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.

75. CHOCOLATE SODA at 2ND AVENUE DELI

Time Out included one or two dishes that were “complimentary”, but always involved the purchase of a much more expensive prix-fixe or chef’s tasting menu. While I loved everything about the wakame butter at Corton, I wish it hadn’t cost me $85 to spread it on some toast.

The shot of chocolate soda is complimentary at 2nd Avenue Deli and it doesn’t matter what you order. You can just get a bowl of soup and then get presented the “digestif” with the bill.

The soda is made using some fountain seltzer and homemade chocolate syrup. It’s rich and sweet, but light and refreshing. When you don’t want a dessert but want something a little sweet to cap off the meal, this is a genuine surprise.

And just like the big comforting sandwiches and kosher food at 2nd Avenue Deli, the soda made me feel like a little boy. A little boy who wanted a bigger glass. Price: Complimentary with meal

2ND AVENUE DELI
162 East 33rd Street (between Lexington and 3rd Avenue)
Murray Hill
(212) 689-9000
2ndavedeli.com

74. POUROVER COFFEE at STUMPTOWN TASTING ROOM

I’ve never been a coffee drinker. I’ll have a sip here and there because I actually like the flavor of coffee. But I just never drank it as a ritual.

Also, I don’t love hot drinks. I know, I know. Get iced coffee. But I don’t love milk based drinks. I know, I know. Get it black. Well, it’s all just too much and while I appreciate a good cup of coffee for the flavor, I find no good reason to start indulging at this stage of the game.

But I discovered Stumptown Coffee in Portland, Oregon (it’s now everywhere in NY) and read about the Tasting Room out in Red Hook. No iced drinks, no milk. What was I to do?

I watched as the baristas brewed a cup of Honduras Finca El Puente (you can choose from a number of different coffees) from a Chemex, an old fashioned drip coffee pitcher. I didn’t quite understand the physics of what went on. But it made the coffee light and drinkable. Almost reminiscent of tea. It had a light, earthy, fruity flavor to start with and then finished with some stronger coffee and chocolate notes.

I’ve never had such a complex and light cup of coffee in my life. Good thing I live nowhere near Red Hook or else I might end up just another coffee drinking zombie.

STUMPTOWN COFFEE ROASTERS TASTING ROOM
219 Van Brunt Street (between Bowne and Commerce Street)
Red Hook, Brooklyn
info.stumptowncoffee.com

Photo courtesy of: gizmodo.com.au

73. COFFEE YOGURT at FORTY CARROTS

Years ago, when I first moved to New York (we’re talking almost 10 years ago), somebody told me that the best frozen yogurt in the city was in the basement of Bloomingdales. Weird, right? I had to try it.

I was a little put off when I sampled it (for $5!) and found it to be overwhelmingly tart and not sweet. This was way before Pinkberry and the like accustomed our palate to actual frozen live cultures.

The Bloomingdales cafe (called Forty Carrots) has since moved to the 7th Floor of the department store and I have fallen in love with their creamy, flavorful, not too sweet frozen yogurt.

They come in a variety of flavors with any number of topping options. But I stick to my usual: Carribean Coffee. It’s slightly sweet, almost smoky, and is reminiscent of a fresh cup of coffee (with lots of milk or yogurt). The generous small cup is enough for a light lunch or a delicious midday snack.  Pinkberry who?? Price: $4.50 (small)

FORTY CARROTS
1000 3rd Avenue (between East 59th and East 60th Street)
Inside Bloomingdale’s
7th Floor
Midtown East
(212) 705-2000

72. CHOCOLATE SOURDOUGH TWIST at AMY’S BREAD

Chocolate in the morning (or any time really) is always a good thing, but you want to make sure not to overdo your sweet intake before noon. Not that I’m really up much before noon.

Amy’s Bread offers so many great pastries from incredible sticky buns to perfect cheese biscuits. Maybe the lightest of their options are their twists. They’re sort of like a mini-bagel in spear form. But not nearly as dense or heavy as bagels can get.

What’s great about their chocolate sourdough twist is you get that chocolate fix without overdoing it. The savory sourdough mellows out the pudding like flavor of the chocolate chunks (and there are plenty of them). It’s a chewy bready chocolate experience.

And of course, you don’t have to only eat these in the morning. If I were you, I’d get one with breakfast, one with lunch, and one with dinner. Too many carbs is a whole different issue. Price: $1.35

AMY’S BREAD
672 Ninth Avenue (between 46th and 47th Street)
Hell’s Kitchen
(212) 977-2670
75 Ninth Avenue (between 15th and 16th Street)
Inside Chelsea Market
Meatpacking District
(212) 462-4338
250 Bleecker Street (between Leroy and Cornelia Street)
West Village
(212) 675-7802
amysbread.com

71. ESPRESSO ICE SHOT at CHIKALICIOUS DESSERT BAR

Possibly my favorite spot in all of the city is Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, where you get a three course dessert for under $15. And these are the best, most delicate innovative desserts you’ll ever have.

Across the street they have a smaller take-out spot called Dessert Club that serves cookies, cupcakes, and an assortment of goodies. My favorite thing there is their espresso ice shot.

It’s basically an affogato, which is an Italian dessert of hot espresso poured over vanilla gelato. The bitter/sweet, hot/cold thing works perfectly. But Dessert Club one ups that by adding what they call chocolate pearls. These are crispy balls of chocolate that give the affogato that extra punch of texture.

Try it and you’ll understand why these guys make my favorite desserts. Price: $4.95

CHIKALICIOUS DESSERT BAR
204 East 10th Street (between 2nd and 1st Avenue)
East Village
(212) 475-0929
dessertclubnyc.com

Photo courtesy of: carsonsayseatthisblog.blogspot.com

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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

3 Responses to 75 – 71: WAKE Me Up, Before You Go

  1. I’ve been traveling and have missed reading your blog! Coming home and finding 1. A fantastic redesign 2. Your own Top 100 was such a treat!

  2. Brian Hoffman says:

    Welcome back! I guess a lot happened while you were gone, yeah. Thanks for all the great comments. Glade you’re enjoying the new design and the top 100. And hope you had some great travels. Go anywhere delicious?

  3. Aww, thank you!

    Do you count Disney World as delicious? 🙂 I spent some time teaching at the EPCOT Food and Wine fest. While there, I learned that Disney, believe it or not, has some pretty good food!

    After that I spent about a week in Florida. It was not the most exotic trip but it was what I needed. I caught up with friends, cooked for fun–not work–and just enjoyed sunny days.

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