An Extraordinary, Ultra-seasonal, Japanese-inspired Tasting Menu in Wine Country

What:

Single Thread @ST_Farms Newly opened and it's already been awarded the San Francisco Chronicle's highest honor — four out of four stars by critic Michael Bauer. I don't always share my food opinions with Bauer, but when it comes to the level of brilliance and care coming out of Single Thread, it's hard to disagree.

Where:

Downtown Healdsburg 131 North Street Healdsburg, CA 95448 [wpgmza id="302"]

When:

Despite its high-end concept and rather expensive price point, they do manage to keep the entire experience quite approachable and not stuffy, unlike many other tasting menus at this price point. Still, you'll definitely want to save this one for a VERY special occasion based on cost alone. A 10-course tasting menus costs $255 per person (which comes to around $295 with tip included) and the wine pairing add-on costs $155. We visited Single Thread to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary with a bang.

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Emeril Lagasse Still Has A Few New Exciting Tricks Up His Sleeve

What:

NOLA @NOLARestaurant One of three Emeril-owned restaurants in his hometown of New Orleans. The menu is full of Cajun classics, with plenty of unique twists to keep things interesting.

Who:

A first name is all he needs: Emeril. The dude is a legend and one of the major pioneers in food television. He has somehow managed to stay both very relevant and lovable over all of these many drastically different years.

Where:

French Quarter 534 St. Louis St. New Orleans, LA 70130 [wpgmza id="288"]

When:

Perfect for a cautious New Orleans first-timer's first foray into Cajun cuisine. The menu is quite accessible, but everything is still executed really really well. There's also plenty an experienced New Orleans eater can find to love at NOLA too.

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Experimental Meat-tastic Creations at Chris Cosentino’s Cockscomb

Break out the confetti and champagne!! It's a perfect ten! Chef Chris Cosentino knows exactly how to work his way into that soft spot in my heart. All it took was a few of his crazy, funky, zany, inventive, and downright delicious over-the-top meat-filled culinary creations. Yes, that's right — I'm giving this place my first and only flawless 10/10 review, so buckle up for a long one as I explain why I'm so obsessed.You may know of Chris from his many stints on food TV, but I've found myself uncontrollably drawn to him because he cooks only the kind of food that he wants to eat. With his cooking, there's no remorse for pushing people's palettes to the edge of fear. Fear? Yeah, most of his food utilizes all of the delicious miscellaneous organs and obscure cuts of meat that many other chefs won't even dare to work with that most people don't ordinarily choose to consume — frequently involving complete nose-to-tail dishes. Fortunately for me, I share his love for well-prepared organ meats.

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Beat the Heat with Ice Cold, Summer Sweets at Plum St. Snoballs

It's feeling like summer, so let's talk about summery things. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone but, I'll say it anyway – New Orleans gets freaking hot in the summer. And when the people of NOLA find themselves melting under the oppressive sun, they rely on a steady intake of freezing cold shaved ice treats known in this town as Snowballs. You're probably familiar with this sort of summery snack and you also probably know it by another region-specific name – Italian Ice, Water Ice, Shaved Ice, a Snocone, or any other myriad of alternatives. But in NOLA, it's a Snoball. And there's one place that become the most famous for them and draws the biggest crowds of all called Plum St. Snowballs.

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Continuing the Bagel Hunt at House of Bagels in the Inner Richmond

It's all in the water – or so they say. Continuing on our quest to find real, authentic New York style bagels in San Francisco, we ventured with our ex-New Yorker friends to the Inner Richmond to give their recommended spot called House of Bagels a shot. Despite the place's personal recommendation, I still approached the trip cautiously due to BuzzFeed's SF bagel blog tongue lashing.

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Super-Fresh Chinese Pastries at Golden Gate Bakery in Chinatown

After heading over to San Francisco's Chinatown to check out the Fortune Cookie Factory and Cable Car Museum, we figured it was probably worth exploring a bit more to find some fun and delicious snacks in the area. A quick search on Foursquare brought one place in particular to our attention – it was rated much much higher than anything else in the neighborhood – a little pastry shop called Golden Gate Bakery. Literally every tip at this place was ecstatic about their Egg Custard Tarts so we sort of had to try it while we were in the area.

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Fresh Out Of The Fryer at Bob’s Donuts in Lower Nob Hill

By reputation, Bob's Donuts is known for making the very best doughnuts in San Francisco. That's a huge reputation to live up to and I'm lucky enough (or unlucky enough depending on how you look at it) to live only one block from the place to be able to put it to the test. I already knew that late-night was the time to go because between 11 PM and 2 AM is when they make all of the doughnuts fresh for the next day's batch. That's also when all of us Polk Street drunkards are craving deep-fried doughnut sweetness.

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Mike Winston’s Best Bites of 2014

What a year!! I did something like this last year too, but oh boy was 2014 a doozy. I started off living in NYC, then a started a new job that whisked me off the San Francisco and Silicon Valley for a few months before ultimately relocating to San Francisco permanently. And along the way, I squeezed in a couple of vacations too.Sooooo, I did a LOT of epic eating this year. And truth be told, I found it particularly difficult to narrow down my list as concisely as last year's, but I somehow managed. So, without further ado, I present the winners (and runner-ups) broken down by category. I tried to cluster similar dish types together, but really they are in no particular order. Let's begin!And if you wanna hear about the 2014's Best Cocktails, read more here.

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Bizarro Sweet Treats at OddFellows Ice Cream in New York

There's no doubt in my mind that chef Sam Mason is a genius. He in fact runs his ice cream shop OddFellows sort of like a mad scientist would run a lab – inventing crazy concoctions that truly nobody has ever thought to do before. Take, for instance, his famed Chorizo Caramel Swirl Ice Cream – that's a flat-out bonkers idea to do to ice cream. I can admit that I was a little disappointed to find that it wasn't available during my visit (not that I wasn't able to find other amazing insanities to try).

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