I've narrowed it down to 5:
5. Homecooked meals on the ranch. I spent Sept. 05 - March 06 on a ranch in northern California. When you have a car at your disposal you end up w/ a shitload of groceries. I learned to roast a chicken, make Swedish ginger cookies (with bacon fat instead of butter) and make sweet potato pie. I picked apples from the orchard and made apple cake. I cooked every single meal I ate for 6 months. Lots of steak and lamb chops. Lots of wine. I tried to forego wine+cheese guides and started using my taste buds. I think I did okay.
4. Yakitori Totto for Andrew/Aser's last day in NY. Actually, probably any time that chinky ass bastard comes into town. On this trip, we trekked to Tehuitzingo on 10th Ave between 46th and 47th or so and got some real deal Mexican tacos. They had lengua and goat. Just some cilantro, onions and a squeeze of lime on some tortillas. We walked all the way down 9th Ave, stopping at Billy's Bakery for a red velvet cupcake and then Chelsea Market for lobster bisque. Dinner at our place - we made basil-lime shrimp, red grape-blue cheese-walnut salad and spaghetti bolognese w/ ground lamb and beef. Ramen special at Chikubu, only on Fridays. I left work and rushed to meet him at this spot. We've done a few ramen runs in the past but this one was the best by far. The broth was light but super flavorfull and the pork was thick, fatty and soft. One of those dishes where you want to keep eating until you finish the very last drop - even though you're having trouble breathing and the seams on your pants are screaming. Dinner at Totto to round out the trip: grilled chicken hearts, lamb chops, enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon, dashi maki tamago (special rolled omelette w/ grated radish), and for dessert, ice banana. A frozen banana with tapioca in coconut milk.
3. My first time to eat at Pies n Thighs. This is a small hole in the wall underneath the Williamsburg Bridge on S. 5th and Kent. It's always fun to eat there because you bike out, order your food and then eat it on picnic tables covered in red/white checked vinyl tablecloths. Pulled pork sandwich and sweet tea. The fried catfish is excellent as well - very lightly crusted and not greasy. Brunch is not to be missed. The short stack w/ buttered maple syrup pretty much put me over the edge. And I only had a small taste.
2. Meals w/ my HR team. I'm blessed w/ coworkers who love to eat.
Lederhosen (W. Village)
German beer spot w/ traditional fare - sausages of all kinds. I consumed a liter and a half of hefeweizen and narfed a ton of sausages. Then I smashed a liter beer mug into my boss's face and made him bleed. Consider it a successful night :(
Great place for steaks. And the wines are not marked up. It's been a while - lobster risotto, mussels in dijon mustard sauce, calamari for appetizers. Steak tartare with grilled bread and mixed greens for dinner. And one of each dessert, including cotton candy, creme brulee and a cone of gelato for each of us.
Gyu-kaku (E. Village/Cooper Square or Midtown East)
Japanese BBQ - like Korean bbq you order pre-marinated meats and cook it on a grill at the table. We must've eaten 10 lbs of meat for lunch one day. The only thing missing was the Asahi.
The Little Owl (W. Village)
Tiny slip of a place - we had mini sliders for an appetizer on homemade buns. Then a fish dish (halibut?) with green mashed potatoes. I can't remember much else. Apparently the pork chop is supposed to be v. good. At 2" thick it will be a challenge but I think I can do it.
Blue Ribbon (W. Village-ish)
Appetizers: Malpeques on the halfshell, cheese fondue, roasted bone marrow w/ oxtail marmalade, sweetbreads w/ mushrooms and arugula.
My entree was breast of duck w/ orange sauce; mashed turnips and some beets and brussel sprouts.
Oysters are one of my favorite foods. I like them with just a squeeze of lemon. And not too cold. And with lots of ocean juice still in there.
My first time to try sweetbreads - honestly, I'm glad I was a little twisty. The meat had a creamy consistency and wasn't as gamey as I thought it would be - I'd definitely try it again. I have a recipe for them in my meat bible but I'm a little reluctant to try it.
1. Homecooked meals by mamadukes.
Nothing compares to mom's homecooking. Even when you're sick and she makes you eat that nasty arroz caldo for a week straight. Even sinigang from a soup packet. Nothing tastes like home, and I need that on a regular basis seeing as how I'm pretty much root-less.
Kare kare - oxtail stew in a peanut base w/ green beans and eggplant. You eat it with rice and some salty shrimp paste.
Pork bbq - I still can't get this right. All I know is, there's Sprite in the marinade and you gotta let it sit overnight before you cook it.
Garlic-ginger crab w/ glass noodles - in Canada we stayed in Tofino and got fresh live crabs. It was clearly stated all over the lodge that we couldn't cook seafood in there because of the smell but mom said fuck it and cooked us some crab.
The only thing I'm missing is her paella and lasagna. But that's why she's coming to visit me this year.