Heavy Table Hot Five: Jan. 19-25

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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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Paige Latham Didora / Heavy Table

1-new - one - hot fiveSmoked Oysters at The Hasty Tasty
The mention of “smoked oysters” may evoke memories of tin cans, but the version at The Hasty Tasty is fantastic. Rather than individual oysters, the dish is a composed plate with fennel, pickled veggies, and Texas toast. This open-faced style keeps the accoutrements from overwhelming the star of the dish, while making it substantial and interesting. Pair with the Kumquat Caipirinha for a bright contrast!
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Paige Latham Didora]

Ted Held / Heavy Table0

2-new - two - hot fiveSriracha Zucca Pasta at Italian Eatery
The Sriracha Zucca pasta at Italian Eatery is a welcome addition to their perennially excellent menu. The nickel sized pumpkin shaped pasta have more of sriracha’s brightness than heat and are cooked al dente, as you would expect from IE. Pepita pesto with toasted pepitas are a lovely twist on the usual pine nuts. There is a hint of citrusy tartness that contrasts perfectly with the olive oil and the sweetness of the basil. Pair it with a salad and the crispy chicken thighs for meal perfection.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Ted Held]

James Norton / Heavy Table

3-new - three hot fiveCheesecake from Brianno’s Deli-Italia
Anyhow, back to the cheesecake. It’s as tangy as you could possibly desire, and sticky to the point of being almost cream-cheese-like in consistency. The balance of sugar and dairy zing is spot on, and the graham cracker crust is a great counterpoint in terms of sweetness and crunchy texture. We’ve had cheesecakes with a more elegant texture (lighter, firmer, overall better), but this slice gets the tangy vs. sweet balance right in an important way, and really delivers on the “cheese” side of things.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton from a recent review]

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

4-new four hot fiveHam and Cheese Quiche Bite from Sift Gluten-Free Bakery
The crust of this mini-quiche was chewy and buttery, and perhaps a little corny. The egg filling was creamy and shot through with pockets of melted cheese and bits of smoky ham. Our only gripe was the silver-dollar size. We could have eaten an entire full-sized quiche. On the other hand, if it were bigger, we’d have missed out on the lovely crust in each bite. Sift knows what they’re doing: These things are seriously craveable.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from a review by Ted Held]

James Norton / Heavy Table

5-new -fiveRain Drops Northeast-Style IPA by Barrel Theory
Hazy, New England-style IPAs remain wildly trendy and it’s easy to taste why: many possess a juicy, fruit-forward hops-driven flavor that paradoxically seems to flood your mouth with a pulpy, almost orange juice-like moisture while also making you thirsty for more. Barrel Theory’s Rain Drops (7.5% ABV, 60 IBU) is brewed with Citra and Mosaic hops and even juicier than most, a seeming cascade of moisture in every sip plus an earthy, profound, orange-and-iced tea sort of body.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]

Sift Gluten-Free Bakery in Nokomis, Minneapolis

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

We love gluten, just to let you know where we stand. But we felt that if we turned this review over to the gluten-free beat, such as it is, that we’d be giving Sift (4557 Bloomington Ave S, Minneapolis) short shrift.

We will however give short shrift to the controversy, such as it is, surrounding the steady rise (get it?) of gluten free. Yes, celiac disease is real, and it is miserable. Yes, there are charlatans who will tell you that everything can be cured by eliminating gluten from your diet. Enough said about that.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

On to the baked treats that we picked up just as the sun was rising this past Saturday morning. Sift is a delightful and welcoming space, with a display case filled with an astonishing variety of muffins, bars, brownies, cookies, doughnuts, cakes, scones, and little tiny quiches. The beaming, smiling face that greeted us turned out to be that of Molly Miller, owner of Sift. She was visibly thrilled to be there and was more than happy to share with us her journey from longtime hobbyist baker to semi-pro farmers market vendor to professional baker with her own brand-new shop.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Her enthusiasm is well warranted. Our favorite item was the Ham and Cheese Quiche Bite ($2.50). The crust was chewy and buttery, and perhaps a little corny. The egg filling was creamy and shot through with pockets of melted cheese and bits of smoky ham. Our only gripe was the silver-dollar size. We could have eaten an entire full-sized quiche. On the other hand, if it were bigger, we’d have missed out on the lovely crust in each bite. I guess they know what they’re doing: These things are seriously craveable.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The Spiced Pear Coffee Cake ($3.50) was delightful. Airy, and rich with cinnamon and cardamom, it had a moist, fluffy crumb and a lovely aroma. For lack of wheat flour, it was missing nothing. We’ve had sweeter coffee cakes, but this one, with its spiced pear, had a sophisticated element that we’ll definitely return for.