In an unusually delicious year for new restaurants, critic Rick Nelson reminisces on his 10 favorite dishes of 2011.
Doughnut lovers everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to Mojo Monkey Donuts owner Lisa Clark, who crafts a raised doughnut of exquisite proportions. Unlike their vapid supermarket counterparts, Clark's version, with its sourdough-, potato- and parsnip-enriched dough, has a welcome heft and moist, not-too-sweet bite. The originality doesn't end there: Clark finishes them with a tangy mango-honey glaze and a sprinkle of chewy organic coconut. To say that they are the Twin Cities' best doughnut is not doing them justice.
It's probably safe to say that 2011 was a watershed year for the Twin Cities dining scene. A record number of influential newcomers blazed their way into the hearts and appetites of local diners, and an impressive roster of familiar practitioners remade themselves in new, genre-shaking ways.
While sifting through the mountain of menus, cocktail napkins and crumpled receipts -- all scribbled with notes -- that constitute my poorly organized dining diary, my initial conclusion is that paring down countless meals to just 10 memorable dishes is going to be a tremendous challenge.
Not that I'm complaining. It's a good kind of problem, one that's rooted in the ever- expanding diversity of the Twin Cities' culinary community. Better to have many from which to choose, rather than few, right?
Here are my choices, and have a happy new year of eating.