Heavy Table Hot Five: Feb. 2-8

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Each Friday, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email editor@heavytable.com.

shepherd-song-banner-ad-horiz-3The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.

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Amy Rea / Heavy Table

1-new - one - hot fiveSquash Dumplings at Nha Sang
The squash dumplings at Burnsville’s Nha Sang are not what you’d expect from the name. The sweetness of the squash is there, but it’s paired with a complex, earthy sauce that benefits from the touch of sweetness rather than the other way around, and it’s delicious. Even the non-squash-eater at the table went back for seconds.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Amy Rea]

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

2-new - two - hot five

Grilled Quail with Sour-Sausage Fritter at Restaurant Alma
Although this dish is named Red Marinated Grilled Quail, what compelled me to order it was the “sour sausage rice fritter” listed as an accompaniment. I’d never heard of sour sausage, but thanks to Google, I can say that it’s from Thailand: Ground pork and spices are mixed with rice, formed into balls, and left to ferment for up to three days, after which the balls are fried. Alma made it from scratch (of course). The crisp, chewy fritter was only slightly sour. Broken into pieces, it served as the base for a sweet, tender glazed quail. The many succulent, wintry flavors on the plate were brightened by slices of delicately pickled Hakurei turnip. The dish was mostly brown, but what it lacked in color it made up for with an abundance of sour, sweet, chewy, crispy, and umami elements.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Jane Rosemarin]

James Norton / Heavy Table

3-new - three hot fiveThe Banana Split at Book Club
Book Club’s Banana Split manages to be sophisticated and minimalist without losing its sense of fun. The ice cream and banana whipped cream are less sweet than you might expect, letting the natural sweetness of the crackly-skinned, creme bruleed bananas come to the forefront of every bite. And it’s a generous portion, too — perfect for, well, splitting.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from an upcoming Bite by James Norton]

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

4-new four hot fiveSmoked Grits at The Hasty Tasty
The Smoked Grits at The Hasty Tasty came topped with a variety of seasonal mushrooms. The texture of the grits was impeccable — while they maintained a creamy and lofty presence, the individual bits were still, well, gritty. Perhaps the stroke of genius of the entire night was the pop of sherry vinegar on top, which cut straight through the cream on the palate.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from a review by Paige Latham Didora]

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

5-new -fiveThe Italian Grinder at Gramsky’s
The Italian Grinder at Brooklyn Park’s Gramsky’s has to be ordered at least a day ahead, and you’ll be asked to provide a pickup time. Pay attention to that, and you’ll be rewarded, as we were, with a piping hot sandwich that hasn’t sogged through the bun. The broiled grinder was packed full of ground beef and Italian sausage — the latter with some kick to it — and layered with a heavy dose of cheese and a good handful of sliced bell peppers. The Iowan in our group noted that the meat was akin to that in Iowa’s Maid-Rite sandwiches (or, he added, “loose-meat sandwiches, for you Minnesotans”). It was a glorious, sloppy mess best eaten with knife and fork, zinging with flavor, and sized to share.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from a review by Amy Rea]

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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