Monday, May 22, 2006

Favorite dishes

There's a rotating cast of dishes that I call my "favorites" at any one time. Right now, the top of my list looks like this:

- The french toast at Frankie's 457 Spuntino. Huge, thick slices of Sullivan Street Bakery Italian bread, not too soaked in egg and milk, grilled til the surface gets carmelized and crisp. It's the best french toast I have had in New York. (The best french toast in my memory, though, is the deep fried FT at Nookie's in Chicago. It's like a giant triangular donut, masquerading as french toast. Gnarly.)

- The green tomato and cheese sandwich at City Bakery is elusive and wonderful; it's only there occasionally, sitting under the heat lamps on the right side of the buffet. They use a crumbly corn bread as the base, melt some sort of sharp white cheddar (I think that's the cheese), and and add on sliced green tomatoes (are they fried? I can't even remember, it has been so long since I had one of these treats), topped off with another slice of the toasted corn bread. Love how I don't even remember the details of this sandwich, but I still feel as if I have to praise it! It's almost dessert, but still savory and sharp.

- The fresh pita bread at Snack Taverna in the West Village is wonderful. Right when it is hot and puffed up, I could eat the entire basket and ask for more, before the taramosalata ever gets to the table.

- This is a dish sadly mourned: the seafood pasta at the Mermaid Inn on Second Ave. The dish still resides on their menu in some incarnation, but when they opened a few years ago they served a spaghetti with a spicy seafood tomato sauce and a handful of arugula or cress piled on top. It was fucking delectable. I still dream of it, and I was sad when they took it off the menu and reworked it into something far inferior.

- The pork bun at Momofuku is the most melt-in-your-mouth experience to be had in the world of pork. (And that's a big world.) I don't know how they make the dough for the steamed buns they use, but unlike traditional dim sum -- the baseball-esque pork buns of any Chinatown in America -- the Momofuku creations are pillow-like freeform ovals, loosely folded in half over slices of pork that are so succulent it is almost obscene. A not too sweet hoisin suace and green onions round out the flavors and textures, making it the best damn thing I've eaten all year.