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 25: BABA GHANOUSH from DAMASCUS BAKERY

New York is loaded with great restaurants and cafés, but that’s hardly the end of the food resources in this city. In addition to ongoing food markets like Smorgasburg and the New Amsterdam Market, there are plenty of speciality shops that sell local food products that are so much more exciting than anything you could possibly find at your national grocery store.

Damascus Bakery is noted for introducing pita bread to this country in 1920. While the business is now mostly wholesale (they bake most of the pita bread sold in the U.S.), they still run an iconic storefront in Brooklyn Heights where you can purchase their Middle Eastern breads and pastries. The containers of baba ghanoush don’t get nearly as much attention, but the rich, smoky eggplant dip is full of complex flavors and spices and is the perfect accompaniment to those classic Syrian bread. Price: $3.50/$7

DAMASCUS BAKERY
195 Atlantic Avenue (between Court and Clinton Street),
Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
(718) 625-7070

NUMBER 24: EARLY BIRD GRANOLA

Available in both crumbled granola form for breakfast and as a crunchy, chewy bar, Early Bird Granola stole my granola heart this year.

The secret is a a lot of olive oil which makes the oats very crunchy and flavorful, while adding in sweet (like chocolate, dried fruit, or maple syrup) and savory (like pistachio, pecans, or sour cherries) ingredients. There’s always a generous inclusion of sea salt to round out the flavors and make it impossible not to go for another crunch. Price: Varies

EARLY BIRD GRANOLA
earlybirdfoods.com

NUMBER 23: FRESH TEMPEH from BARRY’S TEMPEH

Right beside barbecued brisket, fried fish sandwiches, and lots of cupcakes, Barry Schwartz started appearing at weekend markets touting his organic, homemade protein-rich tempeh. He sells packaged tempeh in many forms as a healthy alternative to meat.

I haven’t gone so far as purchasing some tempeh to prepare at home, but I did sample what Barry was cooking up. At the markets (like Smorgasburg), you can enjoy a vegan snack of the nutty, oaty nuggets fried, topped with barbecue sauce and fried pieces of kale. What a shocker that you can actually find something healthy yet still delicious at these taco-crazed markets.

BARRY’S TEMPEH
growninbrooklyn.com

NUMBER 22: DANTE STRAWBERRY SHORTBREAD COOKIES from STINKY BROOKLYN

The most delicious collaboration imaginable occurred between Butter + Love, a cookie company with an official home, and purveyor of local food artisans, Stinky Brooklyn. The former took one of Stinky’s creamy sheep’s milk cheeses and developed a shortbread cookie that is only available at the latter’s Carroll Gardens shop.

These buttery little sandwiches are brilliant. The crumbly cookie gives way to a sweet strawberry preserve that is balanced by the sharp nuttiness of the Dante cheese from Wisconsin. As if butter and love wasn’t enough, they threw in just the right amount of stinky. Price: $6.50

STINKY BROOKLYN
215 Smith Street (between Baltic and Butler Street),
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
(718) 522-7425
stinkybklyn.com
BUTTER + LOVE
butterpluslove.com

NUMBER 21: BLOOD ORANGE DOUGHNUT at DOUGH

Food writers have been raving about Dough’s doughnuts for the last two years since the Bed-Stuy bakery started showing up with their monster dough bombs at Smorgasburg and other special events. I couldn’t fully understand what all the fuss was about until Time Out included their most popular doughnut on their list this year and I finally took a bite.

And what a wondrous bite it was! This might be the best doughnut I have ever eaten – with its sweet yeasty airiness. To top it off, the unique flavor of blood orange is made into a bright, tangy glaze and then drizzled over the specimen with an appropriate candied orange piece for garnish and texture. It’s taken me this long, but I’m fully on board the Dough bandwagon. Price: $2

DOUGH
305 Franklin Avenue (at Lafayette Avenue),
Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
(347) 533-7544
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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.

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