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.
30. LEMON BAR from THE TREATS TRUCK
I miss The Treats Truck so much. Ever since Kim Ima stopped parking in Midtown due to the ban on food trucks, my treats intake has shrunk dramatically. And while my doctor might be happy with that, my tastebuds certainly are not.
One of the treats I miss most is the Lemon Bar. I’m not even a fan of lemon desserts, but this one which premiered last winter as a way to reminisce about the bright days of summer could turn even the biggest lemon snubber into a fan. The shortbread crust gives the gooey dessert an extra buttery crunch, while the sweet and tart filling is fresh and succulent. And Kim always asks you which piece you want, giving you the option of getting the crunchy end piece. She still parks at a few locations in Manhattan, so she’s just a subway ride away from wherever you are. And even though they wouldn’t be the same, maybe I’ll have to buy her new cookbook and attempt to make them myself. Just don’t tell my doctor. Price: $2.50
Check Twitter: @TheTreatsTruck
29. COCONUT CHAI at BONOBO’S
This was a true New York discovery. I was just thirsty one afternoon and wandered into what looked like a generic deli across from Madison Square Park. In fact, it’s Bonobo’s, a casual vegetarian restaurant. And on display, I stumbled upon a very intriguing drink, which turned out to be one of the most delicious things I had tasted in my life!
With creamy, sweet coconut flavors on the front and spicy, sweet chai masala spices on the finish, this drink may as well have been dessert and a nutritious one at that. It’s made with fresh young coconut and the only extra sweetener is the healthier agave nectar. My only complaint is how small the bottle is and how addicting the stuff inside is. There’s not even close to enough to give me a satisfying fill of my new favorite discovery. I guess that just means I’ll have to buy another bottle.
|18 East 23rd Street (between Madison Avenue and Broadway)
28. GO FIG YOURSELF PIZZA at PAULIE GEE’S
Good ol’ Paulie Gee! I’ve written about his amazing contributions to the pizza world and have been a fan of his since the first day I tasted his wood-fired creations. Last year, the Cherry Jones made my list. And this year, a seasonal pie with similar ingredients made my list. That’s right, this is another fruit pizza!
Usually the thought of fruit on pizza (pineapple?) earns gasps in the serious pizza world. But Paulie is a master of flavor combinations and discovering fresh ingredients. The Go Fig Yourself (the name alone should make a Top 100 list) uses fresh black mission figs (hence the seasonality of the pie). The rich bite of gorgonzola and salty earthiness of prosciutto di parma keep the sweetness of the figs and fior fi latte in check. All good chefs know every dish should have some sort of acidity. Paulie takes care of that with a sprinkling of orange blossom honey. Brilliant! Price: $17
|60 Greenpoint Avenue (between West Street and Franklin Street)
27. STRAWBERRY CINNAMON RIBS at TRAIF
I’ve always been a bad Jew. I used go out every year for my birthday to get a big slab of BBQ pork ribs. They really were my favorite. And I would tend to agree with most of Brooklyn that pig is the tastiest of all the meats.
Traif is a perfect place for me in many ways. The name itself hints at things only a bad Jew (or a non-Jew) would eat and the food here is stupendous (and affordable). The second dish to make my list this year (there were two on last year’s list as well) are the glazed baby back ribs. This is a throwback to my youth, but I never experienced any as uniquely flavorful and tender as these. The glaze is quite complex with a good level of sweetness from the strawberries and a mild spiciness from the cinnamon. Maybe this could convince more Jews to finally come over to the dark side. Price: $9
|229 South 4th Street (between Havemeyer Street and Roebling Street)
26. GRAPEFRUIT GIVRE at BOULUD SUD
The Grapefruit Givre was perhaps the strangest dessert I’ve ever tasted. And yes, I’ve had beet ice cream and celery sorbet, but this takes the cake. Not because of the strange flavor combinations, but because there are so many things going on in this visually striking, slightly avant garde, playful dish.
I probably wouldn’t have tasted this if it wasn’t listed on Time Out’s list for 2011, so I’m eternally grateful. Pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira, who hails from Tunisia, uses a hollowed out frozen grapefruit as the bowl. Inside are layers upon layers of delicious treasures, including a tart grapefruit sorbet, creamy sesame foam, and chewy pieces of floral rose candy. The interactive dish is sealed up with a brittle sugary caramel tuille and beautiful cotton candy-like halvah shreds. The fruit is garnished with sesame seeds. And like an enthralling piece of art, at first I didn’t know what to make of it, but eventually I let the experience overtake me and I reveled in its glory. Price: $13
|20 West 64th Street (between Central Park West and Broadway)
Upper West Side