Now that I’ve eaten my way through somebody else’s list (Time Out New York), I’m ready to compile my own 100 spectacular things I’ve tasted in 2012. Look for another five dishes every few days.
NUMBER 90: THE YETI at BIEN CUIT
Bread has never gone out of style, but some food artisans are doing it major justice this year. While most of these are dressed up with exemplary toppings, it was often the dough itself that made all the difference.
The ever changing roster of pastries at Bien Cuit could make my head spin with indecision (and it often does). Thankfully, the intriguing Yeti helped me choose.
A flat and glazed croissant-like pastry is baked until browned and crisp while a dollop of the most extraordinary topping combination sits in the center: a sweet tangy mascarpone mixed with bright aleppo pepper and studded with crunchy cacao nibs. It’s a mind-bending sweet/savory, buttery/crunchy pastry that is truly well done. Price: $3.75
|120 Smith Street (between Dean Street and Pacific Street),
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
NUMBER 89: PISTACCHIO E SALSICCIA at DON ANTONIO
I don’t need to convince anybody who’s tasted Roberto Caporuscio pizzas at Kesté about the perfect crisp doughy pillows that host his toppings. The traditional Neapolitan crust is game changing for the style here in New York.
And he brings that unbeatable wood oven-baked bread to Don Antonio, which is a much bigger pizzeria in Midtown with a much more diverse menu. The menu item that wowed me the most featured the unusual addition of pistachios. Pistachio pesto, to be more specific. The nutty and slightly sweet pesto worked beautifully with crumbly sausage, buttery mozzarella, sharp pecorino, and bright fresh basil leaves. The toppings were so unique and delicious it almost overshadowed the dough. Almost. Price: $21
|309 West 50th Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenue),
NUMBER 88: GLUTEN FREE BREAD from FREE BREAD
The first time I tried this bread was at the Great Googa Mooga when most people thought they were giving out bread for free. Not the case. What was happening here was something even more revolutionary: gluten free bread that actually tasted like real bread.
While the Moxy (with its dark, sweet flavors and rolled oat garnish) looks a little healthier than the cheddar cheese and jalapeño-laden Jalaa, when toasted and schmeared with cream cheese it’s a dead ringer for your morning bagel. Using creative ingredients like garbanzo bean flour or brown rice flour, owner Karen Freer ensures these breads are hard to resist regardless of your tolerance for gluten. Prices Vary
|Available Throughout the City at Markets
NUMBER 87: ROSEMARY’S FOCACCIA at ROSEMARY’S ENOTECA & TRATTORIA
Foccacia gets thrown around a little too easily in this country. I think we’ve all come to expect a lackluster flat bread with some dried herbs or onions on top. As the newest hotspot in the West Village shows, foccacia can actually make a worthy first course.
The squares of masterfully baked bread are topped with intense maldon salt and fresh rosemary that has been grown on the rooftop garden. The doughy bread is brushed with plenty of olive oil and it has a salty, herby, nutty flavor that makes saving room for the entrees almost impossible. Price: $5
|ROSEMARY’S ENOTECA & TRATTORIA|
|18 Greenwich Avenue (between West 10th Street),
NUMBER 86: SABANEKH WA GIBNEH MANAKEESH at LEVANT BROOKLYN
When Levant opened in Carroll Gardens earlier this year, they started serving a very unrepresented cuisine in NYC: Jordanian food. Much of the menu looked very familiar with the usual hummus, falafel, and grape leaves. But the speciality here is a thin bread from Jordan (and Lebanon) called manakeesh.
Sort of like a Middle Eastern pizza, these thin doughy orbs are topped with any number of savory or sweet ingredients. The Sabanekh Wa Gibneh features garlicky sauteed spinach, a salty white Arabic cheese called gibneh, and plenty of za’atar seasonings. It gives our tomato and cheese a serious run for its money. Price: $6
|316 Court Street (between Sackett and Degraw Street),
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn