Monday, April 15, 2013 at 7:14 a.m.
Tots that go way beyond tater
E. Katie Holm
As a countdown to the Best of the Twin Cities 2013, coming April 17, the Hot Dish is serving up 50 of our favorite local dishes.
There are so many standards by which to evaluate our food. You can consider the quality of the ingredients, creativity in preparation, successful marrying of flavors and textures, and the level of skill displayed in the technical execution. But whenever we describe the dishes we love and remember best, the phrase "I couldn't stop eating it" seems to come up an awful lot, doesn't it? How quickly you go back in for that second bite, the flash of time that elapses from delivered to demolished, sometimes tells you all you need to know about a particular dish. So suffice to say that immediately following the first taste of the ham and pickle tots at Parka, the plate was empty before we could say "cream cheese foam."
These little nuggets have all the flavors of a retro picnic or cocktail party, but with definite modern flair. It's like the kind of food you imagine the Jetsons would eat or maybe what you wished they served at the Future World pavilion at Epcot.
Salty ham and diced pickles are folded into a creamy croquette batter, deep fried until pleasantly crunchy on the outside and still a bit melty in the middle, and served with what the team at Parka refers to as cream cheese whiz, a meringue-like whip that leaves just the suggestion of cream cheese as it melts into the tots. A few dots of dilly pickle gel and a buttery truffle-scented puree finish the plate as dipping sauces, putting this appetizer on a very different plane from typical cafeteria fare.