Thursday, February 19, 2004

You know, I've recently devoted a lot of time and space to "bad" foods. Big big chains, cheap Chinese, Tuna Rice Pie ;), etc.

Well, today we'll change that. Enough of my gripin'. Top 10 *best* foods I've ever had! (In no particular order)

Mojo's Sweet & Spicy Calamari - I've tried many different calamari's. None have ever stood up to the now-defunct Mojo Restaurant's. Just the right mix of crunchy and soft, not rubbery, covered in a delicious spicy sauce and sprinkled with julienne veggies. This dish was so good, even Genevieve had to have a couple bites when I ordered it.

Danny Boy's Pizza - Though I certainly love good olde Mama Santa's Sicilian-style pies on the east side, I have to admit a fondness for those deep dish goodies served up at Danny Boy's in Rocky River. Thick and hearty and about as anti-Atkins as you can get, their pizza's are a Chicago-style pizza lover's dream. Fans of the Rat Pack should also take note of their Sinatra theme in decorations.

El Tango Taqueria's Tamale Pie - A thick slab of cornmeal, meat, cheese and sauce, El Tango's tamale pie might not be for those counting calories, but I would have trouble finding a better way to spend 'em in Lakewood. Really, despite some occasional tendencies to over-use certain spices, El Tango's whole menu, particularly their specials, are all "Good Eats."

Ni's Express' General Tso's Chicken - Seeing as how I get it almost every-single-week, it'd be silly not to put it on here, even if it's not exactly haute cuisine. It's smothered in sauce (medium spicy) and possesses an addictive quality that's almost scary. I've not known one person on my team at work who, once ordering the General Tso's, has ever gone back to anything else.

Johnny Mango's Caribbean Fries - As I've learned to replicate many of their dishes, we don't go to the Mango as much as we used to. But the Caribbean Fries are a treat I've yet to master. Deep fried plantains, served with pico de gallo. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and sweet all over. The salsa gives it a kick into culinary heaven.

Cafe Kilimanjaro's sweet potatoes & groundnut stew - Okay, so it's two dishes, but one restaurant. They're both so good, I just couldn't decide. Served in a sweet brown sugar sauce, Kilimanjaro's sweet potatoes are a warm blanket for the taste buds. Perfectly soft and sweet, they could act as a dessert just as well as a side. Their groundnut soup is equally appealing. Earthy, with just enough spices, it's a fragrant nut (as you could guess)-based soup which left me scraping out the last drops. I've tried making it myself once, but my results didn't even come close to the gritty goodness at Kilimanjaro's. Note to Clevelander's: unlike most of the dishes I list here, you'll have to travel pretty far to taste these. The Cafe is located in Louisville, Kentucky.

Miracle's Carrot Cake Waffles - If you think Kilimanjaro's cuisine will be hard to get, this is even harder. The restaurant that served it is now defunct. Miracle's was the first restaurant we went to in what would eventually become our neighborhood, Tremont. The carrot cake waffles were part of their Sunday brunch menu. Served with a side of either frozen custard or cream cheese, they were a decadent delight. Enjoyed with a cup of good orange juice, it was the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning. The restaurant has since changed hands many times and is now known as Sage.

Non-Restaurant Entry: Mike & Liz's Household - Espresso Cheesecake - Anyone who has asked "what does a vegan eat anyways?", has never been to Mike and Liz's, or visited Mike's Blog (of the same name). Gourmet food made completely without the use of animal products. Always delicious. Topping that list is Liz's (the queen of vegan desserts) Espresso Cheesecake. It's not just good for a vegan "cheese"cake, but for a cheesecake, period. I strongly encourage everyone to check out the blog and see what great dishes are being cooked up. Drool....

Aladdin's Farah's Favorite Pitza - Now, back to something that you can actually get. I don't know what is it about this pitza, topped with a perfectly hot & spicy tomato sauce, caramelized onions and grilled chicken, that keeps me lusting after it every time I've gone to Aladdin's for the past 9 years, but it's an addiction which doesn't look to be letting up anytime soon. Recommended for those who like things spicy.

I'll devote my last entry to desserts. I just couldn't decide on one, so here's a brief list:
Max's Deli - Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake
Mustard Seed's - CocoaMoo Float
Axcess's - Banana dessert - wrapped in filo (forget the name)
Lelolai' s- Quesitos (warm cream cheese wrapped in a flaky pastry crust..mmmm..)

Note: I am *sure* there are dishes that have been neglected or forgotten. This list is by no means set-in-stone.

So, enough of me, what are *your* favorite dishes?