As the end of the year approaches it’s time for reflecting back on all of the food I’ve eaten this past year — and I’ve eaten a ton of food. Not all of it has been good, but here are my favorites of 2010, along with what I remember about them. You can also click the links to read the full write-ups.
Favorite Dish (In a Not Very Good Meal): Manchurian Cauliflower at Devi
Lunch with my friend Jess is always a pleasure for the company, if not the food. We had a mediocre meal at Devi, but my Manchurian Cauliflower appetizer was a real stand-out dish. As I wrote at the time, it was “crispy and salty sweet on the outside, slightly soft on the inside. It tasted of ketchup, in a good way.”
Favorite Sandwich: Tie! The Scuttlebutt from Saltie & the Spicy Veguette from Baoguette
On our trip to Williamsburg I had the wonderful Scuttlebutt from Saltie. “I’m still a bit baffled by the concept — “We’re gonna open a vaguely nautical-inspired sandwich shop where we take big pieces of focaccia bread and pile all kinds of crazy shit into it!””
I also had a ridiculously spicy vegetarian sandwich at Baoguette. “This has got to be a contender for the best vegetarian sandwich in the city.”
Favorite Meal I Didn’t Write About: Birthday Dinner at Roberta’s
For my birthday this year a huge group of my friends took me out to Roberta’s in Bushwick. If you ever get the opportunity to go to a dinner party there, DO IT. They brought out plate after plate of delicious food — it was like being at a banquet. The meal wasn’t just pizza; among other things we ate the best asparagus I’ve ever had in my life. Thanks again to all of my friends who made this possible! I should point out that the photo above is from another trip to Roberta’s that I also didn’t blog about, but we did consume multiple M. Martigans that night.
Favorite Foraged Food: Giant Puffball Mushroom
I went on two different foraging tours this year: one in Central Park, and one in Prospect Park during which we found some edible wild mushrooms. The honey mushrooms were fine, but what really stood out was the giant puffball mushroom. The styrofoam-like interior transformed when cooked into something truly special.
Favorite Food from Outside NYC: Koshary in Cairo
Sure, I ate koshary at Cairo’s most famous koshary restaurant, but the best version I had of this Egyptian specialty was from a random street vendor. Koshary, if you’ve never heard of it, “doesn’t sound like it would make any sense. It’s a mixture of rice, macaroni, spaghetti, lentils, and chickpeas, all covered with a spicy tomato sauce and fried onions. You can also add some vinegar sauce to it if you like.”
Favorite Bite on a Cruise Full of Terrible Food: Carrot Halwa
I make no secret about the fact that the food aboard the Norwegian Jewel was uniformly mediocre, and occassionally downright bad. To my surprise, the one food that was consistently good on the cruise was the Indian food, and I gladly spent the extra money for an Indian buffet lunch one day. The food was prepared by the Indian crew members, and the carrot halwa was one of the best things I ate all year. It’s amazing what can be created from “shredded carrots, stewed with condensed milk and raisins, served warm with pistachios.”
Favorite of the Year: Paulie Gee’s
2010 was a good year for pizza, but nothing brought me more pleasure than every single time I ate at Paulie Gee’s. Here’s a story that illustrates why I love it so much: On my last visit, I decided to get one of the specials, the Rooftop Red (topped with hale and chile oil). Paulie Gee came over to say hi, and he said that he recommended that I try — the Rooftop Red. Paulie Gee can read your mind! Since he opened I have managed to work my way through the vegetarian spectrum of the menu, and I think my favorite just might be the Greenpointer (pictured above) — a white pie topped with arugula and fresh lemon juice. Paulie Gee is a retired computer guy who retired and opened what just may be the best Neapolitan pizza joint in Brooklyn. He’s also proven to be a genial host, and I’m happy to call him a friend.
So as 2010 comes to a close, I’d like to thank everyone who helped to make this such a wonderful year for food. It’s easy to forget the people who make these meals possible, since we rarely see them directly, but a lot of work goes into preparing what we eat. And of course a big thank you to all of our readers, without whom none of this would be possible. Thanks, all of you are the best! Yes, each and every one of you are the best. Happy Holidays, and see you in 2011!