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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maine Lobsters in Southwest Harbor, Maine
There’s nearly always something magical about eating a food at its source, and so when we had a chance to eat Maine lobsters straight off the boat (at the pauperly price of $4.40 a pound), we didn’t have to be asked twice. The shells were surprisingly easy to crack; the meat was absurdly sweet and tender; and by the end of the second lobster, we were spoiled for the stuff in any other setting. So, what’s the Upper Midwestern equivalent … ? We’re thinking smoked whitefish on the North Shore, and there’s no shame in that comparison …
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]
Red Curry from Blackbird
With so many reliably excellent choices, it’s hard to order at the stalwart Blackbird. If you haven’t already, try their red curry ($17), which is bursting with flavors of coconut milk, lemongrass, and basil. A block of grilled tofu rests, half submerged, in the frothy, aromatic broth. Who knows what vegetables might lurk beneath? The menu lists mushrooms and bamboo, but this week we also found green beans, potatoes, and eggplant. We’d wager that next week it’ll be whatever you see at the farmers market.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Ted Held]
Luben at Gastrotruck
We just couldn’t get enough pastrami this week, and found Gastrotruck’s “Luben” to be a spicy, surprising take on the classic Reuben. The food truck makes its own lamb pastrami, which is served thin-sliced on a rye bun with Gruyere substituting for the traditional Swiss. They serve it with kraut (also homemade), slaw, and instead of the Thousand Island dressing a sauce of Greek yogurt, capers, and sriracha. The end result is a Reuben kicked up beyond our wildest dreams: the spicy, crunchy, chewy sandwich has layers of flavor that keep shifting and demanding to be appreciated slowly, not in a gulp.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Amy Rea]
Ogaawag (Walleye) Taco from the Tatanka Truck
Anyone who doubts that we’re living in a food renaissance should swing by the new Tatanka Truck, which is slinging modern takes on Precolonial native cuisine. We tried and greatly enjoyed the earthy, layered flavor of a sumac-seared Red Lake walleye fillet served on a native corn and bean bread with wojapi (a tart berry sauce).
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #1 | From an Instagram post by James Norton]
Sea Urchin Ice Cream at Gib’s Bar
Sea urchin ice cream?! One of the quirkier options on the highly edited food menu at trendier-than-thou Madison hotspot Gib’s, this stuff started sweet, creamy, wholesome — then detoured into a funky, ocean offal flavor that lingered long after the first bite.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | From an Instagram post by Maja Ingeman]