1. Boston Cream Cake at Two Little Red Hens (86th and 2nd):
Everything a Boston Kreme Pie aspires to be and so much more. Moist white cake, lush custard layers and just dark enough dark chocolate to bind the rings of flavor together. That they run out quickly only adds to the fun. Scarcity, at least in bakeries, is still a virtue. N.B. Get the Lemon Pucker cake if someone beats you to the BCC.
2. Ma Bo Tofu with Beef at Szechuan Chalet (72nd and 2nd)
None of the over-saline taste I’ve found recently at Szechuan Gourmet. All the peppery potency. Beef bits worked well in totally unvegetarian vegetable dish. N.B. Tofu was creamily delicate and astoundingly fresh. Like Chinese mozzarella curds. Best rainy day meal I’ve had in a while.
3. Mini Pistachio Cannoli at Stuffed Artisan Cannoli (176 Stanton)
Same size as tuna cigars served at Buddakan, and equally flavorful. Lighter shell than you’d expect and much more powerful pistachio flavors than I’ve had before. Like a good super intense Laboratorio de gelato number turned into ricotta/custard cream.
4. Nduja and Grilled Bread at Pulino’s (East Houston and Bowery): Fruity olive oil somehow lightens up the offal spackle that is Nduja and puts it in the luxurious foie camp rather than the nasty grey meat category. At first, there wasn’t enough bread to sop up this better than braunschweiger spreadable sausage stuffing, but that was easily remedied. Maybe not in A Voce’s league, but there’s no A Voce on East Houston.
5. Michael Jordan’s Mac and Cheese (Grand Central)
More bite from the cheddar than you usually find in a steak house side and no over the top oleaginous notes. Brouléed bread crumb crust adds needed textural contrast to what can easily turn into baby pap in the wrong hands. A rare case of balanced flavors in an unabashed fat bolus.