Whether it’s a PB&J packed in a brown paper bag or a steaming bowl of soup served on a cold and snowy day, certain foods speak to comfort. These are meals that remind people of their childhoods and feed the soul. Chefs constantly looks for ways to reinvent these classic dishes at their restaurants, but they also create their own signature comfort foods that, often, are far more satisfying than a grilled cheese and bowl of tomato soup.
As evidenced by some of our ethnic restaurants around town, comfort food is universal and can be found in some unexpected places. Soup is the cure for whatever ails you, so why not branch out and try a pot of Vietnamese beef pho from Boca Raton’s 5-Spice Asian Market (1200 Yamato Road) or a Thai specialty called tom yum gai from Sushi Yama (7050 W. Palmetto Park Road) in west Boca. The presentation alone is as inviting as a mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows after a day of making snow angels.
Another dish that is pure comfort to many is curry. The warm spices and hearty sauce, mixed with a heaping bowl of steamed rice, provides endless joy for the stomach. At House of Siam (25 N.E. Second Ave.) in Delray you can curl up with their panang curry. Plan on asking for extra rice, though. The sauce must be sopped up somehow.
No discussion about comfort food can be had without the mention of pizza. For authentic Italian, try Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza and order the roasted cauliflower pizza. The deep, nutty flavor of the vegetable will surprise the devout sausage and pepperoni lover.
Tucci’s (50 N.E. First Ave.) in Boca has a meatball pie with caramelized onions that constantly gets rave reviews? One more spot stands out is Scuola Vecchia (522 E. Atlantic Ave.) in Delray; the crust is extremely thin and crisp, making it feasible and acceptable to polish off an entire pie.
On the sweet side of things, Hedy Goldsmith at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (130 N.E. 40th St.) in Miami is putting a gourmet spin on the classic Pop Tart, making them from scratch in flavors like passion fruit or banana and Nutella.
Since most comfort food started at home in kitchens all over the world, why not pay homage to mothers and grandmothers everywhere and bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies or mac and cheese right in your own oven. Experimenting with a few new ingredients will make these dishes the food your kids find comforting.
Hilary Hauser is contributing blogs to the “Dining” section of bocamag.com as part of a required externship at Le Cordon Bleu in Miami.