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 85: BANANA PUDDING at MAGNOLIA BAKERY

I have a seriously dangerous sweet tooth, but I think even my sweet tooth is mature enough to tell the difference between sugary messes and desserts that are masterfully decadent.

I don’t think any of Magnolia Bakery’s world famous (thanks to Sex and the City) cupcakes would make my list because they fall into that cavity inducing first category. But those in the know have discovered there’s something even better and worthwhile to wait in line for.

On the food cart tour I lead, we always talk about the building that houses the Midtown location of Magnolia because it has historical significance. Inevitably, at the end of that stop the tour turns into a discussion about the city’s best cupcakes. And on several occasions, tour attendees told me that Magnolia’s banana pudding is the way to go. So I tried it. And it’s good! The cold and creamy cup of fresh bananas, vanilla pudding, and softened Nilla wafers reminded me of the revolutionary ones I’ve tried at road side BBQ shops in North Carolina. Far enough away from Sex and the City country. Price: $4.75/$5.75

MAGNOLIA BAKERY
401 Bleecker Street (at West 11th Street),
West Village
(212) 462-2572
1240 Avenue of the Americas (at West 49th Street),
Midtown West
(212) 767-1123
200 Columbus Avenue (at West 69th Street),
Upper West Side
(212) 724-8101
magnoliabakery.com

NUMBER 84: PASSION FRUIT TART at EMPELLÓN TAQUERIA

Empellón is a funny place. It’s run by Chef Alex Stupak and his wife Lauren Resler. Stupak was a well-regarded pastry chef at Wd-50. But at his mid-level taqueria, he focuses on the savory stuff while his wife handles the desserts.

Not one to settle for flan or churros, her inventions are quite innovative and refined. Amazingly I fell head over heals for the passion fruit tart, even though I don’t love the flavor of passion fruit. The crisp buttery crust holds together a sweet/tart passionfruit pudding. A salad of the fresh fruit and seeds are tossed with boozy mezcal and fresh mint to keep things light. And dots of bruléed meringue make it warm and sweet. This might be a funny place, but it’s also mighty delicious Price: $9

EMPELLÓN TAQUERIA
230 West 4th Street (between Seventh Avenue South and 4th Street),
West Village
(212) 367-0999
empellon

NUMBER 83: BLACK SESAME SEAWEED ICE CREAM at SKYICE SWEET & SAVORY

I’ve had Asian-influenced ice cream many times before at places like Chinatown Ice Cream Factory and Sundaes & Cones. And I’ve always enjoyed it, but I’ve never been as impressed by a simple combination of Asian ingredients in one ice cream flavor as I was with this modest little scoop.

Beyond customers eating savory Thai noodle dishes, there’s a little counter at the back of SkyIce that lets you sample and order a number of exotic ice cream options. I stuck with black sesame, which I always think of as the Asian answer to cookies and cream. But this roasty sweet ice cream goes a step further by taking on an unexpected smoky briny quality with the addition of salted seaweed. It may sound strange, but it’s unusually addicting. Price: $3

SKYICE SWEET & SAVORY
63 5th Avenue (between Prospect Place and St. Marks Place),
Park Slope, Brooklyn
(718) 230-0910
skyicenyc.com

NUMBER 82: CANNOLI at ROCCO’S PASTRY SHOP

Veniero’s has always been my go to place for cannolis. But I think I may have found some place even better. I’ll let you know for sure when I do my official search for the best cannoli in the city. It’s not as far off as you think.

Piped to order in a large or bite-size shell, these little cigars of goodness house a fresh, not too-sweet ricotta filling. Chocolate chips, roasted pistachios and a golden crust give this Italian favorite the perfect crunch and push it to the top of my NYC cannoli list – when I finally get around to officially keeping one. Price: $2/$3.25

ROCCO’S PASTRY SHOP
243 Bleecker Street (between Carmine and Cornelia Street),
West Village
(212) 242-6031
pasticceriarocco.com

NUMBER 81: DESSERT COURSE at DANIEL

My birthday dinner at Daniel was incredible. It’s rare that I get to dine with the super elite at an old time New York mainstay. And while I really loved the suckling pig and the rabbit terrine, it was the epic dessert course that made me feel like a real baller.


I’ve been to some mighty fancy places with petite fours and whatnot, but this was the biggest parade of sweets I’d ever seen.

The two main desserts – a Strawberry Granité with Szechuan Pepper Sorbet and  the Warm Guanaja Chocolate Coulant with Milk Sorbet and a Liquid Caramel Center – were balanced, beautifully composed, and completely satisfying.

Like a clown car, the desserts kept coming and they were all pretty spectacular. I got a personalized extra birthday dessert (a delicate Chocolate Dacquoise),

followed by a variety of eclectic petite fours (from jellies to macarons),

our choice (I may have chosen a few) of bite-sized flavor-filled chocolates (like raspberry, hazelnut, or cinnamon),

and just when we were ready to throw in the towel, out came a towel full of warm and springy madeleines. Funny that years from now I won’t be able to tell you what I ordered for dinner, but I’ll have specific memories of this dessert cavalcade. Price: Part of a Variety of Tasting Menus

DANIEL
60 East 65th Street (between Madison and Park Avenue),
Upper East Side
(212) 288-0033
danielnyc.com/daniel
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with me

Link to our Youtube Page
Link to our Facebook Page
Link to our Rss Page
Link to our Twitter Page

WATCH

DISH OF THE WEEK: HAND ROLLS at KAZUNORI LOCALS KNOW: BOHEMIAN BUCHAREST in BUCHAREST
AROUND THE WORLD IN ONE CITY: IRAN AROUND THE WORLD IN ONE CITY: PERU AROUND THE WORLD IN ONE CITY: GREECE
EMPIRE PLATES OF MINE A DAY IN THE LIFE
EAT THIS BOSTON: IN THE SOUP SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING BREWED


DREAM A LITTLE CREAM CHEESE


BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINATOWN


ICE CREAM


KOSHER MEAT MARKET


PIZZA DAY


Instagram Feed