It's always hard to pick my favorite bites of the year, but I find if I close my eyes and start imagining how much pleasure I derived from any one plate of food, I can usually come up with a pretty good list. So here it is:
Pata negra ham at the Boqueria in Barcelona: Every morning while Vicky and Will slept in I would hit the Boqueria for my first ham fix of the day. The black-hoofed ham is pure nutty, porky pleasure. And, yes, it's even expensive in Barcelona, but it's worth every last discretionary euro you have to spend on food.
Spicy salami pizza and butterscotch budino at Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles: Great pizza and the finest butterscotch pudding in the land (it's the fleur de sel that puts it over the top). 'Nuff said. What more could you ask for? I know that's two bites, technically speaking, but I wouldn't have one without the other.
The lamb sandwich at Pane Bianco in Phoenix: As if Chris Bianco's transcendently delicious pizza wasn't reason enough to go to Phoenix. Chris roasts baby lamb in his wood-burning oven and puts the oh-so-tender and flavorful results in a roll that came out of the same oven moments before. How could a sandwich be better than this.
The roast beef po'boy at the Parkway Bakery in New Orleans: This sandwich is the essence of po'boy greatness. Tender roast beef, just crisp enough roll, and a river of brown beef gravy. There is no imitator.
The goat at Vetri in Philadelphia: Marc Vetri spit-roasts goat in the alleyway in back of his eponymous restaurant in Philadelphia. The exterior gets ultra-crisp, and the meat stays moist and oh-so-delicious. What are you waiting for? Get thee to Philadelphia.
Fried chicken at Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken in Memphis: I stopped at Gus's on my way out of Memphis one glorious morning in October and had a quarter chicken that convinced me once more that there is no fried chicken in the land as good as Gus's. This chicken has got a burnished brown, lacquered crust that I've never been able to find anywhere else.
Boudin balls at Cochon in New Orleans: Donald Link makes incomparable boudin sausage and then lightly batters and fries it. The result is three or four perfect bites of food per ball. You may be tempted to eat it in one fell swoop, but that would be a mistake. Prolong your pleasure.
Ice cream at the Bent Spoon in Princeton, New Jersey: I had never heard a word about the ice cream at the Bent Spoon until I came across it at the tail end of an outdoor event in a freezing rain. This is ice cream good enough to forget any inclement weather. In fact, this is four season ice cream, just creamy enough, intensely flavored, and perfectly balanced. Start with the ricotta ice cream and go from there.
Sausage at the Southside Market in Elgin, Texas: Every year I vow to not eat more than one of these super-juicy, smoked to perfection tube steaks (or "Hot Guts" as old-time Texas barbecue aficionados call them) at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party imported from Elgin, Texas, and every year I just cannot resist. Thanks to the miracle of the internet, FedEx, and a federally inspected plant, anyone anywhere (in the continental United States, at least) can now enjoy this sausage.
The bread pudding at Tartine in San Francisco: They're not particularly friendly at Tartine (at least not in my experience), but the ultra-rich and satisfying bread pudding will fill your tummy with plenty of warmth. This is the ultimate San Francisco breakfast. Just don't go on the weekends unless you enjoy waiting a long time to sit down.