It’s been a quiet December here at Ridgefood. Seasonal malaise has us hermitting and lazing and eating the same comfort foods on repeat (though, to quickly boast, we’ve squeezed in some amazing exo-Ridgewood meals: Malaysian curry laksa, noodles, and stuffed tofu at Taste Good; pizza at DiFara; an ode to bibimbap at M. Wells Dinette; and dim sum at East Harbor Seafood Palace).
Ridgefood’s just a few months old, but we’d like to wrap up the year with a roundup of the best foods that we can recall eating in Ridgewood in 2012. In no order, really, here are seven of our favorite meals that come to mind:
1. Santa Fe Pecan Sausage from the Ridgewood Pork Store
Soft and pillowy like prosciutto but with a zesty kick — this was the BEST sausage we’ve ever eaten. Not kidding. We tweeted about the funny name, which sounds like it was ripped from the pages of Swiss Colony, and we’re still not sure what “Santa Fe” refers to (Green chiles? Corn? Huh. At least we know that “Pecan” probably refers to the meat’s smoking method). Alas, we made the sausage a meal by eating the entire log and pairing it with fruity, sparkly Portugese Vinho Verde. Ridgewood Pork Store, 516 Seneca Avenue
2. Grandma Pizza from Rosa’s and Homemade Snickerdoodles
Hurricane Sandy comfort food, inhaled like there might not be a tomorrow. Sadly, it tasted satisfying enough to jump-start our holiday weight gain, sending us on our way to Elastic Pantsville by late October when the horrific storm struck. Rosa’s Pizza, 6265 Fresh Pond Road
3. Pljekavica, Cevapi, and Marinated Red Peppers from Bosna Express
Along with the Ridgewood Pork Store and Gottscheer Hall, Bosna Express is one of Ridgewood’s more well-known spots. A 2001 review by the Village Voice’s Robert Sietsema proudly hangs in the front window, inviting us in. Maybe it was the sunny summer day, or the walk through Rosemary’s Playground on the way home, but the “Bosna Burger” (pictured) truly tastes great. And though it sounds bland, the marinated red peppers serve as an excellent side (think chunks of feta and a lot of chopped raw garlic). Bosna-Express, 791 Fairview Avenue
4. Everything at Johnny’s Cafe
A Ridgewood old-timer named Janusz told us about Johnny’s — the best Polish food in Ridgewood, he claimed. We wondered: how good could it be? Better than Krolewskie Jadlo? It turns out Janusz was right. We ordered pierogies, a fried fish dinner (pictured above), and a sausage plate. Everything was mashed, fried, and even plated to perfection; it’s what some might call “next-level” Polish food.
5. Trio of Stews from Parrot Coffee
The middle deli counter at Parrot is so packed full of staple goodies like smoked fish, zacusca and tzatziki that it’s easy to overlook special house-made stews that periodically show up, especially when those stews are presented sort of unappealingly in a stainless steel hotel pan, sans description. The stews are usually tomato-based, contain beans and a little meat, and cost an affordable $3 per pound. We fondly remember white beans with a link of smoky sausage, plump and velvety flat green beans (no meat), and split string beans with a chunk of tender beef and dill. Pick out a loaf of bread and some goat gouda and you’re good. Parrot Coffee and Grocery, 5822 Myrtle Avenue
6. Homemade Gravlax with Fixins
This really deserves its own entry, so we’ll be brief for now. Since there are no great bagelerias or classic New York delis in Ridgewood, we’ve taken to preparing homemade gravlax every couple of months so we can get our cured-fish fix. Luckily for us, it’s a fun and easy process, and the result tastes great on a bagel — or otherwise chewy bread that is readily available in the neighborhood. We’ll write a follow-up how-to post in the new year!
7. Potato Pancakes and Chicken Cutlet from Hetman
Yum! Polish-style potato pancakes, made with grated potato and onion, are superior to the shredded kind. They just have a better, hrm, mouthfeel. Hetman’s ‘cakes are generously sized, crispy, and well-seasoned. We ate ours with sour cream, plus an equally tasty chicken cutlet, mashed potato, and beet salad dinner (it’s a ton of food, so there were leftovers). The gal behind the counter told us the potato pancakes, or placki ziemniaczane, are available Wednesday & Friday. Hetman Fine Foods & Deli, 66-65 Forest Avenue
Ukrainian Borscht and Sauerkraut-Mushroom Nalesniki from Cracovia Deli
Still our go-to soup spot in the ‘hood, Cracovia makes a wicked-tasty red borscht. It’s best paired with a sauerkraut- and mushroom-stuffed nalesniki, or blintz. You can get the whole meal for a very reasonable $4. Cracovia Deli, 501 Woodward Avenue