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Notable dishes of 2012: the 2014 edition

File under: better late than never?

Try as I may to muster the energy to leave the warm, cozy house on this freezing cold day, I'm finding there are many obstacles. Not least of all being screwing around on the computer, looking through some old photos. I noticed that I have a couple blurry pictures of food, and figured "Hey, why waste these beauties on just me. I'll make another list!"

I kinda like putting together lists. Any sort of non-list post takes a lot of effort, although you probably wouldn't believe it if you read any of mine. The list-oriented posts are super easy, because let's face it, people have low to zero expectations with a list. They just want to see the list. And I have very low expectations for a list. Just show me the list. Most importantly, I'm a navel-gazer from way back, and lists provide a vehicle to look deeply into the glory that is me.

So here's the list of Notable dishes of 2012: the 2014 edition:

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Best Dishes of 2013: The not-necessarily-NJ edition

It's time for a list, right? End of the year type thing? Wrap-up? Is that what they call it?

Every now and again I'll put together a year-end wrap-up thing, generally focusing on the most notable dishes that I ate (rather than the "best" restaurants). When I started reviewing Amex statements and photos for this year's list, I quickly determined that we enjoyed a greater number of memorable meals outside of New Jersey than we did inside. And this list reflects that fact. So if you're not interested in ever leaving NJ, you should probably close your browser's tab now.

For those still reading, I present to you, my completely self-indulgent list of the Best Dishes of 2013: The not-necessarily-NJ edition.

Let's start with a cocktail, shall we?


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Fishing with Dynamite: Manhattan Beach, CA

Fishing with Dynamite (FWD) is a restaurant that I'd visit very week if I lived in the neighborhood. This bold proclamation is being made based on one visit.

How could I come to this conclusion from just one visit? Because everything was right at FWD. From the cocktails to the interesting room with 3 different seating options (bar, raw bar, tables) to the bottles of still and sparkling water to the warm service to the friendly hosts to the sun flowing in through the large windows to the wines from all around the globe to the fresh and delicious fish to the excellent oyster selection, it's all right. Did I mention those great desserts? 

I think I've said it all, so I guess I'll just post some pictures.

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The Strand House: Manhattan Beach, CA

I kept saying that I was going to LA. And when I got back I kept referencing the "trip to LA." I'm not really sure how the geographical and cultural boundaries work out there, but it occurred to me that spending time in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Laguna Beach, perhaps meant that I wasn't in Los Angeles at all.  Is that the case? Someone tell me.

Either way, after landing in LA (I assume LAX is considered to be in "LA"), I knew the one between me and lunch was getting the rental car. I had been obsessing over this transaction since sitting in Newark. This is just about always a hassle (SFO has to be the absolute worst that I've experienced), for some reason that is beyond me. However, being a Hertz Gold member actually paid off this time: the car was waiting with the keys in it (although my name wasn't on the board, and I had to go inside, and get on one of the virtual customer rep things, and then go wait in the Gold line after that). Will wonders never cease. Then it was off to the very lovely Beach House in Hermosa Beach to unload, and off to lunch.

I was looking for something near the water, with tacos, cocktails, a view, some local beers, interesting food, a clean and focused menu, and bar dining, because bar dining is always preferable. I'm very easy to please. Some quick googling yielded The Strand House, in Manhattan Beach. The menu looked pretty damned interesting to my starving eyes, and included a burger, fish tacos, hamachi crudo, charcuterie, and a few cocktails ta boot.  Turned out to be very pleasant.

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