Sometimes it’s the little things. A quick response to the impromptu question, asked over a celebratory National Rum Day daiquiri, “you hungry?” And you find your self with a surprise snack that, well, surprises. This happened several times last week, why limit national rum day to just one day, after all. Here are three cool things I ate along the way.

three cool thingsNo. 1 — Fried Avocados at Cucina Wine Bar. Few dishes sound as indulgent as a fried avocado. Avocados are already so rich, it’s hard to imagine that breading one and frying it could be anything but a state fair stunt. I hail from Texas and grew up on the annual tradition of trying out the latest bizarre fried food—fried Oreos, fried Coca-Cola, fried fettucine alfredo. But you gotta trust Chef Joey Ferran at Cucina Wine Bar. So we were presented with a golden-crusted ovoid resting on romaine leaves. Breaking it open, we found candied cashews, their sweet crunch balanced by tamarind-coconut curry and green chile emulsion. Wow.

No. 2 — “Sardines, Prepared” at Water Witch. Water Witch is a bar without a kitchen but that doesn’t mean Scott Gardner doesn’t consider the bar bites as carefully as he does the drinks. New on the menu is a simple sardine dish: A bag of chips, a dish of olives and a can of sardines. Tip: Ask for “sardines prepared” and the server will tear your bag open, sprinkle the chips with sardines, olives and peppers then shake a little hot sauce over the whole mess. Fantastic.

 

No. 3 — Risotto de Crozette at Courchevel. The menu at Courchevel, Talisker’s new public eatery where Main & Sky used to be, comes from the specifically French taste memory of Chef Clement Gelas. Gelas is from Savoie, the region of France that shares mountains with Switzerland—the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. One dish on the menu is distinctively different: Risotto de Crozette. Not really pasta, because it’s made of buckwheat which means its cooked color has a grayish tinge. But sorta like pasta, and sorta like risotto. The stuff is cooked with house-cured bacon and aged Gruyere so the overall effect is like an exotic hefty mac and cheese.

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