A few of my favorites that you must try

One of the best parts of writing about the food industry is when you get that perfect bite. In my first year writing for SFGN, I’ve been lucky enough to get that perfect bite more than a few times. Here are the best things I ate in the past year.

Good BBQ is like good sex; it will make you moan and lick your lips. TMI? The rib and brisket combo at Smoke in Delray Beach had me doing both. The duo platter offers up a plentiful serving of tender moist, flavorful beef alongside the juicy, meaty pork ribs. Add a side of the homemade potato chips dusted with Smoke’s BBQ rub or the fried Parmesan Brussels sprouts and there ain’t better eatin’ around. 8 E. Atlantic Ave, 561-330-4236, EatBBQnow.com

If you don’t enjoy the pizza at Flash Fire you’ve got no one to blame but yourself – you design your own pizza on the spot, using local organic vegetables and premium local and globally sourced cured meats. My “build your own” version (I selected all three sausage options, kalamata olives, caramelized onions, capers and papadew) was not only one of the best bites of the year, but perhaps in my life. Not a bad deal for $7.95 (they’ve raised it a buck since then). 2949 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, 954-440-2426, FlashFirePizza.com.

Lasooni gobi, crispy cauliflower florets tossed in a spicy tomato sauce almost like General Tso’s chicken, at Taste Buds of India in Coral Springs would make anyone a vegetable fan. It’s probably a good thing it’s a bit of a drive to get there, or I’d O.D. on the stuff.  7881 W. Sample Rd., 954-603-6996. TasteBudsOfIndia.com.

I love dim sum, the Chinese meal of assorted dumplings, rolls and pastries. I’d be hard-pressed to pick one particular item from a dim sum cart (or menu) as my favorite, so I’ll list my two favorite places to enjoy this meal; Pine Court Chinese Bistro, 10101 Sunset Strip, Sunrise, 954-748-5958 has the best cart service. Tao Tao, also in Sunrise, 4145 NW 88th Ave., 954-746-8833, ToatoaChineseRestaurant.com has better dim sum, but it’s menu service only.

Octopus? You bet, especially if it’s from Dolce in Miami Beach, where they poach the octopus the night before and let it rest overnight, then grill it to order. It is as tender as a marshmallow and bursting with flavor. It’s served on a bed of chickpeas and faro and then splashed with pistachio vinaigrette. It is quite simply the best preparation of this dish that I’ve ever experienced. 1690 Collins Ave., 786-975-2550, DolceItalianRestaurant.com

Chicagoans are rabid about two things; sports teams and food. The sports teams I don’t miss so much. As a former Chicagoan I sometimes get a craving for a Chicago-style dog and an Italian beef sandwich, two of the city’s classic dishes. At Howie’s Top Dog in Davie, he does excellent renditions of both. The dog comes steamed with all the classic toppings and the Italian beef has just the right balance of herbs and garlic. On top of that, I can get both for less than $10. 5021 S. State Road 7, 954-792-8686 HowiesTopDog.com

The gnocchi at Max’s Harvest in Delray are gigantic dumplings made with local ricotta. The chef manages to create a cloud-like interior with a crisp exterior and then sautés them so that they’re almost like pot-stickers. 169 NE 2nd Ave., 561-381-9970, MaxsHarvest.com

It would be hard to find something on the tapas menu at Naked Grape in Wilton Manors that isn’t good. However, my favorite bite there is the flatbread with fig jam, prosciutto and mozzarella. It is served topped with fresh arugula, thinly sliced red onion & balsamic fig dressing. Add a crisp glass of sauvignon blanc and I’m good to go. 2163 Wilton Dr., 954-563-5631 NakedGrapeWineBar.com

Sometimes the best dish of the year is on someone else’s plate. That was the case at City Oyster in Delray Beach. My hubby struck the jackpot with shrimp and grits with a jumbo lump crab cake and grilled asparagus, which had the creamiest grits I’ve ever tasted; huge, perfectly prepared shrimp and a crab cake the size of a hockey puck. You can bet I dove in as well. 213 E Atlantic Ave., 561-272-0220, CityOysterDelray.com

You know you’ve got it bad when the guy behind the counter knows your order before you even open your mouth. That’s the case at Wilton Creamery on the drive. While they rotate in any number of small batch flavors on a weekly basis, my favorite, a killer combo called “He’s Not Worth It,” blends vanilla ice cream with caramel and chunks of chocolate. I top it off with the walnuts in warm, honey-like syrup and candied pecans. Too much of a good thing is just enough. 2301 Wilton Dr., 954-565 -1183, WiltonCreamery.com.

Here I am out of space, and I still have a bunch of places to list.  I guess you’re going to have to wait until my next column for the rest of my list. See you next year.