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Westchester Foodies And Chefs On Their Favorite Food

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Diane Weintraub Pohl, Westchester Magazine Dining Contributor

The chocolate soufflé at Le Lavandou, Manhattan, in 1979. I was newly engaged and we went to celebrate at Le Lavandou, a classic French restaurant on the Upper East Side, our first exposure to French cuisine. Having grown up eating canned and processed food, the meal was life changing. I remember much of it. Choosing is tough: it’s a close tie between the lobster bisque and chocolate soufflé, but my sweet tooth reigns, so I’ll go with the soufflé. Rich, deep, smooth, luscious and every other decadent adjective available, it was a seminal, indelible swoon.”

Leslie-Anne Brill, Westchester Magazine Dining Contributor

“I can’t single out one dish. But of all the amazing food I’ve had all over the world, the best thing I’ve eaten has been my mother’s cooking, especially her native Sephardic and Turkish dishes such as eggplant borek with a pastry crust, beef-stuffed grape leaves cooked in a pot of cannellini beans, and aÅŸure, a grain-based pudding flavored with rosewater and studded with pomegranate kernels, walnuts, and currants. Oh, we had our nights of Swanson TV dinners and instant mashed potatoes with Cheez Whiz. But somehow even those tasted better when she made them.”

Julie Ruggirello, Westchester Magazine Dining Contributor

“The best thing I’ve ever eaten was during a multi course dinner at a vineyard in Istria, Croatia. Meneghetti is a beautiful vineyard with a hotel and tiny restaurant. The food was all delicious, but the dish that will always stand out in my mind is the homemade ravioli with black truffles in an egg yolk sauce. It was stunningly simple.”

Beck Bolender, Executive Chef, 121 Restaurant in North Salem:

“Fresh steamers with drawn butter. It was probably about 12 years ago when I first had steamers. They were perfectly cooked and had an amazing briny flavor. The combination of the sweet briny steamers and the drawn butter is something I will never forget. It was one of my first real food memories that turned me on to food—especially seafood.” 

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