With the benefit of hindsight and full digestion, here are my favorite dishes of 2010 in no particular order.
The 62-degree egg at Baume Chef Bruno Chemel cooks the egg in a 62-degree water bath for one hour and then lets it set for another four. The silken egg is then served with creamy pureed peas and a vermouth-scented foam that mimics the eggs whites. It’s fantastic. 201 S. California Ave., Palo Alto, 650.328.8899.
Cheese ravioli at Evvia I don’t think of pasta when I think of Greek food, but these cheese-filled ravioli are the real deal. The plump ravioli are filled with Manouri and feta cheese and the subtle bite of erbette, a bitter winter green. What really sets the dish apart is the scattering of sliced artichoke hearts, fennel fronds, roasted red bell peppers, green onions, feta and Kalamata olives. 420 Emerson St., Palo Alto. 650.326.0983.
Ramen at Alexander’s Steakhouse Alexander’s Steakhouse is the place to drop a few c-notes on Kobe beef, but my favorite dish is chef Jeffrey Stout’s excellent ramen. Silicon Valley is a ramen lover’s paradise, and Stout offers a thoroughly respectable version that can hang with the best of them—pork belly, shiitake mushroom, a soft-cooked egg and firm noodles in a salty, rich broth. 10330 N. Wolfe Road, Cupertino. 408.446.2222.
Chinese hamburger at Chinjin Eastern House This unremarkable-looking restaurant serves a remarkable little dish: the Chinese hamburger. It’s a thin, wontonlike wrapper stretched over deliciously seasoned beef to form a rough patty shape. The disc is pan-fried on both sides to a crispy brown. Knife into it and out spill oniony, garlicky juices. It’s really good. 1530 S. De Anza Blvd., San Jose. 408.865.0302.
Grilled octopus at Chez TJ I love octopus, but too often it is served rubbery. Not here. The beautiful nubs of octopus are juicy and tender, and the smoky bits of char are a perfect match for the meaty cephalopod. The octopus shares the plate with an impossibly light and crisp little pillow of pan-crisped gnocchi, the silken deliciousness of bone marrow and the balancing acidity of sorrel leaves and stems. It’s a masterful plate of food in both execution and presentation. 938 Villa St., Mountain View. 650.964.7466.
‘Which Came First?’ at Flea Street Café The “Which Came First?” chicken dish is a Flea Street classic: Fulton Valley pasture-raised chicken baked with green garlic, chunks of succulent pork belly, spinach and farro topped with a zinfandel beurre blanc sauce and a poached egg from owner Jesse Ziff Cool’s coop. It’s a messy, saucy dish that won me over with its homey deliciousness. 3607 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park. 650.854.1226.
Dungeness crab salad at Bistro Elan Bistro Elan is an elegant restaurant; this simple dish of Dungeness crab salad with avocado, grapefruit and pistachios plays to the restaurant’s strengths: fresh ingredients expertly prepared. 448 S. California Ave., Palo Alto. 650.327.0284.
White corn soup at Madera You’ll have to wait until summer to enjoy this dish again but the soup is worth waiting for. The chilled Brentwood white-corn soup is summer in a bowl paired with a tomato-buttermilk mousse and bits of laughing-bird shrimp, a Caribbean farmed shrimp that’s raised in an ecologically sound manner. 2825 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park. 650.561.1540.