2012 Best Bite #2: Art’s Hummingbird cake, Table Fifty-Two

Each day in December, I’m celebrating my best bites (and sips) in 2012, posted in chronological order.

Art’s Hummingbird cake

Why it’s a Best Bite: I was previously unfamiliar with this traditionally Southern cake, but over the past two years or so, it’s become my new favorite. I’ve eaten chef Art Smith’s decadent, three-layer version twice now, and I can’t get enough of the combination of banana-pineapple cake and cream cheese frosting. This comforting dessert also perfectly suits its cozy environs at the restaurant, a converted 19th-century carriage house.

The details: Table Fifty-Two, 52 W Elm St., Chicago.

2012 Best Bite #1: Roasted brussels sprouts & cauliflower, Francesca’s Forno

Each day in December, I’m celebrating my best bites (and sips) in 2012, posted in chronological order.

Roasted brussels sprouts & cauliflower

Why it’s a Best Bite: I got to share this large appetizer with a dear friend last New Year’s Eve. It won me over immediately with a generously caramelized blend of brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and onion. The dish struck just the right balance of salty, crispy, and cheesy goodness, with added depth from capers, lemon, and, of course, bacon. Rich and a little messy, it was the right way to start off a celebratory evening.

The details: Francesca’s Forno, 1576 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.