2011 Dining in Photos: Picture Perfect

  • Mixed sausages, Thurn’s: I was sipping beer on my front porch watching Ms. Miller work her magic when these terrific sausages were savagely seared in the inferno of my charcoal-overloaded grill. What we wisely decided not to put on the blazing Weber that night: a fully inflated football Miller had sheepishly brought over for that evening’s potentially volatile tailgate-story shooting session.
  • Peruvian Chicken, Fito’s: I also love an indoor cookout — especially when it stars Fito’s fragrant chicken beautifully blistered over hot coals in this handsomely sleek and specially built rotisserie oven.
  • Lamb with Cumin and Chili Peppers, Fortune Chinese Restaurant: Fortune’s changeover last year into a serious Szechuan kitchen has it turning out explosively flavored, inexpensive treasures like these salty and incredibly tender lamb slices ignited by jalapenos, Szechuan peppercorns, scallions and garlic.
  • Kim Chee Ji Gae, San-Su Korean BBQ: Among the many lush and vivid red tones in these bewitching photos, the luridly saturated hues emanating from this potent and addictive soup look to be the deepest. Actually, I’d like to dive deep into that bowl right now.
  • Sheek Kebab, Reethika Indian Restaurant: Premiering last year, Reethika is at the top of my new Indian restaurant list, and its distinct Sheek Kebab — made with fried ground turkey aromatized by cilantro, jalapeno and mint — is just one of many reasons why.
  • The Beet Down #2, Latitude 41: An unlikely elixir combining citrusy Watershed gin with fresh OJ and beet juice (both regular and pickled), this brilliant cocktail with a smoked-salt rim tastes as suave and sexy as it looks in this sumptuous picture.
  • Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Tartare, L’Antibes: Though shaped like a can, this glistening assembly of beautiful chopped rubies is tuna fish that clearly didn’t arrive in a tin. Its lovely flavors are largely Japanese, and its texture — so aptly captured by Miller’s picture — is cool velvet and oceanic silk on your tongue.
  • Salami Pizza, Element Pizza: With this mite’s eye view into the very crenellations of Element’s crackly crust, it’s easy to imagine the crispy crunch of pleasantly gamey and dark-edged baked salami along with the salty rush of bubbled up cheese and, lurking in the dreamy background, oil-cured olives.
  • Kor Moo Yang, Nida’s Thai on High: This knockout new menu item was a recent revelation for me. Tender and juicy pieces of pork shoulder given a duck-like exterior char and five-spice treatment are served with a sweet, smoky, spicy and fish sauce-hinting dipping sauce. It’s great, and even better when accompanied by this cute little bamboo steamer filled with sticky rice.
  • Farmer John’s Salad, Mouton: Eating this gorgeous bouquet of edible flowers, pristine greens and rare baby root veggies is a heady pleasure no longer available now that Mouton’s new owners ended brunch service. Don’t despair — I hear Mouton’s brunch might soon return, and besides, the stunning salad has been forever immortalized in Miller’s delicate and tantalizing photograph.
From the December 27, 2011 edition

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality,” posited the great photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Gazing at Jodi Miller’s food pictures — which practically reach out to grab us and pull us into their timeless little worlds — convinces me Stieglitz was right about this. I mean, just look at these luscious images. Created by accessing the perfect angle, a light bent just so, and zooming into incredible detail, they transport us to a place where we sense taste and texture with our eyes, where to linger is intoxicating, where we visit a single perfect moment that never ends.

Speaking personally, these lavish photographs of things I consumed and loved last year take me to a place of intensified and otherwise fleeting memories which feels “more real than reality” and from which, thanks to Jodi, I never have to leave. Oh, yeah — they make me really, really hungry, too.

Click above for slideshow — All photos by Jodi Miller