Category Archives: BRIAN’S 100 Best ’12

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

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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 10: AREPA DE QUESO at THE AREPA LADY

Up until now, there has not really been a rhyme or reason as to why one dish got ranked as a specific number on this list. I can’t say with any certainty that something was the 73rd best dish I’ve eaten this year. So I stuck with categories to help me organize my food thoughts. However, now we’re at the top ten and these dishes were definitely my favorite this year. So here goes…

It had been a long while since I got a taste of the sainted Arepa Lady’s Colombian treats. It’s difficult for me since she doesn’t appear with her cart until after 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Now that I’m well into my 30’s, I’m not usually roaming the streets of Queens at that hour. Thanks to my friend Jeff Orlick, I got to try her food at a reasonable hour. He got Maria Piedad Cano to emerge for the Viva La Comida festival, where she grilled up her two varieties of corn patties. I prefer the Arepa de Queso, a soft, buttery white disc filled with melted mozzarella and topped with some salty queso blanco. These arepas are certainly among the best street food in the entire city. Price: $3

THE AREPA LADY
Roosevelt Avenue and 79th Street,
Jackson Heights, Queens
Twitter:@ArepaLady

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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 15: OYSTERS at UPSTATE

Believe it or not, New York’s biggest resource at one time was seafood. I’m talking seafood straight from the East River! Sadly, centuries later any fish you might find in Manhattan’s waters also comes with a serious flavor of contaminant. While these five seafood dishes are all prepared in NYC, thankfully the fish comes from waters elsewhere.

Historically, one of the most famous river-dwellers in New York Harbor was the oyster. The awesome craft beer bar Upstate specializes in a rotating list of varieties from the west and east coast (not NYC). Always fresh (this place doesn’t even have a freezer), the oysters are plump and clean (whether they’re briny, creamy, or cucumbery) and pair nicely with well-made beer. The best part is every day they offer a Happy Hour which snags you 6 oysters (your choice) and a pint of a local craft brew for $12. Those prices also make me think of old New York. Price: $2-$2.25 (Happy Hour 5-7)

UPSTATE
95 First Avenue (between East 5th and East 6th Street),
East Village
(917) 408-3395
upstatenyc.com

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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

MEHTAPHOR
130 Duane Street (at Church Street),
Inside Duane Street Hotel
Tribeca
(212) 542-9440
mehtaphornyc.com

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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

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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 30: CHOCOLATE SNOWBALLS at ZUCKER BAKERY

Why are balls so fun to eat? Don’t answer that! I’m thinking you can fit lots of flavor and texture into a ball-shaped food item. Crisp and crunchy on the outside with a soft and tender interior is always a pleasant texture whether the ball is sweet or savory.

The pastries at Zucker Bakery, a new Israeli inspired bakery in the East Village, are mostly bite-sized cookies for $1. There are lots of date and spice cookies, including rugelach and alfajhores, but I fell in love with the orbs called chocolate snowballs. Laced with just a touch of espresso, these cakey fudge bombs will wake you right up. Your choice of shredded coconut or colored sprinkles are the perfect garnish for these sweet balls. Price: $1

ZUCKER BAKERY
433 East 9th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A),
East Village
(646) 559-8425
zuckerbakery.com

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