2012 Food & Wine Top 25 – #6 to 15

Let’s do some F&W “catch up”! I know, if I don’t get this done soon, it’ll be time for Food & Wine 2013. By the way, today is 300 days until that fine event should start. Bring on the pork sliders!

#15 – Seared Filet of Beef (South Africa)

Pre-Festival: #3

Change: -12

In 2011, South Africa’s filet finished in 2nd on my list. That didn’t surprise me. It was the only filet in the festival, and I love filet. This year, however, like Japan’s Sukiyaki Beef Pan, it was a huge disappointment. Neither my wife nor I liked it.

Frankly, it had two things going against it. First, it never had a chance with Le Cellier’s filet in the festival as a comparison. Second, it was dry, dry, dry. I’m sure it was just a bad serving, but we were disappointed nonetheless.

#14 – Seared Sea Scallop (New Zealand)

Pre-Festival: #11

Change: -3

Nicely seared scallops are a favorite of mine, but like Poland’s pierogi, I could have used a healthier portion. That’s the problem with scallops … two bites and they’re gone.

#13 – Sweet Sausage (Italy)

Pre-Festival: #14

Change: +1

This dish was tasty, but, honestly, how many times have you had Italian sausage, peppers, and onions. It was too ordinary to earn a higher rank.

#12 – Chicken Satay (China)

Pre-Festival: UNRANKED

Change: N/A

This is the only unplanned (not pre-festival ranked) item to actually score a Top 25 slot, and it landed quite well at #12. The chicken was very tender and the spicy peanut sauce was outstanding. This dish was delicious, and I hope it makes a return in 2013.

#11 – Lamb Chop (Australia)

Pre-Festival: #18

Change: +7

I said in my pre-festival comments that lamb isn’t my deal. Turns out I was a little bit wrong as it finished much better than I expected. The pesto was a tad strong, but it was cut nicely by the saltiness of the potato chip crumbles. The lamb was moist and tender. I don’t know if I would ever need tons and tons of this dish, but my wife loved, loved, loved it.

#10 – Lamb Meatball (New Zealand)

Pre-Festival: #10

Change: NONE

I kind of miss 2011’s lamb slider. Comically, I even walked up to the New Zealand kiosk at one point – my mind daydreaming – and ordered one. The Cast Member looked at me like I was from outer space, and nicely said, “Well, it is more like a meatball in a bread-bowl, but it isn’t a slider”. Yeah, you could have told me I’m a dope, but thank you for being so kind. Get your head straight, Bob!

The flavor of the lamb meatball and its accompanying sauce was nice and spicy. The bread-bowl was just a bit over-powering, though. I would back that off a bit. Like the Moroccan dishes, this dish’s weakness was in bread-to-meat ratio, in my opinion.

#9 – Ropa Vieja (Caribbean)

Pre-Festival: #16

Change: +7

Another pleasant surprise, I really liked the flavor of this one and regret not finding the time to fit in a second-helping. I came away thinking it tasted a little bit like very high-quality taco meat (which I happen to like a lot). It was the spices that did it for me. I hope it’s on the menu again in 2013 because I want another sample to make sure I haven’t become unduly smitten with it.

#8 – Seared Mahi Mahi (Singapore)

Pre-Festival: #7

Change: -1

Very nice portion of fish that was very well cooked. The sauce was very tasty, but the rice was just ordinary. Honestly, this is another one for which I wish I had gone back for a second try. Brazil’s mahi-mahi scored in 4th place with me in 2011. I wonder if I had tried another helping of Singapore’s version if the dish would have scored a bit higher.

#7 – Coq au Vin (France)

Pre-Festival: #6

Change: -1

This dish finished 3rd in 2011. My guess is that I might have slightly over-ranked it as it fell down the list in 2012. It’s still an excellent plate that includes a very healthy, very tasty, portion of chicken. I love macaroni and cheese, and, let’s face it, that’s what we have here, but I’m still not certain I like the blend with the chicken and its yummy sauce. You can have the mushrooms and onions as far as I’m concerned, as well. Not a big mushroom fan.

#6 – Mongolian Beef (China)

Pre-Festival: #5

Change: -1

Outstanding! The meat was very flavorful. The texture of the pillowy-soft bun and crispy noodles blended fabulously. The bun made this a very intriguing dish, and for the longest time it was running in the Top 5. As you’ll see in my next report, it just got squeezed out by three dishes that surprised even me with their quality.

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