April 30th marks one year since I launched Slices of Me. In the name of research, I've eaten especially well since then. Here's a roundup of the foods that immediately come to mind when I think of the best things I've tasted this year.
Brussel Sprouts at Momofuku Ssam Bar.
If Mama's Food Shop and Whole Foods taught me to clean my plate of brussel sprouts last year, Momofuku Ssam Bar took my adoration to another stratosphere this year. Never have I fork-fought over a dish of vegetables like I did during dinner there a few months ago. These sprouts were lightly fried and tossed with fish sauce, garlic, chilies, and mint. The chile heat was mellowed by the mint, and each bite had a varying degree of flavor, depending on which part of the bowl I ate from. Much as I loved the sprouts, I haven't been back to Ssam Bar yet -- I'm scared they won't live up to my high expectations on second taste!
Frozen Yogurt at Pinkberry.
Lately I like coconut, Oreos, and raspberries atop my Pinkberry, which I raved about here. The ‘berry’s frozen yogurt is so tangy and refreshing that it actually doesn’t need anything on top, but the fruit is always fresh, and the rainbow of toppings so seductive, that I never resist. When (if?) the Spring St. location opens, I know I’ll use the nice weather as an excuse to get off the subway one stop early so that I can "stumble" upon it a few times a week.
Aperitivo at Aroma Kitchen and Wine Bar.
Since my first lovely meal at Aroma, I’ve gone back for lunch and Aperitivo, and have plans to meet a friend there again this week. For a filling and fun happy hour, I highly recommend the Aperitivo, served at the bar from 4 to 7 p.m.: $15 gets you a flight of three wines and unlimited antipasti, served buffet style. The antipasti is seasonal and on the night I was there included a variety of meats, olives, a lemony tuna salad, goat cheese and cranberry stuffed endive, Caesar salad, and polenta cakes topped with Bolognese. This tiny restaurant has begun to feel like my neighborhood joint -- I walk by it many times a week, en route to the gym or errands, and often pause to peek through the windows at the diners' plates, smiling to myself if I see something familiar. If Aroma ever adds breakfast to their menu, I’ll eagerly try that too.
Seared Spiced Skirt Steak Salad at Swoon Kitchenbar.
To celebrate our sixth anniversary a few months back, Jon and I whisked each other away for a long weekend in Hudson, New York. Appropriately, we ate at Swoon, which is owned and operated by two renowned former New York City chefs. After being disappointed that they were out of the housemade beef ragu pappardelle special, I ordered a skirt steak salad. I’ve enjoyed many variations on the steak salad over the years, but this one literally caused me to swoon. The salad bowl was swimming with farmer's market arugula, mounds of goat cheese, and perfectly grilled and peppered skirt steak, topped with bright green pesto vinaigrette. The best part of the earthy, bright mix was the beets, which were sweet, luscious and cut into the thickest of hunks -- no demure rounds of red here. I often think of the salad when I read menus full of complicated, fussy dishes. There's definitely room for both schools of cooking on my palate, but remembering that something so simple can be so astounding gives me pause...more on this topic in a future post.
Muffuletta from Central Grocery.
Jon now travels frequently to New Orleans to work on a project that's assisting with the rebuilding of the Lower 9th Ward. Lucky for me, this means that he brings home a Muffuletta sandwich from the city's famed Central Grocery when he can get there before they’ve sold out for the day. What makes this sandwich so special that my dearest risks greasing up his belongings to bring it to me? Let’s deconstruct: Take a sizeable round of authentic Italian bread, slice, and layer with Provolone, Genoa salami, Cappicola ham, and the best part, their "Famous Italian Olive Salad." They sell it to go, so I'll list the ingredients as published on the jar that's in the fridge: Olives, Celery, Cauliflower, Carrots, Sweet Peppers, Onions, Capers, Parsley, Pepperoncini, Olive Oil, Vinegar, Garlic, and Spices. Need I say more?
Sultan's Delight and Warm Buttered Hummus w/ Basturma at Oleana
Click here for my full review of this incredible Cambridge, Mass. restaurant.
In the next year, I hope to eat at some of the following:
Midtown West/East and beyond: Kyotofu; Boi; New Leaf Cafe; Sushi of Gari; Sfoglia; The Modern's bar; Picholine; Kefi
Chelsea/Flatiron/Murray Hill: Gramercy Tavern (the prettiest restaurant in town?); Tia Pol; Boqueria; Crema; A Voce; Wild Edibles
West Village: The Little Owl; Fatty Crab; 5 Ninth; Pearl Oyster Bar (it's finally time to try Mary's rival's lobster roll); the Blue Ribbons; August; Barbuto; 'ino (still haven't had the truffled egg toast); Turks & Frogs; Lupa; Babbo; The Waverly Inn (how to swing it?)
My neck of the woods: WD-50; Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar; Freeman's; Death and Co.; Pegu Club; Pravda; Paputzul; Bondi Road; The Tasting Room; Hearth; Momofuku proper; The E.U.
Other boroughs and the like: Blue Hill at Stone Barns; Franny's; The Grocery; The Queen's Hideway; The Good Fork; 360
Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll continue to comment on, share, and enjoy my suggestions.