Dumpling & Strand at Mill City, Kingfield, and Linden Hills Farmers Markets

Ted Held / Heavy Table

Ted Held / Heavy Table

You’ve probably noticed that the offerings at Twin Cities farmers markets have expanded far beyond local produce, meat, dairy, and eggs. On any given day you might find bagels, doughnuts, cakes and pastries, broth, bread, pickled veg, or charcuterie. It’s hard to imagine how they could do a better job meeting your weekly shopping needs.

This year saw the debut of Dumpling & Strand Noodlers at Large. With a name that is at once trendy and old-timey and a stand styled to look like an apothecary shop, they are peddling some pretty great noodles. Behind the counter you’ll find purveyors Jeff Casper, a food scientist, and Kelly McManus, a marketing specialist, along with their handiwork on prominent display, his on platters and hers on the signage and packaging. Fun fact: She’s Dumpling and he’s Strand. We asked.

Dumpling & Strand sells Italian and Asian noodles. All are fresh (with a use-by date), and take only three minutes to cook. The Italian line includes egg pastas (regular and gluten-free), sprouted whole-wheat pasta, and toasted farro pasta. The Asian line includes ramen (regular, squid ink, and gluten-free) and juwari soba, made of 100 percent buckwheat.

Ted Held / Heavy Table

Ted Held / Heavy Table

The egg pastas are excellent. We had the fettuccine, fusillo, and pici. When cooked al dente, they were all slightly nutty, perfectly chewy, and salted just-so. Casper and McManus recommend using a simple sauce, and we concur; think homemade pesto or a light red sauce. You don’t want to drown out the pasta’s subtle taste.

The ramen were similarly chewy and perfectly salted. At the owners’ recommendation, we undercooked our ramen (two minutes instead of three), ran cold water over the noodles, and then poured hot broth over them for a perfect result. These ramen noodles want a rich broth, not a flavor packet. The soba were unlike any dried soba we’ve prepared — softer and with a faint aroma of autumn spices, something like nutmeg or cloves. They played well with a tahini and ginger sauce and tons of fresh cilantro.

Ted Held / Heavy Table

Ted Held / Heavy Table

At $7 per 9-ounce package ($8 for gluten-free), or three for $20, these won’t replace dried pasta in most households on account of both cost and shelf-stability. But if you’re picking up basil and heirloom tomatoes, you will be hard pressed to find a better noodle to accompany your summertime bounty. For now, Dumpling & Strand products are available only at the Mill City, Kingfield, and Linden Hills farmers markets, but keep an eye out for them in co-ops.

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3 Comments

  1. Ed Bast 08/29/2016 Reply

    At over $12/lb, who is going to buy these things? Or more precisely, why would anyone buy them? You can get fresh Asian noodles at any of about a dozen Asian markets around town for far less than that. Fresh Italian noodles are available at Kowalski’s, Byerly’s and ilk.

    Pair these noodles with the “craft” broth that showed up here a few months ago and you’ve got yourself a $25 bowl of ramen!

    “It’s hard to imagine how they could do a better job meeting your weekly shopping needs”

    By respecting their customers and selling their products for a fair price. So, you know, people could actually afford them.

    By the way: Why does a farmer’s market stand need a “marketing specialist”?

    If anything, this trend of uber-expensive, professionally-marketed specialty products should drive people away from these faux-artisinal markup-mad stalls and back into their kitchens. Marcado pasta makers can be had for around $70. After that, all you need is some 00 flour, a couple eggs and about an hour of your time, and you’re in the fettucini business. (Bonus bonding opportunity: kids love to make noodles!)

    If we continue to fetishize this type of thing, it will propagate the myth that good food means expensive food. Given the issues with obesity and fast-food in this country, this is very problematic.

  2. Mrs. Hansen 08/29/2016 Reply

    Love the noodles! The gluten-free are really great (and I’m not gluten-free, I just had to try them!). The ramen are awesome, quick and delicious – and these two are really cool people, how fun to be a nooodler at large! Try them out!

  3. Love Dumpling & Strand Noodles! Such a treat and the design/packaging is amazing! Thanks Heavytable.com for recognizing a great up and coming brand.

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