Food Writer Julia Sexton's List of Five Favorite Recent Dishes in Westchester, August 2012

Julia Sexton chooses her favorite bites eaten in the past 30 days.

(1) Jaegerwurst, house-made sausage, and tasso ham at The Cookery. There is almost no way to describe this particular trio of tastiness without slipping into dangerously pornographic territory. Let’s just say that the two taut, juicy sausages were perfectly textured, with one savoring of spicy mustard seeds and the other, of mellow fennel. And that tasso! It was firm and peppery—like a piggy sort of pastrami. Never has Chef DiBari’s blatant pork-philia been more of a total pigasm.

(2) Sweet corn amuse bouche at Equus at Castle on the Hudson. I caught this shooter just before local corn became available, at the point in the seasonal food cycle when I start to yearn for sweet corn in the way that I also crave air and water. But as delicious as the popping, sweet, corn kernels were, the dense, luxurious corn mousse underneath was more potently corny. Plus, all that sugary sweetness was countered by salty black flecks of dehydrated olives. Too bad the shot glass only yielded a mouthful!

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(3) Dumplings with spicy lamb sausage, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, spinach, tomatoes, and feta at MP Taverna. Gnocchi are a difficult thing to do well. They can be tough, floury bullets or slimy slugs of undercooked dough. Unbelievably, heartbreakingly, Michael Psilakis is slinging the perfect gnocchi at MP Taverna. His heavenly pillows are ethereally light, yet pleasantly resistant to the bite. Plus, for all of their angelic tenderness, they’re tossed in one devilishly carnal sauce. This is the pasta version of a Victoria’s Secret Angel.

(4) WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey.  I joke that I’m serially monogamous to cocktails, though my recent relationship with the Negroni was broken up by a hot affair with rye whiskey. I couldn’t help it! The WhistlePig is just so delicious: malt, herbs, fresh bread, chiles, and hay notes in every sip. The bad news is that a bottle of WhistlePig retails for about $75, so I only share this one with my best friends. I give everyone else Rittenhouse. Sorry about that, guys.

(5) Chocolates at ChocolateLab, eleven14 Kitchen at J House Hotel in Greenwich, CT. Chef François Kwaku-Dongo worked on his grandmother’s cacao farm during his childhood in Côte d’Ivoire, but he didn’t taste chocolate until he moved to New York as a young man. Cue Chef Kwaku-Dongo. After a distinguished career with Wolfgang Puck and now with the restaurant eleven14 Kitchen, Chef Kwaku-Dongo uses those African cacao beans in dreamy boutique chocolates fabricated in his very own chocolate lab. Success, in this case, is very, very sweet.

Photo by James Sexton

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