Best of 2009

It’s that time of year again when I look back at the past 12 months and all of the places we have eaten at and realize- damn. I eat a LOT of food! Oh well- too late to go back and change anything now!

It was an up and down year for food in NYC. I saw a lot of places I love close down and a lot of great new places spring up to ease the pain. This is my list of the favorite foods I’ve eaten in 2009. Remember! These are not all new places! A couple have been around but this is the first time I had the privilege to enjoy them. Here goes:

Best Bread and Butter- Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Never did I think that bread and butter would even make it to my favorite foods list until Blue Hill completely floored me. Their butter was so creamy, rich and fresh, it tasted as if it had been churned only seconds before.

Best Amuse Bouche- Per Se Beet Cornette and Blue Hill Beet Burger
Honestly I don’t even like beets! But these two amuses changed the way I think about that root vegetable. Both of them had a rich meaty flavor that confused and delighted my taste buds in every way.

Best Sandwiches- Hot Roast Beef from Defonte’s and Porchetta’s Pork Sandwich
The year began with my infatuation of Porchetta’s deliciously fatty pork sandwich. However since Defonte’s opening only two blocks from my house I have to give their Roast Beef Sandwich a slight edge. Hot beef, fresh mozzarella, fried eggplant and plenty of au jus make this sandwich absolutely drool worthy.

Best Believe the Hype- Bone in NY Strip at Minetta Tavern
The absurdity of reservation times and elitist crowd didn’t mean a thing once this steak touched my lips. It was rich, buttery, bold and everything a great steak can and should be. I am still dreaming of my next return.

Best New Chocolatier- Bespoke
I have yet to have a chocolate from Bespoke that I haven’t loved. With flavors like French Milk Chocolate, Pretzel Carmel Delight and Pumpkin Bourbon bon bons how can you go wrong? The owner is just as sweet as her wares which makes each time I visit that more wonderful.

Best New Beer- Dogfish Head Sahtea and Terrapin Brewery Espresso Stout
I really got to hand it to DogFish Head for coming out with a great new line of beers this year. Everything I tried from the Red and White to the Squall IPA was exciting and innovative. Their Sahtea wins just because I think even my Mom would enjoy it’s chai tea flavor!

The Terrapin Espresso Stout I was lucky enough to have in Florida but haven’t been able to find back here in NYC. If you see this beer around please let me know because it was filled with delicious roasted hops and a smooth clean finish.

Best French Fries- The Breslin
The thrice cooking of these chips and liberal use of salt make these chips absolutely heavenly. Order one with a cask conditioned ale and you’ve got a great little snack.

Best Dessert- Banana and Passion Fruit Tarte at Aldea
I really loved everything about Aldea but the dessert stole the show. You can never go wrong with caramelized bananas and rum raisin ice cream.

Best Dish of 2009- Ox Heart and Dripping Potatoes at St. John Bread & Wine
Hands down the best thing I have eaten possibly ever. I can’t even describe how utterly glorious and divine this dish was. Words would not do it justice so I’m not even going to try. I would travel back to London just for a chance to eat one more time. Simply Wonderful.

Best Meal of 2009 – St. John Bread & Wine and Per Se Bar Room
The service at Per Se and plethora of little extra touches really made it a thrilling and special meal. The amazing new flavors and daring ingredients at St. John made it a delightful culinary adventure I will never forget. I cannot choose- they remain a tie.

Best of the Rest:
Momofuku Milk Bar- cookies, cakes, you name it
Big Wong- spare ribs
Babbo- Goat Cheese Tortellini w/ dried orange & fennel
Veselka- Borscht
DBGB- Coffee Carmel Sundae