Like function following form, sometimes tasting menu dishes get lost in the shuffle of innovation. In an effort to impress, sometimes one element or another falters. It's technically tasty, but simple and dull, or it's fun, but the technique doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
On a recent chef's tasting menu at Travail, one dish not only sailed to the top of our list for that evening, but held up as one of the very finest of the year.
See also: 3: The Pig and Apple at Haute Dish[jump]
Sheer inventiveness and amusement, genius form, and culinary prowess, the soup in soup was a little edible bowl of soup sitting inside of another bowl of soup.
Potato leek soup of the finest pedigree held a bird's nest of frizzled potato, parsnip, and taro with chile threads weaved in the way birds build their homes with straw and detritus.
Secondarily, it was like a genius little egg in a hole, holding truffled egg yolk, pickled onion, and parsley ham foam. Familiar flavors were taken out of context, then reassembled in a collage-like pattern that tumbles forth and then back again.
Reinventing and recontextualizing as a culinary artist can sometimes be a frustrating enterprise -- the public often doesn't get it, sometimes you try and you fail. But getting all the pieces to align, even for one sparkle of a moment? That's magic.
100: The Pickle Dog from the Minnesota State Fair 99: Mademoiselle Miel's Honey Bon-Bons 98: Giant Pretzel at New Bohemia 97: Kopplin's Breve 96: Corn Chowder at Barrio 95: Crescent Moon's House Special Football-Shaped Pizza 94: Buffalo Tots at the Blue Door Pub 93: Duck Burger at the Happy Gnome 92: Mac's Industrial Tuna Melt 91: Toast Bar at Canteen 90: Sonora Grill's Eggplant Fries 89: Brasa's Pineapple Ginger Ale 88: The Freehouse's Cheese Curds with Quince Jam 87: Black Coffee and Waffle Bar's Naughty Waffle 86: Czar Jack at Town Hall Brewery 85: Soft-Shell Crab Fried Rice at Tiny Diner 84: Sanduche de Pollo at Chimborazo 83: Grand Café's Eggs en Cocotte 82: Pollo Tacos at Las Teresitas 81: Chicken Tikka Masala at Himalayan Restaurant 80: Cornmeal Galette with Ham and Sweet Corn from Black Walnut Bakery 79: Cheddar Biscuits and Gravy at the Third Bird 78: The Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich at Lake and Irving 77: The Larry from Taco Cat 76: Lobster and Eggs from Eat Street Social 75: New York Strip with Trumpet Royale Mushrooms from Sparks 74: Icehouse's Sipping Shots 73: The Prairie Dog at Prairie Dogs 72: Dr. IPA at Public Kitchen & Bar 71: Patisserie 46's Éclair 70: Dong Hae's Korean Style Chicken Wings 69: Birchwood's Black Bottom Coconut Cream Pie 68: Coup d'Etat's Gnocchi 67: Egg, Cheddar & Bacon Biscuit Sandwich at Colossal Cafe 66: Red Wagon Pizza's Sausage Espagnole 65: Verdant Tea's Chinese Hash 64: The St. Paul Cheese Shop's Chorizo Sandwich 63: House of Curry's Pol Roti 62: Goat Cheese Curds from the Curious Goat 61: Post-Dessert Dessert at Spoon and Stable 60: Table-Side Caesar Salad from the Salt Cellar 59: Nam-Khao from On's Thai Kitchen 58: Poutine at Triple Rock 57: Black Sheep's Meatball, Ricotta, and Garlic Pizza 56: Eli's East's Pistachio Cheesecake 55: Shrimp and Grits at Smack Shack 54: The Southside at World Street Kitchen 53: Size 7 from Steel Toe Brewing 52: Khao Soi at Sen Yai Sen Lek 51: Burger, Fries, and Hamm's at Nightingale 50: The Delmonico Steak at Capital Grille 49: Foie Gras at Cosmos 48: Braised Pork Tostadas at Sanctuary 47: Bucatini Bolognese at Lyn 65 46: Sauerkraut Grilled Cheese at Gyst Fermentation Bar 45: Frozen Blood Orange Parfait at the Kenwood 44: Deep Dish Sausage Pizza at Davanni's 43: Lengua Burrito from El Taco Riendo 42: Slice from Hello Pizza 41: Tagliarini di Locanda del Lupo at Broder's 40: House Hot Dog at Kyatchi 39: Big Boy Ranch Plate from Chef Shack Ranch 38: Seared Salmon with Ginger, Scallion, and Sweet Soy at Quang 37: Corn Pancakes at Maria's Cafe 36: 'Nduja Egg Raviolo at Bar La Grassa 35: A to Z Pizza Farm Pizza 34: Fried Dumplings at Far East 33: Dutch Baby at Libertine 32: Coney Island Dog at Heartland 31: Japanese Fried Chicken (JFC) at Moto-i 30: The Calabrian at Terzo's Porchetteria 29: Siberian Pelmeni at Moscow on the Hill 28: 25-Cent Small Treats at Burch 27: Turkey Wild Rice Soup at Cook St. Paul 26: Sesame Chicken at Pho 79 25. Corn Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich at Hola Arepa 24: Kinoko Soba at Masu 23: The Hendrick's at Five Watt Coffee 22: Pizzeria Lola's Korean BBQ Pizza 21: Smørrebrød (Fancy Brunch Toasts) at Bachelor Farmer 20: Salmon Skin Roll at Origami 19: Point Steak with Marrow Butter at Libertine 18: Blackened Salmon Toro at Shag 17: Pan Bagnat at Meritage 16: Coffee and French Toast at Tongue in Cheek 15: Butterscotch Budino at 112 Eatery 14: Bogart's Doughnut Co.'s Brown Butter-Glazed Doughnut 13: Spice, Rice, Everything Nice at the Rabbit Hole 12: Scallop Cooked and Raw at the Brut Pop-Up 11: Corzetti pasta at Corner Table 10: Duck Confit with Magical Fruit at Workshop 9: Tennessee Hot Fried Chicken at Revival 8: Octopus at Borough 7: Hola Arepa's Beef & Plantain Arepa 6: Roasted Chicken Dinner at Brasserie Zentral 5: Heyday's Chicken Liver Mousse Tart 4: Scallop Crudo at Spoon and Stable 3: The Pig and Apple at Haute Dish
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