I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order.
NUMBER 65: BLACK TRUFFLE AND SEA SALT CHOCOLATE from MAST BROTHERS
The black truffles in the chocolate bars from Mast Brothers, which is a bean-to-bar chocolatier based in Williamsburg, are not the French candy variety. Rather these are real black truffles. The kind you may get with your fancy pasta. Mushrooms. That’s right. This is mushroom chocolate.
And it is incredible. The black truffles give this chocolate a deep, rich earthy flavor that plays in to the bittersweet frutiness of the dark chocolate. The salt rounds it out and not only works on the sweet salty front, but also plays up the sea and earth flavors. This seasonal bar is available at the storefront in Brooklyn and many grocers around the city. Unless you have a mushroom or chocolate allergy (God forbid), you must give this a taste. Price Varies
|105A North 3rd Street (between Wythe Avenue and berry Street)
NUMBER 64: ROBIOLA WITH EGGPLANT CROSTATA at DEL POSTO
Hopefully I already convinced you on the wonders of chocolate and mushrooms. But chocolate and eggplant? And cheese? This might be the wackiest savory sweet combination of all. Yet it’s one of the most delicious.
This was served to us as a cheese course during a spectacular lunch this year at Del Posto. The expertly fried fritter was stuffed with tender eggplant, served with sweet, melty robiola cheese and drizzled with just the right amount of rich, decadent dark chocolate. This was heavenly. The flavors worked so well together. The eggplant contributed sweet, soft textures and if I hadn’t known any better, I might have mistaken it for banana. Oh, now you’re on board!?!
|85 Tenth Avenue (between 15th and 16th Street)
NUMBER 63: COLD SMOKED CORN SOUP at DO OR DINE
Even if I didn’t know the owners of Do or Dine, it would have been high on my destination list. Justin, George, and Luke were friends of mine from when we worked at The Modern together. They have wacky ideas and fun personalities with an eye for flavor and hospitality. And the fact that none of them are trained chefs was not a reason to deter them from creating some of the most exciting and creative food I’ve tasted the entire year.
We didn’t try the now infamous Foie Gras Doughnut (it will be ordered on a future visit), but I fell in love with their seasonal soup that is now sadly no longer on the menu. What a crazy concoction that delighted my tastebuds and played with my mind! A roasted corn and chipotle puree took care of the sweet and spicy balance. But then more layers were added with sweet honeydew cubes and surprisingly subtle Crunch and Munch (the poor man’s Cracker Jacks) croutons. The soup is smoked with a hand smoker and the hickory aromas are released at the presentation, making this a full-sensory experience. And I’m not just being biased, believe me.
|DO OR DINE|
|1108 Bedford Avenue (between Gates and Lexington Avenue)
Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
NUMBER 62: BACON POPCORN at SALT & FAT
To some it might not seem so strange, but I can assure you to all naysayers that bacon popcorn is delicious. Especially the way they serve it at Salt & Fat, a newish neighborhood spot in Sunnyside, Queens with Korean and Southern influences. I loved the entire meal at my recent visit, but the one thing I couldn’t get out of my head was the complimentary bag of bacon popcorn.
The popcorn is popped in bacon fat, which could make for a very greasy and heavy flavor. But these are surprisingly light and addicting. The bacon flavors are fully present, but not overpowering. It adds smoky, umami notes to the already buttery and salty popcorn. This bag disappeared in a matter of minutes and it was to my delight (and detriment) that the server was only too willing to bring us a re-fill. It’s a perfect way to open up a meal of salt and fat (which is much more pleasant and refined than it sounds). Price: Complimentary with Meal
|SALT & FAT|
|41-16 Queens Boulevard (between 41st and 42nd Street)
NUMBER 61: KATZ’S PASTRAMI EGG ROLL at REDFARM
Chinese and Jewish culture have been intertwined since the early days of the Lower East Side. And there are still some great Cantonese restaurants down there serving up egg rolls and the like. And of course, so is Katz’s Deli, which makes some of, if not the, best pastrami in the entire city. So you’d think it would be a natural fit to combine the two flavors. Yet nobody in this city has tried something as outlandish (and obvious) as the egg roll at the new high end Chinese gastropub RedFarm.
This classic Chinese American appetizer is given the kosher treatment with the addition of some generous slices of Katz’s tender, smoky pastrami. Along with the meat, Chef Joe Ng fills the fried egg roll with cabbage and hot chilis. A tangy honey mustard sauce on the side cuts all that delectable fat. They make for a great starter to a consistently creative and delicious meal at RedFarm. Price: $7
|529 Hudson Street (between 10th Street and Charles Street)