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 20: HAZELNUT SOUFFLE at MEHTAPHOR
Just in time for the biggest consumer holiday of them all, I thought it would be appropriate to examine five of the sweetest dough-based bites I consumed this year. Christmas time is for cookies and cakes, but most of us are happy to eat them all year long. When done right, the warm doughy concoctions are transcendent.
Chef Jenghar Mehta certainly knows from cakes and cookies, having been the pastry chef at Jean Georges. Most familiar for his appearance on the Next Iron Chef, this man seems to be able to do it all. At the end of a very nice and affordable savory meal of unique global flavors at his restaurant Mehtaphor, we stumbled upon his masterful hazelnut souffle. Light and airy, while also being buttery and rich, it paired nicely with a scoop of rum raisin ice cream. Price: $7
|130 Duane Street (at Church Street),
Inside Duane Street Hotel
NUMBER 19: PIGNOLI at COURT PASTRY SHOP
Amidst all the new hipsters and yuppies moving in to the neighborhood, Court Pastry Shop is one of the few old Italian businesses still holding strong in Carroll Gardens. They’ve been here since 1948 serving classic Italian cookies and pastries.
Their pignoli cookies are the absolute best. Covered in pine nuts, the doughy center is soft with a sweet almond flavor that rounds out with just a hint of anise. The texture contrast is pleasant and the unusual (for American cookies) flavors are heavenly. Let’s hope they’ll be here for at least another 60 years. Price: $25 per pound
|COURT PASTRY SHOP|
|298 Court Street (between Douglass and Degraw Street),
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
NUMBER 18: RED VELVET DOUGHNUT at PETER PAN BAKERY
I never fully understood the appeal of the red velvet flavor. Isn’t it just chocolate cake with red food coloring? Why not just eat chocolate cake?
Well, Peter Pan Bakery showed me the error of my ways with their extraordinary red velvet doughnut. Not cream cheese filling in site, this doughnut relies solely on the baker’s skills and some dramatic red coloring. A restrained glaze covers the orb, but gives way to a dense yet cakey chocolate richness. Consider me a red velvet convert – at least when it comes to Peter Pan. Price: $1
|PETER PAN BAKERY|
|727 Manhattan Avenue (between Meserole Avenue and Norman Avenue),
NUMBER 17: VEGAN DONUTS at THE CINNAMON SNAIL
I guess 2012 was the year of the doughnut for me. And that’s pretty shocking since I usually avoid the fried dough bombs because they cause my insides to attack myself. It’s pretty exciting (or not) that I discovered three separate doughnuts this year that made it worth the burn.
The ones that the Cinnamon Snail Truck are frying up feel like they might be slightly better for you because they are completely vegan. What makes a doughnut vegan you ask? No butter, no eggs, no cream based frosting. What they do manage to leave in is all the flavor. Unique and seasonal options like Creme Brulée, Plum Pomegranate Glazed, or Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake just add to the wow factor. The other wow factor comes when you taste these puppies and they’re better than anything you’ve had with all those animal products. Bring on the burn! Price: $2
|THE CINNAMON SNAIL|
NUMBER 16: CHOCOLATE CHIP WALNUT COOKIE at LEVAIN BAKERY
As we walked into Levain Bakery this year to get my favorite chocolate chip cookie in the city, I realized that this has never appeared on my Top 100 list. How is that possible? These could have been number one any year. They are by far the best cookies I’ve ever had.
Down a few stairs, Levain Bakery is a gem on the Upper West Side serving gargantuan yet perfect cookies. The warm crisp dough breaks apart releasing rich, buttery gooey flavors and textures. Studded with chocolatey chip goodness and some crunch from walnuts, it’s the epitome of homebaked soft cookies. It may be tough to resist eating the entire cookie in one sitting, but saving it for a little bit later will be rewarding – because you’ll be able to experience the orgasmic sensation all over again. Price: $4
|167 West 74th Street (between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenue),
Upper West Side
|2167 Frederick Douglass Boulevard (between West 116th and West 117th Street),