California · Caribbean · Dining · Italy · New York · Uncategorized · United States · Wine

Favorite Meals of 2016

Thinking back over 2016, I realized that I had eaten several good meals while traveling (and a few bad ones) and thought I’d share a few of the ones that came to mind. The picture on the heading is actually of the BBQ shrimp entree at Mr. B’s Bistro in New Orleans – we didn’t have time to squeeze in a Nola trip this year but I order that dish every time we visit the Crescent City and it’s one of my all-time favorites!  Below is my list of best and most memorable meals from 2016.

Valette in Sonoma Wine Country (Healdsburg)

We recently ate here and because we ate before there January 1, it just barely counts as a 2016 meal.  Valette is a rustic bistro in Healdsburg, California which is right in the middle of Sonoma wine country. The restaurant’s food is wine country modern with French influences and the execution and presentation of the dishes blew me away, especially the puff pastry with scallops inside that looked like a charred souffle (the black is not char but is a dusting of fennel pollen).

Puff pastry with scallops inside
Lively restaurant – Valette


Miracles Restaurant in Antigua

Miracles was located in Southern Antigua and did not have a view, did not have air conditioning and was located on the side of a pothole covered road.  It did have lots of mosquitoes and plastic tables but mostly it had delicious food made with lots of heart.  This family-owned restaurant served up some of the best food we have had in the Caribbean and her mac-n-cheese was better than ones I have had at fancy steakhouses all over Dallas.  The jerked lobster was incredible as well.

Amazing Mac-n-Cheese
Jerked lobster and sides…spicy and perfectly cooked!


Balthazar in New York City

Balthazar has been on my “to do” list for many years.  It’s a very chic “see and be seen” restaurant in Soho that does traditional brasserie style French food.  It’s loud, buzzy and the tables are ridiculously close together but it’s a fun place for dinner and the food is country French at its best. I could have eaten an entire loaf of bread with the snail butter from my escargots.

Duck Shepherd’s Pie!
Goat cheese tart


Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley (Rutherford)

Definitely a restaurant with an amazing view.  Unfortunately it was raining the day we visited so we couldn’t enjoy their expansive patio overlooking Napa Valley.  However, their 3 course lunch which includes a glass of bubbly is worth every penny.  The food was fresh, the courses were perfectly paced and the service was impeccable.  This was my favorite meal in Napa and I look forward to bringing my mom back here to visit in Napa.  In March we will actually be staying at this gorgeous hotel!


View looking up to the restaurant


Le Bernardin in New York City

I didn’t list these meals in any order but if I am being honest, this was the best one food-wise.  It’s been a bucket place for years and I have never been able to get into Le Bernardin.  So, when I was in New York by myself for a work conference, I simply did a walk-in and sat at the bar by myself.  I was well taken care of by the staff and I enjoyed the best 4 course meal I have ever had.  The food knocked my socks off in terms of creativeness, freshness, mixture of ingredients and textures and presentation.  There wasn’t a miss among a single dish.  Too bad my spouse or a good friend wasn’t there to enjoy it with but I did get to text pictures of my food back to Steve at home and he was so jealous!

One of the signature dishes – a pounded tuna carpaccio with sea beans
This was my favorite – handmade tagliatelle pasta with lobster and truffle cream
Seared monkfish in a Spanish style smoked paprika broth


La Sponda at Le Sirenuse Hotel in Positano, Italy

The restaurant with the best view in 2016 was La Sponda in Positano.  La Sponda is a Michelin starred restaurant at the Sirenuse Hotel in the small cliffside village of Positano, located on the Amalfi coast.  We visited for 2 nights and I reserved an amazing lunch here on my birthday!  Steve and I had a wonderful lunch of Mediterranean cuisine and a bottle of smooth Italian chardonnay with a view of the ocean and the picturesque village.

Birthday girl!
Heavenly Positano


While I could certainly keep going on this list, these are the ones that stood out in my mind.  This year, I am looking forward to some great meals in Napa Valley in March, French Polynesia in April, Pacific Northwest (Oregon coast and Willamette Valley) in September and Riviera Maya, Mexico in November.  I’m sure there will be a few weekend trips thrown in here and there as well!

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