by Jonathan Vatner | November 01, 2014

Best new dish
Trio of ice cream sandwiches

Many of Abigail Kirsch's menu items are clever interpretations of recognizable classics. These colorful, flavorful treats are no exception. Chefs put gelato between thin slices of pound cake, slather on something sweet and dip them in something crunchy. The popular trio includes raspberry cake with black currant gelato and truffle ganache; carrot cake filled with butter pecan gelato and dipped in salted caramel; and pistachio cake with coconut sorbet and pineapple marmalade. Each sandwich is wrapped in matching foil for maximum eye appeal. "They know it's an ice cream sandwich," chef Alison Awerbuch says, "but they also know it's something they've never tasted before. They want to try all three."

Classic favorite
Abigail Kirsch's "pigs in a fancy blanket'
give this classic crowd-pleaser a gourmet flair.
 Pigs in a fancy blanket
This beautifully presented -- and insanely popular -- classic came about as the result of customer demand. Lots of clients wanted pigs in a blanket, but Awerbuch didn't want to serve it unless it could be done creatively. A few years ago, this version was hatched.

Chefs wrap little hot dogs in pastry, tucking a bit of sauerkraut inside. They cut them into 3/4-inch slices, skewer two together, top with brown mustard and caraway seeds, then bake them. They're served with house-cured pickles and dipping sauces in mason jars.

"It has a retro feel to it with a contemporary twist," Awerbuch says. "If you close your eyes and eat them, it tastes like old-fashioned pigs in a blanket, but it's visually unique." (For more of Abigail Kirsch's creative takes on comfort food, see sidebar at left.)


Best new dish
Kale zeppole with chili honey

Fancy Girl Table does offer meat dishes, but the caterer is known for exciting vegetarian banquets. "Vegetarian can taste good," owner Jeanette Maier proclaims. "It's not just vegetables and tofu." She devised these savory veggie donuts as a way to win over inveterate meat-and-potatoes types to the appeal of kale. She also makes them with pumpkin or cauliflower.

Classic favorite
Parmesan cup with roasted root vegetables and smoked tomato pesto

Parmesan cups are relatively common in the catering world; they're delicious and easy to eat. Fancy Girl Table pushes the flavor a step further. Maier sources root vegetables from Blooming Hill Farm in Upstate New York and smokes tomatoes to give them a baconlike flavor. The result: a bold, hearty bite that assures nobody misses the meat.