One of my favorite parts of traveling is trying restaurants with specialties I don’t see at home.
The downside is a catalog of hungers I can’t satisfy. Which even in a town full of terrific restaurants, can leave me momentarily sad that I can’t have nice things. “Pity, party of one, your table is ready.”
1. I want a fine Turkish restaurant with eggplant that makes you understand why a man might weep over it, and the resident kebab master’s works arrive cradled in tender sheaves of baked-to-order pita bread.
2. A Malaysian restaurant adept at both elaborate rendang-caliber curries and quick-fire dishes like kangkung belacan.
3. More skill-intensive Chinese menu items like xiao long bao soup dumplings, plus more regional delights like hand-pulled noodles and lamb face salad.
Lamb face salad. That’s what I wish for in 2014. If I want chicken Parmesan, open-faced chicken souvlaki, wood-fired pizza, there are places I can scratch that itch.
Who’s complaining, though? Back in the real world, there’s plenty to root for.
4. In 2014, I hope that the farmers and restaurateurs in Western New York find more ways to work together. That might include tailoring crops and production schedules to make delivering fresh produce easier for both sides, more efficient farmers’ markets or willingness on the part of restaurant owners to source local ingredients.
I’m no expert on logistics, but judging from some of the meals I’ve had this year, fresh produce in the right hands makes a tremendous difference. Local pork gets a lot of the attention, but it was vegetables that delivered the biggest surprises. So I hope we eat more local vegetables this year. Strengthen farmers, enrich restaurateurs and please eaters? Perhaps vegetables really are good for you.
5. Before those seeds get a chance to sprout, though, there’s plenty of restaurants to expect.
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in February. The huge HarborCenter restaurant will vie for Sabres fans’ attention. Brazilian churrascaria Texas de Brazil plans to open at the Walden Galleria. By the fall, Bistro Europa should have been replaced by a bigger restaurant on Connecticut Street.
The most anticipated restaurant of the year doesn’t even have a site yet. Lots of diners want to see chef-in-waiting Edward Forster open a place where he can sell food on the regular. His turn at Mike A’s at the Lafayette, and pop-up at Silo City, have whetted appetites. His creativity and sense of showmanship, backed up with technical expertise, makes me wonder. When he is alone on stage, what can he show us?