Dec 27 2011

Our Top 50 Bites of 2011: 41-50

Published by Andy at 6:48 pm under Our Favorite Spots

These are the bites and dishes that blew us away in 2011. Most are from places here in NYC, but we did some traveling during 2011 and experienced some unbelievable tastes along the way. The list includes some of our favorite bites from Athens and the Greek Islands, Las Vegas, Nantucket, the Hamptons and more.

#50 Crispy Cauliflower with Currants, Pine Nuts & Lemon at Balaboosta

If all veggies tasted this good, I’d reconsider becoming a vegetarian…well, not really, but this is a dish that any Lachanophobian would be thankful for.

#49 Any Greek Salad with Feta & Side of Tsatsiki at Anywhere in Athens or the Greek Isles (pictured here from Taverna Katina in Oia, Santorini)

So simple, yet so delicious. In Greece, the  tomatoes are sweeter, juicier and more delicious than any we have here. And no lettuce in sight.  This is the authentic Greek salad we came to know and love over 8 days in Greece. The tsatsiki is garlick-y and irresistible. In fact, I want to be in Greece right now sitting along the water at Ammoudi Bay, drinking a Mythos beer and eating a Greek salad filled with those delicious tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, red onions and peppers covered with oregano, salt and pepper and lying in a bed of delicious EVOO. There’s something about the beautiful blue water, the simplicity of the food, the meze, the fresh fish and of course, the authentic Greek salad.

#48 The Meatballs at Rao’s Las Vegas

We were stuck in Vegas during Hurricane Irene, so we did a little food tour during our 6-day extension. In fact, I’m pretty sure we could produce an episode of The Layover for Bourdain. They’re called “Frankie’s Meatballs” and Frankie Pellegrino, co-owner of Rao’s, was there at the bar while we were tasting these juicy pillows of goodness featuring a trifecta of beef, veal and pork.

#47 Off-the-Menu Whole, Crispy Lobster Sauteed in Truffle Butter & Topped with Shaved Truffles at Nobu Hamptons

Lobster, truffle and then more truffle…it was like “Wonder twin power activate! Form of decadent flavor explosion.”

#46 Goat Masala Pizza at Girl and the Goat (Chicago)

After our first bite of this flatbread we knew we were in for one amazing dinner with our friends Leena and Suneel in Chicago. Spicy masala sauce, caramelized cipolline onions, smoked goat, cheddar, Gouda, and tomme-style cheese. Holy freakin’ deliciousness!

#45 Duck Confit Poutine at the Brindle Room

This gut-busting, rib-sticking dish of rich deliciousness features a few of our favorite things — french fries, cheese curds, gravy, duck and more duck. It’s perfect for weather like…well, actually like weather we’re having as we speak.

#44 Nathaniel’s 60 Second Steak at The Pearl (Nantucket)

This appetizer featuring Foie Gras Truffle Jus + Sunny Side Up Quail Egg truly blew us away. I can speak for the both of us when I say we’ve never had a more tender bite of steak, and to top it off it’s sitting in a bowl of this crack-like foie gras truffle jus on a piece of toasted brioche.

#43 Arroz con Crema at Zarela (now closed)

We have had many a margarita-fueled good time at Zarela and were saddened to hear of its closing in the Spring of 2011.  We snuck in for one last visit and a taste of Zarela Martinez’s signature standout dish — the creamy white casserole known as Arroz con Crema y Poblanos. It’s like Mexico’s answer to Southern-style comfort food. Imagine grits with a smoky, tangy creamy flavor. I hope she brings this dish back at the new restaurant we hear Zarela is opening near Union Square.

#42 Queso Fundido De Hungos at El Vez (Philadelphia)

Everytime we visit Philly, we make it a point to stop in at this Stephen Starr Mexican spot for a couple of apps and margaritas. Each and every time we order the Queso Fundido De Hungos (truffled wild mushrooms, chihuahua cheese, huitlacoche, fresh flour tortillas). It’s earthy, rich and spreadabl-y delish.

#41 Lamb Burger at The Breslin

When we’re looking for a place to chill on a weekend, the Ace Hotel is our spot. It’s not uncommon for us to start at the John Dory with some oysters and a glass of wine and then move on over through the lobby to The Breslin.  There, we typically take seats at the bar grab a beer or cocktail and order up a couple of the amazing lamb burgers that arrive on a board with “thrice cooked” fries and housemade cumin mayo. This burger delivers a mix of delicate and robust flavors, both earthy and rich, that emanate from the glimmering medium-rare center. The creamy feta cheese and thin red onions add a nice touch of Mediterranean flare and flavors. Damn, I want one of these bad boys right about now.

Related: #31-40 on the Top 50 Bites of 2011

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