If Time Out New York can do it, so can I. I’ve been inspired and satiated by Time Out’s 2009 Top 100 list and look forward to conquering their 2010 list very soon. But from now until the end of the year, I present my own Top 100 Dishes of the year in reverse order. Look for another five dishes every few days.
NUMBER 85. ROOT BEER FOAT COOKIE at RUBY ET VIOLETTE
I’m attracted to surprising flavors in surprising places. I can appreciate a good simple, well-prepared dish without any frills. But in truth, what excites me and leaves an impression are unexpected combinations and flavors that work well together that you wouldn’t expect.
Who has ever heard of root beer float cookies? Well, besides anybody who’s been to the humble little cookie and ice cream shop, Ruby et Violette, which is hidden on a side street in Hell’s Kitchen.
They make incredibly soft and full-flavored cookies. And their flavors are always surprising.
I love the dark root beer float cookie which looks like it would be a dark chocolate flavor, but it’s rich and malty with the unmistakable root beer flavor. The big chunks of creamy white chocolate chip imparts the vanilla ice cream flavor. And you have a usually drinkable dessert in a solid cookie form. Willy Wonka can eat his heart out. Price: $2.50 (for one), 3 for $6
|RUBY ET VIOLETTE|
|457 West 50th Street (between 9th and 10th Avenue)
84. CHINATOWN TEA PARTY at GUERILLA ICE CREAM
Guerilla Ice Cream is still a little elusive since they don’t have their own store or truck. They set up at festivals around the city and can almost always be found at Hester Street Fair (maybe not much longer as the weather gets colder). They were also nominated for a Vendy Award this year, so hopefully their visibility will allow them to settle down.
On July 4th, I tasted one of their speciality concoctions called Chinatown Tea Party (all their sundaes are strangely named after political movements and feature really surprising flavors and toppings).
Here I got Steel Buddha Tea Sorbet topped with Chinese walnut cookies and dragonfruit and it was amazing. The sorbet had some rich, earthy tea flavors that was refreshing and the texture of the sweet crunchy cookie pieces with the mild sweetness of the dragonfruit was just incredible.
If there’s any justice in the world, they’ll be able to get their own store (or truck) next year so we won’t have to brave street fairs to get a taste of the innovative ice cream.
|GUERILLA ICE CREAM|
Follow on twitter: @GuerrillaIC
83. CAKE-CUPS from BEE’S KNEES BAKING COMPANY
I was recently contacted by a buddy who I worked with many years ago at a big time steak house. Turns out he and another two friends started a baking and catering delivery company. Intriguing. And when I learned that they were baking something innovative and brand new, I was even more intrigued.
Cake-cups. I thought they might have been making cupcakes, but were cursed by a dyslexic publicist. Or maybe this was a cutesy way of saying cupcakes. But no, they have re-invented the dessert that New Yorkers are still so obsessed with. I blame Sex & the City.
These are basically cupcakes in reverse. They’re baked cake that’s layered into a shot glass, topped with any number of frostings, creams, or toppings. I tried the Pumpkin Spice, which was a moist pumpkin cake layered with a citrusy and tart orange cream cheese mousse. Definitely made me realize fall is upon us – even if the weather is saying otherwise.
I also really liked the Chocolate Toffee which was dense chocolate cake layered with sweet salted caramel and garnished with perfectly crispy toffee pieces.
These are fancy, original, refined takes on the overdone cupcakes. And the fact that they’re only available for delivery makes them that much more desirable. Depends on Order
|BEE’S KNEES BAKING COMPANY|
82. SALTY PIMP at BIG GAY ICE CREAM TRUCK
I featured Doug Quint and the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck on my ice cream episode this past year. And it wasn’t because he made the best ice cream (he actually doesn’t make the soft serve ice cream), but it’s because he has brilliantly evolved the summer treat by adding unusual and successful topping combinations to make the best soft serve ice cream ever.
And I think his most delicious speciality is what he calls the Salty Pimp. It’s a helping of vanilla soft serve, decorated with dulce de leche, sea salt, and then dipped into a chocolate dip. He uses just the right ratio to make the very simple marriage of flavors work beautifully. The sweet, salty, chocolaty combinations are classic but have never improved upon with such grace and flamboyance.
|BIG GAY ICE CREAM TRUCK|
|Broadway and 17th Street
Only Through October 29 (and then open again in the Spring)
81. WARM TRUFFLE ALMOND STRAWBERRIES WITH PEPPER ICE CREAM at GRAFFITI
We had an absolutely wonderful dinner at Graffiti, a literal hole-in-the-wall in the East Village. The service (which was all done by the chef, Jehangir Mehta) couldn’t have been more gracious and the food was experimental and delicious.
Mehta was the pastry chef at Jean Georges (among other restaurants in the city) and was acclaimed for brilliantly combining savory and sweet flavors.
So it was obvious that I would be having dessert and I am so glad I did. The name of this dish seems sort of just thrown together. Should it be warm strawberry almond truffle? No! You soon realize that the strawberries are not made into an almond truffle. But rather they are tossed with almonds and truffle (mushroom) oil!
Bizarre, yes? But delicious! Along with the spicy, but refreshing black pepper ice cream, the sweetness of the strawberries is enhanced by the earthiness of truffle oil and the texture of the crunchy almonds.
This is what I always yearn for – surprising and bizarre flavors that make for an amazing eating experience. Price: $7
|224 East 10th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenue)
Photo courtesy of: foodfashionista.com