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 5: ICE CREAM CAKE at PARM

Here we go. After a really solid year of eating, I’ve managed to pick the five best dishes I put in my mouth. These are not necessarily from the hottest restaurants or my most memorable dining experiences. But these are the five individual dishes that I’ll be thinking about long after 2012 comes to an end.

Harkening back to a simpler time when Carvel reigned supreme, Parm’s ode to the ice cream cake is both nostalgic and fulfilling. The generous slice is layered with chocolate, strawberry, and pistachio ice creams separated with chocolate ganache and cookie crunchies. Whipped cream, sprinkles, and a maraschino cherry top it off. It’s a completely irresistible treat that’s worth every single calorie. Price: $12

PARM
248 Mulberry Street (between Spring and Prince Street),
Nolita
(212) 993-7189
parmnyc.com

NUMBER 4: MICHE BREAD at BIEN CUIT

When I learned we would be stopping at Bien Cuit on the Neighborhood Eats tour and sampling a slice of bread, I had my doubts. This wonderful bakery offers up a wide range of sweet pastries that are mindblowing and we were bringing in tour attendees to taste a piece of bread?!?!?

However after my first taste of this old-time loaf, I realized there was nothing better to try at Bien Cuit. No matter how delicious those chocolate croissants are, this rye and wheat blend is an eye-opening example of what bread can be. Slow fermented and baked to a dark crust, this sourdough-like bread is full of complex and hearty flavors that stick with you – from caramel to hazelnuts to fresh yeast. This might be the best bread I have ever tasted in my life – and just about every tour attendee agrees with me. Price: $8/loaf; $5/half loaf

BIEN CUIT
120 Smith Street (between Dean Street and Pacific Street),
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
(718) 852-0200
35 Christopher Street (between Waverly Place and West 4th Street),
West Village
(646) 590-3341
biencuit.com

NUMBER 3: DI  POMPELMO at AMOR Y AMARGO

Time Out listed this grapefruit heavy cocktail on their most recent 100 Best list – the one that I’m not officially eating and drinking my way through, remember? Unable to completely resist a list, I found myself sipping this wondrous cocktail at Amor y Amargo and sucking down the giant ice cubes to extract every possible ounce of flavor.

Now served on tap (along with their other amazing house cocktail), the Di Pompelmo is a bitter and refreshing mix of ingredients. Resposado tequila forms the base, but citron bitters, Cocchi Americano, Aperol, and Hopped Grapefruit bitters form the backbone. It’s a bracing, flavorful cocktail that could easily replace water in my daily diet. It was hard to resist ordering another. While Time Out says it’s one of the best cocktails they tasted this year, I have to emphatically say it is the best I’ve tasted. Price: $12

AMOR Y AMARGO
443 East 6th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue B),
East Village
(212) 614-6817
amoryamargony.com

NUMBER 2: KALE SALAD at CHUKO

This was a dish I tasted way back in January of 2012 when I turned to Chuko in Prospect Heights for some winter ramen. I took a chance and ordered their kale salad (which is as ubiquitous in NYC now as beer on tap) and have been thinking about it ever since.

Raw kale can often be very fibrous, but here they cut the raw kale with some tempura fried bits of the leafy green. It’s all doused in a sweet, tangy white miso vinaigrette and topped with pickled golden raisins and shreds of crunchy sweet potato chips. The salad works on so many levels bursting with flavors and textures. It’s a kale salad you won’t soon forget. Price: $7

CHUKO
552 Vanderbilt Avenue (at Dean Street),
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
(718) 576-6701
barchuko.com

NUMBER 1: STEAMED LOBSTER WITH UNI MOUSSE at SOTO

SADLY, SOTO IS NOW CLOSED.

I just love Japanese food, especially seafood dishes with delicate rich flavors bursting with umami. We had a really interesting and refreshing meal at Soto, which is known for their sushi and their sea urchin preparations. Small dishes were served one at a time, but they truly saved the best for last.

This little cup was their crown jewel. Held together by a wall of crisp lotus roots, a breathtaking combination of sweet Maine lobster and creamy uni mousse seduced me. Once it got hold of me, I have not been able to shake it (and that’s a good thing!)  Topped with fresh caviar and smoked uni, each transcendent spoonful was clean, decadent, and full of flavors of the sea. It was the best dish I tasted all year. And I only hope 2013 brings such pleasurable eating sensations. Price: $28
SOTO
357 Sixth Avenue (between West 4th Street and Washington Place),
Greenwich Village
(212) 414-3088
sotonyc.com
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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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