Look Both Ways

The edible year in review

Before we close the book on 2010, here's a final supper of sorts: A lineup of food and drinks that shone this year, and will continue to feed us well into next.

Cheese Wiz With increasing regularity, we found ourselves choosing cheese produced on American soil over far-flung European options. We'll be filling up our cheese drawer into next year with standout new offerings from California, Vermont and Wisconsin, including the States' first buffalo-milk mozzarella.

Blast From the Past This year, brewers and distillers looked to the annals of history for inspiration. Guinness resuscitated its long-lost Foreign Extra Stout recipe, and Crème Yvette came back into our lives after a 40-year nap. Meanwhile, the latest obsession of bartenders everywhere takes the now-extinct aperitivo Kina Lillet as its muse. Plus, a California winemaker reinvented the long-overlooked category of vermouth.

Naturally Endowed When filling our glasses, we've eschewed big productions for wines whose grapes have grown without interference. Novices need only remember one word: "Jura," the name of a region in eastern France that is turning out some of the finest natural wine around. Experimental drinkers should look to Calek Blonde, which sips almost like beer, or this Binner production, which almost never was. Or stay closer to home with a series of American vintners who've also embraced the movement.

Java Jive Caffeine intake became a spectacle of sorts this year (and we're not talking about Four Loko). Fancy new equipment–both expensive and cheap–have produced better cups of coffee. And the morning brew has jumped lots of boundaries: We've seen it as booze and tea and chilled with a newfound intensity.

The Great Twist Alpine flavors came down from the mountains and found homes in restaurants across the country. Wines from regions such as Alto Adige have cemented their place on wine lists, while spaetzle is supplanting better-known pastas as an anchor for sausage, steak and more. But our vote for carb of the year goes to soft pretzels: Find authentic versions in SF, D.C., New York and everywhere in between.