Tis the season for top ten lists and reflections on 2010, and I feel compelled to join the fray.
The biggest difference between me and the other contributors to the aforementioned fray can be summed up in one word: archives. I barely have any. My saving grace is the bounty of interesting eats and drinks this year that have not yet made it to the printer. In that spirit, and in no particular order, I present my “Top Ten Unique or At Least Memorable Dishes of 2010, Not Included in a Previous Column.”
1. Fish Taco from Huck’s Place in Columbus. Fish tacos are not easy to come by in the Golden Triangle, but I have managed to locate one in each city and Huck’s is my current favorite. Grilled grouper and red cabbage slaw with a vinaigrette dressing in a crispy flour tortilla. Fish: healthy. Cabbage: healthy. Shell: fried. I think we are officially three for three.
2. Grilled Mac and Cheese from Flying Biscuit Café in Charlotte, NC. I’m not sure how they did this. It had the consistency of a heavy bread pudding, sliced, and cooked on a griddle like a grilled cheese sandwich. Oddly satisfying.
3. Barbecue Omelet from Starkville Café. I have thrown pulled pork in my scrambled eggs before, but John Lee kicks it up a notch. The eggs wrap up a hefty portion of his good barbecue plus just enough cheese, and are dressed with a drizzle of comeback sauce and a sprinkling of barbecue seasoning. It hasn’t made it to the menu yet, but you can request it. Request it.
4. Black and Bleu Salad from Central Station Grill. Of late I have been enjoying more and more dishes featuring bleu cheese. This one pairs the cheese nicely with marinated beef and fried onion straws. We have actually ordered this more than once, and for me that is saying something.
5. Gyro from Westside Market. Starkville has some great “superette” food options, but this is the only one we have found featuring gyros. Ours was packed with meat and all kinds of fillings (nearly all food groups represented) – so packed, in fact, that we could barely eat it all in one sitting. So good that we did anyway.
6. Toasted Pimiento Cheese Sandwich with side of Tippah County Caviar from Newk’s – Tupelo, Oxford, and beyond. I’ve been a fan of toasted pimiento cheese sandwiches since the first time Granny made one for me as a kid – the special touch at Newk’s is an added slice of tomato. The Caviar is a fancy name for their simple but delicious interpretation of black-eyed pea salad.
7. Around the World Po-Boy from Oby’s. As the Oby’s menu has expanded over the years, I have felt obligated to try to keep up. But I always come back to this sandwich. When I lived in North Carolina, Oby’s was traditionally our first stop out of the airport when I flew back for a visit. More often than not this is what I ordered. Five meats, cheese, and olive salad on that amazing bread – Dagwood could not do better.
8. Bubble Tea from Big Bowl Asian Bistro in Oxford. Bubble tea, according to the world wide inter-web, gets its name from the foam that forms on top when the milky, usually fruity, tea is shaken up. But the other bubblicious components are tapioca pearls that line the bottom of the glass. They gave me a fat straw large enough to draw up the pearls, which had a texture somewhere between Jell-o and gummi bears. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had to chew my tea before, but I would chew it again.
9. Buffalo Crawfish Tails from Anthony’s Good Food Market in West Point. Fried crawfish tails tossed in a tangy Buffalo sauce, low on the heat-o-meter, just the way I like it. Nuff said.
10. Last, and most definitely least: Jones Bacon-Flavored Soda. In hindsight, the fact that I tried this just goes to show the great lengths a food writer will go for his readers. I may have finally found something scoring almost as high on the gag scale as coconut. This soda came in a box with bacon popcorn, bacon ranch dip, bacon sunflower seeds, and bacon lip balm. Before it arrived, I would have testified that anything could be made better with bacon. I may have to recant my testimony. My son found the open bottle in the refrigerator and tried some before I could warn him. My brother opted out entirely. My second bottle will remain an unopened mint condition collector’s item.
Here’s to a tasty 2011!
Jay Reed is a local foodie and pharmacist. The culinary tastes expressed here are his and do not necessarily reflect the appetites of the Starkville Daily News or individual members of its staff. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org .