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 50: BELGIAN MADNESS at WAFELS & DINGES
I bring people to the Wafels & Dinges truck almost every day on one of the Food Cart Tours. Their amazing liege waffles topped with nutty, rich speculoos spread is a perfect way to end the food crawl. That particular spread made my Top 100 last year (and look for another version of it further up on this list). But I assure you, Wafels & Dinges are not just a one trick pony.
In addition to the waffles, they make stellar hot cocoa, pulled pork, and this year they introduced ice cream! The flavors rotate from time to time and are created by former Jean Georges pastry chef Benoit Gerin. The first time I tasted what they call the Belgian Madness, I think I went a little mad myself. Mad because I couldn’t eat the entire tub. This beer is made with Hoegaarden beer, honey, and just a touch of lemon. The beer flavor immediately comes through, but doesn’t stick around long enough for it to be bitter or boozy. The honey and lemon mellow it out to make this a refreshing and well-balanced creamy delight. Price: $3
|WAFELS & DINGES|
|Multiple Truck and Cart Locations,
Follow on Twitter: @waffletruck
NUMBER 49: PEACH BERET YOGURT from WHITE COW DAIRY
In New York, there are so many artisanal food goods available at any number of food-centric stores. I very rarely buy these, not because I don’t want to support local small businesses (I do, I do) but because I don’t keep many groceries in my apartment. I can’t remember the last time I went shopping to purchase anything other than an item I needed for cooking.
But something about the packaging or the ingredients of White Cow Dairy’s yogurts made me want to buy a jar. It was an impulse buy at Murray’s Cheese in the West Village and I’m thrilled I decided to support this Buffalo-based dairy operation. Deciding which flavor was a tough decision, but the Peach Beret was intriguing. The ingredients sound are all over the place: peaches, cranberries, maple sugar, lemon, ginger, and spices. Do those flavors go together? I assure you they do and this creamy, chunky fresh tasting yogurt is some of the best I’ve ever had. You can bet the next time I’m in Murray’s, I’ll be stocking up. And coming from me, that says a lot.
|WHITE COW DAIRY|
|Available at Murray’s Cheese Shop,
254 Bleecker Street (between Leroy and Cornelia Street)
NUMBER 48: CHEESE CURDS at BEECHER’S HANDMADE CHEESE
I’m so sorry Beecher’s. Aside from some drinks and a few lunches, I have yet to actually purchase anything from the new cheese palace near Union Square. Beecher’s came to us via Seattle’s Pike Place Market earlier this year and they brought with them their Flagship cheeses, their world famous mac and cheese, a new wacky grilled cheese martini, and their fresh curds. And the most amazing thing about all this is that you can get free samples of any of them every day right in the store (except for that martini, of course).
If you’re here at the right time, you can watch the cheese being made and read about the curds. These squeaky bites of soured cheese are salty, creamy, and just a bit sweet. Beecher’s is smart to offer free samples because it’s pretty difficult to eat just one. I’ve thought about buying these suckers on a few occasions and will soon cave in, but I know how addicting they are and decided for my own best interest to resist. You, however, should buy a package immediately. Price: $5.75/$9
|BEECHER’S HANDMADE CHEESE|
|900 Broadway (at East 20th Street)
NUMBER 47: FROZEN YOGURT at CULTURE YOGURT
The frozen yogurt phenomenon took this city by storm a few years ago and has left sad, generic dairy chains like 16 Handles and Red Mango in its wake. The dairy dish got a much needed boost this year with the opening of Culture in Park Slope. When I first read about this place, I thought, “Oh no, not another pathetic fro yo wannabe.” But I was wrong, oh so wrong.
When I finally worked up the courage to head to Park Slope to give this a try, I kicked myself for waiting this long. The yogurt is made in house (take that, Pinkberry!) without any antibiotics and is sold both fresh and frozen. The flavors vary from day to day and everything I tried tastes like the flavor’s supposed to with a clean, smooth, slightly tart backing. If you really want to taste what they do best, order one of their speciality sundaes (like strawberry balsamic, key lime pie, or Vermont maple). Culture came at just the right time and saved the day for frozen yogurt! Price: Varies
|CULTURE: AN AMERICAN YOGURT COMPANY|
|331 5th Avenue (between 3rd Street and 4th Street)
Park Slope, Brooklyn
NUMBER 46: STILL WARM FRESH MOZZARELLA at ABC KITCHEN
ABC Kitchen is a restaurant focused on local, seasonal vegetables, but they also do a fine job on pizzas, pastas, and desserts. And now we can add making their own mozzarella to that list.
The circular mound of cheese comes out looking like Greek saganaki (without the flames of course), floating in quality olive oil, seasoned generously with salt and pepper, and wearing a lemon garnish. It’s soft and chewy with a rich, sweet milky flavor. I was a little upset I had to share this creamy sensation with the rest of the people at my table, but that was the deal. The cheese is expertly made in house and served “still warm,” which sounds as if it just came out of the cow. It doesn’t get more local than that! Price: $14
|35 East 18th Street (between Broadway and South Park Avenue)