12 Best Sustainable Food Memories of 2014

Dec 2014

I know these best of lists can get a little tedious this time of year, but from a traveler’s perspective, they are such a wonderful way to review and appreciate all you’ve had the good fortune to encounter. I’ve had the opportunity to taste food in quite a few places, and discovered creative eateries wherever I happened to be. Innovative chefs are embracing local sourcing around the world and with a little research, great dining is easy to find. This was a remarkable year for pleasing my senses, especially the taste buds. These are my 12 Best Sustainable Food Memories of 2014.

smoked salmon lunch BONDIR Concord MA

Bondir – Concord, MA.

Starting with a holiday lunch at Bondir Concord, this relatively new addition to the Massachusetts ‘burbs scene is the second outpost of award winning chef Jason Bond. Their two course lunch will leave you well sated. The menu is creative without being complicated, allowing fresh ingredients to speak for themselves in a modern way.  Lovage and fennel cured salmon combines tastes from the sea with earthy radish and mustard greens. Cultured cream is a grand topping for the poached potatoes. The restaurant reflects Concord’s historic sense of place in the Bay State’s history with decor of vintage antiques, a wood burning fireplace and wonderfully mismatched plates. Save room for the perfect ending to the meal – hot chocolate served from one of their collection of antique teapots. Topped with a handmade spiced marshmallow {mine was turmeric and ginger}, it’s the perfect finish to a meal celebrating all things local and tasty.
langoustino pineal island st martin

Karabuni- St. Martin

It’s not often you can eat in two countries on an island in the same day; in Saint Martin, you can travel from French to Dutch within minutes. Pinel Island, a short spit off the coastline, is home to the beachside Karabuni restaurant. You select your meal from the gently lapping Caribbean and with only the smallest amount of garnish, it is grilled right before your eyes. Served with a bit of lemon and some local greens, it was a meal of simple sweetness from the sea.
allium restaurant berkshires ma

Allium Restaurant + Bar – Great Barrington, MA.

The Berkshires is exploding with restaurants supporting the Farm-to-Table Movement. Allium Restaurant and Bar, in  Great Barrington, about 2 hours from Boston, features a menu with ingredients from many regional farmers and artisan producers.  The perfect Sol Flower deviled egg and pot of pickled vegetables were a great start to our seasonal meal celebrating the local agricultural bounty. My daughter and I shared plates of beet salad and roasted hen of the woods mushrooms. House made pillows of pasta were topped with a mint and spring pea pesto. A strawberry rhubarb shortcake was the perfect tart and sweet selection to end the meal.
El Rayo Taqueria Portland ME

El Rayo Taqueria – Portland, ME.

Locally sourced, authentic Mexican fare is the basis of this wonderful eating experience. Ever since I had my first fresh tamale in San Miguel a few years ago, the bar for future versions has been set pretty high. I was lucky to arrive on Tamale Tuesday to El Rayo Taqueria in Portland, Maine and was rewarded with one of the last delicious bundles in the house. Colorful flowers, retro oilcloth tables, and good spirits make for a fun meal for families or couples. Umbrellas and refreshing drinks like the hibiscus flower & citrus refresco make the heat bearable on a warm summer day. Local corn popped with freshness on the side salad. If you are in the area, this spot would be a fun place to check out happy hour—small bites and tequila are plentiful. There are also many gluten-free options on the menu.
dessert fire pit nantucket

Westmoor – Nantucket

Some meals are memorable for the company they keep. After some seafood just hours out of the Atlantic waters, my family watched the sunset and enjoyed dessert by a fire pit. Fresh berry cobbler and chocolate ganache cake were a rich and indulgent ending, but nothing can compete with a perfect evening with family by the fire.
Proprietors Nantucket MA

Proprietors – Nantucket, MA.

With a global menu and locally sourced ingredients, The Proprietors brings dishes for the “well traveled palate” to Nantucket. Think sailors returning from long voyages at sea and introducing islanders to exotic ingredients and spices that have been exposed to abroad. Yes I am a fan of juicing, so there was no turning back when I saw Verde-Genuine- Edenic on the cocktail menu. A heady concoction of fair trade quinoa vodka, field arugula syrup, kale and lemon. I’ve been trying to recreate it at home ever since. The concept is sharing small plates, and it is not easy to make decisions. The Halloumi cheese with eggplant puree, orange blossom honey and crispy chick peas is salty heaven balanced by the honey. Socca tart with beets, whipped feta, charred baby carrot and pistachios is a vegetarians dream. Piled high on a buttered crouton, it melts in your mouth.  The team behind the Proprietors has strong ties to the island and their restaurant clearly illustrates the connection in decor and food alike.
wolf fog tofino british columbia

Wolf + Fog – Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Nature provides the ingredients for the menu at the Wolf and Fog in Tofino, British Columbia. This rough and rugged coastline of the western tip of Vancouver Island is one of the most scenic places I have ever visited. It is not easy to get to; anyone living there must be made of very hearty stock. Seeing a wolf in the frequent fog standing at waters edge or coming out of the forest doesn’t require a lot of imagination. I was certainly not expecting the food to be so remarkably good! A fresh egg served on a salad of seaweed and fresh herbs was delicious in its simplicity and let each ingredient compliment the other. Freshly caught salmon, foraged chanterelle mushrooms, Bamfield seaweed, braised Humbolt squid, and fresh farm ingredients are served on artfully prepared plates for an unexpected dining experience at the “end of the earth”.
forage squid vancouver british columbia

Forage – Vancouver, British Columbia

I’m finding hotel restaurants getting more interesting every day. This was definitely the case at the Listel Hotel in Vancouver. The in-house eatery, Forage, was so tasty, we ate there twice. Chef Whittaker, like many Canadians I know, grew up with the concept of forage-or knowing where your food comes from. His respect for the land and sea is evident in everything that comes out of his kitchen. This dish of octopus and fiddleheads was the perfect combination of tentacles of the ocean and fingers of the earth. Respect for the environment results in the creation of  original dishes highlighting all that is good about eating local and building community.
clams casino green with renvy

Nantucket Sound

Back on the east coast, a harvest of clams was dug early in the morning. The tradition of rakes, floating buckets and potato sacks is one I was introduced to early on. Something about bringing home a meal that you have worked for makes the taste all the more sweet and satisfying. Salty, savory and crisp, clams casino is a perrenial cocktail favorite and you have to be quick around our table, as they disappear in no time fast!
pain d' avignone hyannis MA

Pain D’Avignon – Hyannis, MA.

About two years ago, I took a wrong turn heading to Hyannis Airport and discovered what would become a regular pit stop on my way out to Nantucket.  A piece of France at Pain D’Avignon is what I found,  a hidden gem on Cape Cod.  Down a non discript side street about a block from the swank new airport, sits a French cafe and artisan bakery that is an oasis in this land across the bridge. This meal was, start to finish, the highlight of the season, and numero uno of the year. Favorite dish-a local scallop ceviche. Three thinly sliced pieces of nirvana, perfect on the white plate, as it tasted as delicate and etherial as puffs of fluffy clouds.  I don’t wake up thinking of very many dishes the next day, but this is one of them. Seeing the photo as I write is truly making my taste buds salivate.  Flavored with preserved lemon, jalapeño, scallion and borage flowers, it hinted of the sea and Nantucket sound as it melted in my mouth. . I can’t wait to get back and see what Chef Tropeano has added to his menu.

Husk – Charleston, SC.

My husband whisked me away to celebrate a milestone birthday in Charleston, South Carolina. The food there was off the charts. Chefs are indeed raising the bar on Low-country cooking. So much so, that we had to take a time out from so many good meals for fear we might be overweight on the return flight to Boston! One of Charleston’s most lauded chefs is behind the highly decorated and successful Husk. The menu changes daily here,  and is again seasonally driven by the market. Rumor has it that nothing but local makes it through the doors.  A cabinet of house made pickled vegetables informs diners of what might be on their plates. I had my first taste of Caper’s Blades oysters, a more mild, delicious version of what I am familiar with in the northeast. Cornmeal dusted catfish was warm comfort food, similar in feeling to the cozy upstairs, fireplaced room I was eating in. Spiced pumpkin trifle finished off the meal and hinted at the holidays around the corner. Everything down to the hand made pottery plates has been carefully selected to reflect a love and respect for the area it represents. This was my favorite meal of the trip. They also have a fabulous bar scene with creative craft cocktails.
alison abbott jane shapiro inle lake burma

Inle Princess – Inle Lake, Myanmar

Finally I can’t end without mentioning a most fabulous meal and experience at the Inle Princess in Myanmar. This Inle Lake resort is sustainable from head to toe; the lunch I had there with Jane,  my traveling partner in crime, was memorable. Let’s start with the setting: down an inlet off from the main waterway, the restaurant looks out over rice paddy fields and blue mountain ranges. Traditional Shan, Intha, Thai and vegetarian menu options all are sourced locally. The organic garden provides vegetables to accompany a house made tofu.

Crackers and breads are made on site and fish is from the lake.  I had such a love affair with the place, I even broke one of my cardinal rules and had a salad-RAW-and enjoyed every bite {with no repercussions}. It was one of those perfect travel days that drew an end to an  exhaustive itinerary, a reward of a leisurely lunch for tired nomads that turned into an unforgettable surprise.
The landscape of dining is changing globally and I for one am thrilled to see the shift. As the CEO and president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association Bob Luz recently predicted, “in the future Farm-to-Table will become a way of life”. I for one will be happy to see that prediction ring true for 2015!

What was your most memorable feast of the year?


  1. Elena says:

    Great collection of diferent food. I would personally choose the his dish of octopus and fiddleheads (only if I have to choos just one)…

  2. Kach Mu says:

    WOW!!!! Yummy!!! I want that forage! Also, your website is so beautiful that I really enjoy looking at your awesome photography! You have a new follower here! =)

  3. Oh I love this little post card I’m leaving my comment in. Very cute. Great article! I was drooling the whole time. Wish I’d known about a couple of these places in Vancouver and St. Martin. Going to do a big New England trip in latter part of 2015 so I will definitely stop by a couple of these.

    • alison says:

      Melody-Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on the design. I’m glad you like it. Do get in touch when your travel to New England. I have lots of wonderful spots to share with you.

  4. Jowita says:

    Mmm what a tasty post 😀 Now I’m hungry! Pasta topped with a mint and spring pea pesto is my favorite!

  5. It’s great you are looking at sustainable food too, I like that it is a bit of a different take on just the usual lists. They all look amazing and some lovely photography but for us the Hallumi at Proprietors wins it, being veggies and all!!

  6. christine says:

    Looks like you ate GOOD this year! 😛

  7. You just made me so hungry lol….I agree with you that it’s nice to do a year end ‘review’ so to speak, as it’s fun to reflect on all the great things you’ve experienced (or have eaten!). I’ve recently posted my best of 2014 list as well!

  8. Great list of food here and sumptuously captured photos 😉

  9. Revati says:

    All of it looks so unique and delicious! I tried sustainable food in Barcelona at a place called Origens, but it was all rather bland!

  10. laura says:

    this all looks so delicious! I am so hungry now 🙂

  11. Milosz Zak says:

    Presentation looks amazing, but I have to say I focused a lot on the ceramics.

  12. What a wonderfully inspiring list! I would love to follow you around next year:-)