70. Ube Ensaymadas from The Ensaymada Project

Behold the beginning of our annual 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!

Tucked in the corner of a large production kitchen in Tustin, I found solace in the form of dessert. Baker Chari Reyes was a pleasure to interview–speaking to her was like spending time with one of my favorite aunts.

Ensaymadas were a comforting part of my childhood. I'd even go so far as to say my livelihood. Chewy, squishy and mostly sweet, my Goldilocks versions had a ham and cheese persuasion. These days, ube rules.

For those not familiar with a pastry from The Ensaymada Project, you've probably encountered similar from other cultures (like how I equate an eggroll to lumpia). When I shared an order with co-workers, I described one as being comparable to a cinnamon roll.


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Each ensaymada is individually wrapped, its curious cream hue appearing more Easter egg treasure than exotic dessert. One bite, and doughy goodness takes over. This buttery baking project almost melts in my mouth. I inhale mine in barely a minute, after hesitating over the final chomp.

An episode of The Chew could be themed around this online-only (for now) business, but I digress.

For more info, visit www.ensaymadaproject.com

The List:

71. Pork Bánh Mì at the OC Poultry and Rotisserie Market
72. Tacos Gobernador from Mariscos Los Corales
73. Dutch Baby at the Original Pancake House
74. Doughnuts from Sidecar
75. Lengua Tacos at La Chonita
76. Oysters from Carlsbad Aquafarm at the Orange Homegrown Farmers Market
77. Lemon Miso Crab Melt at Umami Burger in Laguna Beach
78. Pani Puri from Adya
79. The Pocket at the Pocket Burger
80. Gyro Sandwich from Paul's Place
81. Slice of Heaven at Pie-Not
82. Taquitos at El Toro Bravo
83. Peanut Butter and Jelly Donut at the Donuttery
84. Dan Dan Mian at Wei-Shian Noodle
85. Beef Burger at Rider's Club Café
86. Smoked Trout at Provenance
87. Small Plates at A&J Restaurant
88. Corn Cheese at Zoomak Asian Bistro
89. Pumpkin Curry at Bhan Baitong
90. Poke at Costco Tustin II
91. Pambazo at Tacos Radioactivos
92. Beef Pho at Pho Crystal Noodle House
93. Breakfast Burrito from Cafe Calacas
94. Koobideh Plate from Grill Cafe
95. Tacos de Cecina from Alebrije's
97. Breakfast Sausage from Da-Le Ranch
98. Any Special Dinner by Old Vine Cafe's Mark McDonald
99. Tres Amigos Burrito from Piaggio on Wheels
100. Bacon-Wrapped Dates from Lola Gaspar

Email: ga*******@oc******.com. Twitter: @gustavoarellano.

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