Hannah Palmer Egan's Best Meals of 2013

Marrow bones & beef cheeks at Toro
Marrow bones & beef cheeks at Toro
Photo by Bradley Hawks for the Village Voice

As a staunch omnivore, I eat it all, but I'm most excited by meat: Pork and beef and duck and game live and die very, very close to my heart, and having spent my teenage years as a vegetarian (yeah, OK, I was that girl), it takes a lot for a vegetable to really excite me (although I do make a habit of eating and enjoying them for many, many great reasons that do not warrant attention here).

But in 2013, the tables started to turn. While expected greatness from meats went unrequited, unassuming vegetable dishes were the sleeper-cells that really blew my dining Trojan horse to smithereens. This is a trend I REALLY hope continues into the new year and beyond...For the good of all of us!

Organized by date, my best meals of 2013.

Hannah Palmer Egan's Best Meals of 2013
Vinegar Hill House via Facebook

February, Vinegar Hill House, 72 Hudson Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-522-1018 Valentine's Day dinner began with bubbly and a tender whole roasted quail with royal trumpet mushrooms and smoked cauliflower. Sophistication gave way to informal intimacy as we picked up the bird and gnawed the last bite from its bones, working our way through a tender NY Strip -- seared rare and still bloody -- with béarnaise and buttery, twice baked potato, and a mild and sweet steelhead trout, its crisp, fatty skin a shard over a garden of bitttersweet brussels sprouts...To end it all with a double banana-split brought a hint of carefree nostalgia to otherwise sultry but comforting meal.

Grilled baby octopus at Uncle Boon's
Grilled baby octopus at Uncle Boon's

July,Uncle Boon's, 7 Spring Street, 646-370-6650 Maybe we were buzzed by the heat (it was 90+ degrees when we sat down at 7 p.m.), or a few too many beer slushies, but by the end of our meal at Uncle Boon's, a friend and I were so intoxicated, we were playing ventriloquist with a char-roasted head of dorade. This is, of course, after we picked its face clean of the tender bits ensconced in its cheeks, removed its eyes (hard as marbles) and eye-sockets (pliable but slimy) to see if they too could be eaten, having long put away the main meat of the dish. And THAT came after we sucked the meat from a plate of golden glazed fried frog legs, lightly sweet with soy, and beheaded a plate of crisp, briny grilled octopuses. And those were after we leveled a spicy mound of chicken banana flower salad, a heap of green julianne mangoes topped with a shard of squid so musky it could have been infused with the scent of an old attic. And finally, a toasted-coconut ice cream sundae.

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