Food Writer Julia Sexton's List of Five Favorite Recent Dishes in Westchester, May 2012
(From the Past 30 Days)
Here’s restaurant critic, food writer, and blogger Julia Sexton’s hit list of the five most delicious things she’s eaten in the past 30 days.
(1) Tacos Árabes at Tacos El Poblano (Yonkers 914-963-1111; tacoselpoblano.com) I can’t get over the balanced perfection in this juicy, peppery, lemon-marinated pork, which is rolled into a corn tortilla with Poblano’s tart tomatillo salsa, crunchy mild onion, and refreshing cilantro. This three-bite taco is sweet, sour, hot, and crisp—the icing on the cake is that it’s dirt-cheap at $3!
Photo by Nathan Rawlinsosn
(2) Negroni at Burrata Wood Fired Pizza (Eastchester 914-337-3700; burratapizza.com) At some point, I lost my heart to the Negroni, which, like every great cocktail, has spawned a million variations. It’s so compelling because the Negroni is virtually unknowable. Each gin (and how much) changes its character, and then there are the bitters to consider—even ice plays its part. Ice. No ice. One big-ass cube. Burrata offers an excellent version, with clean Beefeater gin, funky Carpano Antica, Campari, and one monolithic cube. Yum.
(3) Grilled Octopus at Neméa Greek Taverna (Mamaroneck 914-698-6600; nemeataverna.com) Chef Sterling Smith’s version of this dish is a feat of cheffly technique in which he tames the 14-inch-long tentacles of an adult Mediterranean octopus into melting, baby tenderness, and then roasts them until they bear a delicious, almost woody, char. I could imagine eating this rustic dish with my toes in the sand of a simple, beach taverna—a welcome idea in not quite sprung spring.
(4) Food-Court Udon at H Mart (Hartsdale 914-448-8888; hmart.com) In the midst of insanity, there is udon. H Mart, the crazed new Hartsdale supermarket, draws crowds with lavish product samples and surprising giveaways, in true grand-opening spirit. On the day that I was handed two freebies—an excellent, reusable grocery bag and an iffy, if free, frying pan—I broke from the insanity to grab a quick food-court dinner. To be honest, my expectations were low—the fare at food courts is generally dreary—but this deep bowl of udon demands a return. I sat in its steam while slurping chewy, meaty noodles with an occasionally dip into a complex, umami-rich broth. It doesn’t hurt that the bowl was graced with tempura onions and salty, dried seaweed squares: this single dish redeems all mediocre food courts.
(5) Chateau Montelena Estate Chardonnay 2009 at Crabtree’s Kittle House (Chappaqua 914-666-8044; kittlehouse.com): Look, this is embarrassing, but I’m going to admit it anyway. I was sitting next to winemaker Bo Barrett, of Chateau Montelena Winery, at Crabtree’s Kittle House. As he was talking, introducing the wine, I snuck a sip of the Chardonnay that set the French wine world on its ear in the events later portrayed in the movie Bottle Shock. Bo was standing there saying something disparaging about white wine being only something that you drink before red wine is served. No one was looking, so I snuck that sip. Just as Bo paused in his speech, I accidentally emitted a low groan of pleasure. I could swear it was perfectly audible to everyone in the room. I’m hoping that they understood once they tasted their own wine.