One Great Year

The Bay Area outdid itself in 2010

Any year, good food is a given round these parts. This year, though, we can defiantly state that we were blessed with 12 months of truly great food.

In fact, we can't think of a year with so many assured restaurant debuts, noteworthy product launches and commendable trends.

With that, a look back at 2010 and a crossing of the fingers that next year will be equally stimulating.

Bottle This In keeping with its mantra that it does so much more than wine, Sonoma County expanded the notion of what great drinking could entail. Some people turned to lemons; others imported a boutique cousin of Campari. One man even took good wine and improved on it by transforming it into sublime vermouth.

Puff-Pastry Party No offense to the city's better large-scale bakeries, but this was the year of the upstart pâtisserie. Every neighborhood deserves a superb bakery. This year, Bernal Heights, western SoMa, the Mission and even Fisherman's Wharf all saw the opening of a standout bakery that was the envy of its peers.

Book Collector There are always good cookbooks coming out of the Bay Area. Still, 2010 saw an unrelenting onslaught of smart pages to flip and flag. Some were homespun, with ties to Chez Panisse. Others focused on single subjects, like sausage and a region of southern Italy. Plus, wine was given its drinkable due.

Me and the Golden State California cuisine has long been due for both a drubbing and a reevaluation. The restaurant openings of the last year accomplished both, thanks to a glut of personal cooking that ventured far beyond the borders of Italy and France into the African diaspora, the culinary hinterlands, regional Chinese and even the heart of Americana.

Japan East The Land of the Rising Sun has been on our minds consistently. Sometimes it's in the form of sweets. Sometimes it's the result of an ingredient that has suffused the restaurant landscape. And, always and incessantly, ramen has been in our bowls and dabbing our lips.