So here we are, the last post of 2015! 2015 was a transitional year for me + this little blog.
I started my full-time job in late 2014, so finding the time to figure out how this space worked into my life, while working full-time was definitely harder than I thought it would be.
I took a few months in the middle of the year to transition my focus from my Etsy business + focus more so on food content. I still run my Etsy shop, but I'm definitely going to spend more time in 2016 thinking about how I can create more content for people like me. You work full-time, you freelance on the side, but you love good food. That's the direction we'll be going in for 2016.
But that's for next year! Let's focus on a recap, shall we? Here are the 20 menu items I was likely to order in 2015. Warning, these aren't for those looking to detox + diet. Ha!
burrata is like fresh mozzarella’s fancy cousin. It’s burrata's soft exterior that gives way to a creamy interior that puts it on the top of this list. it's freakin' good! burrata is often served alongside tomatoes, but it is best with a drizzle of balsamic, a sprinkle of salt + plenty of bread to dip straight into it. sign. me. up.
OK. pork belly is tad bit like glorified bacon, but when prepared correctly you get the tenderness of smoked meat, creaminess of the melted pork fat + the crunch of the caramelized exterior. pork belly is often relegated to appetizers (a few cubes served with a beautiful sauce + shaved vegetables), but my go-to is the five-spice pork belly sandwich at Num Pang. I haven’t made pork belly at home, so maybe this is something to explore in 2016?
whenever I go to a new sandwich joint + I see that a cubano sandwich is on the menu I know to pounce. it’s kind of like a ham + cheese sandwich with the volume turned up. you have the ham + swiss cheese, but most cuban sandwiches also come with roasted pork, pickles + mustard or spicy aioli. my favorite by far is the one at Café Habana.
impossible to avoid in NYC, ramen shops continue to pop up + I am a-ok with that. I slurped a lot of ramen this year, but all ramen isn’t created equal. This isn’t your college-style ramen out of a styrofoam container. This is stuff of substance. My favorite ramen style is a tonkotsu broth (aka pork broth) with long, squiggly noodles. Ramen with super tender, thinly cut slices of pork is ideal. Ramen Zundo-ya + Ippuddo served up bowls I kept slurping this year. The tsuke-men (dipped noodles!) at Ramen Setagaya were also a gem!
I had my first bite (+ then hundreds more) of soup dumplings this year + I’m never going back! soup dumplings are a bit different than the typical fried pork guys. they’re little pouches of pork filled dumpling skins with a soupy interior. you have to order more than you think is enough + slurp them up. sometimes you will burn the roof of your mouth, but it’s kind of worth it. The Bao is a fun spot in NY to try these.
basically mixed rice, bibimbap is a Korean dish involving warm rice, veggies, protein, sauce + tons of toppings (sometimes even a raw egg!). my favorites were those served in a warm sizzling hot pot! this is comfort food, but well-rounded so you get a taste of everything in each bite. it’s also a treat because typically I don’t want to prep so many components when I’m eating for one!
smoked meat sandwiches
there’s something comforting about a good smoked meat sandwich. I think it harkens back to my childhood when my family would go to jewish delis for pastrami on rye with plenty of grainy mustard + sour pickles on the side. restauranteurs have continued to preserve this tradition. some of my favorite smoked meat can be found at Mile End, where the spirit of the classic jewish deli is alive + well.
i’ve only attempted to make ravioli once before. it took forever. but it was so worth it, because nothing is as delicious as homemade ravioli. this is why when I see it on a menu (+ I have a gut feeling that the restaurant makes their own) i know instantly what i’m ordering. fillings-wise, simple is always better. you can’t go wrong with a simple cheese filling or even a butternut squash filling. but if we’re being completely honest, my favorite ravioli is Mo Rocca’s My Grandmother’s Ravioli.
they’re not going away + I’m totally ok with that. I think we’re getting bored with standard doughnut flavors (move aside chocolate glazed), because more + more bakers are experimenting with unique concepts. one of my favorites was a café au lait doughnut from Dough. and while not a doughnut per se, I finally had a cronut (do i need to include a TM after this?) this year which didn’t disappoint. even my local bakery started making cronut rip offs so, cheers to me!
mac & cheese
i’ve never been able to make a solid mac & cheese myself, which is pathetic because it’s my favorite food in the entire world. my favorite noodles this year were shells + thick macaroni tubes. as far as the cheese, a mac & cheese has to contain some sharp cheddar. mix-ins aren’t really welcome, sorry! my trick for making the boxed variety more special? add plenty of butter + olive oil to the packet of dried cheese, then add red pepper flakes, black pepper + fresh parmesan cheese. toss in a few mushrooms if you have them around.
fried chicken sandwich
this is a trend that EXPLODED + I’m sure it’s going to continue into next year. I had my first bite of chick-fil-a (boo their politics, yay to their food) plus a try at Fuku, David Chang’s creation. the best fried chicken sandwiches were spicy, were served with a killer sauce + used thigh meat for moist sandwiches. for achieving this at home, make sure to mix in spiced to either the breading OR the binder so you fry in that flavor.
crispy. hot. battered. fritto misto is a display of the best seafood fried to perfection. it always seems to be served with a creamy dipping sauce (bonus points for a spicy dipping sauce) plus plenty of fresh lemon for squeezing overtop. the easiest way to pull this off at home is to stick to one type of seafood, whether that be squid, shrimp or even baby scallops. fry up some basil alongside for some herby crunch.
now this is comfort food that you don’t really feel guilty about afterwards. fried artichokes are crisp on the outside, but the crust gives way to tender artichoke hearts. it’s time consuming to make, especially when you are using fresh artichokes, but if you see them on a menu you have to pounce. my favorite fried artichokes are the ones at Harvest on Hudson where they serve them with shaved pecorino + arugula pesto.
so i did a good stint at a lobster roll company + even so, I still freaking love the stuff. i was trained well to like lobster rolls with toasted buns + plenty of lemon butter. you can easily make these for yourself at home OR just have them sent to your house. a highlight this year was trying out the roll at The Lobster Roll (AKA LUNCH). It comes with fries people!
oh man, brisket HELLO. Mighty Quinn’s came in like a shining beacon this year + I continue to compare all other BBQ briskets to theirs. you’re never really sure what’s in the sauce (plus most BBQ joints keep their formula top secret), but my favorite is smokey, slightly spicy + definitely sweet.
I made a joke this year that I would build a crostini empire + I’m still sold on the idea, tbh. open-style sandwiches are the bomb so I continue to test recipes + order recipes that involve a shiz ton of ingredients on top of crispy bread. one of my favorites was an open faced sammy from Little Skips featuring lox, avocado, red onion + goat cheese schemer. I have plenty of crostini-like ideas to explore in the recipes archives.
I’m still waiting for croissants to be like the next doughnut/cupcake trend, but for now I’ll just enjoy some good ones + wait on it. I feel like a broken record when I shout from the rooftops that I am obsessed with Lafayette’s croissants. The croissant du jour is switched up every day, but they’re stellar. my favorite has to be the banana, chocolate + coconut one. these aren’t your supermarket croissants though, they’re crisp + endlessly flakey.
2015 could be the year when if there was a beet salad on a menu, I needed to order it. i really love beets, but sometimes the effort to make them soft bores me. it just takes a lot of time + I usually don’t have the patience! but it’s a good thing that most restaurants make a great beet salad. you’ll usually see beets alongside a soft cheese like goat cheese plus a whole bunch of herbs or citrus.
oddly specific, yeah, but the artichoke pizza slice at the aptly named Artichoke Pizza is killer. can I say that it was my favorite slice this year? actually, yeah, because it made it even easier for me to shovel spinach + artichoke dip into my mouth. thank you.
so for those unfamiliar, lechon is roasted pork, aka. suckling pig. this is one of the best ways to enjoy pork as the skin gets incredibly crispy while the meat becomes tender + falls apart. Asia de Cuba serves a sick spread. you get a nice bowl of the roasted pork with lettuce to enjoy with a few sweet + spicy sauces. they also serve it up with plantains, black beans + fried rice.
have very happy new year's everyone! i'll see you back here in 2016!
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