Thursday, January 26, 2012

The 100th Post Medal Podium: The Very Best Things We Have Eaten (So Far)

In honor of our 100th post, we have each decided to compile a list of our favorite dishes consumed so far -- our Best Of the Best Thing I Ever Ate, so to speak.  These are the places that we tend to recommend the most and would be especially likely to return to on our own accord.  And so, in a burst of Olympic fanfare, we present the It's Not Even Noon Somewhere 100th Post Gold Medal Champions:

Best Things Vodka Ever Ate:
1. Pasta Tasting Menu -- Vetri
Toto, I Don't Think We're in Olive Garden Anymore
One word: pasta.  Vetri is all about the pasta, which just so happens to be Vodka's favorite food on the planet.  And no one -- NO ONE -- does pasta better than the staff at Vetri.  So save up your pennies, make your way to Philadelphia, and drown yourself in Vetri's delectability.

2. Spaghetti -- Scarpetta

Don't Let Your Cat Mistake This For Yarn
Since there is not yet a Vetri outpost in New York, Vodka heads to Scarpetta whenever she needs an upscale pasta fix.  While the Best Thing I Ever Ate dish is the spaghetti, all other pasta dishes which Vodka has tasted here (particularly any of the truffle specials) have been mouth-watering feats of culinary glory.  And if all of that persuasion is not enough, Scarpetta's bread basket is the best in the city (it has stromboli in it, for goodness sake!).

3. Mama Els' Recipe Fried Chicken -- Hill Country Chicken

Everyone Knows the Best Fried Chicken Comes From... Manhattan?
When Vodka decides to eat something other than carbs, she heads to Hill Country Chicken for some of Mama Els' Recipe fried chicken (though let's be real - Hill Country's carbs are pretty great, too, particularly their mac and cheese).  Go for the chicken, stay for the pie.  PS Vodka loves any place that serves boxed wine.

4. Cookies -- Levain
The Only Hiking Vodka Wants to Do Is Up This Cookie Mountain
When the Best Thing I Ever Ate tour was still a mere figment of our overeating imaginations, Vodka fell in love with Levain Bakery and their one-pound cookies.  While the dark chocolate variety was the one featured on Best Thing I Ever Ate, Vodka prefers the chocolate chip walnut or the peanut butter chocolate versions, though, in truth, you cannot go wrong with any flavor.  In fact, you cannot go wrong with a single baked good served at Levain (and rest assured that Vodka has made it her mission to try them all).

5. Toasted Ricotta Gnocchi -- Jane

Paula Deen Said It Best: Add Butter to Everything
Clearly, Vodka has a soft-spot for pasta, and Jane's ricotta gnocchi is second to none.  Starchy and smothered in cream, they are a guilty pleasure waiting to happen.  If they were served at a time other than lunch, Vodka might even be found in one of Jane's booths every week.

Best Things Ginger Ever Ate:

1. Cyprus Breakfast -- Kanella
Smorgasbord of Salt
Kanella's cyprus breakfast eliminated Ginger's eternal debate between sweet or salty morning meals.  While consuming Kanella's sodium-laden platter, nary a vision of sugary baked goods danced in her head.  The cyprus breakfast accomplishes perfection without a drop of chocolate or maple syrup, which is fantastic news... if you live in Philadelphia.

2. Spaghetti -- Scarpetta
It Bears Repeating: STROMBOLI in the BREAD BASKET
Truth be told, Ginger's love affair with Scarpetta is not even about the Best Thing I Ever Ate spaghetti; it is about the bread basket that precedes the spaghetti.  The pasta dishes are only a delicious method by which to obtain the most fantastic bread selection in the whole city.

3. Spaghetti and Meatballs -- Extra Virgin
Spaghetti with a Side of Bowling Ball
Unfortunately for Scarpetta, if Ginger were looking to eat spaghetti on a brisk fall afternoon, she would bundle up and request a prime people-watching seat on the patio of Extra Virgin in the West Village.  This spaghetti is tasty on its own, but the meatballs elevate it beyond the plain and simple.  And luckily, there is plenty left over to bring home for a crave-worthy snack later in the night.  Fortunately for Scarpetta, Extra Virgin only serves this dish on Sunday, so Ginger's loyalties are not too divided.

4. Popovers -- BLT Steak
Snap, Crackle, Popover
It has come to Ginger's attention that sometimes, the "free" bread is the best thing about a place. Case-in-point: BLT Steak's popovers.  If it weren't for our detailed blog, Ginger wouldn't even be able to remember what else we ate at BLT Steak (though she would imagine it involved steak).  These warm, airy popovers could only be improved by one thing: a fresh ginger cocktail.

5. Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake -- Stand

Ginger Likes Her Campfires in a Glass
One time after our initial excursion, Ginger went back to Stand and ordered a different milkshake; it was a terrible mistake.  After drinking the toasted marshmallow milkshake, no other kind ever compares.  And after consuming one shake, all you want is another.  In all fairness, Micheal Symon did warn us.

Best Cocktail:

Grapefruit Margarita -- Barrio Chino
Part of a Balanced Breakfast
Suffice it to say that this margarita made Vodka a fan of grapefruit itself, not to mention able to bear the burden of cardboard menus and rowdy brunch-time hipsters.

Grapefruit Margarita -- Barrio Chino
The Grapefruit Margarita is Worth the Shoddiness of This Menu
Barrio Chino has elevated the margarita far beyond the realm of Jimmy Buffet's imagination into a delicious, tangy concoction perfect for brunch.  It is just a matter of time (and stomach space) before we return to the place, and this time, Ginger will forgo the ginger mojito in favor of this perfect pink drink.

(Clearly, the sole reason we're friends is our identical preference for this cocktail).

Best Dessert:

Rice Pudding -- Rice to Riches
The Alien-Invasion Photography Does Not Do Justice to This Pudding's Perfection
Based on her physique, one would not assume that Kelly Ripa knows good food, but she advocated Rice to Riches's plethora of rice pudding flavors long before Lisa Lillien did, and Vodka has been a loyal fan of the place ever since.  Tip: skip the toppings and stick to the pure perfection of the rice pudding itself.

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies – Levain Bakery
Brownie Flavor in Cookie Form
These cookies would feed several small children for weeks.  The outside is crisp, but the inside is rich and creamy, like raw cookie dough.  Ginger once tried to find the recipe online and to bake these sinfully good cookies herself, but somehow, the vast gooey interior remains a home baker's pipe dream.

Best Appetizer:

Pickles -- McClure's Pickles
Life Is Just a Bowl of Pickles
Not only are pickles an ideal prelude to any meal, but Vodka enjoys any food that is a Bring Your Own Atmosphere choice.  While the first half of McClure's salty, briny pickle jar was consumed in the middle of E.A.T. restaurant, the second half was demolished on Vodka's couch, which is, frankly, her very favorite culinary ambiance of all.

Deviled Eggs-- The Spotted Pig
Heavenly Eggs of the Devil's Creation
Deviled eggs may be one of the easiest things to whip up in one's own kitchen, but why bother when you can sit at the Spotted Pig bar with a festive cocktail to accompany their more scrumptious variety?

Best Bar:

Grilled Mushroom Stack -- o ya
The Mushrooms Must Be Awfully Good to Counteract the Lack of Cocktails
One might wonder why Vodka would choose a bar where she didn't actually consume a cocktail.  Well, o ya's accommodating staff allowed Vodka to sit at the chef's tasting bar by herself when the restaurant was barely open so that she could consume the Best Thing I Ever Ate dish, and any bar that she can take over on her own is one that holds a special place in her heart.  Solid work, Boston.

French Onion Soup Dumplings -- Stanton Social Club

It's Hard to Dislike Something Smothered in Cheese
Sure, the French onion soup dumplings were delicious, but what makes Stanton Social Club the best bar is that we were the only ones there.  Full bartender attention, broad daylight, and silence: that's our kind of place.  (Plus, this is the location where we came up with the title of our blog -- creativity flourishes when we are left to our own mid-day drinking devices).

Best (Biggest) Surprise:

Toro Tartare -- Morimoto
Sushi on the Rocks
Normally, a thin slab of raw fish, sans rice, would not be considered Vodka's go-to meal, but Morimoto's toro tartare is so ridiculously interesting that it makes a believer out of even the most reluctant sashimi eater.  Fresh fish, a smattering of dip choices, and a full-service Japanese toilet -- what else could someone want from a restaurant?

Deep Fried Candy Bar – A Salt and Battery
The Real English Royalty
Ginger loves both fatty foods and state fairs, so her apathy towards deep-frying is somewhat baffling.  The truth is that she is not wild about fried Oreos or even classic funnel cake, but the deep-fried candy bars at A Salt and Battery are true to their Best Thing I Ever Ate episode: TOTALLY UNEXPECTED.

And there you have it: 100 posts down, innumerable Best Thing I Ever Ate dishes to go.  Perhaps by post 500, our tastes will change.  But somehow, we think that no matter where our tastebuds and Food Network stars lead us, we will always be loyal to one reliable constant: our dear friend, the cocktail.

And with that, we raise a toast to the next 100 dishes: May they all be the best things we ever ate.  Or at the very least, may they all be accompanied by some combination of vodka and ginger.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations ladies on your 100th post!!! I just love your blog. You keep me entertained. I have a long way to go before I hit 100 but hopefully I can get there without gaining any weight! Kudos again.