José Andrés's Spherified Olives 'Ferran Adria'
Still one of the best applications of the modernist technique of spherification, which Andrés has showcased at his restaurant The Bazaar after picking up the trick from Ferran Adria at El Bulli. Buttery-sweet-yet-briny olive juice is bundled in a thin, delicate membrane that forms when sodium alginate reacts with calcium salt. Pop it in your mouth, apply the slightest pressure, and the whole thing bursts like an olive-y water balloon.
Tim Love's Elk Sausage with Foie Gras and Blueberry Jam
Texan chef Tim Love dished up a cumin- and paprika-spiked elk sausage patty—dense and meaty, with a hint of gaminess—in burger form, using blueberry jam instead of ketchup and foie instead of...tomato? Lettuce? Eh, don't think about it too hard. The city needs more game sausage. Extra points for the toasted Martin's potato roll.
Scott Conant's Ricotta Ravioli with Truffles and Parmesan Froth
Four perfect, delicate folds of pasta stuffed with mild ricotta and serene snips of chive, all the better to show off the funk of the shaved-to-order truffle. The Parmesan froth bubbles briefly before subsiding into a light broth for the ravioli. A small bite best slurped like an oyster.
Yes: foam. Yes: it can actually be good, a way to bring extra lightness to a thin, intensely flavored sauce.
Scott Conant's Salted Caramel Budino
As a bonus, Conant also served a seriously salty and creamy caramel custard. A booth of salted caramel, truffles, and foam may also sound like a tactical nuclear trend bomb, but when executed well, they're beautiful things.
Johnny Iuzzini's Grilled Pineapple with Curried Cream, Cumin Meringue, and Cilantro
A sweet and savory dessert to win over the haters, Top Chef's Johnny Iuzzini had charred juicy pineapple alongside a delicate sweet cream. The gentle cumin in the meringue brought out the toasted, nutty flavors of the fruit, and a sprig of cilantro lightened it all up quite well.
The Lebanese food truck Toum appeared earlier this year, and though this sizable pita wrap was my first taste of their cooking, it won't be the last. The thin pita is spread with a lemony hummus and filled with lettuce, tomato, thin spears of sharp pickles, and, in this case, mekanek, dense full-flavored beef sausages that aren't kidding around about the garlic ('toum' means 'garlic spread').
This foot-long pita wrap will normally set you back all of seven dollars—a very good deal in an increasingly pricey street food scene.
Another street food pleasure: this ground beef, olive, and potato empanada made with Pat LaFrieda beef.
A sweet empanada balanced apples, pears, and cranberries with judicious spreads of chocolate and Nutella.