The Best Things I Ate This Spring

It’s been over three months since I’ve written a “best of last week” post, so I thought I’d collect a bunch of highlights from spring, and share them all at once. I’ve written here and there about some great highlights from this season, but here are a few more, in no particular order:

>> By the way, let’s visit my friend’s blog for mom and baby ^^ : best car seat & stroller combo

Fried chicken dinner at Momofuko: This large-format dinner at Momofuko’s noodle bar is worth planning for: reservations go almost instantly once they’re available online, a month out. Tables get two, whole fried chickens, one southern style and one (which I preferred) Korean style, with pancakes, sauces and vegetables. Ramen, wings and buns will win every time for me at Momofuko, but this dinner is really fun.

Clam pizza from Pepe’s Pizzeria in New Haven: New Haven is known for its clam pizza, and Pepe’s Pizzeria is the place to find the best of the best. I went with my girlfriend for an early lunch – ok, it was breakfast – after a late night, and honestly nothing could have been better. I’ll drive two hours any time for that pie.

Barbecue from Fletcher’s: There’s a lot of great barbecue in New York City these days. I might always be partial to Hill Country, but the new Mighty Quinn’s (I’ve yet to try it) sounds great, I love Smoke Joint(especially for its proximity to my home) and I was recently really impressed with Fletcher’s in Gowanus. Their cole slaw wasn’t too creamy (I like it dryer) and was packed with dill; their brisket smokey and juicy and their chicken perfectly tender.

Curly Fries from Melody Lanes: Not only is this the best bowling alley in the city, in my humble opinion, with undoubtedly the best bar tender, but Melody Lanes also has an incredible snack bar — a real relic in this city that’s worth a visit. A $2.25 grilled cheese with American cheese, mozzarella sticks, poppers… you get the idea. The curly fries are awesome.

Dominique’s Kouign Amann from Dominique Ansel Bakery: Before there were cronuts, there were (and still are!) DKAs: flaky, croissant-like pastries with a soft inside and caramelized crunchy crust. One of Dominique Ansel’s signature pastries, these are really not to be overlooked amidst the cronut craze. If you land at the bakery and they’ve sold out of cronuts (which, inevitably, they will), try one of these and you won’t be disappointed.

Grilled Radicchio Bread Salad: A fabulous summer (except could it feel less like summer on this Memorial Day weekend?) salad recipe from Food and Wine that I made last Sunday night. I couldn’t get white anchovies – which I love and which the recipe called for – so I used sustainable (I’m taking sustainable seafood very seriously these days) wild pole-caught tuna instead. I’m a huge fan of bread salads, and the grilled radicchio here was a great centerpiece.

Fried rice balls from Il Gattopardo: Dinner at this Neapolitan restaurant begins with complimentary rice balls, which hold the rest of the meal to an impossibly high standard. Luckily the salads and pastas match the starters at this low-key but upscale midtown restaurant. They know what they’re doing here.

Samplings from Food and Wine‘s Best New Chef Party: It was hard to pick a favorite at Food and Wine‘s Best New Chef Party, where alumns from past years put on quite a show. From April Bloombfield’s crispy haddock fritters to Michael Symon’s yogurt cavatelli with lamb bolognese to Grant Achatz’s short rib bites seared on torched cinnamon sticks, every dish showed off the incredible talent in the room.

Dinner at Maysville: Maysville, the restaurant and bourbon bar from Sean Josephs, who also owns Char No. 4 and Chef Kyle Knall, proves that southern food doesn’t have to be overly heavy, and, done right, can actually be quite delicate. Of course crispy grits with country ham and bourbon aioli isn’t light, but, served in crispy cubes with paper-thin ham piled on top, it didn’t feel rib sticking. Everything was seasonal – duck breast came with fennel, ramps and pickled strawberries – and refined. I loved everything about this restaurant.

Sushi from Miya’s in New Haven: Miya’s in New Haven is a special place. Dedicated to sustainable seafood – you won’t find any salmon or tuna on this menu – Miya’s serves some of the most inventive sushi I’ve ever had. Even more than simply serving responsibly sourced seafood, the restaurant makes “vegetarian” feel like the most decadent of diets. Sushi like Miya’s doesn’t exist anywhere else: “Passion Without Words” – one of my favorites – is made with wild foraged mushrooms, artichokes, brie cheese, and rice simmered in California Sauvignon Blanc. Waiters come around and do sake bombs with diners, who should already be sipping on the bonobo juice: Chinese firecracker sake, soda water, and lots of fresh limes. I could write a book about this restaurant. More on this truly innovative and sustainable gem later…

Mac and Cheese from Murray’s Cheese Bar: Everybody knows Murray’s cheese shop is the best place to buy cheese in the city. Last year Murray’s opened a restaurant next door, and, staying true to their roots, every dish on the menu revolves around cheese: It’s all incredible and I would have been so happy with just the cheese board (the cheesemonger’s choice is the way to go), but we ordered a round of gorgeous, gooey cheesy entrees as well: a grilled cheese on thick-cut pullman with a cup of smoky tomato bisque, grilled artichoke hearts and, my favorite, macaroni and cheese topped with crispy fried onions.

Conch Fritters at Vie’s Snack Shack on St. John: Alex and I spent an indulgently relaxing week camping on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands in March. We read, slept, swam, ate, hiked and slept some more. When we weren’t cooking over our campsite’s grill or packing sandwiches for the beach, we loved eating at Skinny Legs, Miss Lucy’s, and Vie’s Snack Shack, where found the best conch fritters on the island.

It’s been quite a spring! Whenever summer finally gets here, I’m looking forward to a lot of grilling, fresh seafood, corn, berries, stone fruits, pies and ice cream!