Honorable Mentions: Lagavulin 16, Balvenie DoubleWood 12
"This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory–maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it’s made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beverage will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think multi-million dollar ad campaigns make things taste better. Perhaps you’re mouthing your words as you read this."
So, if you're of the sensitive variety, either in taste buds or personality, this is NOT the beer for you. If you like big, strong, higher ABV beers (7.2%) this is for you. Just remember, "You’re Not Worthy™"
If you forced me to pick one of these, I'd take the WorldWide Stout, but only because it's not available year round like the Arrogant Bastard. You really can't go wrong with either, but don't pick up either one if you're looking for a refreshing beer that will be nice on a hot day.
Honorable Mention: Geary's London Porter
This is also the time for a shout-out to Beer Advocate, the best beer rating website on the internet; these guys are AWESOME! Seriously, check them out, you won't regret it the next time you go out and are trying to decide what kind of beer to drink.
*Korean: Spicy heat is probably my favorite food characteristic, and Korean delivers with ease and impunity. From real Ramen soup (which totally ruined my shameful past love of the stuff that college kids think is Ramen), which makes me grin from ear to ear as I cry spicy tears, to squid and vegetables in spicy sauce, and almost everything else I've tried for that matter, I just really love Korean cuisine. It's really simple in a way, in that it focuses on the ingredients, not on some kind of fancy technique like French or other European cuisines (not knocking French cuisine, but it does often seem to focus more on the technique than the individual ingredients), but the flavors are tremendously complex. The heat in my favorite dishes never overwhelm the other flavors, which is key, because so often we experience spice as being this hurdle that the eater must overcome, rather than as a simple complement.
There is a great little restaurant in New York City called Danji that serves tapas style food using traditional Korean flavors; pretty great concept, not cheap, but worth every penny. Try the Steak Tartare and Bulgogi Sliders; you'll thank me.
*Ethiopian: For all the jokes that are made about East African foods (search alternate definitions for "MRE," the Meals Ready to Eat that the military gives personnel in the field for one example), this really is an amazing group of foods. Like in many poorer countries, Ethiopians took what they had available (spices) and used them to great effect to enhance the sometimes meager ingredients available. Kitfo, a spiced, raw ground beef, is not for the faint of heart in the USA, where we have been taught that raw beef is evil and dangerous (it's not, at least not inherently so), but it is among the most flavorful things you could ask for. Lamb and chicken are also heavily featured in Ethiopian cuisine, but I've been to Ethiopian restaurants with a friend who is a vegetarian and she enjoyed herself immensely (she had a lentil dish, and it was delicious). Forks will not be found at an authentic restaurant, so be warned, if you don't like using your hands, you won't like Ethiopian, where you will be given plenty of injera, a spongy, flexible flatbread to use as a vessel. The first time I had Ethiopian, I did not enjoy the injera on its own, finding it to have an acidic, vinegary taste that was unappealing, but since I have not had that issue, though the injera was not particularly flavorful anywhere, but I suspect its not supposed to be heavily flavored. FYI, like with most Middle Eastern countries, Ethiopians eat with their RIGHT hands; the left is traditionally used for certain, shall we say, sanitary purposes, and so it is considered unclean. You have to be more talented than me to avoid using your left hand at all to tear pieces of the injera off, but if you get a weird look from the staff, that's probably why.
*Japanese (Sushi, really): I like Japanese food in general, but sushi is really where it's at. I love fish in general, but especially raw fish, without much adornment, where you really taste the fish itself. Toro/Otoro (fatty bluefin tuna belly), hamachi (yellowtail) and unagi (freshwater eel, not served raw) are my favorites, but I really like just about everything offered in most traditional sushi joints other than a few of the roe (fish egg) options, which just don't quite work with me for textural reasons. The simplicity of sushi really appeals to me greatly, as most traditional sushi does not include much in the way of sauces, and if the ingredients aren't perfect you can tell; despite this simplicity, the quality of the chef is key, and if you find a good one...KEEP HIM.
So, those are my three favorite cuisines, and just like with the beers, if I had to pick one it'd be the one that I find the least often; in this case, Ethiopian. I can find acceptable sushi and (shockingly) very good Korean in my area, despite it being very rural here, but I have to drive two hours to Boston or three to New York City to have Ethiopian.
Honorable Mentions: Chinese (the real stuff, not what you get at "Chinese" restaurants), Bar-b-que (Eastern North Carolina style being my favorite, but any will do; gotta love smoke!), and Yucatan Mexican (a great combination of numerous different ancestral cuisines)
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