100 Favorite Dishes: Lemon-ricotta doughnuts from Olivéa

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No. 89: Lemon-ricotta doughnuts from Olivéa

They were an afterthought, those doughnuts. After desecrating the headcheese, swelling my jowls with pork cheeks, emptying a plate of tortellini bobbing in a pancetta-scented broth and reducing the guilt with a crock of cauliflower, the doughnuts just sort of appeared.

And at first, I groaned, because sweets aren't really my thing -- even when they're the mind-altering inventions of Yasmin Lozada-Hissom, Olivea's sugar sultana and arguably Denver's most masterful pastry chef. And then I moaned, closed my eyes in defeat and seriously contemplated hijacking the kitchen and holding the crew hostage until they plopped every last one of those damn doughnuts into the biggest bag on the block.

There are American-style doughnuts, and then there are Italian doughnuts called bombolini, which, I have since found, thanks to Yasmin, are so transcendently, seductively good that it's impossible not to obsess about them. Shaped like Ping Pong balls, only bigger, the sugar-powdered cloud puffs, their sweetness constrained with the savory creaminess of ricotta and tart tang of lemon, rise like heaven from the confines of their coned cocoon. And once you've reached the bottom, where one lone bombolini remains, all hell is likely to break loose between you and whoever you've stupidly chosen to share them with. And then there's the matter of the housemade caramel and lemon cream sidekicks, both of which require a restrained tongue, lest you lick the saucers clean. Like I did.

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our countdown are linked below:

No. 100: Italian wedding soup from the Squeaky Bean No. 99: American Classic Burger (and fries) from Tarbell's No. 98: E's clam linguini from Mangiamo Pronto No. 97: Queso a la plancha taco from the Pinche Tacos wagon No. 96: Prosciutto-wrapped jalapeño poppers from Tony's Market No. 95: Fried chicken from the Pinyon No. 94: Seafood soup from Farro No. 93: Posole from The Porker No. 92: Breakfast Burrito from the Taco Wagon in Lafayette No. 91: Hummus from Shish Kabob Grill No. 90: Albondigas meatballs from Solera

In late 2009, we embarked on a culinary journey that took us through our favorite dishes in the Mile High City -- one hundred, to be exact -- as a precursor to the Best of Denver issue. Now we're back with round two, counting down (in no particular order) a hundred more of our favorite Denver dishes in a list that, by our imperfect calculations, should be wrapped up by the time the Best of Denver 2011 hits the streets on March 31. In the meantime, if there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at lori.midson@westword.com.

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