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10Best: Mimi Sheraton’s ‘Foods to Eat Before You Die’

1 year ago 2 0 2160

Retired New York Times food critic Mimi Sheratonhas done a lot of eating in her 89 years. The James Beard Award-winning author spent the last decade compiling her favorite foods, dishes and dining experiences for a new book, 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die (Workman, $24.95). “They’re both plain and fancy, from frozen Milky Way bars to caviar,” she says. She shares some of her favorite things to eat with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.

Shrimp & Grits at Hominy Grill
Charleston, S.C.
Sheraton calls this rich and creamy dish Surf and Turf, Southern Style, and indeed diners can find great versions from Houston to New Orleans to North Carolina. But she says no one does it better than the Hominy Grill. “It’s the best I’ve ever had, with just enough spiciness combined with the freshness of the shrimp,” she says. 843-937-0930; hominygrill.com

New York Sunday breakfast at Russ and Daughters Café
New York
There’s really nothing to match the offerings of a New York Sunday breakfast, Sheraton says. Start with freshly made bagels or pumpernickel bread, and a variety of cream cheeses, along with smoked fish like salmon, sturgeon, sable, white fish salad and possibly herring, Sheraton says. “This came from Eastern European Jewish stores that traditionally didn’t have meat,” she explains. You can also find great versions at Fred’s at Barneys department stores in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. 212-475-4881;russanddaughterscafe.com

Barbecue at Kreuz Market
Lockhart, Texas
‘Cue lovers worldwide know Central Texas for its German-style smoked meat specialties. Sheraton loves this classic purveyor, which sells sliced and chopped meat and sausage by the pound and serves it on butcher paper. “If you want a sandwich, they slap two pieces of bread on the paper. The brisket is what I like best.” 512-398-2361; kreuzmarket.com

Turkish Coffee ice cream at McConnell’s
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Just like the liquid version, this ice cream contains grounds. “It’s a nice little gritty texture. It’s very fine, so it’s not unpleasant,” Sheraton says. Although you can find this sold in stores and through mail order, she prefers it in a waffle cone from the source.mcconnells.com

Dinner at Alinea
Chicago
This decade-old Lincoln Park restaurant is one of the most innovative in the country, known for using molecular preparation, which distills food down to its maximum flavor. “It’s really on the cutting edge of modern cuisine,” Sheraton says. She fondly remembers servings of dried bacon laced with apple, and a Japanese donburi casserole sealed in a plaster globe that’s broken open at the table. 312-867-0110;alinearestaurant.com

New England seafood at Jasper White’s Summer Shack
Cambridge, Mass.
You don’t need to head to the shore for the best New England seafood. Fine dining chef Jasper White took his talents to create this big-city version of a clam shack offering all the classics, from steamed lobster to clam bake dinners, and is doing it better than its seaside brethren. There’s also chowders, lobster rolls, baked beans and Boston bread. “They have a huge steamer. It’s a total feast,” Sheraton says. 617-520-9500; summershackrestaurant.com

Oyster po’boy at Casamento’s
New Orleans
While there are plenty of great po’boys in New Orleans, Sheraton swears by the French bread sandwich served at this Magazine Street mainstay. “The oysters have to be very fresh and salty, and the breading on them very toasty. When you bite through all the textures, it’s the oyster’s flavors that come through.” 504-895-9761;casamentosrestaurant.com

Dinner at the French Laundry
Yountville, Calif.
The best restaurants are a reflection of their setting, Sheraton says, and the famed French Laundry is a perfect example. “You’re in the soft, casual, eucalyptus-scented air of Napa Valley. Although the food is sophisticated, there’s a laid-back feeling about it. It’s very much of the place.” Favorite dishes include whimsical offerings like the salmon tartare cone; oysters, caviar and tapioca pearls; and chef Thomas Keller’s wry take on coffee and doughnuts. 707-944-2380; frenchlaundry.com

Sweet Georgia peaches
This luscious juicy stone fruit has just a short season, usually from June through early July, but Sheraton says it’s worth the wait. “They’re orangey and juicy, and they’re not only sweet, but have enough of an acidic tang to keep them interesting.” The fruit can be mail-ordered, and since South Carolina’s peaches are the same delicious variety, shoppers have many options. gapeaches.org

Southern fried chicken, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack
Nashville
Sheraton calls fried chicken the “beloved triumph of the Southern kitchen.” The best birds maintain a balance between moist meat and a crispy coating, she says. The critic loves versions served throughout the region from Stroud’s in Kansas City to Barbecue Inn in Houston. But Nashville’s take, which is marinated in buttermilk and fried in cayenne pepper-laced breading, is one of her favorites. 615-226-9442

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