As a food writer, I am lucky enough to eat well on a regular basis. But this past week was exceptional: I enjoyed a series of excellent meals, one right after the other – and they all served to remind me (as I’m often reminded) of the exciting variety and quality of food available to us in this wonderful region. Here’s five dishes that played a starring role in my week:
Wood-Fired Striper Bass, Tuli Bistro
This knockout fish was roasted whole and laid on a bed of piperade – an intensely summery, palate-blasting tumble of bell peppers and ripe tomatoes – then drizzled with a caper-punctuated salsa verde. Vivacious and super-flavorful, the pretty dish was pure delight.
Manila Clams, Taylor’s Kitchen
Taylor’s Kitchen has a deft hand with shellfish – I always order mussels if I find them on the menu. But this past week I reveled in the restaurant’s fragrant bowl of Manila clams, immersed in a lusty Romesco broth, dotted with garbanzo beans and doused with squiggles of a garlicky, delectable aioli sauce.
Make-Your-Own Spring Rolls, Quan Nem Ninh Hoa
I love settling in at this sunny, friendly South Sac Vietnamese restaurant to order up its signature make-your-own spring rolls. Diners are given rice wrappers, which they dunk in the warm water provided until they are pliable, then stuff their personal spring rolls with fresh herbs, skewer-roasted pork, crunchy (rolled up) fried egg wrapper, vegetables and noodles. Refreshing and tasty, the dish is also very modestly priced.
Lamb Kabob, Maalouf’s Taste of Lebanon
An old favorite dining haunt of mine, Maalouf’s cranks out some of the tastiest Middle Eastern food in the region. This week I happily devoured a plateful of the restaurant’s excellent, rustic ground lamb kabob, served up with big chunks of juicy, smoky grilled tomatoes and onions on a generous bed of rice. And for dessert? A sweet, crispy square of fresh baklava.
Margherita Pizza, 33rd Street Bistro
I appreciated the simplicity of this yummy pizza, which was simply adorned with mozzarella cheese, fresh tomato slices and zingy slivers of fresh basil. The crust was chewy and beautifully cooked, the toppings summery and satisfying.