I’ve been blessed with an extraordinary number of opportunities to travel this year, providing more fodder for Authentic Eats, Long Island Streets and making it harder than ever to pick my favorite bites and sips of 2015. From Istanbul to Greece to Italy and Sint Maarten, Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and most recently, Cuba, there’s been no shortage of amazing eats these past 12 months, especially as Long Island’s culinary consciousness continues a rapturous awakening. Here are some of my highlights for 2015:
- An authentic, traditional mojito at Xanadu in Varadero, Cuba, muddled slowly and by hand with fresh mint and locally made, award-winning rum.
- Moros y Cristianos, a Caribbean rice-and-beans dish cooked with pork fat and delicious spices. Shown here at Finca del Mar in Cuba.
- Tenderloin paillard with grilled avocado and creamed local Mexican corn at the Canadian Beef cooking demonstration at El Dorado Royale in the Riviera Maya.
- Mixed grill plate in Mykonos, Greece, with chicken and pork souvlaki and a patty of skewered gyro meat, all with a dollop of exquisite Greek yogurt with fresh cucumbers.
- Simit off a cart in Istanbul. Similar to a bagel but with a denser bite, toasted sesame, and crispy outer shell, delectable with fresh, soft Turkish cheese.
- Tiramisu at I Tre Mercanti in Venice, perfect in little to-go cups
- An actual ice cream sandwich from a shop in Venice, where rich gelato is nestled into puffy brioche buns.
- A real Sicilian cannoli, stuffed to order at acclaimed Roberto in Taormina.
- Fresh-made bucatini a la Norma, an eggplant tomato sauce topped with smoked ricotta, eaten at a cliffside restaurant in Taormina, Sicily.
Closer to home …
- Simple as it is, the cheddar biscuit breakfast sliders at the cash only Cook Room in Middle Island is one of my all-time favorite down-home breakfasts.
- The chicken and waffle appetizer at Old Fields in Greenlawn was my eureka! moment for this classic. I could have taken or left it prior to trying it here, but this rendition is irresistible.
- The grandma pizza at Gio’s in East Islip on Carleton Avenue is simply to die for, with a sweet sauce and heapings of shaved cheese that is totally addicting.
- The halibut at the Lake House in Bayshore is outstanding, but so is everything else they serve. Beautifully presented and gorgeously prepared.
- Crab grilled cheese at newcomer Reel Kitchen in King’s Park is perhaps the most decadent rendition of grilled cheese I’ve ever had.
- Teller’s is my go-to for special occasions and the Teller’s Delmonico ribeye with truffle butter and onion straws never disappoints.
- I was so sad to find that Honu Kitchen & Cocktails’ brunch was going to remain seasonal. Their eggs Benedict is the best classic rendition I’ve had on the island.
- I grew up eating these thick-skinned, handmade pork dumplings from China East in Selden and down a dozen soaked in gingery soy sauce without blinking an eye.
- An oversized pignoli cookie bar at Dolci Momenti in Holbrook is almond paste heaven.
- Fiorello Dolce in Huntington’s croissants are definitely worthy of the hype. I still haven’t managed to get their oddly named frenagel, but I’ve had the French onion-stuffed, almond, and classic and none disappoint.
- Always and forever, the Cheese Dream at the Good Steer in Lake Grove will be among my favorite burgers, although the Lessings’ Main Street Restaurants give them a run for their money with their brioche buns and Pat LaFreida blends.
- We Long Islanders love our bacon, egg and cheese combos, and Suburban Eats in Farmingdale does an outstanding original version on buttery focaccia.
- Well worth the drive, Bridgehampton’s Topping Rose House’s humble roast chicken is a sonnet.
Believe it or not, this is just a sampling of this year’s most memorable bites! There are so many more I simply don’t have photos for or devoured too quickly to document. It’s a big, beautiful world we live in full of amazing things to eat, so here’s to an even more delectable 2016!
For the full list of Su-Jit’s authentic eats, click here.