Westchester’s Five Best Dishes in May 2013

1) Five Lilies at Elm in New Canaan, CT
They had me at leek ash, actually. The blackened, roasted leeks were ground up and emulsified into a naturally sweet, sort of ashy purée that tasted of the delicious black part of onions pulled from a roasting pan. Best of all, there was only a swipe of it on a composed plate of Flying Pig Farm porchetta and testa di maiale (that’s right, pig’s head!) stuffed with foie gras and prunes, with “five lilies”—of which one was the leek. These were five members of the allium/onion family. It was stunning.

2) Soup Dumplings at Dumpling + Noodle
These things have been in and out of fashion for a while, but I can’t stop loving them. It’s the Freshen-up Gum factor: When you bite them, hot soup fills the spoon. I was leery when Dumpling + Noodle opened in Bronxville with a name that suspiciously evokes Noodle+ in White Plains. The good news is that, though Dumpling + Noodle isn’t related to the White Plains restaurant, it’s still offering great hand-folded-to-order soup dumplings.

3) The Sabich at Taiim Cellar
It’s really basic, like soul food: a sandwich of fried sliced eggplant with hummus, hard-boiled egg, tomatoes, cucumbers, and tahini. The cucumbers are crunchy, and the eggplant and hummus are lush. The egg adds its protein to whatever was in the chickpeas, and the whole thing feels sort of healthful. It’s a perfect midweek dinner—tasty and good for your body.

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4) Devil’s Food Cake at TRUCK
What I like about TRUCK’s adorable, â…“-scale layer cakes is that they’re dense and have a homey feeling—like something that you might make in your own kitchen, except that you don’t have the cute pans (or time).

5) The Flight at Restaurant North
You can’t call it a cocktail, because, in essence, it was 10 drinks beautifully presented on a board. I guess I’ll go with a “mini-education”; this flight offered drink knowledge on two different axes. First, it offered locally produced Long Island vodka at five durations of aging in a Tuthilltown Spirits oak cask. With exposure to wood, the flavor of the vodka evolves from neutral to nearly Scotch-like. But is that where Restaurant North’s co-owner (and resident drinks genius) left off? Oh, no—Stephen Paul Mancini places each evolution of the vodka into context with five perfectly composed classic cocktails that celebrate each nuance of the wood. Genius.

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