Much as I love the thrill of discovering new goodies in the city, I am, in all honesty, a creature of habit. When I find something I like, I remain entirely loyal 'til the bitter end. I'll happily sing its praises to anyone and everyone, especially strangers on the hunt for a few new finds. In the vein of sharing, I offer a few timeless joys that I'm loving right this second.
Octopus salad from Gruppo Di Amici
Ever since my solo trip to the islands of Greece years ago, I've had an ongoing love affair with the quirky, eight-legged octopus. I'll take it any way I can get it, from tucked in a bowl of soup to charred and tossed on a spring salad. My favorite Italian hideaway does it best for summer: served chilled and folded with capers, slivers of celery, olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemon. The wine drenched mussels will rock your world, too.
Fresh herbs from the Devon Market
Sure, Whole Foods fresh herbs suffice if you're in a time-pinch, but you'd do much better heading to the friendly Devon Market to pick up cascading blossoms of fresh basil, rosemary, cilantro and chives. The set-up alone beats most other starter herb displays by miles, and the costs are generally cheaper to boot. Hell, grab some gorgeous plants while you're at it; with the money you've saved from skipping Whole Foods, you could turn your back deck into a green oasis.
Thai iced tea and spring rolls at Ba Le French Bakery & Restaurant
Now that summer is here, I've ditched my smack-like cafe con leche habit from my beloved La Unica
and taken up roost in this always-jamming Vietnamese storefront. I head here every few days for a greasy sack full of small, crunchy spring rolls and a tongue-tingling Thai iced tea. Served over loads of crushed ice, the tea and half-and-half concoction is a sweets-lovers' dream, and you'll be hard-pressed to have just one drink, especially after devouring at least a half-dozen pork spring rolls. Plus, I love Ba Le's semi-eco-friendly, super-efficient machine that seals the open cup with a layer of thin plastic.
Crispy shell tacos from Mexican Inn
I've spent a lot of time the past few weeks down at Crawley's boat yard working on my new sailboat, and every chance I get, I head over to the corner of 95th and Ewing and partake in the dreamy tacos at Mexican Inn. The kitchen at this cozy, triangle-shape building doles out crispy, homemade taco shells. I take mine stuffed with beans, cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato and sour cream (more Tex-Mex than Mex), but I'm certain the meat versions are just as tasty. Now, if they only served horchata, I'd be in heaven.
Seasonal produce boxes from Newleaf Natural Grocery and Irv and Shelly's Fresh Picks
Now, I know you desperately want to make it to the weekly farmers markets that abound in the city, but let's face facts, sometimes it's just not possible. No problem, here are two solutions: Sign up for Irv and Shelly's organic produce delivery service, which drops an insulated box of the seasons' finest at your doorstep every Thursday; or custom-order a box of produce from the tiny Newleaf Natural Grocery, which offers the option of delivery or store pick-up. These guys make it that much easier for you to get your daily intake of fresh fruit and veggies…now you just have to figure out what to do with that giant coconut and four bushels of greens.
Fatcake Misty Tosh explores back-alley eateries, holes-in-the-wall and seedy ethnic joints as she treks the city in search of the next raving dish. Join her in the quest.