It’s the time of year for resolutions, but I haven’t felt very resolute just yet. I’ve been blowing and going since Thanksgiving and haven’t had time to think much about 2012. However, resolutions often have to do with food, whether it’s eating less of it or trying to include healthier versions in the daily intake. With that in mind, here are some suggestions — I wouldn’t want you to miss out on anything good this year. In no particular order, I offer you Part One of my second annual “Top 10 Fun Eats That I Didn’t Already Write About In 2011.”
No. 1 — Fried Pimento Cheese Balls. I have had these twice in 2011. Think of them as fried cheese on Southern steroids. My first experience was in Raleigh, N.C., at an upscale barbecue place called The Pit – there they were served on a little sea of pepper jelly. They were so good that when I saw them on the menu at the Market Café in Louisville, there was no question about what my appetizer would be that night. Luckily for local readers, I preferred the Market Café’s interpretation, but don’t deny yourself if you happen to be hungry in downtown Raleigh.
No. 2 — Krispy Kreme Kobbler. Other names exist for this, but I hold great respect for local law enforcement officers and I would in no way want to offend them with tired donut jokes. I made this dish for a Sunday School party and afterwards a classmate asked me not for the recipe, but for the antidote. I would have been afraid to test our blood sugar levels lest the meter explode. But, doggone, it was good. Here’s how it’s done: Tear 24 glazed donuts into bite-sized pieces and place in bowl with 1 can (14 oz) Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk, 2 eggs (beaten), 1 can (29 oz.) sliced peaches with juice, 1 tsp. cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Mix and spoon into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake in 350 preheated oven one hour until knife comes out clean. Then combine 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 pkg. (16 oz.) powdered sugar, and 2 tsp. vanilla. Stir until smooth then drizzle over baked cobbler. Add a little milk to the topping if it’s too thick. By the way, this is the only sweet selection in today’s list — aren’t you feeling healthier already?
No. 3 — Angelo’s Greek Feta Cheese Dressing. When I began my career as a student at Hotty Toddy U, there was a family-owned restaurant out by the Oxford airport called The Mistilis. As a freshman college student, salads were not the usual menu item of choice, but after trying this dressing for the first time I went for the greens on just about every visit. It is so rich and thick with chunks of feta cheese, sometimes I would buy a jar of dressing and dip Saltines in it, skipping the salad altogether. After a couple of years, the restaurant changed hands, but Mr. Mistilis kept making the dressing and sold it at a local grocery store. Fast forward twenty years. When I began working up there last year, I happened to run into Mr. Mistilis again, and I asked my co-workers if the dressing was still available. I was thrilled to find out that it was for sale at a service station near the Square, so I grabbed a bottle or three at the very next opportunity and relived my freshman year –one of the good parts, anyway.
No. 4 — The Memphis BBQ Pork Taco at South Depot Taco Shop in Oxford. Surely you didn’t think I’d have a top ten list without some kind of BBQ? This taco was so simple: slow roasted pork tossed in a mild BBQ sauce with cole slaw on a flour tortilla. Perhaps not your everyday taco meat, but it was just so good. Fresh warm tortilla wrapped around pulled pork. Is there a bad way to eat barbecue?
No. 5 — Arugula. We’ll close the first five with something truly healthy. I had heard of arugula for years — chefs and food writers love to talk about the peppery bite arugula gives in a salad or on a sandwich. Maybe I had eaten a leaf or two somewhere along the way in a mixed green salad, but I didn’t know it. Not long ago, however, I went to the grocery looking for some quick bagged lettuce, and there was a bag of arugula on sale. At home I opened the bag and I could immediately tell there was something different — could it be that this salad green has umami? Later in the fall we began getting some arugula in our weekly farm share, and by then I was hooked. Rarely have I ever munched on any kind of salad green as soon as it was washed, just because I really liked it. But I am digging the arugula. Especially dipped in feta cheese dressing.
Stay tuned next week for the remaining five of this year’s top ten. There is no top or bottom here — none that I plan to admit, anyway — just 10 things that I am suggesting all readers add to their new year’s resolutions. Or at least to your bucket lists.
Jay Reed is a local pharmacist and foodie. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org .