Westchester’s Five Best Dishes in July 2013

Exotic Saigon Roll at Saigonese, Durian’s Laab Gai, George Dickel rye whiskey, and more

1) Laab Gai at Durian Everyone always notices the lavish chilies that you find in some Thai food, but what always strikes me is some of its daring sourness. In Durian’s classic mound of laab gai, minced chicken and toasted ground rice are tossed in an eye-opening blend of funky fish sauce and lime juice. There is some grittiness from the toasted (but otherwise uncooked) rice and some crunch from chopped red onions and fresh cilantro—but the real highlight of this laab is its delicious sourness. My mouth is actually watering at the memory.

2) Exotic Saigon Roll at Saigonese I’m addicted to those sticky, purple-red sweet sausages that you sometimes find in Chinese, Thai—and here, Vietnamese—food. I’m just going to have to say it:  They’re like sugary Slim Jims. I mean, sugary Slim Jims! Who doesn’t love that?

3) Chickpea Bites at Pour We washed up at Pour at about 10 pm on a Thursday having not eaten dinner because we’d lingered after a fun (and illuminating) wine class at The Study Fine Wines & Spirits in Greenwich, Connecticut. Actually, we’d dropped by Little Bombay Station first, but it had just closed—so we hoped that we might grab something to eat at Pour. And, lo, there was Little Kabab Station’s chef, Bonnie Saran, sitting on the porch and tucking into her post-shift Bacardi and Coke and a pile of Pour dishes. I’m ashamed to say that I scammed on her chickpea bites—and they were beautiful, golden cubes of starchy, cheesy wonderfulness. Actually, I owe her some cash for eating that dish.

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4) George Dickel rye whiskey Some of us have been playing a game of “What are You Drinking?” on Twitter: You snap a pic of your own drink and then try to find out what everyone else is drinking. I’ve noticed that Chef Eric Gabrynowicz of Restaurant North frequently features George Dickel Tennessee whiskey. Still on my rye kick, I bought a bottle of the Dickel rye and loved it—its signature rye spiciness was balanced by sweet, brown sugar soul. Even better, the Dickel is relatively inexpensive at about $30 per bottle—though it’s not as cheap as my beloved Rittenhouse, which sells for about $20.

5) 2009 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru at Restaurant North It just rankles me when I hear wine collectors talk about money. After all, who can put a price tag on flavors, and, ultimately, those conversations are about wallet size—and who’s got the biggest one. That said, this pricey white Burgundy was big enough to justify its three-digit price tag. It was subtle, yet lingering, and full of dreamy earth, rocks, nuts, and fruit.

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