As we wrap up 2017, we’re celebrating 24 of the most memorable and delicious things we tasted during the past 12 months via the Hot Five. We’ll run this feature over the course of three days, counting down eight fantastic bites at a time. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.
#16: Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese
Every year, Uplands Cheese rolls out its pricey ($25+) little wheels of Rush Creek Reserve, a raw milk cheese aged for 60 days. And every year, we go out and buy a wheel or two because there’s just nothing else like it — so creamy, so rich, so delicately earthy. It’s a flavor bomb, and it’s beautiful when spread on a Rustica baguette. [James Norton]
#15: Beef Tagine at Moroccan Flavors
A speedy, elegant lunch from a warming tray? Yes. In the heart of the Midtown Global Market, you can get an authentic, slow-cooked tagine. The beef is rich, sweet, and mildly spicy, and it’s served with apricots, prunes, and almonds over rice. Or choose chicken and squash served over couscous. [Bruce Manning] Also read: our East Lake Checklist barnstorming of 17 eateries at the Midtown Global Market.
#14: Butternut Squash Daiquiri at Cafe Alma
A butternut squash cocktail doesn’t sound like something you would want to order, especially in favor of the other great cocktail choices on Cafe Alma’s menu, but this one is worth trying. The squash notes are subtle but add a wonderful earthiness to the drink. There is a burst of lemon for freshness and acidity, which balances the mild sweetness of the squash. If that isn’t enough, the drink is served in an adorable hollowed gourd and topped with a velvety sage leaf, making it one of the best-looking cocktails around. [Varsha Koneru]
#13: Porchetta Bagel at Rise Bagels
The pork in this remarkable bagel sandwich is incredibly tender and gently fennel-flavored, the flavored cream cheese brings a wonderful garlic note to the dish, and the tomato and arugula are nice accents without overwhelming the dish as a whole. One of the best sandwiches in town right now. [James Norton]
#12: Raspberry Roselle from Fair State Brewing
Fair State has been crushing it this year, and the Raspberry Roselle is a lovely note to go out on. This (lightly) sour ale is flavored with raspberries, which imparts a mildly tart, earthy, berry-powered flavor. The sweetness on this brew is ideal, neither painfully tart nor irritatingly sugary. It’s just delicate, tasteful, and elegant. [James Norton] Also read: Our Central Avenue Checklist visit to Fair State.
#11: Mini Pop Tarts by Duluth’s Best Bread at Chef Camp
If you’re starting camp at 6:30 in the morning, as some guests at Chef Camp do, you need something with a bit of sweetness and substance to help you into the waking world. Enter the mini “pop tart,” cooked on site by the guest bakers of Duluth’s Best Bread. These jam-filled, iced pastries are surprisingly light and delicate, with none of the cardboardlike bulk of their commercial namesakes. These seemingly humble pastries were shockingly good. [James Norton] Also read: Our interview with Duluth’s Best Bread.
#10: Chili Cheese Dog at Revival St. Paul
Attention all lovers of Revival’s cheeseburger! The newly opened St. Paul Revival has a chili cheese dog that is easily in the same class as the cheeseburger. A hot link, with red flecks of chili and a charred, snappy casing, is topped with smoky, beefy burnt end chili. The whole mess is covered with melted cheese and a couple of giant pork rinds. In the bottom of the bowl is a pool of cheese sauce that soaks into the bun. As with the game-changing cheeseburger, we hope to see imitations popping up on menus across town. [Ted Held] Also read: Our roundtable discussion of Revival.
#9: The Davenport Double Standard at Al’s Place
The Davenport Double Standard, made with Redemption rye, Old Tom gin, lime, and raspberry, was a favorite in our sizable group. In fact, it was the biggest hit of the night. The berry is most noticeable in the drink’s pale pink color; its flavor is subtle. The combination of rye and gin is seldom seen, and at first it sounded like they could clash. To our surprise, the spice of the rye united with the botanical profile of the gin. [Paige Latham Didora] Also read: Our review of Al’s Place.
TOMORROW: We count down from 8 through 1, including tastes from Meritage, Kado no Mise, and Travail!