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LifestyleColumnistsErica Marcus

A food writer's sweet year in review

Erica Marcus remembers the best of 2010

Erica Marcus remembers the best of 2010 Photo Credit: Newsday.com composite

These were my most memorable food experiences in 2010:

1. Best treat

Back in February, I bit into a Main Street Bar and felt my knees go weak. Imagine caramel and cashews and macadamia nuts, caramelized Rice Krispies, chocolate ganache and Hawaiian sea salt all enrobed in dark chocolate and sprinkled with more sea salt. What a Snickers bar wishes it could be. $3.50 at Main Street Bakery, 170 Main St., Port Washington, 516-304-5214.

2. Best warm treat

At Chip 'n Dipped in Huntington, excellent home-style cookies - chocolate chip, double chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, etc. - are baked throughout the day. After 11 a.m., the cookies are placed on a warming plate inset into the counter so customers can enjoy them at their tender, gooey best. Chip 'n Dipped is at 342 New York Ave., Huntington, 631-470-2579, chipndipped.com.

3. Best gluten-free product

When I was served a bowl of Le Veneziane pasta at Café Rustica in Great Neck, I was amazed to find out it was gluten free. Turns out, it is made entirely from corn in Italy's Veneto region. Le Veneziane's short macaroni (shells, penne, ditalini) come in 8.8- ounce packages and sell for about $3.50; the spaghetti is $6.50 for 17.6 ounces. Available at Iavarone Bros., Uncle Giuseppe's and other specialty and Italian grocers.

4. Best laws

Both Nassau and Suffolk counties have laws on the books that require restaurants to post the prices of their specials, in writing, either on each table, along with the regular menu, or on a "prominently displayed" blackboard or whiteboard. Violations can be reported to the Nassau County's Office of Consumer Affairs (516- 571-2600) or the Suffolk County Office of Consumer Affairs (631-853-4600).

5. Best fried food

I cannot get enough of the French fries at Deli King in New Hyde Park. The burnished crusts of these wedge-shaped fries evince a distinct caramelized sweetness, reminiscent - if anyone out there remembers - of the fries at Nathan's in Coney Island before they started using frozen ones. A big plate is $4.95 at Deli King 1570 Union Tpke., New Hyde Park, 516-437-8420, deliking.us.

6. Best food show

No contest, "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" which aired on ABC / 7 during the spring. In 2005, Oliver (aka The Naked Chef) launched a campaign to improve the food in British schools and, emboldened by his success across the pond, he decided to bring his gospel to Huntington, W.Va., (named America's most unhealthy city in 2008 by the CDC). In fact, he made precious little headway, but the 6-part series laid bare all the factors - social, commercial, governmental - that conspire to make the United States the fattest country on Earth.

7. Best pizza (tie)

What a year for pizza. At the unassuming-looking deli Piccolo Gourmet, magic comes out of the wood-burning oven. Do not drive through New Hyde Park without sampling the "baci," made with smoked mozzarella, pancetta and thinly sliced red onions, $8.95. Piccolo Gourmet is at 1632 Hillside Ave., New Hyde Park, 516-326-8509, piccologourmet.com. Meanwhile, my friends in Westhampton are getting tired of my inviting myself over for the weekend so I can sit at the counter of Pizzetteria Brunetti and savor the amazing vongole bianca, with fresh-shucked clams, garlic butter and herbs, $18. Pizzetteria Brunetti is at 103 Main St., Westhampton Beach, 631-288-3003, pizzetteriabrunetti.com.

8.Best bird

Like millions of Americans', Chris Browder's culinary consciousness was raised by reading Michael Pollan's sustainability manifesto, "The Omnivore's Dilemma" (Penguin, $16). Unlike most of them, he moved to the North Fork and began raising pastured, organic chickens. This summer, he and his wife Holly began selling their delicious birds through a CSA and at the Westhampton Beach farmers' market. Since the chickens live outdoors, the Browders don't raise them in the winter, but we look forward to them in the spring. Get more information at browdersbirds.com.

9. Best kitchen tool

At the Williams-Sonoma Outlet (419 Central Ave., Cedarhurst 516-295- 9484), I bought a flat Soehnle "Page" digital scale that measures 8-by-5 inches, and it has changed my cooking - and, especially, my baking-life. This Kindle-sized scale is perfect for the small kitchen where storage space is in short supply. It can handle weights up to 9 pounds or, with the flip of a switch, 4 kilograms. By hitting the "tare" button, you can automatically deduct the weight of the bowl or plate your food is sitting in. Lists for about $40.

10. Best line

For Easter, I wrote a story, "Ham vs. lamb" which pitted partisans of each meat against one another. In the ham corner was Leisa Dent, of LL Dent in Carle Place. "You know ham kicks lamb's butt," she opined. (In response, I had to note that, where Paschal observance is concerned, no one ever talks about "the ham of God.")

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