakfast at Yves Camdebourde’s Le Comptoir. This is the best breakfast in Paris.

Lovely breads and pastries from nearby Mulot accompanied by Curtelin confiture, a boiled egg, lovely butter, great Bordier yoghurt, ham carved from the bone, fresh pampelmousse juice and nice coffee.

35. An evening of txikiteo in San Sebastian

La Cuchara de San Telmo, Laneway behind 31 de Agosto | El Lagar, Zabaketa, 55 | Alona Berri, Birmingham, 24 | Bar Bergara, General Artetxe 8 | Txepetxa, Pescadería, 5 | Ganbara, San Jeronimo, 21 | La Cepa, 31 de Agosto, 7 | Patio De Ramuntxo, Peña y Goñi, 10 | Goiz Argi, Fermín Calbetón, 4 | Bar Sport, Fermin Calbeton, 11

There is nothing more convivial than the European tradition of the evening gathering whether it be in a traditional English pub, a game of boules in the villages of Provence and Corsica, the right of passeggiata in Torino or the ritual of txikiteo in San Sebastian. Every evening in this great food city locals wander slowly from one bar to the next sampling a single pintxos (the Basque word for tapas) and a glass of txakolina at each one.

Most pintxos bars are clustered in the narrow laneways of the Parte Vieja (old town), but some of the best are in the adjoining Gros precinct, just across the river. Here is a list of the bars that constituted our txikiteo in October this year.

La Cuchara de San Telmo a great bar with some of the sharpest food in the city such as sautéed foie gras with apple jelly

El Lagar one of the best wine lists in town and some interesting food such as the blood pudding croquettes.

Alona Berri – modern reinterpretations of pintxos in a convivial atmosphere.

Bar Bergara – one of the most accessible bars in the Gros area combining excellent pintxos (including the false lasagne of anchovies and txalupa) with a sharp wine selection (try the Bai Gorri Rioja).

Txepetxa – we head here for marinated anchovies and cream of spider crab.

Ganbara – the place to go for tiny croissants filled with jamon, anchovies and pate.

La Cepa – our favourite here is the plancha of jamon cut from one of the legs of ham hanging from the ceiling over the bar.

Patio De Ramuntxo stunning food including razor clams, braised veal cheek and jamon croquettes.

Goiz Argi – try the wonderful prawns with vinegar and the meatballs with red peppers

Bar Sport – a very traditional bar always full of locals which is justifiably famous for its foie gras dishes.

36. Blood terrine at La Cave de l’Os a Moelle

181 rue de Lourmel, 75015, Paris, France

La Cave de l'Os a Moëlle is the baby sister of the deservedly popular l'Os a Moëlle just over the road. It is the type of place where you can drop in to share a bottle of wine with friends or you can call in for a delightful meal served family style at shared tables. The food is set out for you to choose as you wish and the price is very reasonable.

Our fond memory of our meal at La Cave de l’Os a Moelle was a rich blood terrine made in the traditional style. It was flavourful, velvety and very rich.

37. Tian de Fayettes at Domaine Lou Magnan in Caromb, Vaucluse

Route de Mazan, Caromb

We always get excited when we come across a special dish. One that is regional or that, in this case, is confined to a single village. Everyone knows about the wonderful cassoulet from  south west France where towns such as Carcassonne vie with their neighbours for the mantle of the greatest dish.

We are lucky enough to maintain a house in a small village in the Vaucluse region quite close to the famous wine producing areas of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Beaumes-de-Venise. The village is quite small with only 3,500 inhabitants who mainly work in the surrounding vineyards of the emerging  Cotes du Ventoux appellation.

Tian de Fayettes is a dish of baked pork and beans that is reminiscent of the texture of cassoulet but a much more primitive dish having no confit or sausage, just pork and beans. We tried this dish at one of the local ferme auberge this year. It was truly wonderful.

38. Passettelli, tagliatelle with ragu and bollito misto at Trattoria da Gianni in Bologna

Via Clavature, 18, Bologna, Italy

Three local specialties cooked perfectly were the hallmark of our visit to the small and intimate Trattoria da Gianni in Bologna this year.

We had come here to sample specialties of Bologna and surrounding regions such as passatelli in brodo, tagliatelle with ragu and bollito misto. And we couldn't have chosen a better place!

Our passetelli in brodo saw a flat white bowl filled with the spongy 'bread' pasta (passetelli dough is made from breadcrumbs rather than flour) and very good broth. The passetelli performed its duty admirably, swelling as it soaked up the surrounding broth. It was both comforting and delicious.

Bologna is well-known for its delicate tagliatelle and the city has even issued a decree stating the exact dimensions of the true article. In this city the pasta is often topped with a sensible amount of richly flavoured ragu. Enough to moisten the pasta and to provide a flavour hit, but not too much lest it overpower and conquer the main protagonist. At Gianni they did it very well with a small quantity of richly flavoured ragu servicing the silky pasta very well.

We were also able to order bollito misto as well as oven roasted lamb for our main courses. The bollito misto was served on a flat plate with the meats (chicken drumstick, slices of brisket, pork, pork sausage) surrounding good mashed potato. The dish was accompanied by three condiments - salsa verde, mustard fruits and a vinegary tomato stew.

39. Crescentines at Trattoria del Rosso in Bologna

via Augusto Righi, 30, Bologna, Italy

Trattoria del Rosso is one of our favourite food venues in Bologna, a city that is well-endowed with good places to eat. You might have to put your name down on a waiting list but that is no problem as almost next door is the funky Swinebar where you can sit in covered comfort and enjoy one of the wines that are chalked daily on the blackboard.

Once your table is ready you can order a plate of beautiful salumi and the best crescentines we have ever tasted (Crescentine con salumi artigianali Pasquini e squaquerone). These pillows of fried dough were light, airy and the perfect foil for the fatty yet delicious salami and mortadella they serve here.

40. Mushrooms at L'Antico Noe in Florence, Italy

Volta di San Piero, 6 R, Florence, Italy

The first thing you notice when you walk into l’Antico Noe is the boxes of fresh mushrooms and artichokes (in season) just inside the door. These are specialties of the house.

When we ordered tagliolini of raw mushrooms the chef walked over to one of the boxes and selected a suitable collection of mushrooms for what turned out to be a stunning dish that we would return to Florence to try again!

41. Trattoria Mario Bistecca Florentine in Florence

Via Rosina, 2/R, Mercato Centrale, Florence, Italy

At Trattoria Mario the waiter seemed delighted when we deferred to the chef and asked for our Bistecca to be cooked to the degree of 'doneness' that he thought was best for that cut of meat.

The giant bistecca Fiorentina was brought to the table with much ceremony. It seemed impossibly large but somehow we managed to devour every last morsel. It was perfectly seasoned, cooked rare but not so rare that the fibres had not broken down. This was a memorable example of how to cook meat.

42. Spinach and ricotta ravioli at Osteria de Velodromo Vecchio in Rome

via Genzano, 139, Rome, Italy

One of the dishes we tried at Osteria de Velodromo Vecchio was an absolutely mind-blowing plate of spinach and ricotta ravioli with a simple tomato sauce. The skill involved in achieving the texture and flavour of the dish is considerable.

43. Crab with rice wine sauce at Victoria City Seafood, Hong Kong

2nd Floor, Sun Hung Kai Centre, 30 Harbour Road, Hong Kong

Victoria City Seafood is a great seafood restaurant that shows why Hong Kong has such a great food reputation. The restaurant is large but it is advisable to book because people tend to take a long time over dinner here.

Our lasting memory is of a picturesque dish of whole crab served on a large platter with a rice wine sauce that was deeply flavoured, exciting and memorable!

44. Goose at the Yung Kee in Hong Kong

32-40 Wellington St, Hong Kong

Meals at the Yung Kee always begin with the trademark plate of preserved eggs with sliced ginger. The dark, unctuous, gooey eggs are a textural and flavour highlight and the accompanying slices of pickled ginger provide a flavour contrast with their spicy overtones and refreshing taste.

No visit here should be made without ordering the roast goose. It is dense and dark and packed with flavour - unlike any other goose we have ever eaten. This is one of the world's classic dishes and is worth a journey to try it. We order it simply served with their very good plum sauce.

45. Discovering the delights at La Fromagerie du Comtat in Carpentras

23 Place Maurice Charretier, Carpentras, Vaucluse, France

La Fromagerie du Comtat is one of the most ‘complete’ food shops we know. It ranks alongside Da Rosa in Paris, Lou Castenou in Vaison la Romaine and Simon Johnson in Sydney for the quality of the offerings. It is not a large store however the charcuterie, the dairy products, the cheese and the wines are all so well-selected that you want to but everything in the store. We visited this store on a number of occasions this year and every time we came away knowing a bit more about the wonderful food and wine of the Vaucluse.

46.  Market day tarts at Jouvard in Carpentras

40 rue de l'Eveche, Carpentras, Vaucluse, France

Patisserie Jouvaud is a delightful patisserie, confectionary store and confiserie as well as serving the best coffee in the area in its small but delightful café area.

The visual delights begin when you approach the store with the windows being packed with such eye-catching items as traditional tins of berlingots de Carpentras, glace fruits, jars of Clementines Confits and huge basket of the massive meringues called Les Rocailles.

Each market day in Carpentras (it is held on Friday mornings) Jouvard prepares some wonderful savoury and sweet tarts that you buy by the slice. These are some of the best we pastry tarts we have ever sampled.

The photo shows a tart made from the local Caromb figs.

47. Slow-cooked ocean trout at Tetsuya's in Sydney

Kent St, Sydney, New South Wales

One of the most photographed dishes in the world is the ocean trout at Tetsuya's. We were lucky enough to return to Tetsuya's again this year and thoroughly enjoyed this dish again.

48. Sampling jamon from Da Rosa, Paris

62, rue de Seine, 75006, Paris, France

Look carefully when you admire the window of this new store in the rue de Seine just near the rue de Baci market. You will see some legs of Spanish hams in the window. So what you ask? Well, these are simply the finest hams in the world. Even Joel Robuchon buys hams for his L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon from Da Rosa. And so do many other top stores and restaurants including the Hotel de Crillon, the Meurice, Restaurant Helene Darroze and Guy Savoy's Le Chiberta.

The hams are at the very expensive end of the scale (250 Euros per kilo) but they are worth every penny you pay. If you want to see why people become obsessed with Spanish ham then order some slices of the Jamon Iberique de Bellota from the village of Jabugo - some of which have been aged for three years.

49. Guinea fowl at the luxurious Crillon le Brave, Vaucluse

Hostellerie de Crillon le Brave, Place de L'Eglise, Crillon le Brave, 84410, Vaucluse, France

Crillon le Brave is a picturesque perched village that lies in the shadow of Mont Ventoux in between Bedoin and Caromb. The hotel has gradually expanded to occupy a significant area of the village.

It is a calm, relaxed, luxury establishment offering five star service to its pampered guests. So it is befitting of this ambience that the main restaurant within the hotel also offers food that will please and pamper the guests.

One of our most lasting food memories of the region was a dish of guinea fowl breast that had been perfectly roasted and served on a bed of finely sliced green beans and stunning white coco beans. This was a great dish with each component adding to the enjoyment of the whole.

The chef deserves full praise for his restrained and skilful cooking.

50. Allaiton lamb at Le Grand Pre in Roaix, Vaucluse, France

route de Vaison-la-Romaine, Roaix, France

Le Grand Pre in the small village of Roaix is a restaurant to take very seriously. One of the most memorable dishes of the year was a dish for two of roasted Allaiton lamb from the rugged department of Aveyron in France's south west. This arrived meltingly tender and perfectly pink with the natural juices served separately. To the side was a potato roesti and some cloves of roasted garlic.

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Our book recommendation

This week we recommend the excellent book by Marco Canora, a chef whose food we admire having eaten his food at Hearth and Terroir.

 

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