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.